We’ve become so accustomed to having the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in our lives that the name of the franchise has almost lost all meaning. Well, maybe not all, but I feel we mostly have lost sight of how ridiculous a concept this franchise is. And it extends to other characters in the franchise and I’m talking about Krang. Krang from the cartoon series is an oversized, talking, somewhat monstrous brain. In the context of the show, he’s perhaps not as outlandish a design as he would be in another show, but he’s still pretty out there. And then you add in his body. A large, bald, man in a red diaper and suspenders. Krang can’t go in his head like a normal brain would because then he’d no longer be visible so he has to go in the body’s stomach. I think it’s Vernon who draws attention to this factor in the fifth episode of the series when he sounds positively repulsed at the sight of a man with his brain in his stomach, and he’s right to be grossed out! Krang is one of the craziest designs from a popular franchise that I can think of.
And if you have a deep familiarity with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles then you know Krang is taken from the original comics, only there his race of beings were called the Utrom. There weren’t many (any?) that were actually named, they were just alien brains that got around in robotic bodies. Like Krang, they controlled those bodies from the stomach area, but unlike Krang their bodies were far more mechanical looking. Think the endoskeletons from Terminator, as that’s more in-line for how they appeared. They were foes to the turtles, but also tied in with their origin, and I’d elaborate more, but ever since the 2012 show came along the Utrom and the Kraang from that series kind of run together in my head. Needless to say, they play a significant enough role in the original comics that an action figure from NECA made sense.
The Utrom from NECA stands at right around 6.625″ in height. It comes in the standard window box packaging with new artwork from Kevin Eastman on the box depicting the character. On the rear are product shots and a cross-sell for more figures in the line. Let’s just get right to the big talking point with this guy: the paint job. This figure is gorgeously painted. If you thought the Fugitoid figure looked terrific, wait until you see this. It is fantastic! I am in love with how this figure turned out. It’s sculpted in a light blue plastic, like a periwinkle, with white accents painted onto parts of it to go along with the usual black linework this line is known for. There’s also a hit from an airbrush that contains some gray paint and the effect is just wonderful. This looks like it jumped off of the the page, colored version, and I just love how stylized this looks. This is what I want from action figures based on comics. You can’t sculpt it in chrome, and just making shiny plastic isn’t going to achieve the same end result. The eyes are also painted yellow with a hit of yellow from the airbrush to create the illusion that they’re glowing. The Utrom in the figure’s stomach is also well-painted. The eyes and teeth are clean and there’s a wash applied to really bring out the nasty with this little guy. And with this amount of paint on the figure, there’s virtually no slop. No stuck joints. It’s about as perfect a paint job as one could get in this price range. If I have any nits to pick with it, it’s that a couple hits of the white look a little thin. Maybe the neck area and some of the details on the arms could have used another hit of the airbrush, but that’s all minor and just me trying to poke holes in this thing because, otherwise, it’s awesome.
The wonderful thing about this figure too is it has a sculpt to match. There are tons of little details in the arms, especially, that look like wires and little machinations. I love the contrast of the smooth plates on the figure’s thighs and the ribbed portions underneath. The rear of the figure is really loaded with sculpted details which is commendable since that’s a spot NECA could have cheaped out on, but obviously did not. It all speaks really well to NECA as a company because they’re clearly committed to delivering the best, most accurate, representation of the character possible. Who knows if much or any of this figure can even be reused for other figures. I’m sure we’ll get a variant at some point, but we have numerous examples of other companies just half-assing their sculpts to present a compromised vision of a character in the interest of saving money on tooling and NECA is just putting them to shame. And something I should praise NECA for more often than I do is that they credit the folks who design their figures so a major shout out and hearty congratulations to sculptors Brodie Perkins and Josh Sutton with paint credited to Geoff Trapp and Mike Puzzo. We should also probably give a shout out to director Trevor Zammit as I assume he’s the one pushing to make these look like the source material and he just does a fantastic job with all of the TMNT lines he oversees at NECA.
We’ve gushed over the look of this one, now let’s talk about the stuff it comes with. The Utrom has three sets of hands: fists, gripping, and trigger finger. All of the hands feature the horizontal hinge, our first disappointment of the release, but I do like that the fingers are soft plastic and getting the accessories into the trigger hands is relatively easy and free of paint rub. He also has a gun and it has a really fun design as it has these panels over it. It has some linework on it and the muzzle is painted rather simply, but well. There’s two red tools for the figure to wield. One resembles a wrench and the other is a bit more nondescript. I’m guessing it’s pulled right from the comic, but I don’t know exactly what it is. He also has a little canister with a straw in it. I think this is a drink for that actual Utrom in the belly, the only problem is he doesn’t hold it very well. The fingers on the trigger hands are flexible enough that you can wedge it in there with some effort, but a more relaxed hand would have worked better. Lastly, we have a second portrait for the robot that features battle damage. It’s right eye is hanging out and there’s a big gouge taken out of the top of the head that looks really cool. It’s nice enough that the temptation is there to get another figure, I just wish he had more battle damaged parts to swap to or even a second Utrom with a different expression to create a bit more variety. The Utrom that came in the comic con 4-pack years ago is much too big to fit in this guy.
The accessories are solid leaving just the articulation for us to talk about. Like most of the figures in this line, the articulation isn’t going to be the strongest aspect of the release, but I think it’s going to be enough. There’s a ball joint in the head that provides rotation and some nuance posing. It looks down well, but not up. The shoulders are ball-hinged and you get all of the rotation you need, but the boxy shape of the shoulder means the figure can’t raise its arms out to the side. You get maybe 45 degrees there. There is a biceps swivel and it’s integrated very well into the sculpt. The elbow hinge is only a single hinge, but the design allows it to go past 90 degrees so that’s fine. The wrists swivel and hinge and I already mentioned the direction of the hinges is unfortunate. In the diaphragm, we do have a ball joint above the opening for the Utrom. It’s actually more functional than I expected as you get a little forward and back, some tilt, and a fair amount of rotation. At the waist is another twist and the hips are the standard ball and socket joint. There’s a thigh pivot there that provides just a little something for adjustment poses as opposed to a full thigh twist. The legs kick forward to a full horizontal position, though they do drift out from the body a little the higher you go. There’s no range going back, and the single-jointed hinge will get you a 90 degree bend. At the ankles we have a hinge that allows for plenty of range backwards, but nothing forward. The ankle rocker works fine. It’s decent and I think it’s enough for this character. He can do plenty of one-handed gun poses. I do think NECA could have sacrificed a little bit in the sculpt at the shoulders for more range, and the lack of vertical hinges for the hands is an ongoing problem. The actual Utrom in the body is not articulated, but I don’t think it needs to be.
The Utrom may not be a character that gets a lot of TMNT collectors excited, but the finished product is one of the best releases from NECA in a long time. I think this is easily my favorite from the Mirage line and I would put it up there with the best from the toon line as well. I can’t say enough good things about the paint job. This comic deco is fantastic and I love that NECA has the guts to try something like this with its figures. So many collectors dump on “cel-shading” when it comes to figure releases without realizing that most of the companies attempting that effect with their figures do a piss poor job. It takes effort and money to get it right as well as artistic vision. I’ve said it numerous times, but natural lighting cannot shade an action figure based on a comic book character the way that character is drawn in the book. It’s impossible. Comic book artists do their own thing that doesn’t work in reality and no one complains because it looks awesome. It’s stylized, but some of it is so prevalent that we don’t really think about it. I always use Venom as an example. We know his costume is black, but if you showed a panel from “Lethal Protector” to a kid he’d tell you the costume is blue because that’s how comic book artists shade black. And that’s what I want out of my figures. Major props to NECA on this one, they hit a homerun. I can’t wait to see what they do next.
More from NECA and their expansive selection of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures:
We’re back for 2021, and right now it looks like a lot like 2020 as we have a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure to talk about – Android Krang! Hopefully, this doesn’t mean 2021 is a lot like 2020 going forward, but if it’s going to copy anything from 2020 then let it…
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…
The Shredder had a rough go at things for awhile when it came to plastic. He was featured rather prominently in the old Playmates line, though perhaps not as prominently as one would expect. Playmates never did do a movie version of him, aside from Super Shredder, and his figure was arguably the worst from…
We’re not yet far enough removed from the holidays that Christmas has left my brain. And if you were to ask me what my favorite Christmas present was as a kid I wouldn’t hesitate to say my Super Nintendo. I had a real “Ralphie moment” in that I found it last having failed to notice it off to the side propped between the dining room table and the wall. It was an awesome gift and a memorable way to get it. My second favorite though was my Giant-Sized Leonardo. I got that gift from an aunt who must have talked to my mom and found out who my favorite turtle was. My dad is one of nine kids so Christmas with his family was always done as a pseudo Secret Santa, only it wasn’t a secret. All of the cousins (or the parents) drew names so that not every family was buying a gift for every niece and nephew. I think it was supposed to be a ten dollar limit too, but this particular aunt always loves giving gifts and is known to blow past such suggestions. I didn’t even know the giant sized line existed when I unwrapped that gift so I was blown away. My favorite toy turned into this massive figure? It was incredible! The only negative was he only came with one sword when we all know that Leonardo wields two.
It was my affection for that old toy (which I sadly no longer possess) that convinced me to collect NECA’s quarter scale line of figures based on the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ve already looked at Raphael and Donatello so with Leonardo there won’t be a ton to discuss. As is the case in the show, the turtles are all identical save for their weapons and colors so the figures follow the same style. They’re all the same save for the belts and paint, including the headsculpts. NECA used this line to unveil their new approach to turtle heads that come in two parts: eyes and mouth. This allows for the collector to change the expressions to suit their mood. You can have all of the turtles basically look the same, or make sure they’re all doing something different. It’s an idea so good that it’s been brought to the 1:12 line since.
Leonardo comes in the same “Giant Sized” box as the previous two figures and stands a shade under 15″. He weighs over 3 pounds so he’s a big, weighty, toy. The sculpt is the same as before save for the L medallion on the front of the belt and the holsters for Leo’s swords on the rear of the belt. Like the smaller figures, NECA uses it’s two-tone shading with dark colors on the rear and bright colors on the front when it comes to paint. Most of the figure is painted, which is good and bad. Good because it gives the figure a real depth of color, but bad because there are spots of paint transfer. The rear of the my figure’s thighs have some brown from the shell and there’s some blue above the kneepad of the right knee as well. It’s not terrible, but it can stand out on a figure of such size. The black linework is largely sharp and helps make the figure “pop” when looking at it. It’s an impressive piece, as were the past two, and there’s almost a sense of disbelief to have such a giant turtle in-hand.
Leonardo’s expressions are both familiar and different. NECA intentionally mixes up the included mouth shapes with each release. Raph has just two, while Donnie had three, and Leo reflects the Donatello release. His included mouths are a smile, open mouth smile, and a neutral expression. The one mouth he doesn’t have is the yelling mouth which was included with both Donatello and Raph. Donatello had both the smile and neutral mouth so Leo doesn’t come with anything new, but I’m glad he has three options instead of two. Swapping them can be trying. I had to heat up some of them to get the eyes to snap in place while others I didn’t have to. He comes with the standard eyes on the smiling mouth and the standard eyes seem to work better as a result. The angry eyes required more effort, but I didn’t have any problem getting them on and off the neck peg and none are too loose like they are with Raph so that’s a plus. In terms of hands, Leo was given gripping hands, open hands, and thumb’s up hands. He doesn’t get the finger-pointing hands, but more importantly, his gripping hands are the same as Raph and Don. In the 1:12 line, NECA actually created three different sets of gripping hands: standard with horizontal hinge, standard with vertical hinge, and a wider gripping hand so that Raph can be posed with the middle tyne of his sai in between his fingers. For the quarter scale line, NECA apparently chose to only adopt the wide gripping hand. I expected this figure to come with new gripping hands with a vertical hinge because the 1:12 version has them and the quarter scale movie Leonardo has them as well (the 7″ movie Leo unfortunately does not). It sucks because NECA is obviously aware of which hand works best for a sword wielder like Leonardo (I’d argue the vertical hinge is also appropriate for Raph and Mikey with only Donatello benefitting from a horizontal hinge), but it’s frustratingly inconsistent in its approach. The recent Hudson figure from the Gargoyles line has it, but a character like Usagi Yojimbo does not. Make it make sense! And for $125 for a figure requiring minimal new tooling, it feels like something that we should have got here.
As for accessories beyond the optional parts, we have the customary swords. They’re the same shape as the 1:12 version, just upscaled. They appear to be sculpted in white with painted handles. The one benefit of Leo having Raph’s more specialized gripping hands is that the handles of the swords fit easily into them. It’s also helped by the fact that the hands are fairly pliable. This means there’s less chance for paint rub on the hands, which is not something that can be said of the sheaths on the rear of the figure. The fit for the swords is a tight one, especially the sheath on the bottom. And you will get some paint rub onto the nice, white, blades so maybe don’t even bother. I got the top sword through with minimal rub while the bottom one lead to a lot. I used a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to get most of the brown off of the blade, but I don’t ever plan on sheathing these again. If it’s something you must do, then maybe heat the sheaths with a hair dryer first and see if that helps. Aside from the swords, Leo just has the same two slices of pizza which can key into the slices that came with the other figures. He also has a communicator which opens and closes just like Raph and Don and he has one paper good. It’s a newspaper or magazine titled Crimestoppers Weekly. It’s fine and obviously something that’s cheap to include.
The articulation for Leo is the exact same as the other two figures, so I don’t feel like I need to get into it. I just want to highlight that, unlike the 1:12 figures, these quarter scale figures have double-jointed elbows. The elbow pad pegs into the center part of the elbow and you actually get decent range there, a bit past 90 degrees. The joints are pretty tight overall though and I had issues with the biceps swivel and thigh twists. The biceps just required some additional effort as I just needed to make sure I got some leverage on the shoulder before twisting. The thigh swivel is much harder to get at since these figures have legs that pin into the crotch piece. That’s because they need to be ratcheted to support the figure’s weight, but it makes it quite difficult to get any leverage on that thigh twist. Both are stuck and attempting to twist them just stresses that peg in the hip and could easily lead to an unfortunate break. There’s some traces of lubrication at the joint, but it apparently wasn’t applied well enough. I had the same issue with Raph, bt Donatello had a lot of lubricating oil in there and I was able to twist his thighs without issue. I assumed it was all solved, but Leo is like Raph unfortunately. I haven’t been able to get them to move and I’m guessing I never will.
Giant Sized Leonardo is a throwback sort of figure with modern engineering. If you have the other two, you basically know what to expect. Because of the lack of vertical hinges on his gripping hands, I might have to consider this figure the worst of the 3 given the issues with the thighs. It paints me to admit that since Leonardo is my favorite, so subjectively I like this figure more than the other two, but there are certainly some disappointments. If that is not an issue for you then you’ll probably be content. And if you have the other two then you basically already know if you want this or not. Had Leo been the first figure out in this line I might have been able to just go one and done with my favorite turtle in this scale, but since I started with Raph I pretty much have to have all four now. As for when that will happen, who knows? Michelangelo has yet to go up for solicitation, though a finished sample was present in a recent interview The Fwoosh conducted with NECA’s Trevor Zammit so I have to assume it’s either in production or in line to go into production. Which isn’t surprising since it’s the same figure as the other three. Leonardo started showing up last fall, the place I ordered it from seemed to get it in last, so maybe Mikey will show up on a similar timeline. I’m anxious to see how they do his nunchaku in this scale and to see if he comes with any extras. It will be nice to finally have all four together when that day comes.
My first NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles product was the original release of the Mirage Studios quartet released in 2008. Nearly a decade went by before I bought another TMNT product from NECA, and that item ended up being the quarter scale movie Donatello. It was love at first sight for me and Donnie, and…
2022 has been a year of catch-up so far for me. A lot of stuff I preordered a year or more ago is finally coming due, and often without the actual preorder! The NECA quarter scale toon Donatello from the classic cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is yet another preorder that just didn’t get…
NECA is now 3/4 of the way through the release schedule of their TMNT 1990 movie line with the release of Leonardo – the REAL leader of the group. And like Donatello and Raphael before him, he’s a pretty impressive specimen. The original 1990 movie impossibly never had dedicated action figures. Playmates half-assed a line…
Welcome to the first Turtle Tuesday of 2023! 2022 is the year that NECA returned to the Mirage Studios subline of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures it started way back in 2008. When the line was announced to return, it was essentially taking the place of the Turtles in Time figures that had been sold through specialty shops over the past two years or so. These figures would be sold in a similar fashion as it was the small shops that would be able to place orders after being shutout of the more popular movie and cartoon sublines of TMNT. What NECA didn’t clarify at the time was that the Mirage figures (and Archie) would not be exclusive to those places, just available. When the company released Fugitoid earlier this year, it was via Target with the specialty shop places not getting the figure until months later. Since then, more has been revealed and for collectors it’s been a mixed bag as far as the experience goes. Specialty shops were given the figures Renet, Casey Jones, and the Utrom to solicit, but in the case of Renet and Jones, they were getting a variant based on the IDW re-colored issues. Renet is normally clothed in blue and Casey red, but the figures up for order featured a Renet in red and a Casey in gray. Is that a big deal? It depends on who you ask. A Blue Renet would eventually surface as a Walmart exclusive attached to some weird, NFT-like, distribution in which the consumer places an order either online (it has since sold out) or in-store that just gives them a code. They then go home and enter that code into a different website to take digital ownership of the figure at which point the collector can either “store” it or ship it. The turn-around on shipping was promised to be around two weeks, but turned into a month or more for those who participated. Oh, and the figures sold in this fashion (which also included black and white variants of the Mirage Foot Soldier and Shredder) retailed for 40 bucks, five more than the other versions.
I personally wanted nothing to do with that arrangement. It sounds needlessly complicated, plus the toys are more expensive. Unfortunately, I did want the blue version of Renet, but I’m too stubborn to give in and jump through those hoops so when I eventually found the standard version at Target I just grabbed it. My experience with the character has mostly been in black and white anyway, so I’m not that attached to the blue color scheme, I just prefer it. It looks nicer. For others who grew up reading the colorized version of the old books they understandable have more attachment to the blue costume and I do not blame them one bit that the easy to order version of the character is essentially a variant with the true version locked behind an exclusive arrangement. That is, frankly speaking, bullshit and not the way I think NECA should be approaching this line. If part of the selling point of the Mirage line is to feature it at actual comic shops then it should be those places that get the standard version and send the IDW colors to Walmart. Instead it feels like NECA is admitting that variants of these characters aren’t going to be that popular so they’re making the more desirable version both exclusive and more expensive. It’s not a good look and given that NECA’s reputation has already taken a hit in 2022 thanks to the Loot Crate fiasco, it feels like another self-inflicted wound.
All that aside, Renet is pretty damn good figure. That’s the frustrating part as it would be nice to just voice with the wallet and skip the release all together, but the product is good and it’s not like sculptor Jon Matthews is responsible for how the thing is sold. Renet, if you’re unfamiliar with the character, debuted in issue number 8 or the Mirage Studios run. She is the Mistress of Time and carries the Sceptre of the Sands of Time which, as you probably could have guessed, affords her the ability to manipulate time. This leads to a time-hopping adventure with our heroes which would be adapted in both the 2003 cartoon series and the 2012 one (she kept her blue clothing in both, by the way). Given that there are so few female characters associated with the brand, it makes sense to turn to Renet fairly early in the relaunch to provide some variety out of the gate.
The figure arrives in the trapezoid styled box that Fugitoid came in complete with new artwork from Kevin Eastman. Renet stands approximately 6″ in height and feature the unfamiliar color combo or red and brown. Her default portrait features a red hood with a removable helmet that’s also red and accented with yellow. Her actual costume, which is essentially a one-pieced bathing suit, is brown and adorned with numerous clockfaces which are all sculpted details, and not decals. There’s some black linework to make the suit appear to be armored and she has gray shoulder pads, brown gloves, and brown boots. Every inch of this figure is painted and given the numerous clockfaces on the costume it’s really impressive that there’s little in the way of paint slop. If you go hunting for it you’ll probably find a clockface that isn’t perfect, but it’s rather remarkable how well the paint turned out. And I can say I saw three figures at Target and all three looked great. There’s the customary linework as well on the clothing and even some of the flesh portions like the knees and elbows. The only detail I don’t care for is the black line under her mouth which I just don’t think needs to be there. Otherwise, the paint is terrific.
The sculpt for Renet is equally wonderful. The clocks I already mentioned and they’re a nice touch. The clock hands on each face are painted on so I guess if you have exceptionally high standards you can take NECA to task for not sculpting those, but I think they look good. Renet’s face and hair looks very true to the source material which was a bit rugged back in the day. Eastman will readily admit that he felt they had a hard time drawing females in the early days and it was something they worked hard to refine. I think she looks good though and her body certainly isn’t lacking for curves as she’s rather buxom. I like that her legs and arms have some shape to them though like she is strong and capable. This is in contrast to a lot of Marvel Legends where I feel their females tend to be too thin and lacking in muscle definition. Other sculpted details on the figure include wrinkles and creases in the gloves and boots which simulate the look of leather very well. The shoulder pads have sculpted indents in them too. Renet’s unusual helmet is also handled well with sculpted ridges and those weird ovals on the side.
Renet also comes packed with the standard assortment of articulation we’ve come to expect from NECA. The head is on a double-ball peg that allows her to look up, down, rotate, and tilt. Her shoulders are ball hinged and she can raise her arms out to the side to a horizontal position and rotate around. The shoulder pads flex so they don’t get in the way much, but I would recommend not rotating all the way around to not damage them. There is a biceps swivel plus double-jointed elbows which is great to see. NECA has, in the past, seemed resistance to double double-hinged elbows on characters without sleeves and I’m glad to see they’ve moved on from that fear. The wrists rotate and hinge horizontally. In the torso, there is a diaphragm joint, but it basically just affords some rotation with no forward and back. You will want to be mindful of doing much here too since the sculpted timepieces could get damaged. Because of that fear, I consider the joint functionally useless. At the hips are ball and socket joints that allow Renet to do splits. The crotch is a soft plastic so you do want to watch out for paint rub there, though mine seems okay. The thigh can rotate on that ball a bit and the knees are double-jointed. There is no boot swivel, and the ankles hinge and rock side-to-side. Lastly, we have the wired cape which is basically part of the articulation. It works very well and will allow you to position it as you see fit. My only issue with it is that it doesn’t always want to sit flush with her chest. The articulation here is serviceable. I wish she had some vertical hinges on her gripping hands and it would have been nice to get something out of the diaphragm joint. I like how the legs turned out though as they look terrific since the only visible joints are the knees. It’s a very clean looking figure so if the articulation isn’t going to amaze then at least it’s not contributing to some ugly cuts in the plastic.
Renet also comes with a pretty solid assortment of accessories. For hands, she has a set of open hands, fists, and gripping hands. For those gripping hands she has a scroll she can hold loosely. It’s brown and a yellow-gold on the parchment and is really the only instance of paint slop on my set as there’s a black blob on the yellow. She also has a dagger which is painted rather well and easily slips into her gripping hands as the fingers are fairly flexible on both. She also has her sceptre which looks terrific. The top of it is a monstrous, clawed, hand gripping an hourglass and it’s incredibly well-painted. The only thing that would make it look even better would be if it had an actual hourglass in it. The bottom of the staff also features another claw gripping a gold ball. Just a really cool accessory. Renet also have an alternate portrait with her hood down. There’s a piece of red plastic that serves as the hood which can be placed between her head and cape and the illusion is well conveyed. Her expression on the alternate head is one of concern which is contrast to the strong, stoic, default portrait. She’s also sporting a mullet, which is amusing. I don’t know if I’ll ever use this other head, but it looks good. Lastly, she has a third head which is actually not of her, but Lord Simultaneous. It’s done in transparent red plastic and is accentuated with some black linework and yellow eyes. It looks really cool as the face is screaming, I just don’t know what to do with it. I wish NECA had included a transparent stand for it, just a tall post, for display purposes. The head can be placed on the figure, but I can’t imagine many using this head for their display in such a fashion.
Renet the character is not one I have ever been particularly attached to, and the wrong color presentation initially lead me to believe I could pass on this release. Then I saw it in-store and found myself giving in, and that’s because this is a really well done figure. The sculpt is terrific and the paint somehow even better. I love the inclusion of the wired cape and she comes packed with plenty of accessories. And if you find her at retail, she should only cost you around $35. Some places tack on a few bucks, but if you shop around you can probably find a good deal on this one. Ignoring the garbage that is the release model for the blue version, this is worth your while if you want to add Renet to your Mirage Studios TMNT collection. The relative obscurity of the character means that Renet will likely be the favorite release in this line of few, but she might be the best overall figure that NECA has done so far in the Mirage line and that’s some pretty high praise.
2022 is nearly in the books. As we countdown the final hours and minutes until 2023, it feels good to say that the new year will begin with no further Loot Crate obligations. That’s because after a delay of more than a year, the second crate in Loot Crate’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series of crates is finally here. It may be the second crate, but it’s arriving fourth due to…who knows? Loot Crate basically went silent to start 2022 and stopped providing updates on where things were. This crate was supposedly ready to rock 10 months ago, but obviously that wasn’t the case. I ranted and raved a bit in the other crate reviews so if you want more background info I’d say go give those a peek, but let’s relax and be happy that it’s all over now.
If you’re new to the scam, each crate in a series of four is based on a different pillar of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles media empire: comics, movies, television, and video games. This final crate is the video game one, which in the first series was themed around Turtles in Time. The same could be said for NECA’s line of action figures released to comic shops, but this one is a mix of two different video games: Turtles in Time and Tournament Fighters. Like past crates, you get a bunch of junk and a t-shirt with the real selling point being an exclusive action figure from NECA. And in this one it’s Armaggon from Tournament Fighters, a character that I’m not particularly attached to, but I know a lot of other collectors out there who are really excited to get this one. And not because they’re huge fans of Tournament Fighters, but because Armaggon was a character in the Archie comics. He’s basically a mutant shark from the future and he’s quite the badass. The Armaggon from the video game was a mostly faithful adaptation of the comic character making this figure a pretty faithful adaptation of the same. Well, except for that pixel deco NECA uses for its video game line.
Before we get to the main event though, we should probably talk about the junk. As I mentioned in the prior paragraph, some of this is from Turtles in Time and some from Tournament Fighters. From Turtles in Time, we get a pair of socks. They have some graphics on them from the game (turtles on one sock, villains on the other) and…they’re socks. They’re fine. We also get a pin, as every crate has included a pin so far. This one features Leatherhead’s head and…it’s fine. We also get a boxed set of two glasses featuring Tokka and Rahzar from the game. When I picked the box up and saw the image of the glassware inside, I assumed they were shot glasses, but they’re actually bigger. I guess these are whiskey glasses? Bourbon glass? Loot Crate calls them juice glasses. Either way, the graphics are more like decals so if you decide to use these you will want to hand wash them because a dishwasher will likely obliterate the images. Some of the decals on mine are crooked, which is a shame. At least the images look, in a running theme for this crate so far, fine.
Tournament Fighters, in case you forgot, was a TMNT fighting game released exclusively for consoles. It’s odd that it wasn’t released to arcades, but maybe that’s how late it was to arrive. It’s also a Konami fighter, and now that I think about it, Konami really didn’t tackle the genre much and I can’t think of a single Konami fighting game released in arcades (Martial Champion, anyone?). They mostly specialized in brawlers, but I guess they felt they could not ignore the hype generated by the likes of Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. The game was released for the Super Nintendo, Genesis, and Nintendo Entertainment System. In what is an example of a bygone era for game development, each version of the game was completely different from the other. The Super Nintendo one is the version that featured Armaggon, so it’s from that game that the theme for the t-shirt is pulled. In what can only be described as a Christmas miracle (I got my crate before Christmas), Loot Crate actually sent me the proper sized shirt. The shirt itself is just black with the turtles fighting Shredder with some very 90s colors in the background. It’s…fine. Lastly, and it’s not really from any game, is a Krang stress ball. He has more of a toon look to him, but a licensing art toon look. It’s pretty fun though, I’ll give it that. We also get a summary card of the stuff in the crate, something the last one omitted.
So yeah, the junk in this crate is all fine. Nothing is terrible, nothing is really a surprise, and nothing is really all that welcomed. I guess it’s nice to have another shirt, and I definitely prefer it to the apron from the last crate, and I’ll wear it and probably the socks because why not? I’ll find a home for the silly stress ball, and the rest will probably end up in a drawer or behind my bar. In comparison with the other crates, it’s way better simply by virtue of getting the shirt size correct, but it’s still a bunch of stuff I never would have purchased individually. The real attraction is and always has been the action figure. And in order to get the bonus figure of Scrag in the last crate, I had to get all of them. If I could have picked and choosed what crates I wanted and still got Scrag I may have passed on Armaggon. Nothing against him, I just have no affection for Tournament Fighters. It was a middling fighting game that was also brutally difficult and I wasted a rental on it as a kid. It wasn’t one of my worst rental decisions, but it was a game I never contemplated renting again or actually buying. And if I’m going to get an Armaggon, I’d prefer a true comic one. That said, I was still curious about this figure. I could tell from early solicitations that it was going to reuse some components from Bebop and Rocksteady, but it was also hard to tell just how much. And to a lesser extent, I was curious how the figure would be packaged and if NECA was intending to do more from the game.
Armaggon comes bundled in a box that is essentially the same shape as the other Loot Crate figures. The graphics on it though are tailored to the Tournament Fighters SNES game and they did a really good job. Almost too good considering this isn’t a figure that will show up on shelves at a store near you. The box graphics are designed to mimic the packaging of a Super Nintendo game and NECA even put it’s own logo on there in the same style as the Nintendo logo of old. There’s shots of the arcade Donatello on it designed to emulate the same posings from the artwork of the Tournament Fighters game and they whited out the eyes on him and updated the figure to look a bit more like the Donatello from the game. He doesn’t look quite like the source though since those sprites were designed to resemble the 1990 movie suits. It would have been interesting to see NECA try to do the same just to see how that figure would have looked, but eh, it’s fine.
Once removed from his cardboard prison, Armaggon cuts a pretty intimidating pose on a shelf. He’s fairly tall coming in at a tick under 7″ (not counting his fin which puts him closer to 7.5″) or so which makes him one of the largest figures in the video game line. The first thing that jumps out though is the head. He looks pretty crazed with those red eyes and red gums to go with a lot of sharp teeth. It’s a nice sculpt and one that’s obviously all new. It sits on the torso of Bebop and I’m guessing the biceps and shoulders are recycled as well. The forearms needed to be re-tooled because Armaggon has some red fins there and they give his arms the added length they need. The hands are straight from the other release though as are the thighs which have the clothing wrinkles still sculpted in which is a bit annoying, but NECA did the same for the Triceratons so it’s hardly a surprise. The lower legs and the feet are all new since Armaggon has flippers. The other new part appears to be the crotch as his belt is part of the same piece. On the rear of the figure is a shark tail and that’s all new as well. To summarize, the only old parts are the torso, upper arm, hands, and thighs which is less than I expected.
What stands out with the figure is the paint and his cybernetic bits. The pixel deco is one of NECA’s best applications of it. There are parts of the figure, like the right thigh and shoulders, that really blend like a sprite should when viewing it from the shelf. It’s a neat effect, and while some don’t like it, at least it’s done well. The cybernetic stuff is basically all of the yellow around the head area. It’s sort of like a harness, I don’t really know the function of it, but it’s very intricately done. He has lots of tubes and straps and while they look good, it does give the figure a fragile appearance. And considering it’s a limited edition figure that’s not supposed to ever be sold at retail, it makes it even scarier to handle. He also has his missiles sculpted into his traps and they’re colored gray like the game. They don’t do anything, but it’s obviously something the character needed. Overall, I’d call the sculpt and paint pretty damn good all things considered. The reuse present is appropriate and there’s plenty of new stuff to justify the cost. Well, if we’re applying a cost of 25 bucks or so to the figure since the crate costs $50.
In terms of articulation, well, there isn’t a lot to talk about. As hinted at earlier, this guy is scary to pose. The head is locked down, but he does have a hinged jaw which is cool. The arms though are connected to those tubes and harness contraption and I hesitate to do much with them. They bend, but I can see them getting stressed and I personally will pose this guy in as unstressful a position as I can get. Which is probably straight up and down, but we’ll see. He does have hinged shoulders though and a biceps swivel. The elbows are double-jointed and the wrists swivel and hinge. There’s a torso joint that basically just provides a tiny bit of rotation and little else. If the waist does anything, I can’t tell. At the hips, we have ball and socket joints like the Triceratons which I am very happy about as I feared we’d get the old style Bebop and Rocksteady hips. There’s a slight thigh twist at the ball and the knees are double-jointed. The ankles hinge and have a rocker and move fine. The tail is on a ball peg, but it does very little. This guy is pretty stiff out of the box so be gentle. Maybe just be extra cautious and heat anything up that feels stuck. The lower half of the figure is the stronger part when it comes to articulation and it’s okay. I feel fine posing him down there. It’s the arms and upper torso that scare me the most, and really it’s the upper arm. The elbows and hands are fine. He’s not going to pose very well though, unfortunately.
As has been the case with basically all of the Loot Crate figures, the accessories are rather weak. In fairness, I don’t know that Armaggon needs anything from the game. Maybe an effect? He just has extra hands though and they’re all recycled from Bebop and Rocksteady. He has a set of fists and open hands plus a trigger finger right hand and a gripping left. He has nothing to grasp, but if you want to give him a gun or something at least you can. I’ll probably just go with the open, style posed, hands and leave it that way.
Well, that’s it! The second, and hopefully final, series of Loot Crates based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are history and it feels good to be done. I’ve had plenty of preorders over the past two years that went long so it’s not the delays that bothered me. It’s the lack of communication and the outright lying that came out of The Loot Company that ticked me off. Plus, we’re not talking about a preorder that took two years to be delivered. This was paid for back in early 2021 and it was supposed to ship in September of the same year! That’s nuts! At the end of 2021 they were saying it was going to ship imminently – there’s no way that was ever true! And they screwed up a ton of the orders, went really light on the stuff in crate 3, and just all around delivered a bad consumer experience. Hopefully, Loot Crate is allowed to die for good this time and never return, because if another round of these things is announced I’m staying away. Unless they change their business model to not require payment upfront, because this stuff felt super shady. If I’m allowed to ignore the consumer experience and just judge the whole thing on what we got, it still was a subpar experience. The Danny figure stunk, and there was nothing of value in 2 of the remaining three crates outside of the figures. At least those figures were done well enough, but why do they need to be sold this way? Collectors will happily just buy these figures from NECA direct and there’s really no character too obscure for release at this point. Now, it’s just my opinion, but I don’t think NECA liked the experience of partnering with Loot Crate either so it’s my hope that they have enough pull with their owner, who owns Loot Crate, to put an end to the partnership because it really hurt their brand more than it helped. For now, let’s just be happy it’s over and try to enjoy the figures we got. Here’s to a new year free of Loot Crate!
It’s been a little more than 3 months since our last dance with Loot Crate. If you’re new to the experience, it has been quite a drag. Crates that were supposed to ship a year ago are still outstanding, communication has been poor, rumors have painted a dire picture of the company’s finances, and the…
It was October 12, 2021 when I last posted a review of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed Loot Crate. It did not go well, but the review closed with some optimism for the future. I made mention of the delays impacting the latest series of TMNT themed crates from Loot Crate and NECA, but…
Loot Crate’s first series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles crates in 2020 were a massive success. The crates sold out and anyone who missed out found out acquiring them on the secondhand market would be most expensive, and that’s because each crate came bundled with a NECA exclusive action figure. NECA’s parent company rescued Loot…
It’s that time of year when a lot of folks are reflecting on the past year and all of the things that happened. This usually coincides with list-making for favorites and worst of the year in basically every category you can dream of. And for action figure enthusiasts, there’s definitely a lot of list making. And here to blow it all up is NECA who managed to sneak this set out before the end of the year even though it wasn’t expected until Q1 2023. When the set went up for preorder in April, I think most hoped that by Christmas we’d have it hand. And when a few months ago two-packs of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from The Secret of the Ooze started showing up at Walmart that seemed to encourage fans to dream of an early arrival. It also predictably annoyed some since the stuff that was prepaid for in the spring was still outstanding while Walmart was getting basically the same thing, but that’s a whole other thing.
NECA has eased into the second film in the TMNT franchise. After first indicating it wasn’t that interested in any of the films beyond the first, we started to see the villains. Tokka and Rahzar, multiple versions of Super Shredder, and a standard Shredder all arrived before the actual turtles. Those first film turtles are some of my all-time favorite action figures. They began life as quarter scale figures and the very first one I got was Donatello. It was a Christmas gift in 2016 so it’s fitting that I’m still talking movie turtles now six Christmases removed. Despite my love for those figures, I wasn’t really feeling that excited about these ones. I ordered the set largely out of convenience. I had no desire to stalk Walmart in search for them and my Secret of the Ooze collection had grown large enough that it needed the turtles. I don’t even particularly like the movie, but I did as a kid, and I’m still at least fond of the costumes from it. I also expected these figures to be very similar to the previous ones so there wasn’t a lot to be excited about. Then I got them in hand and I felt rather stupid for ever overlooking a NECA TMNT release.
This set is the NECA store exclusive VHS four-pack. Just like NECA did with the first film, this set of four turtles comes housed in a pretty substantial box which is designed to resemble the original VHS release of the film. Only the turtles on the box have been substituted for images of the actual figures. It’s pretty cool, though this set made it a lot harder on photographer Stephen Mazurek. The front cover looks fantastic, but the image on the rear is pretty goofy looking because these figures really aren’t articulated enough to replicate the poses from the back of the VHS box. As a result, Mikey and Donnie both look like they’re riding an invisible horse or something. The box is huge though as it’s nearly 17″ in height and 10″ across. The lettering on it is raised, like a VHS, and it will look nice next to the same box from the first movie set. And like that, it’s a slipcover and the inner box features a tray with the figures and accessories inside secured behind a plastic cover with more photography all over the place. Considering that nothing in the box is exclusive to this set, you’re basically paying a premium for the fancy box and at least it delivers. Well, there is one thing that’s exclusive and it’s a backdrop. It’s a thick cardboard and it’s of the club from the film’s climax, the exterior wall. Could we one day see the interior stage setup? Only time will tell.
I’m as charmed as anyone by a fancy box, but what I really care about are the figures inside. The turtles are all on the same body, but it does differ from the body of the first film turtles. They each stand at around 6.25″ in height, and considering it’s a 7″ scale line, that seems pretty good. The only thing that stinks about that is all four turtles are the same height when at least Michelangelo should be shorter, but that was something we had to overlook with the other figures too. The stuff that’s reused are the arms and legs and maybe whatever is inside the shell. The plastron, shell, pads, belts, and heads are all new. Even though the thighs appear to be the same between releases, these figures do have updated hips with the ball and socket joint. Like the previous figures, the biceps are actually a little different as Leo and Mikey share the same parts while Donnie and Raph share some as well. The shells are all the same, though Raph’s has some distress marks carved into his and Leo’s appears to allow for the scabbards of his swords to key-in. Each turtle does differ in that the pattern of their freckles are applied different from brother to brother.
In terms of changes from the past figures to these ones, they’re mostly subtle, but apparent. Obviously, the heads are all different as the costumes were overhauled to allow for a wider range of expressions. Donnie’s changed the most, while there’s a hint of the first film Leo and Raph in their designs. Mikey was practically unchanged, but his head seems a little smaller and more round. All of the turtles wear their bandanas over both shoulders and that’s reflected here. There are no optional display parts there. The colors are also a bit softer, especially Leo and Raph, and it’s captured here. The skin tone also appears to have more yellow incorporated into the green so they have a slightly different appearance. For some reason, there’s a powdery, green, residue on them this time around which tends to rub onto the accessories when placed in the gripping hands and can even find its way onto one’s hands after extensive play. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s so far been easy to clean off of the accessories. The plastron of each turtle is shaded more heavily than it was in the first film and I like how it contrasts with the otherwise brighter look. Michelangelo also has satchels for his nunchaku this time around which is cool and a nice addition to both the real world costume and the figure. Perhaps due to the flaky nature of the topcoat, there are a few spots on the figures where the plastic is shiny. On Leo especially, his right foot appears a lot glossier than the left which is a bit odd. Maybe they missed that piece with a final paint app or something. The powdery green also shows up in some of the grooves, especially on the hands, which is a little off-putting but not something that can be seen from a shelf. I would classify such issues as relatively minor, for otherwise these look like they jumped out of the movie. It’s almost eerie at times to look at them because they seem so lifelike.
Since the bodies in use are very similar to the past turtles, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn the articulation is more or less the same. All of the turtles feature a double-ball peg for the head. The lower peg is recessed quite a bit so the range isn’t optimal. The turtles can basically rotate fine, but looking down varies from turtle to turtle with Michelangelo performing the best. None of them can look up and the ball peg is pretty snug and tight. At the shoulders we have ball-hinges and they can raise their arms out to just about horizontal and rotate all around. There’s no biceps swivel, which is something I would have welcomed, but we do have the NECA double-elbows which feature two hinges and a swivel above and below the joint. The elbow pads are smaller this time around and peg into the elbow like the quarter scale figures. This results in better range than we saw on the first film release as the turtles can now bend their elbows past 90 degrees. The wrists swivel and every hinge features a horizontal orientation, which is a bummer for Leonardo, especially. In the torso, there’s a ball joint or something, but it doesn’t do a whole lot. It basically just provides a tiny bit of rotation and tilt. The hips are the newer model hips and the turtles can just about do splits. They can’t quite kick forward all the way though as the thighs rub against the plastron. It’s also very creaky and unpleasant. There’s a bit of a thigh swivel at the ball-joint and the knees are double-jointed. They can just get past 90 degrees there while the ankles feature the usual hinge and rocker combo and works all right. They’ll move okay, but elaborate stuff is a bit out of the question. I do wish they had decided to sacrifice a tiny amount of the aesthetic to carve in a biceps swivel, but I understand why they didn’t. The lack of vertical hinges for the gripping hands is the one major oversight and NECA frustrates me in that area. They sometimes include such a hinge, and sometimes they don’t. Toon Leo and Raph, for example, have them and even the quarter scale movie Leonardo has them. The 7″ scale ones don’t though and that’s a real bummer.
This four-pack also comes packed with a fair assortment of accessories. Some are repeats, and some are new. For hands, all four turtles come with gripping hands. They then share the following sets: open, relaxed gripping, thumbs up, and pointing/sai grip. The gripping hands are really tight, but pliable. They’ll hold almost everything, but the green paint will transfer. There’s a full canister of ooze, which you probably have several of by now, and a second empty canister of ooze which is new. The fire extinguisher makes a return, but new this time is the foam bat from the opening of the film. It’s not actual foam though, but painted, hard, plastic. There’s also a new pizza box and it comes with a bunch of pizza “stubs” which is a nice addition. There’s also a full slice with a hole through the center so Raphael can catch his touchdown pass as he did in the film. There’s an extra left forearm and this is for Donnie as his default forearm features the wristwatch in the wrist strap as seen in one scene of the film. I have no idea how easy it is to swap forearms as I have no intention of removing the unique wristwatch arm. Mikey also comes with his “combat cole cuts,” two pairs of linked sausages which are in a nice, rubbery, plastic that almost makes them feel real. And lastly, each turtle has his standard weapons. For Leo, Raph, and Donnie, these are the same as the first film turtles with Donnie’s bo having a noticeably lighter paint app. For Mikey, his nunchaku have been updated so that instead of a pair of strings connecting the two he has something more like a bendy wire. It doesn’t seem to be strong enough for posing, but perhaps it will be more durable. They slot rather snugly into his new satchels too.
That’s a fair amount of stuff. I think we could always use more hands, especially with vertical hinges, but I think they come with enough. Maybe another set of open hands should have been included so they could execute a proper Cowabunga pose, but at least we have the hands from the first set. If that’s not enough though then NECA has you covered as they also put up for sale an accessory set alongside this release. I passed on the same for the first film, but this time I decided to go all-in. And there’s a lot of stuff in here. It comes in a square box with an image of one of the film’s theatrical posters on the cover (the same image we saw on the Super Shredder release) with photography on the rear and spines. Inside the box is a big plastic tray with a cover over it and all of the accessories are visible. It’s not as flashy a package as the VHS box, but it’s durable and easy to reseal if you can’t find a home for all of this stuff.
I guess we’ll just plow through it, but this thing has a lot of stuff pulled from the film. Up first, another ooze canister! This one though is basically the catalyst for the film as it’s the empty, broken, canister and it can separate just like the one in the film. It’s a nice little thing to have and kind of makes me wants another Splinter. To keep track of these things, there’s a computer and keyboard and, uh oh, one canister is still active! Also in here is Michelangelo’s chocolate bar so he can annoy Raph. And if he’s thirsty, there’s a red mug of what appears to be cola that features a straw and a blue mug without a straw. If salty is more your thing, there’s also a bowl of popcorn and two bags of potato chips (the bare essentials). When it’s time to clean up after another pizza party, there’s a pair of aprons: pink and purple. They’re soft goods and can tie onto any of the figures. There are also two cleaning brushes (wax on, wax off) and Donnie’s bo with a mop molded onto both ends – perfect for cleaning and romancing! These guys eat a lot of pizza, so there’s another box of pie! It’s the same box as the one featured in the four-pack, but this one has four, full, slices inside. They appear to be the same mold as the pizzas that came with the first film figures. When it’s time to move out of April’s apartment there’s a suitcase which can open and actually has a lot of room for stuff inside. Michelangelo’s hat is also included to protect him from the rain, and since you’ll be wanting to contact April once a new home is found there’s also a payphone. It has a slot on the back so that it can be hung on a nail or tack, if you wish. As for something cute, there’s a pre-mutated Rahzar which features articulation at the head. Less cute is the pre-mutated Tokka which has a hinged jaw. Rahzar looks fine, but Tokka is actually pretty impressive. There’s more paint on this little snapping turtle than is featured on most Hasbro figures. There’s also some included reading material, a little, paper, newspaper with “NINJA RAP IS BORN” as the cover story. They had to include that. And if reading’s not your thing, then you can also rock out with the included keytar. It easily slips over the head/shoulder of any turtle and is known to cause massive headaches in villains.
That’s a lot of stuff, and I feel like I’m forgetting something, but I don’t think there’s any way to shake that feeling. Probably the main draw of this set is the five extra heads included for the figures. For Donatello, we get an open mouth expression which works for any of his talking poses. For Michelangelo, we get the opposite as his is more stoic compared with his default open mouth. Leonardo also gets a stoic face and it’s an expression I more associate with the character than his smiling portrait from the four-pack. Raphael’s is the least different as he has a half smile, I guess, by default and the new head is a full smile. He gets a third head though which features tape across the mouth so he can be “a little too Raph” should it please you. I wish they included a post to tie him to as well. Oddly, the Raph heads feature a darker shade of red on the bandana while the others are more uniform. I’m guessing this is an error, but it’s probably not something that will bother most. As for swapping the heads, it’s pretty painless. I was nervous about it at first, but I didn’t even need to heat them up or anything (same is true for the joints on the figures) and was able to just pop them off. Getting the secondary heads to really snap-in is tricky and may require heat. It does create a dilemma on what to display. I definitely prefer the alternate Leo head and I think I like the open mouth Donnie head more. Raph is the only one where I’m kind of lukewarm as far as preferring one over the other. Eventually, I probably will tie him up as it’s just too funny.
These figures are pretty damn terrific. If you have any desire to add action figures of the turtles from Secret of the Ooze to your collection then you absolutely should track these down. The four pack is basically long gone, but two-packs should continue shipping all throughout 2023 to Walmart stores. Hopefully, NECA does a big restock at some point to help make it easier because they’re going to be in demand. The accessory set is unfortunately a NECA store exclusive and it too is long gone. They might reissue it at some point, but considering they’ve never done that for the first film accessory set it likely will be a long wait. If it’s something you have to have then you’re just going to have to bite the bullet and buy one on the secondary market. For 60 bucks, I think it’s worth it, but I don’t think I’d personally go much higher than that. The two-packs are a complete enough package that it’s hard to call the accessory set essential, but there is a lot of fun stuff in there. I particularly like the phone and the PC, though figuring out a way to display the PC is going to be tricky. I wish they had just included a little table for it and the office chair Donnie went surfing on. If the accessory set had included more hands, especially the coveted vertical hinged hands, it definitely would have been more of a slam dunk.
This is another homerun from NECA and an A+ release. It’s also potentially the last release from the Secret of the Ooze for me. A figure of Keno with his moped is coming in 2023, but I’m on the fence there. Do I need a Keno? No, but the fact that he comes with his motorcycle is pretty cool. And if he’s sold on the NECA website that will go a long way. I’m definitely not going to run around Walmart looking for him. If this is the end though, then I’m pretty damn happy with the display I have and I think anyone else who invests in this line will be too.
Merry Boxing Day every one! I hope you enjoyed the Christmas content this year, but it’s time to go back to our usual programming. Which in 2020 means toys. And I just could not wait any longer to talk about what was probably my most anticipated release of 2020: NECA’s Tokka and Rahzar based on…
For the first time in a long time we went a week without a blog entry here. That’s because I took a much needed vacation and didn’t schedule anything. I’ll probably be backing off a little bit as we dig deeper into 2022 since there’s a certain holiday I need to get crackin’ on if…
“The last vial of ooze!” “He must have drank all of it!” “It’s a Super Shredder!!!” It’s a simple, obvious, and corny introduction for a character, but as a 7-year old it felt rather impactful. The introduction of Super Shredder in the waning moments of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze…
Happy Boxing Day! It’s been a minute, but we’re back with another figure in NECA’s line of action figures based on the 90s cartoon/property Gargoyles – Hudson! Hudson, who was wonderfully brought to life by the late Ed Asner, was always my favorite character in the show. He’s basically the old veteran of the group. A bit surly, and at his happiest in a comfy chair with his TV and pal Bronx at his side. Though don’t mistake that for Hudson being some useless old geezer. When he’s called upon he’s still a ferocious warrior. Armed with his curved sword, he may not be the warrior he was in his youth, but he won’t back down from a fight. His biggest contribution to the Manhattan Clan though is his wisdom as Goliath often seeks his advice before rushing headlong into a confrontation. There’s no doubt about it, Hudson is pretty damn cool and I’ve been looking forward to this release for awhile. I just had to wait, because he was originally scheduled for release in September, which became October, and you get the idea. I actually ended up finding this guy at an FYE. At first, I was turned off by their inflated price, but eventually I came back and wound up walking out with him. The damage was $47 plus tax, probably close to $10 more if I could have found him at Walmart where he showed up in very small quantities weeks ago, but it’s only $5 more than the preorder I had secured so I figured the extra five bucks was worth it to have the figure now and not have to ship later.
Hudson comes in an oversized Ultimates styled box since he’s a pretty big boy. The cover of the box features some impressive artwork of Hudson by Djordje Djokovic with paint by Emiliano Santalucia. Hudson looks like he’s striking a ferocious pose or emerging from his stone state and it’s actually a bit festive as there’s snow falling around him. The rest of the box contains product shots of the figure plus a cross-sell of the rest of the line which includes headshots of the unreleased Lexington, Broadway, and Brooklyn. Once out of the box, Hudson feels pretty similar to the other figures we’ve seen in this line, except for Bronx, obviously. Posing him in a natural, gargoyle, stance puts the figure at about 7.5″ with his knees bent and standing on his toes. Some assembly is required, as was the case with the others, as both the tail and the wings need to be attached to the figure. Neither is particularly hard. I had to work the tail in deliberately, but once in it felt secure. The wings just snap into place and it can be done with the figure’s head on or off. The hair gets in the way a little, but it can be flexed out of the way without much trouble.
With the figure assembled, I will just come out and say that this is the best release in the line so far. Hudson looks fantastic and, like Bronx, retains a lot of his animated look. For Hudson, I attribute that more to the fact that he wears more clothes so there was little where the NECA sculptor (Djokovic) could freelance by adding more musculature like we saw with Goliath. The default portrait is a stoic, or neutral, expression for Hudson. His eyes have visible pupils, with the left eye being blinded and colored yellow, and his mouth is set in something close to a scowl. It is undeniably Hudson and the quality of the sculpt is impressive. Equally impressive is the paint as it’s all nice and clean. His beard and hair are sculpted in white but have been brushed with gray and a hit of silver in places. The crispness of the ridges on his brow, around the nose, the lines under his eyes, are just awesome, for lack of a better word. And the rest of the sculpt is just as good. His clothing has a nice texture to it, the paint is really clean all over. There’s shading, the straps on his calves are nice and clean, the buckles and studs are all painted, and it just looks like no expense was spared. The wings are unique to Hudson. Yes, they’re still spread wide open so the shelf space needed to display him is immense, but they do look good. There’s shading on the wings and he has some tattered parts of the membrane with some holds in there to reflect a long, hard, life. If I’m going to nitpick the presentation at all, the tail is still bland looking as they do the tails in rubber with a bendy wire. There’s no texture or anything to it, but it’s also positioned behind the figure at all times. And the feet don’t look as good as the rest of the figure because there’s no paint wash on them. They just stand out a little as looking flat, but like I said, it’s a nitpick. This figure is gorgeous and once again makes NECA look like an outlier in the toy world right now, but in a good way. Hasbro is an outlier in a bady way as their prices seem rather high and the quality of the product low compared with their peers. Meanwhile, NECA is out here with prices not much different (I paid $47, but this guy should be $37 or $38) selling figures with mostly new tools, tons of paint, and plenty of accessories. They are the best deal in town right now.
And we should talk about those accessories. Hudson isn’t loaded, but he has enough. He comes with fist hands in the package, but NECA also includes a set of open hands, a loose gripping left hand, a tight gripping right hand, and a tight gripping right hand with a vertical hinge. That last hand is to be used with his sword, which like the figure, is gorgeous. The blade has it’s unique shape we’re used to and it’s nice and thick and sturdy and comes to a point, safety measures be damned. There’s some intricate carving on both sides of the blade plus some sculpted weathering and damage to the blade customary of one that’s seen use for centuries or however long Hudson has lived. The texture is great and the paint has a silver finish to it to go along with the brown hilt with gold handguard. It looks perfect, and Hudson even has a loop in his belt to store it when he’s not brandishing the weapon. Lastly, we have an alternate head which is customary for this line as we need a neutral face and a battle face. The gargoyles all see their eyes go white and glow when they’re in battle and that’s what Hudson’s secondary face reflects. His mouth is open and both eyes are white. They have a pearl finish to create the illusion that they’re glowing and the quality of the sculpt and paint is every bit as good, if not better, than the default portrait. Talk about a homerun. And all of these parts are easy to swap so there’s a lot of fun to be had with the display options here.
This figure feels damn near perfect, which means we’ve saved the worst part of it for last and that’s the articulation. Articulation hasn’t been a strong point for this line so far, and Hudson can be categorized as more of the same. The head is on a double-ball peg, but because he has long hair and a long beard, it’s pretty locked down no matter which head you use. There’s some flex to the hair, but that’s more for positioning the wings than anything. He can basically look left and right a bit, but not much more. The shoulders are ball-hinged and they’re limited by his shoulder pads which are a very, hard, plastic. He can only rotate as much as those will allow, but he can raise his arms out to the side just about horizontal. There is a biceps swivel and the double-jointed elbow works very well, though is a little unsightly when bent past 90 degrees. The wrists rotate and hinge and I already mentioned he does have the correct hinge direction for his sword hand, so that’s great. In the torso, there’s a diaphragm joint that mostly allows for some rotation. He can go back a little there which is good for some lunging and flying poses, but he can’t really go forward and there’s not much tilt. There’s a waist twist below that and the hips are the standard ball and socket joint. Hudson can damn near hit a split and he kicks forward pretty far and back pretty far. There is a thigh twist and the knee joint swivels and bend, but because of the unusual gargoyle anatomy, the range isn’t terrific. There is an ankle joint past that which contains a ratcheted hinge which is nice because they need to be strong. The joint also has a rocker and past that is the toe hinge which is what the figure is supposed to stand on. That hinge works fine and it has a little rocker action to it as well. The tail is on a ball hinge like the shoulders and it’s bendy so you can move it around a bit and also utilize it to support the figure in a stance. The wings are ball-hinged too so they can rotate and flap. They still make that scary, loud, clicking sound, but I’m happy to report no looseness like we saw with Demona.
Hudson’s articulation is limited, but I think it’s probably good enough. NECA clearly prioritizes the aesthetic of its figures and Hudson is certainly proof of that. His biggest posing limitations are the shoulders and what the wings bring to the table. It’s been said before, and it will be said again, that the things are an issue. Each figure just takes up too much room and packaging caped wings with other figures is too slow a delivery method. And if a character ever called for those wings, it’s Hudson. I wish he could assume a proper seated pose, but the legs kick out a bit too much. He could sit in a recliner, but not with these wings. I don’t know what it would cost to add a secondary pair of wings to each release, but whatever it is, I’d likely pay it because these guys are really hard to fit onto a shelf together.
Hudson may not be the most dynamic release, but he’s still a damn good one. He’s easily my favorite in the line so far and I am absolutely floored by some of the aspects of this figure. The sculpt is as close to perfect as I think NECA could get at this price point. The paint is terrific and is an area so many companies (charging more for their figures) skimp on, but NECA seems pretty insistent on painting every inch of their figures and they look great as a result. I don’t know if they’ll top this one, I don’t think I can even expect them to, but I am excited to see more and I am definitely excited to one day have the entire Manhattan Clan assembled on my shelf. Though right now, it’s looking like I’ll need multiple shelves to fit them all.
Check out more of NECA’s Gargoyles line of action figures!
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…
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…
It was nearly 6 months ago that NECA unveiled one of its newest licenses for 2021: Gargoyles! I was incredibly pumped at the time to see that NECA had acquired Gargoyles because the license had so much potential. The show was basically a cult hit in the 90s often characterized as Disney’s answer to Batman:…
As NECA continues to find success with its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lines of action figures, the company has sought to branch out beyond the usual source material in an effort to give collectors more of what they want and also likely to just keep the hype train rolling. NECA started first with doing figures based on the original comic appearance of the turtles in the Mirage Studios series which has lead to video game, movie, and cartoon adaptations. The cartoon is, by far, the most popular and successful it would seem and a natural complement to that television show is the line of comics released by Archie while the show was in production titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. These comics started off as adaptations of the show, but soon went their own way. It’s through this comic that many characters fans would come to enjoy in both the Playmates toyline and the show actually originated. One of the most popular characters to debut in this fashion has been the sometimes evil mutant, sometimes alien, turtle Slash!
Slash is someone we’ve talked about recently as Super7 just sent out their take on the beastly snapping turtle. That figure is based on the Playmates release which really honed in on Slash’s debut where he was more bad guy than good. It likely made sense to someone in marketing to basically have an anti-ninja turtle in the ranks of the bad guys and that toy set the stage for the character’s introduction in the show, even though toon Slash would end up being quite different as far as temperament goes. Slash as he was presented in the comics was a little more nuanced. His home world was destroyed by industrialists which essentially sent him into a frenzy that landed him in an intergalactic prison of sorts where he befriended Krang. Not really knowing how evil Krang was, Slash helped him and was introduced as a villain to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but he’d eventually come to realize that Krang was no friend of his and was taken in by the Mighty Mutanimals which basically made him a good guy. A lot of other takes on the character seem to have followed suit where Slash will start off as an adversary before becoming more ambiguous and even heroic. His debut was in an issue of the series written by Stephen Murphy, though I can’t find a credit for who actually created the character, but many on the Archie staff were unhappy with how the Mutanimals characters were treated when brought over to the cartoon and I assume Slash was no exception.
Slash, being a popular character within the fanbase, makes some sense as NECA’s debut in the Archie universe. They have done two versions of the character already, one for the video game and one for the cartoon, but both utilized the standard ninja turtle mold. I like both interpretations of the character, but my main criticism with each release was that Slash was too small. He doesn’t necessarily need to be taller than the turtles, but he should have more mass. NECA seems to have heard that criticism from the fanbase as this version of Slash is on the newer Tokka base body. It’s amusing to me because in the vintage Playmates line, Tokka was basically a repurposed Slash so the cycle is complete! This body though gives Slash that thicker, more physically imposing, appearance that I think fans wanted from the other figures. TMNT brand director for NECA, Trevor Zammit, has even indicated they may redo the cartoon version on this body. They have been saying similar things about April for awhile too so I certainly wouldn’t hold your breath, but as the toon line gets further into deep cut territory it wouldn’t shock me to see a fan favorite like Slash revisited once again.
Since this is the first in a new subline from NECA, we should talk a little about the box. It’s in the same shape as the Fugitoid and Loot Crate Claw Shredder packaging which is that of a trapezoid and features a window display on the front with artwork on the sides and product shots on the rear. All of the art is done by former Archie artist Kevin Mitchroney who also previously worked on the San Diego Comic Con exclusive carrying case from a few years back. It’s great to see NECA continue to seek out an authentic artist for these lines as it really does add to the presentation. Of course, ultimately the box is just trash that houses the action figure and mine has been ripped open, but I still think the box is pretty cool. Slash comes on a plastic tray that is easily removed from the box, if you want to preserve it, and the backdrop is that of his home world, if I’m not mistaken. Possibly my biggest pet peeve with this release starts here as every limb and accessory for this guy is held down by an annoying, plastic, tie-down. I hate these things so much because you have to pull on them to stretch them and then snip. You can try to rip past them, and I ended up doing that for the optional hands, but these little things get everywhere and leave your fingers sore. You also can’t do the rip technique for anything painted, which for a NECA figure is almost everything, as that could damage the paint. I find the tie-downs unnecessary as the bubble is plenty strong enough to keep the figure in place, but maybe it’s extra reinforcement to appease mint-in-box collectors, but screw them! NECA, please, ditch these things!
With that out of the way, lets actually talk about the figure. Slash when standing upright is about 5.875″ tall. He is one of those characters that’s a bit hunched forward so he’s never as tall as he could be. He seems to scale well with the toon turtles, and I’m assuming if they do Archie turtles they’ll be the same height, and that promised mass is certainly on display out of the box. He is just a chunky boy. Most of the figure is cast in a muted green, but then painted over, to give him a matte finish. He has some black linework on his muscle lines and the plastron which helps the figure to pop. The warts on his skin are done in a darker green and the plastron brown. On the back, his shell is cast in a much richer green and features a lot of that linework featured elsewhere. It’s also on his belt, and the metallic portions are painted white with a hit of blue shading which gives him a very comic-like appearance. There’s no panel shading so the approach here is definitely similar to the Mirage line. As for the new sculpt, the new parts are the plastron, hands, shell, and obviously the head. I love this expression Slash is sporting with one eyebrow raised and his sharp teeth all on display. The paint on his head is really clean and: Look! – painted shoulder pauldrons! His trademarked blades are also quite pointy and a little sharp and if I have one critique with the sculpt it’s that I wish they were longer like they are on the box art. In terms of presentation issues, it’s basically just paint imperfections here and there. There’s a small blob of white on the back of the belt that I might try to remove and there’s a couple of rough spots. One is on the edge of the plastron above his right pectoral and the paint is pretty choppy around the thigh joint on the rear of the leg. There’s also a bit of paint transfer around the the knees on mine from the kneepad to the thigh. That joint was also stuck out of the box and I think it’s because of the paint there. When you use as much paint as NECA does, these blemishes are bound to happen and overall I’d say it’s at an acceptable level here. Especially since the alternative would be to use less paint which I am not in favor of.
Slash, being a chunker, is not the most impressive figure when it comes to posing. He has pretty much all of the joints one would want, but his design limits his range. The head is on a ball peg and since it’s positioned forward he doesn’t get as much range as one might hope. He can look up a little, down a little, and to each side a little. Perhaps if he had more of a neck he could get better range, but as it stands it’s a bit lacking. The shoulders are ball-hinged, but he has those white pauldrons to be mindful of. The right one on mine sometimes wants to curl under the shell when positioning the arm which makes me worried about paint transfer. He basically isn’t going to get his arms out all the way to the side, and since he’s a turtle, he can’t rotate all the way around either as the shell gets in the way. We do have a biceps swivel after that and the elbows are double-jointed. Because of the elbow pad, he’s basically only good for a 90 degree bend. If you really work at it, you can possibly get him to go past that. The hands swivel and all feature horizontal hinges, which is a bummer for the accessories. It also kind of stinks that he can’t rotate his blades at all. In the torso, there is a waist twist that’s either single or a double-ball, but because he’s a turtle, it doesn’t allow for much movement. The hips are ball and socket joints with a thigh swivel. He can just about hit a full split, though the built-in thigh swivel doesn’t seem to want to move much on mine. Instead, the hip mostly pivots on the ball and socket, but that might be enough rotation for most. The knees are double-jointed, but like the elbows, you’re probably not getting past 90 here. The ankles are hinged and have a rocker and both work well. In terms of joint tolerance, I would say most of the joints are on the tight side. The right knee is the only one I had to heat up, but the shoulder hinges seem especially tight as well. The hips are a little on the loose side, but he’s holding himself up even at the widest stance possible so it’s not presently an issue. Because of the blades in his wrists, the wrist hinges are pretty tough to make much use of as you definitely don’t want to rub the hands on those mostly white blades. It mostly just highlights the need for vertical hinges as those would be far more preferable than what’s present.
Slash does come with a few accessories he can make use of in the form of weapons and spare parts. Out of the box, he’s equipped with fists, but he also has a set of gripping hands and clenchy, style, pose hands. Swapping them is a bit tricky because of the blades, and the fit is also rather snug, but do-able without any heat. In terms of weaponry, he has his kris sword which some refer to as a sai. It’s just a crooked, short, sword and it has the same white and blue paint app that his belt and blades feature which I like a lot. Based on most of his artwork, I think it could have been made a little bigger, but otherwise it gets the job done. Slash also comes with a bladed, hook, weapon and it’s mostly known as that thing that came with all of the vintage turtles. I have no idea if he actually used such a weapon in the comics, but I’m probably not going to make use of it. That’s it though. It’s definitely not a lot, but for most it will probably be enough. I think an extra head is always nice to have, but admittedly, I really like his present expression so I’m not sure another would be any better. I find it curious that he’s depicted with his little, toy, palm tree on the box art, but NECA declined to include one with the figure. It’s made more odd since they’ve already tooled such an accessory for the toon Slash. The only thing I really miss is just vertically hinged gripping hands. It would have also been cool if the bladed wrist weapons were removable just for some different posing opportunities.
Slash is a pretty cool looking figure. I suppose I didn’t need to write as much as I did up to now when I could have just said that and been done with it, but it’s the truth. He just looks cool. There are some issues with the articulation and paint, but the overall package seems to overcome that just fine. And since he’s the debut of a new line, there’s an added element of excitement at play as well. Slash is just the first, and still come to are Man Ray, Jagwar, and Dreadmon with more certain to follow. It would seem that NECA is prioritizing the Mutanimals first, and I think that’s a sound strategy since some of them have never been in plastic before. This figure is currently being sold at specialty retail for around $38 which is basically what NECA Ultimates are starting to retail for these days. It’s higher than I would like, but I have already seen this one discounted in some places. I do not know if there are any plans to bring any of this line to big box retailers like Target. The fact that Man Ray was unveiled quite a while ago and no preorder has gone up makes me think there’s a chance he’s going to one of the big stores initially, like Fugitoid, before specialty gets a crack at him. Unless the plan is only to do one figure from this line per year. I actually have little affection for the comic this figure is from so I don’t know how deep I’ll go on this line, but I liked this look enough for Slash that I got it anyway. I’ll probably do the same with at least Man Ray since he never had a proper appearance in the cartoon. For fans of those Archie comics though, this is pretty exciting and I hope they’re happy with how this figure turned out.
It’s been a little more than 3 months since our last dance with Loot Crate. If you’re new to the experience, it has been quite a drag. Crates that were supposed to ship a year ago are still outstanding, communication has been poor, rumors have painted a dire picture of the company’s finances, and the actual quality of the product has taken a hit as well. Since we last looked at one of these, someone decided they were so fed up with the experience that they doxed NECA director or product Randy Falk which he was understandably not happy about. That was a dick move on the part of whoever did that and anyone who actually took the time to call Randy on his cell phone or shared that info is a grade A asshole. That’s the type of entitlement that makes me embarrassed to be a part of this hobby.
Ugliness aside, Randy didn’t deserve that. Saying that doesn’t mean we’re letting Loot Crate off the hook though. They’ve been pretty terrible, but I don’t feel the need to get into that once again. If you want more of a rant, check out the last entry on the subject, for the rest of this one I’m just going to talk about the contents of the latest crate.
And this latest crate is the fourth one which is themed around the 1987 cartoon series. What happened to crate #2? Nobody knows, but it was skipped in favor of crate #3 and now we’re onto #4. I guess they’ll come back to it, hopefully in another 3 months or less. The toon one, being the fourth one, comes with a bonus figure as well so we have a lot to talk about. When consumers had the option to subscribe to this service, they could either purchase individual crates or all 4. Those that bought all four were to receive a bonus figure, Scrag, one of the gang members from the original mini series who hung out and committed crimes with Bebop and Rocksteady. He had his own little arc in that mini series. Despite never being named, or having a line to speak, we saw him go from punker, to mutant bat, back to punker again. After that, he went away and was never heard from again.
We’ll do Scrag last, but for now lets get the other junk out of the way. The Loot Crate model is to take something people want, like a NECA figure, up-charge it and toss in some junk to make it seem like it’s worth the $50 price tag. Obviously, it’s not or else they wouldn’t do things this way, but it’s always going to be a case of “your mileage may vary.” The bonus figure is another added layer of grift since you may not care about one of the other crates, but if you care about Scrag, you have to buy them. NECA and Loot Crate will point to eBay sales as a way to suggest you’re not being taken advantage of, but again, if they actually had that much faith in the product they’d just put them up for sale and let you buy what you want.
The model for these crates has been to include a t-shirt, some pins, and a few extras. Maybe a keychain, a sticker sheet, whatever. The first wave of crates definitely had more, while this current wave has had severely less. And this crate has the distinction of being the first without a t-shirt. I thought these things were advertised to always have a shirt, you even select a size when subscribing, but I haven’t looked up the actual solicitation so maybe that wasn’t the case. It’s certainly an expectation that one will be included. Instead of a shirt though, we get an apron. It has a Ninja Pizza logo printed on it which is taken from the show, but is otherwise just an off-white apron. Do people still use aprons? It being October, I just re-watched Beetlejuice once again and thought how old-fashioned Geena Davis looked sporting an apron at the film’s start. I have aprons in my house as they tend to be something you acquire through things like a bridal shower, but I don’t think I’ve ever used one. And I don’t recall ever seeing my mom or dad wear one. Same for grandparents. And when I go to my local pizza shop, few of them wear one. And if they do, they don’t bother with the top. Maybe they were more popular when washing machines were less common? Now if I’m cooking I just change my clothes if they get dirty in the process. I guess I’m just saying a novelty apron is not something I’ll ever use or know what to do with. It’s not that I need more t-shirts either, my dresser is bursting with them, but I at least wear them.
What pairs well with an apron? How about some oven mitts! We get a pair of pizza monster oven mitts. They’re yellow and they have a face on them so they look like cheap puppets. They’re a bit thin and are only rated for temperatures up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit which seems pointless since most pizza is cooked at a temperature above that. There goes my master plan of preparing pizza in my Ninja Pizza apron and pizza monster oven mitts. We also have the customary pin, this time it’s the head of a Triceraton from the cartoon. Lastly, we get a novelty license plate. It’s yellow and green with the Statue of Liberty in the center like an actual New York plate and it reads “PRTY WGN.” Cute. I’ll probably display the license plate in some fashion, but the rest will probably live in a drawer somewhere.
Let’s get to the main event, or the first main event, which is Donatello as The Dark Turtle. Dark Turtle has been on my wish list for a couple of years now. He’s from the same episode of the show as the Triceratons (“Night of the Dark Turtle”) and I just think he looks neat. In the episode, Donatello gets electrocuted and basically becomes a parody of Michael Keaton’s Batman. I’ve always liked the look of the character because the costume is a great Batman knock-off and the character looks really interesting because the artists cheat with him. They basically give Donatello a superhero-type body and ignore the fact that he’s a turtle. He still has the rear shell hidden under his cape, but the torso where the plastron should be just looks like a muscular dude bod. It makes no sense, but it looks cool.
NECA’s approach to the figure is basically the same as the artists who designed the character. They didn’t just take their existing turtle body and re-paint it, they actually did a new torso. If they reused it from another figure, I can’t easily tell, though most of the figures in the line also feature an overlay of some kind so maybe this body is underneath another piece of plastic somewhere on my shelf. Either way, it looks cool. He looks very close to the character in the show. He might be a little more squat and chunky, but essentially looks the part. His face is sporting a yelling expression, but it’s also the same engineering used in the Turtles in Disguise set so you can swap his mouth piece out in favor of another expression if you have that set. The costume is done in a gray with shading on the sides and rear and I love how the belt and chest insignia came out. Best of all, the cape is wired so this guy can really hit some dramatic poses. He looks great and whatever corners may have been cut for a Loot Crate release do not come through in the quality department.
The paint job on The Dark Turtle looks pretty nice. The main color is gray, and NECA shaded it slightly differently from other figures as they included it on the sides of the torso. I wish they continued it just a little further and under the pectorals, but what they have here adds some nice definition to the figure. On the arms and legs, it’s more of the same with light gray on the front and dark on the back. There’s plenty of line work throughout the figure and the trim of the gloves and boots features some purple, a nice touch since this is Donatello, after all. I love how the belt came out which features three holstered turtle bombs that are probably glued on. The cape is pinned into his chest via the insignia on the front and it too is likely glue down. The cowl on the head is cast in black and the eyes are painted. Lastly, we have the cape which is black on the outside and purple on the inside. It’s all quite neat and clean and the only blemish on mine is a little black mark on the stomach. If I can get a magic eraser in there I might be able to take it off. I think he turned out well though and NECA didn’t take any shortcuts with the costume in making it screen accurate which is nice to see.
The cuts they did have to take will come through in the accessories. That’s been the case for all of the figures released this way and Dark Turtle is no different. He comes with gripping hands in the box, but also has a right pointing hand, and left open hand. Unlike the mouth, you can’t technically use hands from other sets with this figure because he wears black gloves. I think it’s a bummer they just didn’t give us a set of fists, a set of open hands, and maybe one pointing hand. Tossing in an already tooled accessory like a hand adds minimal cost, but obviously it wasn’t a cost NECA was willing to absorb. Dark Turtle does at least come with one accessory, his turtle smoke bomb. It’s a newly tooled accessory, so that’s cool, and it’s well-painted. It would have been nice to get another Turtle Hook accessory, but I wasn’t expecting one and I definitely wasn’t expecting a tooled version of Dark Turtle’s unique grappling hook.
Dark Turtle is mostly reuse from the other turtles, and as a result largely moves the same. The head is still on a double-ball and the base of the neck articulates as well. He can look up and down just fine with plenty of nuance posing available as well. The shoulders are just ball-hinged and he can raise his arms out to the side, rotate, and so forth until he hits the rear shell. The left shoulder hinge on mine is pretty stuck and I haven’t been able to get much movement out of it, which is a bummer. There’s a biceps swivel after that and the elbows are still single-hinged with rotation and they bend pretty close to 90 degrees. At the wrist we have swivels and horizontal hinges. The torso is the big change as we have this big diaphragm joint. It feels like a ball peg, but we get some twist and tilt plus a little crunch forward, but not a lot. There’s basically no rear movement because of the shell, but it’s cool to have something here for a change on a turtle. At the waist, there’s a twist, but you get less than you do with the standard turtles because he’s wearing a black “diaper” piece. The hips are ball and socket joints and he can nearly do a full split. He kicks forward just fine, though not back due to the shell. There is a thigh pivot and the knees are double-jointed and bend past 90. At the ankles, we have the hinge and rocker combination that works well. He’s pretty decent for this line, and technically a little better than most since he does have some posing in the chest, but it’s so limited that it’s hardly worth celebrating. I just wish mine didn’t have the frozen shoulder joint. I’ve tried hot water, but I don’t want to risk breaking it so I might just have to live with it as-is.
The last thing I want to talk about with Dark Turtle is the face-swapping. Just like the other turtles from the Turtles in Disguise set, Dark Turtle’s mouth can separate from the top of the head so you can mix and match expressions. The top piece even features a little tab on the rear to cover the cut-out for the bandana knots on the mouth pieces. He comes with a yelling expression, but he looks good with basically all of the other mouths. He’s always going to be frowning so any smile gives him a real sinister vibe. This figure is done in a matte style, so the glossy first-run set of the Turtles in Disguise do look a bit jarring on him. I have since picked up a matte version and I like the look of those much better. Also of note, the mouth on Dark Turtle is a newly tooled piece. The prior yell mouths NECA did were glued together from the top and the seam lines stood out. This one is glued together from the bottom and just looks much cleaner. I didn’t get the style guide four-pack so I don’t know if that change was done there, but it’s nice to see NECA continue to refine their product when the opportunity arises.
That’s a rather positive review of The Dark Turtle, but now lets turn out attention to Scrag. Scrag is an interesting character in that he just appears in the original mini series and then is never heard from again. For me, he was always the most recognizable of Bebop and Rocksteady’s original gang. We even see him before we meet the turtles! In the show, he’s never named and speaks no lines of dialogue. He just joins in on some vandalism and the whole threatening of April before getting experimented on by Shredder. For some reason, Shredder didn’t think much of the rest of Bebop and Rocksteady’s gang and only chose to keep those two. If they were the best that gang had to offer then the others must have been pretty terrible. Scrag is shown on a monitor when Shredder makes a comment to Krang about experimenting on the punks, and when that happens, we see he’s become a bat (some supplemental material even gave him the name Bat Boy). There’s a quick shot later of the punks locked up in a cell, but Scrag’s final appearance comes in the fifth episode (the final of the original mini series) where Shredder uses him to demonstrate a reverse mutation ray which restores his original, human, look. After that, who knows what became of old Scrag? Presumably Shredder didn’t waste more mutagen on him to re-mutate him so he was either disposed of or allowed to leave. Shredder and Krang weren’t really portrayed as killers, so my guess who be they opened a portal and just chucked him somewhere and had a good laugh about it later.
For a figure of Scrag, NECA turned to their Vernon body. We’ve seen that one reused before for Ace Duck and here it’s going serve us well as Scrag. And that’s because it will allow Scrag to be displayed in human or mutated form, but first let’s talk about human Scrag. Scrag stands a bit over 6″ and sports a black trench coat, purple shirt, and blue jeans. The main part of the coat is an overlay, as is the shirt, while the sculpted parts are basically all from Vernon including the neck piece. He has different shoes, which are just all black, and features these silly looking Mickey Mouse styled gloves. The head is the most obvious new piece and he looks pretty damn good. Some have been disappointed that the head-sculpts for this figure appeared to change noticeably from the initial solicitation, but I think both were changed to better reflect the source material. I suppose if you prefer one over the other that’s subjective, but as far as accuracy goes, this head-sculpt looks great. He has his unique hairstyle with hot pink painted on top and black on the underside plus his recognizable shades which feature one, continuous, lens, surrounded by a yellow frame. The only room for criticism I find with this guy is that just by virtue of sharing a body with Vernon he’s not exactly an impressive, physical, specimen. Scrag probably would have benefitted from some more mass, but the coat helps and I’m not surprised they went in this direction.
The paint on Scrag is less ambitious than what we saw with Dark Turtle, but still looks solid. The coat is all one color, save for the little logo on the chest that looks like a Pokémon, which is black so NECA didn’t bother shading it. And since it covers the shirt, they didn’t shade that either. There is shading on the pants with blue on the front and a dark blue on the back, but that’s it. The head is painted very clean though and there’s still plenty of painted black linework to be found on this guy. The white gloves are painted, but also appear to be cast in white plastic and they look fine, but will also transfer some of that white paint to anything he holds which is a bummer. I normally talk about accessories separately, but for the bat head I will say the paint looks awesome on it. There’s some nice linework inside the ears and his nose and teeth are painted cleanly. The frames of his glasses have a little gray sneaking onto them so that could have been cleaner, but it is what it is. It’s a tough spot and if it came out perfect I would be praising it, but since it didn’t, I have to mention it even if it’s understandable for this type of figure.
The articulation on Scrag is basically the same as Vernon only now we have a big overcoat to contend with. Both heads on this guy are pretty tight on the neck, but the base of the neck is articulated so I don’t have much trouble getting him to look up and down or rotate. And at least with it being tight, the front of the throat stays in-line with the chin on the un-mutated head. The shoulders are ball-hinged and oddly they’re very “clicky,” almost like they’re ratcheted. Maybe that was to help keep them in place since people will be tugging on the forearms to swap out parts? I don’t know, but by being this way it means you lose some nuance as the arm moves from click-to-click. They raise out to the side just fine and the elbows are the goofy NECA double-elbows with two swivels and two hinges, but they look okay on jacketed figures. The forearm rotates where it meets the sleeve and at the wrist the hands rotate and hinge in and out. There’s a diaphragm joint in this guy, but the overlay makes it useless. The waist rotates on a ball so you do get some nuance posing there as well. The hips are ball and socket joints and, like Vernon, are looser than I would like. He seems to stand better than either Vernon I have, but any wide stance would probably start to slide on its own after awhile. There is a slight thigh twist and the knees are double-jointed. The feet peg into the legs so you do get rotation, but it was very tight on mine. I only know it’s there because my figure’s toes were not in-line with the knees so I had to rotate them into place which took some force. After that though they move quite freely so I must have just needed to break up some paint. The ankles also hinge and rock side-to-side.
Scrag moves as expected. There’s some room for more dynamic shots, but mostly he’s just going to stand around and try to look intimidating on your shelf. To help him do so he comes with a pair of weapons. Up first is a mallet. To my surprise, it’s not a repeat of the mallet that came with Casey Jones. I don’t know if it will show up somewhere else, but it looks fine. The handle is just a light brown while the head is sculpted to resemble an actual mallet, as opposed to just a rectangular cube, and it’s fine. The hands will likely transfer paint onto it though if you’re not careful. The other weapon is a revolver. It’s surprisingly not the same as the one that came with Ace Duck and it’s painted gray with a dark gray handle and some black linework. To wield these he has a right trigger finger hand and a left gripping hand. The trigger finger is subtle enough that it can work as just a gripping hand with the mallet. Both are hard plastic though and to get the weapons into his hands as clean as possible you may want to heat them up first. Especially if you want the trigger finger in the proper spot on the revolver. I plan to heat that hand to get the revolver on then just leave it.
Lastly, Scrag has his optional bat parts. I already mentioned that the head is well-sculpted and pretty well-painted, so I don’t have much to add there. The forearms have fur sculpted onto them so they’re not just gray and the cuffs of the gloves are sculpted on as well so they’re not just taken from Vernon. The hands are these somewhat relaxed gripping hands which is a bit of an odd choice. You can swap the hands between the two sets of forearms, which is why I would have preferred something more dramatic, I suppose, for the bat arms. Or maybe just fists? These wide hands can’t hold either weapon, but I suppose could hold some of the stuff Bebop and Rocksteady came with in the Premonition of a Premutation four-pack. I’d try a spray paint can, but I don’t want the white paint to transfer. As far as swapping the parts goes, only the right arm was easy on mine. Getting the left arm off was easy, but the bat arm didn’t want to go on (and taking off is no picnic either). I had to heat that up. The head also didn’t want to come off so I heated that as well. I probably could have forced the issue, but I was afraid of the head coming off of the neck joint which would have been a pain to correct for. The hot water worked fine though and ultimately I’m not sure how I want to display this guy. I think his human form will work a little better in my display since he can go with the pre-mutated Bebop and Rocksteady. I also think the human form looks just a little bit better as the bat head sits really low on the shoulders. It doesn’t look bad or anything, but another half-centimeter on the neck might have helped.
As is the case with all of these Loot Crates, how much you like this one will largely depend on how you feel about the included action figures. And in this case, I think we may have received the best ones yet. Dark Turtle was a figure high on my wants list and I think he turned out awesome. Scrag is another figure I wanted because he’s never had a figure before and he has a memorable look and he turned out just fine. And the fact that both came with this crate makes it feel like a good value. Of course, that part is purely subjective. Each crate costs 50 bucks so if you want to you can rationalize it as paying 25 each for Scrag and Dark Turtle, which is below MSRP these days at retail. On the other hand, you had to buy the other 3 crates too to get Scrag so it’s more like the price for that figure is spread amongst the others. Again, it’s all in how you want to rationalize it for yourself. The other stuff included really adds little or no value for me. I said I’m likely to display the vanity plate, but had that been sold separately it’s not something I would have purchased. Ultimately, we got two new figures for the toon line and I’m pretty happy with them.
That leaves one crate outstanding. The supposed crate #2 features Armaggon and is video game themed. We know the figure has been done for months and I believe even Randy at NECA confirmed it’s on US soil as well so something else is holding it up. My hope is it gets shipped soon so we can put this Loot Crate nonsense behind us. It sounds like there’s very little enthusiasm on NECA’s part to continue with this release model, but nothing has been confirmed. NECA has even shown off prototypes for the rest of Bebop and Rocksteady’s gang so we know they’re on the way, we just don’t know how NECA plans to release them. The very fact that they’ve been shown is a good indicator that they won’t have anything to do with Loot Crate so that’s a plus. Hopefully they’re not part of this NFT garbage the company recently unveiled through Walmart as that is a non-starter for me thus far. Whenever that crate gets shipped though, rest assured I will be here to tell you all about it.
As the toyline and cartoon series started to go long, Playmates Toys turned to other ideas to keep the good times rolling on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Long thought to just be some quick fad, the turtles outlived all expectations into the 90s spawning multiple films and video games and a cartoon series that would total nearly 200 episodes. Such longevity was basically unheard of for such a blatant kid’s property and I have to think some of it is due to the creativity of Playmates. There were lots of variants of the turtles starting with different costumes and the introduction of action features into the toyline. Playmates would double-down on wacky variants with some featuring action features, like the sports turtles, or different gimmicks all-together like the beach turtles that could spit water. Talking turtles, mutating turtles, boxing turtles – basically everything was on the table. And when that started to run dry, Playmates turned to another tool: the brand mash-up.
In 1993 Playmates introduced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as Universal Monsters line. It featured Michelangelo as Frankenstein’s monster, Leonardo as The Wolfman, Donatello as Dracula, and Raphael as The Mummy. It was apparently successful enough that Playmates would come back with a second wave the following year. Playmates would also combine TMNT with Star Trek and make an effort to cross-brands with various properties at Lucasfilm including Star Wars and Indiana Jones. In later years, there were other mash-ups with the likes of Ghostbusters and WWE so there is apparently an appetite among TMNT fans to see their favorite heroes combined with various other brands. It’s become a recognizable aspect of the IP to the point that when NECA announced it had acquired the Universal Monsters license basically everyone and their mother started asking “So, are you going to do TMNT X Universal Monsters?”
NECA initially responded to such questions in a non-committal fashion, but it’s now clear that was always on their mind because it didn’t take long for NECA to unveil Raphael as Frankenstein’s Monster. Other reveals, and releases, have followed and NECA’s approach to the famous combination has become clear. It should be noted, that when both NECA and Super7 were awarded a license for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the two individuals most in-charge of the direction of the lines, NECA’s Randy Falk and Super7’s Brian Flynn, got together to get a sense of where each company was going with the line. When NECA said it wanted to do toys based on the cartoons and movies, Super7 was delighted because their aim was to basically re-create the vintage toyline. It could be that gentlemen’s agreement between the two that is the reason why we’re not seeing the same turtle and monster combinations in NECA’s line as Super7 also has a Universal Monsters license and might recreate those old toys. Or, it could simply be NECA’s desire to do their own thing that is driving the creative process with this line.
And that process is to take the designs and likenesses from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film and combine those with the film depictions of the Universal Monsters. It’s a great idea on paper as it takes a realistic depiction of the turtles and combines them with a realistic depiction of the monsters. The past versions of these figures (and Playmates revisited it in the 2012 line) were all cartoon-based and the realistic visual fits NECA’s strong suit when it comes to their Ultimates line of figures. It also opens the door for a version of April to feature the likeness of actress Judith Hoag and if any other human characters are featured it’s assumed they too will feature an actor’s likeness. NECA also seems to have deliberately avoided the past turtle and monster pairings. For the first time Raph got to play Frankenstein, Leonardo is Ygor the Hunchback (a character previously unexplored by Playmates), Donatello will be the Invisible Man, and Michelangelo the Mummy. Splinter is also onboard to play Van Helsing, and April has the distinction of being the only repeat pairing as she is once again the Bride of Frankenstein. More figures are expected and it will be interesting to see if NECA doubles-down on the turtles and gives everyone a repeat release as a different monster. There are certainly plenty of unexplored monsters by NECA and plenty of opportunities for more figures.
Now I personally am not a big fan of the Universal Monsters. I never bought any of the Playmates figures, and I wasn’t sure with this new line. When NECA announced Raph, I did pre-order it immediately, but I would eventually cancel it. I didn’t have an obvious place for it in my collection and I was certainly helped by my favorite turtle, Leonardo, having an unappealing mash-up. I have seen all of the released figures so far in stores and I think they look fantastic for what they’re going for, it just wasn’t something I felt I needed. Until I came across Michelangelo.
I already said I’m not much of a fan of Universal Monsters, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be The Wolfman. That was the only figure I was tempted by back in the 90s since it was my preferred monster with my favorite turtle, but ultimately I decided I could do without. I don’t know where I’d rank The Mummy amongst the other monsters, but definitely more towards the bottom than the top so it’s a bit of a surprise that this is the one figure that moved me to make a purchase. It’s also just a testament of how good it turned out. Taking the 90’s costume for Michelangelo and dirtying it up with a mummy aesthetic is surprisingly brilliant. This figure looks amazing.
For starters, the textures achieved by sculptor Tony Cipriano looks incredible. The many wraps that adorn Mikey look like they could be soft goods to the point that it’s almost jarring to actually handle the figure and feel that they’re made of plastic. The texture of the skin on Mikey’s head has this very dried out and weathered appearance. His lips are cracked, there’s creases in the forehead, and various warts mar the skin. The bandana has a dark wash over it making it appear dirty and old and he has one eye that’s closed, or possibly missing, and another looking off into nowhere. It’s important the face capture an unsettling expression since Michelangelo is typically the comic relief and least threatening of the four turtles. The shell of the figure has more of a wood look to it as it’s washed out. It’s also adorned with various carvings like a couple of turtles, a Foot logo, ninja stars, and what might be a reference to the ooze canister. What’s visible of the plastron on the front is very cracked and weathered, but it’s mostly covered in wraps. The belt has a nice leather look to it with a gold scarab on the buckle. It’s sculpted throughout with more glyphs and weathering and looks terrific. The elbow and knee pads from the film are present and look as good as ever. They look a little bigger and bulkier when compared with the movie releases, but it’s also possible these will be on the Secret of the Ooze figures to come.
Michelangelo looks amazing. I can’t get over how well this figure came out. If this were a 60 dollar boutique release I think I would still be satisfied, but it’s a $36 or $37 figure from Target which is mind blowing. There’s really nothing for me to complain about when it comes to the sculpt and overall look for this figure. What nitpicks I can come up with are basically paint-related. There’s a spot at the top of the wrap on the right thigh where the beige paint bled over to the skin. There’s a little of that down by the knee of the same leg as well. In the hands or around the heel there are small spots where the paint for the wraps was missed, but it’s all in areas that are only noticeable when you’re looking for such things. Since there is a wash on basically every spot of this figure there may be some figures where that’s missed or too heavy. There’s one glyph on the shell that’s missing the wash, but from what I have seen around the web, this is an error on all of the figures. The wraps inside the shell don’t feature a wash, but they’re areas that really aren’t visible unless you’re holding the figure in-hand and really inspecting it. The small paint imperfections seem acceptable to me at this price-point. The only cause for concern I see is that this is a complex figure and paint job so it might suffer from inconsistencies from figure to figure, but that’s not something I can predict with any degree of certainty and it’s personally not something I would be concerned with. Plus, that’s what window boxes are for!
The Mummy is basically known for one pose: a shuffling walk with arms outstretched. Because of that, it would have been reasonable to assume NECA would not prioritize the articulation on this guy, and while NECA definitely does indeed prioritize aesthetic, this figure still moves pretty well. The head is on a double-ball and has good range in basically all directions. The bandana knot just pegs into the head so you can rotate it if need be to help the figure look up. The default head is a little loose fitting on mine, but holds a pose. The neck is independently articulated as well, but mostly just helps the figure look down. The shoulders are ball-hinged and can raise out to the side just fine. The shell is going to get in the way a bit with rotation, but that’s nothing unfamiliar for TMNT fans. There’s no biceps swivel, and instead the figure has NECA’s double-jointed elbows with the hinge and swivel above and below the elbow. Because of the elbow pad, he can just barely bend the arms 90 degrees, but the swivel works fine. The hands swivel and hinge horizontally. At the waist, there is a twist, but it barely does anything. The hips are ball and socket joints and come out to the side for splits, but kick out and to the side when coming forward because of the plastron. The knees are double-jointed, but because of the knee pad, can’t quite hit 90 degrees. There is a swivel above the knee and the thigh also swivels, but just barely. At the ankle we have a hinge and rocker which works fine. It’s basically the same articulation as the movie figures, only with the double elbows. It’s not the thing the figure does best, but if you want your mummy in more “ninja” poses it’s certainly feasible.
You may think a mummy doesn’t need much in the way of accessories, but NECA apparently feels differently. For starters, Mikey comes with three sets of hands: “mummy” pose hands, gripping hands, and fists. The default, mummy, hands are basically posed how one would associate the mummy when it’s walking and reaching out towards a victim. They’re kind of curled and misshapen and since the thumb is under the fingers they can be considered loose, gripping, hands if you wish. As for what he has to hold, we have a set of nunchaku. Only now, the handles are gold-painted ankhs with brown tape around the handles. They have real chains, and there’s a gap on each side of the shell between the belt and shell they can be forced into if you like weapon storage. Mikey also has two pre-posed wraps that can be clipped onto a leg or arm for a little added effect. There’s a giant cobra which has a bendy wire through it that Mikey can hold, or have draped over his shoulders, or just have hanging around nearby. It’s in a hissing pose like it’s ready to strike.
Lastly, we have the best accessory: Mikey’s decaying, alternate, head. An image of a decaying Leonardo mask from the third TMNT movie has been floating around online for years, if not a decade. I believe it originated from an auction and it’s pretty damn hideous. Other images of decaying turtle costumes have followed, but that one is the most memorable and widely seen. Mikey’s alternate head is a clear homage to that one as the lips have been rotted away revealing two rows of big, flat, teeth. The flesh around the eyes has also receded leaving the face wide-eyed and a bit crazy looking. There are also chunks missing from other parts of the head and the bandana tails are a bit more wild looking. I don’t know if you’re supposed to be able to swap the knot between the heads, but as far as I can tell, they just peg into the head so it’s theoretically possible. The alternate head fits a little more snug than the default one and swapping them is pretty painless. It’s really hard to settle on one, though I feel like this alternate head captures a little bit of that Mikey humor inherent in the character and it might be the look I go with.
This figure actually presents a lot of display options. Classic Mummy pose? A Mikey nunchaku pose? Something with the snake? Default head or crazy, rotting, head? I’m planning on making Mikey a Halloween decoration that may live in his box (which I didn’t even talk about, but it’s beautiful) 10 months out of the year so it will be impossible to get all of these display options into one season. Maybe I’ll just need to find a place for him a little out of the way for the rest of the year. If you can’t tell, I love this figure and I absolutely recommend it. I don’t think it’s convinced me to buy the rest of the line, but if they hit clearance maybe I’ll reconsider. I think this guy displays just fine on his own, and if anything I’m more likely to invest in the accessory set for The Mummy than more TMNT x Universal Monsters figures.
This figure was part of the Fall Geek Out event at Target. It was online as well, but I’m guessing that by the time this post goes live it will no longer be available there. This is the one and only Mummy Mike I saw in-store so it doesn’t look like he’s being shipped in the same vast quantities as the Leonardo figure from this line, but I could be wrong. If you missed the Target release, don’t fret. This figure is available to preorder in many of the usual places online and should be showing up in those same places eventually. Hopefully in time for Halloween.
It happens often with children’s programming where someone, somewhere, gets the idea that the show needs an audience surrogate. That is often true of a show where the main cast is older than the target demographic, which was the case with the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. As the name implies, all of the characters are at least teens or older where as the show’s audience was probably something like ages 4-10. I don’t know if that’s why we got a character like Zach, but it seems like a pretty safe hypothesis. What kid watching didn’t want to battle the forces of evil alongside their heroes? What would that look like if a random kid from the audience dressed up like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle with stuff they found around the house and ran off to fight crime? Zach is the answer to that question and he’s profoundly lame.
Yes, even when I was a kid, I did not have any affection for Zach, the so-called fifth turtle. He showed up for the first time in the season 3 episode “The Fifth Turtle” and I thought it was preposterous. Sort of how I had a negative opinion of the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang, I felt like I was watching a very serious confrontation when I tuned into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles every afternoon. If it weren’t for the turtles and the events I was seeing on television, Shredder and Krang would be ruling the world! I’m supposed to accept some dumb kid with a hockey stick could render aid to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? I don’t think so.
Unlike my feelings for the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang, my feelings for Zach haven’t exactly softened over the years. He’s a dumb part of a mostly dumb cartoon that I liked as a kid. He was a character I had no intention of ever purchasing, but lo and behold here we are. NECA bundled him with Smash, the leader of the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang, a figure I felt the opposite about. And my collection of toon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures is pretty damn complete so I’m not going to pass on a new character. I’m just going to have to find things about Zach to like.
In truth, the general aesthetic for Zach is not unpleasant. He really does look like a cosplay any kid could come up with. He’s got the bandana, and since he’s not a green-skinned turtle he could go with the color green for his mask, though he’s got a red sweatband over it. To simulate a shell he’s got a green trashcan lid which is about as good as a kid can do there and it’s attached via a belt and also goes over his backpack, which is just plain useful to have. Oddly, he went with a turtleneck for his shirt. Well, the choice of a turtleneck makes perfect sense, it’s that he went with yellow instead of green. Maybe to simulate the plastron of turtles? Also, he’s from a season 3 episode and the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang was already a thing so a green shirt with something on the front would have probably looked too similar. After all, when I was a kid I had a DIY Halloween costume that was a green turtleneck with a plastron crafted out of brown paper bags, which is basically what the CNT Gang rolled with. For pants, Zach’s got olive drab cargo pants which is as good as anything, plus some fashionable red and white sneakers that are pretty similar to the ones Bebop wears. Maybe they shop at the same place?
For the figure, NECA basically nailed it once again. To the top of his head, Zach is about 4.75″ and to the top of his hair around 5.125″ which feels pretty good for the line. I actually wish Baxter Stockman had this kid’s legs. They did a good job of reproducing Zach’s “costume” and even preserved the ability for the figure to wear the backpack with the trashcan lid over it. It’s a little tricky getting it all on, but not too bad and the belt on the trashcan lid feels very sturdy. He’s got his big, goofy, flock of blond hair which survived the transition from 2D to 3D just fine. I like how there’s a sweatband texture to his sweatband and the shirt and pants feature the usual two-tone approach to the paint. In terms of criticisms, I really only have two. For one, his face looks a little too full to be Zach. It’s really distracting because he looks like a kid I used to know. It’s not terrible or anything, it could just be better. Also, the paint on his bandana could be cleaner, though my other main criticism resides with the sneakers. The bottom of the shoe is cast in white, but painted red, so when that paint inevitably flakes off of the hinge it leaves behind white plastic. I hate when NECA does that and it’s something they’ve been better at avoiding of late, but apparently not here.
The aesthetic is good enough, and the articulation is pretty much as expected, though not without its flaws. Zach’s head sits on a little double ball peg and I’m happy to report the peg stays in place when popping off his head, unlike Usagi. He’s got good range there and there isn’t really anything to get in the way, which is nice. There’s no joint at the base of the neck. At the shoulders, we have hinged ball joints and he can raise his arms out just past horizontal, so that’s good. At the elbows, we have the controversial NECA double elbows with a hinged ball joint above and below the elbow. NECA likes these on sleeved arms and they’re okay. The range allows the character to bend past 90 degrees, but it looks awkward. I still prefer this to the single hinge and swivel though. No biceps swivel and the wrists rotate and feature a horizontal hinge. Again, vertical hinges would be better on the gripping hands, but that hasn’t been a priority for NECA. At the waist is a ball-joint that largely lets the figure swivel with little else. The hips are ball and socket joints and Zach can almost do splits, which is enough. He cannot kick back, and kicking forward causes the leg to want to go out to the side because the “diaper” piece gets in the way. There’s a slight thigh twist there and at the knees we have standard double-hinged joints. On my figure they are super gummy to the point where the joiner piece wants to flex as opposed to the hinges actually working. Definitely be very careful as you don’t want to shear that piece. No boot swivel, but the ankles hinge and have an ankle rocker, just be careful if you like that red paint on the hinge.
The articulation is largely acceptable and Zach can do what he needs to do. The only sore spot for me are those knees as they shouldn’t be that gummy. I wish they would use a firmer plastic for the joining piece because what’s there just feels too soft. The range though is pretty standard stuff for this line which is to say it’s adequate, but not impressive, and that’s okay. NECA clearly prioritizes the aesthetic when it comes to this line and I’m more than okay with that.
Zach is one of those figures that comes loaded with accessories. I’m surprised by the volume here especially because Zach appears to be mostly new tooling. He shares hands with the Neutrino men and some of the internals on the torso could be the same as well, but I think that’s it. The only place they saved some money is in some repeat accessories, but even they’re slightly different. Zach has his blue backpack which is a soft plastic that fits over his arms. It unfortunately does not open, but it has a tiny peg on the back of it that is removable and almost will surely be lost by many who own this figure. The peg is removable so that the trashcan lid can plug into it. The belt is glued to the lid and I found sliding it over his legs to be the easiest way to get it on. I don’t think it necessarily needs to plug into the backpack, but it does secure it a little better. I just wish that pack could open.
Zach also has his Turtlecom, one opened and one closed. It has a hole in the bottom of it and a purple, plastic, hose that plugs into it. The other end is intended to plug into the bottom of the backpack because it did that in the show for some reason. If you want that look for Zach on your shelf, definitely plug that sucker into the backpack before putting the trashcan lid on because it’s a pain otherwise. Zach also has a big, blue, diamond that I only vaguely remember from one of his episodes and a shard of a crystal, again, something I only vaguely recall. He also has his hockey stick, which is painted gray and actually is different from the one that came with Casey Jones. He also has an assortment of hands including gripping, fists, open, and an extra right gripping hand. The two right gripping hands appear to be exactly the same. Maybe the factory was supposed to duplicate one of the other Neutrino hands and messed up? Or NECA just tossed in an extra since they’re so small and could potentially be lost. Zach also has a second, mask-less, head and a pair of goggles that can be worn with it. The goggles make him look like Burger King’s Kid Vid, but he was the best member of the BK Kid’s Club so I get why Zach would want to look like him.
Perhaps the oddest accessory is Chrome Dome’s head. It looks just like the head that came with the figure only now there’s a hinged piece on the forehead that can be flipped up to expose some of Chrome Dome’s “guts.” The eyes are also painted differently to indicate that the unit isn’t turned on. There’s also what looks like a jumper cable as there are two, white, alligator clips on each end of a gray-black cord. Unfortunately, the clips do not function and are just frozen in place, but in the episode “Night of the Rogues” Zach was able to hook up to Chrome Dome to reprogram him. You’re basically intended to use the cable with the computer that came with Chrome Dome, though there’s no place to clip it to so you have to just finagle it somehow. The clip can kind of attach to the innards of Chrome Dome’s head, but it’s prone to popping off. The head can also be swapped with the original head if you have the figure. I actually had two Chrome Domes so this was ideal for me. Unfortunately, Chrome Dome’s head probably wasn’t designed to be removed with ease because getting it off sucks. It’s connected via a double-ball peg and I couldn’t get the head to come off with the peg staying in it. It took me awhile to get it out of the head utilizing a couple different sets of pliers and a lot of hot water. As a tip, the old head is hollow so when you get it nice and hot you can basically squeeze it which helped me get the ball-peg out. I was also lucky in that I didn’t necessarily care if I damaged the head since I have two. That crown piece is definitely fragile so be careful. It would have been nice if NECA just included a second dumbbell joint with this one since that would likely cost pennies and save some aggravation. And if you’re thinking of just replacing the old head, note that the hinged piece doesn’t quite sit flush on the head so it’s definitely not seamless, plus the hinge is visible. Neat idea, it’s the execution that could be better.
That was way more words than I ever though I’d devote to a character like Zach, so lets now pivot to his box-mate: Smash. Smash is the leader of the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang and runs the Slash for Cash dojo. He’s depicted here in his CNTG attire which is the same as the goon, minus the paper bag hat. Smash instead feels secure just going with the red bandana and feels no need to cover his face. The body here is largely reused from Burne, which we most recently saw repurposed for human Rocksteady. The torso is definitely different though as Smash is noticeably taller than both. The upper arms are the same, but needed different forearms to account for the elbow pads and wrist straps. The thighs are probably the same as Burne’s, but the lower leg is different since Smash has pants that end above the ankles (he ready for a flood?!). He then has the same style shoes as the goon, but bigger. The head is obviously different and since he’s much bigger, and stockier, than the CNTG goon the overlay is different too so it’s actually surprising how much new tooling is here. I was expecting Smash to be much more in-line with the prior figures.
And it’s good that NECA did that. I felt they should have with Rocksteady because he is just so small. Smash looks much better as a result, though he still has one issue in common and that’s those elbows. The hinge is above the elbow, so it looks stupid and I don’t know why they did it that way since his elbow only bends 90 degrees anyway. Just put the elbow pad where it should be. Aside from that, the aesthetics are solid here. The proportions for this body are still a little odd. I think maybe the head could be smaller or the shoulders broader, but it’s good enough. The paint is nice and clean on my figure with the only area being a little iffy is the mask. Some of the linework could be better there, but it’s still what I would consider good enough as that’s a delicate area. I still really like how this goofy costume turned out and Smash looks great with the rest of the gang.
As for articulation, we already know that isn’t the strong suit of this base figure. Smash does at least one thing better, but for the most part he’s as expected. His head is on a double-ball and works great, no complaints there. The shoulders are ball-hinged and they’re okay. He can’t quite do horizontal, which is a bummer, but rotation is fine and not hindered by the shirt. The aforementioned elbows are not great, they swivel and hinge to about 90 degrees, and I already said what I said about the aesthetic. The wrists rotate and hinge and, again, all of the hinges on the various hands are horizontal hinges which is a bummer. There’s a ball-joint at the waist for swivel and he gets a little tilt in all directions as well. The hips are ball and socket joints and Smash can nearly do a split, but kicking forward and back is not a strength and he only gets a little rotation at the thigh. The knees are double-jointed and can bend past 90 degrees. The feet have the usual hinge and rocker combo and the one thing this figure does better than Burne/Rocksteady is that his feet are big enough to allow for one-footed stances. There are no surprises here, good or bad, so Smash is as expected. He’s not one of the better articulated figures in the line, one could argue he should be better, but it’s not terrible. We pretty much know what we’re getting at this point.
Like his underlings, Smash comes with a variety of weapons at his disposal. For hands, he has fists, gripping, and chop hands. He also has four different melee weapons: a hand axe, a knife, a kama, and a crooked dagger that looks pretty wicked. He also has a grappling hook with a yellow rope attached to it which is pretty neat. There’s also a second head included that features a yelling expression and no mask. It’s nice to have, but I can’t see myself ever using it. Swapping heads is at least easy as the double-ball is buried in that neck and isn’t likely to come out.
The Zach and Smash two-pack ended up being a pretty solid release. It’s a no-brainer if you grabbed the previous set, and if you happen to like Zach well then you have to get him. And if you’re like me and have a dislike for Zach, you can still talk yourself into it given that it’s a pretty well done set. This set is currently hitting Target stores as part of the Fall Geek Out event and should be available online as well. If you’re like me, then you preordered this sucker directly from NECA so no hunting required. Because it was already offered on NECA’s website, it’s unlikely a restock will happen anytime soon so get it now if you want it. I doubt it will be a much in-demand set, but you never know. And for now, this actually closes out the NECA preorders slated to arrive in 2022 for me. It’s kind of a weird feeling to have the year be “over” already. Other figures and sets have been revealed that I assume are coming later this year, but for now, I’m all caught up and it feels odd.