In the 1989 episode Invasion of the Punk Frogs. Creating his own team of four radical amphibians, Shredder named them after his personal heroes, who all happened to be conquerors — Genghis Frog, Atilla the Mad Frog, Rasputin the Frog, and today’s subject, Napoleon Bonafrog.
Napoleon was released in 1990, along with the third wave of basic TMNT figures. The previous year had seen fellow Punk Frog Genghis released, in a fairly animation-accurate sculpt. But for some reason the folks at Playmates decided to release Napoleon resembling a horned toad, rather than just repainting Genghis.
Looking back on it three decades later, in terms of making cool mutant toys, this was definitely a better idea than a repaint of a toy from the previous year. But NONE of us kids liked that Napoleon didn’t AT ALL match his animation model.
When working on other TMNT repaints, I ended up nabbing a Napoleon in a lot off eBay, and decided to just kinda muck him up a bit. After all, he does live in the Florida swamps! I liked the neon swim trunks and Hawaiian shirt, so I just did what I could to being out all the unpainted details on the toy.
I like this toy, even if it isn’t 100% accurate. A shame we never got Atilla or Rasputin toys, though.
In the 2012 CGI series, Nickelodeon’s team completely reinvented Napoleon by transforming the character into a Napoleon Dynamite reference, complete with casting Napoleon Dynamite actor John Heder for Napoleon Bonafrog’s voice, and this sentence has the name “Napoleon” in it five times, which is absurd. Anyways, I’m not sure how well that idea is going to age, but I kinda love it for the generation of us who get the joke.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Napoleon Bonafrog, and all related characters are owned by Nickelodeon.