The year 2020 will forever be linked with the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic that has stretched on into 2021 and may very well continue into 2022 at this point. The greatest tragedy of the pandemic is obviously the millions of lives lost to the virus, and I don’t want anyone to forget that the lives lost far surpasses the inconveniences we’re currently dealing with. One of those inconveniences just happens to be a global shipping crisis. When the virus first ravaged China, it causes factories and ports to shut down. Since many consumer goods are manufactured in China, that lead to shortages across the world and things have been slow to come back. Now, many factories are at least operational, but the ports have a huge backlog. Some companies are pointing the finger at the few shipping companies in operation and accusing them of unfair practices and price gouging as the cost to ship a container across the Pacific has exploded. This doesn’t figure to be something that will resolve itself anytime soon either, and some are already cautioning the American public that the holiday shopping season won’t look like seasons from years past.
One industry affected by all of this is the toy industry. Most plastic toys are manufactured in China or Hong Kong and have been affected by the factory closings and shipping situation. Release dates in 2021 have practically lost all meaning as a result and a March release became an April release, became a Q3 release, and so on. One company hit by all of this has been Super7. Super7’s business model is essentially to put a line of action figures up on their site for a one month preorder. When that month concludes, the company places a factory order for the amount of presales (plus extra for quality control and to sell at their physical store) and eventually consumers have something in their hands in roughly 8-10 months. The idea is to put a wave for their various lines up for sale every 4 months, so that by the time the first wave is shipping the third wave is available for pre-order. This model has been blown up though, and one line affected has been Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The first wave of TMNT figures from Super7 started rolling out last August and into September. Wave 2 followed in December/January and Wave 3 was expected around May. Well, delays pushed things back further into Q2 2021 and then the shipping industry struck. Up until just last week, Super7 was still waiting for the container holding some of the figures for this line to be unloaded at the port. They had the turtle from this wave, Michelangelo, in their warehouse nearly two months ago, but not the rest. It’s something that likely frustrates all parties involved since the product is there, ready to go, but still out of reach. Some retailers, like Big Bad Toy Store, managed to get some of their stock before Super7, which is unheard of. They didn’t get everything though, and many collectors are still waiting. It was actually last night that I finally saw someone post that Super7 is shipping their set of figures so at least the long wait for some is about to end.
As for me, I’m still waiting with no end in sight. I only ordered 3 of the 4 figures in the wave and I ordered them from Big Bad Toy Store. The store prioritized complete sets of orders before fulfilling a handful of singles and has now stopped fulfilling orders leading me to believe they’re waiting on more. Since I can’t tell you what I think about the likes of Michelangelo and Rocksteady right now, I’ll pivot and do a post I’ve been kicking around in my head for awhile.
If you’re unfamiliar with the line, Super7’s take on TMNT is to recreate the toys made famous by Playmates and realize them with a modern aesthetic and in a 7″ scale. As a result, it’s pretty easy to make a wish list since the figures the company produces will mirror those, for the most part. The company has said it intends to do at least a few figures in the line that Playmates never did (maybe more of the Punk Frogs?), and there are some that are off-limits due to licensing issues. For the most part though, I’m expecting we’ll get most, if not all, of the unique characters from the vintage line and some of the turtle variants. The company has already unveiled 5 waves of figures which cover all of the original 10 figures and a bunch of the later figures. They’re clearly not focusing on one year over another, so anything is fair game.
So what would I like to see next? Well, I have some thoughts. I’m not all-in on this line as I’m mostly cherry-picking my favorites, but if Super7 were to release any of the following I’d probably buy it.
If you polled collectors about what character they want to see next it would not surprise me in the least if Slash finished in first. The evil, mutant, turtle from Dimension X was taken from the Archie companion comic Mighty Mutanimals where he was actually a good guy. In what quickly became a trend, Playmates and the cartoon would take a Mutanimal and make him evil which apparently annoyed creators Ryan Brown and Stephen Murphy. When the cartoon wanted to make Ray Fillet a villain, they put their foot down which is why we ended up with just Ray, a weird, composite, fish, mutant.
I certainly respect the views of the creators, but unfortunately, evil Slash is my preferred take. Even the good guy version looks like a bad guy, and this guy is begging to be realized in a modern style. Super7 plays fast and loose with the scale so I’m curious how they’ll approach Slash. The vintage figure was quite squat and actually shorter than the hero turtles, but I’d prefer Super7 make him just a touch taller than the good guys. He certainly should be chunkier, and I’m curious if they’ll give him a proper neck or just stick with the vintage approach. I’m also quite curious to see how the company approaches the figure’s spiked nunchaku. They probably can’t do an actual, spiked, chain, so I suspect it will be bendy, molded, plastic, but maybe they surprise me with something more elaborate. I’m also curious if they stick with the solid purple blades on his hands, or do something more metallic. When the company did Shredder, they basically just stuck with the Playmates colors which is partly why I passed so I suspect they’ll treat Slash in a similar fashion. Mostly though, I hope they take their time with the headsculpt and really bring out those teeth. It would be a shame if they stay too true to the original and produce something soft instead.
When I was a kid, I had no idea this guy was part of a race of space dinosaurs called Triceratons, and just thought his name was Triceraton. When the cartoon finally got to him I was forced to admit my head-canon was off. I don’t care though as this guy was pretty bad ass looking. And he was a character I frequently paired with Slash as they had a similar aesthetic with their bumpy skin and all together evil appearance. The cartoon Triceratons NECA gave us are pretty cool and true to the source material, but this guy is different. He’s still an orange, bipedal, triceratops with big guns, but he just looks all together meaner and more formidable. I’m also hopeful that Super7 makes this guy big! I’m talking Bebop size! He’d just have a ton of shelf presence with his bright, orange, skin if made at that size. I just hope they give him some more expressive hands as my only gripe with the Bebop figure rests in the static nature of his posture. At least the Triceraton has a snarling facial expression which will help give him a more dynamic feel all by itself.
I talked about this guy in my Toys that Got Away feature as he was a figure I saw at the store, but couldn’t buy at the time, and then never saw again. I don’t know what it was about Monty Moose that appealed to me. Maybe it was because I grew up in New Hampshire where a moose sighting wasn’t terribly uncommon? Or maybe it was the Canadian Mountie inspired attire that just looked cool to me. Whatever the case, I still think he looks rather unique and this is another figure that would be huge. The newly released Rocksteady has that long snout of a face that forced Super7 to package him him looking off to the side. Monty Moose has a similar visage, but also packs those massive antlers. Turn him to the side and you just create a new problem. He might need special, oversized, packaging to get the job done and I do feel like he’d come in pretty close in size to Bebop and Rocksteady since he is a freakin’ moose!
Earlier in this post I mentioned that some figures from the vintage line were off-limits due to licensing issues, and unfortunately that happens to affect Usagi Yojimbo. It wasn’t that long ago that Super7 founder Brian Flynn mentioned in an episode of The Fwooshcast that Usagi was coming and the contract was already signed, but since then things have apparently changed. Either Flynn got a little ahead of himself, or that agreement became null and void thanks to a new Netflix series featuring the samurai rabbit. Basically, anything Usagi is on pause right now which affects both Super7 and NECA who also have not featured the character in their TMNT line. I’m reasonably optimistic that things will get worked out, but there’s no guarantee.
And if they do get worked out, I suspect we’ll see a standard version of Usagi before we see the space one, even though if I had it my way I’d go with the radical space variant first. I guess some folks in the 90s just found space rabbits appealing because I have no idea why Usagi ever needed to go to space. It was pretty gnarly though and I used to pair him with Space Cadet Raph (who is all but assured to be released in Wave 6, 7, or 8) for intergalactic adventures in my bedroom. He had this neat mask molded to his face that kind of made him look like a Star Trek villain, plus a cape and and dome that fit around his ears. He got to pack a gun instead of his boring old katana, and it’s just the type of wacky character the line was known for and one I’d like to see get another shot at life.
The old Playmates line is incredibly nostalgic for me, and for various reasons. One reason is when I happen to remember getting a specific figure. Even though my grandmother bought me lots of TMNT stuff when I was a kid, I associate her with Walkabout because she and my grandfather gave him to me when they got back from a vacation. Normally, they’d vacation in a place like Mexico and bring me back a sombrero or t-shirt that probably advertised alcohol, but this time I got a turtle toy and I was pretty surprised and excited. The orange kangaroo Walkabout just looked different to me than many of the other toys in the line and there was just something about him that I really liked. Maybe it’s because a kangaroo was just an exotic creature to someone living in the US, maybe I was really enamored with Crocodile Dundee, or maybe I just liked that he had a tail and articulated knees? I don’t know, but if Super7 makes him I’m buying him!
When I talked about Slash I said I felt he was the character most fans were looking forward to seeing the most. Well, if he has a rival it’s probably Rat King as he’s another classic figure of a now classic character begging to be realized by Super7. Not much distinguishes Rat King from his cartoon appearance, he’s just more detailed and a little more gross. And speaking of gross, how will Super7 sculpt and paint Rat King’s dead cat belt?! There isn’t much Super7 will need to do with this figure, sort of like how it really didn’t have to do too much to Baxter Stockman. Just make him bigger, add some articulation, and paint every last detail that was in that old sculpt. And please, paint the damn accessories! If I have one, lingering, complaint with this line as a whole it’s that the turtles get their weapons painted up all nice and pretty while everyone else largely gets monochrome accessories that aren’t nearly as flashy.
Hothead is a figure I never had as a kid and I don’t ever recall playing with him either. He was a late comer to the line when I was getting pulled in different directions and would eventually devote my meager resources to X-Men. However, I do feel like I missed out on a cool figure in Hothead. I mean, he’s a mutant dragon – what’s cooler than that?! Or should I say what’s hotter than that? Regardless, he has a killer look and a neat feature that allowed his neck to extend. I suspect Super7 would have to include two necks with this guy, which kind of messes things up for them as they like to make the neck just part of the torso sculpt, but would they do this figure any other way? I guess they refrained from making Mutagen Man water-tight so maybe they’d ignore the extending neck feature and just settle on a middle-ground. Honestly, as long as he comes out looking good I’ll be interested, but I hope they come up with something interesting. A fully articulated neck, or bendy neck, would probably be the most extravagant way to go as he’d look so awesome if he could be positioned looking around and such. Ah, I shouldn’t get my hopes up though.
Another one I never had as a kid is Scale Tail, but I at least had friends who had this guy. He’s just another bonkers sculpt from Playmates and Varner Studios, who handled a lot of the figures in the line. He’s a mutant cobra, but one arm is composed entirely out of snakes while his forked tongue has been outfitted with a forked gun. He’s just ridiculous, and that’s really the only reason why I want to see Super7 tackle him. They’d definitely make him fairly large, not so much in height, but length, and it’s hard to imagine someone coming into a room and seeing that thing on a shelf and not immediately asking about it.
Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles
Super7 started with the main turtles with each figure anchoring one of the four waves. For the fifth wave, Sewer Samurai Leonardo is the anchor turtle leading most to believe that Super7 will do the rest of the “disguised” turtles across the next 3 waves. Recently, Super7 designer Kyle Wlodyga, during an appearance on The Fwooshcast, indicated that we will eventually see an entire wave of four turtles and my hope is they’ll be the Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles! One of the few figures to survive my purge many years ago is my Classic Rock Leonardo. He looks like Leonardo doing a Springsteen cos-play, and despite my not having any particular affection for the music of Bruce Springsteen, I just happen to like the figure. The leather vest, denim pants, turtle guitar – all solid gold as far as I’m concerned. The rest of the wave was a Rappin’ Mike, Punk Rock Don, and Heavy Metal Raph (more like Hair Metal Raph) which I do not currently own. I think I used to have Mike, but never Don or Raph. If Super7 did all four, I’d at have to consider getting them all, but I’d definitely get Leo to pair with my vintage one. There aren’t many turtle variants that I need to see updated, but these are pretty close.
Behind the Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles in terms of importance to me are the sports turtles. These included the likes of Michelangelo as a pro wrestler, Raph as a baseball player, and Leonardo as a quarterback, among others. I would not need to get all of these guys, but I really liked my vintage baseball Raph for some reason, and Mikey as a wrestler is just a lot of fun. Some of the others included a soccer Raph, basketball Donatello, and hockey Leonardo. Some of them are fairly charming, but definitely not essential (especially at $55 a piece if prices remain steady). Most of the other wacky turtle variants are things I don’t need. I have some nostalgic attachment to a few here and there (like Raph the Magnificent), but even as a kid they were figures I’d be excited to get, play with for a weekend, then retire. Unless they’re interesting visually, they have no appeal for me in a collector line.
That’s about it for me though. If Super7 gets to all of these figures then great, and if not, I guess I’ll have to live without them. I’m not saying I wouldn’t buy figures not listed above, but the rest aren’t figures I’m really rooting for. Some of that has to do with NECA as their cartoon Scumbug and Groundchuck are pretty close to that Playmates aesthetic, and since I’m all in on their toon line, it makes me less likely to get the Super7 offering. Had Super7 got to those characters first, then yeah, I probably end up with them similar to how I ended up with Baxter Stockman. That’s fine though. These things aren’t cheap and I have only so much room in my house to dedicate to toys.
Hopefully, retailers start getting their stock of TMNT Ultimates! Wave 3 and I can tell you how much I love the figures from that line. And hopefully Wave 4 remains on-track for Q4 2021. And hey, maybe some day I’ll be able to tell you what I think of Super7’s Disney Ultimates! which I ordered roughly a year ago. It’s 2021, baby, and release dates don’t mean a thing!