Category Archives: toys

NECA Cartoon TMNT Tokka and Rahzar

Memorable mutants from their not so memorable role.

There is certainly a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles product flying around these days, but I would guess collectors and fans of the property are paying the most attention to two toy makers in particular: NECA and Super7. One search for “NECA” on this blog will reveal that the company has produced a ton of TMNT action figures based on various iterations of the characters be it movies, television, or comics. As for Super7, their output is much slower and more specific, though they still have released 16 figures thus far and a handful of variants and have three additional waves already solicited. Super7’s approach is to essentially reproduce what Playmates made 30 years ago at a new scale and with modern technology. Both NECA and Super7 basically received permission to go full tilt on TMNT at the same time, and both have said they basically sat down at Toy Fair, explained the direction they were each going in, and basically have a handshake agreement to not step on each other’s toes which has held up just fine.

Sometimes though, multiple iterations of the property intersect. Playmates very much did its own thing when it came to characters and designs, and for awhile, the cartoon did as well. As the show went on though, the writers, artists, and so on started to just lift more from existing sources probably because it gets hard to keep coming up with new ideas for a show that’s pretty formulaic and largely exists just to sell toys. And since it’s a glorified commercial, why not just include the toys in the show directly?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before about this line, but these guys look like they jumped right off of the screen.

When it came time to make a sequel to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990 film, the writers wanted to include some mutant henchmen for Shredder. When Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird balked at including the cartoony Bebop and Rocksteady, new mutants were created in Tokka and Rahzar. Playmates foolishly felt the first movie would be a massive flop and did not support it with toys, but after it was a success, they were ready for the sequel and produced figures on several characters including the newly created mutants. Playmates wasn’t going to match the look of the costumes in the film, and it’s likely things were being worked on simultaneously, so their take on Tokka and Rahzar turned out a little different from how they appeared in the film. The film was another hit and the characters proved popular, so to no one’s surprise, Tokka and Rahzar made the jump to television. And since it was likely far easier to model them on the toys, that’s what the show did. All of this is to say I feel a little bad for Super7 since NECA has essentially provided us a set of figures that are based on the cartoon, which was based on the toys. It’s basically the same deal as what we saw with Antrax and Scumbug earlier this year.

Let’s just jump right to the comparisons! Left to right: Playmates Tokka (first run), NECA toon, and NECA movie.

Tokka and Rahzar come in the standard window box packaging we’re all used to at this point. They were initially offered as part of NECA’s Haulathon event and in a confusing fashion as they were sold on costumes.com. Apparently, it would have cost too much to create a new website. That website was also supposed to be for international customers only, but no one configured the site to actually lock out US residents so it ended up being a free-for-all when everything went up on March 18th. This set was said to be open to all in some places, but it was all terribly communicated and a lot of confusion was out there. I placed an order on that site, and a set arrived less than 2 weeks later even though product wasn’t supposed to ship until April (I’m not complaining). These guys are going to Target, and maybe online too, and it’s possible by the time this post actually goes live that all of this has been sorted out. For now, it’s a mess, but I got some toys out of it.

And now for the wolf. Same arrangement as before. I think my vintage Rahzar is the first run which had red paint around the eyes in error. Later releases featured black like the toon version.

As mentioned before, Tokka and Rahzar are based on their appearance in the episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter!” and the designs for the characters are clearly based on their action figure counterparts from Playmates. It came pretty late in the cartoon’s life, episode 166 out of 193, so several people collecting this line barely remember their appearance. I personally was still watching, but I’d drop off the following season when the “Red Sky” era began and the show underwent a soft reboot of sorts. I remember being quite surprised to see this pair show up though, and even more surprised when they were intelligent creatures. Aside from resembling the movie characters to a certain degree, the pair are pretty damn different. They’re a bit morally ambiguous and largely out to satisfy their stomachs. Rahzar makes it very clear to Tokka that he’s his only friend in the world, which is about the only character development they really get. Rahzar seems to dislike everyone, but Tokka, and he does make some comment about no one being able to stop them so I guess they’re villains? Tokka is mostly useless though as he’s easily subdued and just exists to make Rahzar mad when something unfortunate befalls him. He gets captured by the mutant racist Dirk Savage, leading to a showdown between Savage and Rahzar that’s just a set piece for the turtles to save Savage and have him realize the errors of his ways. That’s the cure for racism in Hollywood, you just need to have the party the individual is racist towards save them. Problem solved! Tokka and Rahzar’s story just sort of ends there and they never show up again.

“All right son, I’ll take you to the dog park.”

Rahzar is obviously the larger of the two standing at around 7.25″ to the top of his hair. Tokka, is much shorter and chunkier coming in at around 5.25″. Both were sculpted by Paul Harding who has already made a mark on this line with expressive sculpts of Dirtbag and Groundchuck and it looks like NECA was so pleased with Tokka that they’re prepping the figure for a re-release as an Archie Slash, which makes sense since the Playmates Slash was repurposed into Tokka! Both figures are impressively sculpted. Rahzar has a lot of extra parts added to him like the broken shackles, forearm and thigh pads, and that grill on his chest. Tokka has various warts and similar blemishes on his body to go with a spiked shell that’s a dead-ringer for the old toy. He has elbow and knee pads plus those spiked shoulder pauldrons. I love the detail on both and the paint is what is expected of this line. The black linework is clean and really causes the pair to “pop” and we get that bisected shading as well with light on the front and dark on the back. The only overlay in use here is the green “diaper” on Rahzar so it’s hard to say if NECA expects to get much reuse out of his mold. If not, I love to see the commitment on display here from NECA to make the best possible versions of these characters uncompromised by cost-cutting measures.

Tokka’s shell features the same arrangement as the old toy for the spikes. There’s even the same linework on the center nubs.

When it comes to shortcomings from a presentation perspective, there’s very little to complain about here. We’re basically down to nitpicks as the paint around the spikes on Tokka’s shell is a little sloppy around the edges, but it’s pretty minor. The shurikens on his belt also have a soft appearance in the paint department, but again, it’s a nitpick. The only real blemish on either figure is with Rahzar’s right shackle. There’s a sizable blob of gray paint on it from the forearm guard that’s a bit of a bummer. The shackle is a separate piece that can come right off once the hand is popped off so, if I want to, I could easily take it off and try to touch it up. It’s tough to paint white over a dark color though so I don’t know that I’ll bother, but that really is it as far as issues. This is a very clean set.

These guys just want to eat and hang out, and honestly, I can relate.

Since our boys here only showed up in one episode, they didn’t really get to do much aside from eat and get captured by Savage. Given that, NECA included a bunch of food! There’s a turkey platter with about half of a bird on it, some sliced potatoes, and a big slab of salami, I think. There’s also a turkey leg and some bone-in-meat plus a whole fish which was something actually used as a weapon against Rahzar. There’s also yet another handheld, control, device that looks like a fancy adding machine. It’s the controller to the control cuff that actually came with the Mondo Gecko figure so, little by little, we’re building the arsenal of Dirk Savage (the foot trap that came with the Punk Frogs also belongs to Savage). Each figure also comes with a set of gripping hands and a set of open hands. I’m a little surprised there are no fists, but I don’t know that I actually miss them. The accessories are all painted very nicely, and even though I’m not sure what I’ll do with a big turkey platter, I’m happy to have it.

“Hey, gimme a bit of that.” “No.”

This line is certainly an appearance first, articulation second, sort of line, but these two boys move pretty well. We’ll start with Rahzar first who has a ball-jointed head. It feels like it might be a double-ball peg as he can look up very well, and bury his chin with rotation and tilt. There’s also a hinged jaw to add personality and it works very well. He’s most limited at the shoulders where traditional ball-hinges are hampered by the shoulder pads. The pads can slide a little, but he can’t really lift his arms out to the side much. He can rotate just fine though, and he has a biceps swivel, double-jointed elbows that get you 90 degrees or better, and wrist swivels with horizontal hinges. In the diaphragm is a ball joint that will mostly let the figure rotate, but you get some tilt and he can arch back and crunch forward a little bit. The hips are on ball-sockets and are nice and firm. You get a thigh twist there to go with double-jointed knees and the standard hinge and rocker combo at the ankles. All of those joints work quite well and I love that he has big feet because he’s easy to pose and stand. There were no stuck joints and they’re all cast in the most appropriate color of plastic too.

They seem to scale just fine with the turtles.

Tokka is similar, but being another turtle character, he has some limitations of his own. His head basically sits forward on the sculpt so he’s more limited in the up and down department, but he does have a really nice jaw hinge to make up for it. This dude can open wide! Like Rahzar, he has shoulder pads too that prevent him from bringing his arms out to the side, but he gets good range out of the double-elbows despite the elbow pads (why can’t we get these on the hero turtles?) and has a biceps swivel and standard wrist articulation. Like the turtles, he appears to have some joints in the torso, but unlike the turtles, it’s pretty useless. I can’t get any twist out of them, but braver folks than me might be more willing to really crank on that joint. The hips are ball and socket joints and he has the same thigh twist, double knees, and ankle articulation as Rahzar. Tokka’s feet are really impressive as he can bend each one back all the way so the foot lines up with the leg and he can bend it really far forward. It gives the figure a great base and I’ll definitely be happy to have a Slash with this kind of articulation later this year.

“Tokka, you and I are all we got!” “Have you been watching those Fast and Furious movies again?”

I feel like I’ve been saying this with a lot of the two-packs of late, but this set is another contender for best in the line. I’m partial to the bugs from a design standpoint, but I can’t imagine these two turning out any better than they did. These guys are picture perfect recreations of their animated look and the sculpt, paint, and articulation really comes together nicely. I suppose the accessories aren’t the most exciting we’ve seen, but it’s not as if there was much in the show associated with them. I guess we should be mad at the designers of the toon for not giving them some of their action figure accessories.

Tokka and Rahzar have started off as another Haulathon exclusive, but I suspect NECA will make every effort to get these figures into as many hands as possible so if you missed the initial drop keep your eyes open. Basically every set these days to hit Target brick and mortar has been relatively easy to get ahold of, excepting maybe the turtles themselves. I’m willing to bet Tokka and Rahzar will follow a similar pattern and hang around for a bit. Maybe I’m underestimating their popularity due to their appearance in The Secret of the Ooze, but that remains to be seen. If you can’t tell, I definitely give these guys a strong recommend so get out there and hunt these bad boys down like you’re Dirk Savage himself, just don’t be a racist!


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Super Event Exclusive Color Edition Beerus

The God of Destruction has arrived.

Let’s take a break from the Goku and Goku-adjacent figures and talk about a totally different character: Beerus. Or should I say Lord Beerus: God of Destruction! Beerus made his debut in the film Battle of Gods which essentially became the premiere of Dragon Ball Super. He’s some sort of cat creature who happens to be charged with destroying worlds within his assigned universe. Being a god, he’s only sort of a villain. I guess if he were a Dungeons & Dragons character he might be considered Chaotic Neutral, or maybe Lawful Evil? I honestly can’t remember if there’s a rhyme or reason to his destruction. When we’re introduced to him, he is seeking out the Super Saiyan God and has come to Earth in search of, who else, Goku. If Goku can’t impress him and show him the power of a Super Saiyan God, then he has no use for Earth and will destroy it, so I guess he’s lawful? Anyway, he’s one of the best new characters to come to the show so I’m happy to add this event exclusive edition to my collection.

Like many a Dragon Ball villain there’s a lot of power packed into a somewhat unassuming frame with Beerus.

Beerus embodies the power of a god and Dragon Ball villain, while also displaying the traits of a cat. He gets sleepy, can be petulant, impatient, and certainly carries himself in a regal manner. And like many characters in this universe, an easy way to please him is via his stomach. He loves food and it’s the food on planet Earth that initially spares the world from his destruction. He’s quite threatening, but easily slips into a comedic performance as the scene demands. He’s terrific. And this figure is actually an old one from 2016. It was part of Bandai’s San Diego Comic Con collection of exclusives from last year. Premium Bandai’s website basically couldn’t handle the volume of people interested when the item went up for sale, so they offered a make-up sale a couple of days later that was for a second batch. I really wanted the Nappa they released, so I just went for that because the site was so slow and buggy that trying to add multiple items to my cart felt like a risk I just couldn’t take. However, when the second sale went up I gave in and grabbed both Beerus and the Super Saiyan God version of Goku.

“Come at me, if you dare.”

Unlike Nappa, this version of Beerus is a better use of an event exclusive. I loved that Nappa, but he was a re-release of a figure done in his proper animated colors. That’s something most fans probably wanted from the original release, and making him an event exclusive kind of sucks. Since it ended up being easy to get, I guess little harm was done other than some folks felt compelled to get two versions of the same figure. With Beerus, his change is subtle. I don’t have the original release, but from what I can tell, the main difference is just in the collar-like shirt he wears. I don’t know the proper name for the garment, but it’s the blue and black item he wears over his shoulders. The original was a standard matte look, while this one is done with a shiny, chrome-like, finish. It looks cools, and it’s the type of thing that owners of the previous figure probably don’t feel compelled to buy, while those looking to fill a hole in their collection aren’t settling for some glow-in-the-dark variant or something.

The dreaded Finger Poke of Doom!

Being that Beerus is an older release, there’s going to be some dated things on him. Let’s start with the aesthetics. He looks like Beerus from the show/movie. His default, stoic, look captures that of the character and a cat as he appears content, but those narrow eyes have a menacing quality to him like his mood could change at the drop of a hat. His skin is a pale gray-violet which works well with the blues and blacks of his attire. The only shading on the figure is on the front of the pants while the other painted flourishes are rather clean. The sculpt is rather nice as it captures how thin the character is and Bandai did a great job at the hips which don’t jut out like the Goku Black I looked at recently.

These two literally do not see eye-to-eye.

As nice as Beerus looks, there are a few nitpicks to find. His neck gets a bit gappy where it meets the upper chest, and I wish his face had a wash or something on it as it looks rather plain. His nose should probably be darker than the rest and just some subtle paint touches on some of the lines, as we saw with the Super Saiyan 4 Goku, would really bring out the features. His feet appear to be cast in blue plastic, which is rather odd. I only know this because some blue is peaking out of the seems and at the pins in the toe. And lastly, he also seems a bit too tall. Beerus stands at about 5.75″ to the top of his head, 6.625″ to the top of his ears. Goku is about 5.625″ to the top of his head, so his eye level is lower than that of Beerus which doesn’t look right. It’s been a few years since I watched Dragon Ball Super and it wouldn’t surprise me if Beerus was drawn shorter in that than he was in his debut feature, sort of like how Vegeta was suddenly taller when he became more of a good guy, but I don’t think even this is accurate to Battle of Gods.

Yeah, that doesn’t look right.

Aside from the paint, this release is the same as the older one so the accessories included are also the same. They’re just appearance accessories, so optional heads and hands. In addition to the neutral expression, Beerus also has a yell and a yawn. Both look terrific and I think all three portraits have worth in a display as the more comedic yawn is still a spot-on depiction of the character. With the hands, things are less interesting as Beerus comes packaged with fists and can swap to gripping hands, open hands, and he has a right, sort of clawing, hand. It’s a gesture he uses when firing some of his attacks and could also be used as a “Come here” gesture. What’s curious though are the gripping hands as he has nothing to grip. Was there a short-lived directive at Bandai to make sure all of their figures came with gripping hands? It’s bizarre, as Beerus doesn’t wield any weapons in the film or show so they really are useless. I would have preferred more style posed hands, or maybe one with chopsticks and a bowl of ramen or something. There are no effects parts either, which is always bummer. It does help that Beerus doesn’t really have a signature attack, but he could still have something.

Those knees aren’t pretty. On the plus side, these yawning head is great!

Where the figure really feels dated is with the articulation, which also factors into the appearance somewhat. The head is on a ball hinge, like what Bandai uses for the wrists. It’s okay, but once the head is on you don’t really know where the hinge is so it doesn’t function super well. Also like the hands, it’s something you have to battle with just to get those heads on. There’s a ball joint in the base of the neck so he can bury his chin and also look up a bit with the usual rotation and tilt. The shoulders have part of that collared garment pinned to them, like most of the Goku figures do with the his sleeves. It’s a bit unsightly, and you need to be careful with those pieces as they will slide under the chest part and could get scratched. It’s a ball hinge so the shoulder can move up and down a bit, but the butterfly joint is useless due to the chest piece getting in the way. There’s a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows and a ball-hinge wrist. In the torso, there’s a diaphragm cut but it’s pretty tight. It feels like a ball-hinge so if you pull up on it you can get him to crunch back. Leave it low and the figure makes some uncomfortable noises when rotating there, and he doesn’t get much forward crunch either way. The ball-joint at the waist is a bit better and that’s where you’ll get rotation and a little tilt.

Note the single tear squirting out of his right eye.

At the hips, Beerus has hinged ball-joints that drop down. Leaving them in the up position results in a nice looking joint that is reasonably functional out to the side and kicking forward and back. Dropping the leg doesn’t add a ton, just a little extra clearance on the kick, which is probably why we don’t see this joint too much anymore. The knee is where things really get poor though as Beerus has just a single joint with no cap on the front. When you bend that knee, you just see the joint at the kneecap and it’s ugly. It’s unfortunate because that yawning expression would lend itself well to certain sitting, bent knee, posing that will expose this shortcoming. This is simply just an outdated joint, as some of the early SHF releases featured the same, and has been retired in favor of what we see on other poufy pants characters like Goku. It’s too bad they couldn’t fix that for this release. At the ankle, we also have the old ball-peg system. You get good movement back, little forward, and the rocker is just mediocre. There is a toe hinge, but I don’t have much use for toe hinges. Beerus, being a cat, also has a tail and that’s connected via a ball-hinge. You get some decent posing out of it, but the tail itself doesn’t articulate further. It’s soft and pliable, but does not have a wire in it so it’s fairly static. It’s a thin tail, though, so I’m fine with it not being segmented for articulation.

Beerus is right to yawn in Nappa’s direction.

Beerus is an old figure with a shiny coat of paint added to go along with a fancy box. The sculpt has aged well so he should still look the part on your shelf. I have some nitpicks with his size, but I largely think he looks good. He just shows his age primarily with those knees and it’s the one thing I would definitely change. This isn’t a budget release, after all, as he retailed for $50 so it would have been nice to see an upgrade made there. Even factoring that in, I still think he’s worth the price tag and I do find myself quite charmed by this release. He’s very much an essential character if you’re collecting Dragon Ball Super. Since this figure was an event exclusive, you’ll need to seek him out on the secondary market. Big Bad Toy Store is carrying this edition, but at a significant markup (more than 100%) so you might be better off on eBay or Mercari. I like the figure, but I don’t $100 like the figure so I guess it will come down to how important it is for you personally to add Beerus to your display.

“Buy me or the Earth is destroyed!”

NECA TMNT Cartoon Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady

The moronic duo gets an upgrade in every place except the one that matters most: the brain.

2021 introduced a lot of good things for collectors of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures based on the classic cartoon. The toy maker still kept the line a Target exclusive when it came to brick and mortar, but it also started selling a lot of it online to coincide with each new release. Sure, you still had some folks out there complaining about having to pay NECA’s $15 shipping charge, but to skip the aggravation of the hunt seemed like a worthwhile trade-off for me!

2022 has not started off that way. Well, it has and it hasn’t. The past few weeks have seen NECA post several products on their site as preorders to be delivered later this year, and some of those look pretty damn awesome. At the same time, they’ve also launched Haulathon – a “collector” event in coordination with Target that sees a lot of the first run of sought after items (as well as restocks of past items, so it’s not all bad) head to either Target’s stores, website, or both. And one of those exclusives is the two-pack of Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady. Or, is it Super Rocksteady and Mighty Bebop? The box and the episode title from which these two came say one thing, but Shredder and Krang say another in episode. I suppose it doesn’t matter as most just likely remember them as the robot versions of everyone’s favorite pair of dim-witted mutants.

Robot Rocksteady is packing a lot of heat.

Like a lot of characters from this era, Bebop and Rocksteady had toy versions that depicted them as robots, but they looked nothing like the characters from the show. For that reason, I consider these the first true depictions in classic for the robotic duo. They’ve been high on my own personal “Wants” list when it comes to this line for awhile, so I was thrilled to see the images leak online of the pair and even more thrilled to get them in-hand. Special thanks are reserved for a fellow local collector, @JoePoppingOn, who helped me in finding a set. Without his help, I’d still be on the hunt for these rad dudes.

These shoulder turrets are pretty cool, but sadly are non-articulated.

We’ve had three iterations of Bebop and Rocksteady from NECA at this point, but unlike those previous sets, these two are all new sculpts. There’s really nothing one can salvage from the other figures when trying to create the robot versions as they have an all-together different shape and the show made sure to put some kind of robot detailing on basically every surface. In addition to that, the two are pretty different from each other so NECA couldn’t even have them share too many parts. From what I can tell, the only parts shared between the two are the shoulders, biceps, hands, thighs, and lower leg. The forearms, torso, head, and feet are unique to each character and both feature extra additions like Rocksteady’s forearm mounted laser and Bebop’s shoulder guns. More importantly, they look just as they do in the show from the colors to the individual details. I love that Rocksteady appears to have a tape deck in his stomach while the Play and Stop buttons appear to be on Bebop’s belt. There’s little to no paint slop on my set and everything just looks terrific.

The parking meter will likely be the favorite accessory of many collectors who pick this set up.

These are big, chunky, boys that come in at around 6.5″ with Bebop’s mohawk and overall higher sitting head pushing him slightly beyond that. They basically articulate in the same manner as well. Both articulate at the head where they can swivel with some slight tilt. Rocksteady can look up pretty well, but Bebop not so well, and neither can really look down. Both have hinged jaws which work fine. At the shoulders are standard ball hinges, but both figures have stuff to maneuver around. For Bebop, it’s the shoulder pads which are connected to his vest. If you bring his arms up too quickly or forcefully you could risk popping them off so it’s best to be gentle. Rocksteady has these coils extending over his shoulders which creates a similar impediment, with more limitations on raising the arms out to the side. The biceps swivel and the double-jointed elbows work fine, as do the hands which swivel and feature a horizontal hinge. I’ll add that every joint is on these guys is tight, but not too tight, with none that I’d describe as loose. I did not have to heat up anything to get it working.

“What do you suppose this is for?” “I don’t know. Bowling?”

In the torso, we have the usual diaphragm joint. And as per usual with this line, it offers very little. With Bebop, he has a bandolier and a vest layered over it which makes it hard to get at. With Rocksteady, there’s really nothing in the way so you get good rotation there, but very little in terms of the ability to crunch forward and back. You also need to be mindful of the paint on his torso as I would hate to see anyone scratch it. Below the abdomen is a waist twist and below that is something we’ve all long been waiting for with a Bebop and Rocksteady set: ball-jointed hips! Yes, the old design which was a pin and ratchet combo is gone and these ball joints work great. They can’t do full splits, but the joint has solid tolerance and you get a thigh twist out of it too. The knees are double-jointed, and at the ankles we get a hinge and rocker which work great. The boxy design of their feet also makes standing these guys pretty painless, which is necessary because a lot of the accents on their sculpts (in particular Rocksteady) are made of hard plastic and likely wouldn’t handle a shelf dive too well. Overall, the pair don’t articulate all that well, but that’s par for the course with this line which prioritizes the aesthetics of the figure over pose-ability. I’d argue they have enough, but your mileage may vary.

More handheld gizmos to add to the collection.

In true NECA fashion we also get a generous assortment of “stuff” with this pair. There are two sets of the following styles of hands: fists, open hands, and gripping hands. For the gripping hands, the left hand is a standard “C” grip while the right hand has a trigger finger grip. A small nitpick for me is I wish we got a left and right trigger hand just to make the two look different, but it’s a minor complaint. We also get two new guns: a long rifle machine gun and a shorter machine gun with drill tip. They’re all new and are basically chunkier versions of the other guns we’ve seen for the duo. I love the sculpting on both of them, especially the long rifle, which has a scope and sight at the end. There’s also a busted parking meter for one to smash turtles with, and a pair of cartoon specific accessories to round things out. There’s the polarity deflector from “Return of the Technodrome”, and a cartoony, round, bomb with red and yellow wires sculpted on. Surprisingly, the bomb is here and not the Mezmerizer, which is a similar item from the episode they’re in, but I always enjoy a good bomb accessory. It’s from the episode “Mister Ogg Goes to Town,” Mister Ogg being one of the few characters I have zero interest in NECA tackling. The weapons are painted, and the hands pretty stiff, so you do need to take care when wedging the items in there because there probably will be some paint rub. The open hands are suitable for holding both the polarity thing and bomb, the latter of which has a flat, bottom, so it sits just fine on a surface. I personally wouldn’t try to get them to hold the polarity deflector with their gripping hands as I’m pretty sure that will lead to paint rub, but it’s your call. As always, if you’re nervous about it just run the hand under hot tap water for a few seconds and that should make them more pliable.

“At last! I have henchmen worthy of my stature!”

These guys are just great. They both look fine right out of the box as Rocksteady has his forearm blaster and a pair of guns on his shoulders as well. If I have a minor critique, it’s that those two guns on his back aren’t articulated at all as it would have been neat if they were on ball joints. Bebop also has his two “stock” guns in his shoulder pads, but they appear more decorative than anything as I can’t imagine it’s easy to aim a gun attached to the top of one’s shoulder. That’s what the accessories are for though and I’m torn on how to display them. I kind of wish I could just stick the parking meter into a slot on the street diorama, but sadly, there appears to be no way to do that.

“Hey, can you play this?”

These are good problems to have when it comes to toys, and this is a set that I hope all collectors have an easy time tracking down. Very few sets in this line have remained exclusive to Target stores, so once this Haulathon event is over there’s a reasonable chance that NECA makes them available directly through their store. It might be in the form of a preorder, so there would be a lengthy wait attached to it, but it’s better than not getting them. They were available on Target.com last Friday, but I assume by the time this goes live they will have sold out. The set retails for $60 too, which is becoming the standard for two-packs in this line that feature a lot of new sculpting that won’t likely translate to other figures. For now, we only have the hunt so keep an eye on your local Targets and coordinate with other collectors out there. Together, we can beat the scalpers!

Here’s a photo dump to end on:

“I don’t see what’s so great about this guy? He doesn’t even have a TV!”
“You call that a mohawk?”
“Well, at least it isn’t the meter maid.”
“Foul robot! Prepare to be destroyed!”

We Need to Talk About this X-Men Toy Line

As a kid, I was introduced to the X-Men without even knowing it. Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends was airing in my region and it was a show I watched when I could. That show featured Spider-Man (naturally) alongside Firestar, a new character created for the show, and Iceman. I had no idea Iceman was a member of the X-Men, or even what the X-Men were, and I wouldn’t for years after. I barely knew anyone from the Marvel Universe as outside of that show I basically saw Spider-Man PSAs and that Marvel Productions tag that would roll at the end of shows like Muppet Babies. Captain America? Wolverine? Iron Man? Totally off of my radar. Actually, the only other character I knew was the Hulk due to his television show.

In the early 90s that obviously changed. I was properly introduced to the X-Men via the inaugural line of action figures from Toy Biz. Despite not having a television show to cross-promote with, Toy Biz released the first wave of figures in 1991 complete with advertisements during the shows I watched. That’s how I learned who Wolverine and Cyclops were alongside Storm, Nightcrawler, Magneto and others. My friend from down the street loved the line, and at first that’s how I experienced the toys, but once the cartoon series launched in 1992 I too was hooked.

That show was X-Men and it was a ratings hit in 1993 when it was properly launched following “sneak peaks” in the fall of ’92. Once the show got its claws in me I was hooked and ready to turn aside the likes of Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. X-Men became my life, and even though I also got comics and trading cards featuring my favorite mutants, it was always the cartoon series that was my first love and primary method of interacting with the brand (aside from the toys, of which I had many). As my passion for collecting action figures has reignited over the past five years or so, a dedicated line of toys based on that show has become my grail line, of sorts. It was on my mind so much that I had to get it out in this space, and despite not being an avid collector of Hasbro figures, I always kept tabs on the company and anytime a question was asked of the community about what they wanted next, I was always there to tell them.

Aside from the odd choice of shading the figure that gold or mustard color, Wolverine looks fine.

With 2022 marking the show’s 30th anniversary, it has long been in my sights as the most logical time for such a toy line to come around. And sure enough, last fall Hasbro confirmed it was indeed heading to the animated universe when it announced a new line of toys based on the show starting with Wolverine and Jubilee. Since then, we’ve seen reveals of Mr. Sinister, Storm, and Jean Grey with Wolverine and Sinister starting to make their way into the hands of collectors in the UK. Presumably, their arrival in the US is imminent, but before I even have these long sought toys in hand I’m feeling a bit letdown by this whole thing.

Hasbro is one of the biggest toy producers in the world. The company produces mass market toys sold all over the place and often at a fairly affordable price relative to other goods in that space. They have tremendous negotiating power with the likes of Target and Walmart and even own their own factories so they’re far more insulated against some of the challenges faced by smaller outfits dealing in the same type of goods. For awhile, their Marvel Legends and Star Wars: The Black Series have been consistently good at a relatively low price. While a figure from NECA might cost you 30 bucks, a figure from Hasbro would sit at $20. Over the last year though, things have changed and prices have gone up. Now that same NECA figure is around $37 while Hasbro’s is $25. And when it comes to the new X-Men line, we’re talking $28. And while the gap still remains around 10 bucks, the NECA figures continue to come with loads of accessories and are often uncompromised when it comes to necessary tooling, while Hasbro has gone in the other direction. Fewer accessories, fewer paint apps, and more reuse have made Marvel Legends no longer the value it once was.

Hasbro saw fit to sculpt new hair for Storm, but kept a face that doesn’t match the show.

With the animated X-Men line, Hasbro is targeting a rather specific audience. It’s one that experienced the show as a kid 30 years ago and is an adult collector now. In truth, almost every action figure line Hasbro produces is consumed by more adults than children, but with this line Hasbro can’t even pretend like it’s aiming to attract children. It’s being sold exclusively through Hasbro’s own online store, Hasbro Pulse, and will eventually be sold on Disney’s website and maybe at some of their physical stores. It’s simply a line meant to appeal to collectors, and since they’re promising figures based on the show, you would think accuracy would be important, no?

Apparently that’s a foolish assumption as it appears Hasbro is looking to cut corners wherever it can. When the line was announced, it became obvious right from the start that Hasbro would be re-releasing some older figures with cel-shading paint apps to mimic the show. The encouraging part though was some of the little details. Wolverine had two, newly sculpted heads that better reflected his appearance on the show. He also came with a little picture frame from the episode “Captive Hearts” that is quite popular in the online meme community. These figures may not be on the level of high grade imports, but at least the love was there (aww). Jubilee, on the other hand, looked almost nothing like her show counterpart aside from her gloves being color-corrected. She was coming with effects parts that looked nothing like her fireworks, but it was Jubilee, a character I’m not particularly fond of, so I could overlook it.

The face is wrong, the hair is wrong, and even that orange they used for her costume looks off. They literally just needed to give her a new head and match the cartoon colors, but weren’t willing to even go that far.

The reveals to follow have been uneven, at best. Sinister is an almost straight repaint of the previously released Marvel Legends figure. He looks fine, and Hasbro fixed his neck by making it bare instead of featuring the riveted costume, and applied a good paint job. He has zero accessories though, which is beyond cheap at this price point. Storm followed and, again, she’s mostly a repaint. She gets a new hair sculpt that looks okay in some stills, but her complexion is wrong, her costume is wrong, and she has a lighting effect, but no white-out eyes to pair with it. It’s just all wrong if it wants to be what it claims to be. Jean Grey is the latest reveal, and once again, Hasbro is just repackaging an older figure. For this one, they seemed to even instruct artist Dan Vessenmeyer to model the artwork on the inaccurate figure. Or, they gave him shots of the figure and he just went with it. Either way, her hair is wrong, the coloring on her costume looks off, and they’re including a second, non pony tail head when it doesn’t even make sense to do so in the context of the cartoon. Yes, she went without a pony tail for the series finale, but her costume was also more yellow than the usual tan. And you may be wondering why I would complain about a bonus accessory, but it sucks to get a useless accessory when a more appropriate one could have been included like a powers effect piece or a Cerebro helmet. All things that would make sense for the character.

What it comes down to, is that I look at these solicitations so far and I just get the sense that whoever is in charge of this line has no real attachment to the source. Or, they’re being so severely restricted by corporate that it’s completely stifled their attempts at making the best figures they could. And that’s Hasbro, in a nutshell: they’re not interested in delivering the best possible product. They want to deliver an acceptable product at as cheap a cost as possible. And I get it to some degree, the Marvel license is probably expensive, but so is Star Wars. Their Star Wars output looks a million times better and is far more accurate than what’s being done with the X-Men. Clearly, they value that line more, and I’m not saying they shouldn’t as Star Wars probably sells well. They’re going after a somewhat niche audience with this line, but I’d argue it’s not a tiny one. Literally millions of kids tuned into that show every Saturday, and I bet millions are still interested in it. What would it cost to do this line properly? If these figures had to be $35 to make that happen then so be it! I think collectors, generally speaking, will pay more if the product warrants it. We’ve seen prices go up this past year and spending habits don’t appear to be wildly affected by them. Everything has a limit, but Hasbro doesn’t appear interested in seeing what that is with this line.

Compare Hasbro’s Jean to what Diamond is doing and it becomes even more frustrating. I wish I could be happy with just collecting busts from this show.

It becomes even more frustrating when this X-Men line is compared to other lines based on 90s television properties. NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line strives to match the cartoon as much as possible and it looks great. And the actual figures in that line cost similar to what Hasbro is doing here, and they often feature unique tooling that’s not likely to be reused. DC Direct did a Batman: The Animated Series line that, while imperfect in some respects, at least looked like the source material. Even Hasbro has done better as their Into the Spider-Verse action figures looked terrific! I pondered on more than one occasion picking those up despite not really feeling an impulse to collect figures from the film just because they looked so good. Mondo’s sixth scale Wolverine looks great, and Diamond Select has a line of busts based on this show that look fantastic. If Hasbro didn’t want to do this line right they should licensed it out to Diamond because they clearly seem to have someone onboard who values this show more than anyone at Hasbro does.

When this line became a reality, I knew it wouldn’t be exactly what I wanted. How could it? I knew there were going to be compromises, and in some respects it’s gone as well as I thought it would because my expectations weren’t terribly high to begin with. Still, I’m bothered by it as I’m preordering all of these figures out of obligation rather than a desire to actually have them in my possession. Perhaps my enthusiasm will rise when I have them together on a shelf, but voicing criticism now is really my only weapon as a consumer. Again, I was happy with the initial Wolverine reveal. I think he should have represented the standard for the line: some parts reuse, new toon accurate head, and one accessory clearly inspired by the show. That’s all! That’s a pretty low bar, it should have been manageable, but Hasbro is fucking it up. That Wolverine isn’t perfect, but it’s good enough, and I’m not sure I can say that about the other four. I hate to prejudge anything I have yet to experience, but it’s hard not to in this case. Will my opinions change when I’m actually reviewing these toys for this blog? It’s possible, but right now, it does not seem very likely. What was a dream line for me, has turned into a joyless obligation and that’s not something I anticipated happening. Do better, Hasbro.


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball Super Goku Black – Super Saiyan Rosé

Wine enthusiast Goku has arrived.

Our last look at an S.H.Figuarts release was the Dragon Ball GT Super Saiyan 4 Goku. Now, we look at a figure from the series that effectively replaced GT: Dragon Ball Super. And perhaps the most popular villain from that new series is Goku Black. Without getting into spoiler territory, Goku Black is basically an evil Goku from an alternate timeline. It’s more complicated than that, but a big part of his saga is trying to figure out how he came into existence so I’ll refrain from elaborating. All you really need to know is he looks like Goku, which isn’t exactly new territory since we already have Bardock, who looks just like his son, and there was Turles from the Tree of Might who also looked like Goku, though he’s non-canon. Goku Black is actually worthy of looking like Goku and being the true doppelganger as he’s extremely powerful and also quite evil – the usual Dragon Ball enemy.

Goku Black is part of the series of S.H.Figuarts releases going to mass retail like Target. I had forgot about him until I came across him in store recently. I had seen this release on retail outlets online for the “budget” price of $35 and for some reason I didn’t make the connection to Target. This figure is a reissue, so that’s part of the reason why it can be priced so low relative to other SHF releases, and it omits some accessories (like effects parts) from that past release. The surprising part is that this figure is quite different from Goku. All of the Goku’s at this price point have basically been the same figure with a different deco: Goku, Kaioken Goku, SSGSS Goku, SS Goku. Goku Black basically only gets to recycle the hair and left hand from those figures. It’s possible parts of his body are shared with other releases (like Zamasu) that I just don’t have, so Bandai apparently got what it needed to out of the original tools and can put this guy out there for cheap. Still, I was surprised to see him head to Target before a more popular character, like Vegeta, but I wasn’t necessarily disappointed either.

Coming up with poses for this guy feels tricky without accessories.

This edition of Goku Black is in his Super Saiyan form, which he calls Super Saiyan Rosé since his aura is pink. The original release from 2018 came with extra heads and parts, but this one is just the super version. I always like to get the extra stuff, but I’d honestly never use the non-transformed head so I can’t really complain. The hair has that pearl finish we saw with the Super Saiyan Blue Goku and it is an attractive piece. It’s also the exact same mold as that previous Goku. That’s kind of it though as far as what he shares with that Goku as his left ear has an earring, so he gets new faceplates, and his right hand has a ring as well. For clothing, he wears a black bodysuit with a purple tunic over it. It’s not form-fitting like the body suits Vegeta is so fond of, so there are sculpted folds and wrinkles in the forearms and biceps as well as the pants. The torso is basically one piece, while the bottom of the tunic (including the belt) is an overlay. There’s a little shading on the front of the figure, but it’s fairly subtle. Most of the figure is molded plastic, but since the colors are deep and more muted than typical Dragon Ball costumes, it looks pretty nice. There’s no mis-matching colors and the little bits of painted details, like the jewelry and face, look nice.

What’s the matter, Black? Someone pee in your cereal?

There are two areas of the figure that don’t look great to me. The first is the shoulder area where Bandai is utilizing that peg system for the sleeve cuffs. This allows the arms to move unencumbered, but the sleeves do stupid things as a result and result in gaps. You can fiddle with them so that it looks okay in most poses, but it always felt unnecessary. The other part that doesn’t look great are the hips which flare out to an abnormal degree. His hips are wider than his shoulders which is pretty crazy and obviously not accurate to the source material. And it’s not the overlay causing the problem as that’s actually tight against his hips and thighs. It’s just a weird design.

Also, no flight stand included, but you probably could have guessed that.

When it comes to the articulation, we have some good and some not so good. The head is a double ball peg, though it might be of an odd design like we’ve seen on characters like Lunch and Kid Goku. It basically provides rotation, tilt, and together with the joint in the base of the neck allows the character to look down. He can’t really look up though as the cuff of his tunic blocks that, but I suppose Goku Black looks up to no one. At the shoulders we have those ugly sleeves, but aside from that the butterfly joint works fine as the shoulder can move up and down and he gets decent range going across the chest. The interior of the joint is painted properly too, unlike some of the Gokus we’ve seen. Biceps swivel, double-jointed elbow, and wrist peg all work as expected. Ball joints in the diaphragm and waist provide twist and tilt and also allows Black to crunch forward and bend back an acceptable amount. The hips, despite being ugly, at least function well as the character can do almost a full split and the thighs swivel. His double-jointed knees work very well, but it’s at the ankle where things kind of suck. He just has those ball-peg ankle joints which don’t provide a lot of range and are prone to popping off if you push it too far. He can bend the foot back okay, but he can’t really go forward and the ankle rocker sucks. The toe hinge is tight, but also really small and I don’t see it adding much.

Aww, they’re twins!

The articulation on this guy is largely acceptable. It’s really just those ankles that I don’t like and the sleeve system up by the shoulders. All of the joints are nice and tight without being overly tight. Nothing is loose, and despite being a cheaper release, this guy feels like a SHF release. Which means, as a budget release, his only true weak area is in the accessory department. This guy just has optional parts, so no effects pieces. It’s unfortunate because those pieces are already tooled, so for Bandai the only cost is plastic. I get it though, translucent, purple, plastic isn’t exactly usable on a lot of things so it probably costs more than most parts as the machines have to be loaded with the stuff and there’s probably a lot of waste involved. Nevertheless, I can still be disappointed. Black comes with four portraits: smirk, yell, side-eyed teeth grit, and a scowl. For hands, we get fist hands, open “clenchy” hands, martial arts pose, and one two-finger Instant Transmission right hand. The clenchy hands and martial arts ones have a slightly different shape when compared with Goku, but they’re fine. Each right hand has the ring sculpted and painted as well. It’s an adequate assortment of stuff, there’s just nothing to put it over the top.

In hand, Goku looks far more paler than Black, but the flash of the camera says otherwise.

The Super Saiyan Rosé form of Goku Black is a solid release made even better by the $35 price point. Marvel Legends comes with less stuff and are now hitting $25 or more at retail, so $35 for an average SHF release is practically a steal. And I think he looks, and feels, more premium than most of the Goku releases at that same dollar amount. I think that’s mostly a result of the color palette in use as that orange plastic we see with Goku has a cheap vibe. Even Black’s skin tone is more saturated and warm and all together just more pleasant to look at. While I miss the effects parts, I don’t miss them enough to want to pay the after market rate which is around $200 these days.

This guy is available at various specialty shops online and should be arriving at Target now. I grabbed him because, when he first came out, I was trying to stay away from collecting Dragon Ball Super, but now I regret passing on some of them. I mostly got this guy in hopes that Bandai will re-release the Dragon Ball Super version of Future Trunks as he would pair well. Hopefully that’s in the cards along with Super Saiyan Blue versions of Vegeta. And if not, Goku Black is still a worthy addition to my humble display.


S.H.Figuarts Dragon Ball GT Super Saiyan 4 Goku

Step into the (not so) grand tour!

In the world of Dragon Ball, there are varying opinions on which version of the anime is superior. Dragon Ball Z is unquestionably the most popular, but there are people (like me) out there who swear by the original Dragon Ball that came before it. More recently, Dragon Ball Super has entered the fray and it’s a worthy successor to DBZ that may or may not be finished. Really, what few debate is what occupies the lowest rung of the Dragon Ball ladder: Dragon Ball GT.

Dragon Ball GT first premiered in 1996 after the conclusion of DBZ. Series creator, artist, writer Akira Toriyama was finished with Goku and the gang, but he was more than willing to let Toei continue the story because presumably it was easy money for him. Over the years, a level of trust had been established between the two as Toei produced numerous Dragon Ball movies which were created in-house with Toriyama still on-hand to design new characters. The films were all non-canon, but GT would represent a chance for Toei to truly broaden the scope of Dragon Ball.

If the goal was to create something demonstrably different from the other Super Saiyan forms, well, then mission accomplished.

The results were mixed at best. Toei, seemingly recognizing that Goku had long surpassed his peers by the end of DBZ, redesigned everyone and gave Goku some new traveling buddies in his granddaughter Pan and the now adult Trunks. And perhaps to capture the adventuring spirit of the original Dragon Ball, Goku was turned back into a child and set out on a quest to collect the Black Star Dragon Balls. During his journey, he would unlock a new ability: Super Saiyan 4.

I like the painted details on the face, but I don’t know that we need the “butt” in the center of the forehead on a stoic expression like this one.

Back in Dragon Ball Z (or just Dragon Ball for the manga purists), Toriyama conceived a new level of power for Goku that caused a minor transformation in that his hair would turn blond and his eyes teal. This was the Super Saiyan transformation, and really, the series could have ended with Goku’s unlocking of this ability and toppling Frieza, but it didn’t. Goku needed to keep getting stronger, so what’s stronger than a Super Saiyan? Super Saiyan 2! By the time the story was concluded, Goku had advanced to Super Saiyan 3. All three levels were fundamentally the same, except the shape of Goku’s hair changed with the third level being the most dramatic in that his hair was several feet long. Also, he lost his eyebrows for some reason. It’s not surprising there wasn’t a ton of imagination in these transformations. With the original, Toriyama has joked that he mostly designed it the way that he did so that he no longer had to color in Goku’s hair since the manga was in black and white and yellow hair would just be white.

For Super Saiyan 4, Toriyama decided to get creative. I’m not sure if Toei requested something different, or if this was Toriyama’s will, but Super Saiyan 4 definitely breaks the mold of other transformations. And being that most people aren’t really into Dragon Ball GT, it’s become the show’s only lasting legacy as the look does seem to have its fans. There’s certainly enough fans that Bandai and Tamashii Nations decided to bring the look to the S.H.Figuarts line in time for the show’s 25th anniversary.

A McFarlane approved side eye portrait.

If you’ve never seen Super Saiyan 4 before, well, it’s certainly a trip. In an effort to bring the Saiyan race back to its primal roots, Super Saiyan 4 mixes the look of the classic Great Ape transformation with that of a humanoid Saiyan. For Goku, this means his body becomes coated in a hot pink fur (why that color, I have no idea) and his tail returns. His hair still gets demonstrably more wild, but remains black. The hallmark of the look from a hair perspective is the tufts of hair that rest on the character’s chest. His eyes are also rimmed with red and the iris becomes gold with black pupils. His disposition seems to shift as well with Goku becoming cocky, and even a touch sadistic. Goku loves fighting in the same manner as a kid loves playing any competitive sport, but Super Saiyan 4 Goku might actually enjoy dishing out pain. As a design, it’s certainly garish, but it’s so outlandish that it kind of works. I know when I first saw images of this form back in the 90s I found it shocking and absurd, but over time I have come to appreciate it for its uniqueness.

They were able to ditch the sloppy look of the butterfly joints on past Goku releases, but this could still use some fine-tuning.

Despite that, I’ve never considered myself a true fan of Super Saiyan 4. I wouldn’t say I’m indifferent, but it doesn’t bother me that the look has basically been rendered non-canon by Dragon Ball Super. It is interesting though and that’s why I’m hear to talk about the action figure. The Tamashii Nations take on the look is largely as expected. It does some things well, and some things not so well. It’s also the first figure in the line that I’ve purchased that was made at Bandai’s new factory in Vietnam. What does that mean for the figure? Well, anytime you have someone completely new to something get added to a process there’s going to be some growing pains, and this figure certainly seems to suffer a bit from such.

I guess the one on the right s now the true Super Saiyan 4? Or is it actually 5?

This primal take on Goku stands at about 5.25″ to the top of his visage and a tick over 6″ to the top of the hair putting him right in line with other Goku figures in the line. He comes in the same, familiar, window box with an assortment of parts and effects to make the figure feel complete. The default expression for Goku is a stoic one. There’s a little bit of paint on the face to highlight the creases in his brow and under his eye which is all applied cleanly and does add a lot to the figure’s expression. I’m not sure we need the center line in the forehead, as it’s not something that appears frequently in the artwork. It kind of gives him a “butthead,” but it’s something I’m getting used. It certainly isn’t needed on a stoic expression. The hair looks appropriately wild to the point where it can be hard to manipulate the head on this guy without pricking your finger.

Flight stand not included, but definitely useful.

Below the head we have a mix of colored plastic and painted parts. The neck is flesh-colored plastic, while the chest is painted. There is a slight different in the color of the flesh which is always a bummer. His chest also sticks way out, consistent with the character’s look in the show, but it makes his neck appear to sit pretty far inside the figure. It also doesn’t help that there’s a noticeable gap between neck and chest. The pink portions are colored plastic save for the little bit on the hands. There’s sculpted texture, and it looks fine. The paint around the flesh-colored portions of the chest is not the cleanest, but it’s not so bad that I’m convinced Bandai’s standard factory in China would have done any better. The belt is a floating piece of plastic and the mustard pants feature a hint of a wash on the front of the figure, nothing on the rear. The colored components seem to match just fine, and on the rear of the figure is the tail which features the same sculpted fur as the arms and torso.

Screaming head or smirking head? Tough call, but it’s one largely dependent on what you want to do with the neat effect piece.

Bandai did a good enough job here with the look of the figure that I think any Super Saiyan 4 fan out there will be pleased. The colors and proportions look right to me, and the mix of portraits are also quite suitable for this version of Goku. In addition to the default expression, we have three more: smirk, side-eyed teeth gritting, and yelling. All feature the same clean paint apps and the selection is so good that it’s hard to settle on one. The bangs on Goku pop off to access the face plate, and one of my nitpicks with this guy is the hair doesn’t sit flush on the top of the head cleanly. I find myself constantly fiddling with it to get it to look as best it can. It’s not something that will be noticeable on a shelf, but in-hand it does become apparent. The fit is also loose, and I had the face or hair fall off when swapping hands. Goku also has an assortment of hands to utilize including fists, martial arts pose hands, wide open palms, two finger hands, Kamehameha hands, and Kamehameha hands with pegs. The pegged hands are for use with the energy effect, something we rarely get. It’s a translucent pink ball with 6 rods that can be inserted into it. It then pegs into one of Goku’s hands and looks pretty rad. I can’t imagine many collectors declining to utilize it in their display. Uncharacteristic of this line, I found the hands actually difficult to swap. Pulling them off of the figure is easy enough, but getting them on is a pain. Is this just a result of the new factory not being used to this sort of thing? It feels like it because I’ve never had to heat a figure from this line before, but for some of these hands I opted to.

A nice touch here is that the figure features a sculpted rip in his pants for the newly sprouted tail.

The other area where things feel a little off is with the articulation. This edition of Goku has basically all of the points of articulation one expects, but the engineering could have used a little more quality control in a few places. Most notably, it starts at the head. The figure really can’t look up, but that’s because of the hair. To make up for this, the two large strands on the back of his head are actually articulated, as are the two that hang over the chest. He can look down and that’s easy because his head is pretty floppy. It’s not so bad that he can’t hold a pose, but just a little pressure on the back of the head will send his chin diving into his throat. The base of the neck is articulated, but I can’t really get it to do anything which is unfortunate since it has that gap in it. At the shoulders, we have a modified butterfly joint with a newer ball peg and hinge setup. This gets rid of some of those floating pieces, but also leads to more gapping issues. I think this joint would look great on a standard Goku, but a shirtless one isn’t optimal. There’s also that flesh-colored paint to be mindful of as you don’t want the paint to rub off. He also has a biceps swivel, a double-jointed elbow that bends past 90 degrees, and ball-pegs at the hands. In the torso, we have ball joints in the abdomen and waist so he can rotate and pivot with a decent crunch forward and back. Again, watch the paint on the abs as you don’t want that to scratch. At the hips, he has legs that can do full splits and kick forward, but the sculpted butt cheeks prevent him from kicking backwards. There’s a thigh twist, double-jointed knees, and the standard ankle ball-joint. The range at the ankle is poor, and the toe hinge is too loose to really add anything. The ankle itself is also loose and standing him can be more tricky than typical of this line. The knee joints are fine, but in a first for me with this line, I had the knee cap pop off when bending it. It just tabs on, but it’s going to be annoying if it keeps doing that. He also has a ball joint where his tail meets his body. There are no other joints in the tail so it’s posing is limited, but I’d rather that than a bunch of ugly ball joints throughout.

“Don’t you dare talk shit about me and my series!”

The articulation, overall, is fine it’s not the usual “feel” I’m used to with this line. Some parts feel a little rougher than usual (the shoulders) and others are too loose for my liking. It’s understandable given the circumstances, and the move to the factory probably helped keep the price down as he’s $60, but a part of me wishes they handed them some lesser characters first before going right into such a unique look. Aside from that, the weight and overall feel is still excellent and this is certainly worthy of the S.H.Figuarts branding. Just the added paint on the face makes him look a lot nicer than the Super Saiyan Blue Goku I have and I do like the removal of some of the floating pieces in the shoulders and hips. If they didn’t stamp it right on the box where this thing was made few would likely question it. And I think this factory will get better, in time. Supposedly, the final form Cooler came out of the Vietnam factory and turned out great, so maybe they already have things mostly figured out.

As for Super Saiyan 4 Goku, this is a rather bizarre and unique look for character made even more so by the dismissal of Dragon Ball GT in favor of Dragon Ball Super. The series was never really canon to begin with, but since Toriyama designed the Super Saiyan 4 look most treated that part as canon. And maybe it will be again some day, or some variation on it, but for now we have the various Super Saiyan God forms. I don’t expect Bandai to go to the GT well too frequently in the future, though I suspect we’ll be seeing Vegeta in his Super Saiyan 4 form eventually and maybe even Gogeta. It helps that some of these parts can be reused for both figures, namely the arms, and it’s a subline that can trickle out and won’t command a ton of resources. As a weird little footnote in my Dragon Ball collection, I like this guy. I was going to pass on it eventually, but decided to give-in to curiosity. And it turned out to be $60 well spent.


Another Chapter Has Closed on Bucky O’Hare

So long, friends.

It was a little over two weeks ago on February 27th that toy maker Boss Fight Studio made an expected, but still disappointing, announcement that it no longer held the license for Bucky O’Hare. This came after more than a year of no updates on the status of the action figure line so the writing wasn’t just written on the wall, it was smashed into it. The last figure released was Captain Mimi LaFloo, a brand new character as far as toys are concerned, which was back in the fall of 2020.

The end of Boss Fight Studio’s excellent line of action figures based on Bucky O’Hare is, of course, a sad event. And I was certainly disappointed to hear the news, though part of me was also happy the property was no longer in limbo. The sadness is tempered by what we have though. Before Boss Fight came along, Bucky O’Hare was a dead property. There had been no new toys since the early 90s and the cartoon and comic were all long since ended as well. About the only thing even released over the decades was a trade paperback in digest form compiling the original run of comics and some of the Italian run, basically the stuff that aligned with the animated series. Continuity Comics and its owner Neal Adams made attempts at reviving the property via a commissioned CG pilot and a short-lived licensing deal with the now dead Shocker Toys, but no one was interested. No one except Boss Fight Studio.

I don’t know why the line came to an end. Boss Fight Studio is a bit tight-lipped on the developments, but have insisted from the beginning it was not sales related. The “non” updates over the past year all cited Continuity Comics as being really busy at the moment and that was apparently an obstacle. I have no inside information beyond what has been shared by the company and I certainly understand them not wanting to throw shade at the licensor. My totally unfounded guess is that Continuity was hopeful this line might lead to bigger things for Bucky O’Hare, and when that didn’t happen it lost interest. For what it’s worth, Adams expressed great enthusiasm for those initial figures released when asked about them at conventions so I think he, personally, was happy with the end product. Maybe he, and the company as a whole, just expected more of a windfall and when that didn’t happen it no longer made sense to devote any time and energy to a toy line. When Bucky last had a toyline, the going rate for an action figure was a mere 4 dollars so perhaps they thought Boss Fight’s pricing model ($35 per figure) was an issue. We did see Boss Fight show off prototypes for a line of mini figures that never came to be, perhaps that was the company trying to meet Continuity halfway, and when those weren’t pricing out well they just scrapped the whole thing.

Not getting Blinky definitely hurts.

Again, I don’t know anything so it’s all just speculation on my part. I do know that Continuity was hands-on and requested changes or revisions to every figure except Mimi, but I also don’t know if that’s irregular of a licensor. For me sitting here in front of my computer, I see the toy line as being easy money for Continuity. Nobody is getting rich here, but why not let a company like Boss Fight Studio just keep producing whatever it wants and be happy with that? Unless they actually are getting inquiries from other potential partners regarding Bucky O’Hare, it doesn’t make a lot of sense, but, I am an outsider and I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes at Continuity to make this line a reality. If anyone at either organization wants to share more, I’d love to know! Even if it’s off the record (you would be surprised how much off the record info I’ve received on unrelated topics just via having a little blog).

All of that being said, I do think it’s important to focus on what we did get. Boss Fight Studio produced 11 releases, 6 of which are unique sculpts or characters. Those releases are: Bucky (2 variants), Jenny (1 variant), Dead-Eye (1 variant), Toad Storm Trooper (1 variant), Bruiser, and Mimi. It basically shakes out to a handful of good guys and one villainous army builder for them to battle. It’s easy to focus on what’s missing: the rest of the crew (specifically Blinky), Toadborg, the Air Marshall, and the rest of the vintage characters released by Hasbro. And sure, I would have loved to add any of those characters. I really wanted to see what Boss Fight Studio could do with Toadborg and Al Negator and I was really hoping they would find a way to at least get us Blinky. That didn’t happen though, but I’m damn happy to have a fairly robust display even without those characters. I bought every release in the line, including 3 of each version of the Storm Toad, and I love them all. It’s hard to pick a favorite (and if you want my thoughts on them all, head over to the Bucky page), though if I had to I’d probably go with Dead-Eye just because a four-armed duck is pretty awesome.

That is a pretty righteous assortment of figures.

And that’s my main takeaway with this line: I’m happy it exists! These figures are awesome, and without Boss Fight Studio I’d have none. Nobody else wanted to do this, and it was really cool to see the license land with a small toy maker based in my home state of Massachusetts, no less. They did a great job with the figures they produced and it was obvious the company had an affection for the license. All things come to an end and it’s okay to be sad when they do, but it’s more important to be happy it happened at all. A sincere “Thank You” is in order for Boss Fight Studio for doing what no company had done in 25 years and what no company is likely to do anytime soon.


Hasbro MMPR x TMNT April O’Neil and Michelangelo

The end of the road…for now.

We have arrived at the last two-pack in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures from Hasbro and it’s that bodacious dude, Michelangelo, along with the ravishing reporter April O’Neil. There’s not going to be a whole lot to say about these figures at this point as, if you read last week’s review of Leonardo and Donatello, then you know that the turtles in this line are all essentially the same figure. And when it comes to April, she’s basically just a standard Lightning Collection pink ranger with some minor differences.

The two best Starburst flavors.

Michelangelo, like Donatello, has to assume a different preferred color and for him it’s yellow. This isn’t completely foreign to Mikey as the original arcade game had him as yellow instead of orange for some reason, and even the follow-up, Turtles in Time, kept the yellow buttons and joystick (though his character sprite was corrected to feature the orange pads and mask). Mikey is the standard turtle ranger body sharing more similarities with Raph due to both having a belt without a shoulder strap. His weapon slots on the belt are unique to him as is his helmet, which takes the form of the sabretooth tiger from MMPR. Mikey can actually claim to being the best looking ranger in this set since it’s very easy to paint white over yellow. He’s a very a bright yellow and the white paint on his gloves covers up the yellow plastic quite well. Unfortunately, the yellow diamonds on his boots are painted terribly because nothing can be perfect. He also has a red spec under the tiger nose on his helmet that I’ve been trying to scratch away. There’s also still a lack of paint, in particular with the helmet, but that’s par for the course with Hasbro. The lower part of the shell does stick out more with my figure. One could attribute that to Michelangelo’s almost exclusive all pizza diet, but it does look like the tab underneath the gold piece isn’t seated properly and it doesn’t seem to want to go in. It’s a minor imperfection, but an imperfection nonetheless. His articulation is exactly the same as his brothers, so I don’t feel a need to go over it a third time. It’s good though.

Not sure about that effect piece for Mikey.

For April, she is essentially just the pink Power Ranger with one obvious difference: no skirt piece. I don’t know why that was eliminated, but it appears to be consistent with the comic. I don’t mind as the skirt is just a restrictive piece when it comes to articulation and doesn’t really add much to the look of the character. In comparing her with my Lightning Collection Kimberly, I do notice a new helmet design. This one is noticeably taller and not nearly as long when viewing it from the side. I don’t know if this was a running change for the pink ranger figures or if it’s just more accurate to the source material for this comic. I am surprised that Hasbro would re-sculpt it though and I do think it’s more pleasing to look at. Otherwise, her shade of pink is also noticeably brighter. Her torso is still a darker shade of pink than the rest of the figure, but it’s less noticeable here and at least the limbs, diamonds, and the pink portion of the helmet look to be a similar shade of pink. The prior figure was all over the place and my pick for worst in the line, so at least if Hasbro is making me rebuy it, it looks better. The only thing that looks worse is the morpher on the belt as Hasbro omitted the silver paint, as it did for the turtles as well. Her articulation is the same as the previously released yellow and pink ranger so if you want a complete rundown check out that review.

It’s so hard to get April into a good bow pose.

The accessory loadout is also quite familiar here as both figures come with extra hands, an alternate portrait, weapons, and an effect piece. Unlike the last set, we do have some extra stuff which I’ll get to. First though, let’s talk about Mikey who has fists, gripping hands, and open hands. These are the same hands released in the other sets, only Mikey can actually benefit from the wide-fingered sai grip hands as his weapon can fit between the fingers. And his weapon is a mash-up of the power dagger and nunchaku. Basically, he has four daggers instead of two and they’re joined by a chain. The chain is sculpted plastic, which I’m kind of torn on. I like the look of real chain, but that sucks for posing and would look terrible in the combined blaster (not that these look much better). The plastic chain here though is just boring gray with no paint applied to even simulate steel. They’re also not very long so most classic, Mikey, two-handed poses are unachievable. I also wish the chains were bendy to the point that they held their shape for better swinging poses. There’s a purple effects piece that doesn’t look great because it’s hard to come up with a convincing swinging pose. Even the box art just kind of gave up and depicts Mikey just standing there with the piece dangling. It’s a good concept for a weapon, it’s just the execution that’s cheap. The dagger portions of each ‘chuk also key together which looks better on the combined weapon and when inserting them into his holsters. His weapons are the toughest to holster, though rather, getting them in isn’t too hard, but getting them out can be a pain. I feel like I’m going to break them every time so I’ll probably refrain from doing it too much.

Go Team Yellow!
Hasbro at least improved the coloring on the pink ranger body.

As for April, she comes with the weapons one would expect, plus some extra stuff. She has a pair of gripping hands out of the box, and strangely, Hasbro didn’t include Kimberly’s arrow nocking right hand which works much better with the included arrow than the standard gripping hand. She also has a left fist and right open, chop, hand. As for weapons, she has the same as Kimberly including the line’s only blade blaster. It has the white and red deco as opposed to the silver Kimberly’s came with, but is otherwise the same. The bow is now silver instead of white and the included arrow is a hot pink that basically matches her costume as opposed to Kimberly’s gray. She also has the translucent, pink, blast effect arrow that is slightly darker than Kimberly’s. Since this is April, to make her feel more like that character Hasbro included a stick microphone and camcorder. The mic has a white, triangular, box on it, but there’s no graphic for the station April works for so it looks kind of stupid. The camcorder is a shoulder-mounted design and it’s fine. It’s just black, molded, plastic and the only paint is on the lens. I get why she comes with this stuff, but I don’t know if I’ll actually use it. I’d definitely trade the microphone for a proper collapsed blade blaster she could holster, but that’s a criticism I have of the Lightning Collection as a whole.

That’s not an ugly portrait, but it doesn’t look like April.
This portrait, on the other hand…

Like the other figures, these two come with an unmasked portrait. Michelangelo’s is a wild, open-mouthed, expression that’s befitting of the character, but could use more paint. Hasbro painted his tongue and teeth, but left the rest of his inner mouth green which is a bit odd. Maybe it’s the expression, but this one looks especially goofy on the turtle body. As for April, it looks like Hasbro recycled the Evangeline Lily head from its MCU line for her and stuck a different hair sculpt on it. It doesn’t look bad, but it also doesn’t look anything like the character from the comic so I suppose that does make it kind of bad. It at least looks better on April’s body given she’s better proportioned, but I doubt I’ll use it since I plan to keep the turtles with their helmets on.

Mikey’s daggers peg into each other to at least keep them tidy on here (or when holstered), but they still look goofy.

As promised, I will mention the combining effect that’s available to all who collect the entire line. Just like with the standard Lightning Collection releases, the weapons can combine to form the giant, blaster, the Power Rangers are fond of using. The turtle version is mostly the same, and yet not as fun. The bow and power axe are exactly the same so they combine in the same manner. One of Raph’s sais slots into the top where the power sword goes, but it’s not as long as said sword so it doesn’t look quite as neat. Leo’s swords and Mikey’s dagger-chuks clip underneath the bow and this is where it starts to look dumb. Because Leo’s swords tab together to form a lance, only one actually has a hole on the bottom to resemble a gun barrel with the other having a plastic tab. Mikey’s chuks apparently go in chain forward which just looks ridiculous. I mean, the whole thing is supposed to look ridiculous by nature, but this takes it further with the weapons appearing to not even be able to fire. If the chains could detach on at least one set of the ‘chuks that would be fine, but Hasbro didn’t want to go that route. This could also be comic accurate, for all I know, and if so then this is a criticism of the design and not the toy. It’s still a fun novelty, but it’s not as neat looking as the MMPR version.

Group shot!

That’s it though. Again, if you have enjoyed the prior two-packs then you’ll like this one. This might be my least favorite of the three though as Mikey’s weapons aren’t as fun to mess around with and April is just a basic Power Ranger, with an odd, unmasked, head sculpt. I’m at least relieved to see that Hasbro made some improvements to the Kimberly figure I was so down on, but it also could have been improved further given her torso is still an odd color. Hasbro also did a comic shaded variant of the pink ranger which might have made more sense for this line, though she would have clashed with the other releases so I get why they didn’t go that route.

Lets bring Tommy in.

This may be the last of the two-packs for this line, but it’s not the last release. That honor falls to Shredder as the green ranger. I haven’t been able to get my hands on that one yet, but rest assured, when I do I’ll be back to tell you all about it.

And now with the OG team. Billy’s back there, I swear.

Hasbro Power Rangers x TMNT Donatello and Leonardo

Donatello and Leonardo are here to join the team.

It’s been a minute, but we’re back with another two-pack from Hasbro’s Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures. If you’re unfamiliar, this series is born from the Boom! comics crossover in which the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers meet the turtles and somehow their powers end up getting handed over to them. I haven’t read the story, so I don’t know why any of that took place, but it did lead to some cool character designs and that’s why we’re here.

The first set I received was the Raphael and Tommy Oliver two-pack which was my introduction to this morphed turtle character sculpt. Because of that, this set is pretty damn familiar because, like many TMNT toy lines, the sculpt for each turtle is essentially the same. The only differences separating the turtles in this line are the unique, unmasked, head sculpts and the belts and weapons. And the other major difference is just the color scheme. With this set, Leonardo is logically the blue ranger, but since there is no purple ranger, Donatello had to take the black. It might have been kind of fun if the black ranger simply became the purple ranger in the hands of Donatello, but this is fine and I don’t fault Boom! for sticking with the traditional colors for MMPR.

It’s morphin’ time…dudes!

If you read my review of Raph and Tommy, then you know that I generally like this ranger turtle sculpt. It’s chunky and embodies enough of what makes the turtles unique while also mixing it with the classic MMPR look. For turtle fans, the biggest change from what we’re accustomed to is in the scale and proportions. These guys are big when the turtles are traditionally on the shorter side. They make Tommy look like a chump as they’re about the same height (six inches), but far more muscular. April, who is in the other two-pack I haven’t reviewed, is a little shorter than the turtles this time. The other big change is in the proportions as it relates to the head. The turtles usually have pretty big domes relative to their body, but here they’re much smaller and closer to more human proportions. It’s not something that I really notice with the masked heads, but swap to the unmasked ones and the contrast becomes obvious. Hasbro has to go off of the art, but I do think they could have gone a little bigger. Aside from that, the sculpt is fine and captures the fun mash-up this crossover embodies.

Both turtles get alternate methods of utilizing their weapons. For Leo, that means his swords combine, but for Donnie he just has a separate, standard, power axe.

Leonardo and Donatello, as mentioned before, are the same as Raphael. The only difference is they feature the chest strap on their belt (just like the vintage toys) which contains the center diamond. On Raph, that diamond is glued into the chest, but on Leo and Don it just pegs in as part of the belt and can be pulled off. Leonardo’s belt crosses over his left shoulder while Donnie’s comes over his right. The insignia on the morpher is unique to each turtle: triceratops for Leo and mastodon for Don. The holster on the rear of the belt is also unique as it’s catered to the weapon of choice for each turtle. Donnie’s is interesting because we’re accustomed to companies making a tube on his back, but Hasbro chose to do the same, but with a slit through the side. Instead of jamming the staff portion of his weapon through one end and out the other, you can just push it in through the slit which is made of a soft plastic. It doesn’t look as neat, but it is easy and there would be less of a chance of paint rub with this design, though his weapon isn’t painted on the staff portion.

If you want, they can go mask-less, though I don’t know how many would want to do that.

The body of each turtle is essentially three colors: white, gold, and the primary color. Hasbro is able to engineer these guys in a way that allows them to use mostly colored, unpainted, plastic. The only paint appears to be the gold bands on the arms, the white on the forearms, and the diamonds on the gloves and boots. On Donatello, the white isn’t really opaque enough on the forearms so the black plastic shows through a bit. It contrasts with the white plastic hands which have a slight off-white hue. By contrast, the boots are quite clean, but that’s because Hasbro was able to do them in white plastic. Oddly, the knees and elbows are an ever so slightly different shade of black. Since they’re a joiner for the articulation it could be they’re a different type of plastic. It was more noticeable on Raph, but with Don it’s probably only apparent to me because I’m looking for it. On Leo, it’s slightly more uniform than Raph, with the exception of his left knee which looks darker than the rest. His forearms at least look a little better, but there’s more paint slop in general on him than Don as well as mold release imperfections on his limbs.

Weapon storage!

On the helmets, we have a little more going on. There we get some silver for the mouth guard and some of the features like the triceratops horns and mastodon tusks. Maybe it’s the shape of the turtle head, but Leo’s helmet comes across a little plain. He still has the black visor with red eyes inside as well as the yellow triceratops eyes on the side, but it feels like there could be a little more going on here. It could also be just the shiny, blue, plastic which gives off a cheap look. Donatello’s helmet is a bit better as the mastodon design has more linework. None of it is painted though so it’s not as striking as the black ranger figure from the Lightning Collection nor does it look like the art on the packaging. The silver paint on his mouth guard also isn’t as clean. Both come with an unmasked option which look okay. The design for these turtles is a bit more froggy than I personally like, and the heads look really small on the body. Leo gets a stoic expression while Don has a traditional turtle mouth and features goggles and a skull cap instead of the standard mask. I’ll probably never use these heads in my display, but I like that Hasbro gives collectors options.

There’s a very different approach to the shade of blue used when it comes to Leo vs Billy.

On the accessory front, we have weapons, effects, and hands. Like Raph, Leo and Don each come with a set of gripping hands, fists, and open hands. The gripping hands are the same from turtle to turtle so they have a vertical hinge and a wide gap between the fingers to accommodate Raph’s sai grip. That’s not really useful for the other turtles, and the grip isn’t perfect for Leo which is on the loose side. I love the vertical hinge, though I wish Hasbro had cut out a bit more room for it as there isn’t a ton of range there. For weapons, the blue ranger’s lance has been split into two, short, swords. They can connect like the lance to form basically a really dangerous looking weapon, but I suspect most will have Leo dual wield swords, per usual. Donatello gets two versions of the power axe. One is basically the standard axe, only the quality is less than what was released previously as it’s very soft and gummy and I had a hard time getting the “pump” action to work. Trying to move it just caused the entire barrel to bend, but some hot water freed it up, though it’s still not a smooth action. He also has a pole axe version which is what fits into his belt. It’s kind of neat, though the paint job on it isn’t terrific. The bulky turtle hands also don’t grip the standard axe very well in a firing pose. They also each get an effect part. Donatello has a green, flame, effect while Leonardo has a blue lightning effect that’s very similar to what the blue ranger came with. I don’t know if I’ll use either, but I’d rather have them than not. And there isn’t really anything missing, just shortcuts taken to keep costs down that harm the figures in a mild fashion. I’d rather have better gripping hands than what was packaged with Raph, but it’s more of a nitpick than a true criticism.

The power axe mold is unchanged from the black ranger release, just the paint and overall quality is different, which means the blast effect from the prior release works with this one as well.

The articulation for both turtles is the same as what we saw with Raph, which is mostly very good. The pin-less engineering on the double knees and elbows works very well as they look nice and the range is better than 90 degrees in both places. The range in the ankle pivots helps to make standing them fairly easy, though the shell does add weight to the rear of the figure making it a little tricky to do just a standard, vanilla, upright pose. They have articulation in the torso, but the shell limits it to basically just a waist twist. Hasbro did cut the bottom of the front of the shell in two to better facilitate this. The joints are all pretty tight, but not to the point where I needed to heat anything. The only joints that don’t really work are the butterfly joints in the shoulders. There’s just no clearance because of the shell on both sides, so I don’t know why it’s here. Even with that limitation, these are some of the most dynamic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ever produced, probably surpassed only by the S.H.Figuarts versions. Obviously, the costume makes these almost a completely different animal in terms of aesthetics, but I can see why some people are interested in seeing what Hasbro would do with a proper line of TMNT figures.

For a ninja, balance is key.

Reviewing this set is pretty easy after having reviewed the Raph and Tommy set. If you liked what you saw there, then you’ll be pleased with what’s present here. Hasbro does skimp on the paint, but the sculpts are interesting and the figures are pretty well engineered. It all comes down to style: do you like this mashup of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? If so, then you’ll enjoy what Hasbro has put together. I think these make for a fun display whether you’re more of a MMPR fan or a TMNT one, and if you happen to like both, well then this was practically made for you. And I do like how Leo and Don turned out especially. The black and gold color scheme just works, while I’ve always been partial to Leonardo. I like the lance/katana cross more than Raph’s sai/power sword combo (it helps that Leo’s weapons are painted better) and I definitely like the versatility of both weapons here. Even though this two-pack is essentially the same figure times two, I think I like it a little more than the Raph and Tommy set. Sorry Tommy, you’re just not nearly as interesting as a turtle in a Power Rangers costume. Check back next week when we take a look at the final two-pack in this series: Michelangelo and April O’Neil.

Come back next week and I’ll tell you all about how the weapons combine!

Let’s Rank the NECA Cartoon TMNT Figures…Again!

My oh my how the collection has grown!

It’s the first Turtle Tuesday in a little while that I don’t have some new TMNT review to post. Given that, I think it’s time to revisit the rankings I did last year for NECA’s toon line of action figures. This has become NECA’s most popular line, and while it has cooled a bit since last year, that also could just be due to better distribution making it easier for collectors to get their hands on these things. NECA has done preorders and direct sales going back to April of last year and it’s made a world of difference. And it’s a great thing to be able to simply enjoy this line for what it is and not be frustrated with how hard it can be to get some of these.

Last year, I had 21 distinct rankings for this list and now a little more than a year later it’s doubled! The amount of figures has actually more than doubled as we’ve seen some variants come out and some figures I’ll rank together (like the frogs and various Foot Soldiers). It was a very busy year for the line and it’s pretty damn impressive how many new releases made it out given the ongoing global shipping and factory issues.

Forty-two is a lot of figures to rank so let’s not waste any more time. Where a figure is a repeat from last year, I’ll include the prior ranking. The order for those older releases is largely the same, but there were some changes here and there as certain figures have fallen out of favor a bit, or I’ve gained new appreciation for. There are no rules here aside from this is how I feel right now in this moment. Some of these are rather fluid, though I feel pretty good about my number 1, and about my number 42…

April O’Neil (21) – She’s still in last place because her sculpt just isn’t great. She’s also still hard to get, but NECA is prepping an update for 2022 so stay tuned.

Krang (Bubble Walker)(20) – Also still in second to last place, just not a fun release, and not really one that could be. It’s very much limited by the design, and the walker itself looks fine, but has a cheap feel. It could have used real knee joints and ball-joints where the legs meet the “bubble.”

“Hello, I’m Kerma. I’ll trade you this lizard if you’ll come with me to my home planet and save it. And if not, I’ll just blow you up with this bomb!”

Kerma – Figure or accessory? He’s just enough of his own thing that I gave him a ranking. He looks great, but he doesn’t articulate much because he was released as an accessory. I do draw a distinction between him and Joey Eyeball though, who won’t be ranked.

Turtles (Style Guide)(19) – The original turtles are a bit dated and these ones are colored to resemble licensing artwork. You either like them, or you don’t. Still the only release I entirely passed on in this line.

Roadkill Rodney (18) – This one’s fine, but there’s not much to him. A perfect example of how just because something is ranked near the bottom of this list doesn’t mean it isn’t worth owning.

Cat April – The good news is the body on the previously released April looks fine, it’s just too small. Cat April recycles that body and includes a new head that’s better proportioned for said body. It’s April mutated as a cat though, so it has limited appeal, hence why it was supposed to be a convention exclusive. She also doesn’t stand well and there’s just something missing here.

It’s sort of weird to feel excited about getting the receptionist from a 30 year old cartoon, but here we are.

Irma – Similar to the Roadkill Rodney, this is a figure that looks good, but is limited by the design. In this case, it’s Irma’s skirt which basically makes her a glorified statue as her leg articulation is useless. The optional rat parts are kind of fun though.

Foot Soldier (All versions) (17) – The Foot have been released in standard and two separate battle damaged variants as well as a deluxe option in 2021. The deluxe one is probably the best as it has updated lower leg articulation and a ton of accessories (including the ability to create a new character, the Alpha Foot), but it does suffer a bit from loose hips syndrome. It’s a good all-purpose army builder though and gets the job done.

Burne – April’s blowhard boss, Burne is an essential character to the show who doesn’t exactly translate well to the world of action figures because there’s just not much for Burne to do besides stand there and look pissed. Or smug, depending on your mood. As a short, squat, guy he doesn’t articulate very well, but we needed a Burne in the line and he’s solid.

Fly away, mutant mosquito! Or was it actually alien?

Screwloose – Screwloose was just an accessory in the Playmates line, but NECA made him his own thing. He looks pretty good, but he essentially comes with no accessories (aside from a flight stand) and has limited articulation when compared with other small fries Baxter and Splinter. Fine, but unremarkable.

Vernon/Vernon 1.1 – Vernon received not one, but two figures in 2021! Both are the same sculpt aside from the portrait, though the convention exclusive Vernon had slightly modified colors. That one came with my favorite expression for the character, scared, but the two-pack version came with the mutated rat parts so it’s hard to choose a favorite here. I’m just glad to have both because now I can display rat Vernon and normal Vernon.

The Punk Frogs – Finally, all four frogs have been released in figure form! The vintage line famously only did two, and one of them did not look a thing like the cartoon version. These four are definitely toon accurate, but they have the worst ball-socket hips in the line with some barely able to stand because of how loose they are. NECA also only did two different expressions so they’re a bit boring. A case where NECA did the minimum and did that well, but skimped on any extra bells and whistles to make them special.

Mutagen Man is not my favorite figure in this line, but he is the most unique.

Mutagen Man – He’s certainly one of the most unique characters from the show and toyline, he’s just not one of the most fun to actually handle. He’s pretty limited, and my version of the figure has a hose that won’t stay inserted in the tank which drives me crazy. The head-swap trick is pretty ingenious though and I definitely like having this guy in my display.

Triceraton Infantry (16) – This guy was pretty solid when he came out, and he’s still pretty solid more than a year later. A good representation of the character in toon form. My only complaint is the lack of a hinged jaw which the other Triceratons received, but the grunt did not.

First Edition Turtles (15) – The original four. NECA nailed the coloring, the head-sculpts were a little iffy, but acceptable. The articulation is dated though and there’s no reason for the company to revisit them now that we have the new four-pack.

Zarax (14) – The Triceraton leader, as far as we know. He looks cool and has unique, bladed, weapons. I liked him when I got him, and I feel the same way about him then as I do now.

Zork (13) – Same as above, minus the blades, and green!

Slash (12) – The controversial toon design of Slash. He actually received a running change in 2021 swapping out that mediocre hip connection for the new ball-peg design and the new ankles. It’s a change that’s for the better, though not enough to seek out if you have the first one. I have always liked the goofy toon Slash so I like this guy. I wish he used a different body from the turtles as he should be chunkier, but he’s good as-is.

He may not have been the best Muckman released in 2021, but he’s still damn good.

Muckman and Joe Eyeball – Our first, true, deluxe figure on the list, Muckman is plenty good. No, his toon design isn’t as fun and crazy as the old toy, but that’s animation for you. This guy is still cool and his sculpt is pretty damn impressive. The only downers with Muckman is he’s very light on accessories considering the gun he comes with isn’t even his. Joe Eyeball is cool though, but what he really needed was some muck effects parts to hold since that’s how he attacked in the show. His chunky design also isn’t fun to pose so he basically just stands there on my shelf.

Wingnut – The Batman parody turned out pretty fun, but similar to Muckman, he’s a chunky guy who doesn’t pose well. The sculpt though, especially the little wings inside the big ones, is terrific. The only negative really is he has those weird double-elbows and basically every figure of him I’ve seen has a crappy paint job when it comes to the fangs. Still a fun figure though.

Granitor (10) – I was a bit high on the rock soldiers last year, maybe too high. Granitor is a good figure, though his utilizing the same body as Traag means his proportions are not toon accurate. This set was also light on accessories so it’s basically you either love the sculpt, or you don’t. I very much like it, I just like others more.

Ace Duck – Ace Duck in figure form is about as good as he can be. His articulation is solid, he has plenty of accessories, and NECA was wise to make the beak removable so he has more variety than most in this line. He’s just Ace Duck who isn’t one of my favorite characters and he was barely in the show so my affection is limited.

Let’s shred!

Mondo Gecko – A character I had a tremendous amount of affection for as a kid is Mondo Gecko. The skateboarding lizard was designed to be cool, and he mostly is. NECA’s version is also just fine: good sculpt, has skateboard, solid accessories. The paint is a little iffy as NECA did that annoying thing where it painted the joints after not casting them in the right color plastic, but that’s pretty much the only negative wit this guy aside from the sort of steep cost ($40). He does come with Kerma, and apparently it was the board that knocked the costs out of whack, so it is what it is.

Shredder (9) – Shredder is a great sculpt that’s just becoming a bit dated at this point. The articulation is not terrific, and there are some little inaccuracies here and there when compared with the toon. Still, I’m not sure it’s dated enough that we need a new Shredder. Some torso articulation and better legs would certainly improve the figure, but I don’t know if it would be enough to get me to buy a new one. Maybe if they tossed in a wired cape?

Casey Jones (11) – I was a little hard on Casey last year. He’s not without some issues as he has the painted joints eyesore and there’s a gummy quality to the plastic on him that I don’t like. On the other hand, he looks terrific, has a bunch of weapons, and poses reasonably well. If he could stand a bit better and didn’t have the painted joints issue, he’d rank higher for me. And maybe NECA will fix those problems because he’s due for a re-release. He and April are basically the only characters not to be re-released at this point and there are a bunch of collectors who are missing out.

Traag (7) – Traag succeeds much better than Granitor at matching the source material. He’s still lacking in accessories, but if you got Muckman then at least you picked up a new gun for him.

A worthwhile update for the flagship line. We can’t have the turtles be upstaged by all of these rogues, can we?

Turtles in Disguise – A four-pack of the turtles with new head-sculpts that can separate at the bandana to create multiple expressions, plus they have better leg articulation and a ton of extra stuff. Want the turtles to go full disguise with those creepy masks? Go for it. I still think the heads need some tweaking, they’re very wide, but the expressions are more faithful to the cartoon than what we had previously which felt more like Playmates homages. The only downside is the glossy finish on the figures which really stands out as basically every other release in the line has a matte appearance. NECA reissued the set with a matte paint job on the head pieces, but the some of the bodies still appear glossy, while some don’t. And since they come wearing their disguises, you basically have no idea what you’re getting until you open the set making it hard to commit to a repurchase.

Bunny Bebop and Rocksteady – I had no idea where to rank these guys. The Loot Crate figures are essentially the same, only one has a Bebop head and one a Rocksteady head. They came with some extra hands, Easter baskets, and a little remote weapon. I love them. The engineering on the legs is unfortunately no different from the regular Bebop and Rocksteady, but otherwise these look terrific. And they make me smile. Your mileage may vary, but I am very much charmed by this duo.

Splinter (8) – What can I say? NECA nailed Splinter. He looks fantastic. He’s not exactly a blast to pose, but I don’t care, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Leatherhead (4) – Leatherhead is great, I’m just less forgiving of this body now than I was in 2021. He has terrible hips and ankles and I do wish his head had more range. Otherwise, he looks the part and he doesn’t need to pose much to be fun as a result.

This is one expressive figure.

Pizza Monster – The giant pizza monster is a terrific sculpt with some poor quality control when it comes to the ankles. Many a collector has broken them, and one of mine even arrived broken in the box. It’s enough of an issue that I basically just leave them alone. It makes him harder to stand, and those hips are too loose, but get him in a good pose and he’s a lot of fun to look at.

Rocksteady (3) – Same as Leatherhead. Rocksteady looks fantastic and I love how NECA was able to give him a paunch. I do wish he had a removable helmet, but that’s about it. This is mostly just a reaction to the lousy lower half and fragile hips. Mine has not broken, but I know many have. What’s disappointing is that NECA has re-released he and Bebop, but has yet to replace the leg system.

Dirtbag – One of the star two-packs of 2021, Dirtbag is the preferred figure in the set of many, but I lean Groundchuck. Dirtbag looks every bit as awesome, his design is just more conventional. He does have the added perk of being able to separate at the torso to simulate him emerging from the ground, but his articulation is a bit limited particularly in the head area. Obviously, it’s not enough to really damage the experience considering how high I have him ranked.

These guys are like a traditional, wrestling, stable.

Krang (Android) (5) – The mighty Krang is mighty impressive. Really, the only shortcomings with this figure is the pose-ability. What can you really do with this design? He’s a top-heavy dude with tiny feet. I do kind of wish the ball and chain weapon had plastic, pre-posed, chains as they just don’t look great on the shelf. I’ve basically gone with a standard hand and one gun hand ever since I got him. Also, his entire body is painted and prone to chipping which makes handling him a bit stressful. Still, I think he’s as good as can be and is an essential release in the line.

Baxter (2) – Was I a bit generous with Baxter a year ago? He was very new, so maybe a recency bias was in play, though really it just came down to him looking like he should. Baxter in his fly form looks terrific, and he came with a bunch of stuff and NECA jammed a ton of articulation into that little body. I have no bad things to say about this figure, and I also always loved the character’s design.

Antrax – The executioner! And one of the newest, and greatest, figures in this line. His negatives can be summed as a lack of vertical gripping hands and a lack of just extra hands. Maybe you can nitpick the posing too, but otherwise, the sculpt and paint are fantastic and he has a bunch of weapons. The character design is fun, and the figure equals that. A homerun for NECA.

Trying not to overload this post with pictures, so we’ll let Dirtbag get in here too.

Groundchuck – With this one, I maybe letting my affection for the vintage toy play too great a role in my ranking, but I don’t care. It’s my list and I’ll rank ’em accordingly. He’s a terrific figure though and that design; bright red-orange, metal bits here and there, it’s just cool. Or it was cool to me as a kid, and I’m sticking with it. He’s got the ridiculous, personalized, cattle gun too and I just have fun posing him and looking at him.

Bebop (1) – Formerly my number 1, Bebop is exactly what I want him to be from a likeness perspective. It’s just all in that old engineering that made me rethink my ranking of him. Plus, 3 of the last 4 on my list are all newer releases so I really only moved one figure ahead of him. Fix those damn legs and he’s back in contention for number 1.

Rat King is here to torture poor Vernon.

Rat King – The sewer dweller was part of the first set released after my last ranking post and the fact that I still think this highly of him more than a year later is testament to how good he is. In short, his sculpt is perfect and the paint on my figure is exquisite. I love all of the stuff he comes with and just the presence he has on the shelf. The only negative with this guy is that crotch overlay which is prone to flaking. Newer versions of the figure supposedly corrected that, but I have been unable to confirm that for myself. If you got a good one out of the box, as in one that didn’t already chip, and you knew of the issue, then your figure is probably fine. It only happens when really flexing that piece. It limits the posing to a degree, but not as much as you think.

With a name like Metalhead how can I not love him?

Metalhead (6) – I don’t know why I had Metalhead at six when I think he’s damn near perfect. He looks the part, he’s big, and chunky, and has some fun accessories. He was the first deluxe release, and he’s still one of the best. I love this guy!

Who would have predicted that two of the best figures in this line would be a pair of one-off bugs?

Scumbug – Yeah, the moment I saw the solicitation for this one I knew I was going to be over the moon with him. Scumbug looks like an updated version of the Playmates toy with some richer colors and a slightly more chunky appearance. He is awesome, but if you don’t like the character’s design then you probably aren’t as high on him as I am. I loved the old toy, so I think he’s terrific. And he has enough stuff and articulation to make him the second best figure in the line. Who would have thought that was possible a year ago?!

This guy is just the best.

Chrome Dome – The biggest figure in the line is also the best. Chrome Dome is impressive. He’s huge, he’s well-articulated, and his paint applications are exactly what I want from this line. And to my surprise, NECA loaded him up with a bunch of extra hands and accessories and still managed to keep the price tag at 40 bucks. He’s not only the best figure in the line, he’s the best value in the line! I just think about some of the figures I’ve spent 50, 60, 100 bucks on that aren’t as impressive as Chrome Dome. NECA has a way of putting out exceptional figures at crazy prices. Maybe no one wants to hear that in the current climate of rapidly rising prices, but it’s the truth. Don’t sleep on Chrome Dome because it’s hard to imagine anyone being let down by this guy.


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