It’s been a little while since we had a Turtle Tuesday around here. NECA was keeping me quite busy in March with release after release and really putting a hurting on my wallet. Not only were sets hitting stores, but items were going up on NECA’s website for preorder, all of which require payment upfront. It almost became exhausting especially since the capper on all of that was a Turtle Van in April, and as you can probably guess, that thing ain’t cheap!
One of the surprise solicitations of 2021 was for a set of Mousers. The Mousers are from the comic and made the jump to animation pretty early in the show’s life. They have since appeared in nearly every iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to follow. In most versions, if not all, the Mousers are an invention of Baxter Stockman and are intended to solve New York City’s rat problem, but they often hide a more nefarious purpose. Being that the turtles are lead by a mutated rat, it’s pretty easy to see how the Mousers can work their way into a story for the series. And most of the toy-lines have sought to introduce them as well to varying degrees. The original Playmates line featured an oversized Mouser as part of the wacky action line of figures, while the 2003 line made them a pack-in accessory and portrayed them at the appropriate size. Pretty much ever since this line took-off, collectors have wanted to see NECA introduce the Mousers. They previously did some for the Mirage line as a convention exclusive and their April figure came with a pair, and NECA has finally come through.
The Mousers from NECA come in a small, toon-style box, that reminds me a bit of the boxes the bunny Bebop and Rocksteady came in for Loot Crate. It’s just a lot smaller in comparison with the NECA two-packs since Mousers aren’t exactly big. This set was retailed for $40 and is a NECA website exclusive, but individual Mousers are likely to be worked into the retail line as accessories (this year’s San Diego Comic Con set includes Baxter Stockman and a Mouser). It’s great to see NECA just come right out with a pack like this as if they had released a Baxter with a Mouser or two people would be trying to army build Mousers while getting stuck with multiple Baxters. Even Super7 has made collectors wait a couple of years after including their, lone, Mouser in the first wave of Super7 Ultimates! as they have a Mouser pack due to arrive at some point this year.
With this set, NECA is providing each buyer an assortment of Mousers. There’s enough here that many collectors will probably be satisfied with just one, but others can likely easily talk themselves into multiples since the variety is done well. So what’s in the box? Well, each box comes with four, complete, unblemished, Mousers. Their design matches the toon as they have a slight curve to their head as opposed to the more rounded look of the comic version. They’re painted white and gray, with the gray acting as the “toon” shading and the proportions look spot-on. They’re over 2″ tall, but they’re construction affords a range of posing in which they can be more upright or hunched over. They’re quite bird-like in their design with thin legs, clawed feet, and “knees” that can bend forward or back. There’s a single stripe of red for the glowing “eye” on the head, and the interior of the mouth is sculpted and painted a slate gray. There’s black on the joints too and gray on the “neck” of the robots. The sculpt is basically perfect. It’s not a demanding design, but credit where credit is due. The paint job is also nice and free from slop. There’s a little excess black on the hip of one of mine, but otherwise the set is pristine.
Now, four Mousers is nice, but not 10 bucks a piece nice, so it’s good that there’s more! There’s an additional, complete, Mouser with a bashed-up head. It’s lovingly dented and scratched and the red light has been extinguished on this one because it has a hole going through the top of the head that can accommodate Raph’s sai. Both pieces of the head are re-sculpted for this and the mouth hinge still works while the body is the same as the others. The sixth Mouser is more destroyed as it has a bashed head that’s a different sculpt from the other bashed Mouser. The neck is extended to imply the cable has been forced out and there’s a new body as well. It’s nicely dented and even features an adorable mouse popping out of a hole in it along with some wiring. There’s an added, non-removable, cap on the bottom which does look a little odd since it’s not on the others, but maybe it’s there for a reason I forgot. One leg is the same, while the other is a new piece that has a frozen knee joint and the foot is broken off. Lastly, we have a completely smashed Mouser that’s in three pieces: head, neck, and the rest. There’s sculpted wiring in the husk of the body with more sticking out of the neck of the headpiece. Between the battle damaged and the non, this is quite a little collection of Mousers and certainly strikes me as enough for a display.
I touched on it a little already, but I should take some time to rundown how much articulation is in these little guys. Each Mouser has an articulated jaw, even the busted ones, which opens quite far. They’ll have no problem gobbling up rats or latching onto a turtle limb. The head is on a ball joint, and the neck too is connected to the torso via a ball joint basically making it a double-ball-peg joint. They can look up and down and get some nice nuance in the tilt. The only thing they can’t do well is look to the side. They can a little, but probably not as much as the robots in the show. The hips are just simple swivel points. It would have been nice to get some rotation out of there, but it’s suitable for what these need to do. The knee is a hinge that goes in both directions and there’s an ankle hinge as well. An ankle rocker would have been cool, but I can see why NECA went with the hinge as it’s much closer to the design in the show. Plus, without a ball joint at the hip there’s little need for an ankle pivot. It’s a neat and tidy assortment of articulation which definitely prioritizes the aesthetics of the sculpt, but also doesn’t really feel like any sacrifices were made so overall a good job.
To sweeten the package, NECA did toss in a bunch of extras. These are mostly limited to the various rats we’ve seen bundled with figures like the Rat King previously as well as the sitting rat that came with Splinter. There are 6 rats in total, three are reissues of the ones that came with Rat King but painted in a light gray with a brown tail. The sitting rat from the Splinter/Baxter set also has lighter fur and a re-colored tail and NECA painted the feet gray instead of brown. There are two, new, rats in this set: one on all fours and one that’s on its hind legs with the forelegs against its chest. That one is the cutest one yet and while it’s good to have rats with Mousers, I may take the Rat King re-issues and add them to him since they have the coiled tails. Also included is a wedge of cheese the sitting rat can hold, the VHS tape that came with Ace Duck previously (only now with a little blue paint on the label area), a slice of pizza that we’ve seen before, and a little drone robot that looks like a fly. It’s another Baxter invention and something to hide in a display. I’m curious if the controller for it has been released or will be in the future to pair with the Baxter figure.
The accessories are fine, and even though I don’t know that I need so many rats, I can’t deny the wisdom of including them here. Plus there’s not a lot that can be released alongside Mousers. Another controller maybe? A new panel for the street diorama with a hole munched through it? That would obviously be more ambitious than what is here, but I can’t say we’re truly missing anything.
NECA’s Mousers set is a solid addition for those who want Mousers in their TMNT display. For 40 bucks, it’s not hard to see the value here as the small army of damaged and undamaged Mousers is sure to eat up some shelf space and there’s some extra rats to keep them busy too. And most importantly, the actual figures turned out very well and I think fans will be quite pleased. Unfortunately, this was offered only through NECA’s webstore and isn’t coming to retail. Several have made it onto AliExpress for basically MSRP so check there if you missed out or if you just want more. The mere fact that they’re available there means these weren’t made-to-order so it’s possible that NECA ordered extra and might make them available again at a later date. And as mentioned earlier, we’re likely to see these guys pop-up here and there as an accessory in other releases. If you want this specific set though I’d suggest you act fast as this is one likely to rise in value on the after-market since collectors love army builders.
Well, here’s something different. Bronx, the good gargoyle dog, is NECA’s fourth entry in its relatively young line of action figures based on the beloved Disney Afternoon series Gargoyles. And not only is Bronx here all on his own, he’s also got something for his buddy Goliath that collectors of this line have been begging for. Unfortunately, he also arrives as part of NECA’s Haulathon event, a gimmicky collector event taking place at Target that should be over by now. Unlike his line-mate, Demona, Bronx appears to have shipped in rather large numbers. Also unlike Demona, he was never put up for order on Target’s website so those who want him have been forced to trek to the store in hopes of catching him on a shelf. Or, you get a friend like I did in @JoePoppingOn who came through for me again with a Bronx! That’s three figures he helped me acquire so a very, hearty, “Thanks” are in order for him. Give him a follow on Twitter, especially if you’re located in the US north east.
Bronx comes in NECA’s standard Ultimates styled packaging with artwork on the front and product shots throughout. The front flap opens to reveal the figure inside and showcase the accessories, with one accessory displayed about as prominently as the actual figure. We’ll get to that, but first we need to talk about Bronx. Bronx, being more like a dog than human, is a quadruped who gets around on all fours. He’s also wingless, so at last he’s a release in this line that’s relatively easy to fit onto a shelf. He scales well with Goliath and the others when placed beside them, and because his form doesn’t showcase giant pectorals, he’s probably the most on-model release when compared with the show. NECA is obviously not going for a true on-model look with this line, so for Bronx, it’s more like a bonus for those out there who wish the company was aiming to do just that.
The sculpt for Bronx is essentially what one would expect of NECA where the character is concerned. He’s a lovely shade of blue with a pale gray on his underside reserved for his lower jaw and belly. His eyes are all white and always displayed in that fashion, unlike the other gargoyles who only go all-white when trying to intimidate others. I like how the paint is applied to give them an almost glowing appearance as the white is soft on the edges and more stark in the center. His body has the usual gargoyle anatomy with spikes here and there. Not only does Bronx lack wings, he also features a far shorter tail giving him a really compact appearance. He’s all front end too with a smaller backside. He looks awesome, and even though the Bronx design from the show was never a particular favorite of mine, I find myself really liking the look of this figure because NECA just plain nailed it.
Even though Bronx stands on all fours, he’s articulated in a very similar manner to his line-mates in some ways, but he’s also different in others. For one, Bronx has articulation at the jaw so he can open and close his mouth and look a bit more fearsome, if need be. His head is on a double ball-peg and it’s reinforced with another ball peg at the base of his massive neck so he gets terrific range looking to the side as well as up and down. He also has plenty of tilt and he’s very expressive in that area. His front legs are joined to the body via ball-hinges and he has “elbow” joints, ankle joints, and toe joints. His legs can spread out wide and kick forward and back. The torso has a rubbery overlay, indicating that NECA intends to do more figures in this style down the road, which does kill whatever torso articulation is hidden underneath that. His rear legs are affixed via ball joints just like the other gargoyles and he has knee joints that move very little as they’re always intended to be bent. Past that, his feet are done in the same fashion as the front ones with ankle hinges, rockers, and toe hinge and rocker. Because of his design, Bronx isn’t going to be super dynamic, but I think NECA did a good job here of getting articulation into this figure without sacrificing really any of the aesthetic. And I wish they’d add neck articulation to the other figures.
Bronx doesn’t fly, or use weapons, or even have hands, so he doesn’t have much in the way of accessories. For Bronx, there’s really just two: a second head and a hunk of meat. The second head features a wide open mouth and is a touch more fearsome looking than the standard one. It would still feel a bit unnecessary if not for the big slab of meat he also comes with. I don’t know that I’ll really incorporate it into my own display, but the meat can fit into the mouth of the second head so he can hold it, or it can be placed at his feet. The meat looks fine and it’s painted, but at the end of the day it’s just a piece of meat.
What collectors are really intrigued by is the last accessory: Goliath’s closed wings. Also referred to as caped wings by the fandom, these are for the Goliath figure and are posed as the character often did in the show by hooking them below his chin like a cape. This is a casual, walking around, look for Goliath and has the bonus of reducing the amount of space he takes up on a shelf. To put them on, you need to pop off the head and wings from the Goliath figure and then just drape it over the shoulders. They’re a soft, flexible, material, but still feature the same paint and detailing as the open wings. There are two pegs on the rear to slot into the figure and these basically just keep things together. Once the head is replaced, the look is complete and it’s…okay. Goliath’s body was sculpted to be in attack mode, so his head isn’t really positioned in a casual manner making it look a bit awkward. If he had a joint at the base of the neck, this could be worked with, but alas he does not. The head is also even more locked-down than before as his hair keeps him from really being able to turn his head. He can look down a little, but that’s it. Still, now that the display is four figures, the extra room is welcomed so I’m probably going to stick with this look, but what I really want are just relaxed wings.
Bronx is a terrific entry in this young line, and he might be my favorite. I’ve mentioned how the other figures are so cumbersome that they’re not very fun to mess around with, but Bronx doesn’t suffer from that at all. He’s a joy to play with and pose, and while his accessories do nothing for me, the actual figure is great. The caped wings for Goliath are certainly a welcomed addition, but I am lukewarm on the end result. It’s okay, and maybe I’ll like the look more with an Elisa to pair him with, but it seems clear to me that the figure wasn’t really sculpted with this look in mind. I think NECA is generally very good at balancing aesthetic with articulation and function, but with this line I don’t think they’ve been as successful. Hopefully we see some improvement going forward and that these extra wings which are sorely needed aren’t few and far between.
As mentioned before, Bronx was part of Haulathon at Target. He was up briefly on the Haulathon website, but I literally know of no one actually receiving the figure via that site as seemingly all, or most, of the orders ended up cancelled. He seems to still be shipping, so check your local stores if you’re after this one. He has since gone up for pre-order in the usual places with an expected June delivery, so while you may have to wait, you shouldn’t have to go to the secondary market to add to the clan.
When NECA launched it’s line of action figures based on Disney’s Gargoyles, it seemed to imply that Demona would be figure number 2. She was not. That honor went to Thailog, the Goliath clone, and that might have had something to do with the many factory delays and shipping woes that were impacting the entire industry. It’s a lot easier to pivot from Goliath to a figure like Thailog at the factory when almost all of the molds are the same. The other promise from NECA was that none of the Gargoyles figures were slated to be sold as exclusives. They were all general release and collectors could expect to be able to preorder them from their preferred retailer. Well, that went out the window with NECA’s Haulathon event which was split between a website for Halloween costumes and Target stores. And as you could probably have guessed at this point, Demona ended up falling into that event.
Demona is the rogue gargoyle from the show. Goliath’s former lover, she’s basically the Magneto of the series as she has a justifiable distrust of humans, but turns that mistrust into all-out hatred. She doesn’t want to live alongside humanity, she wants to crush it. Armed with advanced weaponry, magic, and a wealth of knowledge given her extreme lifespan, she’s a formidable foe for Goliath and company and a worthy third figure in the line. Since she’s not a Goliath repaint, she’s also just the second, unique, sculpt we get to experience. With Goliath and Thailog, I had some nitpicks, but was generally satisfied with the finished product. With Demona, that’s pretty much still true, but she does introduce a new problem that I really hope isn’t one going forward.
Demona is sold in the standard NECA Ultimates five-panel window box. It’s a bit smaller than Goliath’s since Demona is a smaller character. Not only is she shorter than her former beau, she’s more slender as she has a very feminine physique that mixes with the gargoyle anatomy. She has a big tuft of red hair that looks quite nice and the pale blue-gray of her skin lines up well with her appearance in the cartoon. Like Goliath, she’s inspired by the cartoon, but has added detail to make her look a bit more “alive.” It’s a bit less pronounced as she doesn’t need giant, rippling, muscles and it’s mostly seen in the texture added to her clothing. She basically just has a top and loincloth with the bottom piece being separate while the top appears to be part of the mold. Either that, or the torso is cut-out to fit it so it can be glued down. It’s interesting as I suspect NECA will want to reuse much of this mold for Angela at some point, but her top is different. Maybe Disney just didn’t want people sneaking a peek under Demona’s top? Which does raise the question: why do female gargoyles have breasts? They’re an egg-laying species, most of which don’t nurse their young, but they are fantastic beasts so I guess they can follow different rules.
Demona has a very striking appearance, and one thing I rather like is that NECA used actual metal hoops for her earrings and her anklet. This could potentially make her more fragile, but they seem secure and fine. Her proportions look nice, and like Goliath, her wings are painted in a two-tone fashion with a purple shade used for the membrane. Also like Goliath, the wings are huge and made of ABS so there’s no give to them. They’re going to take up a lot space, and there’s nothing that can be done about it. Aside from that general complaint, my only other issue with her is that her face looks just a little off. I feel like her face should be longer and more narrow. Instead, it starts off rather wide and quickly comes to a point at her chin giving her a slightly scrunched appearance. It’s not terrible or anything, but I think she could look a little better.
Demona comes with more stuff than we’re used to, and she even has a new feature that I wish Goliath had. And that feature is she uses faceplates instead of swapping an entire head. Bandai has been doing this for years with its figures, and I’m surprised it took NECA this long as it would have been easy to do with Goliath. Her face pops off easily and she has a screaming, red-eyed, face to go in its place. It’s appropriately unsettling, so much so that I almost don’t like looking at it, but it definitely works. Demona also has various hands including open, clawing hands, fists, a trigger-finger right hand, and a modified gripping left hand for her book or gun. She has two, giant, guns. One is a bazooka while the other is some kind of laser canon. The bazooka has a trigger and a more conventional design that’s easy to get the character to grip, while the other gun is more cumbersome with no actual trigger. I’m assuming it appeared that way in the show so I’m not faulting the toy here, just pointing it out for review. She also has her Grimorum Arcanorum which is really cool. It’s well-sculpted and the paint looks awesome as it has this distressed look to it and it can even open. It’s also sculpted to have a page torn out and that missing page will come with a future figure – a nice attention to detail.
The accessories are certainly appropriate, and the only thing missing is what’s missing from all of the figures so far and that’s a flight stand and additional wings. The wide open wings are essentially gliding wings so a flight stand is almost a necessity, but obviously would add cost to the figure. I’d happily take an increased cost if it meant alternate wings though. I know I sound like a broken record, but these things are too much to manage now that we have three figures.
Demona may be smaller than Goliath, but she essentially articulates the same. The head is on a double ball-peg, but her hair keeps her from being able to look up which is unfortunate for flying poses. NECA could have fixed that with either a second hairpiece or with a hinge in it, but chose not to. She can look down, tilt, and swivel. There’s no lower neck joint and her shoulders are ball-hinges. She can raise her arms out to the side without much trouble and has a biceps swivel, double elbows, and wrists that swivel and hinge. All of the hinges are horizontal, which is unfortunate for the trigger hand. Demona has a ball joint in the torso below her bust and a waist twist below that. Her hips are the standard ball joints and she can kick forward and back, since she doesn’t technically have an ass. There’s a twist there as well and she has single-jointed knees since the gargoyle anatomy only requires that much. The ankles are hinged and can rock a bit with another hinge at the toe that also has a rocker. The tail pegs into the rear of the figure and is bendy plus there’s a hinge at the peg. At the wings, she has hinges and they’re on pegs so they can rotate up and down and also swing out.
It’s with the wings that a new problem emerges for Demona. In many respects, I think she articulates better than Goliath as there’s less bulk to maneuver around, but what kills her is the tolerance of the wing joints. They are far too loose and are downright floppy. Her wings immediately slump to the table and posing them on their own is impossible. I’ve had to prop them up on Goliath and Thailog or just let them hit the shelf to pose her. She’s a challenge to stand, so I guess the wings help in that regard, but it’s a problem and it seems to be rather widespread. I’m going to have to try to remedy this somehow, either with super glue, tape, or something that can be added to that peg to tighten things up. It’s a problem that the figure really can’t have since the wings are so huge and it’s something NECA needs to tighten up now. I’ve refrained on trying to remedy it for the time being so that my images with this review are true to what the figure is out of the box.
Demona is a figure that is largely as expected. She looks the part well enough and has essentially the same articulation as Goliath, just with a new problem in the form of the wings. If not for that, I think I’d find her a little more entertaining than Goliath, but instead I find this figure to be rather frustrating as I try to pose it on my shelf. That’s also true of the other releases in this line as they’re so cumbersome that they’re really not a lot of fun to handle. They look pretty great when placed in a pose that looks nice, but they make you work to get there. NECA plans to include extra wings with the non-winged characters in the line, but that’s not going to do it. We really need options right out of the box, or else I think a lot of people will drop this line after a figure or two. Maybe I’m wrong, but despite this figure being overall a solid release, I’m finding my enthusiasm for this line waning which is hard to believe given how excited I was a year ago when the line was announced.
Demona was part of the Haulathon event and some stores are still receiving stock of her and she should set you back around $36. The distribution appeared poor to start, with some stores only getting one unit or none at all, but Target did make her available online so hopefully those who wanted her got her. I never found this figure in stores, so a special shout-out to @JoePoppingOn who helped me in tracking her down and the next figure in the line. The figure is also now up at various online retailers, some with a mark-up so it pays to shop around. Those figures are presently slated for a June release so hopefully that holds true and everyone who wants it can get one.
I’m having a hard time coming up with an action figure line that has had retail releases separated by more than a decade. I don’t mean long-running lines of figures like G.I. Joe or Marvel Legends which have been around for decades, I mean a line that was started, ended, then re-started like NECA’s line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures based on the work of Mirage Studios. That source is the original incarnation of the green machine made famous in the late 80s by a cartoon, video games, toys and movies. The Eastman and Laird turtles were of a different mold: more violent, less polished, and with less color. If you’ve ever been into TMNT then you likely know all of that already as it’s pretty well-covered at this point.
When NECA first got permission to do figures based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was via a deal they struck with Peter Laird and Mirage Studios to bring the original turtles from issue #1 to comic book shops. It was in 2008 when those figures hit stores, and they would be followed-up with a black and white variant as well as an April O’Neil. After that, things came to a halt. NECA unveiled a Shredder, but it was cancelled. It’s unclear if the line was ended because the sales weren’t there (NECA’s Randy Falk has indicated in the past that consumers aren’t that interested in pre-toon TMNT) or if Playmates had something to do with it being that they held the master toy license and had really never been challenged on it. Playmates definitely wasn’t happy, and would remain a challenge to getting non-Playmates TMNT toys to retail for awhile longer, but I suppose it doesn’t matter as the line did indeed come to an end.
Since then, things have obviously become better for NECA where TMNT is concerned. The company has been able to branch out while turtle nostalgia has taken off. Once Laird sold the property to Viacom, it seemed to open the door for non-Playmates action figures, likely because Viacom is big enough to toss its weight around if Playmates starts threatening legal action or something. NECA was able to find a loophole that allowed it to produce TMNT action figures as convention exclusives, and in 2016 the company finally got that Shredder out they had unveiled nearly a decade earlier. And he came with a trio of henchmen too making the Mirage subline feel relatively complete. As things progressed and NECA brought TMNT to retail, there wasn’t room for more Mirage Studios figures, until now.
Relaunching the Mirage Studios line in 2022 is Fugitoid, a character arguably made famous by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but who actually came first. Fugitoid is an interesting character when you factor in that the Mirage version of the TMNT are often associated with violence as Fugitoid is a noted pacifist. Not that it stopped NECA from including a small arsenal with their figure. He’s the displaced Professor Honeycutt who after an accident found his mind transferred to the body of his loyal, robot, sidekick. He never made the jump to animation in the original cartoon series, but still received an action figure from Playmates. He would show up in later iterations, and in future toy-lines, but the Mirage original has been waiting on the sidelines (like just about every Mirage version of a classic character).
Despite all of my talk about Fugitoid being the next figure in a long dead line, he is numbered 1 for this relaunch. While there are likely more fan-favorite characters out there, and there’s certainly a lot of collectors out there that missed out on the previously released figures, I would say Fugitoid is a worthy figure to kick things off. He’s certainly an interesting one and I’m curious how much of a reflection this figure is of what’s to come. From a packaging standpoint, I’m guessing he’s very indicative as he comes in a window box adorned with artwork by co-creator Kevin Eastman. It’s an attractive box, but not so attractive that I am tempted to keep it (the best kind of packaging). There are three editions of the figure released to retail : standard with black font, signature edition with blue font, and signature edition with black font. The standard edition is self-explanatory, while both signature editions come with a little piece of card art signed by Eastman. The black font variant is either an error or was originally planned to be a surprise. Fugitoid is being released via NECA’s Haulathon event which was originally advertised as featuring surprise variants at retail. Perhaps that was nixed in favor of just charging extra as the standard version is $32 while the signature version is $100. Even though the black version of the signature variant looks like the standard version, the UPC is correct if you find it at Target which has probably caused some confusion at the register. I also saw more than one confused collector who received a black version via Target.com and thought they were sent the wrong one. You can see the art card behind Fugitoid in the box, in case you’re confused about which version you may be staring at.
I, being an opener and not really interested in Kevin Eastman’s signature (no offense, Kev), went with the standard version. Fugitoid is a very unique entry in this line, or any NECA TMNT line, because of his design and construction. First of all, he’s cast in gray plastic and stands around 5.5″, but the deco designed by Geoffrey Trapp and Mike Puzzo aims to recreate the character’s look in the comic. It’s a very aggressive approach, and I have seen some turn up their nose at it, but I for one love it. He looks like he stepped out of a comic book and the shading really matches the unique look of the Mirage books, something natural lighting just can’t reproduce. He looks perfect and while Fugitoid is not my favorite design from the world of TMNT, it wouldn’t be hard to make the argument that his likeness is the best yet from any TMNT line by NECA.
Where things might change for people is how the figure is constructed and articulated. Fugitoid is basically a head, body, hands, and feet, joined by cables. He reminds me a lot of Blinky from Bucky O’Hare, and like the Blinky figure released by Hasbro in 1991, Fugitoid features bendy wires for his limbs. There’s no elbow or knee articulation, just bendy wire coated in plastic. It looks good, but you’re never going to get the same kind of posing out of this approach as you would plastic joints. Aesthetically though, it’s hard to imagine NECA finding a better solution. Where things are a bit more confusing is in the choice to go with just swivels at the shoulders and hips. NECA probably opted for that approach to preserve the aesthetic as much as possible, or perhaps there were issues with having the wired limb end at a ball hinge. Whatever the reason, it’s disappointing as I think a ball hinge in both spots would have been fine from a visual perspective, and it would have given the figure much better range. At the head you have what is likely a ball joint that works just fine to let the character look up, down, and all around. The feet feel like they have a joint in there as they turn just fine and the hands can rotate. The upper torso can tilt and move forward and back slightly as well. Fugitoid is not going to be very dynamic, but it’s obvious that NECA opted for aesthetics over articulation and it’s hard to disagree with their choices here (excepting the lack of ball joints at the hips and shoulders).
Fugitoid does come with a lot of stuff, most of which isn’t really for him. He almost feels like an accessory pack as a result. He does have three sets of hands which just plug into the ends of his arms rather easily. He has just three fingers composed of coils that just sort of pop out of the ends of his arms. He has two sets of gripping hands, one tighter than the other, and a set of “open” hands. They’re more of a style pose hand, I guess, but quite suitable for the character. He also comes with four different guns all sourced from the comics: two blue pistols, one Triceraton pistol, and a blue, long, rifle. I don’t know exactly what issue each comes from, but they all look great as they have a similar deco to the figure. If guns aren’t your thing, he also has a set of Triceraton “handcuffs.” It’s a big lump of plastic that the hands are designed to go into. It can fit on Fugitoid, but is likely intended to be worn by a turtle. The other gun is definitely for the turtles as it’s from the Donatello one-shot. It’s a forearm canon that fits over the forearm and it’s really cool. I put it on my Donnie immediately and I don’t plan on taking it off. As for the other guns, I don’t know what I’ll do with them. It feels wrong to have Fugitoid posed with a weapon, but also equally wrong to put a gun in the hands of the turtles. I like the look of all of them, but I don’t know what to do with them.
NECA’s return to Mirage Studios is a welcomed thing and Fugitoid is a character worthy of getting things restarted. I wish he wasn’t exclusive to Target as the line had been billed as something for comic shops and specialty retail, but I suspect that’s where he’s headed once this Haulathon nonsense is over. He doesn’t seem terribly hard to find as I was able to get mine online, but also came upon sets at physical locations too. I think he looks great and his price-point is on the low end (provided you’re not talking about the signature version) for stand-alone NECA releases these days. Especially considering the tooling for this guy is unlikely to bare fruit elsewhere. The articulation is not great, and while the accessories are plentiful, they’re not all particularly useful. At the same time, what else is there to include for a Fugitoid? He’s not missing anything, so I’m fine with the accessory loadout. And more importantly, I love how the figure is presented. That deco is fantastic and I’m excited to see the line move forward. We’ve seen two of the next three releases: an Utrom body and Renet. The third is probably the one people are most excited for, Casey Jones, who has yet to have a full reveal. And it’s a given that the turtles are coming back too and it sounds like in a new form. Those old figures are great, but would merit updates in 2022. Plus they’ve been bootlegged to hell and back and it’s been rumored that the tools were actually stolen so it’s unclear if NECA could re-release them if they wanted to. My guess is we’ll see the new ones around San Diego Comic Con time. For now, I’m going to enjoy what we have and wonder about what other exciting plans are in-store for this line. It’s great to be a TMNT fan!
There is certainly a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles product flying around these days, but I would guess collectors and fans of the property are paying the most attention to two toy makers in particular: NECA and Super7. One search for “NECA” on this blog will reveal that the company has produced a ton of TMNT action figures based on various iterations of the characters be it movies, television, or comics. As for Super7, their output is much slower and more specific, though they still have released 16 figures thus far and a handful of variants and have three additional waves already solicited. Super7’s approach is to essentially reproduce what Playmates made 30 years ago at a new scale and with modern technology. Both NECA and Super7 basically received permission to go full tilt on TMNT at the same time, and both have said they basically sat down at Toy Fair, explained the direction they were each going in, and basically have a handshake agreement to not step on each other’s toes which has held up just fine.
Sometimes though, multiple iterations of the property intersect. Playmates very much did its own thing when it came to characters and designs, and for awhile, the cartoon did as well. As the show went on though, the writers, artists, and so on started to just lift more from existing sources probably because it gets hard to keep coming up with new ideas for a show that’s pretty formulaic and largely exists just to sell toys. And since it’s a glorified commercial, why not just include the toys in the show directly?
When it came time to make a sequel to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990 film, the writers wanted to include some mutant henchmen for Shredder. When Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird balked at including the cartoony Bebop and Rocksteady, new mutants were created in Tokka and Rahzar. Playmates foolishly felt the first movie would be a massive flop and did not support it with toys, but after it was a success, they were ready for the sequel and produced figures on several characters including the newly created mutants. Playmates wasn’t going to match the look of the costumes in the film, and it’s likely things were being worked on simultaneously, so their take on Tokka and Rahzar turned out a little different from how they appeared in the film. The film was another hit and the characters proved popular, so to no one’s surprise, Tokka and Rahzar made the jump to television. And since it was likely far easier to model them on the toys, that’s what the show did. All of this is to say I feel a little bad for Super7 since NECA has essentially provided us a set of figures that are based on the cartoon, which was based on the toys. It’s basically the same deal as what we saw with Antrax and Scumbug earlier this year.
Tokka and Rahzar come in the standard window box packaging we’re all used to at this point. They were initially offered as part of NECA’s Haulathon event and in a confusing fashion as they were sold on costumes.com. Apparently, it would have cost too much to create a new website. That website was also supposed to be for international customers only, but no one configured the site to actually lock out US residents so it ended up being a free-for-all when everything went up on March 18th. This set was said to be open to all in some places, but it was all terribly communicated and a lot of confusion was out there. I placed an order on that site, and a set arrived less than 2 weeks later even though product wasn’t supposed to ship until April (I’m not complaining). These guys are going to Target, and maybe online too, and it’s possible by the time this post actually goes live that all of this has been sorted out. For now, it’s a mess, but I got some toys out of it.
As mentioned before, Tokka and Rahzar are based on their appearance in the episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter!” and the designs for the characters are clearly based on their action figure counterparts from Playmates. It came pretty late in the cartoon’s life, episode 166 out of 193, so several people collecting this line barely remember their appearance. I personally was still watching, but I’d drop off the following season when the “Red Sky” era began and the show underwent a soft reboot of sorts. I remember being quite surprised to see this pair show up though, and even more surprised when they were intelligent creatures. Aside from resembling the movie characters to a certain degree, the pair are pretty damn different. They’re a bit morally ambiguous and largely out to satisfy their stomachs. Rahzar makes it very clear to Tokka that he’s his only friend in the world, which is about the only character development they really get. Rahzar seems to dislike everyone, but Tokka, and he does make some comment about no one being able to stop them so I guess they’re villains? Tokka is mostly useless though as he’s easily subdued and just exists to make Rahzar mad when something unfortunate befalls him. He gets captured by the mutant racist Dirk Savage, leading to a showdown between Savage and Rahzar that’s just a set piece for the turtles to save Savage and have him realize the errors of his ways. That’s the cure for racism in Hollywood, you just need to have the party the individual is racist towards save them. Problem solved! Tokka and Rahzar’s story just sort of ends there and they never show up again.
Rahzar is obviously the larger of the two standing at around 7.25″ to the top of his hair. Tokka, is much shorter and chunkier coming in at around 5.25″. Both were sculpted by Paul Harding who has already made a mark on this line with expressive sculpts of Dirtbag and Groundchuck and it looks like NECA was so pleased with Tokka that they’re prepping the figure for a re-release as an Archie Slash, which makes sense since the Playmates Slash was repurposed into Tokka! Both figures are impressively sculpted. Rahzar has a lot of extra parts added to him like the broken shackles, forearm and thigh pads, and that grill on his chest. Tokka has various warts and similar blemishes on his body to go with a spiked shell that’s a dead-ringer for the old toy. He has elbow and knee pads plus those spiked shoulder pauldrons. I love the detail on both and the paint is what is expected of this line. The black linework is clean and really causes the pair to “pop” and we get that bisected shading as well with light on the front and dark on the back. The only overlay in use here is the green “diaper” on Rahzar so it’s hard to say if NECA expects to get much reuse out of his mold. If not, I love to see the commitment on display here from NECA to make the best possible versions of these characters uncompromised by cost-cutting measures.
When it comes to shortcomings from a presentation perspective, there’s very little to complain about here. We’re basically down to nitpicks as the paint around the spikes on Tokka’s shell is a little sloppy around the edges, but it’s pretty minor. The shurikens on his belt also have a soft appearance in the paint department, but again, it’s a nitpick. The only real blemish on either figure is with Rahzar’s right shackle. There’s a sizable blob of gray paint on it from the forearm guard that’s a bit of a bummer. The shackle is a separate piece that can come right off once the hand is popped off so, if I want to, I could easily take it off and try to touch it up. It’s tough to paint white over a dark color though so I don’t know that I’ll bother, but that really is it as far as issues. This is a very clean set.
Since our boys here only showed up in one episode, they didn’t really get to do much aside from eat and get captured by Savage. Given that, NECA included a bunch of food! There’s a turkey platter with about half of a bird on it, some sliced potatoes, and a big slab of salami, I think. There’s also a turkey leg and some bone-in-meat plus a whole fish which was something actually used as a weapon against Rahzar. There’s also yet another handheld, control, device that looks like a fancy adding machine. It’s the controller to the control cuff that actually came with the Mondo Gecko figure so, little by little, we’re building the arsenal of Dirk Savage (the foot trap that came with the Punk Frogs also belongs to Savage). Each figure also comes with a set of gripping hands and a set of open hands. I’m a little surprised there are no fists, but I don’t know that I actually miss them. The accessories are all painted very nicely, and even though I’m not sure what I’ll do with a big turkey platter, I’m happy to have it.
This line is certainly an appearance first, articulation second, sort of line, but these two boys move pretty well. We’ll start with Rahzar first who has a ball-jointed head. It feels like it might be a double-ball peg as he can look up very well, and bury his chin with rotation and tilt. There’s also a hinged jaw to add personality and it works very well. He’s most limited at the shoulders where traditional ball-hinges are hampered by the shoulder pads. The pads can slide a little, but he can’t really lift his arms out to the side much. He can rotate just fine though, and he has a biceps swivel, double-jointed elbows that get you 90 degrees or better, and wrist swivels with horizontal hinges. In the diaphragm is a ball joint that will mostly let the figure rotate, but you get some tilt and he can arch back and crunch forward a little bit. The hips are on ball-sockets and are nice and firm. You get a thigh twist there to go with double-jointed knees and the standard hinge and rocker combo at the ankles. All of those joints work quite well and I love that he has big feet because he’s easy to pose and stand. There were no stuck joints and they’re all cast in the most appropriate color of plastic too.
Tokka is similar, but being another turtle character, he has some limitations of his own. His head basically sits forward on the sculpt so he’s more limited in the up and down department, but he does have a really nice jaw hinge to make up for it. This dude can open wide! Like Rahzar, he has shoulder pads too that prevent him from bringing his arms out to the side, but he gets good range out of the double-elbows despite the elbow pads (why can’t we get these on the hero turtles?) and has a biceps swivel and standard wrist articulation. Like the turtles, he appears to have some joints in the torso, but unlike the turtles, it’s pretty useless. I can’t get any twist out of them, but braver folks than me might be more willing to really crank on that joint. The hips are ball and socket joints and he has the same thigh twist, double knees, and ankle articulation as Rahzar. Tokka’s feet are really impressive as he can bend each one back all the way so the foot lines up with the leg and he can bend it really far forward. It gives the figure a great base and I’ll definitely be happy to have a Slash with this kind of articulation later this year.
I feel like I’ve been saying this with a lot of the two-packs of late, but this set is another contender for best in the line. I’m partial to the bugs from a design standpoint, but I can’t imagine these two turning out any better than they did. These guys are picture perfect recreations of their animated look and the sculpt, paint, and articulation really comes together nicely. I suppose the accessories aren’t the most exciting we’ve seen, but it’s not as if there was much in the show associated with them. I guess we should be mad at the designers of the toon for not giving them some of their action figure accessories.
Tokka and Rahzar have started off as another Haulathon exclusive, but I suspect NECA will make every effort to get these figures into as many hands as possible so if you missed the initial drop keep your eyes open. Basically every set these days to hit Target brick and mortar has been relatively easy to get ahold of, excepting maybe the turtles themselves. I’m willing to bet Tokka and Rahzar will follow a similar pattern and hang around for a bit. Maybe I’m underestimating their popularity due to their appearance in The Secret of the Ooze, but that remains to be seen. If you can’t tell, I definitely give these guys a strong recommend so get out there and hunt these bad boys down like you’re Dirk Savage himself, just don’t be a racist!
2021 introduced a lot of good things for collectors of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures based on the classic cartoon. The toy maker still kept the line a Target exclusive when it came to brick and mortar, but it also started selling a lot of it online to coincide with each new release. Sure, you still had some folks out there complaining about having to pay NECA’s $15 shipping charge, but to skip the aggravation of the hunt seemed like a worthwhile trade-off for me!
2022 has not started off that way. Well, it has and it hasn’t. The past few weeks have seen NECA post several products on their site as preorders to be delivered later this year, and some of those look pretty damn awesome. At the same time, they’ve also launched Haulathon – a “collector” event in coordination with Target that sees a lot of the first run of sought after items (as well as restocks of past items, so it’s not all bad) head to either Target’s stores, website, or both. And one of those exclusives is the two-pack of Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady. Or, is it Super Rocksteady and Mighty Bebop? The box and the episode title from which these two came say one thing, but Shredder and Krang say another in episode. I suppose it doesn’t matter as most just likely remember them as the robot versions of everyone’s favorite pair of dim-witted mutants.
Like a lot of characters from this era, Bebop and Rocksteady had toy versions that depicted them as robots, but they looked nothing like the characters from the show. For that reason, I consider these the first true depictions in classic for the robotic duo. They’ve been high on my own personal “Wants” list when it comes to this line for awhile, so I was thrilled to see the images leak online of the pair and even more thrilled to get them in-hand. Special thanks are reserved for a fellow local collector, @JoePoppingOn, who helped me in finding a set. Without his help, I’d still be on the hunt for these rad dudes.
We’ve had three iterations of Bebop and Rocksteady from NECA at this point, but unlike those previous sets, these two are all new sculpts. There’s really nothing one can salvage from the other figures when trying to create the robot versions as they have an all-together different shape and the show made sure to put some kind of robot detailing on basically every surface. In addition to that, the two are pretty different from each other so NECA couldn’t even have them share too many parts. From what I can tell, the only parts shared between the two are the shoulders, biceps, hands, thighs, and lower leg. The forearms, torso, head, and feet are unique to each character and both feature extra additions like Rocksteady’s forearm mounted laser and Bebop’s shoulder guns. More importantly, they look just as they do in the show from the colors to the individual details. I love that Rocksteady appears to have a tape deck in his stomach while the Play and Stop buttons appear to be on Bebop’s belt. There’s little to no paint slop on my set and everything just looks terrific.
These are big, chunky, boys that come in at around 6.5″ with Bebop’s mohawk and overall higher sitting head pushing him slightly beyond that. They basically articulate in the same manner as well. Both articulate at the head where they can swivel with some slight tilt. Rocksteady can look up pretty well, but Bebop not so well, and neither can really look down. Both have hinged jaws which work fine. At the shoulders are standard ball hinges, but both figures have stuff to maneuver around. For Bebop, it’s the shoulder pads which are connected to his vest. If you bring his arms up too quickly or forcefully you could risk popping them off so it’s best to be gentle. Rocksteady has these coils extending over his shoulders which creates a similar impediment, with more limitations on raising the arms out to the side. The biceps swivel and the double-jointed elbows work fine, as do the hands which swivel and feature a horizontal hinge. I’ll add that every joint is on these guys is tight, but not too tight, with none that I’d describe as loose. I did not have to heat up anything to get it working.
In the torso, we have the usual diaphragm joint. And as per usual with this line, it offers very little. With Bebop, he has a bandolier and a vest layered over it which makes it hard to get at. With Rocksteady, there’s really nothing in the way so you get good rotation there, but very little in terms of the ability to crunch forward and back. You also need to be mindful of the paint on his torso as I would hate to see anyone scratch it. Below the abdomen is a waist twist and below that is something we’ve all long been waiting for with a Bebop and Rocksteady set: ball-jointed hips! Yes, the old design which was a pin and ratchet combo is gone and these ball joints work great. They can’t do full splits, but the joint has solid tolerance and you get a thigh twist out of it too. The knees are double-jointed, and at the ankles we get a hinge and rocker which work great. The boxy design of their feet also makes standing these guys pretty painless, which is necessary because a lot of the accents on their sculpts (in particular Rocksteady) are made of hard plastic and likely wouldn’t handle a shelf dive too well. Overall, the pair don’t articulate all that well, but that’s par for the course with this line which prioritizes the aesthetics of the figure over pose-ability. I’d argue they have enough, but your mileage may vary.
In true NECA fashion we also get a generous assortment of “stuff” with this pair. There are two sets of the following styles of hands: fists, open hands, and gripping hands. For the gripping hands, the left hand is a standard “C” grip while the right hand has a trigger finger grip. A small nitpick for me is I wish we got a left and right trigger hand just to make the two look different, but it’s a minor complaint. We also get two new guns: a long rifle machine gun and a shorter machine gun with drill tip. They’re all new and are basically chunkier versions of the other guns we’ve seen for the duo. I love the sculpting on both of them, especially the long rifle, which has a scope and sight at the end. There’s also a busted parking meter for one to smash turtles with, and a pair of cartoon specific accessories to round things out. There’s the polarity deflector from “Return of the Technodrome”, and a cartoony, round, bomb with red and yellow wires sculpted on. Surprisingly, the bomb is here and not the Mezmerizer, which is a similar item from the episode they’re in, but I always enjoy a good bomb accessory. It’s from the episode “Mister Ogg Goes to Town,” Mister Ogg being one of the few characters I have zero interest in NECA tackling. The weapons are painted, and the hands pretty stiff, so you do need to take care when wedging the items in there because there probably will be some paint rub. The open hands are suitable for holding both the polarity thing and bomb, the latter of which has a flat, bottom, so it sits just fine on a surface. I personally wouldn’t try to get them to hold the polarity deflector with their gripping hands as I’m pretty sure that will lead to paint rub, but it’s your call. As always, if you’re nervous about it just run the hand under hot tap water for a few seconds and that should make them more pliable.
These guys are just great. They both look fine right out of the box as Rocksteady has his forearm blaster and a pair of guns on his shoulders as well. If I have a minor critique, it’s that those two guns on his back aren’t articulated at all as it would have been neat if they were on ball joints. Bebop also has his two “stock” guns in his shoulder pads, but they appear more decorative than anything as I can’t imagine it’s easy to aim a gun attached to the top of one’s shoulder. That’s what the accessories are for though and I’m torn on how to display them. I kind of wish I could just stick the parking meter into a slot on the street diorama, but sadly, there appears to be no way to do that.
These are good problems to have when it comes to toys, and this is a set that I hope all collectors have an easy time tracking down. Very few sets in this line have remained exclusive to Target stores, so once this Haulathon event is over there’s a reasonable chance that NECA makes them available directly through their store. It might be in the form of a preorder, so there would be a lengthy wait attached to it, but it’s better than not getting them. They were available on Target.com last Friday, but I assume by the time this goes live they will have sold out. The set retails for $60 too, which is becoming the standard for two-packs in this line that feature a lot of new sculpting that won’t likely translate to other figures. For now, we only have the hunt so keep an eye on your local Targets and coordinate with other collectors out there. Together, we can beat the scalpers!
It’s the first Turtle Tuesday in a little while that I don’t have some new TMNT review to post. Given that, I think it’s time to revisit the rankings I did last year for NECA’s toon line of action figures. This has become NECA’s most popular line, and while it has cooled a bit since last year, that also could just be due to better distribution making it easier for collectors to get their hands on these things. NECA has done preorders and direct sales going back to April of last year and it’s made a world of difference. And it’s a great thing to be able to simply enjoy this line for what it is and not be frustrated with how hard it can be to get some of these.
Last year, I had 21 distinct rankings for this list and now a little more than a year later it’s doubled! The amount of figures has actually more than doubled as we’ve seen some variants come out and some figures I’ll rank together (like the frogs and various Foot Soldiers). It was a very busy year for the line and it’s pretty damn impressive how many new releases made it out given the ongoing global shipping and factory issues.
Forty-two is a lot of figures to rank so let’s not waste any more time. Where a figure is a repeat from last year, I’ll include the prior ranking. The order for those older releases is largely the same, but there were some changes here and there as certain figures have fallen out of favor a bit, or I’ve gained new appreciation for. There are no rules here aside from this is how I feel right now in this moment. Some of these are rather fluid, though I feel pretty good about my number 1, and about my number 42…
April O’Neil(21) – She’s still in last place because her sculpt just isn’t great. She’s also still hard to get, but NECA is prepping an update for 2022 so stay tuned.
Krang (Bubble Walker)(20) – Also still in second to last place, just not a fun release, and not really one that could be. It’s very much limited by the design, and the walker itself looks fine, but has a cheap feel. It could have used real knee joints and ball-joints where the legs meet the “bubble.”
Kerma – Figure or accessory? He’s just enough of his own thing that I gave him a ranking. He looks great, but he doesn’t articulate much because he was released as an accessory. I do draw a distinction between him and Joey Eyeball though, who won’t be ranked.
Turtles (Style Guide)(19) – The original turtles are a bit dated and these ones are colored to resemble licensing artwork. You either like them, or you don’t. Still the only release I entirely passed on in this line.
Roadkill Rodney (18) – This one’s fine, but there’s not much to him. A perfect example of how just because something is ranked near the bottom of this list doesn’t mean it isn’t worth owning.
Cat April – The good news is the body on the previously released April looks fine, it’s just too small. Cat April recycles that body and includes a new head that’s better proportioned for said body. It’s April mutated as a cat though, so it has limited appeal, hence why it was supposed to be a convention exclusive. She also doesn’t stand well and there’s just something missing here.
Irma – Similar to the Roadkill Rodney, this is a figure that looks good, but is limited by the design. In this case, it’s Irma’s skirt which basically makes her a glorified statue as her leg articulation is useless. The optional rat parts are kind of fun though.
Foot Soldier (All versions) (17) – The Foot have been released in standard and two separate battle damaged variants as well as a deluxe option in 2021. The deluxe one is probably the best as it has updated lower leg articulation and a ton of accessories (including the ability to create a new character, the Alpha Foot), but it does suffer a bit from loose hips syndrome. It’s a good all-purpose army builder though and gets the job done.
Burne – April’s blowhard boss, Burne is an essential character to the show who doesn’t exactly translate well to the world of action figures because there’s just not much for Burne to do besides stand there and look pissed. Or smug, depending on your mood. As a short, squat, guy he doesn’t articulate very well, but we needed a Burne in the line and he’s solid.
Screwloose – Screwloose was just an accessory in the Playmates line, but NECA made him his own thing. He looks pretty good, but he essentially comes with no accessories (aside from a flight stand) and has limited articulation when compared with other small fries Baxter and Splinter. Fine, but unremarkable.
Vernon/Vernon 1.1 – Vernon received not one, but two figures in 2021! Both are the same sculpt aside from the portrait, though the convention exclusive Vernon had slightly modified colors. That one came with my favorite expression for the character, scared, but the two-pack version came with the mutated rat parts so it’s hard to choose a favorite here. I’m just glad to have both because now I can display rat Vernon and normal Vernon.
The Punk Frogs – Finally, all four frogs have been released in figure form! The vintage line famously only did two, and one of them did not look a thing like the cartoon version. These four are definitely toon accurate, but they have the worst ball-socket hips in the line with some barely able to stand because of how loose they are. NECA also only did two different expressions so they’re a bit boring. A case where NECA did the minimum and did that well, but skimped on any extra bells and whistles to make them special.
Mutagen Man– He’s certainly one of the most unique characters from the show and toyline, he’s just not one of the most fun to actually handle. He’s pretty limited, and my version of the figure has a hose that won’t stay inserted in the tank which drives me crazy. The head-swap trick is pretty ingenious though and I definitely like having this guy in my display.
Triceraton Infantry (16) – This guy was pretty solid when he came out, and he’s still pretty solid more than a year later. A good representation of the character in toon form. My only complaint is the lack of a hinged jaw which the other Triceratons received, but the grunt did not.
First Edition Turtles (15) – The original four. NECA nailed the coloring, the head-sculpts were a little iffy, but acceptable. The articulation is dated though and there’s no reason for the company to revisit them now that we have the new four-pack.
Zarax (14) – The Triceraton leader, as far as we know. He looks cool and has unique, bladed, weapons. I liked him when I got him, and I feel the same way about him then as I do now.
Zork (13) – Same as above, minus the blades, and green!
Slash (12) – The controversial toon design of Slash. He actually received a running change in 2021 swapping out that mediocre hip connection for the new ball-peg design and the new ankles. It’s a change that’s for the better, though not enough to seek out if you have the first one. I have always liked the goofy toon Slash so I like this guy. I wish he used a different body from the turtles as he should be chunkier, but he’s good as-is.
Muckman and Joe Eyeball – Our first, true, deluxe figure on the list, Muckman is plenty good. No, his toon design isn’t as fun and crazy as the old toy, but that’s animation for you. This guy is still cool and his sculpt is pretty damn impressive. The only downers with Muckman is he’s very light on accessories considering the gun he comes with isn’t even his. Joe Eyeball is cool though, but what he really needed was some muck effects parts to hold since that’s how he attacked in the show. His chunky design also isn’t fun to pose so he basically just stands there on my shelf.
Wingnut – The Batman parody turned out pretty fun, but similar to Muckman, he’s a chunky guy who doesn’t pose well. The sculpt though, especially the little wings inside the big ones, is terrific. The only negative really is he has those weird double-elbows and basically every figure of him I’ve seen has a crappy paint job when it comes to the fangs. Still a fun figure though.
Granitor (10) – I was a bit high on the rock soldiers last year, maybe too high. Granitor is a good figure, though his utilizing the same body as Traag means his proportions are not toon accurate. This set was also light on accessories so it’s basically you either love the sculpt, or you don’t. I very much like it, I just like others more.
Ace Duck – Ace Duck in figure form is about as good as he can be. His articulation is solid, he has plenty of accessories, and NECA was wise to make the beak removable so he has more variety than most in this line. He’s just Ace Duck who isn’t one of my favorite characters and he was barely in the show so my affection is limited.
Mondo Gecko – A character I had a tremendous amount of affection for as a kid is Mondo Gecko. The skateboarding lizard was designed to be cool, and he mostly is. NECA’s version is also just fine: good sculpt, has skateboard, solid accessories. The paint is a little iffy as NECA did that annoying thing where it painted the joints after not casting them in the right color plastic, but that’s pretty much the only negative wit this guy aside from the sort of steep cost ($40). He does come with Kerma, and apparently it was the board that knocked the costs out of whack, so it is what it is.
Shredder (9) – Shredder is a great sculpt that’s just becoming a bit dated at this point. The articulation is not terrific, and there are some little inaccuracies here and there when compared with the toon. Still, I’m not sure it’s dated enough that we need a new Shredder. Some torso articulation and better legs would certainly improve the figure, but I don’t know if it would be enough to get me to buy a new one. Maybe if they tossed in a wired cape?
Casey Jones (11) – I was a little hard on Casey last year. He’s not without some issues as he has the painted joints eyesore and there’s a gummy quality to the plastic on him that I don’t like. On the other hand, he looks terrific, has a bunch of weapons, and poses reasonably well. If he could stand a bit better and didn’t have the painted joints issue, he’d rank higher for me. And maybe NECA will fix those problems because he’s due for a re-release. He and April are basically the only characters not to be re-released at this point and there are a bunch of collectors who are missing out.
Traag (7) – Traag succeeds much better than Granitor at matching the source material. He’s still lacking in accessories, but if you got Muckman then at least you picked up a new gun for him.
Turtles in Disguise – A four-pack of the turtles with new head-sculpts that can separate at the bandana to create multiple expressions, plus they have better leg articulation and a ton of extra stuff. Want the turtles to go full disguise with those creepy masks? Go for it. I still think the heads need some tweaking, they’re very wide, but the expressions are more faithful to the cartoon than what we had previously which felt more like Playmates homages. The only downside is the glossy finish on the figures which really stands out as basically every other release in the line has a matte appearance. NECA reissued the set with a matte paint job on the head pieces, but the some of the bodies still appear glossy, while some don’t. And since they come wearing their disguises, you basically have no idea what you’re getting until you open the set making it hard to commit to a repurchase.
Bunny Bebop and Rocksteady– I had no idea where to rank these guys. The Loot Crate figures are essentially the same, only one has a Bebop head and one a Rocksteady head. They came with some extra hands, Easter baskets, and a little remote weapon. I love them. The engineering on the legs is unfortunately no different from the regular Bebop and Rocksteady, but otherwise these look terrific. And they make me smile. Your mileage may vary, but I am very much charmed by this duo.
Splinter (8) – What can I say? NECA nailed Splinter. He looks fantastic. He’s not exactly a blast to pose, but I don’t care, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Leatherhead (4) – Leatherhead is great, I’m just less forgiving of this body now than I was in 2021. He has terrible hips and ankles and I do wish his head had more range. Otherwise, he looks the part and he doesn’t need to pose much to be fun as a result.
Pizza Monster – The giant pizza monster is a terrific sculpt with some poor quality control when it comes to the ankles. Many a collector has broken them, and one of mine even arrived broken in the box. It’s enough of an issue that I basically just leave them alone. It makes him harder to stand, and those hips are too loose, but get him in a good pose and he’s a lot of fun to look at.
Rocksteady (3) – Same as Leatherhead. Rocksteady looks fantastic and I love how NECA was able to give him a paunch. I do wish he had a removable helmet, but that’s about it. This is mostly just a reaction to the lousy lower half and fragile hips. Mine has not broken, but I know many have. What’s disappointing is that NECA has re-released he and Bebop, but has yet to replace the leg system.
Dirtbag – One of the star two-packs of 2021, Dirtbag is the preferred figure in the set of many, but I lean Groundchuck. Dirtbag looks every bit as awesome, his design is just more conventional. He does have the added perk of being able to separate at the torso to simulate him emerging from the ground, but his articulation is a bit limited particularly in the head area. Obviously, it’s not enough to really damage the experience considering how high I have him ranked.
Krang (Android) (5) – The mighty Krang is mighty impressive. Really, the only shortcomings with this figure is the pose-ability. What can you really do with this design? He’s a top-heavy dude with tiny feet. I do kind of wish the ball and chain weapon had plastic, pre-posed, chains as they just don’t look great on the shelf. I’ve basically gone with a standard hand and one gun hand ever since I got him. Also, his entire body is painted and prone to chipping which makes handling him a bit stressful. Still, I think he’s as good as can be and is an essential release in the line.
Baxter (2) – Was I a bit generous with Baxter a year ago? He was very new, so maybe a recency bias was in play, though really it just came down to him looking like he should. Baxter in his fly form looks terrific, and he came with a bunch of stuff and NECA jammed a ton of articulation into that little body. I have no bad things to say about this figure, and I also always loved the character’s design.
Antrax – The executioner! And one of the newest, and greatest, figures in this line. His negatives can be summed as a lack of vertical gripping hands and a lack of just extra hands. Maybe you can nitpick the posing too, but otherwise, the sculpt and paint are fantastic and he has a bunch of weapons. The character design is fun, and the figure equals that. A homerun for NECA.
Groundchuck – With this one, I maybe letting my affection for the vintage toy play too great a role in my ranking, but I don’t care. It’s my list and I’ll rank ’em accordingly. He’s a terrific figure though and that design; bright red-orange, metal bits here and there, it’s just cool. Or it was cool to me as a kid, and I’m sticking with it. He’s got the ridiculous, personalized, cattle gun too and I just have fun posing him and looking at him.
Bebop (1) – Formerly my number 1, Bebop is exactly what I want him to be from a likeness perspective. It’s just all in that old engineering that made me rethink my ranking of him. Plus, 3 of the last 4 on my list are all newer releases so I really only moved one figure ahead of him. Fix those damn legs and he’s back in contention for number 1.
Rat King – The sewer dweller was part of the first set released after my last ranking post and the fact that I still think this highly of him more than a year later is testament to how good he is. In short, his sculpt is perfect and the paint on my figure is exquisite. I love all of the stuff he comes with and just the presence he has on the shelf. The only negative with this guy is that crotch overlay which is prone to flaking. Newer versions of the figure supposedly corrected that, but I have been unable to confirm that for myself. If you got a good one out of the box, as in one that didn’t already chip, and you knew of the issue, then your figure is probably fine. It only happens when really flexing that piece. It limits the posing to a degree, but not as much as you think.
Metalhead (6) – I don’t know why I had Metalhead at six when I think he’s damn near perfect. He looks the part, he’s big, and chunky, and has some fun accessories. He was the first deluxe release, and he’s still one of the best. I love this guy!
Scumbug – Yeah, the moment I saw the solicitation for this one I knew I was going to be over the moon with him. Scumbug looks like an updated version of the Playmates toy with some richer colors and a slightly more chunky appearance. He is awesome, but if you don’t like the character’s design then you probably aren’t as high on him as I am. I loved the old toy, so I think he’s terrific. And he has enough stuff and articulation to make him the second best figure in the line. Who would have thought that was possible a year ago?!
Chrome Dome – The biggest figure in the line is also the best. Chrome Dome is impressive. He’s huge, he’s well-articulated, and his paint applications are exactly what I want from this line. And to my surprise, NECA loaded him up with a bunch of extra hands and accessories and still managed to keep the price tag at 40 bucks. He’s not only the best figure in the line, he’s the best value in the line! I just think about some of the figures I’ve spent 50, 60, 100 bucks on that aren’t as impressive as Chrome Dome. NECA has a way of putting out exceptional figures at crazy prices. Maybe no one wants to hear that in the current climate of rapidly rising prices, but it’s the truth. Don’t sleep on Chrome Dome because it’s hard to imagine anyone being let down by this guy.
I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile. Antrax and Scumbug only appeared in the cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles once, but like last week’s figure review, they were present in the toy line long before their animated debut. And these later period episodes, such as “Night of the Rogues,” tended to just stick with the Playmates look rather than do their own thing (Slash) probably because they just didn’t have the time to design their own characters. And for me, Scumbug is a very nostalgic character. I can still remember getting him from my grandmother along with Michelangelo. The character honestly freaked me out a little because he was so gross looking and downright creepy. And for awhile, he was just one of those villains that never appeared in the show and it was a bit of a surprise when he finally did since I had just assumed the show passed him over for some reason.
Since these characters were so closely aligned with the vintage toy, much is the same with the NECA version. I almost feel bad for Super7 since they have yet to get to doing these characters as some (like me) may now pass on their version because these turned out fantastic. Let’s just get it out of the way right now: this might be the best two-pack yet. It’s between this one, Bebop and Rocksteady, and Groundchuck and Dirtbag. I think what will ultimately separate all of those sets from each other is just nostalgia for the product. Those who never had the Playmates toys might not care that much about these guys because they were, after all, only in one episode. However, I do think one look at this set from anyone with even a hint of affection for this toyline might be enough to get them to pull the trigger because these bugs are just that cool to look at.
We might as well go in alphabetic order and start with Antrax. This is one big ant. He’s Krang’s executioner from Dimension X, if memory serves (come on NECA, lets put character bios on these boxes!), and he looks the part. He’s a big, black, ant with red veins on his body, a brown carapace, and a purple executioner’s hood. Maybe the purple is odd, but the red and black is not. And even though he’s a bug, he’s a big fella coming in at a tick under 7 inches to the top of his head. The antennae make him push past that if you want to factor them in. Basically, he’s not looking up to many guys in this line as I have him just a touch taller than characters like Zarax and Metalhead, and shorter than only Krang’s Android Body, the pizza monster, and Chrome Dome. And what stood out to me when I first picked up that rather large box these bugs come in was just the size of his head. This dude’s got one big dome and the really cartoony sculpt (Jon Matthews) is an attention grabber.
The other thing that probably jumps out is the amount of limbs on this guy. He’s an ant, so he’s got to have six limbs which take the form of four arms and two legs. The designers of the old toys really loved going against symmetry as he and Scumbug both have a different design for their left foot and right. He’s got a purple boot on his right foot, and exposed toes and claws on the left. The arms are almost all the same though as they’re black with red veins and orange elbow pads. The upper right arm has the remnants of some handcuffs on the wrist while the other three just have orange-yellow bracelets that match the elbow and knee pads. He has shoulders for each arm too which is most noticeable from the rear of the figure which is kind of interesting. It’s like NECA took a standard figure, and in place of a head inserted another upper torso. There’s a shoulder strap that’s home to a knife sheath on the back of the figure and a belt around the waist that’s got a non-functioning pouch on it. Skulls are a theme with this guy as one shows up on his belt and more will feature into the accessories. He’s a really fun design and the paintwork is excellent. Since he’s mostly black, we don’t get much of that half-and-half shading, though it is present on the hood and boots, but he’s got some shading on the front of his carapace and the other paint accents are cleanly applied.
The articulation on this guy is both familiar and unique. We only have one, true, four-armed character in the line (I don’t count Baxter) in the form of Screwloose, but this guy has four, fully-articulated, arms to pulverize turtles with. Screwloose, if you recall, had single elbow joints and he’s a bit of a little guy for the line. Antrax has four legit arms and each one is connected to his body via a shoulder ball and hinge. He has double-jointed elbows with elbow pads thus proving that we should be able to get the same on the actual turtles. It works great too as he can bend past 90 degrees at each one. There’s a biceps swivel on each arm, but all four were stuck on mine and I still can’t get the upper right arm to work. There’s just too much play in the shoulder to get enough leverage even after heating it up. The wrists all swivel and hinge, but they all have horizontal hinges which is a real bummer. I don’t know why NECA did that, but all four should be vertical since he’s got a bunch of melee weapons. Or at least it should have been two and two.
At the head, Antrax features what I think is just a single ball peg. It’s wicked smooth, if I may bust out some northeast slang, and it’s oddly satisfying to manipulate. He can’t look down much at all, but he can look all the way up and tilt his head. The antennae on top and the two pincers or whatever those things are on the snout can rotate. In the torso, he has a joint in the middle that lets him rotate and slide to the left or right. It’s kind of funky as you can basically purposefully miss-align the shoulders, if you wish, which looks odd. He can’t really crunch forward and back though, but not many figures in this line can. There doesn’t appear to be a waist twist, but past that he’s pretty conventional with ball-jointed hips, double-jointed knees, and ankles that hinge and rock side-to-side. His thorax, tail, whatever it’s called is connected via a ball-peg and can rotate all about on the figure’s rear. Aside from the biceps, I’ve had no issues with joints being stuck. Some of the wrists are more loose than I’d like, but otherwise everything else is great.
As for accessories, an executioner needs tools for execution and Antrax comes pretty well loaded. I will say for starters, he has no extra parts, just four gripping hands. There’s a lot of unique tooling going on here so I’m not surprised by the lack of extras, but I do wish he had a couple of hands. I already said I wish he had vertical hinges, but just something to have instead of a gripping pose for any hands that aren’t holding a weapon because it looks awkward to have an empty gripping hand. He does at least have enough weapons to occupy each hand. Up first, is a dagger with a red handle and skull pommel. This one can slot into the sheath on his back or be held like a dagger normally is. He’s also got a much larger sword with a wicked spiked, handguard, suitable for hacking some bone. There’s a big, spiked, club with a red taped handle that’s quite pointy and also quite heavy. This one gives the figure the most trouble with the looseness of some of the hands since it possesses so much weight. The top is flat though if you just want to stand it beside the figure. Lastly, what would an executioner be without an axe? Antrax has a massive double-sided axe with a bunch of notches taken out of it and another skull for good measure. It looks terrific and it’s between this or the little dagger as for what my favorite is. I will say, getting the weapons into his hands is tough as they’re pretty firm and the handles are also pretty thick. Not wanting to risk getting red paint on the hands of my figure, I just went ahead and dipped them in hot water first. Even then, getting the axe in-hand is tricky because it’s so thick at the base.
Antrax is pretty awesome, and he seems to be the preferred figure from this two-pack for many, but for me that honor is going to Scumbug. His sculpt and my nostalgic affection for the figure is what’s primarily winning him over for me. He stands much shorter than Antrax at approximately five and a half inches, six and a quarter to the top of his antennae, but he commands just as much attention. I owe that mostly to these wild eyes he possesses. They’re yellow and bloodshot with a purple iris and a black inner pupil. He pares that gaze with this big, maniacal, smile and I can’t help but smile back when I look at him. He’s another character with an exposed brain on top and his yellow antennae appear to be taped together like a topknot or something. I think he’s supposed to be a mutated exterminator and he’s sporting the tattered remains of a blue dress shirt and tie and gray slacks. His body though is in varying stages of mutation. Both arms feature spikes poking through the flesh, while the left hand has discarded his human flesh in favor of purple. His gut is also hanging out and it too is purple and lumpy while his left foot has apparently torn through his boot and the right is just starting to do the same. On the rear of the figure is his carapace and a backpack that contains who knows what. It connects to the figure’s chest via non-removable tubes and a third tube that connects to a handgun that looks like an exterminator’s sprayer.
This sculpt for Scumbug is just wild. A lot of that harkens back to the old toy, which I no longer have. It’s an insanely detailed and complicated character for animation, especially a somewhat cheaply produced cartoon like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the paint application is phenomenal. We get the same style of shading on much of the figure as we’re accustomed to save for the head, which I think is wise since there’s enough going on there. There’s a lot of black lining on this guy around the various spikes, warts, and whatever that’s all applied very clean. There are so many places where things could have gone wrong, like the fleshy parts poking through the thighs of his pants, but it didn’t. It’s terrific and I’m in love with this hideous monster of a bug.
Scumbug, being this kind of short and pudgy figure, looks like something that would not articulate well, but of course that’s not the case. He’s one of those characters who is hunched over a bit so his head more sticks out than up from the body. This means he can’t look up, but he can look down and side-to-side and the range on the side-to-side is great. There’s so much personality to it and it’s similar to the Super7 Muckman in terms of functionality. He also has an articulated jaw which just adds to the crazy when it’s opened and everything inside his mouth is well-painted and detailed. The shoulders are ball-hinged and his biceps swivel where the arm pegs into the sleeves. He has double-jointed elbows which bend past 90 and wrists that swivel and hinge horizontally. In the torso, he’s got a ball joint where the shirt meets the lower body that lets him rotate and tilt a bit and he also has a waist twist below that. The hips are the standard ball-joints and his knees are double-jointed with hinges and rockers at the ankle. It’s all surprisingly functional and really the only thing holding him back is that pack that happens to be on his back which throws off his balance. You’ll have to manage that while posing him, or use a stand, but I’ve been able to get him into some decent poses without the aid of such.
Like Antrax, Scumbug does not come with extra hands or an alternate head. He definitely doesn’t need another head, but some style posed hands would have been nice in the event you don’t want him gripping something. His right hand, the more human-looking one, is in a trigger finger pose which is odd as he comes setup to wield his gun with his right hand. That one, the clawed one, is a gripping hand and if you don’t want him to hold the gun with that hand you simply unpeg the hose from the backpack and switch it to the other side. Whatever hand isn’t holding the gun can wield this little insect-shaped device which threw out some funky electric net in the cartoon. He also comes with a big, chunky, purple, handheld device that’s from a different episode, but NECA loves shoving these random tracking devices into sets. Lastly, there are three unmutated cockroaches to scatter across your display. They’re actually pretty well-painted with brown on top and yellow on the bottom.
The accessory count is plenty good as Scumbug has all that he needs. About the only thing I’m missing with this guy is somewhere to store the gun should I not want him holding it. I suppose I could just unhook it from the backpack, but I wish there was a holster somewhere for it. It’s not a big deal for me as I plan to display him always with gun in-hand.
This insect-themed two-pack is one of NECA’s best. Antrax and Scumbug both are fantastic sculpts with an exceptional paint job and a great batch of accessories. We’ve come a long way in that regard as thinking back to Bebop and Rocksteady those figures featured a lot of the same tooling, had duplicate hands and weapons, and not much that made the set unique. Here we have a ton of new tooling for both the figures and weapons and it’s all tooling that really won’t be of much (any?) benefit going forward. It does come at an added cost as this set was $65 instead of the now usual $55. It’s worth every penny though as these guys are awesome and I hope collectors don’t sleep on this set just because these characters weren’t in a dozen episodes.
NECA made this set available for preorder back in April of 2021. It was the last of three new releases for the toon line that month and if you didn’t order it then you should get another shot when it hits Target. As of this writing, we have no idea when that might be. It seems NECA is just about done shipping all of those orders so it could be that we may see them ship to Target soon. Or, NECA pre-sold the entire order and collectors will have to wait for a second run at a later date. I don’t think so, but I suppose it’s possible. I think it’s more likely the company is just prioritizing the customers who already paid for their sets, since I had no problem exchanging my broken pizza monster for another leading me to believe they’re sitting on a bunch of inventory just waiting to be released. If you’re in the market, keep an eye out. They’ll probably hang around for a bit due to the price and the characters being unfamiliar to casual collectors, but then again, they are exceptional action figures so maybe they come and go pretty fast. If you are collecting this line though and have been on the fence with these guys, I say get off of it, because you’re missing out on two of NECA’s finest.
One of last year’s biggest announcements in the world of action figures was NECA’s acquisition of the Gargoyles license. It had been decades since Gargoyles figures occupied real estate at the toy and hobby shops of America and fans of the series were eager to see what NECA had cooking. It being 2021 though, collectors were forced to be patient as delays seemed to impact the roll out of product. NECA had indicated they had multiple figures sculpted and ready to go, and a teaser video following the Goliath announcement depicted the nefarious Demona. It was later in the year that NECA would show off Thailog, the villainous Goliath clone, which seemed to suggest he would follow Demona. Instead, he leap-frogged her, sneaking out to some stores in December with a wider release following in 2022.
I don’t know what NECA’s original slot for Thailog was in the grand scheme, but I don’t think he was supposed to be the line’s second release. Being a Goliath clone, Thailog is essentially the same figure as Goliath with only minor differences. That’s not an issue as why should NECA do anything different with the sculpt for a character that is a literal duplicate of another? It’s just that most companies don’t like to dip into repaints right away with a new line, but if the factory was running behind, it may have made sense to go right from Goliath to Thailog since the same molds are in use, nothing needs to be tested, and the machines don’t need to be refitted with the molds of another. That’s what I think happened, but I have no inside information, it’s just a theory that makes sense. Either way, Demona is still coming (along with a bunch of others) and right now we have two figures released that look pretty similar to each other.
Since Thailog is basically the same as Goliath, there’s not going to be a lot to talk about here. The sculpt is identical excepting the face. Goliath came with two portraits: stern and angry. Thailog has just the one and it’s a mischievous, sinister, grin. Aside from that, he comes in the same window box with character specific artwork and product shots on it. The massive wings that came with Goliath are here as well, along with the bendy tail. Even the loincloth is the same.
Where Thailog is different from Goliath is primarily in the deco. His skin is a dark blue-gray that almost looks black under certain lighting conditions. The hair is a silver-white with some black dry-brushing added for effect. Portions of the body are shaded with black as well and the loincloth he wears is a light blue. The wings are basically all one color as opposed to Goliath who has black membranes with a purple bone structure. His eyes are also red, which just makes it all the more obvious that he’s a bad guy. He’s a cool looking character and if you like the sculpt for Goliath you’ll like it here as well.
The good news, all of the good details Goliath embodied are captured here, but that also means the not-so-good aspects of Goliath are also still present. The biggest criticism that has arisen from this line definitely concerns the wings. They’re huge and they’re a hard plastic so there’s not much that can be done with them. Either they take up a ton of real estate going out to the side, or you can angle them back and distribute some of that behind the figure. Either way, it’s a lot, and it’s a position that really only works for gliding poses. Standing on a shelf is not really what they’re made to do, but NECA doesn’t include a flight stand so you’ll have to buy your own or try to hang these suckers from the ceiling. I don’t know what the solution is, NECA is planning on including caped wings for Goliath with Bronx, but we need some more options. At least a more casual, standing, pose for the wings. My assumption is they looked at articulated wings during the development stage and either ruled them out for aesthetic reasons or cost ones, but it’s something that should be considered, at least. The other drawback to these wings is they peg in under Thailog’s hair which restricts the movement of the head. His head is tilted down a bit and he can’t just look straight ahead, which is kind of annoying. Turn his head too far and you’ll probably knock a wing out of the socket. The hair either needs to have room for the wing joint sculpted into it, or it needs a hinge. It’s disappointing that this couldn’t be addressed following the release of Goliath.
The other area Thailog gets to differentiate himself from Goliath is with his accessories. He comes with a similar assortment of hands: open hands and fists. Like Goliath, he has a fifth hand and for Thailog it’s a traditional gripping hand as opposed to Goliath’s clawed grip. That’s because Thailog has two accessories he needs to be able to properly grip in the form of a briefcase and gun. The briefcase is rather cool as it’s a matte black with metallic accents. It snaps open and inside is a bunch of sculpted money and a set of keys. Nothing is removable, but it also doesn’t need to be. Thailog can either grip the handle with his gripping hand, or you can just dangle it off of a claw on the open hands which you will probably want to do because his other accessory needs to be gripped.
Thailog comes with his own sidearm. It’s a smallish handgun, but it fires a cannister or missile. I assume it’s from the show, but I haven’t seen the episode featuring Thailog in awhile. It’s simple, but it looks fine, and NECA has a little something up its sleeve with it. The cannister at the end actually pegs in and can be removed and replaced with a blast effect. It’s pretty big stretching to nearly ten inches and pegs into the barrel of the gun. There’s a sculpted plume of smoke at the barrel with some sharp blasts behind it. When the cloud ends there’s just a long cylinder with another smoke trail wrapping around it before it ends in another blast. It’s there the cannister can be reattached to complete the illusion of the gun firing. It’s very well painted and looks fantastic. It’s also a rigid plastic that is somewhat light, but it’s still a lot for the figure to handle. I find his wrist and elbow need to be positioned carefully or else the gun will start to droop. NECA didn’t include a little stand with this one like it did the Turtles in Time Baxter to help support the blast effect, but so far it’s holding up all right. I do worry that overtime his arm will start to droop, but I guess that’s tomorrow’s problem. It is an impressive display piece though, and it’s one I expect to see NECA make use of again either in this line or another.
That’s basically it though. I don’t feel the need to rundown the articulation on this guy since it’s the same as it was with Goliath. I will say there are no stuck joints with this figure and most of them feel fine. There is some looseness in the right arm and right foot so I’m finding it hard to get Thailog into the proper standing pose for his breed as the right foot tends to want to drop all the way to the surface. Stands and his tail can help, but I might have to go with a flying pose to mitigate this, which I don’t really want to do as I think the gun effect works better with a standing pose, and I definitely want to make use of that. I will add his articulation isn’t great for a gun wielding character. He doesn’t have a butterfly joint in the shoulder and his pectorals prevent him from bringing the gun out in front of him where I’d like to position it. And the wings interfere with the head so I can’t get him to hold the gun out to the side while looking down his arm. Again, this stems from this figure being Goliath who has no need for guns so such poses didn’t have to be considered, but hopefully Demona is better equipped to wield a firearm than Thailog.
This is a bit of a short review, but it’s also the type of release that most know what they’re in for. If you’re all-in on this line, you’re getting Thailog. If you liked the Goliath figure, then you’re probably getting Thailog. Some more casual fans will probably pass on this one as Thailog wasn’t a huge character in the show and there will also be some hoping for an armored version from NECA that they’d rather have. I liked Goliath when he came out, so naturally, I like Thailog, but some of the issues with Goliath I was willing to overlook due to excitement for a new license are a bit harder to overlook here. There’s room for improvement and it starts with those wings so hopefully NECA is listening to the fans and has something up its sleeve. Currently, Thailog is shipping to Target stores and should be available at specialty as well. Demona and Bronx are tentatively scheduled to release sometime in March, but no solicitations have gone up as of this writing so take that news with a grain of salt. 2022 should be a pretty big year for Gargoyles, and I’m definitely eager to see more!
It was back in April of 2021 that NECA did a month of preorders. Each week, a new item (and some restocking older items) was added to NECA’s webstore and they would stay up for about 10 days and anyone who wanted one could order one to be delivered later in the year. The first one that went up was the Ultimate Pizza Monster and I eagerly jumped on it not realizing the format. The following week, Ace Duck and Mutagen Man were added and the Pizza Monster was still up. Frugal shoppers noted that you could order both in a single order and save on shipping (15 bucks an order, not an insignificant sum) so when that set went up I held off. It worked out, because next week Antrax and Scumbug were put up so I bundled the two-packs together, hit submit, and returned to my life not realizing that by doing so I would delay getting the Ace/Mutagen Man pack by a good six weeks while waiting for the bugs to come in stock.
Was it worth it to save 15 bucks? Realistically, yeah, but while other collectors were getting their toys I was definitely feeling left out and a little jealous. The wait is over though as my order with both two-packs has arrived and now we can talk about the duck and…guy? Both of these characters originated in the Playmates toyline. In some ways, Ace was like the original toy creation as he wasn’t from the comics and he wasn’t created for the show. I think his design even originates with Varner Studios, but I could be mistaken. At any rate, most know him from the old toy because his appearance in the toon was a very brief cameo. In that universe, Ace Duck is a movie star. I get the impression he’s an Indiana Jones type and I assume he’s played by an actor in a costume and isn’t an actual mutant, but I suppose it also doesn’t matter. He shows up for all five seconds and then never again, a real blink and you miss it moment. As for Mutagen Man, he too started off as a toy that was then brought into the cartoon for his own episode. He followed a similar arc to other characters as he’s tragically mutated and then taken advantage of by Shredder making him a villain at first, before the turtles set him straight.
In terms of toys, one of these is quite conventional and one very much is not. Ace Duck is a humanoid character who just so happens to be a duck. He’s got sculpted feathers, large wings on his back, and a duck bill on his face. When I look at him I can’t help but think of the Howard the Duck movie from the 1980s. His engineering though is fairly familiar. I think a lot of what’s here is present on Vernon with the most obvious part being the hips and legs. As such, he’s basically right around the normal human height in the line at 6.5 inches. Ace is apparently a pilot with pale yellow feathers and a bomber jacket. The jacket is an overlay with the arms being fully sculpted. His default expression is in-line with the Playmates figure as it’s a bit neutral with exposed teeth on the sides. The hat is removable and just rests on his head as opposed to keying in to a slot. His belt is a separate piece that hangs loosely while his wings peg into his back in a manner similar to Baxter Stockman. They are removable, if that’s your preference, but he’ll obviously be left with a pair of holes in his back if you do so. Surprisingly, he doesn’t have a tail of any kind instead presenting a normal, human, butt.
Ace basically looks as one would envision and he features a lot of the trademarks of this line. NECA uses lighter shades of paint on the front of the figure and darker ones on the back. They did not opt for any shading on the yellow portions of the figure so nothing on the wings or head. The wings do feature some black linework which helps them to pop, while the feathers on the chest and neck area do not. Basically every inch of this guy is painted so you will encounter some flaking and stuck parts. The only flaking I’m not a fan of is at the ankles where the orange feet were apparently sculpted in either a pale color or clear. Basically, I’m trying not to move them a ton and preserve as much of the paint as possible There is some nice linework on the belt and I like the bomb illustration on the back of the jacket. A series of feathers beneath it appears to represent Ace’s kill count. As mentioned before, the hat just sort of sits there, but it looks fine. It’s fully painted and really the only blemish on my figure is some paint slop just above the bill of the hat. The belt hangs a bit looser than I would like, but otherwise looks fine. It is removable with the tab being hidden by the ammo box. There are two loops on the back for Ace’s grenades and a holster on the right hip that best fits his revolver. There’s even a tabbed flap that can be secured over it. Wouldn’t want it to fall out during flight!
Ace comes with a pretty loaded batch of accessories. There’s the previously mentioned revolver as well as a 9mm handgun. Both are grey with some black lining and look just fine. I definitely prefer the classic look of the revolver, but I also like having it holstered. It’s a conundrum. Ace also has a movie reel and a VHS tape perhaps simply owing to his nature in the toon as opposed to being direct callbacks to anything. I don’t know what I’ll do with either, but they definitely look terrific. Ace also has a pair of white grenades that kind of resemble the egg ones the vintage toy came with. They slot nicely into the belt or can be handled by the figure. There’s also another Ace Duck movie poster included like the ones that came with the street scene diorama. This is a new picture and it’s printed on a thicker cardstock so it should be more durable, but might be harder to adhere to the diorama as a result. I have a second diorama on order so I’m going reserve this for when that one arrives.
Out of the box, Ace comes with a neutral expression and he has a second head with angry eyes and a yelling beak. The beaks actually can be removed and swapped so you really get 4 expressions out of this guy, which is pretty cool. It’s basically the same idea as the Boss Fight Studios Dead-Eye Duck from a few years back. Ace also comes with 8 different hands he can use. In the box, he has a trigger finger left hand with a vertical hinge and an open right hand with horizontal hinge. The extra hands include a right gripping hand with vertical hinge, set of fists, a set of “finger bang” hands, and a left thumb’s up hand. Only the gripping/trigger hands have the vertical hinge, which is acceptable. The right gripping hand has a slight trigger finger pose, but it’s not as severe as the left hand. He has enough to dual wield, if you like, while also having a fair amount of expressive options.
Ace is similar to Vernon in terms of some of the sculpt, but also when it comes to articulation. He’s basically the same concept as he has the ball-jointed head and independently articulated neck. The shoulders are ball-hinged and the elbows feature those odd looking NECA double-joints that seem to only look passable on figures with sleeves. The hands swivel and hinge, while the torso features a ball-joint at the waist. This allows him to rotate and tilt, but the overlay prevents any real forward and back. And like many figures in this line, he might have a joint in the diaphragm, but it’s functionally useless. The hips are the now standard ball-joints and they’re a little loose, but not unacceptably so as we’ve seen with some other figures. The thighs do swivel a bit and the knees are double-jointed. The ankles feature hinges and rockers and they work fine, just watch out for the paint. Lastly, he has the wings on his back which are just like Baxter’s as they can swivel and hinge.
Which brings us to Mutagen Man. He’s certainly the more interesting of the two because his design is just so unique. And what do you do with a unique design? You make a unique figure. Mutagen Man is essentially a tank with arms and legs. He’s a bit stubby, as a result, making him shorter than a lot of the line at roughly 5.5 inches. The tank has a purple frame to hold it in place and is translucent from the front. Inside is poor Seymour Guts who is basically just a brain and a spinal column and a collection of stomach acid or something. He doesn’t appear to be too pleased with his mutation as he sports a concerned look out of the box. His limbs are at least intact, though they’re spotted with purple splotches here and there and something horrible happened to his feet. One is encased in a steel boot while the other is framed-up for support and features three, clawed, toes. He’s definitely a bizarre one, though the animated take on this character is far less grotesque than the original toy. It is, however, more emotive and thus more sympathetic.
Even with this guy being less detailed than the old figure, he’s still an attention grabber simply by virtue of how weird his design is. NECA did a great job of visualizing this guy as a toy, so my hat is off to the duo of Tony Cipriano and Josh Sutton, the credited sculptors for the set. The whole housing for this figure can come off. The hoses that peg into the front of the tank pop out and the shoulder harness is hinged and comes right off. This allows the user to pop off the front of the tank to manipulate, or swap out, the head inside. The green goop is all sculpted and the spinal column pegs into it and the head pegs into the back of the tank to hold it in place. You can move it a bit so that Seymour is looking left or right and the jaw can be manipulated too. You can also pull the whole thing out and swap it for an angry expression. It’s a little tricky to do the first time, but not scary. I will say, NECA probably should have included some instructions though as some might be left feeling confused about the whole setup (same with Ace’s swappable beaks). The only downside to this system is the left hose on my figure does not want to stay in the hole in the tank. The top hose and right one are fine, but the left constantly pops out and I don’t know if there’s anything I can do about it since glue is not an option.
The torso is pretty unique, but the limbs are also a bit funky too. Both arms feature these bands at the elbows, and the left arm has some weird handle just sticking out of it. It’s part of the character’s design, but I kind of hate the thing because I’m afraid it’s going to snap. The same can be said with the unusual mechanism on the figure’s left ankle. He basically has a brace, and in order for the articulation to work, the sides of that brace needs to be able to move and slide around. They’re kind of like pistons, but it’s just another thing that looks like it could be prone to breaking. He’s also got this funky left knee that looks like a chin. I wonder if he was supposed to have exposed bone in the cartoon, but the animators decided not to paint it as such? He also has these purple spots here and there on his arms and legs, and part of me feels like NECA missed an opportunity by not casting the pegs in purple plastic to make them appear to be part of the figure’s aesthetic, but then that probably wouldn’t have been consistent with the show.
Since Mutagen Man is so bizarre a design, he definitely doesn’t have the most articulation in the line. The head can turn a little and the jaw opens a bit, but aside from that, you get nothing in the torso and head/neck. The shoulders rotate and are hinged and he does have a biceps swivel, which was super tight on my figure. I had to heat up the right biceps to get it to budge. The elbows are technically double-jointed, but those bands he wears will limit the range to about 90 degrees. The hands rotate and swivel and all of his hands feature a horizontal hinge. My one, consistent, complaint with this line is the lack of vertical hinges. Ace Duck is proof that NECA is aware that a vertical hinge works best for basically any weapon, but they often go with a horizontal hinge anyway. Mutagen Man’s legs are likely on a ball and socket system, but they sit pretty far into the crotch so the range is very limited. The knees are double-jointed, but again, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than 90 there. That’s partly due to the bulky right boot, and the delicate left ankle brace. You do get your hinge and rocker, but be careful and go easy on that left one.
The actual points of articulation are okay on Mutagen Man, but functionally he’s more of a neutral pose character. That doesn’t mean NECA still didn’t include some accessories for this guy to play with. I already mentioned the other head, but he also has some hands he can swap. He comes with fisted hands in the box, but he also has a set of wide, C-grip, style hands, a right trigger finger hand, left open palm hand, and left standard gripping hand. The wide gripping hands are here for his tank accessory which in the show contained a solution that would basically keep him alive. The tank is nicely painted and snaps right into those hands rather effortlessly. The trigger hand is for this wild looking gun that is sort of intended for the figure, but as we saw with Muckman, this weapon is actually from a different episode. In that episode, Baxter wields it after I think he steals it from a fireman or something. It’s basically two tanks strapped together and it looks like it would either blast water or some kind of gas. The very D.I.Y. look of this weapon actually pairs well with Mutagen Man so I think I’ll display him with it. It is designed to be gripped with two hands though, and Mutagen Man just doesn’t have that kind of clearance in his arms to pull that off.
Ace Duck and Mutagen Man certainly are an unlikely duo, but they make for solid action figures. Ace is a testament to the consistency of the line. It knows what it wants to do and there’s an aesthetic this line is going for which Ace captures. The articulation is solid, the accessories numerous, and the overall package is quite good. It’s really the design of the character and the impact it had in the cartoon that holds it back from standing out more than it could. Mutagen Man does not suffer the same as his design is quite out there. It’s really fun seeing how NECA managed to work around the character’s design and create a figure worthy of the “action” description. It’s not a character that’s as fun to handle as some of the others in this line, or even Ace for that matter, but it’s certainly one that demands attention. The way in which the character’s expression can swap is ingenious, though I feel kind of bad because I’m unlikely to ever swap from that concerned look he comes packaged with. I would be surprised if either Ace Duck or Mutagen Man end up being anyone’s favorite in this line, but they’re hardly lacking and those who did purchase this set are probably pretty happy.
NECA offered this two-pack up on its website in April of 2021 as a pre-order item. That opportunity has obviously come and gone at this point, but the set should still hit Target at some point so if you missed out you’re not out of luck just yet. When they will ship though is anyone’s guess. I haven’t heard of any sightings of this or any of the other preorders showing up at retail so it’s possible the presale was so successful that nothing was left. Possible, but maybe not likely. Keep your eyes open though as once it does hit I don’t think it will fly off of shelves just going by the recent side character releases and should be rather attainable. It’s definitely a worthwhile set for those who are all-in on the toon line or have a nostalgic attachment to the old toys.