Tag Archives: neca

Let’s Rank the NECA Cartoon TMNT Figures!

The collection swells!

So I swear I do not want this to be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy blog. It’s definitely looked like one ever since Christmas ended though and that’s partly because of new releases and some technical difficulties. I have some posts I’m working on, but they’re not ready to go up yet and it’s a situation where it’s out of my control. However, this is a post I have wanted to do for awhile and it’s just been a matter of when to do it. In the review of the most recent release, Splinter vs Baxter set, I mentioned that particular set was the end of the essential figures for some folks. Not me, as I’m sticking with this line for awhile, but it was a sentiment I’ve seen expressed online more than once within the collecting community.

Given that, it’s a perfect time to take stock of where we are with the line. And specifically, what characters have been done well and which may have been underserved. I will say upfront that this line has largely been very good. Ignoring complaints about scarcity and scalpers, this line has delivered a great assortment of characters from the classic cartoon series and will be the measuring stick going forward for a lot of TMNT related releases. The old Playmates line of action figures was great, but most of the characters did not resemble their cartoon counterpart and that’s a void NECA has filled. And I have liked every figure so far, just some more than others. Despite what you may read online, a NECA figure is also not destined to fall apart in your hands. By all means, if you have bad experiences with NECA toys your opinion is valid, I just feel the need to point out that I own a lot of NECA product at this point and I have yet to have anything break. I have had one quality control issue so far and it was with the cartoon Slash who arrived with a detached strap on his backpack, something easily fixed with a dab of superglue. That doesn’t mean I don’t think NECA has room for improvement, but my overall experience has been very positive.

With that said, let’s move on to the rankings! I’ll link to my individual review and write-up where appropriate (but only once, so I don’t have four different links going to the same thing) if you want to read more of my thoughts as what is presented below will be a summary. And in some cases, my opinion may be slightly different than what it was originally since we’re going back a few years at this point. Let’s get started though with what is probably the consensus worst figure in the line:

She doesn’t look great, but at least she comes with a bunch of stuff!

April O’Neil – April is an essential character to the cartoon and I think fans and NECA are in agreement there, but for whatever reason, NECA just didn’t get her right. Depending on who you ask, either her head is too big or her body is too small. It doesn’t really matter which is the true issue (it’s the body) as in the end we have a miss-matched figure that looks pretty goofy. Even absent that, her face just doesn’t really look like April. It’s very round and her expression is pretty blank. When I think of April I think of a fearless, cocky, go-getter reporter and that’s just not here. She isn’t terrible as the articulation is good and I like the paint app. She also has some great accessories. I’ll continue to hope for a redo on her though, maybe as a deluxe release with swappable parts referencing the times she was mutated on the show. I don’t expect that to happen, but a man can dream.

He’s not nothing without his body, but he’s definitely lesser.

Krang (Bubble Walker) – Krang was originally released as part of the San Diego Comic Con 8 – pack and then again as a two-pack with a turtle and once more as a two-pack with Shredder. For what he is, he’s fine and I like that this version of Krang really resembles the Season One depiction of the character. He is a little on the small side, but that wasn’t really apparent until the new version came out so I don’t consider that much of a strike against him. He’s mostly ranked here because he’s just limited by his design from the show. He’s just a brain with tentacles and his bubble walker doesn’t really do anything. The legs move, but they lack “knee” joints which is unfortunate. By far the coolest thing this figure did was have easily removable tentacles that could plug into the bubble walker, a much better way of doing things than what the classic toy did.

The Turtles (Style Guide Colors) – The brothers four saw themselves re-issued as part of the second wave and have the dubious honor of being the only figures on this list that I do not have (hence why there’s no link or pic). I just have no use for them. They’re the same figures from the SDCC set and Wave One, but painted a bright green to match the style guides put out for the property in the 80s and 90s. These were the colors utilized for notebooks, t-shirts, lunch boxes, etc. and because the property was so popular it’s this look that some people most associate with TMNT to this day. There was even enough demand for NECA to release them as two-packs (Leo and Don, Raph and Mikey) with a few extra paper goods thrown in for good measure. Again, I personally have no use for these, but acknowledge that some people probably get more out of them than I would.

These robots may not blow you away, but they sure do look pretty great for what they are.

Roadkill Rodney – Like Krang in his walker, Roadkill Rodney is a figure that’s just limited by its design from the show. It’s a robot with no arms or legs that rolls around Gizmoduck style and has extendable tentacles. NECA packed two of them in with the Triceraton Infantry figure in what was the line’s second army builder bundle. For what they are, these robots are cool and NECA nailed the likeness. The swappable parts, while unnecessarily challenging to make use of, look great and were a good idea. I like them enough that I bought a second set, this is just a figure that really had no chance to be one of the best in the line.

Foot Soldier/Bashed Foot/Slashed Foot – No line of TMNT action figures would be complete without the lowly Foot Ninja. NECA included two with the SDCC set and packed some in with Wave One turtles and as a two-pack, army builder, set in Wave Two. Wave Three then saw the introduction of the variants, bashed and slashed, and there’s actually a deluxe version still to come. This is a solid figure that really nails the likeness of the source material, it’s just hard to get too excited about a Foot Soldier. I do wish it had more articulation as this figure would really benefit from some torso articulation. The variants, of course, can’t have that, but the standard Foot would benefit greatly. The bashed variant is definitely the lesser one as it just has some exposed metal and circuitry inside it. The slashed variant is pretty great though and I love it for what it is. I wouldn’t mind a few more, though I doubt NECA would ever release a two-pack of slashed Foot and I don’t need more bashed ones.

He comes packing heat.

Triceraton Infantry – The Triceraton is best known from the original Playmates line, and the infantry ranked dino-alien is the one that resembles that figure the most. And that’s because it’s a big, orange, triceratops in an armored onesie. This figure is one of many to make use of the general body created for Bebop and Rocksteady, only it has Leatherhead’s tail with hands and feet to call its own. I do like how this guy turned out, and my main complaints were with some inaccuracies (the tail should be smooth, there are pants wrinkles because of the parts reuse) and the fact that this was an army builder not designed to be an army builder. A proper army builder should have some variety, but this figure has just one trigger hand and it only works well with the rocket launcher. The other guns, which resemble what Bebop and Rocksteady used in the show, work with the gripping hands and look kind of stupid without a trigger finger. I also wish he had an articulated jaw, something the other Triceratons possess. Still, on his own, this is a striking figure on the shelf and I liked it enough to buy two.

They’re here, but they don’t impress like their many rogues.

The Turtles – the Turtles have the somewhat dubious honor of being ranked in the back half of this list, despite being the stars of the show. They also have the added challenge of competition. Few companies have done a proper Shredder or Traag, but a lot of companies have taken stabs at doing figures of the Turtles. And these ones are showing their age. Originally released in NECA’s arcade set, the Turtles have been re-released a few times with little or no added engineering. Their articulation scheme is dated compared with the rest of the line, and they also stand out as many of the villains to follow feature a lot of paint given them a real matte finish while the Turtles are a bit glossy due to the presence of colored plastic. And I’ve never been able to shake the feeling that the general shape of these figures works better as a representation of the classic arcade game than it does for the cartoon. That said, while other companies may be able to boast that their Leonardo or Donatello is better than NECA’s, few can compete on price as these guys are basically $25 figures instead of twice that. And as we speak, NECA is prepping a release that’s a four pack of these figures with soft goods, new heads, and some re-tooled articulation. Maybe Raph will have better sais and the other boys holsters for their weapons (only Leo can accomplish that) to help move them up the ranks. For now, they’re fine, but there’s some obvious room for improvement here as well.

The only way to display this guy is with those blades!

Zarax – The Triceraton Captain who few remembered. He’s essentially the same as the Triceraton Infantry, only yellow and with different armor. He has an articulated jaw which works great and I love what such a thing can add to a display. He also has removable bracers for his wrists and can swap in some bladed ones which look pretty cool. Aside from that, his accessories are the same from the previous release and any faults that other figure had, this one does too. Only this figure does have different feet which unfortunately are plagued by NECA’s paint woes. The ankle hinge is painted to match the bootie this guy is wearing, but the paint will flake off almost immediately and the plastic underneath is flesh-colored (which in this case means yellow) and it looks bad. He’s not the first figure to suffer from this issue, just the most recent. Hopefully he’s the last.

I just prefer my dino aliens to be green.

Zork – Zork is the other Triceraton released with Zarax. I rank him ahead of Zarax because I just think he looks cooler. He’s green and has his own headsculpt which is a bit wider and spikier than the others. Any con is shared with Zarax, so I won’t repeat those. The pros are also the same, I just prefer green to yellow apparently.

Slash is here and he’s armed!

Slash – A lot of folks seem to hate on the cartoon version of Slash, but I for one enjoy him! Sure, the comic depiction that Playmates sourced from is cooler, but not every villain needs to look cool. Slash was a bit of a goof in the show, and NECA really nailed the likeness with the head-sculpt here. The body is recycled from the video game Slash, which was recycled from the other turtles only with spikes added to the shell and claws to the feet and hands. That does mean the articulation could be better, and Slash wears these half gloves that suffer from the painted hinges issue mentioned earlier, but the figure is able to bring it all home with an assortment of awesome accessories. He’s loaded with a pair of futuristic-looking guns, a pair of bad ass katanas, his precious binky, and an unmutated version of himself. And since his box mate has yet to appear on this list, you can basically infer that Slash has been part of one of the best two-packs so far. The only true criticism I have for this figure, and what keeps him from being higher, is just the reuse of the turtle body. Slash should be squatter, and chunkier, and reusing that mold did him a disservice. Not enough to truly disappoint, but it’s also something that comes to mind every time I look at the figure.

“I’m Casey Jones, and I’m here to fuck you up!”

Casey Jones – A fan favorite, Casey Jones has been there since the beginning. It’s no surprise that NECA turned to him relatively early and even felt he could anchor a two-pack all by himself since he was packed with one of the Foot variants. Casey comes equipped with an assortment of weapons he apparently acquired from a sporting goods store and a golf bag to store them in. He also has a bunch of extra hands and all in all looks really good. The only cons with this release is that this was the start of the painted hinge problem and it affects both his feet and his hands. And he’s also made of a really soft, bendy, plastic that gives the figure a cheap feel. His knees are prone to bowing as a result and he’s a more challenging figure to stand than most. Thankfully, most of the figures to follow have not been of this construction, though the paint issue will persist.

“I swear, I only want to talk to him.”

Granitor – Granitor had the distinction of being one of the earliest villains introduced in the show to never receive an action figure. NECA showed off a version of this figure a few years ago as part of its video game line, but it was before the cartoon was on the table for retail and it was apparently cancelled when the cartoon line took off. Granitor is a cool figure though who shares a lot of parts with his box-mate and fellow rock soldier, Traag. The only reason why I rank Traag ahead of Granitor is because I think Traag better reflects his cartoon appearance. Granitor has a lot of the parts in place like the pointy nose and big shoulders, but something is off. He probably should be taller and slimmer than Traag, and his head might actually benefit from being smaller. He looks good, but more so than the figures to come (and actually some that came before) NECA just didn’t quite nail the likeness. His rather lofty ranking is a testament to how fun he is to handle and the fact that he’s been missing in action since 1987.

“Tonight I dine on turtle soup!”

Shredder – This was the figure that really impressed in that initial SDCC 8-pack. Which means that for a little while this was the best figure in the line. Shredder has since been topped, but he’s still the definitive take on the cartoon version of the character. Like the Turtles, he was adapted from a previous arcade release, but unlike them it all works perfectly. He also gets a new headsculpt and NECA’s paint app on it looks great. Like the Foot, I do see opportunity for more articulation that could have been incorporated into his torso, but for the most part I have no complaints. He just looks a little dated now for the same reason the Turtles do as he has more colored plastic and less paint. Again, I’m not against colored plastic in place of paint (Bandai pretty much shuns paint and they put out great stuff), but it makes Shredder look more toy-like when positioned amongst the later figures which better capture that “ripped from the screen” look.

The disciplinarian has arrived.

Splinter – The most recently released two-pack brought us the first cartoon accurate Splinter. And once again, NECA really nailed the cartoon likeness. Splinter scales well with his surrogate sons, and I welcome the use of soft goods with the kimono. And more than anything, this guy has tons of accessories. Some no one asked for, but it’s still nice to have them. I didn’t have much to complain about when I reviewed him, and he’s ranked here because he’s just not as fun to mess around with as some other figures. Because of who he is, he lends himself better to simple poses as opposed to dynamic ones, but no one can deny that this is a rat that belongs on the shelf.

Traag is the general because he’s superior to Granitor in every way.

Traag – Krang’s general, Traag, got a figure in the old Playmates line, but it looked nothing like the character in the show. This was the first time we got a proper cartoon Traag and NECA knocked it out of the park. The only negatives with the figure is just the lack of accessories, but that’s because there’s so much plastic in the sculpt (and he was bundled with Granitor) that it likely prevented NECA from adding much else. He moves well though and has tremendous presence on a shelf. He’s basically the surprise sleeper of the line so far as I don’t know that many had Traag high up on their list of wants, but anyone who got him is probably pretty happy with him.

The only figure in this line capable of kicking some ass and then cleaning up the mess afterwards.

Metalhead – The first deluxe figure in the line, and thus the first solo release, was The Mighty Metalhead! And he’s awesome, a true cartoon-to-plastic creation that’s big and beefy with some fun parts. The more recently released Android Krang does make him appear a little less “deluxe” than he did before, but he was also cheaper. He was also a real pain in the ass to find last summer, but at least NECA put him up for order on their site leading to scores of people like me ending up with two by accident. Nonetheless, I’m not down on having two as he is a great figure. The only real negative is his articulation isn’t great due to the shape of his arms and such, but he also doesn’t need a ton and he’s perfectly capable of looking imposing on your shelf or tidying it up with his vacuum attachment.

“You’ll have to speak up, I’m wearing a towel.”

Krang (Android Body) – Bubble walker Krang is nice, but this is the Krang everyone wants. Krang in his weird body is a natural for NECA’s deluxe line. He snuck in just before 2020 ended and nearly stole the show. He’s big, he’s got a new Krang to go inside him, and he comes with a bunch of extra stuff. The only thing that stinks about him is that he has so much paint on him that he is prone to chipping and factory defects. He’s definitely the kind of figure you want to come across in-store in larger quantities so you have a chance to pick the best available. Thankfully, that’s what happened to me and I was able to find one with pretty terrific paint, but literally every other one I left on the shelf had some ugly smudge or chip somewhere. He’s a truly goofy looking figure, made more so if you slap that shower attire on him, but that’s TMNT!

Lets see you get out of this one, Leo.

Leatherhead – More so than any other figure, Leatherhead surprised me. I wasn’t really looking forward to him even though I like the character, but once I had him in hand I was pretty blown away. He looks awesome and he’s based on the Bebop/Rocksteady body so he’s big and moves well enough. NECA gave him an articulated jaw and also packed him with some fun accessories like his weird ketchup gun and shackles. I love this figure, and the only issue I had with him is the damn painted joints. The issue is just more pronounced with Leatherhead because his legs and boots are blue since he’s wearing hip waders, but for some reason they were cast in white plastic which really shows up in the ankles when the blue paint flakes away. Supposedly, there has been a running change with this figure that fixed it, but I haven’t seen evidence of that. I’ll be curious to see if it’s no longer a problem when NECA ships out its made-to-order Leatherhead/Slash sets next month. Despite that annoyance though, this is a great figure, just watch that hook on his belt which appears to be prone to popping off.

He’s about to say something stupid!

Rocksteady – The moronic duo of Bebop and Rocksteady were staples in the cartoon, and they were part of the first offering of figures from Playmates back in the day. They were, however, never toon accurate until NECA stepped in. Rocksteady, to put it plainly, looks perfect. He’s chunky, he’s got a gut, and his eyes capture that “dangerous but stupid” expression he seemed to always wear. When I lucked onto a set around Thanksgiving 2019, I had nothing to really complain about. He could have come with a helmet, but he rarely wore that so I don’t know if I would even use it. He’s probably a little oversized when compared with the Turtles, but he looks so good this way that I hesitate to really complain. This is the Rocksteady I wanted when I was a kid, and I’m really happy to have him now in my 30s.

Oh I do love this little fly boy!

Baxter – Old Baxter is a character I just have a soft spot for. I’ve always liked his design, and like with many figures in this line, I always wanted a cartoon accurate version of him for my collection. He’s tiny, but packed with articulation and, more importantly, personality and I find myself charmed more and more each day that passes with this guy in my possession. NECA gave him some great accessories and he’s one of the few figures I really don’t want more from. The only real criticism I had was the lack of articulation in his purple appendages, but it’s not a deal-breaker, by any means. Just a wonderful little figure that does what it needs to and more!

Trust me, this is not a mug only a mother can love.

Bebop – The mutated wart hog is my pick for best figure in the line. Like Rocksteady, I just had nothing to complain about with this figure. He has all of the screen-accurate details I expected and his size and proportions are even better than what we saw with Rocksteady. Sure, you can quibble with that size as far as being too big goes, but he looks great and I wouldn’t mess with him. Literally the only thing that bugs me with this figure is his wrist chain, which is a real chain. It looks wonderful, but it will fly off when you swap his left hand and it’s hard to get it to look as good as it did out of the box. If they had sculpted the chain on his arm it probably wouldn’t look as good, but it would also work better, so it’s both hard to complain and praise the decision. Otherwise, he’s fantastic and I’ll never need another Bebop. Oh, I’ve definitely bought more that you’ll get to read about some day, but I didn’t need any more. For now, Bebop is the high water mark for this line and if NECA never tops it that’s honestly okay, but I hope they do at some point.


NECA TMNT Cartoon Splinter vs Baxter

Got another two-pack for ya!

I didn’t intend for so many TMNT reviews to hit one after the other, but Christmas pushed a bunch of stuff into the final week of December and then some surprise difficulties with another review has moved this one up. So be it. 2020 had a final surprise in store for collectors of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. NECA had previously announced all of Wave 4 of its cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure line would release in the fall, before having a change of heart. The two most anticipated releases of the wave were pushed to 2021, the deluxe Android Krang and the two-pack of Master Splinter vs Baxter Stockman in his mutated fly form. In addition to being some fan-favorites, these two releases were important to collectors as they represented for many the last essential release of the line. Everyone’s mileage is a bit different, but I think all can agree that the most important characters in the show are (in some order): the turtles, April, Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang, and Splinter. You could certainly make a strong case for the generic Foot Soldier, and maybe some would push for Irma considering she was in a lot more episodes than you may recall. No one would argue though that those 10 previously mentioned characters are not essential.

I guess these two were paired-up because of their similar height?

Well, as I said, 2020 had a final surprise and it’s that both the deluxe Krang and Splinter vs Baxter two-pack arrived early. They first popped up in California Targets in the middle of December and gradually worked their way east before the end of the year. I actually found my Krang on New Year’s Eve, but had to wait on Splinter vs Baxter until 2021. While it’s always nice to get something earlier than expected, I definitely wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of running out to stores and hunting for action figures during the holiday rush, COVID or not. The whole pandemic thing just added another layer of anxiety, but I suppose there’s enough fool in me that I did go out. I masked-up, armed myself with a ton of hand sanitizer, and went through stores as quickly as possible until I found what I was looking for. In the case of this particular set I’m reviewing today, I never actually found it myself and was helped out via the CollectorsHelpingCollectors hashtag on Twitter so a special shout out is reserved for user og3 (@OG_mulch) for helping a fellow collector out!

Check out the sculpting around the base of Baxter’s wings and extra limbs.

Splinter vs Baxter comes packaged in the standard NECA window box. It’s a thinner box than some of the more recent releases as these are two of the smallest figures in the line so far. The only one smaller is the Roadkill Rodney. Not that we’re going to hold their size against them as these two boys more than make up for their small stature. And perhaps to compensate, there’s a ton of stuff included with this release, most of which belongs to Splinter. Some of it should be very familiar, but some of it is pretty obscure and I’m not even sure where it all comes from, but I’m happy to have it! More than accessories though, I am just thrilled beyond belief to finally have cartoon accurate depictions of both of these characters. The old Playmates line featured a Splinter that didn’t really resemble any version of the character. There was a slight resemblance to the Mirage Studios depiction, but he was kind of his own thing. And there weren’t a ton of Splinters to follow, and none really resembled the cartoon look. As for Baxter, his Playmates version was close, but like a lot of that line there was a lot more detail and grotesqueness with the figure that the cartoon chose to ignore. Playmates also wasn’t that concerned with scale so even though he was a fly he was the same size as basically everyone. For the cartoon, they took the already short Baxter Stockman (he was the same height as the turtles, pre-mutation) and shrunk him further when he was mutated resulting in a rather diminutive villain. They also gave him a sweater vest, but kept the bowtie, which just further separated him from the action figure.

Enter: The fly!

I get the sense that Splinter is the figure fans are most excited for, but I want to talk about Baxter first. I touched upon it a bit in my review of the Super7 Baxter Stockman, but this character was one of my favorites in the cartoon. And since I never got the original toy, it actually made me drawn to him more. He was used sparingly in the show, and he was able to be a sort of perfect villain for the show because he could be threatening, funny, and even sympathetic. He was as much a villain for the turtles as he was for Shredder, whom he blamed for his transformation into a fly. And I love the design! He’s got that big fly head with tiny wings and those purple appendages coming off of his back. He’s just a fun design.

Aww, he brought flowers!
And he brought a friend.

For this figure, NECA absolutely nailed it. First off, I love his size. Like a lot of characters in the show, he could be inconsistent in how he was portrayed, but generally speaking, Baxter should be shorter than the turtles. And he is here as he stands around 4 3/4″ when standing upright. The proportions also look pretty good with Baxter having a rather large head given that he has those big fly eyes. The paint though is where this thing shines. The way NECA painted the eyes is especially striking. This line does a great job of really giving the impression that these characters stepped out of a television set, but Baxter might be a new highwater mark as far as that goes. And I think it’s partly due to the fact that Baxter is basically fully clothed as the shading NECA has utilized for this line works really well here. NECA also matched all of the hinged pieces to the appropriate color this time around, so no paint-flaking that reveals the wrong color underneath as we saw with Leatherhead and the Triceratons. Oh, there’s still plenty of flake though as NECA continues to paint over joints, but at least once removed it doesn’t leave behind an eye sore.

“Hey, dude, you’re lucky I left my fly swatter in my other shell!”
“Lucky, am I?”

Little Baxter comes packed with an impressive array of articulation. Mine did feature some pretty stiff joints out of the box. Some of that is likely due to arriving rather cold since it did come by mail to the north east in January, and some of it is just the usual assortment of stuck joints this line is known for. Strangely, the joint that gave me the most trouble out of the box was the head which is just a simple ball-joint. I held him under running, hot, tap water for a bit and was able to get it to move. It sounded like there was some paint or something just holding it fused and once broken his head spun just fine. He has good rotation up there with a little ability to look up, but he can look down quite far which is useful if you intend to place him on a flight stand. His shoulders are pretty standard, ball and hinges, but at the elbow he features NECA’s somewhat unique double-joint. There are two hinges at the top and bottom and the arm can swivel at the top joint. He can bend well past 90 degrees as a result, but be a little careful as after the head this was the part that was toughest to free up. The hands are pegged in and can swivel. There’s also a hinge, but the hands sit fairly deep into the cuff of his dress shirt so it doesn’t do much. There’s what seems to be a ball-joint at the waist hidden under the vest that allows for some rotation and a little pivot. The legs are secured via a ball-joint, but they lack the usual amount of swivel we see in this line. He can swivel his thighs maybe 45 degrees or so, it’s not much. The knees are double-jointed and his feet are hinged and can rock side-to-side. The feet are also stuck pretty well on mine, so be careful. Lastly, Baxter has those wings and extra limbs on his back which are all attached via a ball-joint and hinge. I wish NECA had added additional hinges to the purple “arms” and some pinching articulation at the claws, but they’re largely just decorative.

I hear people enjoy comparisons.

Baxter is able to move around quite well which comes in handy since he has plenty of stuff he can be posed with. For starters, Baxter comes packaged with fisted hands, but he also has a pair of gripping hands and a pair of trigger finger hands. I’m glad NECA gave him trigger finger hands since it could have been argued he didn’t need to come with them since his main weapon, the trans-mutation ray, doesn’t have much of a trigger. You may recall this weapon from the cartoon as it allowed Baxter to mutate Shredder into a fly and Michelangelo into a gerbil. It’s mostly white and features a dial on the rear of the gun by the sights that allowed Baxter to select what animal he wanted to apply to his victim. It’s well-painted and looks great, though I wish that dial could actually move. Mine has a black blemish across the top too that I hope to rub off. Baxter’s hands are painted purple and are pretty stiff so it’s probably not a bad idea to heat his hands before trying to insert this gun into them lest you want ugly purple smudges on it. Baxter also comes with his computer buddy who helped him escape Dimension X. I don’t remember if he had a name, but he’s basically a computer monitor with attached keyboard. The screen is a lenticular image so he can display different emotions and it’s pretty cool. He has an opening for a socket underneath, so I’m curious if NECA will sneak a body into another pack for him, even if it’s non-articulated. The doku flower is also included, which poisoned April in the same episode Baxter debuted his fly form. I’m actually not sure if this is a Baxter accessory or a Splinter one, as it could be the gazai plant which was used by Splinter to cure April. Both plants looked identical in the episode. What will likely entertain people the most though is the included fly Shredder and gerbil Mikey. Both are non-articulated, but they look pretty great. The paint is applied well and Mikey is actually quite cute.

“What the devil?!”

It’s an impressive haul for Baxter, and like I said, I appreciate NECA including proper trigger hands with him so he can also wield any of the other guns from the show (like the small handgun that apparently belongs to Splinter, but kind of looks like the gun Baxter used in “Enter: The Fly”) with ease. Maybe some wanted a goofy accessory like a stack of sugar cubes and I know people are aching for Mousers, but I suspect those will be included one day with a human version of Baxter. I’m happy with this loadout and it’s cool that his computer buddy could even just function as a computer in a display for someone like April, if it’s so desired. The inclusion of the trans-mutation ray also makes it more fun to compare this figure to the Super7 version since that one came with the same weapon, albeit, unpainted.

Your ninja training has begun!

Baxter is impressive, and his box-mate Splinter is much the same. He stands basically at the same height as Baxter with his ears taking him up to approximately 5″. This is a depiction of Splinter from early in the show when his fur was a lighter brown and his kimono a deeper magenta. In later seasons, his fur would change to a much darker brown and his kimono lightened to a shade of pink, or maybe it just looked lighter by comparison. This is my preferred look though and it makes the most sense since the main turtle figures we have feature that olive flesh-tone from the show’s early seasons. Splinter has a rather stern and serious expression on his face which is appropriate for the character. NECA’s toon shading they utilize is blended really well with the sculpted fur which is different as it’s usually more pronounced. I think it works quite well. There’s a minor paint imperfection on my figure where a blob of the light brown is present on the back of his neck, but it’s partially hidden by the kimono. His body doesn’t have the toon shading on it and is painted the darker brown as it’s hidden by the kimono. His hands though are cast in the light brown so it looks odd when his wrists are visible. The kimono itself is a soft goods addition which I think is the way to go with this figure. I just wish NECA had done something different with the belt as it’s just a black ribbon tied in a knot. It sits too high on the character’s chest as his lower abdomen is very round making it hard to put it in the right place. A plastic belt like the old Playmates toy or the more nylon one Super7 used might have worked better. Or they could have sculpted a channel for the belt to fit in. It would have made the figure look a bit ugly when disrobed, but who is going to display Splinter without his kimono? They also could have just made the figure less round which probably would have worked the best.

Well, he apparently didn’t put much thought into their names.

The articulation on Splinter comes largely as expected. He has articulation at the base of the head and where the neck meets the torso. It’s very stiff on mine even after heating it multiple times so I’m not sure if this is just my figure or if the articulation is doing what it’s supposed to. He can look down, but I can’t really get him to look up and turning his head is also a bit challenging. It’s hard to get just the head to turn without the lower joint trying to as well. And that one is sculpted fur to fit over the body so it’s a bit rough and definitely not a fun joint to mess with as it feels like it’s rubbing quite a bit on the torso. His jaw is articulated, but mine looks miss-aligned. It’s like he has a cross-bite and I’m tempted to see if I can get it into a better position with a heat gun, though I’d probably have to remove the soft goods lest I want to set them on fire. The arms are standard joints at the shoulder and feature double-joints like Baxter’s. They move very well considering you have to contend with the soft goods. My only concern is that the top pin holding the elbow joint together on the left arm of my figure looks pretty jacked up like it was damaged during insertion and pushed in too far. I’m only pointing this out because it seems to be rather widespread with this figure. He moves fine right now, but I’m definitely being careful there. The wrists are the same peg and hinge joints we’re accustomed to. There is a diaphragm cut and the legs are joined with standard ball-joints. The shape of his rump prevents him from kicking back, but he can kick forward and balance on one foot so ninja kicks are still on the table. His knees are double-jointed in a very rat-like manner as they angle backwards. There’s a hinged joint at the ankle and also a toe hinge. Thankfully, that ankle joint is cast in white so no paint blemish down there, but the toe hinge is a bit ugly as there’s a gap between the wrappings and toes. Lastly, Splinter’s tail is connected via a ball-joint and moves much better than any of the other tails we’ve seen in this line. It’s also a wire with plastic sculpted over it so there is some bendy quality to it. It’s not a lot, but better than the movie Splinter from NECA.

Splinter, I think it’s upside-down…

Splinter probably won’t demand a ton of posing ability from most collectors, but he is a ninja and should be able to move like a ninja. I think NECA did just okay in that respect. I really wish they could have figured out a scheme that allowed him to cross his legs in a meditative pose or got some more torso articulation into him as well. I feel like they could have taken advantage of the fact that this is a robed figure, like they kind of did with the movie version, to fit torso articulation into him that may not have been super aesthetically pleasing, but would have been covered up. He looks the part, which is most important, he’s just not quite the homerun I was expecting after seeing the promotional images.

That’s a lot of stuff for both figures.

Even more so than Baxter, Splinter is loaded with extra goodies. He comes with gripping hands instead of fists, but also has five extra hands to work with. I should clarify they’re more like relaxed gripping hands as he has a set of tighter gripping hands he can swap for. He has a set of what I would call martial arts posed hands, or maybe even meditative hands. One even looks like Bart Simpson’s infamous Touch of Death. The other is a two-finger pointing hand. And lastly, he has a right, single-finger, pointing, hand. All of the hands are painted light brown and feature sculpted fur and claws, though the claws are unpainted (which is consistent with the show).

When a walking stick literally won’t cut it.

Splinter has all of those hands because he has a lot of stuff to hold. The relaxed gripping hands work great with his books and scroll. He has two books, one is open and features depictions of the artists that inspired the names of the turtles and the other is closed. The scroll, which is from an episode of the show and did something, is unfurled and he can hold it via either end. He also has his walking stick which the relaxed hands can fit over for standing poses. The tighter gripping hands come into play with the sword and gun. The sword is the Sword of Yurikawa taken from the episode of the same name. It looks a lot like one of Leo’s non-stylized katanas, which is to say it doesn’t really look like an actual katana. It has a yellow-gold hilt and short blade, but best of all, it comes with a flaming effect piece which is cast in translucent orange plastic and slides over the blade. It’s pretty cool and if you prefer your Splinter to be less of a pacifist this should work. If you think that blade is too elegant though, there’s a gun. I don’t recall where this gun came from, but it’s a small pistol. Splinter also has a Yin Yang medallion that he can wear and a dojo mat to meditate on. The mat is kind of cool as it’s made of a springy, foam-like, material instead of paper of cloth. Lastly, we have a little rat. It might have made more sense for a Hamato Yoshi to come with a rat, but I’m not complaining. The martial arts pose hands can even allow the rat to sit in Splinter’s palm.

When necessary, Splinter can turn up the heat.

That’s a lot of stuff, and there was so much in the box that NECA had to put the extra hands on their own, separate, tray and tape it to the underside of the main bubble tray. It’s something I really appreciate about NECA and this line as when figures seem to come in under budget they fill the set with extra stuff until they hit their standard baseline. They could have just shipped a set with a larger profit margin than usual, but didn’t, and that’s cool. I give a lot of credit to brand manager Trevor Zammit for spending probably far too much time with this cartoon to find all of this stuff and to director Randy Falk for encouraging him. Of the two figures, I think I prefer Baxter as he both looks fantastic and has the articulation needed to make him wonderful. I do wish he had a little more articulation in those purple appendages he’s got, and I wish NECA in general would start supplying vertically-hinged hands for proper weapon wielding. And I also largely like what we have with Splinter. He looks like the character from the show, and while I found more room for criticism with him, I still think he turned out well enough. You won’t hear me asking for a better version anytime soon.

And when that doesn’t work, he’s also packing heat.

This puts a capper on NECA’s release schedule for 2020 as far as TMNT is concerned. It was quite a year for the line with lots of frustration, but also lots of damn good toys. Trying to figure out a favorite is an exercise for another day, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s next. Next up is a Rat King and Vernon two-pack and I am super stoked to add a cartoon accurate Rat King to my collection. Also announced are the punk frogs, Ace Duck, Mondo Gecko, Muckman, Chrome Dome, and a four-pack of turtles all featuring cloth goods trench coats and new headsculpts. There’s also the cartoon city scape diorama set to ship to those who ordered it last year sometime this quarter. 2021 is going to be busy, but hopefully rewarding. Once again, thanks to those in the collecting community who helped me secure this set and good luck to the rest of you. Remember, don’t feed the scalpers! Good luck, and happy hunting!

At long last, the family is together.

NECA TMNT Cartoon The Wrath of Krang!

Bring the wrath!

We’re back for 2021, and right now it looks like a lot like 2020 as we have a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure to talk about – Android Krang! Hopefully, this doesn’t mean 2021 is a lot like 2020 going forward, but if it’s going to copy anything from 2020 then let it be the toys. There were a lot of toy releases in 2020 that caught my fancy, so much so that this blog is practically a toy blog 11 months out of the year and a Christmas blog the other month. As long as the toy releases remain this good, then that’s fine by me!

One of the weirder characters from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon is Krang. It’s easy to lose sight of just how weird he is because he’s in nearly every episode. He’s overexposed so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that he’s largely portrayed as a rather large, thick, dude in a Speedo with a brain in his stomach. Krang was obviously inspired by the Utrom from the original line of Mirage Studios comic books, but in the hands of Fred Wolf Productions he became quite an intriguing character. An oversized brain with a face and tendrils, he was there from the start and Playmates quickly introduced an action figure into its toyline. That version of Krang was depicted in his “bubble walker,” which was basically a bubble with robot legs he could sit in. The toy also had robot arms that could be attached to it, though when it came to the cartoon I do not recall ever seeing such a thing (the bubble walker in general was rarely seen). From the moment we meet Krang in the series, he’s demanding Shredder create a body for him based on some blueprints he keeps waving around. By the end of the original mini series, he has that body and that was the version of Krang we came to know and love.

When NECA first tapped into the cartoon property for a comic con exclusive set, it included Krang with that same bubble walker Playmates had run with for its first version of Krang. All probably assumed NECA wanted to do a proper body for Krang, but at the time no one knew how far the company was going to be permitted to go with this property. When the inaugural wave was first unveiled, NECA referenced the expected body with their version of Krang waving a set of blueprints in action figure Shredder’s face. The following year, the body made its debut! Titled “The Wrath of Krang!” this release marks the second in what NECA calls the deluxe line of figures following last summer’s release of Metalhead. The deluxe line is essentially reserved for larger figures and figures that require their own unique tooling that won’t bare fruit later. Metalhead retailed for $30, while Krang retails for $35 likely due to the amount of accessories included and the figure’s increased size. It’s still a Target exclusive, so if you’re sick of hunting for toys at that store I’m afraid Krang is no different. However, if a figure was worth the trouble it might be this one as Krang in this form is definitely an essential character and one no TMNT collector likely wants to go without.

The only downside to NECA’s retro packaging is you’ll likely want to keep it.

Krang comes packaged in NECA’s Ultimates styled packaging which is the five-panel window box. The artwork on the box is a direct homage to the TMNT VHS releases by F.H.E right down to the font and art style for the characters depicted. Credit for the concept goes to brand manager Trevor Zammit with the actual packaging and illustrations credited to Chris Raimo and Dan Elson. It’s really a sight to behold and definitely hits all of the right nostalgia notes for those who grew up with the property. I’m able to bring myself to toss the standard two-pack boxes, but I can’t trash these ones. They’re just far too charming.

The original Krang (left) really captures the season one look while the new one is designed to fill-out the opening in the body and is more reflective of the other seasons.
The new Krang may be larger, but he still fits in the bubble walker. His tendrils are more secure in his body too, which I assume to is to prevent them from dislodging inside the body.
“Krang, would you shut up about that stupid body!”

Krang is relatively easy to remove from his package and presumably would be easy to re-insert should you desire. Once removed, he stands around eight and a half inches tall before inserting the antenna into the top of his head (which he comes with an extra, in case you lose or break one). Krang is packaged separately from his body and needs to be placed inside the body’s stomach opening. To do so, you have to remove the top half of the body from the bottom above the yellow cavity. The body is pretty rigid and NECA did not include instructions. The easiest way I’ve found to take him apart is to push from the inside against the side wall to release the body from a little tab in each side and front. Once you get one side out, it comes apart easy, but definitely don’t force it or you could scratch the paint. Once apart, Krang can be placed inside it and has a little plug that will hold him in place to a point. He can’t be shaken or turned upside down and expected to stay put, but if you’re sticking him on a shelf he should be fine. There are two joysticks inside the body to simulate Krang’s control over the body and they can slip inside his tendrils. They’re both on ball-joints and can be manipulated which is a really cool touch. The Krang figure is also brand new as the previously released one was deemed too small to work. He has a different expression that I’d say is fairly neutral and his tentacles are shaped to work with the joysticks. He still fits in the bubble walker though, if that’s something you want to do.

Some assembly required.
He looks happy (you’ll have to take my word on that).

The first thing you’ll notice once in hand, aside from the size, is that this guy has a lot of paint on him. NECA seems to love paint with this line and very little on this guy is just colored plastic. Even the body’s flesh tone is paint on top of a similarly colored plastic. The end result is a figure that looks like it was ripped from a cartoon, but it also means he’s susceptible to paint imperfections, chips, and the like. I was lucky to find this figure at retail along with five other sets so I was able to look at them all and choose the best one. Of the six, only two featured minimal imperfections. The others had eyesores on their chest or arms that couldn’t be ignored. Would they have stopped me from buying one had they all been like that? Probably not, but I might have kept the figure in box in hopes of finding a better one later. It’s definitely something to be aware of and if you’re buying one online or receiving via trade or something then buyer beware.

You’ve got to admire Krang’s confidence in his choice of fashion.
The handle and “butt port” seems to imply it’s also been built for fun!

Aside from the paint issues, the only other item to concern yourself with are the joints. I’ve seen many reports of tight or stuck joints, and that’s usually a symptom of the paint getting into them. I didn’t have any stuck joints, but I did have the usual paint flaking from the elbows and knees as I worked them a bit. I probably worked this one less than most NECA releases as his joints were fine on mine and to avoid more paint flaking. I don’t need him to do anything too extravagant, so I didn’t push it. The actual look of the figure is very cartoon-accurate. I like the scale quite a bit and I think NECA settled on the appropriate height and mass for the figure, which is tougher than it sounds as his size fluctuated a lot in the show. And I’m not referring to the few times he literally grew in size. All of the little touches I recall are present too, like the handle on the back of the body and even a port, which I don’t remember, right on his ass. Was this for charging the body? He has red hands, which I believe were quickly changed to flesh colored in the cartoon, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they went back and forth as that show was not a model of consistency. The sculpt is great though, and the only room for criticism resides in the face. When the figure was first shown, he had a more pronounced frown with the mouth shaped a little differently. I’ve seen some express a preference for that, but I don’t really care or feel that one is any more appropriate than the other. The only other oddity is with the eyes in which the left eye slit is larger than the other. This also wasn’t present with the prototype and I have no idea if it’s intentional or not. It’s one of those things that you may not notice, but once you do, it cannot be unseen.

“Bring me my rock soldiers!”
“I said rock soldiers!”

Krang articulates in basically all of the manners necessary, though he’s functionally a bit more limited than most of the other figures in the line. The actual Krang features ball-jointed tendrils that can be popped out if you want to make use of the bubble walker. The body features a ball-jointed head that mostly just rotates. The shoulders are hinged and on ball-joints, but the oversized shoulder pads restrict a lot of the range. The shoulder pads are soft so you can force the arms higher, but keep in mind it will probably put stress on the paint on those shoulder pads. The elbows feature a single hinge, but do swivel. The hands swivel as well and have a hinge, but they sit pretty deep and that hinge is largely rendered moot. There is a waist swivel below the yellow compartment for Krang. It’s a little loose on mine, but I was able to seat it a little better out of the box and there’s no gap issues. The thighs are are on ball-joints and the red underwear or trunks is a soft plastic that can be moved around, but you’re still not going to get a ton of range from that area. The thighs do swivel and the knees are double-jointed. The feet are on hinges and I think they should rock side-to-side, but mine may be stuck and I don’t want to push anything. If this figure is going to have durability issues it will likely be with those feet as I’ve seen a few broken ones on social media. This guy isn’t really meant to be posed in too dramatic a fashion. He doesn’t need to as his size alone gives him plenty of shelf presence since he’s easily the tallest in the line (a title that will be short-lived as NECA is prepping a Chrome Dome for 2021). He can be made to look like he’s swinging one of his arms or aiming a blaster and that’s really all he needs to do. He stands all right by himself, but he’s definitely a top-heavy figure and those tiny feet do not do him any favors. Because of all the paint on him, I think I will also reinforce him with a stand as one fall could really do some damage to the aesthetics of this one.

Ready to bust shells.
For when a gun seems too clean.

Krang comes packaged with a whole mess of optional parts and items. Way more than what came with Metalhead. For starters, he comes packaged with open hands and comes with two sets of gripping hands. One set is a relaxed gripping hand and the other a tighter one. He doesn’t actually come with anything that he needs to grip, but if you wanted to give him a gun or communicator you have the hands to do it. It would have been cool if one of the sets of hands was flesh-colored to match his other appearances in the show and it’s a detail I’m honestly a little surprised NECA didn’t capture. In addition to the hands, he has other attachments that can take the place of his hands. He has a set of lasers that definitely look like something that would be featured in the cartoon. He also has a pair of flails with actual chains that look really neat, though I wish one had a rigid, plastic, chain for style-posing rather than both featuring the real thing which just hangs from the arm. There’s also an axe head that can be attached to one hand and a circular saw to the other. The circular saw is pretty cool as it actually spins, but sadly a factory error means every saw was assembled incorrectly and the back of the blade is exposed. The only way to fix it is to break it and re-assemble as it’s on a peg. The reverse side is properly painted and looks awesome if you have the courage to do it, but I’m still getting there. I’m not expecting NECA to offer replacements and if it does get corrected it will be with the next factory order so we’re probably on our own with this one.

Only slightly more ridiculous than his usual look.
Aww, what a cutie!

In addition to the assortment of weapons, Krang also comes with some fun stuff that’s definitely on the lighter side. Remember the episode where Shredder contacts Krang on their video communicator only to find Krang recently emerged from the shower? If that’s something you do remember fondly, you can recreate that look for your Krang! NECA included a shower cap that rests on his head. Just remove the antenna, put it on, and replace the antenna! There’s a bar of soap on a rope that fits around his neck and a blue, felt-like material to wrap around him for a towel. It’s goofy and I love it and it might make people want to buy two so they can display both versions. Krang also comes with the blue prints for his body and what looks like the Foot Knucklehead. They’re printed on paper and might look nice in a diorama. Lastly, there’s also a mini figure of Baby Shredder. He gets exposed to a fountain of youth or something in one episode and reverts to a toddler. The figure has a great, bratty, expression on his face and even features some articulation. The head is on a ball-joint as are the arms. There’s also a hinge in the middle of his torso so he can sit or stand. The paint is nice and clean and his shoulder blades feature mud, or sand, which is a reference to the episode. It’s silly, but fun, nonetheless.

He’s got a day care business on the side.
PSA from Krang: normalize breast feeding.

The deluxe, or ultimate, release of Krang largely lives up to expectations, which were pretty high for this guy. NECA nailed the likeness and made sure to include a ton of optional, but worthy, accessories. It’s really tough to settle on a display for him because there are just so many options and the desire to have multiples is pretty strong. He looks great beside his fellow rogues or in combat against his enemies and I do get the sense that NECA went the extra mile to really make sure that this figure felt special. And that’s a great feeling to have with any purchase and especially with collectibles. The only drawbacks I really find with him rest with the paint and the saw error is a bummer. There’s no denying that all of the paint utilized for this figure helps give him that cartoon look, I just wish it could be applied more consistently. I also wish it was a little easier to separate the two halves of the figure, but once I have the figure inside I don’t really need to pull it apart anymore. He’s easy enough to reset, it’s just getting his tendrils around the joysticks that often necessitates more intervention.

“So, do we like, look at the head of the brain in the stomach?” “I don’t know, Mikey, just hit him!”

NECA’s The Wrath of Krang is currently a Target exclusive. There is some hope that eventually NECA will offer a made-to-order method of production with this one as it figures to be a figure that’s very much in-demand with collectors, more so than other releases. NECA is currently still working to fulfill all of the made-to-order items it offered last summer so I wouldn’t expect any news on that front until late winter or spring, at the earliest. The other silver-lining though is that both Target and NECA seem to be on the same page with this release and he’s being shipped in far greater numbers than we’re used to. Most stores appear to be receiving one or two cases with each featuring six Krangs. There’s still some confusion on how they’re being stocked though as images have circulated on social media of the shipping containers indicating that these are to be stocked and handled by Target employees. This differs from every other NECA release which is handled by an independent rep. Normally, that rep comes in once or twice a week and puts out new stock and Target employees largely have little to do with it. With them being handled by Target though, this means stock actually gets scanned into inventory and employees may be more willing to help collectors find them. It’s still a free-for-all though as my nearest store appears to still be leaving these to the rep. Target has yet to offer this release online as it has for every other TMNT release so if you’re having no luck locally you at least have an online release to (hopefully) look forward to. And if you’re really having trouble, get on Twitter and look for the CollectorsHelpingCollectos hashtag. Chances are, someone will have access to this figure and will be willing to help you out without any mark-up. It’s a great way to beat the scalpers and it’s nice to know that fellow collectors are looking out for each other. Good luck, and happy hunting, as this is a release not to be missed!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Captain Zarax and Zork

More dino-men to terrorize your turtles.

Lets end 2020 on a familiar topic for the year: looking at another set of NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Wave 4 of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures based on the vintage cartoon brings to us the most obscure release of the line thus far. Here today is Captain Zarax and Zork, officers in the Triceraton army who appeared in one episode of the show. It was one thing to receive the Triceraton infantryman in the previous two-pack release since that character’s design was based on the Playmates action figure many are familiar with, while these two guys are pretty much their own thing. Yes, they’re still space dinosaurs and triceratops at that so their design is pretty familiar, but their overall look is unique to the show.

Still rockin’ those gator tails.
“I never realized how beautiful your eyes are…”

Given that, some may be wondering why NECA chose to release these two guys relatively early in the line’s life. Well, the simple reason is cost. Both Zarax and Zork should feel very familiar as they’re essentially the same figure as the infantryman. They arrive in the same styled window box as the rest of the line, only now it’s bigger than ever since these guys are pretty beefy. I didn’t bother to include a photo this time around since the packaging should be rather familiar at this point. NECA was able to likely save quite a bit of money by not needing to create new molds. The only new parts are the individual headsculpts, feet, and the soft, rubber, armor that fits over the torso. Some collectors look down on flagrant parts reuse, but it’s hard to argue it’s not good business and it helps keep the price consumers pay for the product down. Plus, these two guys impart enough personality that it doesn’t feel like a disservice to reuse the same mold. Helping that is the fact that both characters feature articulated jaws. I criticized the infantryman for not featuring that, since that figure was considered an “army builder” and an articulated jaw is a simple way to add variety to a display, and I am at least happy to see it here.

“I can siiiiiiiiiing!”
That’s a lovely shade of green.

Aside from the jaw articulation, these figures are the same as the previous one as far as articulation goes. The head features terrific range of motion for what one would expect to be a bulky figure. These guys do have shoulder pads which can get in the way a bit, especially with the yellow one, Zarax, but it’s still quite good. The shoulders are on ball-joints with double-jointed elbows and bicep swivels. The hands are hinged and can rotate while the upper torso has good play due to what is likely a ball-joint underneath the armor. Zork does feature a shoulder strap that goes across his chest and abdomen that you’ll want to watch out for when rotating his upper body. The tail is ball-jointed, but doesn’t afford much range of motion as it sits quite far inside that joint. It basically just hangs out. The legs can go out, forward, and back pretty freely and swivel above the thigh. The knees are double-jointed and the feet are on ball-pegs and can swivel and rock side-to-side. It all works quite well for such big brutes and is pretty typical of this line as a whole.

Zarax’s bladed bracers will probably be the star accessory for most.
Ready for some blade-on-blade action?

Not only is the sculpt for these guys familiar, but so are the accessories. They come with the same layout of hands as the infantryman which is a pair of open hands, a pair of gripping hands that also work as fists, and a single, right, trigger hand. The weapon loadout is also familiar as they come with the rocket launcher, machinegun, and rifle to share between the two of them. The only difference are the blades for Captain Zarax. Pop off his hands and you can slide his bracers off and replace them with the bladed ones which he featured in the cartoon. It’s a cool look for him and I assume many will pose him with his blades and Zork with the guns.

It’s a small army.

The two dinosaurs looks pretty nice and mix well with the infantryman. The quality control appears to be satisfactory as well as the joints were all pretty free and easy out of the box and the paint is largely clean. There’s a little bit of slop on Zork’s armor and around the horns, but nothing egregious. His horns also aren’t level with each other with one pointing lower than the other. I have no idea if that is intentional or if they’re suppose to align, but it’s barely noticeable. Zork has a curious feature too where his hands are the darker shade of green used for the shading on his body. The other two triceratons have their hands cast in the lighter shade of their flesh and I’m not sure why Zork is different. The prototypes that NECA showed off back at Toy Fair featured the lighter green for the hands, so my guess is this was either a late change or a factory error that NECA decided to run with. Both characters also feature the same paint short-comings with the feet as other releases where the hinge is a different color than what is painted over it. In this case, both have these booty things over their feet and when you bend the foot forward the flesh colored hinge becomes visible. It’s the one consistent complaint about this line that I have, but it doesn’t appear like one that is going to be corrected anytime soon. My Zork also has the green of his flesh peeking through the foot covering along the inside of his ankle and handling the two figures will produce a lot of yellow and green paint flakes. Don’t eat them. Zarax’s bladed gauntlets are also a bit tricky to get on, but it wasn’t too bad. There’s a notch cut into them so they go on properly. I am left wishing the blades were a bit longer though. I saw numerous comments about their jaws being hard to work with, but I guess I lucked out because I’ve had no issue there, but buyer beware.

I’m desperate for shelf space, and these giant tails don’t help.
The view from the turtles’ perspective is looking rather dire.

These guys may not have been high up on anyone’s “wants” list from the show, but it’s hard to argue they didn’t turn out well. Both have a pretty mean presence on a shelf as they’re big, dinosaur, men. I wish that NECA had changed up the weapon loadout a bit, especially considering the other set was meant to be an army builder so we’re really swimming in these weapons now. On the plus side, if you want to pair Bebop and Rocksteady with their weapons (the rifle and machinegun were both handled by the pair in the cartoon) you should have plenty of extra laying around if you got this and multiple versions of the prior set. And you get yourself a little Triceraton squad.


TMNT Loot Crate 2 – Turtles in Time “Shell Shock”

It took awhile, but the second in the series of 3 TMNT Loot Crate releases has finally arrived.

The Covid-19 pandemic that has gripped the entire globe in 2020 has really thrown a wrench into release dates and windows. Virtually everything has been impacted that requires global transportation with certain items becoming hard to get, or even impossible. As a result, it’s no surprise that the 2020 releases for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle themed Loot Crates has been pushed back repeatedly. The first of three crates was originally scheduled to arrive in June, but slipped to August. The second crate was originally supposed to release in September, but Loot Crate pushed it back to October. Then November. And here we are in December, the month most consumers finally received their second crate. I’m pretty understanding when it comes to delays, but it was hard not to get annoyed as Loot Crate kept moving the release window, only to move it again. Just say it’s coming in the fourth quarter! How hard is that?

The view for me upon opening the crate.

Making things worse is that I was definitely looking past this crate. From day one, my eyes have been on the third crate which will ship with not one, but two NECA action figures. And those figures look to be exceptional. This crate was announced as being an arcade themed crate with an image of the original arcade game used to promote it. That ended up being a red herring of sorts as the crate is actually themed around the second arcade game, Turtles in Time, and features a figure from NECA based on that game. And that figure? An electrified, “shell shock,” turtle, which while certainly unique, is not exactly something anyone was asking for. NECA’s approach to these crates, and NECA owns Loot Crate, is to pack-in a figure that is not essential for TMNT collectors, but is fun or offbeat. The first crate contained a repaint of the previously released Mirage Shredder, which was probably more “essential” to collectors than this figure as that Shredder had only been made available once before in a convention exclusive box set. This one is definitely more of the offbeat variety and definitely feels like a middle release as it’s not as desirable as a new take on the Mirage Shredder, nor is it as fun and goofy as the Easter Bunny Bebop and Rocksteady coming with crate 3.

A t-shirt! This one features long sleeves.

Before we dig into that action figure, lets talk about the other stuff first that comes in the crate. The crate arrives in a black box with a sticker on it which announces the theme of the set. It seems like a bad way to distribute these as there is no additional mailer box so if you’re not home this thing just sits by your door announcing its contents to anyone who happens to take a look. And considering this arrived during peak porch-robber season, it strikes me as a dumb way of doing things. I didn’t want to interrupt the Christmas stuff on this blog for a post about a Loot Crate release, but this one took about a week to get to me after shipping and I’ve had it since early December.

The pins.
Stickers.

The contents of this crate is a lot like that of the first crate. Turtles in Time is the prevailing theme of everything and it’s a better theme than a made-up TCRI company picnic as this crate doesn’t overuse the same logo on everything like the previous one. Like the first crate, you get: a figure, a t-shirt, a keychain, and a pin. In the case of this crate, you get two pins! One features Krang on his little pedestal thing from when his body is blown up in the game. The other is a slice of pizza and both are heavily pixelated to mimic the look of the game. There’s also a sheet of puffy stickers each containing a buzzword associated with the game: Cowabunga, Shell Shock, and Attack! The keychain is a metal, spinner, design featuring the silhouette of a pizza sewer monster. One side is the monster jumping to the right, and the other is the inverse only he’s also swiping his claw. The metal is heavy and the pins are metal with enamel and look pretty sharp. I’m not a pin guy though, so I don’t know what to do with them. The keychain is nice, and probably more durable than the one in the Mirage crate, but I don’t want it to get messed up in my pocket so I’m hesitant to actually use it.

A spinning keychain.

The new stuff this time around sort of follows the same pattern as the other stuff. It’s kind of neat, but functionally useless. First up is a gold coin. It’s about the size of a silver dollar and pretty heavy and comes in a little Ziplock styled pouch. One side features a turtle head like the turtle icon next to the health bar and it says “Cowabunga Dudes” across the top and bottom as well as “In Pizza We Trust” along the side and 1up below the turtle face. The reverse features the same pizza slice the pin appears to be based on and says “Pizza Power” across the top and “Radical” across the bottom. The same “In Pizza We Trust” is on it as well plus the legal stuff. It looks fine, but again, what do you do with such a thing? Stash it in a drawer, I guess, and hope it’s worth something in a decade or so.

A one-up token.
The reverse side of the token.

The included t-shirt is a bit different this time around as well. The previous one was a white t-shirt with the TCRI stuff on the front in black font. This time around we actually get a long sleeve t-shirt in a pretty loud shade of blue. I love blue, so this isn’t a negative for me, but some might wish for something a bit more understated, I guess. The image is the same turtle face from the coin, only now all four are present and it says “Turtle Power” in a yellow, pixel, font. It’s cute and something I’ll wear so that’s cool.

The included TV is pretty cool. I’ll find something to do with it eventually.

The last unique item other than the figure is kind of like an accessory for the figure. It’s a little, plastic, television set with a lenticular image on the screen from the game’s intro. It switches from April O’Neil with the Statue of Liberty in the background and an image of Shredder from the TV set the turtles actually watch in the game. It’s sharp, and if you’re a NECA collector it should be familiar as this has been released a few times already and is actually a part of an upcoming accessory set based on the first movie. It has an 80s look to it with a bunch of dials and it’s real boxy. The dials do not function on it so don’t try and crank them. The Shredder image is definitely the more dominant of the two, which is fine as I would have been happy if it was just this image of Shredder. Oddly, this item is not listed on the index card that comes with the set which details the contents so I’m curious if it was a late addition. Maybe someone felt this crate needed a little something extra, maybe the costs came in lower than expected, it could be this was thought of as an accessory for the figure that didn’t fit in the box, or it could just be a simple oversight when it comes to the index card. Whatever the reason, I actually like this and I hope NECA comes through with a sewer lair in the future because I will definitely put this in there if it doesn’t come with one. Maybe I can even add a mini, to scale, Super Nintendo as well!

That’s everything in the crate with the exception of the thing you’re probably most curious about: the action figure. The Shell Shock Turtle comes in the same Turtles in Time box as the other releases in this line. The back of which features some product shots of Shredder blasting the turtle as well as a green foot soldier (unreleased, as far as I know) shooting him. The figure itself is the same turtle body that’s been released several times now in the cartoon and arcade line, only the belt has been removed and its cast in glow-in-the-dark, semi-transparent, plastic. Where the belt used to plug in on the front and back has been filled and it kind of stands out when in-hand, but not really when placed on a shelf. The various pads are painted black and there’s a black, skeletal, deco applied as well. The only new sculpting is the head, which is in an almost horrifying looking shape. The mouth is open nearly 180 degrees with a tongue protruding from it that can rotate. The eyes are big, black, spheres and the knot in the mask is black as well. There’s even some sculpted teeth in the mouth that may not show in pictures since it’s black on black. This is also the same head-shape the turtles make in the game when shouting “My toe! My toe,” so maybe a painted variant will arrive one day. Probably as another Loot Crate.

That head makes me think of the old Reach toothbrush commercials.
You can see the spot where they had to fill the shell as a consequence of removing the belt.
A close-up on the horror!

Since this figure is the same as the other turtles, it’s articulated in the same way. The head can still look up and down and rotate, just not as much given the irregular shape. The shoulders can rotate and the arms can come out to the side, not quite 90 degrees though. The left shoulder on mine doesn’t want to budge at the hinge, but I don’t really intend on posing this one differently than how he was posed in the box. As such, I haven’t spent much time applying heat to it, but what little time I did spend at the faucet didn’t help much. There’s a bicep swivel and single joint at the elbow while the hands rotate and feature a hinge in the middle. There’s a joint in the diaphragm that’s now more visible given the lack of a belt, but the shell still prevents it from having really any functional application. The legs can go out, forward, and back with the rear of the shell hindering them some there. The knees are double-jointed and the feet are on ball-pegs. It’s a sculpt that could really use a refresh as the lack of double-joints at the elbows hurt it and the feet need some more love. For this figure though, it’s not really an issue as it’s designed to basically display in one pose.

“My toe!”

As far as accessories go, there’s little to speak of. The figure comes with open hands and there’s also a set of gripping hands if you want to give this thing a weapon. It’s better than nothing, but I’m honestly never going to use those gripping hands. It’s a Loot Crate toss-in, so I wasn’t expecting much, but I was really hoping for a stand of some kind. This guy is designed to be displayed as he comes in the box, which is impossible without some kind of a stand. If you were hoping to utilize a Roadkill Rodney, think again, as that figure is far too light to prop this one up. NECA does sell stylized stands and it would have been nice if they tossed one in. I’d trade pretty much anything in this crate, except the TV, for one. Since they didn’t include one, I grabbed one when I was last at Target and while it’s not really designed to support a turtle, it seems to be working well enough.

Let it glow!

Obviously, the main feature of this guy is the glow-in-the-dark aspect of it. And, yeah, it works. When I first saw images of this thing I was curious if it would come with some kind of lighting device like the Spirit of Splinter crate, but no such thing was included. It has me wondering if glow-in-the-dark was the best way to capture the look this figure is going for. It was certainly the easiest way, and probably the most cost-effective as well, it’s just limited. It leaves me feeling like this figure is just missing something. I kind of wish they had used a different packaging that instead was louder and displayed the figure akin to how it is on the product shots. Then I would have just left it in-box and been content. As is, I feel like it needs a proper backdrop like a diorama. Something lit with the big, yellow, electric, spark behind it. I’m left feeling the figure was a better idea than it is an actual action figure.

If you want to display this guy, I recommend a stand.

The Turtles in Time Shell Shock crate from Loot Crate arrives largely as expected. Most of the contents of the crate are done well, it’s just also a bunch of knick-knack styled items that serve no purpose beyond merely existing. Some people love that stuff, and some don’t. I’m kind of in the middle in that I like little, useless, things as long as they display well. I haven’t found a way to display much of the stuff from the first crate and I suspect the same will be true here, but if you’re concerned about quality know that at least that seems to be present. The t-shirt is something I will wear and I do like how it came out and the TV is cool and I’ll find some way to incorporate that into my TMNT display. The figure is the real selling point for these crates though, and if you only had interest in the figure then you might feel a little let down since these crates retail for twice what a figure would. It is what it is. NECA didn’t want to include must-haves in these things, and they certainly pulled that off here. This figure is the kind of figure that would normally be a GameStop exclusive or something that eventually winds up on the clearance rack. It’s not for everyone. If you have a vibrant arcade TMNT display then you’ll probably enjoy this one more than most. If you’re like me and have only a couple figures from that line and only subscribed to this Loot Crate bundle for the bunny boys then you’ll probably just put this thing somewhere and start looking forward to that third crate.


NECA TMNT Secret of the Ooze Tokka and Rahzar

They’re here!

Merry Boxing Day every one! I hope you enjoyed the Christmas content this year, but it’s time to go back to our usual programming. Which in 2020 means toys. And I just could not wait any longer to talk about what was probably my most anticipated release of 2020: NECA’s Tokka and Rahzar based on their appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.

One of the last, big, events of 2020 was New York Toy Fair. The show, occurring annually in February, is ostensibly a trade show, but over the years it has become much more. Like E3, coverage of the event has basically turned it into a full blown consumer event, only the general public is still largely kept away in the case of Toy Fair. The event was originally a time for producers to show their wares and solicit orders from retail partners and other vendors. Now, most of that stuff is handled throughout the year since communication is so much easier these days than it was 30 years ago and for the big toy producers the event is almost more like a chance to show off and get the consumer excited for what’s to come later in the year.

This is one big box!

For last year’s event, I was pretty excited to see what NECA had cooking in the oven when it came to its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license. I’ve definitely been more interested in the cartoon line, and I certainly was heading into Toy Fair 2020, but what ended up stealing the show for me was a two-pack from a movie I don’t even really care for. Tokka and Rahzar were the new mutants introduced for the sequel film The Secret of the Ooze in 1991. The movie is pretty hokey and kind of dumb, but the creature designs for Tokka and Rahzar (handled by the talented folks at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop) were off the charts. They’re imposing, and while NECA originally said it wasn’t that interested in producing toys based on the sequel, it basically had to give in to fan demands where these guys were concerned.

NECA’s Chris Raimo did a bang-up job on the packaging.

This year, NECA started distributing all movie-related product for TMNT at Walmart. It has not gone well. NECA had to endure a lot of fan backslash, some of it justified, some of it not, throughout the summer when product was scarce. Sort of as a mea culpa, the company decided to do something different with the planned Tokka and Rahzar two-pack. Rather than send it to Walmart like it did with the other figures, the company decided to do a manufacture-on-demand run via its website. For one week in July, anyone who wanted a set (or multiples) could place an order on NECA’s website and expect delivery later in the year. The only catch was you had to pay upfront, but you were guaranteed a set of figures in the fall. I don’t know if Walmart showed little interest in the set (it was more expensive than a standard two-pack, retailing for around $70) or if NECA just never offered it to the retailer, but either way, this method of delivery was a god-send. Sure, the wait was a long one given how much excitement I personally had invested in the set, but all-in-all, going from an ordering window to delivery in less than 4 months is a pretty short wait and it looks like the company pulled it off.

Sorry fellas, but your replacements have arrived.

My set arrived in mid-December, so I’ve had some time to enjoy these “babies” before making this post. First of all, the box for these guys is huge! It’s the standard window box we’re used to, only it had to be increased in size to accommodate these guys. This sucker is 5 1/2″ deep, 9 3/4″ tall, and nearly 14 1/4″ long. The box is decorated with numerous product shots and the image of the turtles huddling over a broken canister of ooze from the theatrical poster. If you’re a mint-in-box collector then you’ll have to clear some space to display this thing. It’s appreciated since NECA could have skimped on the presentation considering this isn’t going to appear on store shelves, but then again, this sort of distribution is fairly common these days and NECA knows that a lot of collectors were going to buy two sets: one to open and one to preserve.

Jason Frailey handled the sculpt-work on these figures and to sum up my reaction simply, it would be: holy shit!
Check out those gnarly spikes!
You think a dog’s breath is bad, imagine what Rahzar’s must smell like!

The figures themselves are a sight to behold. They’re depicted as they were later in the film when they do battle with the turtles at the junkyard. Tokka has little on his body aside from elbow and knee pads, while Rahzar is decked out in all kinds of stuff. As in the film, Tokka is the smaller of the two coming in at right around 7″ at the top of his head, with his shell protruding a bit higher. Rahzar stands a tick under 8″ and both figures have tremendous presence on a shelf. They’re very much in scale with each other, though some collectors may be a little disappointed that the scale isn’t perfect when it comes to the turtles. They are shorter, as you’ll see in pictures, but it’s not as drastic as it looked in the film. Granted, the film usually utilized a low angle when filming the two together. I think it’s good enough, but considering the scale on Super Shredder was basically perfect it might surprise people slightly that these two aren’t bigger.

They’re big boys, but the super version of their “Mama” is still able to stand taller.

The scale may very well be the last of any criticisms I have for these two. I certainly have little or no quibbles when it comes to the sculpt and overall look of these boys. Tokka is done in a slightly more olive skintone when compared with the turtles and it looks fantastic. He has a real dingy look to him, and it’s enhanced by the wash on his wrist tape which is quite dirty looking. His eyes are really expressive and I’m just waiting for him to bark at me that he wants a donut. What’s really going to impress though, are the various spikes on his shell. They have a springy quality to them, but don’t confuse that for me saying they aren’t sharp. You know when you’re holding this guy. Rahzar looks every bit as good as his box-mate. Well, I should say he doesn’t look quite as perfect as Tokka, but that’s only because he had fur in the film, but here it’s sculpted plastic. That said, it looks pretty damn good and I’m not suggesting NECA should have gone with faux fur as that might not have come out well. His eyes are super expressive as well and his mouth has that permanent grin he possessed in the film. The claws on his hands and feet look amazing with the amount of yellow and a dark, brown, wash to really bring them out. The texture on the black, rubber, armor pieces is also perfect and it’s great to get a good look at the detail on them since it’s hard to see in the actual film. I never even noticed before now that the pieces on his thigh appear to be torn from rubber tires with nails jutting through them. The grill on his abdomen is secured with actual chain links and swings around freely, not distractingly so. There’s a lot of soft plastic utilized for things like his loincloth or the little tassels on his shoulder and knee pads that not only look great, but seem to be durable enough. It’s hard to imagine someone else better nailing the aesthetics of these guys, even if done at a quarter scale, that’s how impressive they are.

The neck on this guy is impressive.
Angry Tokka.
Not angry Tokka.

Let’s talk articulation. These figures look good enough to be statues, but they aren’t and I’m glad for that. It’s also fun to talk about them because unlike a lot of NECA two-packs, these are two very different figures. And as far as I can tell, they don’t share parts with any other figures that NECA has done. Let’s talk about Tokka first. Unlike the good guy turtles, this guy has quite the neck on him. He can look up, down, and all around. The neck is jointed at the base which enhances his range of motion and it’s all quite impressive. On his head itself, the end of his beak can tilt in and out and his jaw can open very wide. He’s got some ugly teeth and a big, purple, tongue in there as well. Better yet, his eyebrows articulate! This is quite possibly the coolest feature of the set as it allows you to recreate basically any expression Tokka wore in the film. Want him to be angry? No problem. Confused? Check! It’s tremendous! At the shoulder we have the typicall ball and hinge that’s hindered a bit by the spikes on his shoulders. He can still raise and lower his arms and do what is largely expected of him. At the elbow he has a double joint plus a swivel above and below the elbow. The pad really hides everything too. His wrist rotates and he’s got a hinge as well. Inside the shell, there’s a ball-joint that allows for some pivot, but not much. At the legs he’s got ball-joints and hinges with an upper thigh swivel, pretty standard for NECA figure. He can kick back probably farther than you think given the giant shell on his back, and his legs can come out to the side. His knees are double-jointed and swivel above and below the knee, and like the elbows, the pad hides everything. His feet possess a hinge, though the hinge is either super tight or limited by the sculpt as it doesn’t move a whole lot. His feet can rock side-to-side and given how large they are you should have little issue getting him to stand safely on a shelf, even on one foot!

My what big eyes you have!
My, what big teeth you have!
My, what a big…stick you have!

Rahzar, being that he is not a turtle, is articulated quite differently though I’d say the range of motion is pretty similar. His head sits on a ball-joint, and even though he has no articulation in his neck, he’s able to look up and down pretty well and tilt his head side to side. There’s no facial articulation beyond the jaw, which works great. He can open real wide and close his mouth up pretty tight, possibly even better than the actual costume could considering all of the teeth and his extreme underbite. The shoulders are ball-jointed and hinged and the big shoulder pads definitely prevent some movement. He can still raise his arms up to the side, he just can’t raise them over his head real well. He has the same double-jointed elbows that swivel above and below the joint, and even though he doesn’t have elbow pads to hide the articulation, the sculpt is impeccable and does a great job even without such an aid. The wrists rotate and have hinges like basically all NECA figures. The abdomen features a ball-joint in the diaphragm that allows for full rotation (careful with the chains) as well as some tilt, though there’s no ab crunch. The legs are on ball pegs and sit a bit higher than Tokka’s. They can twist a bit above the thigh, but not all the way. The knees are single-jointed and the only other swivel is below the knee. The feet are hinged and can rock side-to-side. I’m a little surprised at the lack of double joints in the knees, but like Tokka, Rahzar can move around pretty well. He’s not a ninja, so he doesn’t really need a ton of articulation and what he has is probably more than enough for whatever pose you want to go for. He stands well, and I was even able to get him to stand on one foot as well even though his feet aren’t nearly as wide as Tokka’s.

Some extra hands, if you desire.
And stuff too!

NECA gave us two figures sculpted to perfection with a great deal of articulation, but you know they also had to throw in some accessories too. These two guys weren’t known for wielding weapons or anything, but there are certainly some items they’re associated with. First off, we have extra hands. Both figures come packaged with what I consider relaxed, open, hands. Both have two extra sets. Tokka has two fists, though the fingers aren’t fused together so they’re kind of like really, tight, gripping hands, but they’re not needed for any gripping. He also has a pair of dedicated gripping hands with his left hand being more relaxed. Rahzar has a really tight gripping, right hand that’s more of a fist. He also has a looser gripping, right hand. He also has two gripping left hands that are very similar, but one is definitely more open than the other. Rahzar’s claws, being what they are, basically makes his stock hands function as gripping hands as well so you’re choice of hands will likely depend more on aesthetics than use. Swapping them is rather painless, assuming you don’t accidentally grip Tokka’s shell, though I should point out the only paint issues with these figures reside with Tokka’s hands. It’s a problem that has plagued NECA’s other figures, but the hinge is painted black to match the tape around his palms and it will flake off almost immediately leaving behind the olive plastic. NECA really needs to cast the hinge in the dominant color of the hand to prevent this. At least with Tokka, the wraps on his wrist can hide the hinge better than most, but it’s the lone eyesore with this set.

He seems awfully angry at that pipe for some reason.
He thinks he’s a beaver.

In addition to hands, they’ve got some stuff to either hold or admire. Tokka comes with his big, lead, pipe which is bendy so he can demonstrate his strength, should you please. Rahzar can also hold it just fine, so it’s not just Tokka’s. There’s also a big chunk of a utility pole from when they wreak havoc on New York’s streets that can be wielded like a club. It’s textured really well and it can also fit in Tokka’s mouth. Rahzar also has his shield he wore on his forearm briefly in the film. The paintjob on it is terrific, and the straps just slide loosely over his forearm so there’s no fuss with it. There’s also a can of ooze, the same one that came with Super Shredder. There’s a fire extinguisher for when the turtles need to speed up the reverse mutation process. And speaking of which, in order to reverse their mutation you need a box of traditional, pre-fight, donuts! And we have one! By far, the best accessory is a little pink, cardboard, box that has the Simply Donuts graphic on it. There’s a stack of seven donuts molded together to fit into it, plus an eighth donut that has been smooshed exposing the mutagen cube inside. Your turtles can hold the box, and one of the baddies can hold the squished donut to recreate one of the better scenes from the film. You can also shove that donut in one of their mouths too, if you prefer your mutant babies be ignorant.

Is this the most quotable scene from the movie? If not, it’s close.
Scarf it down!
And to finish him off!

The accessories are appreciated, but honestly, these guys would be awesome if they arrived with nothing. NECA has positioned itself in “toy of the year” talk with these babies, as these are two incredible action figures. The only negative to add is that these guys are basically unattainable now at retail pricing. NECA set them up as made-to-order and it sounds like if you didn’t order a set you’re out of luck. NECA apparently didn’t even order extra for quality control as the only other downside is that I’ve talked to a few people who had issues, either a misassembled figure or missing accessory, and NECA couldn’t help them. NECA is also sensitive to the fact that they are a collector brand so they do not want to devalue their products, but they’re also a company out to make money so if there is tremendous demand for these figures after this release then maybe something will happen in the future. Never say never. They could do a limited box set release, a single card release, or maybe re-release them re-tooled with pixel art to mimic their appearance in Turtles in Time. That probably won’t satisfy people who want the screen accurate version, but I suppose it would be better than nothing. All I’m saying, is NECA has said stuff is one and done before only to re-release it later. If you missed out, you’re going to have to go to eBay for the time being or hope someone ordered two that was forward thinking and assumed a collector would have missed out. These guys are awesome and if I had missed the pre-order window I honestly don’t know how high I’d go in terms of price to get a set, but I know I would not want this set missing from my collection so I think I’d do whatever it took to fill that void.

Faces only a “Mama” could love!

Tokka and Rahzar all but complete my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film collection. NECA is prepping an April from the first film that will be released in the same fashion as this set, made-to-order, and there’s a good chance I’ll grab that. Otherwise, I think I’m good. I don’t need Secret of the Ooze Shredder or turtles and I definitely don’t need a Keno. If they can ever get the likeness rights for Tatsu then maybe I’ll give that a whirl, but NECA has been unable to get ahold of him and even put out a plea to anyone who knows him to speak with him on their behalf. The only other announced products are a Secret of the Ooze Shredder (I should say teased, never shown) and a two-pack featuring Oroku Saki and Hamato Yoshi, and as tempting as a little Splinter in his cage is, I don’t feel like I need that set. If this is the final movie set for me though, then what a way to go out!

Remember, stupid babies need the most attention.

Misfits Holiday Fiend Figure from NECA

2020 will be remembered for a lot of things, many of them not good. One non-negative aspect of 2020 that will be memorable for me was that it was the year I really got back into toy collecting. Most of that was courtesy of NECA toys and their various Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lines. Those started hitting retail in 2019, but that year was largely a catch-up year as NECA rolled out figures to market that had previously been made available as convention exclusives, which I had purchased at the time. The first new to me figure release came in November of 2019 in the form of the cartoon Bebop and Rocksteady two-pack. Waves 3 and 4 hit in 2020 along with new releases in the movie line such as Casey Jones and Super Shredder. Super7 got in on the fun too launching its own line of TMNT products and I didn’t just stop with that brand. I also got figures from Hasbro, Bandai, and more as the lack of entertainment options and stay-at-home orders had me turning to toys to fill time.

Since 2020 ended up being a big year for toys on this blog, it seems only fitting to interrupt the annual Christmas Spot advent calendar (don’t worry, this doesn’t replace a normal entry) with a holiday themed toy review. In this case, it’s the Holiday Fiend action figure from NECA. The Fiend, also known as The Crimson Ghost or Misfits Ghost, is the mascot of the horror-punk band The Misfits. When it comes to Misfits fandom, there have been two camps for the past 25 years: the Glenn Danzig camp and the Jerry Only camp. Sometimes the fandoms have overlapped, but for the most part fans seem to pick sides. For me, I was always team Glenn. Nothing personal when it comes to Only, but I just never liked his version of The Misfits. The original band broke-up in 83, and it wasn’t until the mid-90s that Only and his brother Doyle tried to resurrect the band. After some litigation with their former frontman, it was decided the two individuals would share merchandising rights to The Misfits and that Only could continue the band without Danzig. Shockingly, The Misfits have now existed as a Jerry Only band far longer than it did with Glenn Danzig as the singer and songwriter of the group.

Santa Fiend has come to town!
He’s got a bag that’s filled with…something.

Since I wasn’t a fan of “The Newfits,” I tended to avoid the merch put out by that band. I did end up with a t-shirt here and there, but I tended to only buy stuff that Danzig put out. The same has been true of the various dolls and toys that have come out over the years, including the original release of this figure I’m about to talk about. The original NECA release of The Fiend is clearly an homage to the album cover of American Psycho, the big come-back record for Jerry’s version of The Misfits. Being that, I never had much interest in it. Throw in a dash of Christmas though and now you have my attention! I’ve managed to resist Christmas themed releases before with The Misfits. Only’s band even covered the holiday classic “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” and released it as a single with artwork basically depicting a mash-up of the classic character with the Misfits Fiend. I was able to resist though, and it was made easier by the fact that the cover was really not very good. I’ve caved this time though and it’s time to find out if that was worth it.

If you want to lessen the Santa look you can remove the hate, though why would you want to do that?

The Fiend comes in a window box package featuring some festive artwork on the front. Inside you get a good look at the contents of the box with some nice product shots on the back. The Fiend stands at about eight inches and is basically just a plain, black, action figure. And that’s because you’re never meant to see what’s under his robe, and I don’t think the source material has ever revealed what’s supposed to be there anyway. All that is visible are the face and hands, which are skeletal in nature, but also have always embodied the look of the serial from which the character originated. That means that rather than just being an actual skeleton, the being is clearly wearing black gloves with printed bones and the head is wearing a mask. The new, festive, robe is meant to be the defining characteristic and it’s a plush, red, piece of fabric that looks rather lovely draped over this handsome boy. The ends of the sleeves and the hem of which have been embroidered with white to give the figure a very Santa Claus look. And he even has the hat to complete the ensemble. The robe isn’t mean to be removed, but I’m sure you could if you wished. The hat is and it sits over the normal hood The Fiend features. A plush, green, sack is also included to create a Santa Fiend look and one is left to ponder what this creature would bring to all of the good little boys and girls of the world? Skulls?

Oh, my!

The base figure underneath is pretty basic. I think, but I don’t know for sure since this is the first horror or music figure I’ve purchased from NECA, that this body is pretty standard for the company’s clothed releases. The head is on a simple ball peg (and it’s really tight) with good rotation and tilt. The shoulders are standard ball-joints and the elbows and knees on this figure are single-jointed hinges. The wrists rotate and have a hinge each and unlike the head are really easy to remove, so much so that I accidentally have popped them out when manipulating the figure. There is no ab or upper body rotation, but there is a waist swivel. The legs are on ball-joints and actually have very good range of motion. There’s a thigh swivel and the ankles are hinged. The Fiend, if you were wondering, appears to be wearing black high-tops. It’s an acceptable amount of articulation for what this figure is, but one thing missing that disappoints me is the lack of peg holes on the bottoms of the feet. This guy can be tricky to stand because of all of the material draped over the figure and I really wish I could utilize the standard NECA stand. Instead, something more like a Barbie stand is needed as I don’t want to spend 10 bucks on an action stand for a figure that literally just needs to stand.

He looks positively resplendent in those robes!

The star of the show is the Christmas soft goods. The robe is really nice to look at and NECA included wires where needed. It shimmers in natural light and really catches the eye and I love that it’s hemmed with white at the cuffs and bottom of the robe. A Velcro strip runs up the front of the robe so if you wish to take a peek underneath you certainly can. The hood is a separate piece that is stitched to the back of the robe. It has a wire running through the hem and you’ll probably have to manipulate it a bunch out of the box. The only odd aspect of the robe I’m not sold on are the sleeves. They’re meant to have large cuffs that hang low, but NECA tailored the white onto a smaller cuff to go around the hand leaving a big hole behind it for the rest of the red cuff to hang down. I think it would look better if they had done the white around the whole thing and inserted another wire for posing as it’s just kind of weird as-is. The hat is a simple, Santa, hat that also contains a wire. It fits snugly on the Fiend’s head and looks pretty terrific. The sack is basically just a piece of green velvet-like material with a string tied around the end. There’s nothing inside it, though it has a wire running around it to allow for some posing. I kind of wish NECA had filled it with cotton or something to fluff it up. I suppose I could do that myself if I was willing to mess with the knot on it. It gets the job done though.

If you prefer a more “classic” look, NECA included a second, all-white, face on a second head.
Christmas Evilive!

NECA opted to include some swap-able parts with this figure, though they’re not particularly exciting. The finish on the face of the included head has some embellishments on it. I think it’s from the original release which is aiming to mimic the American Psycho cover by Basil Gogos (who also did the art for this release) which was going for a grave-emerging or crypt-lurking kind of look. Only now, the colors are a muted red and green to go with the whole Christmas theme, but it almost looks like some sort of weird camo. I’m not really a fan. The alternate head is a bone white version with no added paint which is basically how the character was depicted in art on the classic releases like Horror Business. The hands on the stock version also feature the same red and green paint on the back of the hand and they provide alternate bone white versions to match the face. All four hands are in a relaxed, open, position. He doesn’t have any proper gripping hands, but since the sack is light and empty he can still hold onto it well enough. Swapping the head on this guy was quite a bitch. I had to give it a real, good, tug to get the stock one off and I heated the other one with running water to get it on. I didn’t want to use a heat gun or anything given the presence of soft goods which could catch fire. At least I don’t like the regular head very much so I shouldn’t have to swap it again.

I think this is the look I’ll stick with.

The Christmas version of NECA’s The Fiend action figure is largely as expected. While I think there could have been some better design choices and I wish the stock head better matched the artwork, this figure should largely satisfy any Misfits fan looking to add the ghost to their holiday decorating. I love Christmas decorations and this guy will certainly stand out with what I already have. I could even see some NECA collectors paring this guy with the Santa Stripe released this year from the Gremlins line. And fans of the Jerry Only Misfits who already have the Horror X-Mas release should definitely try and pair that with this for their holiday display. The only reason not to is the price. At an MSRP of $35, this guy is on the pricier end of NECA releases. That could have something to do with the cost of the license, and anyone who saw the merch prices at the more recent Misfits shows know how expensive that stuff can get, and it’s definitely more than what I’m used to with NECA given what’s in the box. If price is an issue, maybe wait until the spring when this guy hits clearance. At least this isn’t an exclusive and you should be able to buy this wherever NECA products are sold, in particular the horror figures.

And if you’re still on the fence, he makes a nice tree topper!

NECA Gremlins Santa Stripe and Gizmo

There’s a new Santa in town this year.

The Christmas Spot is just around the corner, but before we can get to there we have a new Christmas action figure release from NECA Toys to talk about: Santa Stripe! NECA has done an admirable job of mining material from the film Gremlins and it’s sequel Gremlins 2: The New Breed, and Santa Stripe is another fine example of that. This figure originates from a promotional image used for the film around Christmas 1984, and since Gremlins is a Christmas movie, it works on two levels. While Stripe never dons a Santa suit in the film, he did in that image and it’s hard to argue it’s not something well suited for an action figure release.

That’s some fine packaging.
Good luck recreating that pose on the inside panel.

Stripe is essentially a re-release of the Ultimate Stripe figure released by NECA, which is more or less the same Gremlin figure that’s been released over and over. That’s not a criticism or anything, it’s just an observation. The base Gremlin figure is a roughly 6″ tall figure with solid articulation that can be added onto to achieve a desired end by NECA. There’s a gamer Gremlin, flasher Gremlin, caroling Gremlins, and so on. This one is different in that it’s a specific character, Stripe, and the only difference there lies in the face and head which contains his signature stripe of white hair and unique portrait. The rest of the package consists of soft goods and accessories to go along with the terrific packaging NECA products are known for with its Ultimates releases.

Look at that handsome boy!
Aww, he’s smiling!

This festive rendition of Stripe comes in the five-panel window box package all of the Ultimates come in. The front panel features an update to the promo art the figure is based on and the rest of the panels contain product shots. There’s a window box revealing the figure inside and I must say this packaging is excellent because it’s easy to reseal. This is extra important for a Christmas themed release because I can see a lot of people taking this guy out for the holidays and then tucking him away with the other Christmas decorations in the new year.

The entire wardrobe is removable, though I’m too much of a baby to take off the suit.
Stripe’s signature hairstyle can be found under the hat.

Stripe comes packed with a solid range of articulation. His head has excellent range and can rotate and look up and down and the base of the neck is also articulated as well. His ears are posable which helps with the hat and his jaw is articulated as well. He does not feature the same eye articulation that the Ultimate Gizmo possesses, but he also doesn’t really need to express much range of emotions, he’s mostly just homicidal. The shoulders are on ball-joints allowing him to raise his arms almost to 90 degrees. The costume prevents him from going forward and back all the way, but I assume he could if it was removed. The elbows are single-hinged, but do rotate, though the costume again limits that function, and the wrists are hinged and can swivel. There’s articulation at the thigh and knee, but given the crouched position he’s in the range is rather minimal. Like a lot of insects which Gremlins seem to borrow some style from, he has what is kind of like a second knee above the ankle which gives him that crouched look. There’s nothing going on in the torso, so Stripe mostly just stands there with his arms and head being relied upon to add character to his posture. It’s, as I said, solid. It’s not spectacular, but given that these characters were rather stiff puppets in the film they’re not really begging for articulation as a means of being screen accurate. This figure also has the added burden of the soft goods, which is quite form fitting, but does restrict movement. I suppose the optimal way to pose him would be to remove the costume, pose him, then replace, but I’m the type who doesn’t like to mess with soft goods. Plus I think he looks good as-is.

Everyone’s favorite Mogwai is now the cutest accessory.

It’s the accessories that make this figure, and that’s where NECA nailed this release. Santa Stripe’s uniform looks great on him and I like the inclusion of soft goods over molded plastic for the main uniform. While it does hinder the articulation, it’s just too authentic a look to make that trade-off not worth while. It’s a plush material that’s soft to the touch and the belt across the coat is quite sharp looking. It has Velcro in the back so don’t try and undo that buckle. The coat also has Velcro in the front and the pants on the seat. There’s even a little opening for his “tail” or carapace to stick out. The hat is the same plush material and has a wire running through it for posing. The beard is attached to the hat via an elastic which slips over Stripe’s face and stays on just fine. He also comes with a sack for whatever a Santa Gremlin delivers. It’s blue and the same plush texture of Stripe’s suit with gold moons and stars printed on it. A wire runs through it so you can shape and position it however you like. Rather than have an actual drawstring, a gold-colored rope is included to tie around it. It’s a bit of a pain, but maybe a drawstring would have interfered with the wire. Lastly, there’s a little, to scale, Gizmo that can fit in the sack or just hang around. It’s actually articulated, with rotation at the head, shoulders, and wrists which is nearly as much articulation as what is found in the larger Ultimate Gizmo. It’s painted and has sculpted fur and Gizmo has a permanent smile on his face. He’s adorable and the only thing that looks odd about him are that his hands are a bit big. The left hand especially just looks odd on mine and I initially thought he had two right hands by mistake, but I don’t think that’s the case. He also has a candy cane he can hold which I find hides the oddness of the hands a bit.

Stripe can kind of haul Gizmo around over his shoulder.
He’s better equipped though to cradle him lovingly like a little baby.

If you’re looking to pose Stripe in a manner similar to what’s on the front of the box, you may get discouraged. The limited rotation of the arms is a challenge, as is getting him to properly secure his sack over the shoulder since that rope isn’t attached. The only way to really do it without introducing other elements is by having the figure crouched so far forward that he’s almost horizontal and resting the sack on his back and using one arm for stability by placing his hand on the ground. If you don’t want Gizmo in the sack, then it’s much easier since it’s so light, but I suspect many may just resort to having Stripe hold the sack open at his feet with Gizmo either popping out or standing nearby. On the plus side, I guess I don’t have to try and construct a chimney to display with him.

Gizmo roasting on an open fire…
Ahh Cindy, you might just want to let this Santa take the damn tree.

Santa Stripe is definitely an eye-catching item to add to one’s Christmas display. Obviously, being more a horror-themed creature he’d probably stand out in most displays, but the bright and well-detailed Santa suit gives him that “pop” factor. He mixes well with the Ultimate Gizmo in his festive, Christmas, attire even if the scale isn’t perfect. I imagine he mixes even better with the winter caroler Gremlins sold in two-packs, but I don’t have a set of those (I’ve resisted that one, don’t tempt me further) and if you like Gremlins, or are more like me and just love everything to do with Christmas, this one should leave you feeling pretty happy.

Merry Christmas, and watch your back!

Santa Stripe is presently being sold as a Target exclusive in the US for $29.99. He has sold out online, but should be hitting stores right about now. If he’s anything like the other Gremlins releases, he shouldn’t be too hard to find, but don’t sleep on him if you do run across him as I assume he’s limited to the holiday season. He could return in 2021, like the carolers, but I don’t believe that’s been confirmed. Happy hunting!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Triceraton Infantryman and Roadkill Rodney

That Triceraton cartoon has some real “Karen” energy.

Wave 4 of NECA’s Target exclusive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon line continues with its second two-pack release: the Triceraton Infantryman and Roadkill Rodney. The Triceraton has been adapted for basically all iterations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles save for the live-action films. The Triceraton frequently appeared in the collections of kids in the early 90s as it was a somewhat early release in the Playmates line of figures. Despite that distinction, it was a late addition to the cartoon universe not showing up until the Season 7 episode “Night of the Dark Turtle” where the character took a backseat to a crazed Donatello who basically fancied himself as Batman. As for the Roadkill Rodney, it was an early addition to the cartoon universe as it appeared in the original mini series that got the whole TMNT craze kickstarted. Despite that though, this tiny robot went without a figure entirely until now.

The Triceraton basically looks like a mutated triceratops, as the name would suggest. In the cartoon, they’re a race of space reptiles looking to conquer and enslave Earth. In order to make that a reality, the Triceraton Empire sends a whopping five units to Earth to get the job done. You can probably guess how that turned out. Among those numbers was Captain Zorax and his attendant, Zork. If you prefer those two to what we have here then you’re in luck as they should be released soon as a two-pack of their own. What is contained in this two-pack is the lowly infantryman (infantry…dino?) whom the Playmates figure was based on. The major distinction between the three is in the color of their scales as this fellow happens to be mostly orange with an armored onesie. Being a soldier, he’s packed with weapons and this two-pack is being advertised by NECA as an “army builder” set as many fans may want two or three of these brutes in their collection as opposed to one. Never mind the fact that many Target stores limit these sets to one per customer.

Don’t laugh at his space onesie!
He can really look up should he find himself in the rare position of being shorter than his foe.
The tail is not cartoon accurate, but NECA is counting on you either not noticing or not caring. You can also see the “pants folds” on the sides of the thigh from this angle.

The Triceratons are a rather brutish race of reptiles and therefore are rather large. This figure from NECA captures that reality as it’s one of the largest in the series thus far standing at roughly 7 and a half inches tall which puts it on par with the likes of Leatherhead and Granitor. Being that he is a big dude, there’s a lot of parts reuse at work here and I suspect that will be very true of the other Triceratons to come. The arms and legs are likely shared with Leatherhead, as is the tail. It would not surprise me at all if the torso is as well, but it’s impossible to say given the presence of the armor in place. I don’t mind parts reuse at all, especially since it keeps costs down, but there are aspects where it’s a negative here as there are sculpted folds on the back of his leg that don’t make a lot of sense. They’re there because these were previously meant to be pants, but the Triceraton has decided to forgo such a restrictive garment. They’re on the back/side of the thigh, so it’s not super noticeable, but worth pointing out. The other shortcoming with this direction rests in the tail. In the show, the Triceratons have smooth tails, but since this guy is using Leatherhead’s tail, it has a dual fin running down the top of it. Again, reuse is par for the course with figures, but it does harm NECA’s credibility when they claim to be making the definitive versions of these characters when they’re not entirely screen accurate.

Sorry Mikey, it’s yet another bad guy who can probably squash you like a bug.

The obvious new pieces of plastic rest with the head, hands, and feet. And it’s the head that really needs to shine and indeed it does. While I prefer basically every version of the Triceratons to their cartoon counterpart (the Triceratoons?), I cannot argue that this figure doesn’t look the part. The shading and line work that has become a staple of this line are at incorporated here and the figure very much looks like it originated from a cartoon source. It’s pretty clean, though there’s some paint build-up at the base of one horn on mine and it’s a little messy around the eyes, but not too bad. If you have always longed for a cartoon version of the Triceraton, then this should satisfy that hunger, tail be damned.

The oversized feet make it pretty easy to find a walking pose for this guy.
“Hey dude, are you like, related to Cheesasaurus Rex?!”

In terms of articulation, there are no surprises here. The Triceraton is basically articulated just like Leatherhead before him, with the only difference really being the lack of a hinged jaw with this guy (a real missed opportunity, to be honest). The giant “fins” on the back of his head (I’m sure a paleontologist would be able to tell me the proper term for that part) are surprisingly not a deterrent to the head movement as this guy can look much higher than basically every other character NECA has done so far and can also tilt his head side-to-side quite well. Ball-joints at the shoulders and thighs allow for proper rotation, and double-jointed knees and elbows have become standard for basically everyone in this line except the turtles themselves. He has swivels and hinges at the wrist and the ability to swivel at the bicep and thigh. His feet are on ball-and-socket joints so they can rotate and rock a bit side-to-side. There’s articulation in the upper torso which is probably on a ball-joint, but the armor limits the movement here to basically a swivel. It’s soft plastic, so you can kind of force the character into the desired positions, but at risk of possibly marring the paint on that armor. He’s got plenty of range though for a behemoth who is mostly just going to blast away at his enemies and if you are able to army build these guys you shouldn’t have a problem finding a variety of styles and poses for your display. The only thing missing for me, and I say this a lot with this line, is a butterfly joint at the shoulders so he could properly two-hand hold his weapons. The way NECA does their torsos though, often layering rubbery plastic over a harder base to distinguish characters, basically makes such a joint impossible.

Bang!
The design of this bazooka is great. It fits the figure well and I just really like the look of it.

The Triceraton may be a large hunk of plastic, but he also comes packed with a vast assortment of weapons and accessories. This is an improvement over Traag and Granitor and I suspect it’s due to those rock boys not lending themselves well to parts reuse. The Triceraton has five hands; a set of gripping hands (which work as fists as well) and a set of open hands. He also features a trigger hand (right) and if I have one, small, complaint it’s that NECA didn’t just go ahead and give us two trigger hands since now all of your Triceratons are expected to be right-handed. As for weapons, he has the rifle/bazooka the Triceratons were shown wielding in the cartoon, plus two additional guns that appear to match what Bebop and Rocksteady were wielding in their debut episode. And yes, I am definitely giving those to my Bebop and Rocksteady for my display.

The more realistic rifle can kind of balance in his trigger hand, or be jammed into a gripping one.
The machinegun only works in the gripping hand and it looks a bit goofy as a result.
At least both seem to work just fine with their true masters, Rocksteady and Bebop.

The only downside with the Triceraton arsenal, is he can’t really wield the majority of his weapons convincingly. The trigger hand basically just fits his bazooka, and it’s a unique handsculpt for the Triceraton which features a larger opening and two fingers (as opposed to the three of Bebop/Rockstead/Leatherhead). The trigger hand works great with the bazooka since they were literally made for each other. It, and the open hands, are fairly soft and pliable which helps in getting the hand into his hand. The trigger hand is too big though for the other guns. You can kind of fake it with the rifle, but the shorter machinegun looks silly. The gripping hands he comes with are much harder and quite restrictive. You can get the machinegun into it, but it sits high and really calls out attention to the fact that the trigger is well above his hand. The rifle is harder to get in and if you’re determined to do so you’ll want to soften those hands up with some heat lest you want orange paint scraping off of the hands and onto the handle. The guns were definitely designed for Bebop and Rocksteady, and for them, the rifle works well. The machinegun is a bit loose in their trigger hand, but a great deal better than the Triceraton.

These little guys have had to wait over 30 years for proper figures!

With this set you get not one, but two, Roadkill Rodney robots. That makes sense since the machines always showed up in pairs in both the cartoon and video games and because they’re rather small (about 3 1/4″) compared with most figures. Don’t let their size fool you though as there’s a lot of personality baked into these suckers. For starters, the sculpt is perfect and these guys look like they were pulled from the show. That’s to be expected, but it had to be stated as well. Since they’re armless, legless, robots there’s really very little articulation to speak of, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some clever engineering going on here. The “arms” rotate and bend, and there is a swivel above the wheel. The wheel itself can also spin like a proper tire would, though it’s rather stiff as it’s meant to hold its position once set. The front of each unit opens and a blaster can be pulled out. It appears to work exactly as it was depicted in the show, which is both a compliment to NECA and to the animators of that original mini series who could have just fudged it. It’s almost stupidly satisfying to open and close that portion of the figure, and best of all, it doesn’t feel super fragile.

This little gun is pretty cool.
They also come packed with a piercing headache.

Since these guys balance on one wheel, they need a way to stand. NECA included a smoke trail base that clips into a hole on the wheel to accomplish that feat, but that’s not the only thing NECA packed into this box. There’s also a pair of rock formation bases, but these aren’t intended for the main figure, just the heads! Yes, that’s right, you can remove the head from the figure and clip it onto this formation. Remove the top plate of the head and you even have a drill attachment that can be placed on the unit to make it look like it’s coming up through the ground. And for your figure proper, you have a battle damaged dome with three holes in it to accommodate one sai from Raphael. The only drawback is that NECA made the top of the head swap-able for the battle damaged portion. If they had made it a whole separate headsculpt then we could have effectively got four units out of one box. And doing it that way would also have eliminated the largest shortcoming with these robots which resides in how difficult it is to remove those headplates from the figure since NECA declined to sculpt an opening. Instead, you have to choose between displaying the figure proper, or just the head if you want to take advantage of the rock base. I suppose if you do add the rock base to your set you could use the rest of the body as just some discarded carcass on the battle field, but given the choice, I’d rather have two functioning robots. To sum it all up, since there’s a lot here, you get: two robots, two battle damaged domes, two drill bits, two smoke cloud stands, and two rock formation bases.

Back off, reptile!
The longer coils would have worked better if they held their shape after bending. As long as I can get one to work with the Electrified Turtle figure I’ll be content, I guess.

Lastly, the Roadkill Rodney robots (holy alliteration) also come with their signature weapons: the metal coils. The figures come equipped with short, bendy, coils on each side and a much longer pair to share. It was smart of NECA to make the long ones bendy so you can stretch them out and wrap an end around another figure, be it a turtle foe or a misbehaving Bebop and Rocksteady. It’s not fully poseable though, so while you can uncoil the tentacle it will immediately try to recoil itself. It makes it tough to pose with a turtle since those figures are so light and it’s also not quite long enough to wrap around their waist. You’ll probably prefer to wrap it around a forearm or something. That said, i’m quite eager to pair these guys with the upcoming Electrified Turtle figure featured in the next release from Loot Crate. That figure is intended to be from the classic arcade game, but I think an electrified turtle at the end of a cartoon Roadkill Rodney tendril will work fine in any TMNT display.

Being that this is an army builder set, this one has a bit of a utilitarian feel to it. The characters are a personality-less grunt and a pair of faceless androids, but they’re still pretty fun to look at and handle. It’s a bit surprising to get the Triceraton this early in the line since it came at the tail-end of the original cartoon’s run (the following season was the start of the redesigned “Red Sky” era), but I view that as a testament to how recognizable the Triceraton is to the entire TMNT franchise. For what he is, I think the Triceraton turned out well. He’s not really threatening to become my favorite in the line, but I’m happy to have him. The Roadkill Rodney, on the other hand, is a clever little design. Both figures though, feature unfortunate and preventable shortcomings. The Triceraton has all of these weapons, but only one works well. The Rodneys have a bunch of effects pieces, but the coils could have been done better and those little plates are really frustrating to swap in and out.

Do you army-build this set for more Triceratons and Rodneys, or do it for more Bebop and Rocksteady guns? Maybe both? Maybe neither? Hard to say.

NECA is hoping collectors will want multiple sets, but I don’t know how successful that will be. In the cartoon, there were three Triceraton grunts so some devoted to having an accurate display may want 3 for that reason. There won’t be much variety in the display though since every Triceraton will be right-handed and will probably feature the same weapon since the other two aren’t a great fit. Having some extra Rodney robots popping out of the ground will add some character to any display, but is that worth another 52 bucks? I’m not sure. I was lucky enough to find a pair of these sets in-store. I bought both and sent one off to a fellow collector. I also was able to order one from Target that hasn’t arrived yet and I’m not sure if I’ll keep it or send that one along to another collector too. What’s tempting me most about keeping it is the chance to have another set of Bebop and Rocksteady guns in the event the Easter Bunny versions coming via Loot Crate do not have weapons.

As has been the case, this set is a Target exclusive and is profoundly difficult to find on shelves. It was sold online, briefly, on October 28th and is unlikely to be offered online again. Since it is an army builder, I’m cautiously optimistic that NECA will make the set available again sometime in 2021 as a made-to-order pre-order like it did with many of the sets released during the summer, but there’s no guarantee of that at this time. For now, your best bet is to stalk your local Target stores and figure out the local rep’s stocking schedule. And definitely ingratiate yourself to an online community of collectors who help each other out. A very helpful resource is the #CollectorsHelpingCollectors hashtag on Twitter as it’s literally just fellow collectors picking up the most sought after items and passing them along at cost to fellow collectors. And as always, don’t feed the scalpers!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Traag and Granitor

Reinforcements from Dimension X have arrived!

After I posted my review of NECA’s take on Metalhead from the classic cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I thought I’d have a little break based on the upcoming release schedule for the line. Turns out, that break ended up being almost exactly one month as while I was out toy-hunting for my kids I happened upon the latest two-pack from NECA: Traag and Granitor!

And when I say it was a chance encounter, I mean it. This set started rolling out maybe a week or two ago in parts of the country. Like all of the NECA product based on the old TMNT cartoon, this set is exclusive to Target and a pain to find. The sets usually start showing up in California first and then gradually make their way east. As a denizen of the north east, I’m used to waiting a bit for them to show up in my area. Though in the case of Wave 3, I never saw a damn thing and had to purchase product from Canadian retailers that were willing to ship to the US. Well, either NECA or NECA’s vendor squashed that going forward so I was back to the old-fashioned way, since these guys have yet to appear on Target’s website (despite indications from NECA it was supposed to happen last Friday).

My kids love the show Bluey and a set for that toyline was supposed to release on the 4th. I went out looking for it locally, but while on my way my wife texted me to say she just scored a set online at Walmart. Since I was already out early on a Sunday, I decided to take a drive. While browsing Target’s app I had been keeping an eye on this set since it was supposed to go up any day now. I noticed when I looked at the stores in my area, there was actually one store across the border in New Hampshire that listed the item as in stock. I couldn’t do store pick-up though, and I have found it’s hard to get anyone at Target to answer the phone before 9, so I made the half hour drive to the store. Sure enough, the little inventory machines they have in some aisles indicated there were two sets in stock, but they weren’t on the shelf. I asked a clerk in electronics and he didn’t think they had anything since they never show on the app, but that he’d check in the back. Lo and behold, they did indeed have a set! It seems the store did its monthly inventory the night before, and someone actually scanned the sets into the inventory. This is unusual as a NECA rep is the one that stocks the section, not a Target employee, but in this case it worked out for me. It was especially surprising as I had yet to see anyone in the region on social media or even eBay list a set so this store may be one of the first in all of New England, maybe even including the tri-state area, to receive stock. Needless to say, after feeling rather snake-bitten with the last wave, I’m feeling quite fortunate today.

And it was a great set to get lucky with because Traag and Granitor are practically all new. Traag did receive a figure in the vintage Playmates line, but he looked nothing like his cartoon counterpart while Granitor never received a figure. And this was despite the two appearing in the first mini series as they debuted in episode four “Hot-Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X” when they crossed over into the dimension of the Turtles in pursuit of those pesky Neutrinos. And being made of stone means these guys are pretty unique looking to begin with so there’s little opportunity to reuse parts from already released figures. They’re big, dense, and chunky. I want to say beefy, but that doesn’t seem appropriate for beings made out of stone. And to top it all off, these guys have been a long time coming as NECA unveiled them years ago as part of the video game line, since both appeared as bosses in the original arcade game, but soon moth-balled them for the release we now have.

Traag and Granitor come in the standard window box format you should all be familiar with at this point. You get a nice look at the figures from the front with some licensing art beneath. The backdrop for the two has actually been changed from the sewer one we’re accustomed to and replaced with the Technodrome in Dimension X, which is very appropriate. The side and rear panels feature product shots of the figures in action while the rear also includes the series bio (sadly, not character specific) along with promotional shots of two of the sets to come as well as the previously released Metalhead. Since these boys are on the larger side, this is the oversized box previously used for Bebop and Rocksteady so if you’re a mint-in-box collector you’ll need to plan for a little extra room on the shelf for these guys.

Buns of stone.

In terms of likeness, Traag and Granitor are like a lot of this line – damn near flawless. Traag stands around 6 5/8″ while Granitor is slightly taller at 6 7/8″. Both feature a ton of sculpting to capture that rock appearance. They share some parts between the two in particular at the hands and basically from the abdomen down. The upper body is probably the same as well, but with different parts glued onto each to differentiate the two as they were quite different in the show. The plastic is very rigid and not that pliable, rubbery, stuff we’ve seen in some of the figures (in particular, the human figures like Casey and April) which really enhances the feel of the pair in-hand. Traag has very rocky shoulders while Granitor possesses a rock collar at the base of his neck and these huge shoulders and biceps. Of course, their heads are where they differ the most. Both are helmeted, but Traag has a flatter face and his open-mouth expression is a dead-ringer for how I continue to picture the character in my head. Granitor has this huge nose and these triangular eyes that make him look a great deal more evil than the general. If I have any criticism of the sculpt, it would be that Granitor’s head probably could be a little smaller as he was quite the pinhead in the show. I think the prototype head from a few years ago was a little better, but you’re not going to mistake this guy for someone else. The legs also probably should be longer, but I’m guessing these guys are just so big that NECA was limited to what it could do there and it was certainly more important to capture their massive upper-body.

General Traag seemed to always be making this stupid face in the show.
Meanwhile, Granitor looks ice cold! He’s not planning on playing nice with those Neutrinos.

Where I can’t render a single complaint with these two is with the paint app. This line just keeps getting better in regards to the paint and these guys look amazing. Traag, in particular, is an almost perfect recreation of a difficult deco to capture from the show. He’s mainly a red-orange, with a softer orange used for highlights that imparts a volcanic glow quality to the texture. Granitor is a bit cooler with shades of gray and both feature a lot of black line-work where appropriate. It’s all been applied in a very neat and clean fashion, which is especially impressive considering how much is here. There’s a little badge on the chest of each and both feature a belt complete with ammo and a holster for their gun. The belt is soft plastic, which has been the case with a lot of this line, so you do need to be a bit careful with the accents on it as they’re just glued on.

As far as articulation goes, these two are not quite as robust as some of the other figures in this line. That has a lot to do with the sculpt which only allows for so much. In terms of the points of articulation, it’s fairly similar with past figures. There’s a ball-joint at the head which affords the typical range of motion and both heads are on a neck with articulation at the base. Traag can look up, but not much down. Meanwhile, Granitor’s neck is quite long and thin and reminds me of an analog joystick on a video game controller, only without the tension that pulls it back to center. As a result, his range of motion feels a bit more dynamic and it’s a satisfying joint to play with, though also a bit scary since it’s so thin. The shoulders are on ball-joints and here Traag gets a bit more use as he can raise his arms outward, while Granitor’s massive shoulders are a hindrance, though his ball-joints are extended from his body more to at least provide for some functional range of motion. The elbows are double-jointed, though the top joint doesn’t have much range due to the bulky nature of the bicep. You still get close 90 degrees out of both. The triceps area swivels at that second elbow joint and the hands swivel and are on hinges. The hinges are pretty tight on mine, so a little heat goes a long way. The upper torso is on a ball-joint and you get a lot of twist there and it’s also nice and tight. The waist does swivel, but it was super tight on both of my guys to the point where I haven’t bothered to get it moving so be careful there (edit: I got it loosened up with just some added effort). The ball-joints at the thigh allow for some forward and outward motion, but nothing really backwards. There is a thigh swivel, but it doesn’t offer a ton. The knees are single-jointed at the hinge, but there is a tiny bit of swivel articulation at that point. The ankles are on hinges and have some outward, rocking, motion. Watch out for paint-flaking though as the entire boot and foot is painted over the base color. It’s not as visible as it was with Leatherhead at least, but still disappointing to see NECA isn’t casting the feet in the base color of the boot still.

“Lord Krang, please forgive us for our posture.”

The articulation is a bit less than what maybe some were expecting, but all in all I think it’s fine. These are big, bulky, rock creatures and they’re not looking to strike much in the way of dynamic poses. They basically lumber around, shoot their guns, and that’s about it. The upper torso is what really helps give them some posing options, and despite the fact that they’re rather top-heavy, they’re still fairly easy to stand. The only pose I wish I could pull-off that they just can’t do is to have them on one knee paying fealty to their lord Krang. Their arms are so long that they can even mostly pull off the ability to two-hand grip their pistol as they do in the show which is pretty cool as most NECA TMNT figures can’t do something like that since they lack a butterfly joint at the shoulder and chest.

Stuff.
“Can I interest you in the finest retro-mutagen Dimension X has to offer?”
“Traag! You must eliminate those radical teenagers before they start a rock concert! No offense…”
“Have you seen this boy?!”

Since these guys are so big and mostly new molds, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the only true negative here is the lack of accessories. It’s a business, so it’s to be expected, but still a bit disappointing. Both figures have a trigger finger right hand and an open, stylized, left hand. There are no optional hands to switch in and out, but I’m honestly not really missing them. Maybe a pointing finger for Traag, since he is a general after all, would have been fun, but it’s not a big loss. Their main accessory that both feature is a pistol. It’s a new sculpt and it’s painted up in a dark and light blue scheme that I find really appealing. It honestly probably has a bit more flourish to it as far as the paint is concerned when compared with the show, but that’s for the better. The only drawback is the hands of these guys are very rigid so you may want to heat up the hands before placing the gun in to avoid any paint scraping, which would be tragic. The pistols also fit into the holster on their belts in a snug manner. They also come with the Dimension X communicator many of the villains have featured in this line. In this case, the sticker decal is of Krang, but it appears to be the new Krang that’s expected to be released in November with the android body. The final, plastic, accessory is a mutagen canister. This time it’s painted gray instead of blue. It’s fine, though not really applicable to these guys and I think it’s just included because it was cheaper than doing a new one, like the weather bomb Traag unleashes. I was expecting that to come with them so it’s a bit disappointing to see it excluded, but again, I get it, it all has to do with costs. Lastly, they do come with three wanted posters each featuring one of the Neutrinos. They’re printed on a transparent plastic giving them a holographic effect which is pretty neat. They’re in a little bag taped to the underside of the blister so don’t throw it out by mistake!

Pictured with fellow big boy, Leatherhead.

Traag and Granitor are yet another addition to the many rogues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s great to see them as part of Wave 4 since, even though they appeared infrequently in the show, they felt important. That’s probably owing to their debut appearance in just the fourth episode and those early episodes just feel a lot more important to the show than what followed. It’s especially great to finally have a Granitor since he was overlooked back in the day. I’m very happy with how these boys turned out and my only real issue is trying to find room for these bulky beings on my shelf. I’m really going to need that street diorama, NECA!

Poor Raph, he’s really going to need a few more allies.

Traag and Granitor is just the first two-pack in Wave 4 of this line. They’re being rolled out slowly across the US at Target, though considering I found my set in New Hampshire I would expect them to be in every state this week so start looking! There should also be an online release at some point, but that can be a real shit-show as product usually goes fast. Follow NECA on twitter (or me @samhainsgrim) with alerts switched on for your best chance to land them. This looks like it’s going to be a pretty awesome wave as up next on or around the 15th is the Triceraton Infantryman (Infantry-dino? Infantry-reptile?) and Roadkill Rodney (2) set followed by a big one on the 29th, Master Splinter and Baxter the Fly! The Triceraton officers, Zarax and Zork, finish things off on November 12th alongside the deluxe Krang with his android body. This line is hotter than hell right now so don’t go to sleep on it. NECA also isn’t offering any more made-to-order sets in 2020 so if you can’t get these guys at Target over the next couple of months the wait will only get longer. Plug yourselves into a toy community, stay vigilante, don’t feed the scalpers, and good luck!


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