When it comes to character selection in NECA’s line of action figures based on the 1987 cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I think it’s safe to say we’re well into the weeds. This latest batch to arrive at Target as part of the company’s branded Haulathon have certainly illustrated that. Aside from heroic versions of Bebop and Rocksteady, I don’t think any of these characters would be considered household names. Even for people who consumed countless hours of the show as kids, many of these characters are probably hard for them to even recall. That is certainly true for today’s two-pack featuring Chakahachi and Lotus. For me, someone who has been immersed in TMNT since I was 4, I do recall the character of Lotus, or Lotus Blossom, but not because I can recall anything specific about her from the show. I’ve just come to think of her as a stand-in for the more popular Karai, a character who appeared in the comics and in most other versions of TMNT. As for Chakahachi? That’s a big “Nope” from me. I had to go digging to remember this guy and I honestly don’t know if I ever saw his episode. I probably did, as I’ve seen pretty much all of them save for every episode of the “Red Sky” era, but this ghost certainly didn’t leave an impression.
Who is Chakahachi? Well, he’s a ghost, which you may have surmised just by looking at him. He appeared in the episode “Farewell, Lotus Blossom” which was right in the heart of Season 4 airing in 1990 during peak Turtle-Mania. He should be memorable, but for whatever reason he is not. He was a leader of a clan baring his own name, but was sealed away in an urn with a magic pearl. When the urn was shattered in modern times, his ghost was set free to ravage the people of New York as he frantically searched for his beloved wife. He’s not really a villain, just a tragic ghost tale, and once his issue was resolved by the return of said pearl he went away never to be seen or heard from again. And it makes sense to pair him with Lotus since she was featured in that episode and somehow contained the spirit of the guy’s long dead wife. Like I said, I don’t remember the details. As for Lotus, she’s a ninja-for-hire who briefly usurps Shredder. She basically develops some feelings for Leonardo that could be classified as romantic, but it never goes anywhere. She did get to make more than one appearance in the show and in terms of the B-list characters she was somewhat high on the list of requests.
Let’s talk about the ninja ghost first. Chakahachi stands at approximately 6.75″ to the top of his hair, excluding the ponytail. He’s dressed as presented in the show wearing an old-fashioned ninja or samurai outfit that’s done in a range of blues. The armor is painted with more earthy colors and it pairs well with the pale blue of his flesh. I suppose it should be noted that in the show he was most often gargantuan in size, but I don’t think collectors were all that interested in paying $150 for a Chakahachi so this seems reasonable. He also was a normal size for parts of the episode so it’s not like this is inaccurate. Like most figures in this line, Chakahachi is painted from head to toe. It’s applied very well with virtually no blemishes on my figure. I’m especially impressed with how clean the line-work is around the yellow eyes which really help them pop. The cel-shading is fairly understated as the difference in the dark portion of the pants is barely perceptible when viewed from the side. It’s most noticeable on the more teal portions and the armor. The shoulder pauldron, I guess we’ll call it, is rather interesting as NECA put it on a hinged joint to help it get out of the way when moving the arm at the shoulder. It’s fine, but looks a little odd from certain angles. It also feels quite fragile so do be careful. Much of the torso features a soft plastic overlay and it looks quite good, but is going to present some problems when we get to the articulation in a moment.
Chakahachi being a ninja ghost probably doesn’t seem like the type of character that demands much in the way of accessories, but NECA did a solid job of loading this guy up. He has three sets of hands to make use of: fists, gripping, and open. The gripping hands, sadly, feature the wrong hinge which matters here since he has a pair of swords. Or rather, a katana and a dagger. Both have a scabbard and each one slots into a pair of rings on his belt. The setup does feel a bit fragile and I would suggest you go ahead and heat those rings with some warm hotter just a bit before inserting the scabbards to play it safe. The two bladed weapons slide in and out of the scabbards just fine at least. The dagger has a pretty simple paint job, but the katana is quite nice. It features a wrapped handle which looks quite clean though the blade seems rather thin. The open hands that Chakahachi comes with are slightly clenched to make use of his ghostly powers. In a rarity for this line, we get three effect parts: a small flame, a ball of energy, and a fireball effect. All are cast in semi-translucent plastic that has a hint of pink to it which imparts an ethereal quality. The little flame and the ball of flame or energy can rest in the open palm while the fireball effect is a more pliable plastic that actually wraps around the figure’s forearm. It’s done really well and I love how he looks with these effects to the point where I can’t even see myself posing him with the swords. And since he has three effect parts, but only two hands, it frees one up for another figure which is something I can appreciate.
Paint and accessories are the strengths of this figure, because articulation very much is not. Chakahachi possesses the standard range of joints, but he can’t make use of them all. The head is on a double ball peg which allows the head to do everything it needs to do. The shoulders are ball-hinged joints and they rotate just fine while raising out to the side to a horizontal position, being mindful that the left arm is a touch more limited due to that shoulder obstruction. The bicep swivels quite high on the joint, but it works just fine while the double-jointed elbows will bend past 90 degrees a healthy amount. The wrists swivel and all of the hinges are of the horizontal variety. That’s all the good stuff, the rest of the figure is not much to write home about. The torso is pretty much locked in place due to the overlay. You get nothing out of the diaphragm and the waist twist doesn’t work very well either. Whenever I try to rotate at the waist he wants to snap back in the opposite direction and I assume the overlay is to blame. The hips would be fine if not for the skirt. NECA declined to put slits in it anywhere which is a surprise because it’s segmented by design, but it’s all one piece. Because of that, he can’t do splits and can barely kick forward and back. You do get a little pivot at the thigh and the knees are double-jointed, but because the top hinge is buried in the cuffs of the pants it doesn’t really do much. I can force a 90 degree bend out of it, at least. There might be a boot swivel because my left leg doesn’t appear to be lined up properly, but I can’t get it to budge. I can get a little rotation though out of the top of the knee and the ankle. The ankle also has the customary hinge and rocker and both work fine. The rocker is pretty steep, but the range is good.
It’s a bit of a bummer that Chakahachi doesn’t articulate below the waist better than he does. I’m actually okay with the knees and ankles, it’s really the waist and hips. I suppose it wouldn’t be that hard to cut slits into the skirt for better range, but I’m not the type to customize my figures. They cost too much and I don’t trust myself. That would have solved a lot of the issues though. I’m not really sure why the waist won’t twist, but maybe it’s just that the tolerance is off on the ball joint there. The effect parts don’t require a ton of posing, at least. He can stand like a statue and look intimidating, but if you prefer the swords and for this guy to look more like an actual ninja you may be let down.
That’s the rundown on Chakahachi, but how about his not-wife Lotus? She’s another ninja character and the second female figure from this recent batch of figures, which is pretty cool. The TMNT franchise is fairly light on women so it’s nice to see the few that are a part of it get figures. Lotus is far more slight than her box-mate coming in at approximately 5.75″ to the top of her hair. She’s not particularly short for this line, but she is more slender. At the same time, she has some really long legs which is somewhat atypical of the show’s look which tended to squish most of its characters. I don’t know if she had exceptionally long legs in the show, but it looks fine here. Her hair is done with a swoop in the front that partially covers her face and adds a dynamic element to her presentation. Her expression is quite stoic, befitting the character, and her all gray and black attire makes her the most “ninja” of them all as well. There’s no garrish colors on display with Lotus which feels almost out of place. Her paintjob is not particularly demanding, but she does feature the cel-shading with gray on the front and black on the back. The paint on her belt is fairly clean, though the right side isn’t painted so you see gray when looking at her from an angle. There’s also some black paint on the jaw of my figure which is unfortunate, but I was able to get most of it off with a magic eraser to the point where it may not even be noticeable in my pictures. The paint around her mouth and eyes is sharp though, but where it’s not is on her hands. She has little armored bits on the back of her hand which go over the hinge. NECA cast the hinge in flesh-tone and painted gray onto them. This will flake off almost immediately if you make use of that hinge. It’s also not cleanly applied on all of the hands. Overall, she looks okay, she’s just not as flashy as Chakahachi.
For accessories, Lotus comes with an assortment of hands: fists, gripping, and open. The fists actually have a small hole through them so they can handle her actual lotus blossom accessory. It’s a nicely painted flower and it slots into either hand just fine. The gripping hands are interesting because they’re at a slight angle. Rather than just give them the proper vertical hinge, the angled shape allows Lotus to point her sword towards an enemy. It’s different, and while I’d rather she just have the proper hinge for her gripping hands I will say it’s better than the more straight up and down hands we usually get with the wrong hinge. And she does have a sword to swing with those hands. It’s shaped like a katana, though with a very slender blade similar to Chakahachi’s. It too has a wrapped handle, but is done with more muted colors. There’s a scabbard for it that slides into a ring on the back of the figure and that was fairly painless to insert. If you would rather a ranged weapon, she also has a short bow with an accompanying arrow. It has a real string and the arrow has a little cut-out so you can “nock” it if you wish. The string is very taut, however, and there’s not much flex to the bow so I wouldn’t go nuts. Getting her to hold it in a convincing fashion is also another matter entirely. Lotus also comes with the scent analyzer, one of the silliest devices from the show. It looks like a handheld vacuum cleaner, but with a nose at the end of the hose. It’s goofy, but the type of thing I want to see in plastic form. Plus, it’s something she actually used. It doesn’t feature any articulation though which feels like a missed opportunity. It almost looks like the hose is connected via a ball joint, but it doesn’t want to do anything and I don’t want to break it.
Lastly, Lotus comes with an alternate head featuring her hooded look. I’d tell you how nice it looks on her if I could get it on. When I tried to pop her head off, the double-ball peg in her head came out of the neck instead. Her head should come clean off, but I couldn’t get the damn thing out. To make it worse, I ended up popping the neck off from the double-ball peg it connects to thinking maybe the other head could go on that way, but it does not and getting the neck back onto her torso was a huge pain in the ass. I was heating it, applying lubrication, stretching out the hole, and I could not get it back on. I had to walk away and come back to it a few days later and I eventually got it back on, but there was no way I was going to try it again. The head looks fine, it’s well-painted and everything, but it’s not how I remember her. Plus, she has the remnants of the cowl sculpted onto her torso so it doesn’t make sense for her to have this head. We see stuff like this with superhero figures all of the time, and even NECA’s own Renet did this, where there’s a little removable loop for the cowl when a character isn’t wearing a hood or mask. I don’t know why NECA passed on that here, but it also creates the issue where her neck is flesh-colored when the cowl should cover it so with the ninja hood on she’ll look kind of silly. I’m sure that can be posed away to a degree, but it doesn’t feel like this alternate look was well thought out.
In terms of articulation, Lotus is anther mixed bag. The head, as detailed above, is on a double ball peg and the neck is on another double ball peg. This gives her a ton of range at the head and neck, though her hair gets in the way and if the scabbard is on her back that can be problematic too. She can rotate and look down, but the hair prevents her from looking up and restricts the more nuanced posing we’re accustomed to. I assume the hooded head has zero restrictions and probably moves pretty well, though it looks like the ball joint is designed to sit rather deep in the head so maybe its not as free as I expect. Since I can’t get it on, I don’t care. The shoulders are ball-hinged and she can raise her arms out to the side just fine. Unfortunately, they’re pretty floppy which is an unusual problem for a NECA figure. They rotate around fine and she gets the NECA double-jointed elbows featuring a swivel and hinge above and below the elbow. This allows her to bend past 90 degrees just fine and the more baggy design of these limbs also suits this style of joint pretty well. The hands rotate and hinge and all of the hinges are of the horizontal variety. They’re also all stuck out of the box. Her hands are rather dainty, so be careful when trying to free them. There’s nothing in the diaphragm and her waist will only provide some twisting motion. Her hips are really tight, and similar to my Rex-1, they make an awful clicking noise when trying to kick forward. I can just about force them to horizontal, but the figure is fighting me all the way. Going out to the side isn’t an issue as she can handle splits and she does kick back a bit, but her diaper piece includes a fairly ample posterior that will get in the way. There’s a little swivel at the thigh and the knees are double-jointed. The bottom hinge is stuck on both legs, but she should be able to bend past 90 degrees though doing so really illustrates how most of the length in her legs is below the knee. There’s no boot swivel, which is a surprise as one could have been added rather easily, but the ankle hinge and rocker combo works well.
Lotus is a bit of a frustration figure from a design perspective. Articulating her is not particularly fun as it feels like the figure is fighting me the whole way whether it’s the floppy shoulders that don’t want to stay in play, the hinges in the wrists that won’t move, or the hips which practically scream whenever they’re manipulated. Her gripping hands are also pretty firm so slotting the accessories into them is a pain. The sword works fine, but the bow and the scent analyzer are more of a challenge. She is one of those figures where you’re best off just using hot water on her hands before trying to get her to hold most of her stuff. And that second head is a bummer. While I was unlikely to display her with it, it would have been fun to snap some photos or maybe to change things up. Especially if it really freed up her head articulation like I imagine it would.
This two-pack is one where the figures look pretty fine in poses that aren’t particularly ambitious. Chakahachi has the accessories and presence to pull it off, while the Lotus design is attractive on its own. I do feel like Lotus should pose better though and really she should be one of the most dynamic figures in the whole line. There’s not much to her that should prevent NECA from really going all out on the articulation, but they just didn’t do a great job there and I’m not sure what the reason for that is other than she’s just kind of a dud. As a result, I prefer Chakahachi, even though it was Lotus I was looking forward to more. The fact that both can still look cool on a shelf is why I feel like I can still recommend this set to the TMNT collector out there that wants to go deep. Obviously, these are characters that a more casual collector probably doesn’t need or even have interest in. The design and effect parts on Chakahachi make him rather appealing to me personally, but is that enough to get someone who has no idea who these characters are to drop 60 bucks on the set? That’s probably a tougher call.
The Chakahachi and Lotus set is part of the TMNT toon line and is therefore exclusive to Target stores for the time being. Unfortunately, their online drop has come and gone and I don’t think it can be expected that they will return to the website. They were also part of the first week of the Haulathon event, but it looks like they’re being restocked in-store as I write this. As always, their distribution will vary by region in the US and your local stores may have already received a second batch or could still be waiting on it to arrive. It’s also possible that following the initial drop and online sale that any restock will hang out a bit longer this time around as people who want them get them. This is a set that really shouldn’t sell fast given the obscurity of the pair, but these Haulathon events are rather successful at generating buzz which helps to get product moving. It’s why we’re probably not done with this style of release, whether we like it or not.
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