The next figure in NECA’s line based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comic series is a much anticipated one for fans of those books and its spin-off The Mighty Mutanimals. And that’s because this character is making his debut in plastic. Previously, we looked at Slash who has been pretty well-represented in some form or another in most versions of the franchise. Last week was Man Ray’s turn, and while technically a new debut, he’s basically Ray Fillet from the old toy line so the anticipation level wasn’t quite the same. For Jagwar, we’re talking something completely new to the world of TMNT action figures. Like a lot of characters that make up the expanded universe of TMNT, Jagwar began life as an action figure concept for Playmates since Mirage Studios and its artists basically were churning those out in the 80s. He was rejected, for one reason or another, but he got a second chance at life with the comic series. In that, he was actually not a mutant jaguar, but the result of some lady getting it on with a Jaguar god. I guess that makes him a demigod or something? I don’t make the rules, so call him what you will. He’s a crusader for the Brazilian rainforest and his exploits have a real world connection in that they were influenced by activist Chico Mendes, who was unfortunately assassinated for his work in saving the rainforests of Brazil. He was even made an ally of Jagwar’s in the comics and he’s basically carrying on his legacy which is pretty cool.
Jagwar would befriend the turtles and then go on to become a founding member of The Mighty Mutanimals, and it’s from those books that this action figure from NECA appears to take most of its inspiration. During Jagwar’s earlier depictions, he was drawn with solid spots on his body and I think he even had a skull pattern on his forehead, but later the the spots turned to ring shapes which this figure utilizes and the skull was dropped. Jagwar, like the other figures in this line, is also based on the art of Ken Mitchroney so he’s somewhat stylized to resemble how he would draw the character. He also did the box art and the shape of the box is more in-line with what we saw with Slash as Man Ray had to go with an oversized one to accommodate his added bulk. Jagwar was first released as part of the Haulathon event with Target which is over at this point, but he may still be getting shipped out to Target stores. He is expected to eventually show up elsewhere including other big box retailers as well as specialty retail so if you missed out on this guy just keep your eyes open at other venues as he’s not likely to be too hard to come by.
Out of the box, Jagwar stands approximately 6.25″. He’s a mostly naked jaguar guy who just wears a necklace of leaves to go along with the same at the wrists and waist. The necklace is a separate piece that pegs into the back and chest so it doesn’t move all over the place. I assume it’s reinforced with glue, but I could be wrong. It definitely doesn’t appear to want to come out. The leaves at the wrist are more of the floating variety and could be slid off if desired while the leaves at the waist are done in a similar fashion to the necklace so they’re pretty locked in. The body is done in orange and painted over as well, which NECA often does. The only other paint needed are for the spots and some black linework here and there. The spots are done in brown, which seems consistent with the books, and my only critique here is that the opacity seems to vary between the limbs and torso giving some rings a darker look than others. There’s also no paint on the hands aside from the orange which makes them look a bit plain. I would have at least liked some linework around the claws and I’m going to assume having the claws match his fur is consistent with the source material. The head, which features a comical expression, has some nice linework and the eyes are rather cleanly applied so that is all in order. I think the expression some may take issue with as it is a bit odd, but we do have another head to talk about when we get to accessories so I think it’s fine. It has that toon vibe I associate with the Archie series so I don’t mind it.
And for those accessories, we have some interesting stuff and some pretty typical items. For hands, Jagwar has a set of fists, gripping hands, and open, style posed, hands. The gripping hands have a standard horizontal hinge and feature a pretty wide grip and they’re not really suited for much of what he comes with. And as for things he can hold, we get a little Malignoid slug, baby, worm, thing. It’s painted in blue and has a rather wicked head on the end of it. Mine is defective in that it’s missing its lower jaw, though it’s not something I even knew about until I saw another one. It’s pretty fat though so it doesn’t fit into his gripping hands effortlessly and you’ll probably end up leaving some orange paint behind on it when pulling it out. His other item for gripping is a stick going through a purple fish. It looks fine, but it’s almost too thin for the gripping hands. At the fattest portion, the figure still can’t really get a good grip on it, but you can position it to stay in his hand. The paint is really nice on the fish though I’m a little surprised he doesn’t have “X” eyes. Jagwar also comes with a little campfire to cook his fish over. It looks fine and the fire itself is done entirely with paint as opposed to translucent plastic. There’s also a bowl of fruit for when he’s not in the mood for fish and it looks fine too, but in the end, is just a bowl of fruit. There’s also a baby Jagwar so he can hold a baby version of himself and create a wicked time paradox. Lastly, we have a second head and in keeping with Man Ray there’s a cockyness to this expression. His eyes are narrow and I can’t decide if he’s ready to throw down or looking to attract a mate. It’s fun though and I have a feeling a lot of people will use this head in place of the more cartoonish one.
The accessories for Jagwar aren’t terrible, but do feel a bit lackluster. He did sometimes use a blow gun so I’m surprised to see that omitted, but regardless, he can make up for that with the articulation. Jagwar is pretty much all new tooling, and if anything is repeated it’s not obvious to me. As such, it will be interesting to see how he moves. The head is on a double-ball peg and it has terrific range. He can rotate, tilt, look up, look down, the whole nine yards. There’s no joint at the base of the neck, but he doesn’t seem to need it. The jaw on both heads is articulated, but it doesn’t open as far as I’d like on either. It doesn’t get ugly though, so that’s a plus. The shoulders are the customary ball hinge joints and Jagwar can raise his arms out to the side to about horizontal and rotate freely. We have a biceps swivel and single-hinged elbows. I’m a little surprised at the lack of double elbows here, but he can at least achieve a 90 degree bend. There’s a slight swivel at the joint too, but it doesn’t have much range and I don’t think the goal was to get much there either. The wrists swivel and hinge and all of the hinges are horizontal. They were also the only joints I’d consider stuck, but I was able to get them moving without having to resort to heating them. In the torso, we get a diaphragm joint that mostly allows for rotation. You get a little bend back, no crunch forward, and some tilt. The waist also has a waist twist. At the hips, we get the ball and socket joints that allow for the figure to almost hit a full split, but the leaves at the waist prevent the legs from going out to the side as far as they could. There is a little thigh twist there and the legs kick forward to almost horizontal (again, the leaves get in the way) and kick back a little. The knees are double-jointed and work fine while the ankles have the customary hinge and rocker combination which also works fine. Lastly, we have a wired tail on a little ball hinge that rotates and can be positioned pretty well. The wire is also strong enough that you could use the tail to help stabilize the figure if you so wanted to.
Jagwar moves pretty well for this line. I’m a little disappointed that NECA didn’t separate some of the leaves at the waist to provide some pathways for the legs as I’m sure they could bend further without the obstruction. We saw a similar situation with the Chakahachi figure from the toon line where the sculpt has room to be modified with the goal to achieve better range at the hips, but NECA opted not to do so. I’m guessing they were worried about the durability of the soft plastic if they had cut into it, but I think they could have found a way. The diaphragm joint also could be better as I’m surprised it gets virtually no range bending forward. This is a character who should have a lot of articulation so while I normally go soft on the criticisms when it comes to that area, I think this is one of the few characters that should have a bit more. Even with those shortcomings, he still poses pretty well which is a good thing because his accessories don’t offer a whole lot there. You can have him holding a bowl of fruit or roasting a fish over a fire, but that’s not likely to be how most assemble the Mutanimals on their shelf.
Was the wait worth it? Considering fans of Jagwar have been waiting for over 30 years for this I would have to guess that the answer is “No,” because how could it have been worth it? So many versions of TMNT have come and gone since without a Jagwar and that’s pretty surprising. If we’re just going back to when NECA got the license then I think the answer is “Yes.” Jagwar looks pretty cool and he’ll look good with his buddies, the ones already out and the ones likely to come. There’s certainly some room for improvement, but at the more normal price of $35 I think I can safely recommend Jagwar to fans of the Archie universe of characters and to those collectors that just want to mix him into their toon display. Archie fans, at long last your wait is over.
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