Gross. That’s the word I hear all of the time associated with the vintage Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures. Back then, articulation was kept pretty simple and this allowed studios like Varner to go nuts with sculpting. They could include all kinds of details in their figures. Sure, much of it would go unpainted, but at least it was there. And for whatever reason, the aesthetic of the time was to be gross. Characters with boogers and slime were quite common, and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line soon embraced that. It wasn’t really from the start, but over time, characters that embodied an unpleasant aesthetic were introduced and none captured that more than Muckman.
Muckman is literally supposed to be mutated garbage. A walking trash pile with a little eyeball buddy paling around in a bucket jammed in his back. If action figures could smell, then surely Muckman would smell horrible. He, along with Mutagen Man, stand out in my mind as characters so gross that I almost didn’t like to look at them. I played with them, but if I spent too much time thinking about these guys I’d start to get sick to my stomach. Now, I reflect on that Muckman figure with renewed appreciation for those sculpted details. It was pretty incredible what the artists got into that guy, and all just for some 4 dollar lump of plastic kids were going to toss around, lose, and cover in legitimate muck.
Super7’s line of Ultimates! based on that vintage line is perfectly suited for a figure like Muckman. The upscaled nature of the line, combined with modern paint apps, is designed to bring figures like Muckman to life. When it comes to this line, I find myself wanting Super7 to take what’s old and improve upon it, but with Muckman little improvement is needed. Just make him bigger and paint him up while adding in some modern articulation. And guess what? That’s exactly what Super7 did.
Muckman and Joe Eyeball are exactly what I want from this line. Muckman is huge, standing around 7.25″ to the top of his head, and 7.75″ to the top of that banana peel he has on his head. He’s shorter than Bebop and Rocksteady, though he’s also designed to be stooped with his head practically in the middle of his chest. He’s substantially thicker though and quite a heavy beast. I suppose his upper body isn’t much thicker than Bebop’s, but it feels more substantial because of all of the stuff going on. Almost every spot on this guy is sculpted to resemble something. Some of them are basically nondescript tendrils of green yuck that resemble tentacles to a degree. There’s lots of lumpy green stuff, bugs, refuse, and the like. Just about everything is painted now which helps bring him to life. It’s also amazing how some of the stuff looks so familiar, like the frog on his left thigh. I haven’t held the original Muckman in 30 years or so, but it’s amazing how some of the details came roaring back the second I got this figure in-hand.
The sculpt is the real star with this figure, but the paint is a close second. So much of it is applied in a clean manner. Apple cores, fish bones, soda cans – it all looks awesome. There’s one fishbone on the back of the figure’s right calf that they were able to sculpt and paint across two textures, his frayed pants and this trash bucket that’s wrapped around his ankle. It looks spectacular and there’s a nice gradient for the green that dominates the figure’s “flesh.” The only blemish on my figure is on his “moustache” where there’s a little scuff, but that’s basically it. It’s an unfortunate spot to have your own imperfection, but it’s not enough to take away from the overall presentation. This is one well done figure.
Now, this big, heaping, lump of garbage isn’t exactly friendly when it comes to articulation, but Super7 managed pretty well. His head, being in the center of his chest, can’t do much up and down, but he can look to the side really well because his neck is surprisingly long. It seems like not much, but it adds a lot of personality. The shoulders are simple ball hinges that can rotate fine, but he can’t raise his arms out to the side much. The elbows are single joints with a swivel and they work well and he can just about bend his elbows at a 90 degree angle. The swivel on his left arm is a bit more limited though because he has some sculpted ooze that hangs over it. At the right wrist, is the typical Super7 swivel and hinge, but because the bones of his left wrist are exposed, they had to do a ball joint there that pegs into his left hand as opposed to the hand normally pegging into the wrist. It’s a smart solution and I kind of prefer that joint to the usual. He has a waist twist, though it rubs against the soft plastic “diaper” he’s outfitted with so you may want to be careful. The hips are the standard ball-hinges that peg in. Their appearance is the one thing I don’t love because too much of that ball is visible, but they work all right. The knees are single hinges with swivels and the ankles hinge and pivot very well. It’s pretty damn fun to pivot that big manhole cover left foot because it just looks so ridiculous.
Muckman is probably a very costly figure for Super7 given the amount of plastic in him as well as the paint. For that reason, it’s probably not a big surprise that his accessory count is small, but at the same time, it’s pretty substantial. His main accessory is Joe Eyeball. Joe was a little slug character in the vintage line that’s been brought to life. Super7 upscaled him and he now stands close to 2.75″ to the top of his head, but 3.75″ to the top of his tallest eyeball. Super7 painted his eyeballs, mouth, and teeth and even squeezed in some articulation. His head is probably on a ball-peg, but it’s pretty tight and mostly just allows for some swivel. His two arms also swivel. I wish his eyeballs could swivel as well, and I’m a little surprised they didn’t give him ball-hinges at the arms, but it’s nice to have a little something here. Joe rides in the trash bucket that snaps into Muckman’s back, which is painted to appear like it’s full of green goop and has some garbage stuck to it as well. Super7 didn’t include it, but if you have slime you can even fill the bucket like the old toy and it will ooze out of the figure’s chest. The top of his head also still comes off so you can pour slime through there and have it come out of his mouth.
Lastly, we have a couple of hands and Muckman’s trash-zooka. His default hands are gripping ones, with the left hand having more of a trigger finger quality to it. The alternate hands are just designed to make him even more gross. The left hand has a handful of goop, while the alternate right hand has some garbage membrane between the index finger and thumb. My one disappointment with this figure is that this alternate right hand didn’t turn out quite as well as the prototype, which made the membrane portion a lighter green. It’s still pretty awesome though and I’m definitely keeping that on. Muckman’s gun is, like him, assembled from garbage and like many of the figures in this line Super7 did skimp on the paint here. I wish they’d fully paint the weapons like they do the rest of the figure because this barrel is clearly composed of various bottles and cans and would look really nice if fully painted. There is some green goop on it and some chrome fasteners, but the rest is just gray.
I was fully prepared to be impressed by Muckman, but I wasn’t prepared for him to become my new favorite figure in this line. He just turned out damn near perfect and I can’t put him down. He’s a joy to mess around with because nothing is too tight or too loose and I feel like I’m always noticing something in that sculpt that I didn’t before. He’s easily the star of Wave 4, and other than Donatello, he’s the only one I got from this wave or intend to get. And if you’re going to get just one, non-turtle, make it Muckman! This dude is going to be on many “Best of 2022” lists and the only lists that don’t include him won’t because they were able to get him in 2021. Even if you have the NECA Muckman, this one is still worth having because they’re two different animals. That Muckman had to have its “muck” deemphasized to accommodate animation while this one is free to just go nuts. And it’s the rare figure in this line that feels like a steal at $45. If you’re even the slightest bit curious about this figure, get him now because he may never get re-released again and he’s sure to go up in value on the secondary market. And if Super7 ever does do another run, it’ll probably cost more than $45. Go on and get mucked!