Remember the TMNT The Ultimate Visual History book, published by Insight Editions back in 2014? If you recall, each of those books included a bonus smaller-sized reprint of TMNT #1 inside a folder on the inside back cover. Recently, some of those TMNT #1 reprint comics that were included with TMNT The Ultimate Visual History have been listed individually for sale on eBay. However, they were listed without key information – that these TMNT #1 comic books were actually just the bonus reprint comic book included with every copy of TMNT The Ultimate Visual History. Maybe the seller(s) honestly didn’t know this or maybe they were being purposely deceitful; regardless, these TMNT #1 reprint comics were very popular with buyers and some of them sold for over $300 !
A few people contacted me to see if I knew more about these rare small-sized TMNT #1 variants on eBay and where they came from. I was able to inform them where these reprint TMNT #1 comics came from and that they were not rare. In fact, they could be easily acquired by purchasing a copy of TMNT The Ultimate Visual History for under $35. But as I was providing information to others, I started seeing something interesting…the TMNT The Ultimate Visual History books I found listed for sale online had two editions; one from 2014 and a new one from 2018.
Now, reprints and subsequent editions are nothing new in book publishing but I was previously unaware that the TMNT The Ultimate Visual History book had been reprinted. No big deal…but the weird thing was that the 2018 books were selling for much cheaper than the 2014 editions were. In some cases, I found that the 2018 editions were only $20 brand new while the 2014 editions were still nearly $45 or more. This got me thinking. Given the cheaper price, maybe the new 2018 editions don’t include the bonus TMNT #1 comic (and poster) inside. I didn’t want to be advising people to simply buy a copy of TMNT The Ultimate Visual History in order to get the TMNT #1 reprint if there was no longer a TMNT #1 reprint inside of the 2018 editions. So, I had to find out for sure.
I saw online that Barnes & Noble had both the 2014 and 2018 versions listed and that they had the 2018 edition in stock at a store near me (for only $19.99 !!). So, I went there, found the book and started looking through it. I didn’t have the 2014 book with me for reference, but the 2018 book looked to be the same from what I could recall. The cover had a glossy appearance on the text and images, the inserts on certain pages were there, and there was an envelope on the inside back cover that did, indeed, include a copy of the TMNT #1 reprint and a poster. But as I removed the TMNT #1 reprint comic from the envelope, I immediately recognized that something was different – it had a flimsy paper cover that was matte finish. The TMNT #1 reprint comic I remembered seeing in my own 2014 book had a thick card-stock cover with a glossy finish – a really nice comic. But, was I remembering correctly? I didn’t have my 2014 book with me so I couldn’t be SURE. So, I bought the 2018 edition from Barnes & Noble and brought it home. I then dug out my 2014 edition, opened to the back cover envelope, removed the TMNT #1 reprint inside and guess what I found? The TMNT #1 reprint cover in the 2014 edition was indeed GLOSSY on heavy card stock paper. WOW! A new variant had been discovered!
I immediately put both the 2014 and 2018 TMNT #1 reprints side by side and it was completely obvious that the covers had been printed on different paper stock. One was rigid and shiny and the other was flimsy and dull. I leafed through the TMNT #1 reprints page by page to compare and the interiors seemed to be identical with only just a slight misalignment of the inside front cover image on the 2018 version. Next, I turned my attention to the posters inside the envelopes and again found similar differences; the 2014 edition poster was printed on thick glossy paper while the 2018 edition poster was printed on thin matte paper. Now I wanted to see if there were differences in the TMNT The Ultimate Visual History books themselves. The title on the covers looked to be different colors: the 2014 edition has a silver / shiny title while the 2018 edition has a gray / dull title. The covers also seemed to have a different “feel” to them and upon closer inspection, the 2014 version has glossy lettering/images AND raised effects while the 2018 version only has the glossy lettering/images but NO raised effects. The back covers have just slight differences in the text that appears in the upper right corners and in the bar codes that appear in the lower right corners. The spines of the two books are different as well; the 2014 edition has a very tight spine but the 2018 edition seems to have a spine that is loose with much more play to it. The interiors of each seemed to be identical (although I didn’t check every single page) but, as expected, I did find that the legal page (last page of the book) had some differences in the years listed (2014 vs. 2018), the ISBN numbers, and the names credited. This all seems to indicate that the difference in price between the 2014 and 2018 editions is mostly due to cheaper materials and lower production / finishing quality. Regardless, the content of the book itself is still pretty awesome no matter what edition.
So, there you have it…new TMNT variants that I accidentally stumbled across! Of course, for us comic book collectors, the most notable variant is with the TMNT #1 reprint comic included as a bonus. The differences in the TMNT The Ultimate Visual History books themselves are also technically variants but, given these books aren’t really TMNT comics, I likely wouldn’t have purchased the 2018 version for my collection had the TMNT #1 reprint comic inside been the same as in the 2014 edition. To each their own I suppose.
Here’s to the never-ending saga that is…collecting. Cheers!