When I reviewed the Super7 Donatello last month, I noted how it was one of the longest waits I’ve ever had between the time I ordered something and the time I received it. Well, it’s already been topped. NECA’s Turtles in Time series of action figures based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game is the less celebrated wing of the company’s TMNT figure lines. It’s a specialty shop exclusive that largely consists of repaints of figures that have already appeared in the company’s cartoon line. There are some exceptions, like the Baxter Stockman figure, but largely it’s the most niche line based on the popular IP. The Bebop and Rocksteady set, based on their appearance in the Super Nintendo version of the game, is sort of the capper to the line. It’s the line’s only two-pack and it features two popular characters in amusing pirate attire. It went up for preorder in October of 2020, the same month as Super7’s wave 4 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and if I didn’t cancel my preorder and grab this set elsewhere I’d still be waiting. For whatever reason, the online retailer Big Bad Toy Store has been slow to get some NECA product. I’m still waiting for the quarter scale Donatello to come in stock despite that, like this set, being available months ago in other places. When someone pointed out to me that Amazon, of all places, had this set in stock I jumped on it. Sorry BBTS, I’ve waited long enough.
Bebop and Rocksteady are a bit unique for this line. They’re not just repaints, but they’re also not too far removed from the figures we’ve seen in the cartoon line (which came out back in 2019). The actual figures are largely the same and what’s been changed are the soft, plastic, overlays, that NECA uses to differentiate characters. It’s how they can basically use the same molds for Bebop, Rocksteady, and Leatherhead without it being really obvious. Of the two, Rocksteady is the most different. NECA had to add his pirate hat so he actually has new ears. His overlay on his torso is vastly different from the tank top the other figure features as it’s a dashing, captain’s, shirt and coat with ruffled shoulder pads. The arms had to be changed to accommodate this look since he’s now wearing sleeves. Everything else is the same which is a good and bad thing. Good, because the older Rocksteady is one of the best looking figures in this line still. Bad, because that figure used the old hips which are prone to breaking and difficult to pose. This guy is hard to stand and I’m currently using two NECA disc stands to keep him upright.
Bebop is also sporting a pirate look, but his look isn’t as drastic a departure as his buddy’s. It’s almost entirely limited to the overlays as he has a new bandana on his head in place of his hair and he’s wearing a striped shirt with a pink vest. The arms are the same, but NECA ditched the real chain-link bracelet in favor of sculpted ones on both wrists. The only real difference comes below the knee as Bebop’s pants end in tatters and his stylish high-tops have been replaced with what look like loafers with a big, yellow, buckle on each. He also doesn’t have a belt any longer, but still has his turtle shell shoulder pads and weird, skeletal, necklace. Unlike Rocksteady, Bebop is easier to stand as the new shoes actually work better than the old ones, though he too can still be a challenge as he’s very top heavy. I think with Rocksteady he’s just even more top heavy and his feet aren’t very large in relation to his body size. My only critique of this look is that Bebop’s shirt and glasses are more of a hot pink than the purple they appear to be in the game. You can also see his purple ponytail in the game, but NECA removed his hair to make room for the bandana on his head. And his eyes are still solid black under the glasses which is a bit of a bummer because his eyes become visible in the arcade game when hit and it would have been cool if we could simulate that as well.
Both figures feature NECA’s pixel deco and I think it looks okay here. With Rocksteady, the effect is played up rather well on his torso. I like how the gray and white on his vest turned out and there’s just enough on his arms and legs. His flesh is purple, which is in keeping with the game. His black hat is basically ignored when it comes to the pixel look which is accurate to the game as well. The paint is clean and sharp and if I have one criticism it’s that there should be some white near his eyes. As it stands, NECA basically painted them all black with a triangle of purple and it’s a bit freaky. Bebop is also well-painted, though his pixelization feels more understated. NECA could have done more with it on his chest, especially, but opted not to. If not for the gray patches on his legs he wouldn’t really appear pixelated at all when on a shelf. I suspect this bothers few though as, if anything, I see more people complaining about the pixel deco than praising it.
As far as articulation is concerned, these guys are exactly the same as the previous releases. They’re nearly the same base too so they articulate the same, which is to say, not very well. They’re not statues, but the articulation has always been something I’ve had to overlook with these guys. The head is on a ball or ball-hinge and doesn’t offer much range. The jaw on both is articulated and it offers a fair deal of personality, though Bebop can’t really close his mouth all the way. There’s a ball hinge at the shoulder that’s super tight on both figures. The shoulder pads both sport make it difficult to rotate the arms, and with Bebop, it’s basically impossible. There’s a biceps swivel on both and double-jointed elbows. The wrists swivel and hinge though the hinge isn’t very functional with Rocksteady due to the cuffs on his sleeves. There’s probably a diaphragm joint on both, but the overlays render it useless. You get a waist twist with some tilt, but nothing really in the way of an ab crunch. The hips are the old peg system where the peg on the right leg goes through the crotch piece into a cylinder in the left leg to join them. You get a thigh twist at that joint, which is a ball hinge in the top of the leg, with double-jointed knees below that. The feet have a hinge with limited range on both figures and it does rock side to side a bit, but not a whole lot.
These guys are a bit of a stressful pair when first opened. A lot of the joints on mine were pretty tight or stuck. I plunged both into a hot water bath before doing much of anything with those hips. It’s basically the same old story where the joints are painted, which causes them to lock-up in shipping, but this old leg system would be tight even without the paint. And there’s a lot of paint on these guys and it looks rather thick in places. You definitely want to exercise caution when breaking them in. And even being careful, I still popped Rocksteady’s arm off at the biceps joint due to the shoulder hinge being so tight, which isn’t typically an area of great concern. It thankfully popped right back on, but it’s become a chronic issue where anytime I try to move a shoulder it will pop off if I’m not mindful of how easy it is to do. I also have an issue with Rocksteady’s left knee. The peg that holds the leg together above the knee looks like it went in at an angle and doesn’t go straight through. There’s more separation there as a result and might be contributing to some of my issues with standing the figure since I need to put the leg perfectly straight in order to hide some of the gap created above his kneecap. It’s not super obvious, but it is obvious enough that it bothers me and I do worry about the joint eventually falling apart.
Since these guys are based on one boss battle in the SNES game, it’s probably not a huge surprise that they don’t come with much in the way of accessories. Both only used a single weapon each in the game: a sword for Rocksteady and a whip for Bebop. The sword looks fine. It’s a long, skinny, thing with some pixel deco applied. Rocksteady though doesn’t have the right hinge in his hand to properly wield it, though it’s likely his sleeve would have interfered anyway. Bebop’s whip is very similar to the one that came with the Punk Frog Napolean. It’s soft plastic with a wire inside so you can bend and position it as you see fit. Because of that it doesn’t have much in the way of a deco on it, it’s just brown with a black handle, but it’s fine. In addition to the weapons, both figures come with three sets of hands: fists, gripping, and open “style pose” hands. These are the same as the other releases with the only difference being the lack of a trigger finger hand, which is understandable given the weapons loadout here.
The Turtles in Time version of Bebop and Rocksteady is an okay release. NECA largely handled the look and presentation fine, which is what I assume most collectors are interested in. Anyone hoping for an improvement over the past figures will be let down and I do think NECA missed an opportunity to do just that. This is a fun, silly, version of the characters and the encounter in the game was one of the more memorable ones. It’s a big reason why the SNES version is superior to the arcade one which did not feature the two. Where the figures do come up short is in the articulation and some of the dated engineering. They’re just not fun toys to pose as a result. I suppose it’s a good thing they’re from a video game as most will probably set them in a pose similar to their default sprite and let it be. I do think it’s silly that NECA didn’t at least update the hips. They already have the upper leg pieces from the Triceratons, but they might have needed to do a new crotch piece since that figure was equipped for a tail. Still, Bebop and Rocksteady figure to be among the most popular characters in the line and are a candidate for a re-release so why not re-configure the hips for such?
This two-pack figures to be the last release in the Turtles in Time line for at least a little while. NECA is still planning on releasing a color variation on the Foot Soldier, but no solicitation has been made available and I’m not sure if that release is from Turtles in Time or the original arcade game (chances are, it works for both). There’s also a two-pack (I think) planned based on the first arcade game featuring Traag and Granitor. It was shown long ago at Toy Fair, but it was during NECA’s negotiations with Viacom to bring a cartoon line to retail and once that was secured they basically abandoned the idea of doing the rock soldiers. Since they’ve done them for the toon line, it’s not a huge surprise they’re going back to them in 2022. Like the Foot though, no solicitation has gone out yet so who knows if they’ll actually be released in 2022 (NECA is planning on doing more Mirage Studios inspired figures which is effectively taking the place of the Turtles in Time subline) or if there’s any room on the release calendar. If this is it for Turtles in Time, NECA has definitely given collectors enough for a worthwhile display. They could always come back with Krang or the duo Bebop and Rocksteady took the place of in the SNES version of the game, Tokka and Rahzar, or even Metalhead. It’s easy money to just repaint existing figures with a video game look, so it definitely wouldn’t surprise me to see the line make a comeback some day.