Category Archives: toys

NECA Turtles in Time Bebop and Rocksteady

Rocksteady and Bebop are back – in pirate form!

When I reviewed the Super7 Donatello last month, I noted how it was one of the longest waits I’ve ever had between the time I ordered something and the time I received it. Well, it’s already been topped. NECA’s Turtles in Time series of action figures based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game is the less celebrated wing of the company’s TMNT figure lines. It’s a specialty shop exclusive that largely consists of repaints of figures that have already appeared in the company’s cartoon line. There are some exceptions, like the Baxter Stockman figure, but largely it’s the most niche line based on the popular IP. The Bebop and Rocksteady set, based on their appearance in the Super Nintendo version of the game, is sort of the capper to the line. It’s the line’s only two-pack and it features two popular characters in amusing pirate attire. It went up for preorder in October of 2020, the same month as Super7’s wave 4 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and if I didn’t cancel my preorder and grab this set elsewhere I’d still be waiting. For whatever reason, the online retailer Big Bad Toy Store has been slow to get some NECA product. I’m still waiting for the quarter scale Donatello to come in stock despite that, like this set, being available months ago in other places. When someone pointed out to me that Amazon, of all places, had this set in stock I jumped on it. Sorry BBTS, I’ve waited long enough.

“Say your prayers, toitles!

Bebop and Rocksteady are a bit unique for this line. They’re not just repaints, but they’re also not too far removed from the figures we’ve seen in the cartoon line (which came out back in 2019). The actual figures are largely the same and what’s been changed are the soft, plastic, overlays, that NECA uses to differentiate characters. It’s how they can basically use the same molds for Bebop, Rocksteady, and Leatherhead without it being really obvious. Of the two, Rocksteady is the most different. NECA had to add his pirate hat so he actually has new ears. His overlay on his torso is vastly different from the tank top the other figure features as it’s a dashing, captain’s, shirt and coat with ruffled shoulder pads. The arms had to be changed to accommodate this look since he’s now wearing sleeves. Everything else is the same which is a good and bad thing. Good, because the older Rocksteady is one of the best looking figures in this line still. Bad, because that figure used the old hips which are prone to breaking and difficult to pose. This guy is hard to stand and I’m currently using two NECA disc stands to keep him upright.

It’s still pure horror underneath those glasses.

Bebop is also sporting a pirate look, but his look isn’t as drastic a departure as his buddy’s. It’s almost entirely limited to the overlays as he has a new bandana on his head in place of his hair and he’s wearing a striped shirt with a pink vest. The arms are the same, but NECA ditched the real chain-link bracelet in favor of sculpted ones on both wrists. The only real difference comes below the knee as Bebop’s pants end in tatters and his stylish high-tops have been replaced with what look like loafers with a big, yellow, buckle on each. He also doesn’t have a belt any longer, but still has his turtle shell shoulder pads and weird, skeletal, necklace. Unlike Rocksteady, Bebop is easier to stand as the new shoes actually work better than the old ones, though he too can still be a challenge as he’s very top heavy. I think with Rocksteady he’s just even more top heavy and his feet aren’t very large in relation to his body size. My only critique of this look is that Bebop’s shirt and glasses are more of a hot pink than the purple they appear to be in the game. You can also see his purple ponytail in the game, but NECA removed his hair to make room for the bandana on his head. And his eyes are still solid black under the glasses which is a bit of a bummer because his eyes become visible in the arcade game when hit and it would have been cool if we could simulate that as well.

The pixel deco isn’t too intrusive here and actually works pretty well from a distance.

Both figures feature NECA’s pixel deco and I think it looks okay here. With Rocksteady, the effect is played up rather well on his torso. I like how the gray and white on his vest turned out and there’s just enough on his arms and legs. His flesh is purple, which is in keeping with the game. His black hat is basically ignored when it comes to the pixel look which is accurate to the game as well. The paint is clean and sharp and if I have one criticism it’s that there should be some white near his eyes. As it stands, NECA basically painted them all black with a triangle of purple and it’s a bit freaky. Bebop is also well-painted, though his pixelization feels more understated. NECA could have done more with it on his chest, especially, but opted not to. If not for the gray patches on his legs he wouldn’t really appear pixelated at all when on a shelf. I suspect this bothers few though as, if anything, I see more people complaining about the pixel deco than praising it.

This isn’t the most dynamic pair of action figures around. Most will just set them and forget them.

As far as articulation is concerned, these guys are exactly the same as the previous releases. They’re nearly the same base too so they articulate the same, which is to say, not very well. They’re not statues, but the articulation has always been something I’ve had to overlook with these guys. The head is on a ball or ball-hinge and doesn’t offer much range. The jaw on both is articulated and it offers a fair deal of personality, though Bebop can’t really close his mouth all the way. There’s a ball hinge at the shoulder that’s super tight on both figures. The shoulder pads both sport make it difficult to rotate the arms, and with Bebop, it’s basically impossible. There’s a biceps swivel on both and double-jointed elbows. The wrists swivel and hinge though the hinge isn’t very functional with Rocksteady due to the cuffs on his sleeves. There’s probably a diaphragm joint on both, but the overlays render it useless. You get a waist twist with some tilt, but nothing really in the way of an ab crunch. The hips are the old peg system where the peg on the right leg goes through the crotch piece into a cylinder in the left leg to join them. You get a thigh twist at that joint, which is a ball hinge in the top of the leg, with double-jointed knees below that. The feet have a hinge with limited range on both figures and it does rock side to side a bit, but not a whole lot.

That upper peg isn’t doing it’s job and, as a result, a lot of the joiner in between the thigh and calf is visible on Rocksteady.

These guys are a bit of a stressful pair when first opened. A lot of the joints on mine were pretty tight or stuck. I plunged both into a hot water bath before doing much of anything with those hips. It’s basically the same old story where the joints are painted, which causes them to lock-up in shipping, but this old leg system would be tight even without the paint. And there’s a lot of paint on these guys and it looks rather thick in places. You definitely want to exercise caution when breaking them in. And even being careful, I still popped Rocksteady’s arm off at the biceps joint due to the shoulder hinge being so tight, which isn’t typically an area of great concern. It thankfully popped right back on, but it’s become a chronic issue where anytime I try to move a shoulder it will pop off if I’m not mindful of how easy it is to do. I also have an issue with Rocksteady’s left knee. The peg that holds the leg together above the knee looks like it went in at an angle and doesn’t go straight through. There’s more separation there as a result and might be contributing to some of my issues with standing the figure since I need to put the leg perfectly straight in order to hide some of the gap created above his kneecap. It’s not super obvious, but it is obvious enough that it bothers me and I do worry about the joint eventually falling apart.

Obviously, the rabbit one is the best one.

Since these guys are based on one boss battle in the SNES game, it’s probably not a huge surprise that they don’t come with much in the way of accessories. Both only used a single weapon each in the game: a sword for Rocksteady and a whip for Bebop. The sword looks fine. It’s a long, skinny, thing with some pixel deco applied. Rocksteady though doesn’t have the right hinge in his hand to properly wield it, though it’s likely his sleeve would have interfered anyway. Bebop’s whip is very similar to the one that came with the Punk Frog Napolean. It’s soft plastic with a wire inside so you can bend and position it as you see fit. Because of that it doesn’t have much in the way of a deco on it, it’s just brown with a black handle, but it’s fine. In addition to the weapons, both figures come with three sets of hands: fists, gripping, and open “style pose” hands. These are the same as the other releases with the only difference being the lack of a trigger finger hand, which is understandable given the weapons loadout here.

Doing these comparisons has given me new appreciation for those oversized rabbit feet.

The Turtles in Time version of Bebop and Rocksteady is an okay release. NECA largely handled the look and presentation fine, which is what I assume most collectors are interested in. Anyone hoping for an improvement over the past figures will be let down and I do think NECA missed an opportunity to do just that. This is a fun, silly, version of the characters and the encounter in the game was one of the more memorable ones. It’s a big reason why the SNES version is superior to the arcade one which did not feature the two. Where the figures do come up short is in the articulation and some of the dated engineering. They’re just not fun toys to pose as a result. I suppose it’s a good thing they’re from a video game as most will probably set them in a pose similar to their default sprite and let it be. I do think it’s silly that NECA didn’t at least update the hips. They already have the upper leg pieces from the Triceratons, but they might have needed to do a new crotch piece since that figure was equipped for a tail. Still, Bebop and Rocksteady figure to be among the most popular characters in the line and are a candidate for a re-release so why not re-configure the hips for such?

That’s a lot for the turtles to deal with, but there could always be more.

This two-pack figures to be the last release in the Turtles in Time line for at least a little while. NECA is still planning on releasing a color variation on the Foot Soldier, but no solicitation has been made available and I’m not sure if that release is from Turtles in Time or the original arcade game (chances are, it works for both). There’s also a two-pack (I think) planned based on the first arcade game featuring Traag and Granitor. It was shown long ago at Toy Fair, but it was during NECA’s negotiations with Viacom to bring a cartoon line to retail and once that was secured they basically abandoned the idea of doing the rock soldiers. Since they’ve done them for the toon line, it’s not a huge surprise they’re going back to them in 2022. Like the Foot though, no solicitation has gone out yet so who knows if they’ll actually be released in 2022 (NECA is planning on doing more Mirage Studios inspired figures which is effectively taking the place of the Turtles in Time subline) or if there’s any room on the release calendar. If this is it for Turtles in Time, NECA has definitely given collectors enough for a worthwhile display. They could always come back with Krang or the duo Bebop and Rocksteady took the place of in the SNES version of the game, Tokka and Rahzar, or even Metalhead. It’s easy money to just repaint existing figures with a video game look, so it definitely wouldn’t surprise me to see the line make a comeback some day.


NECA TMNT Cartoon “Another One Bites the Crust” Pizza Monster

The only pizza a ninja turtle wouldn’t want.

When NECA launched its line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures based on the classic cartoon series there was much rejoicing, followed by much consternation. The line was successful, some would say too successful. Product was hard to track down for collectors as only a handful of units were released to each store which meant collectors had to battle with each other and scalpers to secure the much coveted plastic. To combat this, or as a mea culpa of sorts, NECA released the much anticipated (and much celebrated) Tokka and Rahzar two-pack on its website as a made-to-order item. Collectors simply had to log on, pay up front, and then sit back and wait for NECA to deliver. The strategy must have worked well, because NECA came back in 2021 with more made-to-order items, and this time, they were for the toon line.

In the spring, NECA put up three sets of figures for pre-order. These weren’t technically made-to-order, but more like a traditional preorder. NECA let collectors pay upfront to have the company deliver later in the year, and the rest of the factory order would then go to Target like all of the other releases. Product was to be delivered in the fall, but 2021 being what it was, things got delayed. Still, two of the three solicitations made it to out in the calendar year so that isn’t too bad, and up first here is the very first solicitation from the batch: the Ultimate Pizza Monster!

I love the artwork created for this line. I hate that I’m being overrun with boxes I can’t bring myself to toss.

The Pizza Monster appeared in the season two episode “The Case of the Killer Pizzas.” It was a memorable episode for me, and I’m not particularly sure why. Maybe it was because the plot made plenty of sense: Shredder and his cohorts sneak attack the turtles via their biggest weakness – pizza. The monster eggs looked curiously like meatballs and could be smuggled on a pie with relative ease. Once exposed to enough heat, they would hatch into little, red, terrors that when further exposed to moisture would grow into titanic, yellow, Xenomorphs. Okay, not literally since that would require some licensing agreements, but these creatures look so much like the alien from Alien that NECA would one day release a yellow Xenomorph as an homage. The title, clearly B-movie inspired, stuck in my head and it was likely aided by the episode being released on VHS. No, I did not own it, but I definitely remember seeing it often at the rental store when browsing for a movie. I may have even rented it once or twice, though my memory isn’t quite that good. Also, being a part of season two meant it was airing when the episode count for the show was pretty low. This one was likely aired and re-aired several times in the run-up to season three when the show really exploded.

What a cutie!

Mostly though, the big, yellow, monstrosity was just a fun visual in the show and one that stuck with me over the years. When NECA’s toon line began to expand and included the larger figures in the deluxe, VHS, styled packaging I immediately began to wonder if the Pizza Monster would one day join the lineup. And sure enough, it has. Released in that same VHS box with artwork by the incredible Dan Elson, “Another One Bites the Crust” is a release I’ve been looking forward to all year.

Chrome Dome gets to hang onto his crown once again. I’m not sure anyone will knock him off the mountain when it comes to height in this line.

The Pizza Monster is an imposing creature. Standing around 9″ tall, he looks up to only Chrome Dome in this line. Being that he comes from an 80s cartoon that probably didn’t have a huge budget, NECA sculptor Jon Matthews did a fantastic job of nailing down a look for this guy. The presentation within the episode can be a bit erratic, but when I look at this sculpt I see the Pizza Monster as it was supposed to be presented in every frame. The creature is obviously Xenomorph inspired with its elongated head and slender frame. I have the figure at 9″, but it’s definitely designed to be hunched over. The arms and legs are quite long which are terrific for setting up a pose. I love the almost smile expression it sports which adds a sinister quality to what was basically a mindless, rampaging, beast in the show. There’s some nice texture as well giving this creature a bug quality with ridges on the thighs and bumps on the head.

When he’s not being paired up with Chrome Dome, the Pizza Monster is living large!

What really helps make the Pizza Monster stand out is the excellent paint job devised by the duo of Geoffrey Trapp and Mike Puzzo. Like most of the of the figures in the line, there’s a bisected quality to the paint with a bright yellow utilized as the dominant color on the front of the figure and more of a mustard on the back. That part works as well as it usually does, but what really makes this guy pop is the embellishments on the front. There’s the usual black line work to help bring out a lot of the details of the carapace and musculature, and NECA added swaths of white paint to the yellow. The inclusion of which, especially on the creature’s head, really brings out the “pizza” element of Pizza Monster. It’s not a connection I ever made with the source material, but the figure almost looks like it’s composed of melted cheese and it’s just a really neat approach. I don’t know if that’s what NECA was going for, but it’s my take-away.

The side of the head makes me think of melted cheese oozing over pizza crust.

The presentation of this figure is a homerun, where things are going to get a little dicey is in the articulation. First of all, this figure, despite being on the larger end, has all of the same points of articulation one would expect. It starts at the head, where the figure is on a ball peg with a second one at the base of the neck. This may be an odd thing to say, but this figure has the best head of any other figure in the line. It can look up, and way down which is crucial for a larger character, and he can swivel, tilt, and basically convey any emotion you want. The jaw is articulated so you can pose the creature screaming, biting, grinning, etc. I love it whenever NECA can get an articulated jaw into a figure and this is obviously one that benefits greatly from it. At the shoulders are the customary ball-hinges and past that are the unusual NECA double-jointed elbows with a swivel/hinge above and below the elbow and a long joiner in between. They’re very tight, but seem to work, and the unusual look of the joint works on a monster like this. At the wrists are the usual swivel and hinge combo and they too are tight. Painted joints obviously contribute to the tightness (and when the paint flakes off it leaves behind pale, yellow, plastic so that’s not an eyesore like it is with some other figures), but it also feels like they’re intentionally engineered to be tight considering this is a big figure. The diaphragm features a ball-joint that allows for some forward and back motion, but mostly works to give the character a swivel since there’s no waist twist.

The joints really aren’t strong enough for this pose to last on a shelf.

All of that is fine, where things go south is below the belt. First of all, we have a tail which, like many tailed figures in the line, comes unassembled in the box. Attaching the tail was fairly painless, and it’s probably the best tail we’ve seen in the line. It’s just a ball joint so the range isn’t tremendous, but NECA made the tail a wired one so you can bend it and position it as you deem fit. It’s much thicker than a rat tail or the whip accessory we saw with the Punk Frogs so there’s really no worry about the wire eventually breaking through. I wish Leatherhead had the same. At the hips are the now standard ball-joints we’ve been seeing for over a year now. These have a tendency to be loose on some figures, and on the Pizza Monster they’re okay. Not as bad as the frogs, but they could stand to be tighter as the figure can be a challenge to pose as the weight of it wants to force the figure to do a split. At the knee is a double-joint and it’s fine with appropriate tolerance.

At least he doesn’t need especially strong joints for this one.

The hips are a disappointment, but the real issue comes last: the ankles. These ankles have already acquired a bit of a reputation in collector circles. I know I’ve seen a few who broke the ankle on their figure trying to break the joint in. The joint itself is a hinge with ankle rocker or pivot. Twitter user Uncle J took the joint apart to have a look and see what was the issue if you’re interested, but what it boils down to is you have a painted joint, short peg, and there’s apparently a ratchet added as well. Ratchet joints are like regular joints, but with added grooves or teeth to improve tolerance. This is often used with large, heavy, figures so they can hold a pose without the weight of it dragging it down. The problem here is the ankle rocker is so tight that it’s not even obvious the figure has one. I personally sought out reviews, which I never do on a product I plan to review myself, to make sure the figure actually had them. And what I found is a lot of the same problems.

“Chew on this, dude!”

First of all, the hinge is fine. It’s tight, but I was able to get it moving without resorting to heat. For the rocker, I went to my standby which is hot water. The problem with heating a joint is it makes the plastic soft and malleable. With this particular joint, you can heat it up and move it, but you don’t know if you’re moving the joint as intended or just bending the plastic and it’s very easy to go too far and shear the peg off, with or without heat. I tried clamping down where the peg meets the ankle, but after a few attempts I only got the joint to work a little. I wasn’t willing to really push it because I don’t want a broken toy. Unfortunately, heating the feet up to get this amount of range had a drawback. With the joint loose, now the figure is even more likely to fall down. It starts with those hips, but now the ankles don’t make up for that at all as the hinge is looser than it was before. Prior to heating it up, I had a figure that stood easily, but just couldn’t do anything dynamic with the feet. Now I have a figure with more range, but the looseness in the legs limits how I can pose it. I could get a stand, and if you look at my pictures you may be able to tell I’m using the combination of the figure’s tail and the windows of the diorama to prop it up, but it’s a blemish on what was shaping up to be a contender for best figure in the line.

The stuff.

The Pizza Monster is an excellent looking figure let down by some flawed engineering. It’s also a figure that doesn’t really bring much to the table in terms of accessories. I suppose a monster doesn’t need much, but it’s a little uncharacteristic with these deluxe, or ultimate, releases to see so few accessories in the box. For starters, we have the hatching Pizza Monster which previously came with the April set. It’s small, red-orange, and looks fine. There’s very little paint on it and no articulation, but it doesn’t require much. It would have been fun to get a new pose, but NECA obviously had to factor in costs and the tooling on the figure itself probably has little or no reuse possibilities down the road. There’s also a pizza, because you can’t have a pizza monster without pizza! It’s a yellow, UFO, box and NECA finally added a hinge! This can actually open and close and the pizza inside is removable. It’s a fairly basic looking pizza so no peanut butter or jelly beans to be found. Lastly, we have some tracking device used by Donatello. NECA’s Trevor Zammit, who oversees this line, recently conducted an interview with The Fwoosh where he talked about how there are a million different such devices in the show and they basically try to squeeze them in whenever possible. I’m a bit surprised they went this route here, as Baxter uses a similar, handheld, device to control the Pizza Monsters which could have been included, but I definitely like how NECA tries to sneak Easter Eggs into their releases like this.

This is the line’s best pizza box to date, so I guess that’s worth something.

NECA’s take on the Pizza Monster is nearly a homerun. Call it a triple, I suppose. It looks awesome and is a lot of fun to mess around with (save for the scary ankles) and I definitely appreciate NECA making it so easy to obtain. There are issues though. It’s light on accessories (other than Kerma, I think this is the only figure without extra hands) and the ankles are a problem. They’re a big enough problem that some don’t even have the luxury of breaking out of the box. I actually ordered two of these figures, but you only see one in my pictures because the other one arrived with a foot already broken off in the package. I reached out to NECA and within a half hour I had a prepaid shipping label to send it back for an exchange. NECA received it on the 30th of December and I have yet to receive a shipping notice for the exchange. I’ll update this accordingly later on.

Irma never has good luck with men. Or bugs.

Even with the issues, I still think this is a figure worth owning, and if you’re really into screen accuracy I suppose you need two additional ones. I think I’ll be happy with two as it’s already challenging to find room for all of these releases. If you missed out on the preorder, the figure should be hitting Target in the coming weeks where I assume it won’t be a huge challenge to find given how the past few releases have gone. The price on NECA’s website was $35, but it’s possible it could retail a little above that as there have been price increases since April. Good luck to all who are on the hunt!


Hasbro Power Rangers x TMNT – Tommy and Raphael

Well here’s an interesting pairing.

When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers arrived on Fox Kids in 1993 it quickly became a ratings juggernaut. It was the hottest property around aimed at kids and seemingly everything got knocked down a peg as a result. By contrast, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was embarking on its downturn. The third film wasn’t nearly as successful as the first two and the toyline was starting to show its age as it went into a lot of wacky offshoots. The Power Rangers formula became the new thing to imitate. Footage of martial arts shows from Japan edited into something American kids could identify with was both cheap and effective. And given that TMNT had already been successful in live-action before, it’s perhaps not surprising that Saban made one of the first attempts at reinvigorating the franchise with The Next Mutation.

The Next Mutation ended up being a flop. Either kids were sick of TMNT, disliked the cheap costumes, or failed to gravitate towards the new characters. No one can be certain, but during the show’s lone season it did cross over with Power Rangers. Of course, by then the Mighty Morphin era was over so kids who loved TMNT and then jumped to Mighty Morphin had little reason to enjoy the crossover. It wasn’t their preferred take on either franchise, and it seemingly failed to do much to boost either property.

Looks like we have ourselves a Foot Soldier, or do we?!

Eventually the turtles would come back to animation, and now more than 30 years removed form the cartoon’s debut it’s a supremely nostalgic, and profitable, property once again. Power Rangers, for its part, has never truly gone away though it has changed hands a few times. Now a Hasbro property, the Power Rangers can still be found on television and there’s always rumors of another movie. And in the pages of Boom! comics, the Mighty Morphin team can seemingly live forever! It was in those comics that the crossover fans wanted to happen finally did. The turtles, basically as seen in the pages of IDW, met-up with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. I don’t know why or what the big threat was that caused it to happen, but it did lead to some slick designs which are now being immortalized in toy form by Hasbro.

No way! It’s Tommy!

Hasbro has been around for ages, but it’s never been able to get its hands on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’m not sure if the company has ever put forth a strong bid for the property when it has come up for sale. It seems most times this happens the franchise is in a dry spell which has probably made it easy for Playmates to retain ownership. That ownership has been tested over the years though as we’ve seen TMNT product from NECA, Super7, and even DC Collectibles. Now it’s Hasbro’s turn, but they’re giving us something pretty different.

Ninja Tommy!

Released as part of its Lightning Collection, the new Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line is being released as three two-packs and a single carded figure. Each two-pack contains one or two of the turtles as they appear in the comics when morphed. Yes, the turtles become Power Rangers and the end result is pretty cool. Their limbs are pretty much the same as the regular rangers, just beefier, but they seem to all gain the Dragon Shield in the form of a gold shell. The front of which contains the signature white diamond, while the rear looks almost like a sunburst. The helmets are largely the same though, just form-fitted for a turtle head. They also gain red eye-slits in the visors for some reason.

The first two-pack I was able to get my hands on is the Tommy Oliver as Foot Soldier with Raphael as the Red Ranger. When it came to crossing the two franchises, Boom! had to decide what was more important: color or weapon of choice. If going by weapon, Leonardo should have been the Red Ranger since both wield a sword and are the leader, but you can’t make Leonardo red. Instead, Raphael gets the nod here and his sai are just given a Power Sword makeover. As for Tommy, it’s my understanding he goes undercover as a Foot Soldier in the story, but the figure basically doubles as a generic Foot Soldier as well. It’s just a shame he’s sold in a two-pack since some collectors would likely buy multiples. Instead, it’s Shredder as the Green Ranger that gets the solo treatment.

Cool sword, bro.

I think most are going to be interested in these sets for the turtles, but lets get Tommy out of the way. He’s basically a standard Lightning Collection release. I believe most of this body is reused from the Putty figure, but I don’t have that figure to say for certain. It’s fairly similar to the Ranger body from the Lightning Collection and contains all of the same articulation points. The Foot Soldier head is obviously new and contains some nice, subtle, details on it to show how the mask separates. I wish there was some dry brushing on it to bring it out, but Hasbro isn’t one for paint. Most of the figure is just cast in colored plastic: purple and gray, with some shiny, steel, bits on the forearms and rear of the hands. It’s a new look for the Foot Soldier, but it’s also pretty obviously a Foot Soldier to anyone familiar with TMNT. It’s solid, though a bit underwhelming. The alternate Tommy head appears to be the same one that came with the Green Ranger figure, but with the bandana tails coming straight off the back of the head and painted purple. There’s also very little paint on it so it doesn’t have the more matte appearance of the Green Ranger release.

The man…turtle of the hour.

Raphael, on the other hand, is basically all new. His body is of the pinless variety, so no pins in the elbows or the knees which is definitely welcomed. The red is basically all colored plastic so there aren’t any harsh variances like there were with the Jason figure I looked at. The joining pieces for the elbows and knees do appear to be a slightly paler red. I don’t really notice it on the knees, but I can see it on the elbows when inspecting the figure closely. It’s no where near as bad as it was with the Jason figure, but still a bummer. The ends of the gloves are painted white with the red diamonds which are pretty clean, but there is some chipped paint near the wrist on mine. The hands, which are cast in white plastic, are also a touch more off-white than the paint which is a little annoying. There’s also some chipped paint on the gold armbands. It’s pretty standard stuff for a Hasbro figure, but still worth pointing out.

A Power Ranger that actually looks intimidating.
The rear of the shell is pretty neat.

The sculpt on Raph is pretty cool though. He’s quite bulky and his limbs are longer than usual. He stands a full six inches putting him on par with Tommy so this is definitely a taller turtle than we’re used to seeing. The change in proportions does give him an undersized head as well. It doesn’t bother me with the helmeted look, but it stands out when swapped with the turtle head (which we’ll get to). I do like how the shell was designed, and since these proportions are more human, it probably shouldn’t come as a surprise that the rear of the shell is a bit more sleek than usual. The white belt is still a floating piece and it has the morpher on the front and a place to store his sai. He doesn’t have a power blaster, but I don’t know if they used them in the books.

Raph passes the old one foot test.

As for articulation, both figures are the same, but different. Tommy, as noted, is pretty basic Lightning Collection stuff. He’s got a ball peg in his neck that lets him look up, down, swivel, and tilt. The Tommy head has less range due to the hair, especially if you add in the cowl. The shoulders are ball-hinges with butterfly joints. They go back pretty far, but not forward much which is weird as one would prefer the range be reversed. The elbows are double-jointed and go past 90 degrees. There’s a biceps swivel and the wrists swivel and hinge. The hinges are vertical, which earns Hasbro a big thumb’s up! In the diaphragm is what’s probably a double ball peg. It doesn’t go back really at all, but it does allow the figure to crunch forward a bit, rotate, and tilt. Combine it with the ab crunch though, and you get a lot more forward and back. The legs are on ball pegs and allow the figure to almost do a full split. He can kick forward too, but not back because his buttcheeks get in the way. The thigh can swivel on that ball peg and also below it as there is a thigh cut. The knees are double-jointed and go past 90 there and there’s a boot cut and hinged ankles with good rockers.

Tommy can also serve as just a generic Foot Soldier for Raph to beat on.

As for Raph, he has all of the same including the vertical hinges on his gripping hands. The only differences are his butterfly joints are basically useless and he has a joint in the base of the neck so his up and down range at the head is quite good. He also has no diaphragm joint given that he’s a turtle and all. Hasbro did give him a waist cut which splits the shell in the front. It’s basically just what you see below the belt, and while it does look a little funky to have a turtle in a pose that results in his shell not lining up, it’s worth it to have that extra articulation. Likely owing to his more bulky design, Raph also doesn’t get much out of his double-jointed elbows. He can basically just do 90, and go no farther whether you’re bending with the top hinge or the bottom one. On the plus side, nothing was stuck on my figures and they seem to pose reasonably well. Raph is a bit harder to stand, likely because of the shell, but with a little patience I’ve been able to get him into some dynamic stances.

Yes, they do come with weapons.

On the accessory front, things were a bit surprising. The few Hasbro figures I buy seem to be of the bare bones variety, but maybe since half of this release is an in-house brand it helped to get more accessories into the box. For Tommy, we get the Foot head and the Tommy head. The Tommy head also has two extra pieces, a cowl to go around his neck and a facemask that can slide over his chin and mouth creating a cool look. He has gripping hands equipped in the box and a set of fists to swap to. He has a katana which can slot into his belt or be gripped in either hand. There’s also not one, but two, effects pieces. A translucent, blue, punch effect and a translucent, yellow, lightning effect for the sword. You could give the lightning effect to Raph too, if you prefer, though the blue punch is tough to get on Raph’s hands.

I suppose you could display him like this if you want to.

As for Raph, he has three sets of hands: gripping, fists, and open. The open hands are great for posing or for holding his helmet and I do wish Tommy had a set as well. The gripping hands have the correct hinges, as noted before, and are also just barely wide enough for Raph to grip his sai with the center blade through his fingers. If you’re worried about paint rub, warming Raph’s hand first makes it even easier to achieve such a pose. As for the sai, they’re pretty cool and look just like mini Power Swords, but with extra blades. They slot into his belt just fine and the sculpt and paint look pretty terrific. There’s a yellow slashing effect piece that can fit onto the center blade of one which looks decent. If you wish, you could give that to Tommy, but it looks a little silly on his much longer blade. Lastly, we have the unmasked head which features a battle ready expression from Raph. On its own, it looks fine, but on the figure it creates a real pinhead situation. It’s not as bad looking as the promo images made it seem, but I’m still never going to use it. I want to display these guys in morphed mode so even if I loved the alternate head I likely still would never use it.

Group shot! I used the flash to accentuate the contrast between Raph and Jason’s chosen shade of red.

Overall, this is a pretty solid two-pack. Admittedly, I don’t care that much about Tommy and if Hasbro had just paired the turtles up across two two-packs then I’d probably skip Tommy (and April, who comes with Michelangelo). Having him in hand though takes away some of that sting as he’s a solid release. It would have been awesome if he could have been given pin-less arms and legs, as the elbow joints are my lone sore spot with the figure, but it’s not a big deal to me. Raph is the real star though and I’m pretty happy with how he turned out, which is definitely a good thing since the other turtles figure to be the same figure just in different colors. Better yet, I got these guys from GameStop where they were on sale for $42, which is a very nice price in 2021 for an action figure two-pack. Now my real problem is figuring out where the hell I’m going to put these guys until the rest show up.

A little too Raph?

Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Donatello

The one who does machines.

It’s a Christmas miracle! After more than 14 months of waiting, I finally received the fourth and final turtle to complete my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in glorious 7″ scale – Donatello! It was October of 2020 that Donatello and the rest of wave four went up for preorder and, at the time, we were looking at a 9-10 month wait. That meant by the end of 2021 we were basically assured of having all four turtles together at last. Then 2021 happened and factories closed by COVID re-opened with skeleton crews, docks were shuttered, truck drivers were in short supply, and bottlenecks at every step of the manufacturing and shipping process were interrupted. It soon became apparent that getting the last turtle in-hand by the end of 2021 was no sure thing, but sneaking in right at the end was my order for Donatello.

The only is jealous of the height of this new version, but the Super7 Donnie definitely has some staff envy.

If you’re new to the line, the Super7 Ultimates! are 7″ scale action figures modeled after the vintage Playmates toyline. Each of the first three waves was anchored by one turtle with Donatello reserved for the fourth wave. And since Super7’s products are made-to-order, each wave takes awhile to arrive after first going on sale. That meant collectors had to wait more than a year to assemble all four turtles, but that’s how it goes. And considering that each turtle is essentially the same figure, it’s not the worst thing to have them spaced out.

Not pictured: all of the generic “ninja” weapons you’ll never use.

And since this figure is basically the same as the one I’ve now handled three times, Donatello arrives with considerably less fanfare than the others. By this point, I pretty much knew what I was in for and Donatello was further harmed by the fact that his only unique accessory is his bo staff. Still, if you’re a fan of the one who does machines then this was probably a really long wait, but at least it’s over. Because Donatello is so familiar, this will probably be one of my breezier reviews, because everything about him has basically been done. He comes in the same window box as the others with the green slipcover and a little bio on the back. It looks nice, but it’s also a lot of paper and plastic that can feel excessive when you have a figure that doesn’t need to fill out that packaging. It is convenient if you want to reseal it though, and it looks nice if you’re a mint-in-box collector.

Something else the vintage version has over the modern one.

Donatello stands about 6″ tall making he and his brothers rather short for the line, which is appropriate. He’s basically brown in color, in keeping with the classic toy, and features a vintage inspired headsculpt. The belt crosses his chest, like the old toy, and features a holster on the rear for his bo which is likely more durable than the old toy. His belt is all black, save for the yellow D on the buckle, so Donnie’s attire more matches Michelangelo’s than it does Leo and Raph, which is more in-line with the vintage figure as well. Unlike Mikey, his finger and toenails are painted a yellow-green indicating that’s likely what was supposed to happen with the Michelangelo figure. Donatello basically looks the part of an up-scaled, modern, Playmates figure with one exception. Super7 failed to include his belt pouch. If you had the vintage Donatello, then you may remember he was unique amongst his brothers in having this little, sculpted, pouch on the left side of his belt. It had a slit in the top so you could fit a throwing star or one of those little, three-pointed, bladed, weapons they all came with. I was legitimately looking forward to that being included as I was hoping his Turtlecom accessory would fit in it, but it’s not here. Bummer.

Other turtles have come with the classic communication device, but it feels more at home with Donatello.

Donatello comes with basically the same assortment of stuff as Leonardo and Raph. He has vertically hinged gripping hands equipped upon arrival, with horizontal ones in the box. He also has fists and open hands which work well with the pizza and Turtlcom. And yes, he has a slice of pepperoni pizza which is colored more in-line with Raph’s (Leo’s looked dirty), and he also has the two Turtlecoms: one opened and one closed. His Turtlecom is plain looking, like Leo’s, so apparently only Raph gets a personalized one with red piping. Beyond that, he has the generic ninja weapons all of the Playmates figures had. He also has a classic weapons rack of brown, unpainted, weapons. His are fairly light in color in keeping with Super7’s releases having slight variations either purposely or not.

He can still look fearsome, even if his weapon is basically a glorified stick.
Weapon storage is a must!

The items unique to Donatello are what you would expect. He has his bo, and he gets two for good measure, and they come on the rack and in painted varieties as well. There’s some nice dry brushing on the bo which brings out the faux wood grain and makes the tape in the center look a little dingy. The bo does seem rather short though. It’s only about 4 3/4″ which is nearly the same size as the vintage one, which came with a considerably smaller figure. It looks a bit puny in his hands and I’m puzzled why Super7 wouldn’t have maintained the original scale. Was it in response to Leo’s swords being too long? I don’t know. One staff is also “bowed” a bit and I’ll have to try to straighten it out with hot water or a heat gun. His other unique accessory is the alternate portrait. This one is fairly understated, which suits Donatello. His mouth is entirely closed and it has a very “Mirage” look to me. I like it, which is good as I’ve been displaying my other turtles with the alternate head, though I do really like the default one with him too. It’s probably my favorite of the four. Raph still has the best alternate portrait.

Donnie’s alternate portrait adds a touch of class to the wise turtle.
Especially from the side.

The articulation for Donatello is exactly the same as his brothers, so I’m not going to repeat myself again. It’s suitable, but flawed. These turtles would look good with a proper neck joint at the base and the elbows are done poorly. The hips are the worst part though as they continue to be too loose. Donatello isn’t the worst offender of the four, but he’s still too loose for my liking. Aside from that, I will say this turtle had the best, overall, joint situation out of the box. The only joint stuck was the left thigh twist, which was solved with a quick, firm, jerk. Everything else though was free and easy with suitable tolerance as well.

Time for a group shot! I’m still torn on which heads to roll with.
What has become clearer to me over the years is that Donatello had the best facial expression in the vintage line.

Donatello may not be the most exciting action figure release of 2021, but he is one of the more satisfying by virtue of the fact that he completes the gang of four. He’s exactly as expected, no better or worse than his predecessors. There are flaws in this design, and I’m bummed at the missing belt pouch and staff situation, but not enough to cause me to regret my purchase. I like having a set of vintage inspired turtles, and Donatello gets the job done. Being that he’s part of wave four means this is the last turtle we’ll get at the original price of $45, so that’s a bit bittersweet. It’s also a reality we’ve been living with basically all year. As for me, I ordered this guy direct from Super7, but later added an order for Muckman from a retailer. If you want to know how he turned out, I’ll have a review eventually in 2022 whenever the figure gets to me. If you want to know how Casey Jones and Mondo Gecko turned out, well you’ll have to go elsewhere as I passed on those ones with nary a drop of FOMO so far.

We’re all glad you could join the party, Donnie.

Super7 action figures are made-to-order, but if wave 3 is any indication, Donatello should be plenty easy to get even if you didn’t preorder. Several outlets still have the figure available for preorder and they should have the figure in-stock now, or soon, too. Super7 has also made all four turtles available again multiple times so there should be plenty of them out there at retail or with only a minor mark-up.


Figura Obscura – Krampus

Oh shit, look who showed up for Christmas!

Over the years, I’ve acquired quite a few action figures designed by the good people over at Four Horsemen LLC. They’ve been designing figures for companies for awhile now. My first exposure to the company was via NECA’s inaugural line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles based on their appearance in the Mirage Studios comics. Lately, I’ve been enjoying their work with Super7 as they have designed most (all?) of the figures in that company’s Ultimates series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The company has become well known as a result in the action figure community, and while sculpting work for other companies is probably satisfying work, 4H always wanted to do its own thing, so it did. The company launched an in-house line of toys called Mythic Legions. As the name implies, most of these characters are taken from myth and given a new design which is then turned into a rather impressive looking piece of plastic. Just how impressive they are I can’t say because I’ve never gotten into the line.

He even comes with a Christmas card!

My exposure to Four Horsemen changed this month, when the company did a surprise drop in a new, subline, of figures called Figura Obscura. And the chosen character to kick things off is the infamous Krampus, the demon of Christmas! Krampus has long been a character associated with Christmas largely in European countries. In the US, he’s not particularly well known, but he has seen his profile rise somewhat recently. I knew of the character as a kid, though I don’t recall ever seeing him in any pop culture setting until The Venture Brothers included in him in their Christmas special. That was back in 2003 and since then the character has shown up in American Dad! and has had his own movie. In the US, it definitely feels like some companies focus on his appearance and draw from that making him some kind of horror monster when the traditional Krampus is really just someone who punishes bad kids at Christmas. It makes sense that Santa Claus would reward the good and that there would be an entity that punishes the wicked. In many settings, Santa and Krampus are like a team, but over the years that seems to be less the case.

The 4H version of Krampus defined.

Either way, I personally think Krampus is pretty neat and his design (often fawn-like) lends itself well to toys. Obviously, I’m pretty into Christmas and I’ve always wanted to do more with Christmas action figures and when I saw this Krampus go up for sale on December 5th of this year I pounced. It was a surprise drop that I don’t think anyone was aware was coming outside of the people at Four Horsemen. The figure was offered through 4H’s Mythic Legions website twice that day, once in the morning and once in the evening. It was smart on their part as it kept the figure from selling out quickly before most people knew it even existed. I personally found out about it in between drops so I was able to grab one in the evening timeslot. It didn’t sell out super fast, which was nice, and it was an in-stock sale which is unusual for 4H as they usually follow more of a made-to-order model with their releases. The company must have felt secure that this particular figure would sell out without much issue given the seasonal nature. I also understand there’s a lot of parts reuse at play here which obviously reduces costs. Just how much, I can’t say, since this my first dip into 4H’s catalog.

Pardon my flash.

Krampus arrived about two weeks after I ordered it in resplendent packaging. He comes in a window box made of very thick cardstock that’s wrapped with a magnetic, cardboard, outer sleeve. It’s well constructed and durable, more durable than a normal box as it’s laminated. The front of which has a neat Krampus logo of sorts with a story about him on the rear and the rest is covered in blue and white and it’s a snowy scene. When you take it off, the reverse side features the artwork that also adorns the box. It’s a snowy setting at night in the wilderness where a lone cottage sits rather perilously on a cliffside. You can use this wrap as a backdrop for your figure which is a really neat idea and should serve me well as I accumulate Christmas figures.

To flash or not to flash? I’ll be mixing in photos with and without, to try and present this figure as fairly as possible.

Krampus himself sits in the window box and once removed he has immediate presence on any surface he’s placed. He stands about 7″ tall with skin featuring this deep, satin, black, paint that is really rich and cool to look at. He’s covered in it too and it’s applied cleanly. His head is quite ferocious looking as he has what I consider the traditional Krampus facial expression of an open mouth with a giant tongue flicking out. He’s quite angry looking and has two gnarly horns coming off of the back of his head. There’s a lot of sculpted fur on and around the head basically forming a mane that runs down the middle of his back. The only clothing he wears is a skirt with a leathery texture to it and some greaves and gauntlets. The armor bits have a nice, worn, metallic, texture with sharp ridges sculpted into them. His feet end in hooves and they’re fringed with fur and look terrific. Some assembly is required as he has a tail that needs to peg into his rear. It’s a bit of a pain in the ass (pun intended) to insert it as the hole is really tight (I should have bought him dinner first). I had to heat up both ends with hot water to finally get it in and when I was done I was actually surprised to see the sculpted fur on the tail cut into my thumb. Damn!

Gene Simmons wishes he had a tongue like the one on Krampus.

The look of Krampus is going to be this figure’s main attraction and 4H did a great job. I think of Krampus being covered in fur, but I like the look of the bare chest here, probably owing to the fact that I love that black paint that’s in use. His fingers are clawed, but not dramatically so, and the details on his face are incredible. Each tooth is sculpted individually and the paint is remarkably clean. The only issue I’ve run into with this figure from a presentation aspect is some paint chipping. To my surprise, it looks like the figure is cast in a white plastic and then painted, because there are some spots where the paint chipped off. Most of which is in the inner thigh by the joint so it’s not noticeable when the figure is displayed. There’s also a small one near the armor on the left leg that’s probably only noticeable when handling the figure. I don’t know why the figure wasn’t just cast in black plastic and then painted, but I’m ignorant on the costs of figure production when it comes to color choices. Obviously, white can be used for anything and then easily painted over so it could be as simple as that. Other than that one small flaw, I’m pretty pleased with how he turned out.

I guess he kept those kids in his basket too long.

Krampus needs stuff, and if you’re familiar with the legend, you know he has some specific needs at that. This figure comes with a set of loose gripping hands attached in the box, and tighter gripping hands he can swap to. The loose hands work fine with his weapon of choice, a bundle of sticks or switches, as they just rest in place. They look pretty awesome and are well-painted as they’re wrapped with sculpted tape to hold them together. I don’t know if the tighter hands are for anything specific, or just for down the road if you want to give him a weapon from something else, but they won’t hold the sticks unless you heat them up to make them more pliable. He has a pair of cuffs that can fit around his wrists and are attached via real chain. The plastic is softer so it’s not too difficult to slip them around the wrists, but if you’re concerned about breaking them you can also just pop his hands off first.

This is one demon who is going to keep his trusty basket!

Krampus also has his trusty basket. The character is supposed to wear this on his back and some versions of the character toss bad kids in there. It’s sculpted to resemble a woven basket and it has some muted green and red accents. The top is removable, and 4H loaded it with other stuff. There’s a pair of skulls, one with an articulated jaw and one without, two skeletal hands, and a leather strap. The strap seems to serve no purpose on its own and I was advised by fans of the Mythic Legions line that it’s likely included for customizers. If cut and then glued, it could be used as a belt or a shoulder strap for the basket. By default, 4H included a piece of rope with the consistency of hemp. It can be used to string the basket and then hang it off of Krampus. I ran the rope through the included slot on the basket, around each arm of Krampus, and then back through the slit. This made it tight enough to hang just fine, while also leaving room for adjustment without the need of a knot. Krampus, despite being hooved, stands fine on his own and continues to stand well even with a loaded basket on his back. The last accessory 4H included is a loop of red thread with some miniature bells strung on it. You can drape this over the head of Krampus, put them on the basket, around his waist, or even through his teeth! And they really jingle, plus the red thread adds a dash of color and is a really nice touch.

Oh you silly boy!

With all of that stuff in the box, you may be wondering how Krampus moves around. I was rather curious, myself, as I’ve wondered what 4H’s approach to articulation was. With the figures the company does for Super7, there are certain joints some consider standard that Super7 disagrees on. Namely, double joints at the knees and elbows. 4H might share the same philosophy as Krampus has single hinges at both places with swivels, but he does do something many Super7 figures don’t and that’s include a ball-joint at the waist. This gives the figure the twisting motion many want while also providing for some forward and back and a little tilt. And it’s well-engineered, as those who got the recently released Casey Jones from Super7 were treated to such a joint, but it turned out rather unsightly as the figure doesn’t sit deep enough on the ball-peg. Aside from that, Krampus is fairly typical with a ball joint at the head, ball-hinges at the shoulders, horizontal hinges at the hands, ball-jointed hips, and hinges with rocking action down at the ankles. Lastly, he has a ball-hinge at the tail. The tail is sculpted and rigid, so there’s not a lot it can do, but it has enough range to get it out of the way when posing. The amount of fur around the figure’s neck limits his head movements a bit, but he can look up and down a little and twist. The ankle rockers are also a little limited, likely owing to the fact that he has hooves, but there’s enough to support his weight and give him a wider stance, if desired. The only true shortcoming is the lack of vertically hinged wrists. I would have preferred that to horizontal, if I could only have one, though both would have been preferable. Krampus isn’t as dynamic as some figures in my collection, but I find what’s there is enough and it at least works well.

Some comparisons. First up, we have a RED Soundwave and a Super7 Leonardo, another 4H design.

Krampus is a pretty wicked design that’s going to look good whether you display him with Christmas stuff, monsters, or your Mythic Legions. He poses well enough, and best of all, he can hold his accessories without toppling over. The backdrop is an awesome little bonus too, and the only drawback I have with him is that returning him to his box would be a challenge. I really have no desire to unthread the basket nor do I want to remove that tail to get him back in his bubble. With my seasonal figures, I usually put them away after the holidays, but Krampus will likely find a new home on a shelf somewhere. And that’s not really a bad problem to have as this is a figure I want to look at year round. And if my kids start acting up, maybe I should just convince them Krampus operates like that cursed Elf on a Shelf and start moving him every morning. That will probably give them nightmares though, so maybe it’s best that I don’t.

And here he is with another fantasy character in Drizz’t from Hasbro’s very short-lived D&D line and a fellow hooved character in NECA’s Groundchuck.

If you wish to get a Krampus figure of your very own, well, I’m afraid it’s sold out. Four Horsemen made it sound like this is just the first Krampus they’re doing, so maybe he comes back next year in another form. If this is the Krampus you need then you’re going to have to pony up some extra money on the secondary market or hope someone that got one decides they don’t need it. The figure retailed for $50 which is already pricey for a 7″ action figure. While I like it, I definitely wouldn’t have much of an appetite to pay much more than that. Good luck if you’re in the market. As for the rest of you, hopefully this is the only Krampus that visits your house this Christmas!

Merry Christmas, pal!

Lego 21330 – Home Alone

Just in time for the holidays!

I love building Lego sets. It’s something I didn’t completely realize until I was an adult. It just puts me in a very serene sort of mood when I’m constructing some massive Lego set. And I liked doing it as a kid, I just never got the big sets when I was young. Only as an adult have I been able to grab things like the Ghostbusters Fire House and The Simpsons home. The only drawback is what to do with these things once they’re complete? These things aren’t like jigsaw puzzles where you put them together then toss them back in a box. They’re like sculptures, and also function as toys. I’m not going to just build them up to tare them down, but finding the space to display them is quite the chore.

Because of that, I try to limit my Lego purchases. If they ever went back to The Simpsons I’d definitely take a look, but mostly I try to stick to Disney. And by Disney, I mean theme park inspired sets. And that’s because my wife and I are really into that sort of thing. And I’ve been doing fine in that regard, but then Lego had to go and do something like create the house from Home Alone in Lego form.

If these product shots don’t make you want this set then nothing will.

Since the sale of 20th Century Fox to Disney, Home Alone is now technically a Disney movie and this is technically a Disney set. More importantly though, it’s Home Alone! I loved that movie as a kid, I still enjoy it as an adult, and now my own kids love it. We’ve already watched it a few times this fall because it’s really become a favorite of my daughter’s. She’ll want to watch it in June, she doesn’t care that it’s a Christmas movie. When I saw Lego was making this thing a reality, I had to get it: for myself, for my wife, and definitely for my kids. When it went up for sale, I pounced, and then I waited. I wasn’t sure when to spring it on my kids, and eventually I settled on the day after Thanksgiving. That’s the day I devote to decorating for Christmas and this year it was rainy, so it ended up being a good thing I had a Lego set to work on since setting up lights outside was a no-go.

It’s a big house in the film and pretty big as a Lego set measuring 12″ wide, 10 1/2″ high, and 8 1/2″ deep.

The Home Alone house is based on the home of the McCallisters as seen in the films Home Alone and Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It’s definitely more evocative of the first film since that film takes place almost entirely within the house as young Kevin has to defend himself against two robbers, the notorious Wet Bandits! Bringing the house into Lego form requires nearly 4,000 plastic bricks leading to a rather large set. The build process is spread out over 24 steps, ingenious as this basically doubles as an advent calendar, and it’s part of the Ideas series and was designed by Alex Storozhuk so it includes a large instruction manual with background info on the design. It also includes five mini figures: Kevin, Kate, Old Man Marley, Harry, and Marv. And it’s not just the house, as it also includes the tree house and the plumber’s van that the Wet Bandits use as a cover for their illegal activities.

Opening it up only makes it bigger.

Building the set was fairly painless. All of the instructions are clear and the build order was pretty logical. It starts with the van and then moves to the house building from the ground up. I worked on it at a leisurely pace over the long weekend, sometimes by myself and sometimes with my kids, and by Sunday night I was finished. The steps are organized in such a manner that there’s no tedious parts. The outer walls and roof are spread out by working on interior objects and the like to keep things fresh and fun. And if you’re a fan of the film (and I assume you are if you’re interested in this) you’ll have a ball as you uncover things pulled directly from the film.

The placement of the rear door is not screen accurate, but at least you can still shoot robbers in the dick.

Now, because we’re taking a large house and trying to cram it into a not-to-scale replica, some sacrifices have to be made. Lego houses routinely omit the basements, and that’s because they would look pretty weird if every house sat on top of a foundation. Unfortunately, the basement plays a large enough role in the film that it can’t be ignored, so Lego figured out a compromise. The house looks the part from the outside and even includes a section that breaks the rectangular shape by sticking off the back. Lego elevated that part, which is the kitchen in the film and in the set, so they could put a small piece of the basement underneath. This means you lose the steps that Marv slips down leading to the back door and the kitchen is actually elevated above the dining room inside. There are also no stairs going up from the basement into the house proper, so in order to do laundry the McCallister’s have to walk outside and around the back of the house to access their basement. It’s not perfect, but Lego made it work well enough and doing it this way means they were able to put the laundry chute in the kitchen so an iron can fall and smash Marv in the face.

And you can still make sure Marv’s face gets smashed with an iron.
Kevin’s dining room where it’s always 9 o’clock.

The house is constructed for display and for play so there are four hinged pieces on the front. This allows the house to open wide for a view of the inside. On the right, is the dining room complete with grandfather clock and an uneaten macaroni and cheese dinner on the table. Behind that is the previously mentioned kitchen containing a refrigerator (with more mac and cheese dinners), island counter, television, microwave, rear door with doggy door (despite the family apparently not owning a dog or cat) and sink. It’s cramped compared to the massive kitchen in the film, but it looks the part. There’s also two boxes of pizza from Little Nero’s, one closed and one that’s opened, though the pizza inside appears to be topped with pepperoni, olives, etc. Big mistake, Lego, as Kevin only eats plain cheese!

Totally not Michael Jordon.
Oh, Kevin.

In the center of the house is the staircase and Kevin can ride his toboggan down it and out the front door, though his figure throws off the weight of the sled and it rarely works properly. To the left of the stairs is the living room. There’s a fireplace, Christmas tree, lounge chair, and a model train set. A not Michael Jordon cutout is affixed to the train and it, along with a mannequin on a record player in the dining room, can rotate by working a handle on the outside of the house. This is probably the favorite feature of my kids. The mannequin is more of a bust though, which is a bit of a bummer, but at least the gag is represented.

Hey Buzz, we’re going through all of your private stuff…

On the second floor are the bedrooms we saw in the film. Now, Kevin has four siblings to go along with two parents, but we only see a bedroom for his brother Buzz and one for his parents. Naturally, Lego saw fit to only do those bedrooms so where everyone else sleeps is a mystery. Buzz’s room is on the left (when looking at the house from the front) and there’s a desk in there with a Christmas catalog on it (sorry, no Playboy) and shelves that can be made to “fall down” by pulling on a tab. There’s money, firecrackers, and a motorcycle helmet plus an old fashioned rifle mounted on the wall to represent the BB gun (there’s a second gun included so you can arm Kevin without needing to steal from Buzz). There’s also a chest to represent Buzz’s private stuff, but inside is just a heart. His girlfriend’s photo is mounted to the wall for Kevin to “admire.”

This is where I point out that this house lacks a shower or bath tub. Kevin must stink.
The master bedroom definitely got the short end of the stick.

At the other end of the floor is a bathroom with stolen toothbrush. I like that Lego used a mirrored sticker for the mirror so your mini figure can actually see himself and scream accordingly. On the other side of that wall is the master bedroom, which is definitely a little cramped. It can’t really be accessed without taking the third floor off of the house, but inside is a neat looking wood stove and a large beg with popcorn and an alarm clock that will forever read 12:00. In the center of the floor are more stairs leading up to the attic. The paint can trap is here and it works reasonably well. It can only fit one can though, but it’s sufficient for taking out two Lego figures.

Kevin’s attic lair.
Kevin’s tree house, equipped with clippers.

The attic is rather cramped, but that’s to be expected. The one in the film was impossibly large, but Lego was still able to fit the hide-a-bed along with a desk for Kevin’s battle plans. There’s also a gumball machine that’s a clever build and the top of the house is on a hinge so the attic can be accessed easily. The rear also features a window with opening shutters so Kevin can zipline to his tree house. The tree house is a simple, but effective, build and serves its purpose as Kevin’s evacuation plan. I’m tempted to try and assemble a second set of bricks to build another tree house to put with my Simpsons house.

Kevin’s escape route is intact.
The other room seemingly most compromised for this form is the kitchen, which had to be downsized significantly from its film presentation, but Lego still managed to fit in most, if not all, of the important details.

The house is really quite impressive. I’m surprised that Lego was able to work basically every room we see in the film into this. Sure, it’s not 1:1 as the living room lacks a TV and the bathroom isn’t connected to the master bedroom as it is in the film. I know in the second film we see a hallway bathroom, but I don’t really care about the second film. I mostly just have nitpicks with the presentation of the house. I’m pretty sure Buzz should have a red or green comforter on his bed since everything in that house is red, green, or white. If you’ve never noticed pay attention next time, it’s kind of crazy. I think Lego just got sick of that color palette as there’s more teal and such in use here and there. I also don’t like the dining room chairs. Lego used these tusks or spikes for the legs and they just don’t support the weight of a mini figure as they just topple over. I would have much preferred something more stable. That’s really it though. The little functions work fine, aside from the toboggan, and there’s even an illuminated brick for the basement furnace that’s pretty cool. The only other Lego “house” that I have is The Simpsons one and for that Lego had to make huge compromises to bring it to life by eliminating multiple rooms. I was expecting similar with this one, but the Home Alone house is far more impressive as far as screen accuracy goes. I will say, there are 34 stickers that need to be applied which feels excessive for an expensive set. It is what it is though and I can understand Lego not wanting to do screen printing for a Little Nero’s design it will never use again.

The basement was also shrunk significantly, but we still get a cool light-up furnace!
Obviously, we need the Wet Bandits to make this set feel complete.

And it’s not the only thing! We do get the mini figures and the van. The van is just okay. It’s more or less in scale with the house, but it is on the small side. The rear opens with a swing-out shutter and the Wet Bandits can store their loot in the back. There are no doors though on the cab so the only way to get Harry and Marv inside is to pop off the roof. It works, it’s just a fairly compromised add-on that could have been done better.

Marley has what he needs: shovel, garbage bin, and beard.
We also have Kevin’s mom, who can smile or scream. I choose scream.

The five mini figures are also serviceable. Kid Lego characters are always hard to get right, and Kevin is really no exception. He’s in his maroon sweater so that at least makes him identifiable. His head also features two expressions: a smile and a scream. The hair piece, which is very blond, seems a little off to me. He does have a scarf and a hat, though the hat is a simple knit beanie and doesn’t resemble the pom-pom one from the movie. I wish he had a second torso for his jacket, but oh well. Kate also doesn’t really do much for me. She just looks like a generic character, but also gets to smile and scream. The Wet Bandits fair better as there’s enough personality to their design to make them apparent to anyone who these characters are. Harry uses the kid legs since he’s so short and he has his gold tooth printed onto his smile. Since he doesn’t have hair, he only gets one expression, but he makes up for it by having a police hat he can swap his black, knit, beanie for. Marv just plain looks like Marv. He gets to feature a smile and a face that’s been burned by an iron, a fun and necessary touch. Lastly, we have old man Marley. He’s got his beard and shovel and looks okay, though they were very generous with the hair. It’s a solid assortment of figures. I don’t think a Home Alone set needed anymore to feel complete (and really, it probably only need Kevin and the bandits), though I would have loved the pizza delivery boy or Johnny and Snakes. Johnny does make an appearance via a decal for the TV.

This set is just a lot of fun, so if you have the means and a love for Home Alone, I say go for it!

Lego’s take on the iconic house from Home Alone is quite impressive and a lot of fun. I suspect my kids will play with this one throughout the holiday season this year and maybe even beyond. I don’t intend to put it away with the Christmas decorations, so this sucker is here to stay. Customizers will likely also find a lot of fun to be had with this by making lights to pair with it, or even that pizza boy I’m missing. He wouldn’t be a hard figure to come up with, and we already have the Little Nero’s stickers. If you’re looking to add this one to your own collection this Christmas, it’s currently available now for $250 through both the Lego Store and the Disney Store. Both show it as out of stock for now, but I would expect more to be on the way. Will they be in time for Christmas? Maybe not, but I bet this thing is just as fun to build in March as it is in December. Merry Christmas, ya filthy animals!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Channel 6 Newsroom SDCC Exclusive Set

BREAKING NEWS: San Diego Comic Con exclusives are now shipping! Full story at 10.

Remember San Diego Comic Con? You would be forgiven if you did not since, like last year’s edition, the event was a virtual one once again. Only unlike the 2020 version, this one came with the expectation it would be virtual. It also coincided with a global shipping crisis, so combine that with the expectation that no one would be in attendance, the various companies who were on-hand for the virtual event had little reason to have actual product ready for distribution. Because as many know, SDCC isn’t about just unveiling new things, it’s about selling exclusive merchandise and for toy producers this is usually a pretty big deal.

When it comes to NECA, the company has had a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed item for several years now. With the lines expanding to retail just a couple of years ago, NECA is now in a position where it can make its SDCC sets a little more off-beat. Last year, we saw the company release The Musical Mutagen Tour 4-pack of turtles based on their appearance in the so bad it’s good Coming Out of Their Shells tour from the early 90s. That set definitely fit the bill of one that likely would appeal to a small portion of the TMNT fanbase and not create the sort of intense demand we had seen in the past. As a result, some were disappointed to see NECA devote this year’s set to the Channel 6 news crew from the cartoon.

It’s a NECA four-pack, so expect fancy packaging!

Even though the members of Channel 6 were not mutants, or fighters, they were an integral part of the classic cartoon series simply by virtue of being there. April and her co-workers Irma, Burne, and Vernon were in more episodes than they weren’t so the now adults who watched the show have a pretty strong attachment to them. So far, we’ve seen April and Vernon receive a retail release in the toon line, but Irma and Burne have been shut out. Now, they find themselves in an exclusive set and some were a little irritated about it since they’re definitely characters deserving of a wider release. Those concerns seem to be a bit of a stretch though, as the set went up for sale in July and remained in stock for most of the day. And that was just the initial sale as more are headed to Target in the coming weeks minus some additional swag that was part of the online sale (and had to be paid for).

Even though San Diego Comic Con was in July, and this set was sold in July, it’s just now arriving at the homes of those who purchased it likely due to the shipping issues faced by everyone. When the set went up for sale, it wasn’t clear when it would be released or that it was even a pre-sale thing. It was then speculated by NECA that it might show up in October, but apparently even that was wishful thinking. It is what it is, but after the extended wait I’m here to tell you if this one was worth it, or not.

There’s some familiar faces.

The Channel 6 Newsroom set is a four-pack of action figures based on the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: April (as a mutated cat), Irma, Burne, and Vernon. Two of those figures will be familiar to collectors of this line as April is essentially a repaint with a new head and forearms while Vernon is a re-release of the same figure from the two-pack released back in January. He does have two new portraits, frightened and blindfolded, and the coloring on his clothing is slightly different, but otherwise he’s old news. The new figures are the long requested Irma and the less requested Burne. Irma is the secretary at Channel 6 and someone seemingly always in the orbit of April. She has several starring moments on the show, but despite that this is only the character’s second figure. And the first was this weird yellow and green thing put out by Playmates. Burne is the resident blowhard of Channel 6, a J. Jonah Jameson type who hates the turtles with little reason why. He’s an unlikable sort and not featured as prominently as the other members of the crew, but he’s a pretty essential character too. And like Irma, he only had the one release in the Playmates line, though his was actually pretty good for that line aside from the sculpted hamburger permanently in his hand. And like most of NECA’s four-packs, this one includes a bevy of accessories which, at the end of the day, are likely to be the only exclusive items in here when all is said and done. Well, that and maybe Cat April.

They’re free and ready to…report?

As has been standard with past NECA four-packs, this one comes in a highly decorative package. There’s a slipcase with artwork depicting The Catwoman of Channel 6 that has April in her cat form superimposed over a more scenic pic of the Channel 6 building. Slide that off and you get a five-panel window box that has April on the front as-if she’s broadcasting through a television. The flap is secured via Velcro and once opened the figures are present via the window along with all of their stuff. Mine arrived slightly damaged, which is a bit of a bummer since this is a box I actually intend to keep. The inner box has a puncture in it, though the slipcover is fine. Inside is a backdrop featuring the Channel 6 studio which should actually make for a decent display for the figures when removed. It’s pretty standard packaging at this point, though this one is a bit deeper than the other four-packs and will thus occupy more real estate on your shelf.

April looks fine, though for once I think NECA went too far with the added linework, particularly around her muzzle.
She can strike a good pouncing pose.

Before we get to the new figures, we should probably talk about the familiar figures and we’ll start with Cat April. This is from the episode “The Catwoman of Channel 6” where April is accidentally mutated and then put under Shredder’s control via a collar. It’s a fairly memorable episode, and a worthwhile variant to explore. The figure’s body is the same as the much maligned April we got before. That April is probably the worst figure in the line so far owing to the fact that it’s not in scale with the turtles and the head-sculpt is just not particularly good. This figure repeats the scale issue since it uses the same body, but it at least is able to rectify the head issue by giving April an all new cat sculpt. It looks quite nice and the collar is also present and removable if you pop her head off. The chest and forearms had to be altered as well by painting them to match the fur of her face and to give her claws. Because of that, it wouldn’t be a simple thing to include a standard April head to switch to as NECA would have needed to basically swap out the whole upper torso. And there’s also the matter of the tail which removing such would leave a hole in the figure’s rear. I’m not going to run down the articulation on this one again, but know that it’s fine and you now have a bendy tail to add to it.

Vernon’s back and he has lots of stuff this time.
Old Vernon left, new Vernon right.

Just like April, Vernon is essentially the same figure as before so I don’t feel the need to go over everything again. The only difference with this Vernon is his tie is a different color and his facial portraits are new. The tie thing is cartoon accurate as he had multiple looks. The other colors of his clothing have also been lightened a bit so his shirt is a paler pink and his jeans a lighter blue. That’s not likely to excite anyone, but what I think will please most is the new frightened expression he comes with. Vernon is a character with barely more than two emotions, smug and scared, and this captures that second one very well. It’s the expression I think of first with the character as it seemed to become his dominant trait as the show went along. The first release gave us smug, so it was nice to get this one. The second portrait is a blindfolded one, which looks fine, but has limited uses. Honestly, after taking a few pictures here I probably won’t use it again. I would have much preferred an agitated Vernon giving us a good trifecta of expressions of smug, scared, and angry to go along with the mutant rat parts released previously. I was tempted to grab a second Rat King/Vernon set just so I could have mutant Vernon on my shelf at all times, and now I can!

Irma! Nice of you to join us!
She can’t do much, but at least she can answer a phone.

All right, lets talk about the new characters and first up is Irma. I don’t think it’s a hot take to call Irma a fan favorite. Maybe kids watching the show didn’t think much of her, but I definitely find her as a source of entertainment in the show when I go back to it. Not much about this show holds up on adult viewings, but Irma might hold up the best. She’s depicted in her standard attire: blue sweater, red glasses, long skirt, yellow shoes. For her facial expression, NECA went with a concerned, or worried, look. I think they were aiming for neutral, but it comes off a little awkward. It’s not a bad look for the character as her eyebrows had a tendency to always be in that concerned position, but I wish we got a second portrait for a little variety.

This isn’t going to help her get a date.
She picks up an extra point of articulation with the jaw on the rat head.

Her unique attire makes her articulation a bit lacking. Her head is on a ball peg and she has sufficient range there though her hair keeps her from looking up. Her shoulders are ball-hinges and she has the same style of double elbows as April. Her forearms rotate where they meet her sleeve and her wrists are swivel/hinges. The torso doesn’t feature any articulation, but her waist is joined to the hip with a ball-peg so she can pivot and rotate. Unfortunately, the long skirt kills most of her leg articulation. I think she has ball joints at the hips and double knees below, but you won’t be getting much out of them. At the ankles are hinges and rocker joints.

Shredder always used turtle soup as a threat, but only Burne followed through.

Burne is our other new figure this time around and he’s quite different from his box-mates. Short and squat, Burne is definitely the heaviest figure in the box and the chunkyness of the sculpt makes me think of the vintage toy line. He’s depicted in his standard, very blue, attire of light blue work shirt, dark blue tie, and blue slacks. His default look out of the box is this angry expression where he’s almost twisting his head in rage. The other is a smug look. I’m not sure which I prefer. I think angry when I think of the character, but the smug one looks more on-model to me, though both have their charms. He’s painted cleanly and really looks the part so if you’ve been waiting 30 years for a toon accurate Burne this should do the trick.

“Is this some kind of sick joke?!”

Even though Burne is rather chunky, he’s still expected to be able to move well since he is, after all, an action figure. He’s got a ball-peg at the head with solid range, shoulder hinges, and single-jointed elbows. I thought they might use the same double elbows the other characters possess, but NECA opted for something that’s definitely cleaner. It’s just not super functional as I can’t get his arms to go straight, nor can he really bend past 90 degrees.. He’s got swivels and hinges at the wrist and a ball-joint in the waist that lets him move around pretty well, though he lacks torso articulation. The ball joints at the hips work well considering the roundness of this area of the figure, and NECA did include double-jointed knees that let Burne kick all the way back to his own ass. I can’t seem to engage both joints though no matter how much heat I apply, which is a bit frustrating. The ankles are hinged and pivot, but they’re very stiff and the hinges were painted a dark brown over blue plastic which looks bad once the paint flakes.

“Yeah, that’s MY girl.”

On the quality control front, this set is a bit of a step back from more recent releases. I had a lot of stuck and fused joints out of the box, in particular with Burne and April. Burne’s left knee just didn’t want to do anything, and after heating only the top hinge works. With April, her knees are also a pain point as the top hinge won’t go into a default pose. As you can see in my pictures, her knees are always slightly bent. She arrived that way, and heating them and then plunging them into cold water hasn’t done the trick. Just straight heat makes them rather gummy and are more likely to warp or damage them further if I persist. I’ll just keep her in a pouncing position, I guess. April also has paint-flaking issues on her arms with white or clear plastic beneath. Irma runs into the same thing as do the flesh portions on Vernon. It can lead to an eyesore which just makes me want to leave these figures alone once I find a pose I like and call it a day.

Check out all of the stuff!
These giant cameras are arguably the real stars here.

NECA included a fair amount of accessories with this set, and the big ones are the two studio cameras and lights. They look terrific and the paint on these is excellent. The lights can pivot and rotate and the cameras do the same. They all have plugs too which makes me want outlets that can accommodate them. There’s also a cat with a toy mouse and the cat’s head is on a ball peg so it can move a bit, but nothing special. There’s also a pair of turtle versions of Burne and Vernon that are pretty fun to look at and can be hidden in a display as the cowardly pair try to avoid getting squashed. There’s also a boom mic which is affixed via a non-removable cord to a messenger bag. The bag is similar to Dirtbag’s backpack in that it’s a soft plastic that can actually open.

Now we have a duo of rat people!
I guess the toy mouse is an April accessory?

As for more character specific accessories, we have a few. Irma has a pair of open hands and a wider gripping hand to go with the more relaxed gripping hands attached to her by default. And like the first release of Vernon, she has swappable rat parts to duplicate her mutant rat form. The only nitpick with her though is she should have visible non-mutated flesh by her ankles, but NECA “cheated” and instead made her leggings extend to her shoes rather than make her shins swap. There’s also a rotary phone that’s either for her or Burne, but either one can use it. It’s fun and in the same fashion as the Sam and Max phone from Boss Fight Studio pair I looked at earlier this year. For Burne, he comes with fists, but also has a pair of gripping hands and open hands that look like they should be typing. It makes me wish I had a desk to pair with him to set him up with the phone and Chrome Dome’s PC. He also has a bowl of turtle soup and a spoon to consume it with. There’s also a framed photo of his girlfriend, Tiffany, and the image is a rendered one that makes her kind of look like an action figure. Maybe an actual figure will be crafted in the future, though she definitely feels like a Loot Crate release. There’s also a framed photo of a “hunky reporter,” as the box refers to it, that I think was someone Irma lusted over. Vernon also has gripping hands and a pointing hand plus one more wider gripping hand. April has no extra parts.

In case you prefer your Vernon blindfolded.
Swag!

If you bought this set from NECA direct, then you also got some extra swag. If you’ve purchased a Loot Crate since NECA took over, then this basically feel like that. You get a t-shirt, pin, patch, badge, and poster. The shirt contains original, toon-inspired art, of the figures present in this set plus a few other characters from the show. It’s printed on blue and it’s okay, but the art is way off model when compared to the toon and some of the designs (like Burne) I do not care for. The patch is a Channel patch while the badge is a replica of April’s press badge. Unlike the badge we just saw with the movie April, this one is a nice, thick, plastic and feels like a badge should, I just really dislike the picture of April used for it. It’s the same one from the box of the April and Foot two-pack from last year. The pin is an enamel one of the news van and its fine if you’re into pins. The poster is an 11″ by 7″ print of the Channel 6 building. It comes rolled up so it’s a bit of a pain to flatten out. It might make for a decent backdrop though for your figures. The retail version of this box set released at Target won’t include any of these items, but it will also be cheaper as a result and the trade-off is probably better for those who find this in stores.

That new April can’t come soon enough.
“APRIL! WHY AM I ALWAYS SHOUTING?!”

The Channel 6 set from NECA is a solid release, it’s just not as fun or as exciting as some of the other four packs NECA has done. Irma is a great character, but her figure is so limited due to her design which really saps a lot of the fun out of her. I’m left wishing that NECA went the Super7 route and gave collectors the option of a sculpted skirt or a soft goods one. It’s really needed for her rat mutation as she just looks so static posed with Vernon in his mutated form. On the plus side, I don’t feel a desire to get a second Irma as a result to display both versions, I’ll probably just keep her unmutated. Burne is a solid representation of the character, he’s just also limited by his design. And he’s Burne, the least entertaining character from this assortment. As for Vernon and April, well, I don’t mind having a second Vernon so I can display the rat one too and he’s fine. April is still a bit off as far as scale goes, but I’d like this figure a lot if the joints weren’t so stuck and flaky. It’s a memorable version of the character at least and one I’m happy to have. NECA is allegedly prepping a deluxe April for the toon line to release in 2022, and I hope it’s just an all new figure to properly correct the scale issues.

“Oh no! April’s turned into a cat!” “Hey Leo, you remember your laser point?!”
The new characters scale pretty well. April is still off.

If you missed out on the NECA sale and want to add this set to your collection it should show up in Target sometime in December. I’m not sure what it’s going to retail for once there though as I believe it’s going to be more expensive than the Turtles in Disguise set, which was $125. It’s not cheap, but for now, this is the only way to add Irma and Burne to your collection. I suspect Irma will get a two-pack release eventually, but I’m less confident when it comes to Burne. We’ll see. Even though this set didn’t “wow” me, I’m still happy to have it as these are characters I want in my display. Hopefully, everyone that wants one has a chance to buy one and happy hunting to all who are braving the stores this holiday season!

“What is happening to me?!”
Had to make a new shelf for this one.

DC Collectibles BTAS #42 – Gray Ghost

Beware! The Gray Ghost!

I have long maintained that the best episode of the now classic Batman: The Animated Series is the Mr. Freeze story, “Heart of Ice.” It is not, however, my favorite episode of the show as that honor belongs to “Beware the Gray Ghost.” That episode introduced the character Gray Ghost, a superhero from television who was the in-universe inspiration for nearly every aspect of the Batman character. There’s a terrific sequence at the start of the episode where shots of young Bruce Wayne watching his favorite program are cut with acts of Batman in the present virtually mirroring his childhood idol. We’ll find out during the episode that not only are many of Batman’s mannerisms based on the character, but even the very layout of the Batcave. Turns out, Batman is just a nerd in a cape and shares more similarities with his audience than previously thought.

Peeling back some of the untold origins of the Batman character can certainly make an episode memorable, but what really makes “Beware the Gray Ghost” work is the casting of the Gray Ghost himself. In the show, the Gray Ghost was played by actor Simon Trent, who following his show’s cancellation found himself typecast and unable to find consistent work. He’s a Gotham resident and nearing the end of his rope as he’s forced to sell nearly every piece of memorabilia he saved from the show just to make rent. And playing Trent is none other than Adam West. Come 1992, when the episode first aired, West was quite similar to Trent in that he struggled to land big roles following his turn as the caped crusader in the 1960s television series Batman. His campy character had also been usurped by a more brooding Batman as seen in 1989’s Batman. West was viewed more as a punchline as a result, his Batman being a dork while Keaton’s was a brutal enforcer.

Gray Ghost unboxed. I’ll spare MOC collectors from having to look at him in-box since I went ahead and removed a valuable figure from its packaging. That would be torture for some, and I’m very much against torture.

For those who worked on BTAS, that wasn’t the West they grew up with. For them, and even kids in 1992 like myself, West’s Batman was the first Batman we really knew. He wasn’t campy, he was smart, capable, and could kick the butt of any hoodlum thrown his way. It was only as we grew older that we realized what that show, and character, were aiming for. And it’s a great show! I recommend it to anyone. No, you’re not getting the same Batman Frank Miller wrote, but this is a character that’s been around for nearly 100 years and has had lots of contributing writers. There is no one Batman, no “best” Batman, just many Batmen. And this episode felt like the show trying to take that back, to shine a light on actor Adam West and provide almost a final say on that era of the character. We loved him as children, and we love him as adults. It’s a beautiful episode of the show and it’s only more poignant with West’s passing.

Simple, effective, paint apps on the face get the job done.

Because of my love for that episode, and that character, I was immediately drawn to the DC Collectibles Gray Ghost action figure from its line of figures based on Batman: The Animated Series. Even though it wasn’t a line I actively collected, I wanted to make an exception for this figure. I assumed I’d run into it eventually at a comic or collectibles store as one of my routines was to walk to a local one near my office in Boston, but I never did run into this figure. And once COVID arrived, I found myself working remotely and those casual strolls are long over. I sort of lost track of this one, but when I got the new Batman over the summer from the sequel line The Adventure Continues I was reminded that I really wanted a Gray Ghost to pair with it. Unfortunately, so did many others as after-market prices were ridiculous as DC Collectibles was folded and production ceased. A lot of the figures, especially the ones released late in the line, are now prohibitively expensive save for a select few. I kept my eye out for a deal, but honestly never really expected one to happen.

Fast-forward several months later, and a deal was found! Prices have been falling on Gray Ghost, maybe in anticipation of more re-releases, or maybe the COVID bubble is starting to burst on collectibles. Whatever the reason, I started seeing lots of “Buy It Now” listings on eBay just sit and finally a true auction came along and I was able to snag it! No, I didn’t pay retail for the figure, but I also didn’t pay triple retail. I paid enough though as this is a line that isn’t great. There are a lot of bad designs, many characters that look fine, but can’t move or function very well. Even that Batman I got over the summer is just “okay.” Aesthetically, it’s pretty great and in some respects I like it more than the far more expensive MAFEX Batman I bought around the same time, but he’s not very posable and feels a bit fragile. I certainly had concerns about Gray Ghost as a result, but the construction of the figure looked okay from a distance, and now I know for sure since I have it in-hand.

Who needs Robin when you have Gray Ghost?

The Gray Ghost is depicted in his costume from “Beware the Gray Ghost” when Trent puts it on and helps Batman in solving the mystery of the mad bomber. Even though Trent was an older guy, he’s still in pretty great shape so his body shape is pretty much the same as Batman’s. Broad shoulders, long limbs, he looks like a guy who could handle himself in a fight. He also stands nearly as tall as Batman coming in at 6 1/8″ roughly, which is about an eighth of an inch shorter than the caped crusader.

Tagline for the poorly conceived Gray Ghost reboot: He’s no friendly ghost.

As the name implies, the Gray Ghost is clad almost entirely in gray. His hat and cape are more of a slate gray, while the uniform is a paler gray and quite close in color to Batman’s uniform. He has black shoes and a black ribbon around the hat to go along with gray goggles that blend into his gray hair. It’s odd to see the hair and goggles painted in the same shade of gray, but the show looks to have done the same. The only other color on the figure is the flesh of his face and the blue on the lenses of the goggles. And that’s fine as it’s in keeping with the character’s look in the show which seemed to have a philosophy of “keep it simple, stupid” for animation reasons. The coat of the Gray Ghost is like a double-breasted coat without a collar. The buttoned portion is sculpted on the figure while the cape is laid over it and likely affixed with glue. The only other sculpted detail on the figure really are the folds in the bottom of the pants and the cuffs of the gloves. The face is done well as the designers captured his sunken cheeks and the lines around the mouth are sculpted in as well. He has a serious, almost grim, expression and it’s suitable for when he was stalking the night alongside Batman.

As Gray Ghost inspects the subpar painting on his car, you can also see, just barely, the flesh-colored paint by his right armpit.

Because Gray Ghost is so lacking in color, DC Collectibles also could save money on paint. Basically, all of the paint is reserved for the head, which makes it hard to explain why my figure has some flesh colored paint near his right armpit. It’s on the front of the figure and kind of a bummer, but I’ve been able to scratch most of it away. I just don’t want to damage to figure underneath. Aside from that, what little paint is present is applied well enough. The painter just barely missed the sculpted outline of the goggles on the left side of the figure, but it’s only noticeable to someone really looking carefully. It wouldn’t surprise me if the cape is painted, but I don’t know for certain. You just may want to exercise caution when flexing it as it’s a soft, rubbery, cape.

Imagine if this could have been done like a Micro Machines car? As is, it’s still pretty cool.

Overall, I think this figure looks very good. Especially for this line and he fits in well with the Batman figure I already have. What usually concerns me about this line is durability and articulation. And when it comes to articulation, I am mostly concerned with the aesthetics of it and how it relates to the durability concerns. Thankfully, most of these concerns are for naught with this figure. Gray Ghost is fairly chunky and thus doesn’t feel particularly fragile. The only thing I don’t like is swapping hands as the pegs are small and have a snug fit. I worry about them breaking at the hinge more so than snapping. Otherwise, all of the other joints feel okay. They’re stiff and it was a little concerning out of the box as should I have broken anything it wasn’t like I could easily replace it, but no such breaks occurred.

This little VHS accessory is my favorite in this one. The rear of which is blurry with the naked eye, and worse through an iPhone camera.

In terms of points of articulation, Gray Ghost is fairly vanilla. He has a ball hinge at the head. It works fine, but considering that area is about the only paint on the figure you will want to make sure it’s not rubbing any part of the collar below. The shoulders are just ball-hinges and he can raise his arm out to the side just fine, but the cape will prevent him from being able to do Pete Townsend impressions. The elbows are single-hinges with swivels. They can get to about 90 degrees on a bend and look fine as he doesn’t have the weird elbow overhangs that Batman has. In the torso is nothing, as far as I know. The coat is rigid so I don’t think it’s an overlay and if there’s a waist twist or ball joint I can’t tell as the coat comes over the crotch. And at that crotch is one of those soft, plastic, “diaper” pieces that offers some flexibility, though you’re not likely to do much with the legs. They’re affixed via ball joints ditching those awful hinged things this line was known for. There’s a twist there as a result, but not a true thigh cut. He can’t kick that far forward without hitting that diaper. If you wanted to force it you probably could, but I don’t want to risk warping the plastic there. The knees are double-jointed and look great when his legs are straight and just a little messy when bent as they wanted to keep the uniform shape of the pants. The joints can be a little stubborn, but it’s functional if you want to do something like a running pose. At the ankles, there’s a hinge and a rocker. They’re tight, and the feet sit fairly deep in the cuffs of the pants. If they can twist, I haven’t been able to get them to go. It was a little dicey even figuring out the ankle pivot, but it’s there, and it works.

Gray Ghost ready to meet his adoring fans.

Gray Ghost is okay when it comes to the action portion. He’s best served to mostly stand there, and his accessories at least aid in that. He comes with gripping hands in the box and they’re fairly wide. They look a little silly for default hands as a result, and I wish he had either fists or relaxed hands for a more neutral pose. He also has a right, trigger finger hand and a handgun to pair with it. The handgun is all gray and has a boxy design to it with some sculpted details. It’s not something Trent handled during his evening with Batman, but he was seen with a gun on a poster in the episode. The episode specific accessories are an RC car and VHS set. The car is what the mad bomber used to deliver his payloads. It’s the #3 car and the sculpt looks pretty good. The tires do not rotate so it’s just a brick of painted plastic. The paint job is not great. The base color must be black or gray because some parts of the orange appear thin with the darker plastic seeping through. There’s also some slop as there’s a lot of paint on a small object. It fits in his hands okay, but definitely be careful as I’d hate to see orange paint transferring to the gray hands of the figure. The other accessory is the VHS set Gray Ghost can be seen autographing at the end of the episode. It’s a chunky piece of blue plastic with a front and back printed onto it. It looks great, though it’s a bit weird that one of the images on the back of the set is young Bruce watching the show. I suppose it’s just a nod to the episode, but it doesn’t make sense for Bruce to be there. Gray Ghost comes with another right hand that’s holding a writing instrument so he can be posed autographing it for Batman. The end of the pen is curled on mine and I don’t know if that’s supposed to be like that or not. It works well enough though to achieve the look the designers were going for.

“Can you please make it out to, umm, Bruce…your number one fan…”

All in all, a light assortment of accessories for the Gray Ghost, but an appropriate assortment. The only thing I miss are just more hands because the car and VHS are so bulky that his gripping hands needed to be wide enough to accommodate them, which means they look kind of silly when not holding anything. I suspect, as a result, most have no use for that right, gripping, hand as he’ll either be holding his gun or signing the VHS. I suppose you could position him looking for a handshake from Batman, but he doesn’t really have a hand shaking hand to go with it. There’s also no stand included, which many of the older figures came with, but was also universally maligned, it would seem. It’s no loss, though I wish he had peg holes on the bottom of his feet. He stands fine without any help. There’s a little weight on the back of the figure due to the cape, but I don’t have to tilt his upper body forward to get him to stand. It’s more of a case of me being fearful of breaking or having this guy take a shelf dive since he’s so hard to get and wanting a little extra security.

DC Collectibles’ take on the Gray Ghost was able to meet my expectations. I suppose in some respects the figure exceeded them as I don’t really have any issues with the figure’s construction. I wish he had more hands and maybe a waist twist, but he looks good and that’s the most important piece to me. This is the Gray Ghost I want and I didn’t trust McFarlane to deliver as that company’s animated characters do their own thing, design wise. This looks like the character I fell in love with almost 30 years ago and that’s exactly what I want. I can position him with my Batman and be reminded of that viewing experience every time I look their way. There are a few other figures from this line I would like to have, but Gray Ghost was the only one I felt I needed following Batman and I’m glad I have him.


NECA TMNT Cartoon Wingnut & Screwloose

Don’t call ’em mutants.

For most fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from the 1980s, you reside in two camps when it comes to how certain characters are remembered: either from the cartoon/comics, or from the Playmates toy line. For Wingnut and Screwloose, I suspect most associate them with the action figure, but there are those who think of them first as members of the Mighty Mutanimals, the Archie Comics sister book to their version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. When it came to the toy line, many of those characters would be brought over and usually as villains. What many consider to be classic villains Slash and Leatherhead, actually started off as heroic allies of the TMNT. And when it came time to bring them into the animated universe, it was usually as characters based on the toys so to the rogue’s gallery they went. Even some of the few that were made heroes by Playmates would get the villain treatment, like Mondo Gecko, though he would come around by episode’s end.

For Wingnut and Screwloose, they too got the villain treatment despite being counted amongst the allies by Playmates. Their Playmates design also differed wildly from the comic as the toy maker preferred to envision Wingnut as a Batman parody. The mutant bat is clad in blue and gray evoking memories of Batman’s past. He’s also a little on the paunchy side, which might have been Playmates poking a little fun at actor Adam West. By the early 90s, the Batman most associated with the brand was the one featured in Tim Burton’s film. He was a brooding character sporting all black, muscled, features, even though actor Michael Keaton wasn’t exactly the brawny type. It was quite fashionable in those days to poke fun at the campy show from the 1960s and West’s “pure West” physique, while certainly not overweight or anything, was definitely not the muscled look the character had undertaken. Nevertheless, the design was quite interesting and Wingnut was a favorite of many of my friends. Screwloose, on the other hand, was just a sculpted lump of plastic, one of the earliest “buddy” accessories to be featured in the line. I’m actually not sure which buddy was my first, but I think it was either Screwloose or Joe Eyeball.

Such a lovely couple.

Why the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles decided to take a clear Batman parody, or homage, and make it a bad guy is beyond me. Sure, Wingnut is a bit fearsome looking, but I never confused him for a villain. The show decided to make him and Screwloose a pair of invading aliens, with Screwloose actually serving as the brains of the duo. Making them aliens actually kept them inline with their comic counterparts, who did start off a bit villainous before switching to the side of good, but otherwise they’re kind of their own thing here. The design for both is clearly taken from the toys, something the cartoon seemed more willing to do in later seasons, probably because it was hard to come up with a bunch of new designs with those larger episode orders. And now, NECA Toys has made it so we can have toon accurate versions of these characters for the very first time.

Wingnut is definitely one of the heaviest figures to grace this line.

Wingnut and Screwloose come in an oversized two-pack box. The actual design is standard, it’s just massive. The height and width are essentially universal for the line, it’s the depth where this one gets beefy. I have it at 5 1/4″ which is about an inch deeper than the recent Groundchuck and Dirtbag box. The box depth obviously varies, but for comparison’s sake the Casey Jones and Foot two-pack was a miniscule 2 1/2″. The end result is you know when you’re handling this one as to grip it across the top with one hand results in me being able to feel the skin between my thumb and index finger stretching.

These wings are something to behold.
He’s not much taller than a turtle, but he’s a whole lot chunkier.

The box has to be this big because Wingnut is an especially large figure. As far as height goes, he’s a rather ordinary 6 1/8″ to the top of his head and a full 7″ to the top of his ears. It’s his bulk though that makes him quite large as this is a big boy. The Playmates figure was a little on the soft side, but cartoon Wingnut is a bat that’s clearly let himself go. He’s got a huge backside and then when you add in the wings the figure gets even deeper. And because he’s so chunky, he’s got quite the heft to him. Screwloose, by comparison, is far more diminutive and is in-line with figures like Baxter and Splinter. He’s around 4 1/2″ tall and not particularly bulky or anything. Though it certainly makes him a lot bigger than the vintage toy. I don’t have my old toy for comparison, but I think most of the sculpted details of the figure were carried over to the show so he’s got a tank top, four arms, pants, and shoes to go along with his bug features like wings and a tail. I remember the figure having a little belly on him, and the cartoon retained that. It was interesting getting a better look at Screwloose as a kid when he showed up in the toon, and it’s nice to see him finally have a proper figure.

The Little Brigade.
Everything about this figure is big, including the gun.

Back to Wingnut. As I said, his design mimics the toy, but in bringing him to the show some details were either scrapped or simplified. He no longer has a logo on his chest and his uniform doesn’t feature any rips or holes. His face also just features less detail and his tongue is no longer permanently sticking out. The dominant color of his suit is a gray that appears to have a touch of purple mixed in. It complements the blue mask, gauntlets, and boots and the pale yellow of the belt and pouches is certainly evocative of classic Batman. In true NECA fashion, there’s lot of black line work painted on and the rear of the figure is cast in darker shades to evoke the cel-shading present in the show. In this case, the rear of Wingnut is very much a shade of purple while the blue is just a richer shade of blue. He has a somewhat menacing, teeth-gritting, expression on his face that was, more or less, his default look on the show. What really stands out though are those wings. Wingnut has these tiny, little, bat wings that probably weren’t suitable to handling his massive bulk, so either he or someone else outfitted him with metal wings that fit over them. They’re riveted and feature what look to be thrusters on the bottom and guns at the top. What’s really neat though is NECA was able to sculpt and paint the biological wings inside of them and the result is so impressive that I can’t tell if it’s one sculpt or two.

This is unfortunate.

What’s less impressive though, is some of the paint applications. The paint on the wings is phenomenal, but on the figure itself there are some problems and chief among them are the teeth. Wingnut is supposed to have pretty normal looking toon teeth, but with two fangs in the front that were illustrated to fit over the teeth, rather than apparently exist as teeth on their own. This apparently caused problems for the painting as it looks like those fangs are sculpted, but the factory just did normal, grid-like, line work for the teeth. It’s messy, and it seems to be a consistent problem with this figure based on the others I’ve seen. Beyond that, the other paint imperfections are largely minor. There’s some black lines that aren’t quite lined up with where they should be and some bleeding over the edges, such as with the blue on the fingers, in other places. It’s the type of variance one would expect. I will add, that after a mostly paint-flaking free experience with Dirtbag and Groundchuck, this figure is definitely a messy one to handle at first. Lots of painted joints, which means lots of paint flakes winding up on whatever surface you’re handling him over.

That’s quite the profile.

With Screwloose, the expectation is that he’d be a lot less interesting in comparison with his box-mate based solely on size. And that’s true, but he’s also less interesting just because his sculpt requires far less detail. He’s dressed like a bum, though his shoes are a bit fancier than a bum would dress, so there’s not a lot of texture work with him. Possibly because he’s mostly yellow, NECA didn’t really do much with the paint as far as the usual light on the front, dark on the rear goes. They mainly just did it with his shirt, while his purple pants appear to be uniform in color. His stomach is painted green, which I always felt was an odd choice on the part of the toon and he does have some green spikes on his arms. He’s painted well enough though, but he does have some of the older problems from this line. Namely, the paint on the joints will flake off leaving a clear plastic beneath. It’s definitely not the eyesore some of the other figures experienced, but it’s unfortunate. There was also some paint rub from his arms or back to the wings so mine have a little yellow on them.

Paint rub and flaking is more of an issue with this guy as you can see the white, or clear, plastic in some of the hinges has been exposed after just light manipulation.

In terms of articulation, these guys basically do what you’d expect of them. Wingnut’s head appears to be on a double-ball peg so he gets movement at the head and the neck, which is concealed in the body. He can look down, and if you have a flight stand capable of supporting his bulk, he can even look ahead in a horizontal flying pose. The arms are ball-hinged at the shoulders with those bulky, NECA, double-elbows. They twist above the joint, and below, and genuinely look fine because there’s so much going on with the costume. He can bend his elbow a little past 90, but if anything I have a problem getting his arm perfectly straight. He’s tight, and I can’t tell if he’s only supposed to go so far or not. At the wrist though we have the usual swivel and hinge system. In the upper torso, there’s a diaphragm joint right below his “bust” that allows him to tilt, rotate, and even crunch forward and back a bit. There’s no true waist twist, and the legs on the new ball pegs. They’re plenty secure, which is good for such a big figure. The knees are just single joints and they’re either really tight, or slightly ratcheted, as mine kind of click when I move them. They don’t offer much range as this is a character meant to always be hunched slightly, but they work fine as far as allowing the figure to stand effortlessly. His ankles are hinged, and they don’t have much range there, but they do have rocker-tilt which works just fine. Wingnut’s tail, tiny as it may be, is on a ball hinge so there’s some play there. The wings are also on ball hinges so they can rotate and “flap” as well as they probably need to.

These guys aren’t super poseable, but they’re still capable of looking cool on a shelf.

As for Screwloose, he’s basically the same. His head is just on a ball peg, but there’s enough range to let him look in basically any direction, he’s just going to have a bobble head from certain angles. All four shoulders are standard ball hinges and are quite tight. I think it’s due to them sitting fairly deep in the sculpt, but moving them around gets messy due to all of the paint flaking. The elbows are just single joints and they rotate as well. The knees are single hinges too and there’s a ball peg, I think, between the shirt and belly that lets him rotate and tilt ever so slightly in all directions. The wings are ball-hinged like Wingnut’s, though the tail appears to just swivel. It was also so tight initially that I wasn’t sure if it moved at all, but it just needed to have its seal “cracked.” I also think his ankles can pivot, but they sure don’t want to. He’s quite light though so he doesn’t need his ankles to do much in order to stand.

This gun is chunky and long.
Raph, you’re probably going to want more than your sai here.

This set is definitely not the most dynamic as far as posing possibilities go. Screwloose just doesn’t have a ton of options, while Wingnut is mostly limited by his bulk. That doesn’t mean they can’t look interesting on your shelf, and NECA did include some accessories to help there. With Wingnut, we get three sets of hands: fists, open, and gripping. The gripping hands are meant to wield his massive bazooka. Initially I thought it was the Triceraton gun with some parts swapped, but this is all new and much bigger. It’s a gun he handled for all of 2 seconds in his lone cartoon appearance, but it is toon accurate. The grip is a touch loose, but that’s probably a good thing in order to avoid lots of paint rub when inserting it into his hands. And even so, you’re likely to experience some anyway. Screwloose, on the other hand, gets nothing. He has two open hands and two gripping hands and you can easily move them from one arm to another, but that’s all. He does come with a flight stand, and it’s the improved one we saw with the video game Baxter that has an extra joint in it. It’s still annoying in that you can’t have the claw at a true horizontal angle, but it works all right. Lastly, NECA included some paper goods. There’s a wanted sticker for Smash, leader of the Crooked Ninja Turtle gang, as well as Wingnut’s W logo from the toy and a sticker for a map. The map is from an episode where it’s discovered Splinter’s kimono hides a secret and you can stick it on your Splinter if you want. I probably won’t There are also four, mini, comic books for your turtles to read taken from the episode. A fun, little, touch, for sure.

Screwloose just gets a flight stand, but hey, at least he can fly!
Novelty toss-ins, or hints of what’s to come?!

Wingnut and Screwloose are a fairly iconic pair in the Turtle-verse owing mostly to their appearance in the vintage toyline. Their animated appearance was far more forgettable (especially since it was a Zach-centric episode and he sucks) and downright bizarre in some respects, but the designs were still fun since they basically mirrored the toys. As an action figure pair, there’s definitely some warts present, but nothing that comes close to ruining the experience. The accessories are a bit on the light side, but there really wasn’t much to source from the episode they were a part of and NECA even tossed in the deep cut that is the map sticker and included a flight stand for Screwloose. And possibly because they didn’t have to go too nutty on the accessories, this one comes in at a price point of $55, cheaper than Dirtbag and Groundchuck even though, like that pair, these guys appear to feature all new tooling. The only real issue I have are Wingnut’s teeth as they look rather bad and since they’re right on front of the figure’s face there’s no avoiding the issue. Again, it’s not enough of an issue for me to not recommend this set. These guys succeed like almost every other figure in the line in achieving that “pulled right from the cartoon” aesthetic, and a giant Batman parody and four-armed mosquito are inherently fun designs. I would definitely suggest adding this set to your toon display as it’s one of the better two-packs NECA has put out so far.

Chrome Dome still towers over all!

Wingnut and Screwloose are currently showing up at Target stores across the US. They appear to be arriving in solid quantities, and being that they’re cartoon appearance isn’t particularly memorable, the sets appear to be hanging around longer than a few minutes. Good luck!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Dirtbag and Groundchuck

Some new mutants have joined the party!

NECA’s line of action figures based on the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been a wonderful source of nostalgia for 80s/90s kids even as the line heads into more obscure territories. In socializing with individuals of my age, it feels like a lot of those 5 and 6 year-olds who were watching the first few seasons of the show outgrew it come the early 90s. By then we were in the midst of a cartoon boom and the quality of shows was increasing with seemingly every new show. Practically overnight, the cartoon that was really just a not so cleverly disguised toy commercial started to fall out of favor. You still had your Street Sharks and Biker Mice From Mars, but there were also a ton of one and done type shows that came and went. With TMNT, the show seemed to get more mileage out of the fact that it started to take from the toyline, rather than dictate it. It used to be that a character would appear in the show, then eventually make its way to store shelves, but giant episode orders probably made it easier to just grab a toy and integrate it into the show practically 1:1. And so we have Dirtbag and Groundchuck.

I remember this pair showing up in stores roughly at the same time. I never had the Playmates Dirtbag, but I did have Groundchuck and he was one of my favorite designs from the line. I liked his armor-plated leg and the harsh shade of red that was his fur seemed cool to me. He had a crossbow weapon and a Foot logo tattoo on his arm and he became one of my chosen enemies. I even played with him so much he eventually fell apart, something that never happened to any of my other TMNT toys. He and Dirtbag eventually made their animated debut in the episode “Planet of the Turtleoids,” the same episode as Chrome Dome and Kerma. They were supposed to be the new Bebop and Rocksteady, but they had little interest in taking orders so that’s how the writers were able to move on from them. They were actually competent villains for the turtles, so that right there makes them fairly unique amongst the rogues from that show.

“By any chance, would you two be interested in helping a poor, defenseless, turtle?”

Since Dirtbag and Groundchuck arrived in the show as a pair, it made sense for NECA to release them as a pair. This year, we’ve seen toy companies do their best to adapt to the shipping crisis and uptick in factory rates and NECA has made some changes to this year’s releases as a result. We saw the figures Mondo Gecko and Muckman split into deluxe releases and we’ve also seen an uptick in price. With Dirtbag and Groundchuck, there was just no getting around the issue of costs. These two are, as far as I can tell, entirely unique as far as tooling goes. We’ve seen NECA get a lot of mileage out of the Bebop and Rocksteady base here and there, but that won’t work for this pair. As a result, we have the priciest two-pack in the line as this set retails for $65. Some may balk at the increase, at this time last year a NECA two-pack was $52, but I for one would rather receive an uncompromised product than a cheap one. No, I don’t particularly like paying more money for something, but I understand the economics in play.

Who would have thought a mutant mole would be so cool? The bull is kind of a given though.

Dirtbag and Groundchuck are an impressive pair. And that’s what you want if a set is going to set you back a few more bucks than the usual. Dirtbag is around 5.5″ and Groundchuck is closer to 6″, maybe a tick above when he’s standing up as straight as he can. This is veteran sculpter Paul Harding’s first contribution to the line and he really set a high bar for himself going forward. These two guys should remind anyone who owned them as kids of those vintage Playmates toys, but mostly they look just like they stepped out of the television. Dirtbag has all of the little things I remember from his brief appearance on the show and stuff that I don’t. He’s rocking the one boot, one bare foot, look and his limbs feature sculpted fur. He’s got these two-toned overalls with an olive green on top and black on the bottom to go along with a hot pink backpack. It’s a pretty gnarly getup, but it almost looks ordinary for a character from this show since it’s not as outlandish as some of the other stuff. Like his box-mate, for instance. Groundchuck sports this tattered, blue, tunic with shaggy fur underpants. He’s got a lavender belt that evokes images of Batman and a pair of bull’s eyes, one over his heart and one on his left knee, to add a dash of yellow. He has a bright green tuft of hair on his head which is poking out from under this futuristic half-helmet thing that even covers his right horn. His right leg almost looks robotic, but I think it’s just armor. Why he chose to armor one leg and little else I don’t know. He does feature some plating over his left thigh and he has this big shoulder contraption over his right shoulder. His left shoulder has a more conventional shoulder pad while both of his fingerless gloves have spiked or studded knuckles. He’s a totally 90s design and I am here for it!

Just a mole trying to earn a living.

Let’s talk a bit about Dirtbag first. I’ve already mentioned that his sculpt is awesome, but so is the paint work. His design doesn’t call for anything outlandish, but what is here works. He’s mostly a soft gray with a darker gray used to shade his backside. The same is done for his shirt, light green on the front, dark on the back, and his mining helmet as well. There’s a lot of black linework on this guy which adds so much depth to him. And it’s just remarkable how clean everything is. I would expect some of the lines to be a little out of whack here and there, but there’s literally none of that with this guy. The eyes, the inner ear, the inside of his mouth – it all looks fantastic. Also worth noting, all of his hinges appear to be cast in the most appropriate color of plastic. The one consistent eyesore with this line that keeps coming back are painted hinges with a poor choice in base color beneath. Those stand out too readily, but with Dirtbag it all looks good. You will only run into that issue with the back of the ankles because the hinges are done to match the shade of gray from the front of the figure, not the rear, and that’s fine. It would be stupid to do it the other way around. Even the left boot was cast in brown plastic and the fingerless gloves were done in red. I suppose there’s a risk that paint might come off of the fingers on the gripping hands, but there’s not much that can be done to prevent that. For now, I haven’t had any issues there.

I applaud Dirtbag for his willingness to rock a pink backpack.
The backpack is functional too. You can either put small items in it or wedge his shovel in there like so.

Dirtbag (and Grounchuck for that matter) is also on the chunky side. His torso his wide and his legs a bit squat. Because of that, articulation isn’t going to be his strong suit, but it’s not a huge minus either. His head can really only swivel, if there’s any up and down I haven’t been able to figure it out. He does have an articulated jaw, a commonplace for this line that’s welcomed, so he’s not lacking in personality there. The shoulders are ball-hinged and lift out to the side all the way into a T position and can spin around. There’s a biceps swivel past that and double-jointed elbows. He’s a pretty jacked mole, so the size his of his biceps don’t really allow the elbows to bend past 90 degrees, but it’s not something I miss. The hands rotate at the wrist and all feature horizontal hinges. At the waist we have a big ball peg so he can rotate and tilt a little, but he can’t crunch forward or bend back. At the hips are the newer NECA ball and socket which I am happy to report are not loose. He doesn’t kick out very far forward, but he’s not really a martial arts kind of rodent. There is a thigh twist and the knees are double-jointed. At the ankle, we have hinges and rockers which work very well. On the rear of the figure we find a tail and a backpack. The tail is on a ball peg, but it doesn’t do a whole lot, though it can come in handy for adding a little stability to the figure. At the backpack, which is constructed of a rubbery plastic, is a flap that actually can open and close. I haven’t tried sticking a small accessory in it out of fear that it will be hard to get out, but it’s a cool little detail. What I have enjoyed doing with it is wedging the pole of his shovel underneath the flap so it goes straight across his back. The hold is plenty tight and it’s something that can be done to add weapon storage, which I always like.

There isn’t a matador alive who would mess with this bull.

With Groundchuck, we have a similar story. For one, the paint is so eye-catching with this bovine. There’s fur, metal, cloth, and just a lot going on. And it’s fairly clean, though not as clean as it is with Dirtbag. There are paint blemishes present on Groundchuck that I wish weren’t there. There’s a spot of missing white on the armor of his left thigh and the cow skull belt buckle has some scratching too. Those are the only ones that stand out, but there are a few nicks here and there which is customary with mass market figures and especially those with as much paint as this guy. The black line work though, is once again, pretty damn stellar. The line on the right legs are sculpted in and painted while the armor on the left thigh is scalloped and a really fun texture. I love how NECA painted both portions with a lot of white in the middle and gray on the edges. I find the shading on Groundchuck’s body to be a little more subdued than some other figures in this line as the red of the fur and blue of the tunic is just a little darker on the rear of the figure in comparison with the front. That’s not a critique, but an observation, as the metallic bits are shaded aggressively and look terrific as a result. The only spots where I feel a little more paint might of helped make the figure look even better are just small details like the fingernails and the row of teeth on his upper jaw. The bottom row has the black line work all throughout, but the upper row is just white. That’s likely because it’s really only noticeable if you’re looking at the figure from below the head, but when you’re reviewing a figure it’s something you’re going to see as you approach the figure from many angles, including ones that likely won’t factor into a display.

Look mom, no flaking!

The articulation for Groundchuck is more or less the same as Dirtbag with only minor differences. He has all of the same points of articulation, minus the tail and backpack. I’m not sure why a mutant bull was designed without a tail, but that’s how it was. His head does feature a bit more play than Dirtbag’s, but it’s not drastic. He mostly looks straight ahead and down a little, with some room for tilt. His jaw doesn’t seem to open as far, but there’s enough there to change up his disposition. His shoulders are going to be somewhat impacted by his shoulder pads, but it doesn’t stop his arms from lifting out to the side all the way. He’s also traded a waist cut for a ball peg in upper abdomen. It mostly just affords rotation there, but he can tilt a little bit to the side as well as forward and back. The legs and arms are entirely the same, except with Groundchuck comes the added fun of having a character with hooves for feet instead of something more traditional. Even though they’re hooves, they still have the usual amount of ankle articulation and he’s really not a challenge to stand. Since he has kneepads like the turtles, his knees can’t quite achieve a 90 degree bend, but I don’t think that’s something that will be a problem for this figure. Also worth noting, that the hinges in the legs are painted on the rear, but the paint isn’t flaking! I don’t know what NECA did or if they did anything different, but it’s pretty cool.

The Cowboys of Moo Mesa wish their sidearms were this cool.

One way companies have been able to keep costs manageable this year is by cutting back on accessories. NECA said “Screw that,” with this set as this pair is pretty well loaded. Both characters come with fisted hands in the box, but also have a set of gripping hands and open hands. All of the hands feature horizontal hinges and the same lovely paintjob. They’re easy to swap too as NECA seems to be using softer plastic with shorter pegs lately. The only downside is the hands might pop out when you don’t want them too, especially as you break in the hinges, but that’s certainly better than the alternative. Groundchuck has his own stylized pistol that ends in a bull skull complete with nose ring. It’s ridiculous, but appropriate for the show and character given the era. His gripping hands aren’t classic “trigger finger” hands, but they’re also soft enough that getting his index finger onto the trigger shouldn’t be a problem. As far as I know, that’s the only Groundchuck specific accessory in this box with the rest belonging to either Dirtbag or another character all together.

They attack from above and below!

Dirtbag, being a miner and a fighter, needs tools and weapons. He’s got a pistol like Groundchuck, but unlike Groundchuck his pistol doesn’t really contain any Dirtbag theming. It does look like a nail or rail gun, which feels appropriate for his workman-like appearance. There’s a small, handheld, device that looks like a cross between a TV remote and an electric razor. I think this is a tracking device used by Donatello, if it fell into the hands of Dirtbag or Groundchuck I don’t remember, but rest assured it is absolutely pulled from the show. Dirtbag also has his shovel, which can be used for digging or cracking skulls, and he has an oversized drill that I guess helps him tunnel through the earth. He can easily hold it with two hands in front of his body, though the drill bit doesn’t rotate.

“Hey! Don’t worry, I’m supposed to do this!”

Lastly, Dirtbag has a rather unique accessory that just looks like a ring of rocks. This is to simulate him coming up from the ground, similar to what we saw with the Roadkill Rodney figures, but on a bigger scale. To achieve the desired result, you have to pull the figure apart at the waist and then just sit his torso in it. Getting him apart the first time can be a little scary since the factory likely really shoves these things together tight. It’s a double ball peg that’s in there, so it should be hard to break. Even so, I used some hot, running, tap water to soften it up (I did not need to heat any other joints on these figures) and was able to pull him apart. Putting him back together was also a snap. It’s pretty cool and provides for another display option. I’m torn on how Dirtbag will ultimately end up on my shelf. I think this is an accessory that may come and go as I change things up here and there. All of these accessories though are lovingly painted and detailed. The gripping hands are also pretty soft so there shouldn’t be too much of a problem preventing paint scuffing as they’re swapped in and out, but as always, take care when doing so. These are, after all, “adult collectibles.”

They look appropriately intimidating when paired with turtles.
“Back off, dirt bag!” “Hey, how did you know my name?!”

NECA’s latest two-pack from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon line is one of its best. This one is right up there with Bebop and Rocksteady for me, and I’m hard pressed to think of a better one. Dirtbag and Groundchuck aren’t the most well known characters from the show, but their presence in the classic toy line (which basically mirrored their later cartoon appearance) makes them more familiar than than someone like Kerma, even though he appeared in the same episodes. These sculpts are phenomenal and I really hope Paul Harding will be making many more contributions to this line and basically any line I collect. This pair is certainly helping NECA end 2021 with a bang, and what’s really awesome for collectors, is there’s more coming since these guys were released alongside another all new two-pack and the other sets solicited earlier this year should be on a boat somewhere. NECA made this two-pack available on its website earlier this month, but they should be hitting Target right now. Take advantage of the fact that some people won’t remember this duo and snatch a set if you see one. You will not be disappointed.

“Now, I can rid myself of those imbeciles: Bebop and Rocksteady!”
Because every figure needs to be compared to Chrome Dome.

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