Today’s look at yet another Haulathon release from NECA Toys features two one-off characters from the cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Dirk Savage and Mona Lisa. For Savage, this is his action figure debut as he wasn’t featured in the vintage Playmates line. For Mona Lisa, she was only featured in one episode of the show, but did benefit from an action figure and that’s honestly how I remember her. I did see her episode as a kid, but the memories are rather fuzzy. She has also shown up on other iterations of TMNT and is often paired with Raph as a romantic interest because turtles and newts so often mate in the real world. For casual fans of the property, this is definitely a set that will lead to some head-scratching, but if you’re all-in on this line then you probably expected these two to show up eventually, though maybe not together since they weren’t featured in the same episode. And in keeping with this line, they’re pretty good so you might want to check them out even if you can’t remember them.
We’ll start with Dirk first, the mutant hunter who looks a bit like a cross between Flash Gordon and Judge Dredd with a little Jay Leno in the face. He stands at around 6.75″ to the top of his head and touches 7″ if you factor in the hair. Dirk is a great example of how this line has a little pop to it. We get a real bright red for this shirt to pair with a deep purple for the pants. There’s browns and grays all over the place for the various straps and cuffs he’s sporting and there’s an abundance of little painted details all over the place. I love the toony quality his face possesses and the five o’clock shadow he has. The human characters have a tendency to feel drab in a line that stars a bunch of mutants, but Dirk is a fun design and a great piece for the shelf. The paint is very clean and I think everything here is unique to Dirk. If there’s reuse going on I can’t tell. He also brings back the shading which has been a bit hit and miss with this recent batch. Some figures have had it in abundance, and some have not. With Dirk, we get it on the shirt, pants, and boots, but NECA declined to include it on the belt, shoulder pads, or head. I’m not sure what the reasoning for this is, I think it would have looked nice on the hair and shoulder pads, but I’m guessing most won’t care.
For accessories, Dirk comes with a pretty substantial spread. We don’t get any additional portraits, but given how perfect his cocky expression is, I don’t think we need another. He comes with three sets of hands: fists, gripping, and trigger hands with all of the hands featuring the horizontal hinge instead of the vertical one. Dirk also has a pair of guns. One looks like a sci-fi version of a sawed-off shotgun and Dirk has a removable holster for the rear of the figure it can be slotted into. I had to look up promotional images of the figure to know how it’s supposed to go in as it’s a tight fit, but it can be done. The weapon itself looks fine, but the barrels end with a flat piece rather than look like a cylindrical barrel which is an odd look. I didn’t check to see if it was the same way in the show, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is as I can see some censors not liking that it looks like a shotgun and mandating some changes. He also has a much smaller sidearm that I think shot out a cable in the show. It looks nice, though the red tip makes it look like a laser pistol or something. I do wish we got an effect part for the cable to pair with it though. Dirk also has a baton weapon that resembles a cattle prod. He can hold it or it has a slot on the holster for it making it relatively easy for Dirk to carry all of his weapons. Well, except for the giant laser trap he comes in. We saw the net portion with Genghis Frog and it’s a repeat accessory here, only it also comes with its base which it just slots into. It’s a plastic box, but it’s well-painted and well-sculpted. Dirk also has his wire cuffs which should be able to fit around the wrists of most of the figures in this line. It’s joined by a soft plastic cable of sorts, though it doesn’t appear to have a bendy wire inside it. I wish he had a slot on his belt to store it, but it can be wrapped around the holster or an arm with relative ease if that’s your thing. All of the accessories look pretty great though and there’s plenty of paint to go around. The only downside is Dirk’s hands are all really stiff so getting him to hold his guns and baton is a challenge. You’re best off to just use some hot water to soften the hands first or else risk scraping the paint. Mondo Gecko also came with his control cuff so if you have that figure it’s like having yet another accessory for Dirk.
For articulation, Dirk is done surprisingly well. He has some issues with his design that are going to interfere, but overall I think he’s going to be thought of as one of the better figures in the line. His head is on a double ball peg with a ball joint at the base of the neck as well so he gets tons of range. He can look up, down, rotate, and can hit some nice nuance poses as well. The shoulders are the usual ball-hinges and he can lift his arms out to the side, but rotation is going to be hindered by the oversized shoulder pads. There’s a biceps swivel past that which works as expected and then the usual double-jointed elbows which will get past 90 degrees. My right, lower, hinge on the elbow is pretty stuck, but I also haven’t given it my all to get it loose and it’s the only stuck joint on my figure. The wrists swivel and have the less desirable horizontal hinge, as mentioned before. The diaphragm joint is likely a ball peg of some sort as Dirk can tilt back and forward a small amount as well as to the side and rotate. The waist twists and the ball-jointed hips will allow Dirk to hit some killer splits. He can rotate at the same joint and he kicks forward pretty far and kicks back a small amount. The knees are double-jointed and bend past 90 degrees and below that we get a boot cut which is hidden by the cuff of the boot. The ankles bend forward and back and also feature a rocker. About the only real limitation with this guys is that he doesn’t have a great ab crunch, but that’s typical of NECA, and then there’s the shoulder pads which get in the way. Even so, I think he has plenty of range for what he is and it’s a nice surprise.
Dirk’s box-mate is the lovely Mona Lisa, who was a chemistry student tragically mutated into a newt or something. She fights for the environment and it’s sort of interesting that she’s a bit of a brain, but she’s paired with Raph and not Donatello. Compared with Dirk, her design is far more simple. She’s essentially a nude, anthropomorphic, newt lady with a ton of brown hair on top of her head. The only clothing she wears is her pink scarf and a belt that seems to only exist to make her look less nude since it serves no function. She’s basically all green plastic, but in true NECA fashion, every inch of her is painted. She stands at a petite 5.25″ and the hair will take her close to 6″ if you want to go there. Her body features the toon shading, but her head and scarf do not. The only embellishment on her person is the stripe of light green on her torso and another stripe of dark green on her rear which runs down and over her tail. In the show, this light green on her torso was more yellow so it’s interesting that NECA went with green instead. The paint is pretty clean, especially the linework. The only blemish on my figure is a chip on the back of her ponytail, but otherwise she looks fine.
Mona Lisa, not being a ninja or a mutant hunter, comes with more benign accessories, but she still comes with a lot. We get four sets of hands with her: fists, open, gripping, and a set of open hands without webbing. I’m not sure why there’s a set of open hands without webbing, but maybe there’s one, off, scene in the episode where they forget to draw them in. She also has a set of books, a red one and a blue one, and one is labeled Chemistry and the other Physics because she’s something of a scientist. They don’t open or anything, but they look fine. She also has some chemistry accessories. There’s a trio of test tubes done with translucent plastic, but painted to make them resemble having a liquid inside. One is blue, one is green, and one is pink. They have a stand they slot into which actually works well. There’s also a flask and a stand for that. The flask is also done with translucent plastic and painted to make it look like it has a green liquid in it. Take note, Hasbro, this is how you properly do such an accessory as the ones that came with Beast look bad. This one also has a cork stopper on the top that’s actually removable – pretty neat! We also get yet another flask, this one with a pink liquid, and it has a straw or something coming out of it. Lastly, we get a second head and this one is angry. I will say, swapping heads is a little tough. It takes some good old-fashioned elbow grease to pull the default one off and the second one doesn’t want to go on easily. Some heat will help there. The hands are also surprisingly tough to swap as well. They’re on tiny pegs that are pretty long and barbed and I don’t think we needed the barb at the end. Her forearms are so thin that they probably would have stayed in fine without them. You may want to apply heat to the forearms as a result, but careful when doing so because if you heat the peg that could actually make things worse.
Articulation for Mona is a bit in-line with what we expect out of this series from NECA. Her head is on a double-ball peg, but the lower ball is so far in her neck that she really can’t do much save for rotate and tilt forward a little. The shoulders are standard ball hinges that go all the way out to the side and rotate all around. Despite her slight frame, Mona Lisa gets a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows and it all works just fine. There’s more of a delicate feel to them, but the elbows aren’t gummy which would have been a killer on this figure since the piece is so small. The hands swivel and hinge and the hinges are all horizontal. There is a waist twist behind the belt, so that belt at least does something here. It’s a ball joint so she can arch back a bit, but she doesn’t crunch forward really at all. There’s also not much tilt and the figure really fights the waist twist. It could just be that the belt is really tight or maybe it’s not spinning on the ball joint freely. The legs are of the ball and socket variety and she can kick forward all the way and kicks back a bit. She can do full splits and there’s some rotation at the thigh too. The knees are double-jointed and bend past 90 degrees while her ankles are hinged and bend forward and back plenty. I’m pretty sure she has ankle rockers as well, but mine are pretty stubborn and it feels like the peg is bending when I try to engage them. Her tail is also articulated and it’s on a ball-hinge joint. It rotates and has some in and out movement as well which makes it useful as a third leg if you feel it’s warranted. She articulates well enough, especially if the ankle rockers are unique to my figure and not a widespread thing. The only real limitation that shouldn’t exist is with the head, but maybe because her head is so heavy due to her hair that NECA prioritized stability over range of motion. The “diaper” piece at the hips is one of the least inhibitive I’ve seen in this line so she has great range of motion below the waist which is helpful when finding poses.
Dirk Savage and Mona Lisa may be an odd pair for a two-pack, but they’re two characters done pretty well. Mona Lisa is a more simple, and thus less flashy, design, but her engineering and accessories are pretty fun and for fans of the character I think they’ll be quite pleased. Dirk Savage does pack that extra “bang” by virtue of his design and accessories. He poses very well for this line and his accessories give him a lot of variety when hunting for that perfect, shelf, pose. Considering we already had one of his accessories via the frogs and Tokka and Rahzar were targets of his, adding him to the collection feels like it makes that small segment of the property complete.
This two-pack is exclusive to Target stores and will set you back $60 like the other two-packs released during this Haulathon event. Given the accessory loadout and the fact that both figures feature all new tooling this one feels like it earns that price tag better than some of the others. The online drop for this set has come and gone, but more seem to be shipping out so keep an eye on your local stores if you’re in need. Last fall’s sets, which featured similarly obscure characters, are still being found in the wild so there’s reason for optimism if you missed the initial release that these will be easy to come by as well once the initial rush dies down. Like the other two-packs we’ve seen recently, this one might not be for the casuals, but if you like good toys or remember either character there’s probably enough here to entice you. And I think those who do take the plunge will come away feeling pretty good about their decision.
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