It’s been a little more than 3 months since our last dance with Loot Crate. If you’re new to the experience, it has been quite a drag. Crates that were supposed to ship a year ago are still outstanding, communication has been poor, rumors have painted a dire picture of the company’s finances, and the actual quality of the product has taken a hit as well. Since we last looked at one of these, someone decided they were so fed up with the experience that they doxed NECA director or product Randy Falk which he was understandably not happy about. That was a dick move on the part of whoever did that and anyone who actually took the time to call Randy on his cell phone or shared that info is a grade A asshole. That’s the type of entitlement that makes me embarrassed to be a part of this hobby.
Ugliness aside, Randy didn’t deserve that. Saying that doesn’t mean we’re letting Loot Crate off the hook though. They’ve been pretty terrible, but I don’t feel the need to get into that once again. If you want more of a rant, check out the last entry on the subject, for the rest of this one I’m just going to talk about the contents of the latest crate.
And this latest crate is the fourth one which is themed around the 1987 cartoon series. What happened to crate #2? Nobody knows, but it was skipped in favor of crate #3 and now we’re onto #4. I guess they’ll come back to it, hopefully in another 3 months or less. The toon one, being the fourth one, comes with a bonus figure as well so we have a lot to talk about. When consumers had the option to subscribe to this service, they could either purchase individual crates or all 4. Those that bought all four were to receive a bonus figure, Scrag, one of the gang members from the original mini series who hung out and committed crimes with Bebop and Rocksteady. He had his own little arc in that mini series. Despite never being named, or having a line to speak, we saw him go from punker, to mutant bat, back to punker again. After that, he went away and was never heard from again.
We’ll do Scrag last, but for now lets get the other junk out of the way. The Loot Crate model is to take something people want, like a NECA figure, up-charge it and toss in some junk to make it seem like it’s worth the $50 price tag. Obviously, it’s not or else they wouldn’t do things this way, but it’s always going to be a case of “your mileage may vary.” The bonus figure is another added layer of grift since you may not care about one of the other crates, but if you care about Scrag, you have to buy them. NECA and Loot Crate will point to eBay sales as a way to suggest you’re not being taken advantage of, but again, if they actually had that much faith in the product they’d just put them up for sale and let you buy what you want.
The model for these crates has been to include a t-shirt, some pins, and a few extras. Maybe a keychain, a sticker sheet, whatever. The first wave of crates definitely had more, while this current wave has had severely less. And this crate has the distinction of being the first without a t-shirt. I thought these things were advertised to always have a shirt, you even select a size when subscribing, but I haven’t looked up the actual solicitation so maybe that wasn’t the case. It’s certainly an expectation that one will be included. Instead of a shirt though, we get an apron. It has a Ninja Pizza logo printed on it which is taken from the show, but is otherwise just an off-white apron. Do people still use aprons? It being October, I just re-watched Beetlejuice once again and thought how old-fashioned Geena Davis looked sporting an apron at the film’s start. I have aprons in my house as they tend to be something you acquire through things like a bridal shower, but I don’t think I’ve ever used one. And I don’t recall ever seeing my mom or dad wear one. Same for grandparents. And when I go to my local pizza shop, few of them wear one. And if they do, they don’t bother with the top. Maybe they were more popular when washing machines were less common? Now if I’m cooking I just change my clothes if they get dirty in the process. I guess I’m just saying a novelty apron is not something I’ll ever use or know what to do with. It’s not that I need more t-shirts either, my dresser is bursting with them, but I at least wear them.
What pairs well with an apron? How about some oven mitts! We get a pair of pizza monster oven mitts. They’re yellow and they have a face on them so they look like cheap puppets. They’re a bit thin and are only rated for temperatures up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit which seems pointless since most pizza is cooked at a temperature above that. There goes my master plan of preparing pizza in my Ninja Pizza apron and pizza monster oven mitts. We also have the customary pin, this time it’s the head of a Triceraton from the cartoon. Lastly, we get a novelty license plate. It’s yellow and green with the Statue of Liberty in the center like an actual New York plate and it reads “PRTY WGN.” Cute. I’ll probably display the license plate in some fashion, but the rest will probably live in a drawer somewhere.
Let’s get to the main event, or the first main event, which is Donatello as The Dark Turtle. Dark Turtle has been on my wish list for a couple of years now. He’s from the same episode of the show as the Triceratons (“Night of the Dark Turtle”) and I just think he looks neat. In the episode, Donatello gets electrocuted and basically becomes a parody of Michael Keaton’s Batman. I’ve always liked the look of the character because the costume is a great Batman knock-off and the character looks really interesting because the artists cheat with him. They basically give Donatello a superhero-type body and ignore the fact that he’s a turtle. He still has the rear shell hidden under his cape, but the torso where the plastron should be just looks like a muscular dude bod. It makes no sense, but it looks cool.
NECA’s approach to the figure is basically the same as the artists who designed the character. They didn’t just take their existing turtle body and re-paint it, they actually did a new torso. If they reused it from another figure, I can’t easily tell, though most of the figures in the line also feature an overlay of some kind so maybe this body is underneath another piece of plastic somewhere on my shelf. Either way, it looks cool. He looks very close to the character in the show. He might be a little more squat and chunky, but essentially looks the part. His face is sporting a yelling expression, but it’s also the same engineering used in the Turtles in Disguise set so you can swap his mouth piece out in favor of another expression if you have that set. The costume is done in a gray with shading on the sides and rear and I love how the belt and chest insignia came out. Best of all, the cape is wired so this guy can really hit some dramatic poses. He looks great and whatever corners may have been cut for a Loot Crate release do not come through in the quality department.
The paint job on The Dark Turtle looks pretty nice. The main color is gray, and NECA shaded it slightly differently from other figures as they included it on the sides of the torso. I wish they continued it just a little further and under the pectorals, but what they have here adds some nice definition to the figure. On the arms and legs, it’s more of the same with light gray on the front and dark on the back. There’s plenty of line work throughout the figure and the trim of the gloves and boots features some purple, a nice touch since this is Donatello, after all. I love how the belt came out which features three holstered turtle bombs that are probably glued on. The cape is pinned into his chest via the insignia on the front and it too is likely glue down. The cowl on the head is cast in black and the eyes are painted. Lastly, we have the cape which is black on the outside and purple on the inside. It’s all quite neat and clean and the only blemish on mine is a little black mark on the stomach. If I can get a magic eraser in there I might be able to take it off. I think he turned out well though and NECA didn’t take any shortcuts with the costume in making it screen accurate which is nice to see.
The cuts they did have to take will come through in the accessories. That’s been the case for all of the figures released this way and Dark Turtle is no different. He comes with gripping hands in the box, but also has a right pointing hand, and left open hand. Unlike the mouth, you can’t technically use hands from other sets with this figure because he wears black gloves. I think it’s a bummer they just didn’t give us a set of fists, a set of open hands, and maybe one pointing hand. Tossing in an already tooled accessory like a hand adds minimal cost, but obviously it wasn’t a cost NECA was willing to absorb. Dark Turtle does at least come with one accessory, his turtle smoke bomb. It’s a newly tooled accessory, so that’s cool, and it’s well-painted. It would have been nice to get another Turtle Hook accessory, but I wasn’t expecting one and I definitely wasn’t expecting a tooled version of Dark Turtle’s unique grappling hook.
Dark Turtle is mostly reuse from the other turtles, and as a result largely moves the same. The head is still on a double-ball and the base of the neck articulates as well. He can look up and down just fine with plenty of nuance posing available as well. The shoulders are just ball-hinged and he can raise his arms out to the side, rotate, and so forth until he hits the rear shell. The left shoulder hinge on mine is pretty stuck and I haven’t been able to get much movement out of it, which is a bummer. There’s a biceps swivel after that and the elbows are still single-hinged with rotation and they bend pretty close to 90 degrees. At the wrist we have swivels and horizontal hinges. The torso is the big change as we have this big diaphragm joint. It feels like a ball peg, but we get some twist and tilt plus a little crunch forward, but not a lot. There’s basically no rear movement because of the shell, but it’s cool to have something here for a change on a turtle. At the waist, there’s a twist, but you get less than you do with the standard turtles because he’s wearing a black “diaper” piece. The hips are ball and socket joints and he can nearly do a full split. He kicks forward just fine, though not back due to the shell. There is a thigh pivot and the knees are double-jointed and bend past 90. At the ankles, we have the hinge and rocker combination that works well. He’s pretty decent for this line, and technically a little better than most since he does have some posing in the chest, but it’s so limited that it’s hardly worth celebrating. I just wish mine didn’t have the frozen shoulder joint. I’ve tried hot water, but I don’t want to risk breaking it so I might just have to live with it as-is.
The last thing I want to talk about with Dark Turtle is the face-swapping. Just like the other turtles from the Turtles in Disguise set, Dark Turtle’s mouth can separate from the top of the head so you can mix and match expressions. The top piece even features a little tab on the rear to cover the cut-out for the bandana knots on the mouth pieces. He comes with a yelling expression, but he looks good with basically all of the other mouths. He’s always going to be frowning so any smile gives him a real sinister vibe. This figure is done in a matte style, so the glossy first-run set of the Turtles in Disguise do look a bit jarring on him. I have since picked up a matte version and I like the look of those much better. Also of note, the mouth on Dark Turtle is a newly tooled piece. The prior yell mouths NECA did were glued together from the top and the seam lines stood out. This one is glued together from the bottom and just looks much cleaner. I didn’t get the style guide four-pack so I don’t know if that change was done there, but it’s nice to see NECA continue to refine their product when the opportunity arises.
That’s a rather positive review of The Dark Turtle, but now lets turn out attention to Scrag. Scrag is an interesting character in that he just appears in the original mini series and then is never heard from again. For me, he was always the most recognizable of Bebop and Rocksteady’s original gang. We even see him before we meet the turtles! In the show, he’s never named and speaks no lines of dialogue. He just joins in on some vandalism and the whole threatening of April before getting experimented on by Shredder. For some reason, Shredder didn’t think much of the rest of Bebop and Rocksteady’s gang and only chose to keep those two. If they were the best that gang had to offer then the others must have been pretty terrible. Scrag is shown on a monitor when Shredder makes a comment to Krang about experimenting on the punks, and when that happens, we see he’s become a bat (some supplemental material even gave him the name Bat Boy). There’s a quick shot later of the punks locked up in a cell, but Scrag’s final appearance comes in the fifth episode (the final of the original mini series) where Shredder uses him to demonstrate a reverse mutation ray which restores his original, human, look. After that, who knows what became of old Scrag? Presumably Shredder didn’t waste more mutagen on him to re-mutate him so he was either disposed of or allowed to leave. Shredder and Krang weren’t really portrayed as killers, so my guess who be they opened a portal and just chucked him somewhere and had a good laugh about it later.
For a figure of Scrag, NECA turned to their Vernon body. We’ve seen that one reused before for Ace Duck and here it’s going serve us well as Scrag. And that’s because it will allow Scrag to be displayed in human or mutated form, but first let’s talk about human Scrag. Scrag stands a bit over 6″ and sports a black trench coat, purple shirt, and blue jeans. The main part of the coat is an overlay, as is the shirt, while the sculpted parts are basically all from Vernon including the neck piece. He has different shoes, which are just all black, and features these silly looking Mickey Mouse styled gloves. The head is the most obvious new piece and he looks pretty damn good. Some have been disappointed that the head-sculpts for this figure appeared to change noticeably from the initial solicitation, but I think both were changed to better reflect the source material. I suppose if you prefer one over the other that’s subjective, but as far as accuracy goes, this head-sculpt looks great. He has his unique hairstyle with hot pink painted on top and black on the underside plus his recognizable shades which feature one, continuous, lens, surrounded by a yellow frame. The only room for criticism I find with this guy is that just by virtue of sharing a body with Vernon he’s not exactly an impressive, physical, specimen. Scrag probably would have benefitted from some more mass, but the coat helps and I’m not surprised they went in this direction.
The paint on Scrag is less ambitious than what we saw with Dark Turtle, but still looks solid. The coat is all one color, save for the little logo on the chest that looks like a Pokémon, which is black so NECA didn’t bother shading it. And since it covers the shirt, they didn’t shade that either. There is shading on the pants with blue on the front and a dark blue on the back, but that’s it. The head is painted very clean though and there’s still plenty of painted black linework to be found on this guy. The white gloves are painted, but also appear to be cast in white plastic and they look fine, but will also transfer some of that white paint to anything he holds which is a bummer. I normally talk about accessories separately, but for the bat head I will say the paint looks awesome on it. There’s some nice linework inside the ears and his nose and teeth are painted cleanly. The frames of his glasses have a little gray sneaking onto them so that could have been cleaner, but it is what it is. It’s a tough spot and if it came out perfect I would be praising it, but since it didn’t, I have to mention it even if it’s understandable for this type of figure.
The articulation on Scrag is basically the same as Vernon only now we have a big overcoat to contend with. Both heads on this guy are pretty tight on the neck, but the base of the neck is articulated so I don’t have much trouble getting him to look up and down or rotate. And at least with it being tight, the front of the throat stays in-line with the chin on the un-mutated head. The shoulders are ball-hinged and oddly they’re very “clicky,” almost like they’re ratcheted. Maybe that was to help keep them in place since people will be tugging on the forearms to swap out parts? I don’t know, but by being this way it means you lose some nuance as the arm moves from click-to-click. They raise out to the side just fine and the elbows are the goofy NECA double-elbows with two swivels and two hinges, but they look okay on jacketed figures. The forearm rotates where it meets the sleeve and at the wrist the hands rotate and hinge in and out. There’s a diaphragm joint in this guy, but the overlay makes it useless. The waist rotates on a ball so you do get some nuance posing there as well. The hips are ball and socket joints and, like Vernon, are looser than I would like. He seems to stand better than either Vernon I have, but any wide stance would probably start to slide on its own after awhile. There is a slight thigh twist and the knees are double-jointed. The feet peg into the legs so you do get rotation, but it was very tight on mine. I only know it’s there because my figure’s toes were not in-line with the knees so I had to rotate them into place which took some force. After that though they move quite freely so I must have just needed to break up some paint. The ankles also hinge and rock side-to-side.
Scrag moves as expected. There’s some room for more dynamic shots, but mostly he’s just going to stand around and try to look intimidating on your shelf. To help him do so he comes with a pair of weapons. Up first is a mallet. To my surprise, it’s not a repeat of the mallet that came with Casey Jones. I don’t know if it will show up somewhere else, but it looks fine. The handle is just a light brown while the head is sculpted to resemble an actual mallet, as opposed to just a rectangular cube, and it’s fine. The hands will likely transfer paint onto it though if you’re not careful. The other weapon is a revolver. It’s surprisingly not the same as the one that came with Ace Duck and it’s painted gray with a dark gray handle and some black linework. To wield these he has a right trigger finger hand and a left gripping hand. The trigger finger is subtle enough that it can work as just a gripping hand with the mallet. Both are hard plastic though and to get the weapons into his hands as clean as possible you may want to heat them up first. Especially if you want the trigger finger in the proper spot on the revolver. I plan to heat that hand to get the revolver on then just leave it.
Lastly, Scrag has his optional bat parts. I already mentioned that the head is well-sculpted and pretty well-painted, so I don’t have much to add there. The forearms have fur sculpted onto them so they’re not just gray and the cuffs of the gloves are sculpted on as well so they’re not just taken from Vernon. The hands are these somewhat relaxed gripping hands which is a bit of an odd choice. You can swap the hands between the two sets of forearms, which is why I would have preferred something more dramatic, I suppose, for the bat arms. Or maybe just fists? These wide hands can’t hold either weapon, but I suppose could hold some of the stuff Bebop and Rocksteady came with in the Premonition of a Premutation four-pack. I’d try a spray paint can, but I don’t want the white paint to transfer. As far as swapping the parts goes, only the right arm was easy on mine. Getting the left arm off was easy, but the bat arm didn’t want to go on (and taking off is no picnic either). I had to heat that up. The head also didn’t want to come off so I heated that as well. I probably could have forced the issue, but I was afraid of the head coming off of the neck joint which would have been a pain to correct for. The hot water worked fine though and ultimately I’m not sure how I want to display this guy. I think his human form will work a little better in my display since he can go with the pre-mutated Bebop and Rocksteady. I also think the human form looks just a little bit better as the bat head sits really low on the shoulders. It doesn’t look bad or anything, but another half-centimeter on the neck might have helped.
As is the case with all of these Loot Crates, how much you like this one will largely depend on how you feel about the included action figures. And in this case, I think we may have received the best ones yet. Dark Turtle was a figure high on my wants list and I think he turned out awesome. Scrag is another figure I wanted because he’s never had a figure before and he has a memorable look and he turned out just fine. And the fact that both came with this crate makes it feel like a good value. Of course, that part is purely subjective. Each crate costs 50 bucks so if you want to you can rationalize it as paying 25 each for Scrag and Dark Turtle, which is below MSRP these days at retail. On the other hand, you had to buy the other 3 crates too to get Scrag so it’s more like the price for that figure is spread amongst the others. Again, it’s all in how you want to rationalize it for yourself. The other stuff included really adds little or no value for me. I said I’m likely to display the vanity plate, but had that been sold separately it’s not something I would have purchased. Ultimately, we got two new figures for the toon line and I’m pretty happy with them.
That leaves one crate outstanding. The supposed crate #2 features Armaggon and is video game themed. We know the figure has been done for months and I believe even Randy at NECA confirmed it’s on US soil as well so something else is holding it up. My hope is it gets shipped soon so we can put this Loot Crate nonsense behind us. It sounds like there’s very little enthusiasm on NECA’s part to continue with this release model, but nothing has been confirmed. NECA has even shown off prototypes for the rest of Bebop and Rocksteady’s gang so we know they’re on the way, we just don’t know how NECA plans to release them. The very fact that they’ve been shown is a good indicator that they won’t have anything to do with Loot Crate so that’s a plus. Hopefully they’re not part of this NFT garbage the company recently unveiled through Walmart as that is a non-starter for me thus far. Whenever that crate gets shipped though, rest assured I will be here to tell you all about it.