2022 has been a year of catch-up so far for me. A lot of stuff I preordered a year or more ago is finally coming due, and often without the actual preorder! The NECA quarter scale toon Donatello from the classic cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is yet another preorder that just didn’t get fulfilled and was cancelled because I found another avenue. Though in this case, it was my buddy Mikey (@JehutyZero) who found this Donatello just hanging around a calendar store. And to make it sweeter, he was 50% off! Now, that was 50% off of an up-charged price to begin with, but I was still able to get him for well below the MSRP of $125. If waiting a few extra months saved me around 50 bucks every time then I’d be happy do it, so thanks again to Mike!
The quarter scale line was NECA’s reintroduction to the TMNT brand. That’s how we first got to experience the figures based on the 1990 movie and I loved those, and still do. I wasn’t sure about the cartoon line when it was announced, but the callback to the old Playmates Giant Size turtles and just how nice Raphael looked is what got me to bite. And If you get one, you kind of need all of them, right? When Raph dropped, he was our first taste of NECA’s retooled cartoon turtle with the mix and match expressions and updated articulation. Now, that’s old news since that’s been done in the smaller scale, but I’m still eager to see where this subline goes.
Like all of NECA’s TMNT figures, this one is pretty familiar because Donatello is essentially the same figure as Raphael. The only difference is the choice in color for the various pads and such and the belt which features a holster for his bo staff on the back and the big “D” belt buckle. And that’s fine, because the turtles all looked the same in the show. And it’s also fine, because that Raph figure is great! These guys weigh around three and a half pounds and stand pretty close to 15″ tall. They are impressive and demand attention no matter where they’re placed in a room. The paint apps are sharp and NECA does a great job of hiding the articulation so they have a very clean appearance. It’s a challenge to settle on a display pose and expression because no matter how you pose them, they look great.
With Donatello being largely the same as Raphael, he really can only separate himself via his accessories. NECA is apparently going to include two slices of pizza with each turtle. They key-in to each other so eventually you’ll be able to form an entire pie if you so desire. And Donnie comes with the box to store it in. The Vinnie’s Pizza box is made of paper, but it’s laminated so it’s not pitifully durable, though it would have been cool if it was plastic. Then again, at this scale the paper goods box does look a bit more authentic than a plastic one would. Another paper good is Donatello’s issue of Genius Quarterly. It’s just a piece of glossy paper with a crease down the center. It’s fine, but it’s so thin that it doesn’t really look much like a magazine. Donatello also comes with the same Turtlecom as Raph, which really opens and closes and is a lot of fun to just mess around with. And for hands he has three sets: gripping, open, and pointing. Of note, the gripping hands are the same as Raph’s with the wider finger placement. All of the hinges are horizontal though, which is a bummer as some vertical ones would have been nice (I’m guessing Leo will at least have those). And then there’s the trusty bo, which just like the smaller version, can separate in the middle which can help make it easier to get in and out of the holster. It’s fully painted and looks about as good as a stick wrapped in tape can look.
Donatello also gets to separate himself with his expressions. Like Raph, Donny has two sets of eyes: normal and angry. Unlike Raph, he comes with three mouth expressions to mix and match with: a smile, neutral, and yell. Donatello can look serious, grim, surprised, angry, and frightened. And these are all interchangeable so if you wish you can use any with Raph or use Raph’s open mouthed smile with Don. The act of mixing them up can be a shore as the fit is rather tight. I had to heat them up to get them together, but I suppose it’s better than the too loose issue I had with Raph. As I said earlier, it’s hard to pick a favorite expression. Right now I’m going with a battle pose and giving Donnie an angry yell, but I may switch it to something more light-hearted eventually, perhaps incorporating the pizza more.
Being that Donatello is the same figure as Raphael, the articulation is also the same. Or is it?! Well, yeah, it is, but with Donatello it works a little better. In my review for Raph, I stated there wasn’t a thigh swivel, even though it looked like there was one. Other reviewers noted the same, but credit to YouTuber Anthony’s Customs for getting me to revisit the subject when he insisted there’s a thigh swivel, it’s just stuck. I was prepared to break out the hair dryer with Donatello, but I actually didn’t need to. It seems NECA applied some extra lubricant to the thigh area this go-around, and while there’s still some tightness, I can confirm that thigh does twist. I still haven’t accomplished the same with Raph, but I probably will apply some heat and see what happens. It definitely helps in getting him to stand to have as much flexibility in the legs as possible. Everything else works pretty well. A lot of the joints are tight, but that’s because the figure is so heavy. I also love the double-jointed elbows and I really wish NECA could get those to work at the smaller scale. You get a solid 90 degree bend and the elbow pad hides the joint nicely.
This is just a very aesthetically pleasing release from NECA. Donatello is large and commanding, despite that not really being his nature. I feel compelled to get all four turtles, but really, just one of these guys has enough presence to tie together any TMNT display or to just be a one-off. The only downside is it can be hard to find room for a toy this large and that MSRP of $125 isn’t insignificant. I do think the value is solid for what you get, and the extra stuff that comes with Donatello really helps in that regard. Up next in this line is Leonardo, the best turtle, but when he’s coming is anyone’s guess. I think COVID really hit this line hard as the goal was to release all four in 2021, but that clearly didn’t happen. Hopefully 2022 is the year, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I’m curious what else we’ll see for accessories. Leo, given that he has two swords and probably requires different hands, might not have any surprises, but will NECA do a quarter scale turtle hook with Michelangelo?! That could be a lot of fun. Until then, Donatello and Raphael will jut have to hold down the fort until their brothers arrive.