It was October 12, 2021 when I last posted a review of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed Loot Crate. It did not go well, but the review closed with some optimism for the future. I made mention of the delays impacting the latest series of TMNT themed crates from Loot Crate and NECA, but I made sure to praise the communication we were receiving from Loot Crate about said delays. 2021 was full of them, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise these things were impacted as well. All a supplier can do is keep the consumer informed and offer a reasonable timeframe for delivery. And Loot Crate was doing just that, until it wasn’t.
When that October review concluded the expected ship date for Crate #2 was December. If you look at the title of this one, you will notice this is not a review of the second crate. We still don’t know when that is coming, but we have Crate #3! The last update we received from Loot Crate was via the company’s Twitter account on January 25th. I’m shocked the Tweet is still up, but in it the author acknowledged the frustrations of fans, but shared some good news: the items for crates 2 and 3 were in the warehouse and should ship in February! Hallelujah! Obviously, that didn’t happen since this post is going live on the last day of June. I can handle a missed shipping date, what I don’t like is being lied to. Those items clearly were not in warehouse and if the social media person simply made a mistake it should have been corrected, but that didn’t happen.
Loot Crate’s Twitter handle has basically gone dark since March. Rumors have swirled around the company since that there have been layoffs, missed payments, and pending litigation. A Facebook user claiming to work at a factory in China even shared an image of a bunch of apparent product for Loot Crate that was allegedly being held hostage at a factory because Loot Crate had yet to pay for it. I don’t know how much of that is true, or if any of it is, but I do know that their customer service has gone to shit and when responses have been made to emails (and for a while, customers were getting automated responses that the recipient’s inbox was full) they’ve been coming from reps that seem to represent Costumes.com and NECA.
Which brings us to NECA. NECA and Loot Crate are both owned by Joel Weinshanker, but they aren’t the same company. Whenever NECA’s social media has responded to questions from collectors about where their Loot Crates are they’ve been quick to point out that fact. And it’s not a lie, but NECA obviously knows more about the situation than we do. And when it comes to consumers conflating the two, they only have themselves to blame since they partnered with Loot Crate to offer exclusive figures. And the two companies are clearly intertwined since my NECA Mousers, purchased directly through NECA’s website, was shipped to me by The Loot Company. NECA can scream from the mountaintops that they’re separate from Loot Crate and be absolutely correct, but there’s no denying that this relationship with Loot Crate is hurting their reputation just as much as it is Loot Crate.
I couldn’t talk about this crate without talking about the drama surrounding Loot Crate, but with that out of the way, how about we actually talk about this crate? Like the title says, this is actually Crate #3 which is the Mirage Studios themed crate. Like last year’s movie themed crate, this one is rather small compared with the 2020 crates. It seems clear to me now that rather than raise the price on these that Loot Crate opted to put fewer items in the crate. That’s fine by me so long as the figure isn’t compromised. Unfortunately, that was not the case with the first crate as the Danny Pennington figure is the worst NECA figure I own. It was bad and that crate felt like a real rip-off. I suppose the counter to that is “If you hated it so much, why don’t you sell it for more than 50 bucks?” and the answer is “Because I’m too much of a completist.” The movie line is rather small and the Danny figure is a unique character as opposed to a variant, so it is what it is.
Let’s get the extraneous stuff out of the way first. This crate comes with two standard items that have appeared in every crate thus far: a pin and a shirt. The pin is of everyone’s favorite turtle. I say “everyone” because the comic turtles are indistinguishable from each other and the pin is of just the turtle’s head. Yes, it’s probably lifted from existing art so if you really must know which turtle the pin is of that’s probably do-able, but I don’t recognize the image to that degree and a cursory look through the first few issues of the comic didn’t turn up anything for me.
The shirt is more specific and features Raphael with the comic logo above. The word “Turtles” is printed in white with an image of Leo’s blood-soaked sword within it colored in red. The shirt is fine, but it lacks the creativity of some of the others we’ve seen. Loot Crate also sent me a size small shirt despite the fact that I ordered a medium. This seems to be happening to a lot of people and an informal Twitter poll turned up several instances of people receiving a size smaller than what was ordered. I have yet to see the inverse, which is annoying because collectors could at least swap with each other if that was the case. A few people did receive what they ordered, but they appear to be in the minority for now. I can at least pull off most small sizes, but this one definitely feels a bit tight especially at the neck so I don’t know if I’ll ever wear it. Maybe my daughter, who has a newfound love of the 2012 show, will welcome a new Raphael “nightgown.”
Lastly, we have a gimmick item in the form of an Utrom fanny pack. If you’re not familiar with the Utrom, they’re basically Krang in other iterations of the property. By printing the image of the alien on a fanny pack it simulates the wearer being controlled by a brain alien much like the robot bodies inhabited by the Utrom. It’s impractical in this day and age to sport a fanny pack, but cute, I suppose. Would I buy any of these items if sold separately? No, but I’m at least willing to wear the t-shirt so long as it fits. The rest is going in a drawer or something.
Which brings us to the main attraction: Claw Shredder. Shredder was rather famously killed-off in the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Despite that, he would be made the central villain of the cartoon and film series of the franchise and basically every version of the turtles that’s followed. Naturally, TMNT co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird felt they needed to bring him back and they first did so by way of a trio of failed clones. Claw Shredder, or Crab Shredder, is one of those failed clones and he’s pretty grotesque looking. He’s basically Shredder, but with an elongated face and arms that end in massive, hideous, claws. His legs are also mutated as well and he’s just an all together abomination. The figure comes in the new style of comic packaging we first saw with Fugitoid so in-box collectors should be happy to see he’ll fit in with that release and the ones to come. It’s numbered “LC01” which could signal an intent for future Loot Crate figures. It also ignores the previously released First Appearance Shredder Loot Crate figure which I suppose might bother some.
Claw Shredder stands at approximately 6.625″ to the top of his head and slightly taller depending on how high that middle tine on the helmet rises above the dome. The figure is a mixture of old and new parts. The torso, shoulders, and biceps are reused from the previous Mirage Shredder figure while the hips and thighs are from the updated Turtles in Time Shredder and Stern Pinball Shredder that featured the newer style ball and socket joint. What’s new is obviously the head which is largely distinguished from regular Shredder by the elongated mouth guard. The lower part of the legs and feet are new as this character has oversized feet wrapped in brown bandages and then the most noticeable difference are the monstrous, clawed, forearms. In addition to all of that, the shoulder pauldrons also feature new, longer, spikes.
I’m happy to report that this figure looks and feels like a standard NECA release. The plastic and the figure as a whole has a nice weight to it, there’s a good mixture of painted parts and bare plastic, and the presentation is just very good. I love the comic deco that NECA does which includes a lot of black linework, dots, and cross-hatches on the “metal” parts. It looks like the character from the comic and the paint applications are all very clean. There were some stuck portions due to all of the paint, namely the ankles, but no joints are cast in the wrong color so when some paint flakes off it’s not leaving behind a mis-matched color. Interestingly, the lower part of the shirt that hangs over the crotch and part of the thighs is a floating piece and isn’t locked down. The left and right forearms appear to be exactly the same, but the source art appears to illustrate them as being identical too. One could argue this figure should be more spindly, or thinner, than it is when compared with the comic, but I don’t think it would work very well as an action figure if done that way given how large and heavy the claws are.
Being that this figure shares a lot of parts with previous Shredder figures, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that it largely articulates the same way. Basically, the only joint this one omits is something at the wrist since it doesn’t really have wrists. The head is on a ball and the neck is independently articulated via a swivel and hinge at the base. It’s a little tricky to work that neck joint, but it does allow the figure to look up and down an acceptable amount. The shoulders are standard ball-hinges. The pauldrons will obstruct some movement, but you get what you expect there. The biceps swivel is intact and the elbows are still double-jointed. The elbows feel a bit gummy on my figure so I would caution doing too much there. In a rare feeling for me, I actually wish NECA had used those odd double-joints we sometimes see (like the first movie Casey) so we could get a swivel point there as the actual claws can’t rotate at all. The big, “thumb” claw does feature a hinge so it can kind of pinch though it’s not big enough to grab a turtle by the throat or anything. The waist swivels and on mine it was partially separated out of the box, but seems fine now. The legs are the previously mentioned ball and socket and you get some twist there along with the usual forward, back, and out to the side motion. They are very loose and floppy though similar to the cartoon Deluxe Foot Solider which is a bummer. Fortunately, the giant feet help alleviate any standing issues. The knees are double-jointed, and the ankles hinge and pivot. Initially, the ankle rocker didn’t really want to do much on my figure, but a little persistence cured that. It’s always a bit stressful to force the issue with a joint and even more so with these exclusive Loot Crate ones. I probably should have played it safe and hit the joint with some hot water, but I got away with it and the pivot points work well now.
The articulation is solid and about what I expected. I do wish his legs weren’t so floppy, but as I said above, he stands just fine. I only run into stability problems if I try to position his claws too close together as their weight will cause the figure to topple. And while the shoulders, biceps, and elbows are fairly tight, there are “slip points” in the shoulders and elbows that won’t hold a pose due to the weight of the claws. It makes the figure a bit finicky to pose, but the nature of the character’s design was always going to limit the posing somewhat. I wish there was a way to position the claws via a swivel somewhere other than the biceps, but otherwise I’m not crying out for more articulation here. Or at least, no more than I would a standard NECA release as I would like them to switch to a ball-peg system in the torso to allow for some more forward and back posing.
Claw Shredder is thankfully a much better release than the figure in the last Loot Crate. It doesn’t feel like a downgrade from a standard retail figure and the only shortcoming is the complete and total lack of accessories. However, this isn’t a figure that really needs accessories which is partly what makes it an appropriate selection for just such a thing. The figure looks good in or out of the box, the quality is there, and it’s not just a repaint. Does it and the included “loot” add up to a $50 value? No, not really, but that’s apparent from the beginning as these sorts of things rarely feel like they’re worth the money. The good thing is if someone truly feels they’ve been had, the figure and items can probably be flipped for a small profit. I don’t know if this particular figure will be as in-demand as some of the others, and I suspect this time around more people ordered multiple crates with the idea of flipping some than before, so don’t expect to send your kid to college via Loot Crate. Ignoring the terrible consumer experience that has become Loot Crate, I am satisfied with what I got here. Hopefully we get a chance to add the other Shredder clones to our collections via a different delivery method. That four-armed clone would definitely make for an interesting figure.
Don’t confuse that sentiment for me breathing a sigh of relief or anything. I am still owed two crates plus a bonus figure and I won’t feel any sense of relief until all of those are in my possession. We have seen the figure for Crate #2, Armaggon, and the bonus figure, Scrag, show up in the hands of some people in China and at least one comic book store in New Jersey located suspiciously close to NECA’s headquarters. That at least tells me that those figures are done and hopefully in Loot Crate’s possession, but it’s also possible they haven’t left China. Again, no one is saying anything and we only have one Tweet from January saying that stuff had been received into the warehouse. We have yet to see the figure for Crate #4, Dark Turtle, in anyone’s hands. Is that the figure supposedly being held hostage by the factory? Considering that’s the figure I was most excited about, I’m going to remain anxious until we have some confirmation it’s actually done and manufactured as that one did not make an appearance in the NJ comic store like the rest. Maybe that’s because the owner of the store, or an employee, kept it for themself? That’s possible, but at this point nothing would surprise me. I just want my stuff and I look forward to a day when I can say that I am done with Loot Crate and I really hope NECA is too.