I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile. Antrax and Scumbug only appeared in the cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles once, but like last week’s figure review, they were present in the toy line long before their animated debut. And these later period episodes, such as “Night of the Rogues,” tended to just stick with the Playmates look rather than do their own thing (Slash) probably because they just didn’t have the time to design their own characters. And for me, Scumbug is a very nostalgic character. I can still remember getting him from my grandmother along with Michelangelo. The character honestly freaked me out a little because he was so gross looking and downright creepy. And for awhile, he was just one of those villains that never appeared in the show and it was a bit of a surprise when he finally did since I had just assumed the show passed him over for some reason.
Since these characters were so closely aligned with the vintage toy, much is the same with the NECA version. I almost feel bad for Super7 since they have yet to get to doing these characters as some (like me) may now pass on their version because these turned out fantastic. Let’s just get it out of the way right now: this might be the best two-pack yet. It’s between this one, Bebop and Rocksteady, and Groundchuck and Dirtbag. I think what will ultimately separate all of those sets from each other is just nostalgia for the product. Those who never had the Playmates toys might not care that much about these guys because they were, after all, only in one episode. However, I do think one look at this set from anyone with even a hint of affection for this toyline might be enough to get them to pull the trigger because these bugs are just that cool to look at.
We might as well go in alphabetic order and start with Antrax. This is one big ant. He’s Krang’s executioner from Dimension X, if memory serves (come on NECA, lets put character bios on these boxes!), and he looks the part. He’s a big, black, ant with red veins on his body, a brown carapace, and a purple executioner’s hood. Maybe the purple is odd, but the red and black is not. And even though he’s a bug, he’s a big fella coming in at a tick under 7 inches to the top of his head. The antennae make him push past that if you want to factor them in. Basically, he’s not looking up to many guys in this line as I have him just a touch taller than characters like Zarax and Metalhead, and shorter than only Krang’s Android Body, the pizza monster, and Chrome Dome. And what stood out to me when I first picked up that rather large box these bugs come in was just the size of his head. This dude’s got one big dome and the really cartoony sculpt (Jon Matthews) is an attention grabber.
The other thing that probably jumps out is the amount of limbs on this guy. He’s an ant, so he’s got to have six limbs which take the form of four arms and two legs. The designers of the old toys really loved going against symmetry as he and Scumbug both have a different design for their left foot and right. He’s got a purple boot on his right foot, and exposed toes and claws on the left. The arms are almost all the same though as they’re black with red veins and orange elbow pads. The upper right arm has the remnants of some handcuffs on the wrist while the other three just have orange-yellow bracelets that match the elbow and knee pads. He has shoulders for each arm too which is most noticeable from the rear of the figure which is kind of interesting. It’s like NECA took a standard figure, and in place of a head inserted another upper torso. There’s a shoulder strap that’s home to a knife sheath on the back of the figure and a belt around the waist that’s got a non-functioning pouch on it. Skulls are a theme with this guy as one shows up on his belt and more will feature into the accessories. He’s a really fun design and the paintwork is excellent. Since he’s mostly black, we don’t get much of that half-and-half shading, though it is present on the hood and boots, but he’s got some shading on the front of his carapace and the other paint accents are cleanly applied.
The articulation on this guy is both familiar and unique. We only have one, true, four-armed character in the line (I don’t count Baxter) in the form of Screwloose, but this guy has four, fully-articulated, arms to pulverize turtles with. Screwloose, if you recall, had single elbow joints and he’s a bit of a little guy for the line. Antrax has four legit arms and each one is connected to his body via a shoulder ball and hinge. He has double-jointed elbows with elbow pads thus proving that we should be able to get the same on the actual turtles. It works great too as he can bend past 90 degrees at each one. There’s a biceps swivel on each arm, but all four were stuck on mine and I still can’t get the upper right arm to work. There’s just too much play in the shoulder to get enough leverage even after heating it up. The wrists all swivel and hinge, but they all have horizontal hinges which is a real bummer. I don’t know why NECA did that, but all four should be vertical since he’s got a bunch of melee weapons. Or at least it should have been two and two.
At the head, Antrax features what I think is just a single ball peg. It’s wicked smooth, if I may bust out some northeast slang, and it’s oddly satisfying to manipulate. He can’t look down much at all, but he can look all the way up and tilt his head. The antennae on top and the two pincers or whatever those things are on the snout can rotate. In the torso, he has a joint in the middle that lets him rotate and slide to the left or right. It’s kind of funky as you can basically purposefully miss-align the shoulders, if you wish, which looks odd. He can’t really crunch forward and back though, but not many figures in this line can. There doesn’t appear to be a waist twist, but past that he’s pretty conventional with ball-jointed hips, double-jointed knees, and ankles that hinge and rock side-to-side. His thorax, tail, whatever it’s called is connected via a ball-peg and can rotate all about on the figure’s rear. Aside from the biceps, I’ve had no issues with joints being stuck. Some of the wrists are more loose than I’d like, but otherwise everything else is great.
As for accessories, an executioner needs tools for execution and Antrax comes pretty well loaded. I will say for starters, he has no extra parts, just four gripping hands. There’s a lot of unique tooling going on here so I’m not surprised by the lack of extras, but I do wish he had a couple of hands. I already said I wish he had vertical hinges, but just something to have instead of a gripping pose for any hands that aren’t holding a weapon because it looks awkward to have an empty gripping hand. He does at least have enough weapons to occupy each hand. Up first, is a dagger with a red handle and skull pommel. This one can slot into the sheath on his back or be held like a dagger normally is. He’s also got a much larger sword with a wicked spiked, handguard, suitable for hacking some bone. There’s a big, spiked, club with a red taped handle that’s quite pointy and also quite heavy. This one gives the figure the most trouble with the looseness of some of the hands since it possesses so much weight. The top is flat though if you just want to stand it beside the figure. Lastly, what would an executioner be without an axe? Antrax has a massive double-sided axe with a bunch of notches taken out of it and another skull for good measure. It looks terrific and it’s between this or the little dagger as for what my favorite is. I will say, getting the weapons into his hands is tough as they’re pretty firm and the handles are also pretty thick. Not wanting to risk getting red paint on the hands of my figure, I just went ahead and dipped them in hot water first. Even then, getting the axe in-hand is tricky because it’s so thick at the base.
Antrax is pretty awesome, and he seems to be the preferred figure from this two-pack for many, but for me that honor is going to Scumbug. His sculpt and my nostalgic affection for the figure is what’s primarily winning him over for me. He stands much shorter than Antrax at approximately five and a half inches, six and a quarter to the top of his antennae, but he commands just as much attention. I owe that mostly to these wild eyes he possesses. They’re yellow and bloodshot with a purple iris and a black inner pupil. He pares that gaze with this big, maniacal, smile and I can’t help but smile back when I look at him. He’s another character with an exposed brain on top and his yellow antennae appear to be taped together like a topknot or something. I think he’s supposed to be a mutated exterminator and he’s sporting the tattered remains of a blue dress shirt and tie and gray slacks. His body though is in varying stages of mutation. Both arms feature spikes poking through the flesh, while the left hand has discarded his human flesh in favor of purple. His gut is also hanging out and it too is purple and lumpy while his left foot has apparently torn through his boot and the right is just starting to do the same. On the rear of the figure is his carapace and a backpack that contains who knows what. It connects to the figure’s chest via non-removable tubes and a third tube that connects to a handgun that looks like an exterminator’s sprayer.
This sculpt for Scumbug is just wild. A lot of that harkens back to the old toy, which I no longer have. It’s an insanely detailed and complicated character for animation, especially a somewhat cheaply produced cartoon like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the paint application is phenomenal. We get the same style of shading on much of the figure as we’re accustomed to save for the head, which I think is wise since there’s enough going on there. There’s a lot of black lining on this guy around the various spikes, warts, and whatever that’s all applied very clean. There are so many places where things could have gone wrong, like the fleshy parts poking through the thighs of his pants, but it didn’t. It’s terrific and I’m in love with this hideous monster of a bug.
Scumbug, being this kind of short and pudgy figure, looks like something that would not articulate well, but of course that’s not the case. He’s one of those characters who is hunched over a bit so his head more sticks out than up from the body. This means he can’t look up, but he can look down and side-to-side and the range on the side-to-side is great. There’s so much personality to it and it’s similar to the Super7 Muckman in terms of functionality. He also has an articulated jaw which just adds to the crazy when it’s opened and everything inside his mouth is well-painted and detailed. The shoulders are ball-hinged and his biceps swivel where the arm pegs into the sleeves. He has double-jointed elbows which bend past 90 and wrists that swivel and hinge horizontally. In the torso, he’s got a ball joint where the shirt meets the lower body that lets him rotate and tilt a bit and he also has a waist twist below that. The hips are the standard ball-joints and his knees are double-jointed with hinges and rockers at the ankle. It’s all surprisingly functional and really the only thing holding him back is that pack that happens to be on his back which throws off his balance. You’ll have to manage that while posing him, or use a stand, but I’ve been able to get him into some decent poses without the aid of such.
Like Antrax, Scumbug does not come with extra hands or an alternate head. He definitely doesn’t need another head, but some style posed hands would have been nice in the event you don’t want him gripping something. His right hand, the more human-looking one, is in a trigger finger pose which is odd as he comes setup to wield his gun with his right hand. That one, the clawed one, is a gripping hand and if you don’t want him to hold the gun with that hand you simply unpeg the hose from the backpack and switch it to the other side. Whatever hand isn’t holding the gun can wield this little insect-shaped device which threw out some funky electric net in the cartoon. He also comes with a big, chunky, purple, handheld device that’s from a different episode, but NECA loves shoving these random tracking devices into sets. Lastly, there are three unmutated cockroaches to scatter across your display. They’re actually pretty well-painted with brown on top and yellow on the bottom.
The accessory count is plenty good as Scumbug has all that he needs. About the only thing I’m missing with this guy is somewhere to store the gun should I not want him holding it. I suppose I could just unhook it from the backpack, but I wish there was a holster somewhere for it. It’s not a big deal for me as I plan to display him always with gun in-hand.
This insect-themed two-pack is one of NECA’s best. Antrax and Scumbug both are fantastic sculpts with an exceptional paint job and a great batch of accessories. We’ve come a long way in that regard as thinking back to Bebop and Rocksteady those figures featured a lot of the same tooling, had duplicate hands and weapons, and not much that made the set unique. Here we have a ton of new tooling for both the figures and weapons and it’s all tooling that really won’t be of much (any?) benefit going forward. It does come at an added cost as this set was $65 instead of the now usual $55. It’s worth every penny though as these guys are awesome and I hope collectors don’t sleep on this set just because these characters weren’t in a dozen episodes.
NECA made this set available for preorder back in April of 2021. It was the last of three new releases for the toon line that month and if you didn’t order it then you should get another shot when it hits Target. As of this writing, we have no idea when that might be. It seems NECA is just about done shipping all of those orders so it could be that we may see them ship to Target soon. Or, NECA pre-sold the entire order and collectors will have to wait for a second run at a later date. I don’t think so, but I suppose it’s possible. I think it’s more likely the company is just prioritizing the customers who already paid for their sets, since I had no problem exchanging my broken pizza monster for another leading me to believe they’re sitting on a bunch of inventory just waiting to be released. If you’re in the market, keep an eye out. They’ll probably hang around for a bit due to the price and the characters being unfamiliar to casual collectors, but then again, they are exceptional action figures so maybe they come and go pretty fast. If you are collecting this line though and have been on the fence with these guys, I say get off of it, because you’re missing out on two of NECA’s finest.