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NECA Cartoon TMNT Dirk Savage and Mona Lisa

These two are on an odd pair, but not a bad one.

Today’s look at yet another Haulathon release from NECA Toys features two one-off characters from the cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Dirk Savage and Mona Lisa. For Savage, this is his action figure debut as he wasn’t featured in the vintage Playmates line. For Mona Lisa, she was only featured in one episode of the show, but did benefit from an action figure and that’s honestly how I remember her. I did see her episode as a kid, but the memories are rather fuzzy. She has also shown up on other iterations of TMNT and is often paired with Raph as a romantic interest because turtles and newts so often mate in the real world. For casual fans of the property, this is definitely a set that will lead to some head-scratching, but if you’re all-in on this line then you probably expected these two to show up eventually, though maybe not together since they weren’t featured in the same episode. And in keeping with this line, they’re pretty good so you might want to check them out even if you can’t remember them.

That is some chin.

We’ll start with Dirk first, the mutant hunter who looks a bit like a cross between Flash Gordon and Judge Dredd with a little Jay Leno in the face. He stands at around 6.75″ to the top of his head and touches 7″ if you factor in the hair. Dirk is a great example of how this line has a little pop to it. We get a real bright red for this shirt to pair with a deep purple for the pants. There’s browns and grays all over the place for the various straps and cuffs he’s sporting and there’s an abundance of little painted details all over the place. I love the toony quality his face possesses and the five o’clock shadow he has. The human characters have a tendency to feel drab in a line that stars a bunch of mutants, but Dirk is a fun design and a great piece for the shelf. The paint is very clean and I think everything here is unique to Dirk. If there’s reuse going on I can’t tell. He also brings back the shading which has been a bit hit and miss with this recent batch. Some figures have had it in abundance, and some have not. With Dirk, we get it on the shirt, pants, and boots, but NECA declined to include it on the belt, shoulder pads, or head. I’m not sure what the reasoning for this is, I think it would have looked nice on the hair and shoulder pads, but I’m guessing most won’t care.

For those who like weapon storage, this one’s for you.

For accessories, Dirk comes with a pretty substantial spread. We don’t get any additional portraits, but given how perfect his cocky expression is, I don’t think we need another. He comes with three sets of hands: fists, gripping, and trigger hands with all of the hands featuring the horizontal hinge instead of the vertical one. Dirk also has a pair of guns. One looks like a sci-fi version of a sawed-off shotgun and Dirk has a removable holster for the rear of the figure it can be slotted into. I had to look up promotional images of the figure to know how it’s supposed to go in as it’s a tight fit, but it can be done. The weapon itself looks fine, but the barrels end with a flat piece rather than look like a cylindrical barrel which is an odd look. I didn’t check to see if it was the same way in the show, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it is as I can see some censors not liking that it looks like a shotgun and mandating some changes. He also has a much smaller sidearm that I think shot out a cable in the show. It looks nice, though the red tip makes it look like a laser pistol or something. I do wish we got an effect part for the cable to pair with it though. Dirk also has a baton weapon that resembles a cattle prod. He can hold it or it has a slot on the holster for it making it relatively easy for Dirk to carry all of his weapons. Well, except for the giant laser trap he comes in. We saw the net portion with Genghis Frog and it’s a repeat accessory here, only it also comes with its base which it just slots into. It’s a plastic box, but it’s well-painted and well-sculpted. Dirk also has his wire cuffs which should be able to fit around the wrists of most of the figures in this line. It’s joined by a soft plastic cable of sorts, though it doesn’t appear to have a bendy wire inside it. I wish he had a slot on his belt to store it, but it can be wrapped around the holster or an arm with relative ease if that’s your thing. All of the accessories look pretty great though and there’s plenty of paint to go around. The only downside is Dirk’s hands are all really stiff so getting him to hold his guns and baton is a challenge. You’re best off to just use some hot water to soften the hands first or else risk scraping the paint. Mondo Gecko also came with his control cuff so if you have that figure it’s like having yet another accessory for Dirk.

“Come quietly or be taken, mutant!” “No, my buddy! Release my buddy!”
Tokka and Rahzar can’t fit in the foot trap so Mona is going to have to help us out.

For articulation, Dirk is done surprisingly well. He has some issues with his design that are going to interfere, but overall I think he’s going to be thought of as one of the better figures in the line. His head is on a double ball peg with a ball joint at the base of the neck as well so he gets tons of range. He can look up, down, rotate, and can hit some nice nuance poses as well. The shoulders are the usual ball-hinges and he can lift his arms out to the side, but rotation is going to be hindered by the oversized shoulder pads. There’s a biceps swivel past that which works as expected and then the usual double-jointed elbows which will get past 90 degrees. My right, lower, hinge on the elbow is pretty stuck, but I also haven’t given it my all to get it loose and it’s the only stuck joint on my figure. The wrists swivel and have the less desirable horizontal hinge, as mentioned before. The diaphragm joint is likely a ball peg of some sort as Dirk can tilt back and forward a small amount as well as to the side and rotate. The waist twists and the ball-jointed hips will allow Dirk to hit some killer splits. He can rotate at the same joint and he kicks forward pretty far and kicks back a small amount. The knees are double-jointed and bend past 90 degrees and below that we get a boot cut which is hidden by the cuff of the boot. The ankles bend forward and back and also feature a rocker. About the only real limitation with this guys is that he doesn’t have a great ab crunch, but that’s typical of NECA, and then there’s the shoulder pads which get in the way. Even so, I think he has plenty of range for what he is and it’s a nice surprise.

Dirk is quietly one of the tallest figures in the line.
She’s something of a scientist.

Dirk’s box-mate is the lovely Mona Lisa, who was a chemistry student tragically mutated into a newt or something. She fights for the environment and it’s sort of interesting that she’s a bit of a brain, but she’s paired with Raph and not Donatello. Compared with Dirk, her design is far more simple. She’s essentially a nude, anthropomorphic, newt lady with a ton of brown hair on top of her head. The only clothing she wears is her pink scarf and a belt that seems to only exist to make her look less nude since it serves no function. She’s basically all green plastic, but in true NECA fashion, every inch of her is painted. She stands at a petite 5.25″ and the hair will take her close to 6″ if you want to go there. Her body features the toon shading, but her head and scarf do not. The only embellishment on her person is the stripe of light green on her torso and another stripe of dark green on her rear which runs down and over her tail. In the show, this light green on her torso was more yellow so it’s interesting that NECA went with green instead. The paint is pretty clean, especially the linework. The only blemish on my figure is a chip on the back of her ponytail, but otherwise she looks fine.

Mona’s accessories are a bit more academic than usual.

Mona Lisa, not being a ninja or a mutant hunter, comes with more benign accessories, but she still comes with a lot. We get four sets of hands with her: fists, open, gripping, and a set of open hands without webbing. I’m not sure why there’s a set of open hands without webbing, but maybe there’s one, off, scene in the episode where they forget to draw them in. She also has a set of books, a red one and a blue one, and one is labeled Chemistry and the other Physics because she’s something of a scientist. They don’t open or anything, but they look fine. She also has some chemistry accessories. There’s a trio of test tubes done with translucent plastic, but painted to make them resemble having a liquid inside. One is blue, one is green, and one is pink. They have a stand they slot into which actually works well. There’s also a flask and a stand for that. The flask is also done with translucent plastic and painted to make it look like it has a green liquid in it. Take note, Hasbro, this is how you properly do such an accessory as the ones that came with Beast look bad. This one also has a cork stopper on the top that’s actually removable – pretty neat! We also get yet another flask, this one with a pink liquid, and it has a straw or something coming out of it. Lastly, we get a second head and this one is angry. I will say, swapping heads is a little tough. It takes some good old-fashioned elbow grease to pull the default one off and the second one doesn’t want to go on easily. Some heat will help there. The hands are also surprisingly tough to swap as well. They’re on tiny pegs that are pretty long and barbed and I don’t think we needed the barb at the end. Her forearms are so thin that they probably would have stayed in fine without them. You may want to apply heat to the forearms as a result, but careful when doing so because if you heat the peg that could actually make things worse.

They look cute together.

Articulation for Mona is a bit in-line with what we expect out of this series from NECA. Her head is on a double-ball peg, but the lower ball is so far in her neck that she really can’t do much save for rotate and tilt forward a little. The shoulders are standard ball hinges that go all the way out to the side and rotate all around. Despite her slight frame, Mona Lisa gets a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows and it all works just fine. There’s more of a delicate feel to them, but the elbows aren’t gummy which would have been a killer on this figure since the piece is so small. The hands swivel and hinge and the hinges are all horizontal. There is a waist twist behind the belt, so that belt at least does something here. It’s a ball joint so she can arch back a bit, but she doesn’t crunch forward really at all. There’s also not much tilt and the figure really fights the waist twist. It could just be that the belt is really tight or maybe it’s not spinning on the ball joint freely. The legs are of the ball and socket variety and she can kick forward all the way and kicks back a bit. She can do full splits and there’s some rotation at the thigh too. The knees are double-jointed and bend past 90 degrees while her ankles are hinged and bend forward and back plenty. I’m pretty sure she has ankle rockers as well, but mine are pretty stubborn and it feels like the peg is bending when I try to engage them. Her tail is also articulated and it’s on a ball-hinge joint. It rotates and has some in and out movement as well which makes it useful as a third leg if you feel it’s warranted. She articulates well enough, especially if the ankle rockers are unique to my figure and not a widespread thing. The only real limitation that shouldn’t exist is with the head, but maybe because her head is so heavy due to her hair that NECA prioritized stability over range of motion. The “diaper” piece at the hips is one of the least inhibitive I’ve seen in this line so she has great range of motion below the waist which is helpful when finding poses.

“Don’t worry, Raph, this will be good for you.”
“Mona! What did you do to me?!”

Dirk Savage and Mona Lisa may be an odd pair for a two-pack, but they’re two characters done pretty well. Mona Lisa is a more simple, and thus less flashy, design, but her engineering and accessories are pretty fun and for fans of the character I think they’ll be quite pleased. Dirk Savage does pack that extra “bang” by virtue of his design and accessories. He poses very well for this line and his accessories give him a lot of variety when hunting for that perfect, shelf, pose. Considering we already had one of his accessories via the frogs and Tokka and Rahzar were targets of his, adding him to the collection feels like it makes that small segment of the property complete.

Share a pizza with someone you love.

This two-pack is exclusive to Target stores and will set you back $60 like the other two-packs released during this Haulathon event. Given the accessory loadout and the fact that both figures feature all new tooling this one feels like it earns that price tag better than some of the others. The online drop for this set has come and gone, but more seem to be shipping out so keep an eye on your local stores if you’re in need. Last fall’s sets, which featured similarly obscure characters, are still being found in the wild so there’s reason for optimism if you missed the initial release that these will be easy to come by as well once the initial rush dies down. Like the other two-packs we’ve seen recently, this one might not be for the casuals, but if you like good toys or remember either character there’s probably enough here to entice you. And I think those who do take the plunge will come away feeling pretty good about their decision.

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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!

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