There was a bit of confusion in the collector space when NECA unveiled the fourth figure in its deluxe line of action figures based on the 87 cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Muckman was the company’s chosen character and some immediately scoffed at the presentation. The green, lumpy, orange-clad mutant didn’t look “good” to them. It would have to be pointed out, numerous times, that this was Muckman from the classic cartoon series who appeared in only one episode, the 1991 “Muckman Messes Up.” In that episode, garbage collectors Garson Grunge and Joe Gunkee are exposed to mutagen via Bebop and Rocksteady causing them to mutate into the duo of Muckman and Joe Eyeball. Considering it was just one episode, it’s easy to see how some could forget over the ensuing 30 years, especially when as kids they were exposed to the original Playmates toy version of the duo. That figure was far more gross and detailed. When the character was brought to animation, there was just no way to preserve that on a TV budget so the character was simplified. He was still pretty grotesque, just less defined.
And NECA’s version of the character is TV specific, and like almost every figure from this line, the character looks like he was yanked right off of the screen. All of the details one would expect to be there are present: the banana peel on his head, the clothespin on his nose, flower petal on the shoulder, aerosol can on the ankle, mirror in the stomach, etc. There’s even that weird, gray, blob, on his chest which I have no idea what it’s supposed to be. He’s goopy and gross and looks just like how he’s supposed to.
Muckman getting the deluxe treatment was originally not supposed to happen. He was supposed to be in a 2-pack with Mondo Gecko, but the pricing wasn’t working out for NECA. Both he and Mondo are two characters that require a lot of unique tooling and it’s not the kind that can be reused down the road. Rather than up the price on a two-pack, NECA decided to split them up and make some changes. We’ll talk about how that impacted Mondo when we get to him, but for Muckman it would appear it had little impact. He is in his own unique packaging which seeks to emulate the f.h.e. VHS releases from yesterday, as have all of the deluxe releases in this line, and it looks terrific. He comes with less stuff though in comparison to other deluxe releases. Again, the cost of tooling likely played a role and NECA probably doesn’t plan on reissuing this figure as much as it will someone like Krang which helps offset some of those initial costs. This means Muckman will run you about $35 at retail, which is the higher price point for deluxe figures previously occupied by Krang with Metalhead and the Foot Soldier coming in at $30. With prices skyrocketing over the past year, I’m guessing $35 is going to be the new floor for this kind of release and $40 will be reserved for the higher cost figures (like Mondo and the upcoming Chrome Dome) going forward. It’s an unfortunate reality, but one all toy manufacturers have to deal with and as collectors we can either accept that or accept lesser products that must make sacrifices to keep costs down. I definitely prefer to keep the quality high, so for now, I’m just rolling with it.
Muckman stands just shy of 7 inches. He’s got a slight crouch to his stance so if you straighten him out completely he can probably hit that 7 inch mark or exceed it slightly. This is true to the show as he was larger than the turtles and he definitely looks to fit-in just fine with the rest of the line. He’s painted just like every figure in this line in that he’s got a darker paint job on his backside to simulate cel-shading and it generally looks pretty sharp on this guy. His bright, orange, jumpsuit is in tatters and there’s a ton of linework on him to accentuate each goop and glop on his body. This paintjob is super impressive as there’s a lot going on and I can’t find a touch of paint slop anywhere. This may be the best paintjob the line has seen to date and it’s great to see that level of quality on such a nice sculpt. This dude is one heavy figure and he’s very solid. I’m sure there will be people out there a little irritated at the price of the figure, but I doubt many will say this guy doesn’t feel like a deluxe release.
Muckman is a beefy dude, but he still has plenty of articulation. He basically has what you would expect him to. He’s a character without a neck, so his head mainly pivots from side-to-side. He can look up, but not down. At the shoulders we have ball-hinges and his arms can raise out to the side just fine. The tattered edges of his jumpsuit are soft and flexible so you can rotate his arm all the way around if you want to, though I would be mindful of potential paint rub. Past that we have a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows. The hands can rotate and are hinged for in-out motion. In the abdomen we have a diaphragm joint that is likely a ball joint that allows Muckman to rotate and tilt. There’s a lot going on with the sculpt in that area, so you do need to be mindful of that so you don’t mess up the paint. He can also swivel at the waist below that. The legs are the new model hips and, unlike my frogs, is plenty tight so he has no trouble standing. There’s a thigh twist and double-jointed knees below that and each, goopy, ankle has a hinge and a rocker. Yes, even that left foot with the manhole cover base can rock side-to-side. On my figure, the only joints that were tight out of the box were the knees. I’ve heated them up once and got them to budge a bit, but they’re still not perfect. I could probably heat them again to correct this, but I’m not sure I need to as I can’t see myself doing anything elaborate with his lower half.
Muckman pretty much nails the presentation side of things. The sculpt is excellent and so is the paintjob and he has more than enough articulation to satisfy collectors. Where he may come up a tad short is on the accessory end. Muckman comes with two sets of hands: gripping/trigger hands and open hands. He also has an alternate mouth which just plugs into the figure’s face. One is open and one is closed. He has his garbage can which slides into a slot on his back. The connection is loose, but the bucket will sit there just fine and it can support the weight of his biggest and most appropriate accessory: Joe Eyeball. Don’t try to force the bucket in or look for a click or you’ll risk breaking the tab on it. Just set it and forget it. As for Joe Eyeball, he’s a slight upgrade over the version Playmates released 30 years ago. He’s fully painted in the same cel-shaded style as Muckman. The cartoon version of the character omitted that weird, armpit, eyeball so it’s not on this one either. He does have some articulation though. His head is on a ball joint so he can rotate and tilt and look up and down as well. His top, two, arms are also on ball-hinges so there’s some pose-ability there as well. The two lower tentacles, legs, and tail are non-articulated so don’t try to crank on them. The tentacles are just glued in so they look like they could be articulated, but are not. Same for the eyes. It would have been fun if they were bendy, but then you have to worry about paint cracking and such so I get why they did it this way. He fits in his bucket just fine though and he can also stand on his own if that’s your preference. I like positioning him in the bucket with the bottom tentacles hooked onto the lip of the bucket so he looks like he’s peeking out from behind Muckman.
The Playmates version of the character came with this big, trash, bazooka-like gun, but in the show Muckman just tossed globs of himself at people. To replicate this, NECA included a cannister of green slime. There’s a radioactive symbol on the canister, which kind of resembles a drum barrel, just on the small side, and it’s sealed with cellophane. The substance, from what I’ve seen, is pretty viscous and actually holds together fairly well unlike the old slime which was thinner and ran all over the place. This Muckman can’t have slime dumped through his head and out of his mouth like that toy, but you can have him hold globs of it in his open hands or fill his bucket up with it. It’s not something I really want to mess around with though, so it’s just going to sit in that bucket and function as a visual accessory, but I suppose it’s cool NECA included it. What I would have preferred instead though, is just some trash globs that could fit in Muckman’s hands made out of a green, semi-transparent, plastic similar to an energy or blast effect that comes with various figures out there. I can accept a low accessory count with a figure that doesn’t really need accessories, but it is definitely something I feel like is missing and I’m actually a little surprised it is. The slime is kind of fun, but also not really something an adult collectible should come with. I guess it was cheaper than the alternative?
Muckman does come with one additional accessory and I wonder if it was added when NECA decided to make him a deluxe release. NECA is pretty good about setting a cost baseline for their figures, and if a figure comes in below that cost, they add stuff to bring it up as opposed to just pocketing the savings. At least that’s the approach brand director Trevor Zammit takes so Muckman comes with the Rockilizer gun. The gun was seen in a completely unrelated episode and was given to General Traag by Krang. The Traag and Granitor two-pack was a high-cost two-pack which didn’t come with a lot of accessories so using Muckman to get a unique weapon into Traag’s hands is pretty cool. I mean, I’d prefer that Muckman just have his globs of goo, but the gun is definitely a welcomed addition. It’s a cool looking design, though it’s potentially brittle since there’s not much holding it together besides a thin, tube, of plastic. That’s not NECA’s fault as it’s just how the design of the gun was made. I suppose they could have cast it in a more flexible plastic, but it at least looks as it should and the paintjob is well done. And to his credit, Muckman can hold it very well with his trigger hand, better than Traag can since he doesn’t have a proper trigger hand. That’s where it will go though in my display with Muckman opting for his open hands instead.
Muckman was probably not high on the wants list for a lot of people, but I doubt any are going to complain about this guy. He’s somewhat quietly turned out to be one of the best figures in this line so far. He looks just like the TV version, the sculpt is awesome, the paint is great, and he has plenty of functional articulation. And if packaging is your thing well that looks fantastic too! The only negative I could find with him is the lack of molded goop for him to hold in his hands. Otherwise, everything is awesome! The only other negative was having to wait a day shy of four weeks for NECA to ship him and Mondo Gecko my way after having a sale on their website. Both figures were advertised as “in-stock and ready to ship,” but it still took almost a month for him to reach me. I basically paid 15 bucks for the privilege to sit at home and wait, even though I’ve been seeing the figure in plentiful quantities at Target. Hopefully that’s good news though for anyone reading this that has yet to get one. He is a Target exclusive and if there’s demand beyond that NECA will probably make him available as a made-to-order item, but that’s probably a year away if not more so don’t delay. This guy may not seem like an essential character to some from the show, but he’s definitely worthy of being in your display.