We’re well into the cold of winter and spring feels like it’s just around the corner which means it must be time for another NECA Haulathon. Haulathon, if you don’t recall from last year, is basically a tandem promotion between NECA and Target which was just an excuse to get NECA some more visibility in store (and online) to sell a bunch of stuff to collectors. The tacky name certainly implies the two companies want a bit of a frenzy to be set-off that gets collectors storming into stores and ransacking the display leaving nothing but dust and empty shelves in their wake. Despite that feeling, it felt a bit more controlled in practice. Much of the stuff on sale had been made available via preorder months in advance so only a few items were actually brand new for TMNT collectors. That certainly helped, and when the promotion returned in the late summer it was done in pretty much the same fashion with only a handful of items being actually new to purchase.
That was the before times, this is now. NECA, for whatever reason, decided to do things differently for this latest Haulathon. Maybe there was pressure from Target to not offer pre-sales or maybe NECA just didn’t want to burden their own warehouse with individual orders? Or maybe there was such a backlog it made the logistics too cumbersome – I don’t know. What I do know is this latest incarnation of Haulathon cares not for your wallet. NECA has unleashed a vast assortment of product which is mostly concentrated to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license. If you’re an all-in collector, prepared to get hurt. In the toon line alone, we’re getting five two-packs, one deluxe release, and an accessory set, which is the subject of today’s inaugural Haulathon 2023 post. I’ll skip the math, but it also comes with the unfortunate rise in prices that I think many were bracing for, but few may have expected to hit this hard. It would seem the standard price for a two-pack is now $60, up from $52 when the line launched. The movie two-packs already hit that price point so it wasn’t unexpected, but still disappointing. The lone deluxe figure shot way up though to $50, beating out the previous high of $40 set by Chrome Dome. As for the accessory set, it doesn’t really have a precedent since this is the first of its kind for the line. The movie series has had a pair of sets and I think the first was $50 and the second $60. Some other licenses that NECA dabbles in have come in lower, but this one is on the high end at $60. Expected? I suppose, but it would have been nice if it could have hit that $50 sweet spot. We’ll talk more about that later though, for now, all that matters is what’s in the box and is it worth getting?
The toon accessory set has been a long time coming for collectors of this line. There are so many one-off items and smaller characters that made sense for such a thing. Plus we’ve seen the line already cram tons of little doodads into various releases because there is just so much. Every collector of this line likely has a container, drawer, whatever full of stuff with no where to put it all. The accessory set is going to add to that, but it’s also going to deliver some items meant to pair with the someday sewer lair. NECA showed off said lair last year at conventions and it was expected a portion of it would go up for sale in the fall, but that has yet to happen which almost leaves a pit in my stomach since NECA could come looking for more money any day now. That’s a problem for future me, and if NECA reads these, I beg of you to at least hold off a month or so before putting something like that up on your website! Some of us don’t expect to get tax refunds in April.
The accessory set comes housed in an oversized box with some toon-inspired artwork on the front showcasing a bunch of the items contained therein. On the reverse, we get some product shots and a partial list of the contents contained in the box. Unfortunately, there’s no window display so you won’t be able to inspect the contents before buying. It seems most stores are getting between 1 and 3 sets in this first wave of shipments and it’s been the early favorite of many as it’s flying off the shelves faster than anything else included with Haulathon. The store I found my set in only had the one, if others were there before I happened upon it I couldn’t tell. It was a packed endcap and this set had to be sort of wedged in on-top of other items just to fit. It’s possible there was only one sent to this store, and also possible the overflow was kept in the back to be put out later in the week -who knows? If you’re having trouble finding a set though, it’s expected to be made available this Friday (if you’re reading this the week this entry is posted) on Target’s website.
First thing we’ll talk about is the stuff that’s familiar. There’s a Mouser included and it’s just like the other Mousers we’ve received. Mine is stuck at the base of the neck, but is otherwise fine. There’s another pizza box of the hinged variety with a full pizza inside that’s removable. The deco this time around is Pizza Groove and it’s yet another box to add to the stack. There are two pizza monsters included in the set only this time it’s a new sculpt. That’s definitely welcomed as we have had multiple opportunities to get the other, standing, little, monster and I definitely didn’t need more of those. These ones are crawling and they look fine and should add a little variety to your display. Also returning is a VHS tape, this one with some yellow on the front where a label would be. The back of the box says there are two tapes included, but my set only had the one which seems to be the norm.
That’s the new-old stuff, the rest is all new. We get a portrait of a wedge of cheese which I think is from Rat King’s lair? It’s something to be added to a diorama, I suppose, and by itself doesn’t really add much. There’s an oversized gem, the Star of Hoboken, which would make a nice centerpiece on a coffee table. There’s a little blow torch for when Donatello needs to “do machines,” but no flame effect included which is a bit of a bummer. We get a turtle-themed backpack which can fit on any of the heroes if you would like, though it can’t open. There’s also a ray gun, which is how the box labels it. I’m sure it’s pulled from a specific episode and possibly has a specific purpose, but I don’t recall it. At least it’s something to broaden the weaponry of turtle foes (even though it’s Michelangelo who is pictured on the box holding it). Lastly, we have a few accessories that definitely feel specific to previously released figures. The first is Rocksteady’s helmet which he wore during the original mini series and maybe a few times after. He was predominantly without it, but since the original Playmates figure had one, many still associate the character with the helmet. It’s just an olive drab dome with goggles molded onto it and it looks fine. I feel like it could have used some more linework or something to make it pop more like a lot of the accessories in this line, but NECA opted to keep it simple. We also get the Turtle Tracker, which is a handheld device used by Baxter. It looks pretty cool and it’s a rather involved sculpt which perhaps is what made it difficult to incorporate into another release. And then lastly, we have a new head for Baxter. I’m happy to say this one has his glasses (my previous Baxter came missing them and NECA has yet to replace it) and he’s also wearing Shredder’s helmet. This is from a season two episode (“The Curse of the Evil Eye”) where he briefly usurps Shredder with some magical device. I think his face looks better than the standard one and I’m left wishing the helmet and hair on that release were removable, but oh well. The helmet had a gem on the front of it in the episode which is not present for some reason.
That stuff is the window dressing for this set. The filler, if you will. I suppose some really wanted that Rocksteady helmet and I know of a few who weren’t happy with how the Baxter figure turned out so they may welcome the new head. The real selling points for this set are the next few items we’re going to talk about. Up first is Big MACC. He’s a robot from an early episode that’s basically a foe, but by the end of the episode has been converted to an ally. He’s got a bit of a Short Circuit vibe to his design, but he’s essentially a set of treads with a body on top. As a figure, it’s very light and feels quite delicate. The base is hollow while the torso is connected to the apparatus below it with a double ball peg so it can twist and pivot. The arms are connected via double ball pegs so they rotate and have some pivot to them as well. There’s a hinge for an elbow joint on each and the head is joined to the neck via a double ball peg. There’s nothing at the hands and the big gun which is affixed to a tail of sorts has no articulation aside from a swivel. I’m a little surprised it’s not on a bendy wire, but I guess it’s fine. MACC is made of a hard plastic though so everything feels especially delicate. There’s a second gun plugged into his head which can be removed and replaced with a filler piece which is a nice touch. The main body is all white with black linework and it’s applied very clean. If you wanted a Big MACC figure, you have it, and it’s fine. I wish the hands could rotate and I’m surprised the base can’t, but he’s just a set and forget it kind of figure.
Our next item is one that will serve a greater purpose when the lair is available and it’s the television. This all plastic TV is an entirely new mold from the TV we’ve seen NECA release via other sets in the past. It’s a wood panel TV with dials and it has the missing front leg which has been replaced with a stack of books. On top of the TV we get a VCR and some rabbit ears for optimal reception. What’s neat is the VCR can actually accept one of the VHS tapes NECA has released and included in this set. It doesn’t have a little flap or anything, but it’s still a fun touch. The sculpt and paint are a bit plain, but it does have the added effect of featuring a removable top and a slot for the screen. NECA included 9 pieces of glossy cardstock to serve as the screens. They all feature different images so your turtles can watch a variety of programs. One is also clearly an old video game and NECA included a game console as well! It kind of resembles a Super Nintendo, but with a sleeker design. The controllers are more 2600 though and they’re connected to the console via a soft wire each. There’s a peg hole on the back of it which I’m not sure what that’s intended for, but it’s a neat little inclusion even though it doesn’t connect to the TV in any way. I’m betting the one in the show didn’t either.
The TV would be the star of the set if not for the inclusion of the baby turtles, or turtle toddlers. There was an episode where the turtles were transformed into child versions of themselves and NECA has included those characters in this set. All four are essentially the same mold, but with a different head and belt buckle. They’re quite dainty standing at around 2.38″ each. Donatello has a nervous expression, Mikey a big smile, Leo a more subdued smile, and Raph looks pissed. Each also comes with tiny versions of their signature weapons and Mikey’s even feature actual chains. They can’t store their weapons, but they couldn’t in the episode either. The figures are all well painted, but NECA decided not to attempt its form of cel-shading with these guys (they also didn’t with Big MACC). There’s still plenty of linework and the paint is applied rather well. There’s also a little articulation built into them. We have a ball joint at the head, hinged shoulders that rotate, ball-socketed hips, and hinged ankles with a rocker. The ankles feel pretty delicate and it’s hard to tell if the ankle is rocking or just stressing the peg. Definitely be careful. There’s also a lot of weight on the back of these guys due to the shell which makes standing them a challenge. Stepping poses help, or just lurching them forward can help too. I actually could get one-footed stances as well which surprised me. There’s no peg holes in the feet so I may end up using some sticky tack in the end to keep these little guys secure and I do wish they came with little stands to help. They can sit, but not very well, but well enough to stabilize them by holding into something. Ultimately though, they’re super cute and that’s what they’re meant to be. Chances are, if you’re interested in this set it’s due to the inclusion of the baby turtles. Now we just need the geriatric turtles to complete the set!
Accessory sets are a bit of an odd thing to review, but there you go. It’s definitely the type of item that the completist collector will get the most out of. There’s some deep pull accessories and definitely a bunch of this stuff will work better with the lair. I’m definitely happy to have the TV and I think NECA would be foolish to not make sure that everyone who wants that item can get it because it will help sell that aforementioned lair. I’m actually surprised it’s not included with that. The baby turtles are pretty wonderful and I’m happy to have them. Big MACC is okay, I didn’t need it, but I don’t hate having it. That’s likely why the character is in here. And I will get some use out of that alternate Baxter head. The rest is just stuff that I have no attachment to. It’s filler, some of which will go into my display and some won’t. Is it worth 60 bucks? Ehh, that’s a tough call. We probably could have got the baby turtles in a set similar to the Mouser one which was 30 or 35 bucks. These little guys sold that way with maybe a few of these items tossed in would have sold me. The only thing I “needed” other than them was the TV, which I think could have come with the lair, but maybe it couldn’t? Hopefully it not being sold there means that item will be a little easier on the wallet? That’s probably a pipe dream. I don’t want to speculate on the cost of that, but the street scene was $150 I think so it’s not going to come cheap. Let’s just hope NECA gives us a little breather before that thing goes up for sale.
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