Tag Archives: 1/4 scale

NECA TMNT Quarter Scale Toon Donatello

Stop! Donnie time!

2022 has been a year of catch-up so far for me. A lot of stuff I preordered a year or more ago is finally coming due, and often without the actual preorder! The NECA quarter scale toon Donatello from the classic cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is yet another preorder that just didn’t get fulfilled and was cancelled because I found another avenue. Though in this case, it was my buddy Mikey (@JehutyZero) who found this Donatello just hanging around a calendar store. And to make it sweeter, he was 50% off! Now, that was 50% off of an up-charged price to begin with, but I was still able to get him for well below the MSRP of $125. If waiting a few extra months saved me around 50 bucks every time then I’d be happy do it, so thanks again to Mike!

Where there was one, there is now two.

The quarter scale line was NECA’s reintroduction to the TMNT brand. That’s how we first got to experience the figures based on the 1990 movie and I loved those, and still do. I wasn’t sure about the cartoon line when it was announced, but the callback to the old Playmates Giant Size turtles and just how nice Raphael looked is what got me to bite. And If you get one, you kind of need all of them, right? When Raph dropped, he was our first taste of NECA’s retooled cartoon turtle with the mix and match expressions and updated articulation. Now, that’s old news since that’s been done in the smaller scale, but I’m still eager to see where this subline goes.

“It’s a little me!” “It’s a bigger me!”

Like all of NECA’s TMNT figures, this one is pretty familiar because Donatello is essentially the same figure as Raphael. The only difference is the choice in color for the various pads and such and the belt which features a holster for his bo staff on the back and the big “D” belt buckle. And that’s fine, because the turtles all looked the same in the show. And it’s also fine, because that Raph figure is great! These guys weigh around three and a half pounds and stand pretty close to 15″ tall. They are impressive and demand attention no matter where they’re placed in a room. The paint apps are sharp and NECA does a great job of hiding the articulation so they have a very clean appearance. It’s a challenge to settle on a display pose and expression because no matter how you pose them, they look great.

This is a picture I couldn’t do with Raph since he came out before the Turtles in Disguise set.

With Donatello being largely the same as Raphael, he really can only separate himself via his accessories. NECA is apparently going to include two slices of pizza with each turtle. They key-in to each other so eventually you’ll be able to form an entire pie if you so desire. And Donnie comes with the box to store it in. The Vinnie’s Pizza box is made of paper, but it’s laminated so it’s not pitifully durable, though it would have been cool if it was plastic. Then again, at this scale the paper goods box does look a bit more authentic than a plastic one would. Another paper good is Donatello’s issue of Genius Quarterly. It’s just a piece of glossy paper with a crease down the center. It’s fine, but it’s so thin that it doesn’t really look much like a magazine. Donatello also comes with the same Turtlecom as Raph, which really opens and closes and is a lot of fun to just mess around with. And for hands he has three sets: gripping, open, and pointing. Of note, the gripping hands are the same as Raph’s with the wider finger placement. All of the hinges are horizontal though, which is a bummer as some vertical ones would have been nice (I’m guessing Leo will at least have those). And then there’s the trusty bo, which just like the smaller version, can separate in the middle which can help make it easier to get in and out of the holster. It’s fully painted and looks about as good as a stick wrapped in tape can look.

Enjoy it before Mikey gets here, boys.

Donatello also gets to separate himself with his expressions. Like Raph, Donny has two sets of eyes: normal and angry. Unlike Raph, he comes with three mouth expressions to mix and match with: a smile, neutral, and yell. Donatello can look serious, grim, surprised, angry, and frightened. And these are all interchangeable so if you wish you can use any with Raph or use Raph’s open mouthed smile with Don. The act of mixing them up can be a shore as the fit is rather tight. I had to heat them up to get them together, but I suppose it’s better than the too loose issue I had with Raph. As I said earlier, it’s hard to pick a favorite expression. Right now I’m going with a battle pose and giving Donnie an angry yell, but I may switch it to something more light-hearted eventually, perhaps incorporating the pizza more.

He moves much better down there.

Being that Donatello is the same figure as Raphael, the articulation is also the same. Or is it?! Well, yeah, it is, but with Donatello it works a little better. In my review for Raph, I stated there wasn’t a thigh swivel, even though it looked like there was one. Other reviewers noted the same, but credit to YouTuber Anthony’s Customs for getting me to revisit the subject when he insisted there’s a thigh swivel, it’s just stuck. I was prepared to break out the hair dryer with Donatello, but I actually didn’t need to. It seems NECA applied some extra lubricant to the thigh area this go-around, and while there’s still some tightness, I can confirm that thigh does twist. I still haven’t accomplished the same with Raph, but I probably will apply some heat and see what happens. It definitely helps in getting him to stand to have as much flexibility in the legs as possible. Everything else works pretty well. A lot of the joints are tight, but that’s because the figure is so heavy. I also love the double-jointed elbows and I really wish NECA could get those to work at the smaller scale. You get a solid 90 degree bend and the elbow pad hides the joint nicely.

It’s a simple enough thing, but those facial expressions really bring these figures to life.

This is just a very aesthetically pleasing release from NECA. Donatello is large and commanding, despite that not really being his nature. I feel compelled to get all four turtles, but really, just one of these guys has enough presence to tie together any TMNT display or to just be a one-off. The only downside is it can be hard to find room for a toy this large and that MSRP of $125 isn’t insignificant. I do think the value is solid for what you get, and the extra stuff that comes with Donatello really helps in that regard. Up next in this line is Leonardo, the best turtle, but when he’s coming is anyone’s guess. I think COVID really hit this line hard as the goal was to release all four in 2021, but that clearly didn’t happen. Hopefully 2022 is the year, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I’m curious what else we’ll see for accessories. Leo, given that he has two swords and probably requires different hands, might not have any surprises, but will NECA do a quarter scale turtle hook with Michelangelo?! That could be a lot of fun. Until then, Donatello and Raphael will jut have to hold down the fort until their brothers arrive.

Donnie, I have a hard time believing that magazine is going to sustain you until Leo arrives.

NECA Quarter Scale TMNT Toon Raph

There he goes, thinking he’s the best turtle once again.

My first NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles product was the original release of the Mirage Studios quartet released in 2008. Nearly a decade went by before I bought another TMNT product from NECA, and that item ended up being the quarter scale movie Donatello. It was love at first sight for me and Donnie, and I eagerly awaited the following three turtles to complete my display. Following those, I’ve stayed away from the quarter scale largely because it’s expensive and takes up a lot of space. Those figures are over a foot tall and are quite beefy and it’s just more convenient to collect at a smaller scale. When NECA first announced it was going to bring the cartoon turtles to the quarter scale, I initially wasn’t interested. What would I would do with more giant turtles? The first one on the release schedule was Raphael, and I kept my eye on it, but wasn’t really feeling the pull to go for it. Then the figure was delayed from the jam-packed Fall 2020 to Q1 2021 finally arriving when there’s little action in the toy world. Maybe that was the reason for my renewed interest as once I go several weeks to a month without a new toy I get anxious. Seeing reviews online was enough to do me in, and here I am with a quarter scale Raph.

Raph and all of his bigness.

When I say I had little interest in the figure when announced initially, I am mostly referring to Raphael. I did plan to get at least one quarter scale turtle because one of my favorite Christmas presents ever was the Playmates Giant Sized Leonardo. I loved that big-ass turtle and I marveled at the changes made in going from 4″ to 14″. The “pleather” belt, pupils in the eyes, ankle articulation – it all seemed awesome to me at the time, even if by today’s standards that’s still a pretty basic figure. The only negative with that toy was Playmates was too cheap to include two swords. I no longer have that guy, but he was immortalized in a clock my grandfather made for me that he based on that toy and I still have that to this very day. It’s in my son’s room now and if he ever breaks it he’s in some major trouble.

This is an action figure that comes with instructions!

I caved though, and now I have a big, beefy, toon, Raphael on my shelf. I was able to order him from Big Bad Toy Store, which has since sold out, so apparently there are a lot of folks out there who slept on this thing for awhile, only to change their mind once released. I did try to find him locally first, but no comic shops around me seemed to carry him which was a bummer. Even though this is a big figure, I was still taken aback by the sheer size of the box he arrived in. This figure is actually smaller than the movie figures, so I kind of had it in my head to expect small, but there’s just no making a quarter scale figure small.

You have to look at the underside of the box to find the other brothers.

Raphael comes in a window box done up in the same style as the Target releases. NECA originally wanted to do retro packaging, but couldn’t get permission from Playmates to make that happen (which possibly accounted for the delay). There’s some nice photography on the box though demonstrating the product. Hidden on the bottom of the box is the cross-sell with the other three turtles set for release (Donnie is next and should arrive over the summer) and a demonstration of the features of the figure. The main selling point, aside from the aesthetics of a giant turtle, resides in the head. These figures come with two heads, but each head can separate at the bandana to create up to four, distinct, expressions. Not all of the turtles will come with the same pair of mouths, so once all four are collected you should have quite a bit of variety for mixing and matching. It’s a great idea, and it’s one that is also being brought to the 6″ line next month with a deluxe four pack being sold exclusively at Target.

The bigness of this figure means you’re going to see all of my bar stuff in every shot.
Because I know you want to check out what he’s got going on out back.

Extricating Raph from his box requires some work. This is not collector friendly packaging, which is actually liberating to a degree as I didn’t mind destroying it and trashing it when done. Once removed, Raph stands roughly 14″ tall. If you have the series one Raph from the toon line sold at Target, then he should look fairly familiar. The color scheme is basically the same with that olive green skin-tone. NECA uses an even darker green on the backside of the figure and the same is done with the red of the bandana and various pads as you have a bright red on the front and a dark red on the back. There’s some black line work at play to really bring out that cell-shaded look and the shell is a soft brown, as it was in the show, and not deep green like some of the licensing art. The obvious major change is just in the expression on the head. Raph’s default look is that big, happy, open-mouthed, grin. The other head features angry eyes and a yelling mouth while the smaller version of the character has a more neutral expression with gritting teeth. I’ve always felt the headsculpts on the standard turtles from NECA were the weakest aspect of the figures as they’re just not very representative of the cartoon and this is a major improvement.

Gotta go with the angry head when the sais are out.
Unless there’s pizza involved, then happy is the way to go.
This big boy can move around a bit.

The figure may look like a larger version of the standard release, but it’s actually a little different. This turtle is actually packing more articulation than the old one, which was a bit of a surprise. The head is on a double barbell styled joint so it moves inside the head and inside the neck. The neck is also articulated so you get a pretty good range of motion out of the old noggin. The shoulders are still standard ball-hinges and there’s a biceps swivel past that. The elbows though are now double-jointed like his movie counterpart. Also like the movie figures though, the elbow pads limit just how useful those elbow joints are and you’re basically only going to get 90 degrees out of the joints, but it looks better than the smaller one which placed the elbow pad above the joint. And that pad doesn’t just float in the joint either, there’s actually a little ball-peg that it clips onto. I don’t think it’s something you have to necessarily worry about breaking, but maybe just be mindful of it. The wrists still swivel and possess horizontal hinges and the inner shell has some articulation points, but they don’t really function at all because of the shell. At the legs, we have ratchets to help this figure hold his pose since he is quite heavy. The legs can go out to a full split and kick forward pretty far. The front part of the shell is pretty soft so it doesn’t hinder the kick too much, but the rear shell will keep him from kicking back. The knees are double-jointed, but like the elbows, the kneepads will get in the way a bit. I could get past 90 though, so all in all it’s pretty good. There’s a slight swivel at the knee and the ankles have been redone. The smaller figures just had their feet on ball pegs, but now we have true hinges and rockers which is really needed for posing because this guy actually doesn’t have a thigh swivel. I’m pretty surprised by this omission, but I’m guessing it’s for stability reasons. He moves better than he has any right to, and best of all no stuck joints! The only tough ones were the knee joints, but I assume they’re tight for a reason as loose legs would kill this figure. His bandana knot is also now articulated with a hinge, which is cool.

All the stuff. Note I do not have the Turtlecom all the way opened.
Now that Turtlecom is fully opened!

This guy comes with quite a slew of accessories for mixing and matching. Some of these accessories are definitely going to be repeated with the other turtles, like the pair of pizza slices which actually snap together. I suspect once all four are out we’ll have a full pie. The hands are familiar to anyone with the smaller figure: two gripping hands, two pointing hands, and two thumb’s up hands. The gripping hands feature the wider gap between the fingers so Raph can hold his sai with the center blade between them. The pointing hands also function as stylized sai-holding hands, though they don’t fit as neatly as the movie sai and hands. Best of all, the hands are actually quite soft so it’s easy to put accessories in his hands and there’s little risk of paint rub. To go along with these hands, are Raph’s trusty sai which don’t look quite so huge in this scale as they do with the smaller figure. Raph still can’t holster them in a toon-accurate manner, but they fit under his arms when not in use. He also has a Turtlecom that actually opens and closes now. Getting it all the way opened requires a little tug that may seem scary the first time you do it. Once opened, the shell ends are very loose and floppy making it hard for it to hold its shape when actually placed in the figure’s hand. I still think the added gimmick of it actually opening and closing is worth having over the previous method of one static closed Turtlecom and one static open Turtlecom. Lastly, there’s the dripping slice of pizza with the hole through it for placing on Raph’s sai as he does in the original cartoon intro.

The pieces we have to work with.
And the peg they sit on. It’s pretty easy to get his head off, but at the cost of them not staying on very well. It’s definitely one of the hardest things to get right about an action figure with swapping parts.

Of course, we need to talk about that big selling point: the face swapping. Raph’s head comes off very easily, possibly too easily, which is needed to change-up those portraits. The bandana knot just pegs into the back of the head. It’s quite snug, so go easy with it. Separating the top of the head from the bottom isn’t too bad as you can hold it in one hand and push from the bottom inside the head to pop it apart. Once you do that with both heads, you can swap to create expressions. He basically has four: happy, angry, scared, and a sort of wicked expression that is easily my favorite (angry eyes plus the smile). Unfortunately, mixing and matching doesn’t work as well as I had hoped. The two default heads snap together fine, but trying to combine happy eyes and yell or angry eyes and smile does not work as well. The happy and yell combination, which creates a scared Raph, is super tight. It took a lot of effort and repeated attempts to finally get it to snap together. I probably should have got out the head gun, but I did eventually get the thing in place with pure muscle without damaging it. It might seem like an odd choice, but in some respects, this scared face feels the most authentic to me since the turtles do react in a surprised, concerned, and even frightened manner to all kinds of dangers in the show. I might have to go with this look for at least one turtle when all is said and done. The look I was most interested in for Raph, that wicked smile, has a worse issue. It’s too loose! The two pieces will click together, but just the slightest breeze will cause them to come apart. I’d get them together okay, but then once I put the head back on they’d fall apart. It’s frustrating, because the only remedy I can think of is to just glue the pieces together, but that defeats the purpose of the gimmick. Very carefully, I did manage to get the head on and even posed Raph on my shelf with this expression. It’s held, for now, but this doesn’t seem like the type of thing that’s going to get better with time, only worse. Right now, my hope is that one of the other brothers comes with a smiling mouth that works better with Raph’s eyes. It looks like I’ll have to wait awhile though as Donnie appears to come with the yell and a closed mouth, but Leo and Mikey are both shown with big smiles. And maybe once I have a bunch of these guys I’ll be more open to gluing one head together. I’ve seen other reviews that did not have the same complaint, so this could be unique to my set, but I really hope the other figures work better than this one as this is the main selling point of the line, as far as I’m concerned.

Well, that’s no good.
And that’s no better. He’s right to look scared!

The issues I ran into with the expressions definitely put a damper on my enthusiasm for this figure. I do enjoy that he has this big, nice, weighty feel to him and the quality seems to be there as well. As it should be since this figure retails for around $125. He’s shorter than the movie version, but actually feels more substantial. And this is an eye-catching piece with enough posing options that it should be pretty fun to assemble a squad of four. NECA is aiming to release one per quarter and get them all out in 2021. Donnie is next, and we don’t know who will follow him, but eventually I will have my Leonardo! I am also very much looking forward to that four pack and I hope it won’t be a huge chore to acquire it when it’s finally released because these new portraits just work so much better for the source material than the grim ones we got a few years ago.

I’m guessing folks want some comparisons.
Quarter scale Raph and puny, insignificant, Raph.

This bad boy appears to be selling quite well, so if you think this is something you’re going to want then you probably won’t want to wait too long. There will be no restocks, according to NECA, until all four brothers are released and I’m pretty sure they’re looking to do more movie quarter scale figures in 2022 so it could be awhile before Raph is readily available once again. And if you’ve been collecting NECA TMNT, you know how hot it is right now and how crazy the after market can get. The good news is that hot after market means if you buy this guy and decide you don’t have the room or just plain don’t like him you can probably get your money back without too much trouble by flipping him. I do like the look of Raph, and I think I’ll appreciate him even more when I get my toon setup all situated once NECA releases the cartoon diorama it solicited last year. There’s going to be a lot of turtle power added to my house this year.

He’s going to have to chill with the movie figures for now. Hopefully no slight breezes enter my basement to knock his head off.

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