Michaelangelo has long been the jester of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but that jovial personality primarily had its origins in the Fred Wolf cartoon. Mikey in the first Mirage comics was a neutral character. He wasn't commanding like Leo, technical like Don, or hot-headed like Raph... he was just there. You'd see a few references to a fun-loving personality (in issue 11 April mentions that he "can find a joke in just about any situation"), but they're few and far between and not really expressed by the character himself. It wasn't until the Fred Wolf cartoon when we saw Mikey blossom into the looney character we all know and love. So, let's check out these bookends of Michaelangelo's action figure history: the first Playmates figure and the more recent NECA incarnation!
Note: Before you comment that I misspelled his name, keep in mind it was originally (and unintentionally) misspelled in the Mirage comics. The vintage figure's card carried over that misspelling, so that's what I'll call him here.
I always loved the first wave of Playmates TMNT figures because they had sculpts that seemed to be based on the Mirage comics rather than the cartoon. Not to mention that the articulation was surprisingly versatile and the figure came with lots of accessories. Mikey is no exception in any of these aspects but tragically, his signature nunchakus were failures by any measure. The plastic cord between the sticks was so thin and rigid that they were too fragile for any sort of play. You can even see the stress marks on the nunchuck above despite the fact that this figure never got an instant of play time. Fortunately, later Mikeys had sturdier nunchucks, so I often swap those out for display.
Here we see what is widely considered to be the ultimate Mikey, courtesy of NECA! The NECA Turtles were first reviewed on Nathan's MUSCLE Page and later imported here. (Man, those early pics were rough.) My initial assessment of this figure still applies: great sculpt, incredible paint apps, but slightly uncharacteristic smile. The smile is obviously a reference to the cartoon persona of Mikey, as Mikey from the Mirage comics (especially the first few comics on which this figure seems to be based) wasn't nearly as amicable as this figure seems. Still, the NECA nunchucks are much improved, replacing nonsensically-thin plastic cords with legitimate metal chains. It's too bad the NECA TMNT line mysteriously imploded. It would have been great to see what they could have done with the other characters from the TMNT comics.