Author Archives: Joe

NECA TMNT Cartoon Metalhead

Metalhead has arrived to join the ranks of friend or foe, you decide!

It took longer than anticipated, but at long last I now have a complete Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Wave 3 from NECA as I have in my hands the Deluxe Metalhead! Metalhead was released back in July alongside the Casey Jones and Slashed Foot Soldier set at Target stores in the US. While distribution numbers are not particularly high for this line as-is, it seemed most stores that received stock only received two copies of Metalhead. Re-stocks over the ensuing weeks were sparse and it soon became obvious that Metalhead was the figure most sought after from this wave, simply because he was the hardest to obtain. It was hard enough that NECA even put Metalhead up on their webstore for a week in August as an open pre-order. Fans could pre-buy the figure and NECA would deliver at a later date (right now, estimated to be in November). It’s a pre-order model that Super7 has utilized for awhile now and it was something NECA had to hear a lot about from angry fans on social media that couldn’t find this guy in stores. It probably didn’t help that Super7 even had their own version of Metalhead up for pre-order for a large chunk of the summer.

Fans might be driving NECA up a wall with all of the complaining about how difficult it is to find their product, but at least they’re not complaining about the figure. And that’s because Metalhead is one fine hunk of plastic. This is the first of the deluxe line of TMNT figures from NECA which means it’s a stand-alone figure, not a two-pack, and it’s priced a little higher than the other figures. In this case, Metalhead will run you $30 at retail as opposed to the $26 we pay per figure with the two-packs, so it’s not a big change. The figures come packaged in NECA’s five-panel window box that it utilizes for a lot of its Ultimate releases and the figures in this line will largely consist of new tooling and sculpts that can’t easily be leveraged for other figures, thus justifying the added cost. Originally, NECA envisioned these deluxe figures having their own release in between waves of two-packs, but NECA’s move to stagger their releases (and the delays caused by COVID) obviously altered the company’s strategy. It remains to be seen how the next deluxe figure’s release, Android Krang, will be handled when it ships sometime this October.

First of all, the move to the deluxe format has one obvious advantage: the packaging. I’m not ragging on NECA’s window-box packaging for the two-packs, but it’s basically the same thing from release to release. With this deluxe release though, NECA did something fun. Referencing the old f.h.e. VHS releases of the cartoon, NECA created new artwork depicting The Mighty Metalhead. It looks just like an oversized VHS right down to the font utilized on the cover. The panel on the front opens up to reveal the figure and some nice photography of it in action. Mint-in-box collectors should be really happy with this release, and I even placed an order via NECA’s pre-order to potentially do just that. For this release though, I’m cracking this sucker open!

Metalhead is a big, beefy, boy despite not containing any organic matter. He’s noticeably taller than the turtles, coming in at about six and a half inches, and much wider too. He’s obviously based on his animated series look which was also similar to the old Playmates toy. The biggest change is in the vac-metal chest, which is just a shade of orange here, and in the absence of an exposed brain in his head. He’s mostly gray, with a yellow “mask” and green feet. I love the linework, as I usually do with NECA’s cartoon releases, and there’s some nice texture work as well. He looks great, like he was pulled directly from the cartoon, and has inserted himself into the conversation for best figure released in this line. I have no issues with the sculpt work here, though some of the paint leaves room for nitpicks. There’s a bit of slop in the linework, like with his feet, and some stray paint around the elbow pads. The paint on the rear knee joint also flaked off exposing gray plastic in an area that’s otherwise supposed to be black. It’s the rear of the figure, so it’s not a huge deal, but I was expecting a higher level of quality with the deluxe release instead of arguably a lesser one.

This big boy can also move, and when it comes to articulation, Metalhead’s unique construction actually affords him a little more movement than his organic brothers. He has all of the usual articulation: ball-jointed head, shoulders, and legs with single joints at the elbows and double-joints at the knees. His ankles are on ball-pegs and can go up and down and rotate with some rocker action. He swivels at the hips, biceps, and wrists and his hands have a hinge as well. What he has that the turtles lack is an articulated jaw and a waist swivel. The jaw adds a lot of expression to the figure and is done so well that it’s not even apparent his mouth can open when looking at him. The waist swivel is hidden by the belt and it adds in some extra poses for the figure, especially when using one of his attachments. Since it does mean his shell is in two pieces, he looks pretty bizarre from the rear when his waist is turned, but I’m guessing folks aren’t going to have his shell showing in their display. He also has an articulated lever on his back, an on/off switch from the show, which is a nice touch. It’s fun to play with, but if you’ve read or watched a review of this figure already then you know that it’s a piece one needs to be mindful of. It can snap, and you’ll want to make sure Metalhead is positioned on your shelf in a manner in which he’s unlikely to fall, lest he land on his back and break that thing off. He moves well, and the bulkiness of his sculpt interferes only a little. The pads at the elbows do appear to prevent him from bending a full 90 degrees and the lack of a butterfly joint can make it a little tricky to get him into a proper pose with his vacuum cleaner attachment, but inserting such a joint would have messed up the chest portion and I understand NECA being unwilling to make that sacrifice.

Metalhead required a lot of independent tooling to create, and if you’ve been collecting toys for awhile you should know that means the figure is probably going to be light on accessories. In the case of Metalhead, that’s not exactly true. He comes with the usual assortment of hands one would expect: fists, gripping, and open. To go with those hands are three distinct accessories that provide Metalhead with some varied display options. One accessory is a drill attachment for his hand. It has a little peg inside it that fits into the wrist socket and is the go-to accessory for many a robot in animation. His second optional hand attachment is pretty fun: a vacuum cleaner. It snaps in like the drill hand and contains a hinge joint at the base like, you know, an actual vacuum cleaner. Should NECA make good on its tease to release a sewer lair diorama, I foresee many Metalheads converted to the role of turtle maid. And lastly is Metalhead’s defining ability in the cartoon and Turtles in Time: his chest cannon. Metalhead’s “pectorals” are on hinges and open to reveal a peg-hole for his chest laser. In the show, it popped out of his chest, but that obviously won’t work for an action figure. The peg-hole approach works just fine and NECA even added a second hole to feed a little wire into it. It’s a hard, prehensile, wire, like what we’ve seen on the battle-damaged Foot Soldiers, and you do probably want to be careful with it so as not to strip-off any of the plastic coating it. This is my favorite of the accessories and I assume it’s the favorite of most of the collectors who get their hands on this guy.

Metalhead is a tremendous amount of fun as an action figure. He is a terrific likeness in regards to the source material, and if you’re like me and always wanted a cartoon-accurate version of the character, this release should satisfy that craving. The only thing disappointing about this figure is the availability. I wish I had received my copy before or during NECA’s pre-order window so I could have ended this review by posting a link of where to order, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that. Hopefully, anyone who wanted one got their order in or found another, scalper-free, way to get one. Wave 3 is still showing up in Target stores in the US, so there’s still a chance a store near you gets one. And I assume the factory order NECA places for those who pre-ordered won’t be an exact one-for-one order so there likely will be leftovers that either get made available on NECA’s website or get shipped to Target around the end of the year. It’s also possible he gets a new paint deco and release as part of NECA’s Turtles in Time figures in 2021, though probably without the vacuum.

That also closes the door on my look at the third wave of cartoon releases from NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license. It’s been the most exciting wave yet for me as I had the first seven sculpts via the San Diego Comic Con release, so this was the first retail wave in which I was after every set. While there were some ups and downs, and I actually never found any of these in a physical store, I was left largely impressed and satisfied. I do think Metalhead is the star of the wave, and he should be since he’s the most expensive of the bunch, but that’s no slight on the likes of Casey Jones or Leatherhead as they were mighty impressive as well. As of right now, we don’t have a date for Wave 4. We know Krang in his android body is expected in October. He’s the next deluxe figure so we know he’ll cost at least $30, but he’s also damn big so it won’t shock me if NECA needs to up that price. International retailers are taking orders for the Granitor and Traag two-pack, so I think it’s reasonable to assume that is the next two-pack headed our way and it certainly would be appropriate if Krang arrives at retail alongside his two most loyal soldiers. Beyond that, Wave 4 should also include the much anticipated Splinter and Baxter the Fly two-pack, a two-pack of Triceraton officers Zorax and Zork, and another two-pack containing a Triceraton soldier and a pair of Roadkill Rodney robots. It’s going to be an expensive fall, so start saving now!

As for me, I’m happy for a break. It’s been a month of NECA posts on this blog, almost all of which were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles related. I’ll look to add a little more variety in September, though I still have one TMNT post in progress to come in a week or so. We’re also rapidly approaching fall, so I need to get Christmas on the brain and get to work on that feature for December. It’s always busy around here, even if the posts slow down.


NECA TMNT Super Shredder

“The last vial of ooze!”

“He must have drank all of it!”

“It’s a Super Shredder!!!”

It’s a simple, obvious, and corny introduction for a character, but as a 7-year old it felt rather impactful. The introduction of Super Shredder in the waning moments of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze answered a question I had always asked myself as a young TMNT fan: what would happen if Shredder exposed himself to mutagen?

Super Shredder appeared in the film for less than two minutes, but he left a big impression on me. Despite the fact that his appearance was anti-climactic, and the whole sequence is frustratingly bad. A large, imposing, Shredder confronts the turtles beneath a dock. Since this is the sequel film and the goal was to reduce the violence on screen, the turtles try to reason with their foe in an attempt to avoid direct conflict by literally pleading with him to “listen to reason.” Super Shredder is apparently a thoughtless baffoon though, and rather than have the turtles do battle with this ultimate version of their foe, they make some dumb jokes before Leonardo reminds them that they’re turtles and they retreat to the nearby water while Shredder continues mauling the supports of the dock they’re under until it collapses on him, killing him. Basically anyone in the turtles’ position could have felled Super Shredder as being turtles wasn’t a requisite for using water, it would have been for anyone who could swim.

For the better part of 30 years, Super Shredder has largely been forced to hide in the shadows.

Despite the incompetence of Super Shredder, I still found the character fascinating. That was in part due to me missing out on TMNT II. For whatever reason, likely just a lack of desire to see the film, my parents never took me to see the sequel in theaters like they had the original. It’s not that surprising as we probably attended one or two movies a year as a family and I doubt my parents were looking forward to seeing that one. We were more of a rental family. As a result, I had to hear about Super Shredder secondhand for nearly a year and wonder what he even looked like. When Playmates released an action figure of Super Shredder, I heard about it from my cousin, who claimed his friend had one. He also claimed his friend got it at Bradlees in Woburn, Massachusetts. Bradlees was a department store not exactly known for toys, but they carried some. My cousin and I begged our mothers to take us, but they had no interest in doing so. When I told my friends at school about the existence of a Super Shredder toy, they didn’t believe me! Then one day while recess is wrapping up, a kid walks by us and drops a Super Shredder action figure on the ground. I can remember just pointing and shouting “Super Shredder!” while my friends looked on with their mouths agape in shock and surprise. The kid was a little freaked out, he was a grade or two below us, scooped up his toy and ran off.

Eventually I would see The Secret of the Ooze and even get my own version of Super Shredder, both things happening Christmas of 1991. And while I found Super Shredder’s big reveal and quick death a bit disappointing, I never once thought the character didn’t look cool. He was impressive, and any article written about the character is required to include the trivia that it was professional wrestler Kevin Nash under the helmet. Nash was billed as being six feet and ten inches tall. I don’t know how accurate that is to reality considering wrestling is never shy about boosting such numbers, but he’s a pretty big guy. And the film makes him look as big as possible in how it films him with the camera often being at a low angle or behind him. He’s never really in a full frame, and the only time another character is in frame with him it’s Leonardo and they film his feet kicking furiously above Shredder’s shins as he’s held up. He’s then shot face-to-face with his head above Shredder’s, but most of their bodies are out of frame so we don’t know where his feet were in that shot. It could be just some clever editing and positioning to make the character appear even larger, or maybe he really was just that much bigger than Leonardo.

Either way, it’s one reason why the brand new NECA action figure of Super Shredder is so much larger than what has come before. He is essentially the first deluxe figure from one of the films joining Metalhead from the cartoon line. He stands at about 9″ tall with the middle point of his crested helmet touching the 9″ mark on my tape measure. This is a far cry from the only other Super Shredder action figure based on his appearance in TMNT II, the Playmates one, which stood at a mere 5″ at his tallest part, basically making him the same size as the movie turtles from Playmates. Scale was never the strong point of the vintage line, and despite the inaccuracies I truly loved that figure as he replaced my main Shredder for me when I played. Even after I broke his left hand off, I simply replaced it with a brass hook and never looked back.

Now, I’m on record as not being much of a fan of the second TMNT movie. It’s a corn-fest full of bad jokes, limited fight choreography, and a rather uninteresting plot. However, it does contain some pretty gnarly costume designs and Super Shredder certainly qualifies. For awhile, NECA resisted calls to even look at this film since most of the folks who work there seem to share a similar opinion to mine. The line is selling too well though and there are only so many figures one can mine from that first film. Super Shredder was inevitable, but I’m happy to say NECA nailed this one.

For this release, Super Shredder comes in a package similar to NECA’s Ultimates line. The cover art is also a bit bold in that it doesn’t even feature the figure beneath. It’s the theatrical poster for the film which has the turtles looking down on a canister of ooze with the silhouettes of Tokka and Rahzar in the background. It does say “Super Shredder” at the bottom, but it is surprising to see. Though this is also in-line with most Ultimates from NECA from film as many are either a poster or VHS artwork. Plus, few people are impulse buying Super Shredder since they won’t hang out on Walmart shelves, where he’s presently exclusive to, long enough for that to happen. The sides and back do feature photography of the figure, and it’s the standard five-panel setup as the front panel is a flap and flipping it over reveals a nice, full body, shot of the figure on the left and the actual figure on the right.

Super Shredder is a behemoth, but he comes packed with a lot of the articulation one would expect of a NECA release. He features ball-joints at the head, shoulders, abdomen, waist, and thighs. He has good side-to-side motion at the head with limited up and down, but there is a joint in the neck that provides for better up and down. This is an important detail since a figure this size is probably going to have to look down a lot. There is no classic bicep swivel on Shredder, but he does have an interesting double-ball setup for his elbows. It reminds me of the cartoon April as the top joint basically serves the same purpose as a bicep swivel with the second ball placed at the top of the forearm in front of the gauntlet. This gives him double-jointed elbow range and allows his bicep to be cut-free. The knees are similar in that you get double-jointed motion without the traditional double-jointed look. The top knee joint is peg-less and swivels, replacing a more traditional boot-cut. NECA likely didn’t want the shin guards to overlap any of the joints thus why the swivel is above the knee. His hands and feet are on ball joints and can rotate, move up and down, and the feet can rock side-to-side quite a bit. His armor does hinder his articulation, but not as much as you may have expected. The shoulder pads sit nice and high so he has good rotation at the shoulders and the abdominal joint allows for a range of upper body motion I wasn’t necessarily expecting. There’s no articulation really missing, though if I have one complaint about the figure it’s that the waist joint is pretty loose. It doesn’t interfere with posing, but he will flop around a bit in your hands and you’ll have to take care when posing that everything is lined up the way you want it in regards to his chest and abs.

The sculpt-work is the real star of the show with this guy. The shape of the head looks perfect and the fact that we now have a screen accurate Super Shredder in action figure form makes it a lot easier to really take in all of the details since his lone scene in the film was so dark. He has this crazed look in his eyes which makes it seem like the ooze not only gave him a surge in strength, but also a rush of adrenaline. There’s a vented portion on his mask that I never even noticed until now as I mostly watched that film on VHS, only recently viewing it in HD. The vents are just grooves in the mask with a paint wash so you can’t see his mouth behind the visor. There’s some silver-gray accents on the helmet which really bring out the details and definitely remind me of the old toy. On his torso, there’s a lot of linework to bring out the muscles which is also in-line with the film. It looks like the costume in the film had muscles air-brushed on which is honestly a little silly, but it also works since it just makes me think of comic book heroes and villains. The purple of the costume is just the right shade and NECA added some white here and there which, again, I think is present on the film costume. It’s hard to tell because that scene is just so dark. He comes with his cape as well, something the Playmates figure omitted back in the day, and it looks nice. It’s a standard cape, like the first film figure, so if you were hoping for a wired cape you might be disappointed. Super Shredder never got the chance to have a dramatic cape in the film, so I think what we have here is perfectly fine and I prefer soft goods for capes to plastic.

Those spikes though, man are they intense! It’s Super Shredder’s defining feature and they look great. I always thought it was goofy how the ooze mutated his armor, but I never once argued with the results. The spikes on the shoulders resemble serrated knives and they’re pretty “pokey.” They do have plenty of give, but definitely don’t step on this guy with bare feet or you’ll be wishing you stepped on a Lego. The spikes on the forearms and calves also look great and are basically the same design, just a little shorter. The various blades are so fearsome that he really doesn’t need actual weapons, but NECA still saw fit to throw old Shell-head a bone.

Super Shredder in the movie is only around long enough to punch stuff, but NECA’s version does come packaged with a spear. True to the character, it’s a more intense version of pre-mutated Shredder’s spear from the first film. One end is pointed while the other has what almost looks like an axe head. The blade coming out of the center is wavy, similar to the axe from the first film, and the design has a familiar look to it. I don’t know if that’s just a credit to NECA coming up with a weapon that fits in with the style of the films, or if this was something present in the background of a scene, perhaps. It’s his signature accessory though and if you want your Super Shredder armed it definitely works.

Super Shredder comes packaged with fist hands, but he has five additional hands as well. Two are open palms while the other two are for gripping his spear. There’s also a looser gripping hand and that it’s intended to grip the canister of ooze. The canister isn’t just a re-release of what the turtles came with as this one is modeled after the TGRI canisters featured in TMNT II. It’s mostly steel and glass construction in the film so viewers could clearly see the green ooze inside of it. This all plastic one looks the same, though the top is non-removable this time around. It looks really nice though and it’s actually something I didn’t know I wanted until I had it. The hands themselves are interesting in that they have this really weathered look on account of a dark wash. They’re nice and pliable so there’s no difficulty in getting the spear or canister into his hands for posing. They’re tight enough too that he can hang onto everything just fine. The entire figure really moves well with no stuck joints or anything to speak of.

Pictured with the ultra rare Pirate Captain Super Shredder.

The Super Shredder action figure from NECA is an impressive piece of plastic and a great addition to the movie TMNT line. He’s an attention-grabber as part of any display and I’m happy these outlandish designs from the second TMNT film are receiving the action figure treatment. The sculpting, paint, and quality control are all pretty impeccable and I expect this to be on the short list for action figure of the year. And Super Shredder will only have to feel alone for a few months as NECA is set to release the Tokka and Rahzar two-pack this November for those who pre-ordered in August through the company’s online store. Tokka and Rahzar will be the first true made-to-order release for the company and if the promotional shots are any indication we’re in for something special. And if you prefer your Shredder un-super, a standard Secret of the Ooze iteration is confirmed for 2021, though the company has yet to unveil any promotional shots for him. I suspect he’ll be a re-paint of the existing movie Shredder with a new helmet. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the only Secret of the Ooze release for 2021, the film’s 30th anniversary year, as you can probably bank on updated turtles and possibly Keno. Considering this year’s convention exclusive was a Coming Out of Their Shells themed release, would it shock anyone if next year’s was also musical? Point being, Super Shredder is another release in the movie line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but he’s far from the last.

If you really want him to look bigger than the turtles…

Super Shredder is currently being sold exclusively at Walmart stores. I got my figure from NECA directly as some were made available to order in early August. The company also recently closed a week-long window where fans could pre-order a Super Shredder to be produced and delivered at a later date. For international collectors, there are still a bunch of shops based in Canada and the UK accepting pre-orders, though NECA has recently clamped down on international retailers shipping TMNT product to US-based consumers. If you missed out on the pre-order window, your best bet now is to stalk your local Walmart in hopes he shows up. You can also keep an eye on NECA as I doubt very much that the factory order will be one-to-one for pre-orders. The company might sell some stock direct to consumers when they come in, or they’ll be sent out to Walmart and international retailers. Good luck!


NECA Ultimate Gizmo

In 1984 a little film called Gremlins came along and made a splash in American pop culture. The film largely starred little puppets, and while many did take to the villainous, evil, gremlins like Stripe, many also walked away from that film wanting more of Gizmo. Gizmo is an adorable little creature of mostly white and brown fuzz with big, giant, ears. I had a Gizmo doll when I was a little kid, well before I even saw the film since it was pretty intense for wee ones. Try as the humans of the cast did, Gizmo was the star and he still is today.

Back in the 80s, Gizmo attracted quite a bit of attention for himself at retail in the style of the plush. He was a natural for that, which may be why no one really thought to do proper action figures based on Gremlins. Toy company NECA has once again stepped in to fill a void in the fandom of another feature. NECA has been producing Gremlins related action figures for a few years now, and the company has finally roped me in with its Ultimate Gizmo action figure.

Now, I like Gremlins just fine. It’s a great Christmas movie for adults and older kids, not so much for younger kids. And not because of the violence and frightful scenes, but because it does feature a character confess that there is no Santa Claus. And as you may be aware, I am a bit of a Christmas junkie so whenever I see a toy or knick-knack that I can work into my Christmas decorating I often jump in. And that’s what sucked me into this Gizmo since he comes with some festive attire. I should say, it’s what sealed the deal as I was already smitten with the adorable little guy and even tried to talk my kids into wanting the plush version NECA released, but I have not had any luck on that front yet.

Gizmo comes in a larger outer box that looks just the like the VHS release of Gremlins. The rear features photography of the toy in action while the front flap opens to reveal the figure inside along with some more images. This is the standard Ultimates packaging NECA goes for and it really is a nice display piece for mint-in-box collectors, but no disrespect to NECA’s packaging designers, I am opening this sucker!

Gizmo stands at about 3.5″ tall. He’s a little guy. I assume he’s in-scale with the evil gremlins NECA has released, but sadly I don’t have any to compare him to. He’s sculpted all in plastic and looks rather cute out of the box. There’s a nice wash applied to his face and hands to bring out the details of the sculpt and there’s lots of sculpting done to make the fur look like fur. From a distance, one might even think he is covered in actual fur. I’m curious if NECA toyed with the idea of doing actual fur with this figure as that might have made him look really neat, but it probably would have added considerable cost. The paint is clean, though if you go over it really close you’ll notice some overlap here and there where the brown meets the white. The ears are thin and feature sculpt work such as veins. The paint is a bit muted in that respect as they didn’t try to bring out those veins, which is probably good from an aesthetic point of view as if one were to make Gizmo appear too realistic he may loose some of that cuteness.

For articulation, we don’t have a lot to talk about. Gizmo’s head is on a ball joint and rotates just fine, but he has little to no up and down movement because of the shape of his rather large melon. The ears are on ball joints which is a nice touch as it affords him more expression. Turn them down and he looks sad or tired while rotating just one can make him look almost inquisitive. The arms can forward a bit, but they can’t really go back or out. There’s another cut joint past the brown fur of the shoulder that may actually be a ball-joint, but it only can rotate so functionally it’s more like a bicep swivel. The hands are in the same boat as they only really are able to swivel. There’s no waist articulation, and while the legs are on pegs they really can’t do anything. He’s pretty much a statue once you move past the arms.

The eyes see everything.

Gizmo, being a puppet in the films, didn’t really move much and is not a figure crying out for a ton of articulation. It’s clear NECA’s goal was to make something aesthetically pleasing and true to the films as opposed to something ultra-poseable. As such, it’s more important for Gizmo to be expressive which is why he has some unusual eye articulation. A trackball on the back of Gizmo’s head can actually rotate the eyes in his skull. It’s a bit finicky as the mechanism is really loose. Patience is needed to get the eyes just the way you want them, but sometimes you’ll probably have to just pop his face off to work them with your thumbs. The eyes have a tendency to sometimes go crooked giving the impression that Gizmo has a lazy eye. They also kind of float in there so there’s some play in the eye depth, and when one eye moves forward the other will sink in which can look kind of silly. They easiest way to remedy that is to just push the other eye in with the face removed to get them balanced. It’s a system that works, but given that Gizmo does have a removable face it probably would have made more sense to just ditch the trackball and have the eyes be adjusted manually.

To make those eyes offer as much expression as possible, Gizmo does come with four interchangeable face-plates. The default, in-package, face is Gizmo with a subtle smile. A good neutral expression for the little guy. He has one with a bigger, toothy, smile to go along with a sad or frown face and, what I assume will be the favorite face for many consumers, a Rambo face. The Rambo face is a callback to Gremlins 2 and even has the bandanna included. It’s glued to Gizmo’s left eye and half of it just kind of lays flat on Gizmo’s head. I wish it were an actual fabric material as the soft plastic NECA used never wants to lay flat on my figure’s head. The face itself through is great and he has a narrow eyed glare for maximum intimidation. The faces pop off and on really easily, but not so effortlessly that they’ll fall off.

Gizmo also comes with a few additional accessories to complete a display. He has a trumpet like the one he was playing with in the first film and he also has a Santa Claus hat and candy cane. And since he has the Rambo face, he also has his makeshift bow and arrow, which is a pencil crammed into a bottle with a feather sticking out. He also has his rope belt to complete that ensemble which is knotted and can easily slide off and on. The Santa hat basically just rests on his head as there are no pegs or magnets to hold it in place. The sculpt and paint looks great on most of the accessories, though the candy cane is a little sloppy in places.

You can kind of jam the arrow in between his fingers, but he’s not really able to grip anything.

The drawback to the accessories for Gizmo has little to do with the accessories themselves, but actually Gizmo. Unlike many of NECA’s Ultimates, Gizmo comes with just one set of hands. They’re both open palms, kind of neutral, hands and they’re not fit for holding much of anything. Basically, the only way to get him to hold anything is to turn his palms up and try to balance them on his hand that way. It’s odd that he doesn’t have a gripping hand or two to properly grasp anything. I’m not surprised he can’t properly draw his bow, but I would have expected him to be able to hold the trumpet. As a result, I suspect most will just position items at Gizmo’s feet or leaning on him. You can sling the bow over his shoulder at least since it’s a very rubbery plastic, but he can’t hold it or even act like he’s about to draw it.

NECA’s Ultimate Gizmo is a fine looking figure, though it doesn’t quite feel “ultimate” due to the lack of extra hands and positioning power. And even though he’s a mere 3.5″ tall, Gizmo still retails for the standard Ultimates price point of $30. He’s a bit of a tough recommend at that price, but I’m also not regretting my purchase either. He’s a fun addition to my knick-knacks shelf and I look forward to dressing him up for the holidays when the time comes. Worse, I’m also tempted to add some more Gremlins, especially the holiday two-pack of carolers, and I really don’t need to get sucked into another line. We’ll see what comes of that. Gizmo does at least look the part, even if he doesn’t exactly put the “action” in action figure.


NECA TMNT Cartoon April O’Neil and Bashed Foot

The true subjects of today’s post.

There’s a line from one of my favorite Christmas movies, Bad Santa, in which the main character, Willy, says to The Kid, “Well, they can’t all be winners,” when The Kid pulls a candy corn out of his advent calendar. Bad Santa isn’t a movie for everyone, but the sentiment expressed by Willy in that moment could be applied to this latest two-pack from NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line.

When it comes to the original cartoon series, the list of essential characters goes something like this: the four turtles, Splinter, Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang, and April O’Neil. We have received versions of almost all of those characters from NECA, and now it’s April’s turn. All of the characters NECA has targeted thus far have arguably become the definitive take on that particular character from the show upon release. Some might argue in favor of a different set of turtles, but few would argue anyone has created a better Shredder or Bebop and Rocksteady. The expectations are now set for this line and fans pretty much assume that NECA will nail the likeness on any character it does, but maybe such an expectation is unrealistic.

Unfortunately, the line’s first lackluster offering is the ravishing reporter April O’Neil. When it comes to the sculpt released here, there’s a lot to be desired. April stands just a tick taller than her turtle allies, when she should at least be a head taller. I have her at 5 1/2″ and the turtles at about 5 1/4″. She has her yellow jumpsuit complete with white boots and all the details appear to be in place, but the proportions are off especially when it comes to her head. I think most fans are accepting of a figure that is maybe a little too short or too tall, but missing on the facial likeness is perhaps the greatest disappointment. Her face appears to be too full and round, and the size of her head is far too big for her body. I think that’s largely a product of her face being too large as her hair was fairly poofy in the show, but few would deny that something is off here.

When it comes to nailing down the scale and look for these figures there’s an admitted challenge. The original show could be wildly inconsistent when it came to scale, colors, and so on. When NECA did its initial figures for the Turtles, it cited the first series which was animated by Toei and was a mere five episodes. It allowed for the company to have a more consistent look to reference, which mostly came in handy when it came time to color the Turtles as the sculpts were actually reused from the arcade series. April appears in every episode from that inaugural season, and it would seem it would have made the most sense to base her sculpt on that season. Maybe that’s what NECA did, and maybe it didn’t, either way it’s a shame an integral character like April failed to live up to expectations.

The image on the left is what I think of when I hear the name April O’Neil.

I don’t want this to turn into a rant or anything, as a subpar NECA figure still gets a lot right. And when it comes to April she possesses a lot of the articulation one would come to expect of a NECA figure in 2020. For starters, her head is on a ball-peg and it’s pretty easy to pop her head off and on, which is good as it’s preferred for one of her accessories. She has ball joints at the shoulders and then she has some funky double-jointed elbows. There are basically two ball joints on top of each other. The first joint is in her sleeve, and the second is part of the bare portion of her arm. Her arms are quite thin, and I had to heat her up to get any movement out of the upper joint. The yellow portion of the joint is painted, and as you could probably guess if you’ve read my review of the other figures in this wave, the paint flakes off quite easily. Fortunately, the plastic is also yellow so it’s not nearly as much of an eyesore as it is with Casey, Leatherhead, and Slash. The bicep also swivels where the sleeve meets the arm and then it also swivels at the triceps at the second ball joint. April’s wrists are just on pegs and can rotate, she also has hinges in her hands, but they feel really fragile. The watch on her left hand is a separate piece of soft plastic and will fly off if you’re not careful when switching hands. April’s upper torso is on a ball joint just below her bust and she gets a lot of motion out of that joint which makes up for the lack of a waist swivel. Her thighs can rotate at the joint and are on ball-pegs, and she does have double-jointed knees, but the top joint doesn’t really do much. She can still bend her leg rather far at the knee so it’s not a big deal. There’s no boot cut on her, and her feet just have vertical hinges so no rocker or swivel motion is available. It kind of stinks because I envisioned displaying her on one knee with her camera sneaking a shot of a battle or something, but she can’t quite pull that off without being able to rotate her ankle. Oh well.

April could stand to be taller and probably not so thin.

Aside from her head, the body sculpt is pretty good. The arms feel a little thin and flimsy, but they’re obviously trying to make her noticeably smaller and slimmer than the other figures in this line. I do still wish she was a little taller and fuller though, I don’t think she needs to be quite so thin. I do like the very bright yellow NECA went with and the black line work helps make the figure have that extra pop when looking at it. I do see some room to argue that maybe yellow plastic with a wash instead of so much paint might have worked just as well, or better. Some of that black line-work does get a bit messy in places, but overall it’s pretty clean. NECA did match the plastic of the foot hinge to the white of her boots, thankfully, but that also means from behind the white hinge is visible among the otherwise gray backside of her boots. If one part of the hinge has to be off, might as well let it be the back. There’s also some nice attention to detail with the little white, o-rings, on her pants and the tape recorder on her belt.

April is not lacking in the accessory department.

If April is a bit underwhelming, well at least she tries to make up for it with a bunch of fun accessories. She comes packaged with open palm hands and she has a set of gripping hands as well. She comes with a Channel 6 microphone as well as a corded microphone affixed to a reel-to-reel recorder. It’s on a strap, like a purse, and this is where it’s nice that her head pops off easily if you want it to go across her body. I suppose you could also just drape it over her shoulder too. She also has a Channel 6 camcorder which she can carry by the top handle or hold via the fold-down handle for when she wants to record something. She has her Turtle-com, which opens and closes, though doesn’t feature the face of a turtle on the inside. She also has the Maltese Hamster from the episode of the same name, which is a bit fun though it doesn’t do anything. Lastly, there’s a little, baby, pizza, monster. I have to assume an ultimate, adult, version is in our future at some point. He’s pretty cute, despite being vicious, and even though he’s non-articulated he’s packing a lot of personality in that sculpt.

With April being part of a two-pack, one would naturally look to the second figure in the pack to perhaps help elevate the total package. Unfortunately, April comes bundled with what I would consider the least exciting figure in this line so far. The Bashed Foot Solider is essentially the same Foot Soldier that has been released in two-packs with the Turtles and in a double-pack as part of Wave 2, only now it has a new torso with some battle damage. This one is referred to as the Bashed variant because the wound appears to be blunt in nature, perhaps a jab from Donatello’s bo staff, and is basically a rip in the clothing with some exposed metal and wires beneath. The effect is neat, but if this figure weren’t packed with a character as important as April then I’m not sure I’d have bought it. I think it would have been neat to bundle it with an undamaged Foot to give consumers more of a say in the matter. Bundling it with April feels like a bit of ruthless capitalism.

Now in the unlikely event you do not already have a Foot Soldier, the articulation here is the same. He has ball-joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips with swivels at the thigh and bicep. The hinge joints at the knees and elbows are double-jointed and the wrists are on pegs. He also has some ankle articulation and stands pretty well. He comes with the same the rifle other Foot and even Bebop and Rocksteady came with, but also has a new gun that’s bit more cartoonish looking. It’s not my favorite weapon design from the show, but I welcome the additional variety for the bad guys. He also has the same assortment of hands which include fists, gripping hands, and karate chop hands plus a pair of open hands that are new this time around. There’s another communicator, this one with an image of the Bebop action figure on the other end, and a pair of ninja stars. The ninja stars appear to be a deliberate throwback to the Playmates line as one is even brownish-orange like the old toys.

If that all sounds familiar it’s because it’s the same round of accessories the Slashed Foot Soldier came with as part of the Casey Jones two-pack. The only difference between those sets is the sticker on the communicator and the battle damage on the torso. I think many fans expected April and Casey to come together, so it was a bit disappointing to see that wasn’t the case. While I liked the battle damage of the Slashed Foot quite a bit, this one doesn’t excite me. It’s not that it isn’t done well or anything, but it hardly feels essential.

Let’s see what you had for breakfast!

Which is the downside to these figures being released as two packs, because April does feel essential. Unfortunately, she’s a letdown as well so I can comfortably say this is the least glamorous two-pack released in this line thus far. And based on the promotional images for what’s up next, it looks like this will be the low bar for a long while. It’s definitely the set that fills me with the least amount of excitement. These things are hard to get a hold of, so there’s a sense of glee whenever one can be acquired, but the lackluster results mostly squash that enthusiasm. There’s little to sugar coat here, this April is a poor representation of the cartoon character. Since it’s largely her head that’s the problem, perhaps NECA can remedy that at a later date. The company has big plans for the lines and is exploring concepts for vehicles and even a sewer lair. Perhaps an alternate head is included with one of those along with alternate happy heads for the Turtles as well? It’s a long shot, but hopefully NECA is receptive to criticism and doesn’t just dig in its heels because mostly I’m just surprised this one made it past the approval stage. It’s the burden of success, I suppose.

Smile for the camera, Donnie.

I do also want to stress that it isn’t all bad. April is subpar, but anyone who sees her still knows it’s April O’Neil from the 80s cartoon. She has a ton of neat accessories and is certainly not lacking there. It’s hard to even come up with an accessory she should have come with that isn’t present. Maybe swap-able cat parts like the upcoming Vernon is going to feature? That’s just wishful thinking though, and how many collectors would prefer to display mutated cat April as opposed to a more traditional April? Probably few, though then again, that head…

In terms of battle-damaged figures, it’s pretty hard to top that slashed Foot Soldier.

For now, April will be a part of my cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles display. She’s April, so she has to be! I’m just thankful she has so many killer accessories so I can hide that melon behind a big old video camera or maybe wrap her up in Leatherhead’s net for the time being. This is the last two-pack of Wave 3 though, and as mentioned in the prior paragraph, more additions to the Channel 6 news crew are indeed on the way, but not until 2021. The next wave is probably going to be staggered like this one and it appears that the rock soldiers Granitor and Traag are up next. A deluxe Krang is coming as well in October and you know that will be a big hit. For now, at least until I get my hands on Metalhead, it appears I’ll get a reprieve from cartoon turtles, but NECA is hardly slowing down. Super Shredder, Toka, Rahzar, Splinter, Baxter, and on and on are all expected this year! Enjoy the breather while it lasts!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Slash and Leatherhead

You’re gonna like this one, I guarantee!

NECA’s incredibly popular and white hot action figure line based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series of the late 80s/early 90s has slowly rolled out its third wave. The wave consists of three two-packs and a single-packed deluxe figure, but perhaps to increase the numbers of individual items it can ship at once, NECA opted to roll them out one-by-one starting in late July and finishing by the end of August. The first two-pack was the Casey Jones and Slashed Foot Soldier, and now we’re onto the second which is the villains pack of the wave: Slash and Leatherhead.

In the case of both characters, this is the second attempt at both of these characters from NECA as both have been featured in the Turtles in Time line of figures. Slash was released back in the spring, and Leatherhead was part of the more recently released second wave. Leatherhead is basically a straight re-paint of that release, or that release is a re-paint of this one depending on which you consider “first.” Slash, on the other hand, is a little more involved. This is the first action figure of Slash based on his appearance in the cartoon series. The Playmates action figure was based on his comic appearance where he was actually a good guy and part of the Mighty Mutanimals (along with Leatherhead, it should be noted). His Turtles in Time sprite was also based on that source so cartoon Slash has received very little love in the ensuing years. As such, I get the sense this version of Slash isn’t remembered fondly by a large part of the fanbase, though I like him well enough. The Slash of the cartoon was more of a tragic figure, a contented pet turtle mutated and turned into a tool by those who held power over him. The cartoon wasn’t really equipped to truly explore the complexity of the character though, so they just sent him into Dimension X and when he came back he’s basically a typical villain.

If you thought a lack of enthusiasm towards Slash was going to make this two-pack easier to find, think again. This set is proving just as hard to find as any other in this line. Target at least was a bit more stealthy about the release on target.com which allowed online orders for this set to last a whopping ten minutes! Perhaps that will be the model for future releases.

Slash may be quite different in appearance from his Turtles in Time self, but the figure should still be fairly familiar. He uses the same body as the previously released Slash, which also used the same body shared by the turtles. The only difference is in the paint, head, and other embellishments on Slash’s person, most notably the spiky shell. The head is the most striking part as the cartoon Slash was an ugly, soft-bodied, turtle. He has full cheeks and pockmarked skin with ugly teeth reminding me of a jack-o-lantern. This Slash wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and his face captures that. It also features that metal headband that covers his eyes. It’s a perfect representation of the character from the source material.

Slash’s body only differs from the past Slash release in that he has metal fixtures on his body where the previous one had cloth and wood. He has a bright purple belt with a skull logo on it that’s really cool. I love how NECA’s belt has the extra part flapping off of the front, a nice attention to detail. The gloves and kneepads are a steel gray in color with a single, purple, spike on each. About the only thing he shares with his other self are the black elbow pads which are traditional in design. His skin-tone is basically a match for NECA’s Wave 1 turtles, an olive green, as opposed to the deep green of the video game figure. He also gets to have painted claws on his hands and toes where the video game one did not. He also has a large backpack strapped to his shell and across his chest. This backpack is not intended to be removable, though mine arrived damaged and I had to superglue the bottom “clasp” back onto it. It’s held so far, but it’s also only been a day.

Lots of accessories with this guy.

Since Slash is the same base figure as the other turtles, he has the same articulation. There’s a ball-joint at the head that provides mostly for side-to-side motion, but the shell prevents much up and down motion. The neck has a joint at the base, but it doesn’t seem to offer much. The shoulders are on ball-joints with bicep swivels, single-jointed elbows, wrist swivels, and a wrist hinge. There’s a torso joint inside the shell, but again, the shell removes most of the function. It allows the hips to move a little left to right, with some slight twist. It’s subtle, but it’s not nothing. The legs are on ball-joints and rotate at the thigh as opposed to a true thigh-cut. The knees are double-jointed and the feet are on ball-pegs. They can rotate just fine, but have little up and down motion and minimal side-to-side. It’s all pretty basic, but it feels like NECA’s base turtle design could use another look, especially at the elbows, wrists, and feet.

In the accessory department, Slash is a curious case as his accessories are both abundant and lacking. As a surprise, he only has the one set of hands. Every figure in this line so far, excepting Krang who doesn’t have hands, has had multiple sets of hands for punching, gripping, trigger fingers, etc. Slash just has gripping hands, which is certainly better than having closed fists, but it’s odd he doesn’t have trigger hands or something more expressive. On the other hand, he’s able to wield the accessories he does come with just fine: twin katanas, a Dimension X rifle, a pistol, half-eaten pizza, baby Slash, and his precious “binky” which is a tiny palm tree. I love the design of the new rifle and I appreciate that the included pizza resembles the actual pies he munches on from his episode as opposed to just being the same pizza packed in with the turtles. And as stated, he can hold all of his weapons, and the only thing he can’t really grip is the palm tree, but you can finagle it into his hand. The swords he comes with are quite striking, and are my favorite swords this line has produced so far. He can store them in his purple belt too, which is certainly appreciated since he has so much stuff.

It’s great to finally have a cartoon-accurate version of Slash. Even though he only has the one pair of hands, it’s not a huge loss since he does have a ton of accessories likely to occupy both hands in a display. He does possess one other area for criticism though, and it is again with that base turtle body. Slash in the cartoon was pretty chunky compared to his fellow turtles while this figure is definitely quite lean and trim. It’s most apparent when comparing his head to the rest of his body. The width of his head basically reaches his shoulders on the figure, while in the show it sat inside the yellow “pectorals” of his shell because he was so squat. I’m fine with NECA reusing the limbs from the past figures, but I wish they had at least given him a wider shell. And in terms of scale, he was shown to be the same height as Rocksteady, but if anything NECA’s Rocksteady is a little taller than necessary. I also don’t hold that against either figure since the cartoon tended to be all over the place with scale. He also has some issues with paint to go along with the backpack issue I had. The paint on the hinges of his hands will rub off almost immediately out of the box. One hand on my Slash is still hanging onto it, while the other is not. There’s also a little bit of paint slop on the right knee pad, and I’ve heard from a lot of people their figure had really tight, stuck, joints out of the box, so beware. Mine was tight, but not too bad. I was able to get all of his weapons in and out of his hands okay, though with some paint flaking. Only the elbows gave me any trouble, but I was able to get them to move with plain old force as opposed to heat.

Slash’s box-mate, Leatherhead, had a figure in the Playmates line a bit more like his cartoon self, but this is still the first Leatherhead to truly go after that cartoon look. He’s a big boy, standing at about 7″ with a little extra thanks to his hat. He’s about the same height as Bebop, coming in at about 7 1/4″. His color scheme is also very much in-line with the cartoon version as his skin-tone is this odd blue-green with darker green used for the shading. It looks off at first glance, but go check out the old cartoon and you’ll see this color scheme is basically dead-on. The same is true for Leatherhead’s legs. I believe he’s wearing hip-waiters for trudging through a swamp, which means his pants and boots are one, uniform, color. In this case that’s blue, though with black used as the shaded part on the back. It makes the character look odd and it’s a knock against the character’s cartoon design, not the figure. Did they do this just so they could paint his legs all one color? Probably, because cartoons tried to be made as cheaply as possible. As a result, I can see why some might prefer the Turtles in Time version of the character which opted for a brighter green and gave him jeans with traditional boots on his feet.

The basic construction of this figure shares a lot in common with Bebop and Rocksteady, and might even share some of the parts. The chest is probably the same, but where Rocksteady has a rubbery shirt, Leatherhead has a plastic addition to simulate his scaled belly/chest. He also has his vest which is done up in soft plastic and is part of the same piece as the chest. There’s a lot of paint on this guy so take care when first messing around with him as some joints might be stuck. Mine was pretty loose though, much to my surprise. Unfortunately, he shares the same paint issues as Casey Jones where the ankles were cast in a neutral color as opposed to blue, so when bending his feet some white plastic can be exposed. It’s especially striking on Leatherhead since his legs and feet are all supposed to be one color. I heard there was a running change made to Leatherhead to eliminate this issue, but I haven’t had that confirmed for me. It’s rather mind-boggling that his legs were done this way, since it looks like his torso was cast in blue plastic so I don’t know why the ankle/feet weren’t as well. He also sports a rubbery belt over a sculpted belt, which is a bit odd. That rubbery belt has a hook on it for one of his accessories and I’ve seen several reviews already where that hook broke off, so again, beware.

Since Leatherhead appears to be some mix of Bebop and Rocksteady parts it’s probably not surprising to hear he’s about as well articulated as both. His head is a bit hunched forward so the ball-joint doesn’t afford much motion. He does though have a hinged jaw which is really important for a gator to possess. I don’t know if it’s just mine, but it doesn’t like to stay open and will basically slowly close after I pry it open. He has ball-jointed shoulders with bicep swivels, double-jointed elbows, and wrist rotation. His hands are big and possess hinges, but the range of motion on those hinges is limited to a degree. Any torso articulation that might be present underneath that plastic chest-piece is rendered virtually useless as a result of that piece. He does have waist articulation with ball-joints at the legs, thigh swivels, double-jointed knees, and ankle ball-joints with a little side-to-side range. The main difference for Leatherhead is the added tail functionality. It even comes packed separately and getting it onto the ball peg can be a bit tricky so don’t fret if you need to heat him up to get it on snug. It mostly just swivels as the ball is set back rather deep so he can’t do much with it. It still looks good, at least.

NECA got creative with some of Leatherhead’s accessories.

Since Leatherhead is a pretty massive chunk of plastic, his accessories are a bit sparse compared with Slash. He does come with extra hands so he has fists, open hands, and a single trigger hand. He has his weird ketchup gun, which is a pretty fun accessory and is meant to pair with that trigger hand. You’ll probably want to heat the hand in some hot water for a few seconds to make it more pliable before trying to force that gun into it as it’s a tight fit.

Leatherhead comes with a pair of lobster/crayfish which often hung from his belt in the show. They can’t really hang from his belt here though, which is a bit odd. There are two loops on his belt they can kind of dangle from, but they’re not on his hips. In the promo shots, it looks like NECA just crammed the tails under the belt. He also has a shackle accessory with a real chain attached to it, good for catching turtles and pesky TV news reporters. There’s a bear trap that can open and close and also clips to his belt via that fragile hook. And lastly, he has a net and rope which was apparently the compromise to offset the cost of plastic with him. It’s a fun accessory to have as Leatherhead can round up some turtles (and maybe some frogs in the future) and even suspend them from something if you want to as the net has a string at each corner.

Slash and Leatherhead are fun additions to the cartoon line. While I have some nitpicks about each, they’re both overall quite successful at being representations of the source material and are instantly recognizable. They’re also a good choice at this stage in the line as they’re both quite memorable since they appeared in a whole bunch of TMNT media during peak Turtle-Mania. I get the impression from the fandom that Leatherhead is the star of the show here, but I am one of the few who really liked the cartoon take on Slash so I think I prefer to him Leatherhead, but only slightly. I find my eyes are definitely drawn to Leatherhead more than I expected. Either way, this is the star two-pack of Wave 3 and not one to miss if you’re into this line.

“Got a couple of live ones here!”

This set is currently exclusive to Target stores in the US, and if you’re having difficulties tracking a set down help might be on the way. NECA recently took pre-orders for the Deluxe Metalhead figure on its own webstore with the promise to make other figures from this line available in the future. It also recently opened another batch of pre-orders for the movie Casey and Raph pack as well as Super Shredder. It might take a little while, but it would seem NECA understands the frustrations in the collector community and is committed to making sure every TMNT fan gets a shot at owning these figures. Which is certainly a plus as these figures are too good to remain so scarce.

If you’re looking to get your hands on these guys they’re currently up for pre-order RIGHT NOW on NECA’s website! They’ll be available until the morning of September 4th so don’t wait too long. Also up for pre-order is Bebop and Rocksteady, quite possibly NECA’s best two-pack so far.


TMNT Loot Crate – First Appearance Shredder

It was back during the winter that Loot Crate announced a series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle crates for 2020. At the time, Loot Crate had done one previous crate that was apparently intended to test the waters to see what the appetite was for this sort of thing among the TMNT fanbase. It didn’t hurt that NECA was a part of the crate as it contributed a limited edition action figure of Splinter from the 1990 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The figure was the same as the retail version except he was now colored blue to mimic the color of the character during the “spirit scene” in the woods where Splinter appears as a ghost and encourages his pupils.

Because that crate was well received, it wasn’t a surprise to see Loot Crate come back to the property for another round. This time, however, Loot Crate had three distinct crates to sell. Each would be themed after a different aspect of the brand and each would include a NECA action figure. Fans who bought all three in advance would also get a bonus fourth figure presumably shipping with the final crate. At the time, Loot Crate was aiming for a June, September, November release for the three crates respectively. As spring turned to summer though, it started to become apparent that something had gone wrong.

Say it with me now, “What’s in the box?!”

Be it COVID, supply, or something else entirely, the first crate was delayed from June to July, and then ultimately started shipping in August. I received mine this past weekend after it was delayed further during the shipping process. I came home on a Sunday to find the crate sitting on my stoop in the rain getting nice and soggy. Loot Crate evidently literally just sends the crate and doesn’t put it in another box. Thankfully, there are apparently no porch thieves after TMNT products in my neighborhood.

We got “stuff” here!

This is my first experience with Loot Crate. The subscription box of what largely looks like junk has never really appealed to me. I just have a lot of “geek” stuff in my house as it is, so a box of “stuff” isn’t something I really want to find room for. Plus, I always roll my eyes at services like this that advertise something along the lines of “you pay $50 for a box of mystery products guaranteed to be worth twice that!” If businesses were in the business of underselling its wares it wouldn’t remain in business very long. Then again, Loot Crate did file for bankruptcy almost a year to the day so maybe it wasn’t boasting a falsehood. The buyer ended up being NECA, which is how the action figure side of the business was worked into the Loot Crate model. The two operate as separate entities, which is why when fans were asking Randy Falk of NECA what was up with the first crate he referred fans directly to Loot Crate as NECA had delivered its product presumably on-time.

The inclusion of the NECA action figure is the only reason why I decided to give Loot Crate a chance. I still largely don’t care about the stuff in the box, but I do like getting new TMNT figures! Since this is a subscription box, NECA isn’t aiming to include essential figures for the TMNT collector in these things. Instead, they’re variants or repaints intended to be a bit off-beat so fans who passed on them don’t feel entirely left out. When the service was announced, only the identity of the first figure was revealed – First Appearance Shredder. Since then, it’s been revealed that the next figure is an electrified turtle from the arcade game and Rocksteady in an Easter Bunny costume for the third crate. The bonus figure is Bebop in the same costume. It’s the pair of bunny guys that really got me excited, so it will be awhile before I know if I made the right move or not by signing up. For now, we’ve got a Shredder to talk about.

First of all, the Mirage Studios Loot Crate does indeed come packed with a bunch of stuff. The crate itself is black with the Mirage TMNT logo on the front along with the required Nickelodeon and Loot Crate logos. My box did sit in a gentle rain on Sunday and was a little beat up, but the interior seemed dry so no harm no foul, I guess.

Inside the crate is the stuff you would probably expect to find in such a product. There’s a keychain with Michelangelo and Kunk on one side and “Chet’s Toys” on the reverse. I assume that’s the toy store from the Michelangelo one-shot, but I didn’t confirm that. There’s also a weird looking credit card with a rubber TCRI slipcase to fit into. This is apparently supposed to be an Utrom TCRI ID card and possibly the one belonging to Baxter Stockman. The reverse of the slipcase is adhesive if you want to stick it to something, maybe for cos-play? There’s an enamel pin featuring Fugitoid which looks similar to a Figpin brand pin, but not quite as impressive looking. There’s a black TCRI tote bag and under the logo it says “Company Picnic North Hampton ’84.” There’s also a white t-shirt with the same logo. Lastly, there’s a white travel mug that too shares the same TCRI Company Picnic logo. It’s rather official looking which makes it a shame that it says right below the logo copy-write 2020 Viacom.

Most of that stuff is just “stuff” to me. I might use the keychain, but I don’t know how well it will hold up on an actual keyring. It doesn’t look very durable, so I may just leave it as-is. I have a million tote bags at this point as it’s been the go-to free gift of many retailers for close to ten years now. Interesting, it kind of replaced the free travel mugs I used to see getting passed out often as part of promotions in the city. I’ve purged a lot of them, so I actually do intend to use this TCRI one. It looks sharp, and the quality seems decent. I’ll wear the shirt, though I honestly have no need for more t-shirts and the ID card is just junk. The pin is fine though, if you like pins.

Obviously, what’s going to make this crate is the included action figure. The First Appearance Shredder is based on his appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 from Mirage Studios. It’s a repaint of the previously released Mirage Shredder which was part of a San Diego Comic Con exclusive set a few years ago alongside three Foot Clan members. Those figures, along with the Mirage turtles released over ten years ago, are great figures sorely in need of a re-release. Because of that, any of them make for suitable exclusives in a Loot Crate such as this since the secondary market demands a premium for them. Conceivably, 50 bucks for a Mirage Shredder alone is almost worth it for anyone looking to add him to their collection since that would be a good price on eBay.

Shredder was originally sculpted by The Four Horsemen and is a well-constructed action figure. Because this is a repaint, it shares all of the same points of articulation as the previous figure. He’s got a ball-joint at the head which allows for all of the usual range of motion. There’s ball-joints at the shoulders, bicep swivels, double-jointed elbows, wrist swivels, and a wrist hinge. He can rotate at the waist and his legs are connected via ball-joints. The legs rotate at the upper thigh and feature double-jointed knees, calf swivels, ankle rotation, ankle rockers, and a toe hinge. About the only thing really missing is an ab crunch or some kind of articulation in the torso, but this is par for the course with NECA as they don’t like to break-up the torso of their figures.

Obviously, the main difference here is the paint application. This Shredder is intended to simulate his shadowy first appearance so he’s colored almost entirely in black and dark blue. The helmet and various armor pieces are all painted a steel gray with some generous black shading applied. He’s a pretty striking looking figure and I prefer this look to a straight black and white variant, though collectors that have a black and white set of turtles might disagree. The only other difference is this is a figure from 2020 so it feels different from the old one. My older Mirage Shredder is a bit heavier and the plastic doesn’t feel quite so pliable. The new Shredder isn’t rubbery feeling like some of the newer figures this summer (i.e. – Casey Jones and Turtles in Time Shredder), but there is a noticeable difference. I prefer the weightier feel of the older version, but this one feels fine too. The joints mostly moved well right out of the package (which is a nice window box with a black and silver design) with only a few feeling a bit stubborn. None required heat though and I soon had him moving around all right.

Shredder comes with some accessories as well and they’re new for this release. He does come with fist hands and has the same optional gripping hands as well. I’m happy to report that the blades on each hand did not warp in the packaging this time, as they had with my SDCC set. Shredder doesn’t wield any weapons in that first issue, so my guess is the weapons included here are meant to liven up the Foot from the prior release. There’s a new sickle on a chain weapon that looks pretty rad. It’s similar to the chained weapon from the Mirage set and I do like those chains. The other weapon is a bow and arrow that does indeed function. The arrow can be knocked like an arrow would on a regular bow and there’s enough tension on the string to shoot it roughly 8 to 10 feet.

The weapons looks pretty cool, but they do have one drawback. And that is Shredder can barely hold them. His gripping hands are just too loose so he can’t get a good hold on any of them. Placing the sickle in his hand means it’s going to slide all the way down the blade. The bow is even trickier and I never really got him to hold it. I did bust out the older set, but the problem there is they are all basically the same figure with different embellishments, so their grip wasn’t really any better. I did get one of the Foot Clan members to hold the bow by basically getting him to pinch it. I even managed to do the same with the arrow and got him back onto my shelf in this position. I’m just waiting for it to eventually pop out. Hopefully that arrow doesn’t sail too far when that day comes. The thing is pretty hard and pointy so it’s also not something you want to get hit with.

Overall, I do like this depiction of Shredder. I’ve always liked the color combo of black and blue and basically every comic has used that as a cheat for when a character is shadowed. The steel color of the helmet mixes really well with it and I’m torn on which version of Shredder I actually prefer. When side by side, the prior model almost looks boring with it’s mostly flat, gray, helmet. It’s disappointing the weapons didn’t work out better, but I did get that bow to work with one figure so that’s cool. The real question is would I have spent 50 bucks on this figure if it was just available to buy? Probably not, but that’s only because I have the existing one. If I had missed out then it would be a different story, as I definitely wanted a Shredder to pair with my set of turtles. I don’t feel like I was taken advantage of or anything like that as if I didn’t want this figure I probably could flip it for 50 bucks. Basically, what I’m saying is this version of Shredder is nice, but he’s just the appetizer.

Yeah, my Mirage display has two Shredders now. I’m cool with it.

The next Loot Crate in this series is still scheduled for a September release, though I’m skeptical considering this one was two months late. Whenever it does show up though, I’ll be here with a look at the next figure so long as it doesn’t interrupt my Christmas posts. Yeah, it could take that long.


S.H. Figuarts – Dragon Ball Kid Klilyn (Krillin)

When Dragon Ball became Dragon Ball Z, many of the old heroes and villains got left in the dust as Goku ascended to a level of power far beyond anything anyone would have comprehended. One of the last holdouts though was Krillin (Klilyn in Japan). Krillin was never on Goku’s level in DBZ, but he always managed to hang around nonetheless. It wasn’t really until the Majin Buu Saga that Krillin finally dropped off and gave up the whole fighting thing, which is more than I can say for the likes of Tien and Yamcha.

In Dragon Ball Z, Krillin basically was there to play the role of Goku’s best friend. In the original Dragon Ball, he had a different role at the start. Krillin was Goku’s rival, a cunning, dastardly, trickster willing to do whatever was necessary to gain an edge. Goku was good-natured and naive, and Krillin was always willing to exploit those qualities in Goku during their training with Master Roshi. The two would eventually become friends and Krillin would, for the first time, see his existence reduced to tragic catalyst for a Goku arc foreshadowing perhaps his most famous role as the motivating factor for Goku’s transformation into a Super Saiyan. What an existence – everyone just remembers you for dying!

No Dragon Ball action figure collection would be complete without Krillin. The bald, diminutive, monk, is a fan favorite from Dragon Ball as he’s almost a constant source of entertainment. He’s one of the many go-to characters for comedy on the show, but when the need arises he can also throw down and even masters the legendary Kamehameha wave just like his more famous rival. It’s no surprise then that Bandai and Tamashii Nations decided to do a figure for its S.H. Figuarts line based on the young version of Krillin from the early days of Dragon Ball.

With how muscular the characters become in DBZ, it’s easy to forget just how round they are as kids.

Krillin is depicted in his fighting, Turtle School, gi. And since the only distinguishing features between he and Goku in the anime when both wear this uniform is their head and Goku’s tail, it should be no surprise that the two share the same traits in figure form. Krillin is essentially the same figure as the Kid Goku from before, so he possesses all of the good qualities of that figure, plus all of the lesser qualities. For starters, Krillin is probably a tick taller than he should be when placed next to some of the other characters like Bulma. This is likely a result of the scale in place as going any smaller on this action figure would probably mess up Bandai’s pricing structure. When your figures retail for $55, you can only go so small. It’s not a big deal, though I do find a little fault in the proportions. In particular, both Goku and Krillin are a bit too lean and muscular. In the anime their bodies are more egg-shaped than they are in action figure form. These figures mostly look the part when in fighting poses as they’re more spread out, but if they’re just standing around then it becomes more noticeable. Krillin also has those same, spherical, elbow joints that look a bit funny when the arm is straight, but fine when bent. The knees also lack kneecaps and look a bit off from certain angles. This is the result of the character being so short and it’s a shortcoming that basically comes with the territory. Aside from the head, the only other difference between he and Goku is Krillin has no need for a peg hole on his bottom for a tail, so one isn’t present.

Aside from those gripes, the figure is actually rather nice to behold. The folds in Krillin’s gi are integrated well into the articulation and all of the little details one would expect are here. The Turtle School logo looks sharp and clean and where paint is required the lines are sharp and defined. There’s little in the way of paint embellishments, which is true of all of the figures I’ve reviewed in this line, but the figure also isn’t really crying out for much. The head sculpts are also a spot-on likeness for Krillin. He looks great and this figure presents a dilemma as it’s hard to settle on any one expression. Krillin has a basic smile expression that’s more than serviceable, but also this smug expression that really gets at the heart of this more juvenile Krillin. And then of course there’s the open-mouthed yelling face which is perfect for battle poses. The determining factor will likely be what accessory you choose to highlight in your display, which is also a tough call.

For a little figure, Krillin is packed to the gills with articulation. He has a ball joint at the head with good side-to-side motion, but very little up motion. Unlike the larger figures in this line, there’s no additional neck articulation, but it’s also not something really needed. There’s a ball-joint at the shoulders as well as a butterfly joint which is crucial for achieving a proper Kamehameha pose. There’s a swivel at the bicep just under the shoulder and those kind of wonky elbow joints. They’re not double-jointed so Krillin can only go to 90 degrees when bending his elbows. There’s full rotation at the wrists and hinge joints as well. At the torso, Krillin has articulation in his diaphragm plus a waist swivel. There’s an additional abdominal hinge in there as well, but Krillin can’t bend very far back without exposing the joint in the middle of his torso. The legs are on ball joints and can swivel below that ball joint. Knees are single-jointed and the ankles are on balls that provide for full rotation, a hinge, and side-to-side. His tiny, little, feet even have a toe hinge.

The figure is rather top heavy, since Krillin has such a massive melon, so standing and positioning the figure can be a bit tricky. With just a little patience though, several poses are achievable without a stand, which is a good thing since unlike Kid Goku, Krillin does not come with a stand for the sole purpose of positioning him. He does come with an action stand for his Kamehameha effect which is probably to make up for the fact that Goku came with his Flying Nimbus cloud. Bandai included optional parts to turn it into a posing stand for Krillin, but why would you want to use it for that when you have a Kamehameha wave? He also comes with 11 different hands which include the following: a pair of fists, a pair of Kamehameha hands, a pair of wide open hands, a pair of peace sign hands, a set of martial arts posing hands, and a special gripping right hand for grabbing Goku’s tail. Beyond that, he has a six-star dragon ball and a Kame rock from when Master Roshi gives he and Goku a task of finding a particular rock.

Probably my favorite expression for Krillin.

The dragon ball accessory is basically the same as what is included with the other figures, and the rock is a nice touch, but the real star is obviously that effects piece. The Kamehameha wave has some nice shading on it to achieve that desired look of a blue energy blast. I do wish the paint was a little less heavy though to expose what I assume is translucent plastic underneath. The stand allows you to position the blast out in front of Krillin to simulate him firing the Kamehameha. It’s a fun thing to play around with and the articulated stand means you can angle the blast any way you want. If you have a extra figure stand, you could even position Krillin in the air firing the blast towards the ground. With Krillin being such a small figure, it was imperative that Bandai include something fun like this with the figure, and they made the right choice by going in this direction. And as stated before, there is an optional “grabber” piece that can be installed on the stand should you wish to use it for the purpose of posing Krillin or another figure.

Krillin is an outstanding addition to the S.H. Figuarts line of Dragon Ball action figures. While it is an easier figure to nitpick when compared with some of the others, at the end of the day this is still a great representation of the character from Dragon Ball. He looks right at home on my shelf with the others and I think the likeness here is even better than it was with Goku. He’s an essential character from the show, and I’m definitely glad I’ve added him to my collection. Hopefully, I can add a few more characters before all is said and done.


Diamond Select The Iron Giant

It was back in the spring that I decided to share the wonderful The Iron Giant with my young children. It was while watching that film with them that I remembered seeing on display at Toy Fair a brand new Iron Giant action figure. When the film was over and the kids were in bed, I jumped on my phone to look for more info on that figure and quickly found a pre-order. I placed my order that night and then proceeded to wait.

As the spring and summer months went by, so did the release date for the Diamond Select The Iron Giant action figure. No matter, I’m an adult and I don’t need to get toys right away. They come when they come and I’m just thankful when I can pre-order something. I was also busy with other figure releases so I wasn’t exactly missing this thing. Still, whenever it crossed my mind and I checked to see if there was a new shipping date, I got a little anxious, because it sure looked like a fun action figure.

My Iron Giant finally arrived this past week. It’s the first action figure from Diamond Select that I’ve purchased in probably 15 years, if not longer. Back in the early 2000s, I knew Diamond Select for its Marvel Select line of action figures. Those were generously referred to as action figures since most possessed very little articulation. They were more like inexpensive statues and set pieces. They tended to follow the Marvel Ultimate Universe, perhaps so as not to step on the Marvel Legends line put out by Toy Biz. Some of those figures were among my favorite though, especially the Ultimate Venom. Over the years, it would seem Diamond’s action figures have become more figure-like. And while I’ve never been moved to buy one until now, I was looking forward to seeing what a Diamond Select product was like in 2020.

The Iron Giant deluxe figure arrived in a blister package. Another thing I really don’t see often these days is blister packaging, unless it’s a toy for one of my kids. It’s an attractive package though with a space theme that hits on the look of the film. It’s also nice to have a box I don’t mind tossing as I’m starting to become burdened by window boxes I can’t bring myself to throw away.

The Iron Giant stands approximate 9″ tall and comes with a small assortment of accessories. He’s mostly cast in gray plastic with some paint applications applied on the abdomen and hands. He has a fair amount of articulation, and being a robot, it works rather well with the sculpt. He’s got a ball-joint at the head that allows for good rotation and some downward range as well. Unfortunately, he can’t look up really at all so no flying pose is truly possible. His jaw is on a hinge and while it feels loose, it seems to stay in place well enough when he’s being left alone. His shoulders are ball-jointed and the little overhang of the should moves with the arm so he can reach over his head. The elbow is a ball joint with a swivel and the hands all rotate and have an additional hinge. The upper body is affixed to the abdomen with a ball joint that allows for some nice pivot motion as well as rotation motion and makes up for the lack of a true waist swivel. The thighs are connected by a ball joint and the knees are on a hinge. No kneecaps means he can bend his lower leg in a 90 degree angle forward and backwards. The lower leg can swivel below the knee and the ankles are on hinges and rock side to side.

This is a rather nice amount of articulation for the big guy and there’s not a lot I find myself missing. I was hoping to get him into more of a crouching pose like when he squats in the film, but the legs aren’t really accommodating there. The head articulation is the only real bummer for me. This is a figure that doesn’t really need to be able to do too much to look good, and I like that Diamond got as much into the figure as it did.

The Iron Giant comes with some accessories, though not a ton. He doesn’t need a ton though, and one could argue he doesn’t even really need what he comes with. There are three sets of hands in total: fists, gripping hands, and open hands. The fists make for good default hands as it allows him to do the hands on hips pose he comes positioned in. The open hands are expressive and work with another accessory I’ll get to in a moment, while the gripping hands just feel like extra. He has nothing to grab onto, but I guess if you wanted to hang him from something you could make use of these. Or craft him some steel girders to snack on. Also included is an S emblem that clips onto his chest. It’s rigid plastic on plastic and I worry that repeated removal will either snap one of the clips or scrape the figure’s chest, but it does look nice and is quite appropriate. The last accessory is a little, tiny, Hogarth. He’s in a seated position so he works well with the open hands and can even fit into a gripping hand. Better yet though, he has a tiny screw in his bottom and Diamond smartly put a magnet in the Giant’s right shoulder for Hogarth to sit on. It was something I was hoping Diamond did when I saw the promotional images, but didn’t actually expect. I just wish they had done the same with the S emblem.

The main feature of the figure is the included light-up function. Flip a switch on the back of the Iron Giant and his eyes light up. The plastic his head is cast in is light and a bit thin, so more than just his eyes will light up. The effect is still pretty cool, cool enough that you’ll be tempted to turn it on every time you walk past this guy at night. It’s powered by a set of LR44 batteries which are included and should be less likely to leak vs a AAA battery, and obviously a lot easier to fit into the figure. It’s a cool feature because a lot of the film is done at night and Diamond was able to add it without taking anything away from the sculpt.

The Iron Giant moves well, has a neat light-up feature, and probably more accessories then it needs, though it’s not quite a homerun. The figure is surprisingly light in hand and the joints are a little loose for my taste. The legs in particular can be combative and he has toppled over on me a couple of times. It’s not terrible, but I worry about him becoming more loose as time moves on. Most of the parts on him are hollow as well, so he just doesn’t feel like a premium action figure. On the other hand, he’s also around 27 bucks so I’m trying to keep my expectations realistic. The looseness of the figure does mean there are no stuck joints or anything and the hands are on nice, long, pegs and are easy to swap. The forearm pieces can actually slide off too, though you probably will never have need to.

He’s not Superman, but he’s close enough.

Nitpicks aside, I do love the look of this figure. The scale looks great and the proportions are all well done. I love the magnetized Hogarth as that’s just such a wonderful touch. I’d probably have preferred a second, standing, Hogarth instead of one set of hands, but this is also pretty nice as-is. I kind of wish they could have done a premium version with maybe some die-cast legs in a 60 dollar price range, but maybe that’s not realistic too. For the price, this is a nice figure and I think fans of The Iron Giant will be pretty happy with this one.


S.H. Figuarts Tao Pai Pai (Mercenary Tao)

This is the story of a man and his flying, pink, pillar.

We’re back with another Dragon Ball review and this one is another bad guy, maybe THE bad guy: Tao Pai Pai. Known to English-speaking audiences as Mercenary Tao, and for the rest of this review as simply Tao, Tao is a martial arts expert who has perfected the dreaded Dodonpa, or Dodon Ray, and is an adept killing machine. He’s even been known to kill people with his tongue, folks. Tao is quite possibly the most hated enemy from Dragon Ball since he’s a ruthless killer and also one of the few to defeat Goku in hand-to-hand combat.

The S.H. Figuarts version of Tao depicts the character in his most familiar form. He’s clad in a navy and pink martial arts uniform with the phrase “Kill You!” emblazoned on the rear of his tunic in a blood red font. He has a single braid coming off of the back of his head tied off with a cute little, red, bow. He’s not particularly intimidating to look at, but in the source material he projects an aura of confidence that’s a bit unnerving.

Tao stands a tick under 6″ making him taller than the likes of Bulma, but much shorter than someone like King Piccolo. He features a lot of the same articulation one would expect from this line. His braid is on a ball joint so it can lay on his back or be positioned in a wind swept pose. A ball-jointed head gives him some nice range of motion and additional neck articulation adds some side-to-side pivot and allows him to look at his feet. The shoulders are on ball-joints with butterfly joints that allow him to reach across his chest a bit, though the bulk of his sleeves hinders a bit. There’s bicep swivels and double-jointed elbows. The hands are on ball-pegs and hinges and can rotate and point in and out. The waist is on a ball-peg and there’s diaphragm articulation as well. Bend his upper body too far back and you will see an exposed gap in the chest, but you’re not likely to have need to bend him that far. The crotch area is the 2.0 Figuarts joint so it works well, but is quite busy to look at. Tao minimizes this with the skirt of his tunic which covers the front and back. His legs are on ball-joints with rotation in the thigh as well. His knees are double-jointed, but the bulkiness of his pants hinders some of the articulation gained by the additional joint. The ankles are on ball-pegs and can rotate and rock side to side. There’s also a toe hinge for good measure.

Unlike most Figuarts figures I have, Tao wasn’t quite ready to go out of the package. I’m used to dealing with stuck joints with figures from other companies, but not usually Bandai. My Tao’s right thigh was stuck at the hip so when I tried to bend the leg out, like a split, the leg popped right off. I had to grab the peg and really give it a good tug to get the joint in the inner thigh to start working. My Tao’s left food also didn’t have much side-to-side motion. The peg is a dumbbell peg in the foot, and I think what was happening is the ball at the top was moving, but the one in the foot was stuck. I popped the foot off and immersed it in hot water and was then able to rock the peg back and forth a bit. It’s still not great, but better than before.

The comparison shot.

As is the case with the other figures in this line, the paint application is minimal, but the sculpt work is otherwise damn near flawless. Tao comes with a neutral facial expression that’s perhaps a bit of a scowl. The paint on his tunic is sharp and clear and there’s no mess on the red detailing. The skirt piece is a soft, pliable, plastic that really doesn’t hinder the articulation much. I know some people want to see more elaborate paint applications with this line, but at this point it is what it is and I personally think the sculpt work looks great in natural light. The only aspect of the sculpt that doesn’t look great are the knee joints, but only from the back so it’s not really an issue.

He’s a master tactician when it comes to psychological warfare.

Tao comes with an assortment of extra hands and heads. He has a screaming head for when he’s getting serious as well as a tongue-sticking out head for when he needs to kill. The tongue is definitely a funny inclusion, though if I had to choose I would have preferred a cocky grin. Tao comes packaged with fists, like basically all of the figures in this line, and has two additional sets of hands: open palms and Kung Fu, forked, hands. The other additional hand is a pointing right hand for the Dodon Ray. He also comes with a seven star dragon ball. I know some wish he came with his cybernetic parts from Dragon Ball Z, but I wouldn’t display him in that form so I’m not really sweating it. That version of the character is better reserved for a stand-alone release.

The major accessory for Tao though is his big, pink, pillar. In the source material, Tao couldn’t fly so he’d just smash a nearby pillar or tree and throw it through the sky. He’d then jump on it to ride it to wherever he needed to go. It’s ridiculous, but definitely something that’s memorable. Bandai deemed it so memorable that it was essential, so Tao comes with a plastic pillar and a unique flight stand to position it on. This thing is perhaps needlessly complicated because Bandai is so committed to the aesthetics of the figures in this line that it decided exposed peg holes could not be tolerated. Instead, there’s an included set of plugs to place in the pillar when it’s not in use that conceal any and all holes. There are six holes in total so that Tao can ride it akin to a surfboard or stand with his feet together at the back or center of the pillar. The pillar is hollow and can split apart which is how you remove the installed pegs. It’s also handy for storing any plugs that in use, so long as you don’t mind the rattle.

To attach Tao to the pillar, Bandai included swap-able feet plates. I’ve never seen anything like this. Basically, you pop off the soles of Tao’s shoes and replace them with a set that have pegs on the bottom. There’s a set with pegs that go straight down and a set that are pointing out. The pointing out set is meant for when Tao is standing with his feet together on the pillar and will go straight into it when his feet are angled towards each other. And to add a little more pizzazz to the set, the flight stand comes in three pieces: a base, the piece that attaches to the pillar, and an optional joiner piece. The optional piece adjusts the pitch of the pillar so Tao is either flying at a horizontal angle or one with the front pointing up at a slight angle.

The best I could do with the angled foot pegs. Only the right foot is in.

The pillar is very ambitious and quite an idea, but it’s far better on paper than in reality. For one, as neat as it is to hide the peg holes on the pillar, it should be pointed out that it kind of looks like a piece of sidewalk chalk. It’s funny such care was taken to hide the holes when what was really needed was some shading or just additional paint to help sell this better as a chunk of rock. Tao’s foot plates also have a tendency to pop out, especially the angled ones with my set. I’d insert the right one and it would literally shoot out of the pegs. Perhaps they’re too tight? I’m not sure, because they also come out very easily when trying to position him on the pillar. I had a hell of a time trying to get the angled ones to work right. I think part of it was due to my Tao’s left foot being limited due to the stuck ankle joint, while some of it is likely just poor engineering. I got him onto the pillar in that position, but only if I just attached one foot and let the other float. It didn’t inspire much confidence. The “surfing” position works much better. It’s still finicky, but I at least achieved the desired position. I’m still a little disappointed though as I really wanted to display him in that more confident, nonchalant, pose of standing with his feet together, but oh well.

To better sell the flight stand, Tao also comes with optional skirts for his tunic. He’s meant to pull apart at the waist which allows you to lift off the pieces that he comes wearing by default. The tunic skirts are in two pieces, a rear and a front, and the peg holes were engineered in a way to prevent you from mixing the two up. Getting them onto Tao is easy and really does add to the figure’s presentation. They may not have hit a home run with this figure, but when you get it right it sure does look impressive.

I can think of a few more characters I’d like to add to this display.

Tao is an ambitious addition to the S.H. Figuarts line of Dragon Ball figures. He does stumble in some ways, but the overall package is still impressive. He’s a great villain in the series and a welcomed addition to the roster of characters. My Dragon Ball collection is rounding into form and there are only a handful of characters that I’d like to add to it. If you have one of your own, it’s hard not to want to add Tao Pai Pai to the ranks.


Batman Beyond – The Complete Series (Blu Ray)

Last year, when Warner Home Media announced a new Blu Ray set for the series Batman Beyond, I decided to wait. I had been an early consumer for the similar Batman: The Animated Series set the prior year and had some misgivings. The price on that set fell and a slimmed down version was even introduced at retail that really only omitted the outer box and Funko items. Plus, I had ordered that set from Amazon and had to go through multiples because the company packaged it so poorly. I also wasn’t in any hurry to order Batman Beyond since I had the DVD sets and had never really found them lacking in a visual sense.

My patience was rewarded as a recent Amazon Lightning Deal came up for the complete Batman Beyond Blu Ray package. Like Batman, Batman Beyond received both a deluxe release and a retail release, only this deal on Amazon ended up being the deluxe version marked down even lower than the retail version. I decided to pounce since it’s been awhile since I engaged with the property, and if I was going to do a re-watch, might as well make it a high-definition one.

Batman Beyond tells the story of Bruce (reluctantly) passing the mantle of Batman to Terry

If you’re unfamiliar with the series, Batman Beyond was the sequel series to Batman: The Animated Series. In actuality, it was the replacement. Series creators Bruce Timm and Paul Dini had operated under the assumption that The New Batman Adventures would continue beyond the one season order the WB network had given it. Instead, the network decided that Batman needed a refresh. Were they right? Probably not, as Batman has proven to be a timeless character. The New Batman Adventures wasn’t quite on par with the Fox seasons, but it was still pretty good and had legs. It would have been nice if the network had given it one more season, or even a half season, while also informing the crew that would be it. Then we could have received a proper finale, but instead we got Batman Beyond and a series of Justice League shows followed.

Given that, it would be easy to approach Batman Beyond with significant baggage. After all, the premise is essentially “Let’s make Batman younger by essentially making him Spider-Man.” If you told that to me before ever letting me watch the show I would instantly have a bad impression. It sounds like the foolish decision of a network executive and not a creative decision by an actual story-teller. Against all odds though, the show somehow worked. It made people care about a new, teen-aged, Batman and it also managed to serve as a bookend to the animated series by largely continuing that show’s continuity. Sure, there was a pretty big gap in time between the two properties and a great many loose strings are never addressed, but just by having Bruce Wayne (still voiced by the incomparable Kevin Conroy) onboard added an instant credibility to the program.

Batman Beyond is set in the year 2039. Gotham has apparently run out of room for expansion and has grown up instead of out. Colossal skyscrapers cover the landscape with roads upon roads on top of one another. The main character is Terry McGinnis (Will Friedle), a teenager who loses his father to a murder making him the ideal candidate to replace Bruce Wayne as Batman. As Batman, Terry is empowered with a futuristic suit that allows him to fly, turn invisible, fire a seemingly endless amount of batarangs, and even stick to surfaces like a certain wall-crawler I already referenced. He’s a bit more jokey than his predecessor, and several episodes act as a teaching moment for him as well. This is a Batman in training, though by the end of the show he is pretty much the real deal. It’s a bit amusing to see how future Gotham looks considering modern Gotham looked like it was frozen in the 1940s. It’s about what you would expect, though most automobiles appear to still possess wheels.

The setting is not really what’s important here. What is most interesting about Batman Beyond is watching an elderly Bruce Wayne manage a kid who has taken up his mantle. It arises in an unnatural way with McGinnis initially stealing the suit to investigate his father’s murder. Wayne is shown giving up his alter-ego in the first five minutes of the show, but also given a motivation to want to see Batman return to Gotham. And that’s Derek Powers (Sherman Howard), who has basically taken Wayne’s company from him turning Wayne Enterprises into Wayne-Powers. He’s setup early on to be the primary foil to Batman and Wayne, though the rogue’s gallery will be filled out quite a bit over the ensuing 52 episodes. It’s a lot of fun though to watch Terry and Bruce bust heads with each other as they seldom agree. They find a working relationship though, and it helps that we have the relationships between Bruce and his prior wards to fall back-on. It’s easy to see that this Bruce is trying his hardest not to repeat the same mistakes as he did once before, and the fact that he’s physically compromised in his old age actually helps him to be more patient with Terry than he was with both Dick and Tim.

To sum it up, Batman Beyond is indeed worth your time as a series, even if you have reservations about the whole thing. It does the impossible in being a worthy follow-up to Batman: The Animated Series. Chances are, if you’re reading this you already know that. What’s more pressing is did Warner do right by the series with this set? Considering it is now being sold for almost half of what it was initially, I would say yes.

Being a late 90s/early 2000s show means this one really isn’t all that old, relatively speaking. The masters were all preserved and when the show received a transfer to DVD it came out great. In high-definition, it looks every bit as a good and obviously a little better. Blacks are deep and the brighter colors pop as expected. There’s no grain to speak of with this series, and everything has a very clean presentation. This was one of the last shows to be animated largely in a traditional manner for DC as they still used ink and paint on celluloid for the main animation. And unlike say Spider-Man 94, there’s no glaringly awful CG effects in use. Nothing is really working against the show in its transfer to HD, and that’s a good thing. Warner Home Video also wisely resisted any temptation to crop the image which seems like a given, but you never know when such will pop up.

The new extra features are all relegated to a bonus disc. There’s a round-table retrospective with the creators and actors of the series, though notably absent is Paul Dini. It’s mostly just 45 minutes or so of the people involved congratulating themselves for making a good show. There’s some interesting moments, like Bruce Timm acknowledging some of the controversial moves for the series following its completion that the others at the table get to weigh in on, but it’s not as juicy as it could have been. If you’re at all versed on this show, you probably won’t learn much from this discussion. There’s also a retrospect on Batman called Knight Immortal which consists of still images and some clips and surprisingly no talking heads. A lot of the main players involved with the character are heard from and it’s a decent look at Batman. Lastly, there’s a history of Detective Comics present. It’s a bit dry, but if you love DC then you’ll probably enjoy sitting through it. All of the DVD special features are also present.

The reverse side of the lenticulars.

Like the set for BTAS, this one doesn’t have any commentaries or anything like that added, just what was already available on DVD. Also like that set, it includes the feature associated with the series, in this case the excellent Return of the Joker. If it weren’t for Mask of the Phantasm, Return of the Joker would be my favorite Batman animated film and it’s still one of my favorite Batman films in general, possibly in my top 5. It’s the uncut version too, as expected. There’s also an optional digital version of the collection that can be downloaded. I haven’t redeemed my code though so I can’t speak to the quality (the BTAS set came with a standard definition digital copy) and I’m also note sure if it includes Return of the Joker.

This little booklet is just a glorified table of contents. No creator notes or anything.

Where this set differs from the BTAS one is in the presentation. It comes in a cardboard box with a window display for a chrome Batman Beyond Funko Pop! rather than mini ones. It’s a normal-sized Pop! so you probably know if you like it or not. Inside the box is a pretty standard Blu Ray set. It’s a hard cardboard slip case with folding digi-book styled case that houses the discs. It’s nothing extravagant, but it’s at least functional. While I loved the presentation of the leather-bound book for the BTAS set, getting the discs in and out was painful. There’s also some lenticular images and a little booklet that serves as a table of contents. It’s fine, just not particularly flashy. I imagine the standard retail release just omits the outer box and Funko figure.

If you want this show on physical media and in HD, then this is something you should seek out.

Batman Beyond – The Complete Series is essentially as advertised. If you had been waiting for a complete collection on Blu Ray, then you should be satisfied with this. Especially if you were able to get it on sale. If you like the show, and you’re still into physical media like I am, then you should probably grab it. Is it essential if you already have the DVDs? Probably not. The bonus features are something you’re likely to watch once and then never again. It would have been great if Warner had made an attempt to make this the full Batman Beyond experience by including the character’s appearances from other shows on here. That would have been especially useful for someone like me who has no interest in buying any of those other shows. And if this is something you want, I’d suggest grabbing whatever version is cheaper unless you really want that exclusive Pop! figure. Lastly, if you like Batman: The Animated Series but never gave Batman Beyond a chance, it’s worth the price of admission. You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised.


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