Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 NYCC EDITION 1985

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 NYCC “Laird’s Photo” Variant

Making a Splash at the 1985 NY Comic Con

Published: 1985
Print run: 500 copies
Total on CGC census: 60
Recent sale: $1,150 CGC 9.6
TMNT #3 Lairds Photo Variant Versus Regular Edition

Note the difference in the Laird's Photo sign between the variant and regular editions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3

Heading up to the 1985 New York Comic Con, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird printed 500 ”advance copies” of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 to sell in New York at the convention. This initial print run was identical to the later ”regular” edition except for one important contrast which makes it stand apart as its own unique variant: some of the blue coloration was left out of the cover, leaving it looking a brighter white overall as compared to the regular edition.

One specific noticeable characteristic is the ”Laird’s Photo” sign on the shop in the background, where ”Laird” appears white in the variant edition, but light blue in the regular edition. Being recognizable as its own unique variant with a known limited print run 1/6th that of the original 1984 first printing of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, vaulted this comic to the status of being one of the most collectible turtles comics of all time. This variant is sometimes referred to as the ”Laird’s Photo Variant” or the ”NYCC Variant.”

Collecting this Comic Book

If you happened to stumble upon a copy of TMNT #3, where the seller didn’t realize they had the variant and didn’t advertise it as such (but you could tell it was the variant from the cover picture) that would be a tremendous find, but it would also be highly unlikely. Be skeptical: you might be looking at a stock photo of the cover; ask for an actual cover scan. CGC graded copies come up for sale only rarely during the course of any given year, so your best bet is to set up an eBay alert or a wantlist on Comic Link. Here’s what an example graded copy looks like:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 NYCC Lairds Photo Variant

An example CGC graded copy of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 NYCC / Lairds Photo Variant.

TMNT #3 NYCC Variant Value

The extremely low print run, cheap interior newprint paper, and passage of time has caused high grade copies of this comic book to be extremely hard to come by. As of this writing, CGC had graded a total of just 60 of them, with a mere 23 copies graded at 9.4 or higher.

As of this writing, a recent sale of a CGC 9.6 graded copy was $1,150. That’s way higher than the value attributed to this comic in this grade, by the most popular online price guide.  A few factors are likely in play: (1) the price guide probably has a very hard time identifying sales of this comic since it is so rare, and may be under-valuing the comic (2) collectors who want it have a very hard time finding this issue, and may be willing to pay a premium to own it. As of this writing, the ComicsPriceGuide values this comic in the various grades, ungraded versus graded, as follows:

Price guide values for TMNT Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 NYCC Variant

Values given to this issue in various grades by ComicsPriceGuide as of this writing

Sources & Resources

Mirage’s eBay Page (if any copies remain in Peter Laird’s personal collection, this is where they would be sold): www.ebay.com/usr/mirage-studios
Mirage’s TMNT #3 Page: www.miragelicensing.com/comics/mirage/volume01/03/03.html
Comic Book Database TMNT #3 NYCC Page: www.comicbookdb.com/issue.php?ID=124669
CGC Census Page: www.cgccomics.com/census/index.asp

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3 thoughts on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3 NYCC “Laird’s Photo” Variant

  1. TMNT says:

    Hi. Thanks for making this site.

    I am helping someone sell their comics, including some TMNT. We grew up in the town next to where Mirage Studies is and a handful of the comics are signed by both Eastman and Laird.

    The TMNT NYCC variant has both of their signatures on the inside cover and the comic is in excellent condition. Would you have any advice on whether to get it graded or not? The signatures are on white space, but I have read conflicting reports on how signatures affect both the grading and the value.

    I have been doing research and think that based on the great condition of the comic and the fact that it has signatures by both authors, it may be extremely rare.

    Any advice you can give is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks!

    • My understanding is that all of the 500 copies Eastman & Laird brought to NYCC were signed on the interior cover. I can tell you first hand that my own NYCC variant copy was signed on the interior cover in pen as well; it has been graded by CGC, and it came back from CGC with their Universal Grade (blue label). Below the title on the label, CGC placed a note that reads: “‘Kevin Eastman’ and ‘Peter Laird’ written on interior cover in pen.” So I’d advise based on my own experience that you need not worry about getting back a qualified green label, and also that you still have a full shot at achieving a top grade. You are absolutely right that a copy of this book in excellent condition is extremely rare and highly valuable, and if it were me I would most definitely get it graded by CGC if your goal is to maximize your sale value. Best of luck!

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