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NECA TMNT “Trouble’s Afoot” Deluxe Foot Soldier

Threatening, but also not.

I’m back after a much needed break, and wouldn’t ya know, I’m back with another NECA toy review from its mega popular line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures! Today’s subject may not be the sexiest release from this line, but it’s one that is still worth talking about. The lowly Foot Soldier from the original TMNT cartoon series was basically just fodder for the turtles to smash, slash, and bash and chew up screen time. As the show moved away from letting the turtles even carve up robots with their weapons, the impact of the Foot was diminished, but they never went away completely. The Foot Soldier is a bit underwhelming on its own, but this deluxe, stand-alone, release, is made even more tame by the fact that it’s essentially a modified re-release of a figure we’ve had for a few years now. That, however, does not make this one the first skip-able release in the growing toon line.

The deluxe Foot Soldier comes in NECA’s Ultimates styled packaging which features a five-panel window box with impressive artwork and photography all over. Like the prior deluxe releases in this line, this one is adorned with f.h.e. inspired artwork to mimic an old VHS release. Titled “Trouble’s Afoot,” this one was handled by artist Dan Elson and very much looks the part as it stokes the flames of nostalgia. These boxes are so hard to toss because they’re so charming, and they do a good job of holding all of the stuff (and there is a lot of stuff with this one) contained in the box. If you’re a mint-in-box collector, then you should be very happy with this release.

I absolutely love the packaging decisions NECA has made with this line.

This Foot Soldier release has been a long time coming. It was originally going to be the first deluxe release, but it was passed over in favor of both Metalhead and Krang to officially be released as #3 in the series. This decision ended up delaying this one for over a year, but few collectors were actually disappointed since the other deluxe releases were far more exciting. And that’s because this figure is largely the same was what was released back in 2017 as part of NECA’s San Diego Comic Con exclusive set. Following that release, Foot Soldiers were released in two-packs with a turtle as part of the first wave of Target exclusives and then again as a dedicated two-pack as part of Wave 2. Following that, special battle damaged variants were included in Wave 3 which featured new torsos, but largely retained everything else. Given NECA already gave us an army builder set and multiple other avenues to acquire Foot, some may have wondered why we would ever need a “deluxe” version, but NECA had an ace up its sleeve in the form of Alpha One.

Yeah, I had to get two.

Somewhat later in the cartoon series, there was an episode called “The Foot Soldiers are Revolting” which featured the super intelligent Alpha One. The Alpha One Foot Soldier looked like a regular Foot Soldier, but with an oversized head that resulted in the metal interior to burst forth from the purple hood. This Foot Soldier lead a rebellion against Shredder that lasted for an episode, and NECA could have just put this guy into another two-pack, but instead chose to release him as a solo effort. This does mean one deluxe Foot Soldier costs a few bucks more than the standard or battle damaged ones (30 bucks compared with the 52 dollar two-pack price), but NECA is hoping collectors will appreciate the packaging and additional accessories, as well as some new engineering.

New Foot vs Old Foot. The differences are subtle, but do exist.

Yes, that’s right, there is a bit more “new” here than some may have realized. NECA is pretty good about making running changes to its figures when a change is warranted. For years, this line has been criticized for joints that are too tight and hips that are prone to breaking. In my experience, I have not had any significant quality control issues with my figures, but that doesn’t mean issues haven’t come up. The Foot I had acquired as part of the box set were pretty stiff and ended up being my least favorite from that particular set, but they didn’t break or anything. This Foot has a re-worked neck joint which is largely done to make it easier to swap heads. It’s possible to swap heads on the original Foot, but the ball in the torso is likely to pop out first as opposed to the second one in the head so it’s not easy, or recommended. The other difference is in the hips which are now simple ball-pegs. The end result is a much looser, and freer, range of motion, but the downside is the looseness makes it a little harder to pose as the figure sometimes wants to just do splits. I ran into a similar issue with the Punk Frogs two-pack, but this is how NECA is doing hips now so I suppose we better get used to it. It’s better than the absurdly tight Bebop and Rocksteady hip joints, but it is disappointing to see one problem solved, only to be replaced by another. The other additional change is in the ankles, so much like the new turtles we got in the disguise four-pack, these Foot have true ankle rockers. Beyond that, the articulation is the same as the previous release. The only other difference is this Foot Soldier is noticeably brighter when it comes to the purple in comparison with the past release. I say “noticeably,” but it’s really only noticeable when you have an old and new figure standing side by side. And even then, you’re not likely to notice if they’re on a shelf.

This really only happens in video games.

Even with the change in hips, this new Foot still stands at roughly six and a half inches which is right in-line with the previous release. Where it is going to distinguish itself beyond the subtle articulation improvements is just in the amount of stuff. This guy comes with six sets of hands: fists, gripping, tighter gripping, trigger finger, relaxed, and a set of “chopping” hands. The plastic used for the hands is nice and pliable, which is necessary because the included accessories seem to range in thickness. Returning from prior releases is the long rifle with a suction cup end on it. The dark gray on this gun is ever so slightly darker than the previous version, but is otherwise the same. There’s a small, white, handgun which has been repeated a few times and the bulbous, blue, rifle from the damaged two-packs returns as well. The gray and orange ninja stars are present, as is the blue and purple mutagen canister. The sword with a yellow and brown hilt that was previously packaged in the SDCC set and with Shredder is included and we get yet another purple communicator, this one features the new Krang and has been released previously. I feel like NECA missed an opportunity to put a sticker of post shower Krang on this one, but oh well.

“You have failed me.”

That’s all of the old stuff, what you probably want to know about is what’s new. Well, one of the guns is a mix of both. The rifle we’ve seen included with the other Foot Soldiers as well as Bebop and Rocksteady makes a return, but with a new purple and gray paint deco. It’s kind of silly, and I don’t know if they were ever colored this way in the show, but I like the end result as it looks like a Foot-specific gun and every soldier should color coordinate with its chosen weapon. We also have a long spear that’s nearly 8″ long. It’s definitely low tech amongst the other weapons, but looks pretty cool in the hands of the Foot. There’s a new sword with a white and gray deco that has a serrated edge. It looks similar to some of the Mirage weapons and is fine. There’s a fan that’s done in a peach and gold color scheme that looks sleek. I can’t recall if it was a special item in the show, or just a fan, but I think it there was one with magical properties? It’s been awhile. There’s a second Foot head with a yellow Foot insignia on the forehead instead of a red one which was basically just a color variation in the show. I know it was present in the Alpha One episode so it makes sense to have it here. There is also a cop hat if you want an Officer Foot. There is, of course, the Alpha One head which looks great and has the same range of motion as the other heads and I suspect it is this head most will choose to display. Lastly, Alpha One has his own, unique, handgun represented as well.

You’re in trouble now, Shredder. Maybe.

That’s a lot, and it’s a bit overwhelming. It feels like NECA is encouraging collectors to get multiples of this release and army build a group of Foot Soldiers with some variety in their arsenal. The only problem is that by buying multiples you double that amount of accessories and it’s just so much! It’s a good problem to have, but NECA probably could have omitted some of the repeat weapons like the old sword, blue rifle, and white handgun. I also wish they had a proper sash on the figure, instead of just a sculpted one, so we could store some of these weapons on the actual figure like the illustration on the box featuring a Foot Soldier with ninja stars in his belt. Instead, you basically have to pick what you like best and just put the rest out of sight. At least I have extra Foot Soldiers to best align my preferred weapons with my display.

Looks like they figured out how to work together, after all.

The Deluxe Foot Soldier is definitely the lesser deluxe release of the three available, and will probably remain so after the next three drop (Mondo Gecko, Muckman, and Krome Dome), but that doesn’t make it worthless. The base figure represents an improvement over what has been released before, and we basically have every accessory under the sun now. The Alpha One head makes this a release to track down on its own as that is a unique character and one likely to remain exclusive to this set. Part of me hopes that NECA does a new Foot Soldier two-pack that’s like a budget release with less accessories, maybe even just hands, so we can make better use of the accessories we have here. That probably won’t happen, but I would not be surprised if these new Foot Soldier bodies are re-released as a standard two-pack with the Wave 2 accessories. Maybe they’ll include the new color scheme on the rifle as well.

Updated display. Maybe slightly irresponsible to add two new Foot Soldiers considering the space limitations already.

Like all of the other cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles releases from NECA, this figure is exclusive to Target stores in the US. International collectors can find these at specialty shops, though all of the international releases seem to be lagging way behind compared with the US ones (I don’t think Canada, for example, has received a release for Krang yet) with the exception of China which has had this guy for about a month (among other upcoming releases). Target isn’t stocking this release, and hasn’t done any online sales for this line in months, so your best bet is to check often and figure out the local rep’s schedule to maximize your chances of finding this release on the shelf. Hopefully with this being a re-release and an army builder, they stick around on shelves longer than usual. Good luck, and don’t feed the scalpers!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Street Scene Diorama

The long-awaited diorama has arrived!

It was early last September that NECA made available for pre-order a redesigned version of their Street Scene diorama tailored specifically to fit-in with the company’s growing assortment of action figures based on the animated series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Fans had been asking for this set for even longer as NECA had been featuring it in its own displays at trade shows for about a year and fans were eager for one of their own. The orders for the diorama were open for two weeks on NECA’s own webstore which meant they were all made to order. A large item such as this wasn’t attractive to a big box retailer like Target where NECA’s toon line of figures is sold exclusively in the United States. Initially, there wasn’t a release date attached to the orders, but NECA would clarify not long after that the company hoped to ship product sometime in Q1 2021. The state of shipping in the world being what it is, Q1 turned to April, to May, to now as the diorama has arrived, though not entirely as expected.

When the diorama was made available to order there was a bit of sticker shock felt by the collecting community. An item like this is always going to be fairly expensive, but fans had a decent gauge of what to expect as this was mostly a re-deco of an existing product that retails for around a hundred bucks. This set, however, was listed at $150 and included a $20 shipping charge meaning it was going to cost collectors roughly $170 to bring this baby home. The increase in price appears mostly to be attributed to the inclusion of a plastic tower on the roof of the diorama as well as some additional paper goods. It was also suggested by NECA that part of the cost increase was attributed to the packaging design which would feature new artwork and photography to distinguish it from the standard diorama sold at retail.

Heeeeeere’s Casey! (and Metalhead)

Well, some things apparently were changed between September and May as the diorama arrived in a plain, brown, box. It’s possible the art didn’t cost out after the orders were placed, or maybe the company scrapped the idea to either get the item to consumers faster or because it just didn’t make much sense. Packaging is nice and all, but how many mint-in-box diorama collectors are out there? There probably are some, but this is an item intended to be opened and displayed alongside the action figures from the line (or any action figures, I suppose) and it’s not really something that will necessarily be attractive to mint-in-box collectors. On the other hand, NECA said one thing, and delivered something else, so anyone angry about it has a right to be. I was always planning on tossing whatever box this came in so I’m not particularly broken up about it. And I sincerely doubt fancy packaging was expected to account for the price difference. It should also be noted, the company previously did a one-off TMNT themed diorama for the movie figures that was priced at $125 which is a better comparison. This is basically that set with more stuff. Is it 25 dollars worth of new stuff? That’s for the consumer to decide. My entirely speculative take on the whole packaging thing though is that NECA had to trim costs on the units and the packaging was the first to go. They only sold around 2,000 of these so the margins are likely small. That doesn’t excuse NECA not informing its customers of the change to the packaging. It’s basically always better to be upfront rather than surprise people with something that isn’t exactly a good surprise. At the end of the day though, a product was listed at a price and consumers were free to ignore it or toss a stack of bills at NECA. I, obviously, enjoy throwing money at NECA.

I hope Foot Soldiers don’t feel pain.

This diorama has been something I’ve really been looking forward to. That’s not because it’s particularly impressive or amazing. It’s just a fancy stand. I was looking forward to it though because my current display needs more room. I have been finagling a display out of my collection on a shelf behind a bar. I had to clear out a bunch of drinkware and liquor bottles to make room for the initial release of 8 figures, which has only grown over the months since the line was launched at retail. I had a hard time sliding the Rat King and Vernon set into it, and the recently released sets were non-starters. I needed to find a new spot for my display, and this set was my excuse to do some re-arranging.

Hiding in plain sight.

The actual diorama is fairly basic. It’s a bunch of plastic panels that snap together to form a stand and backdrop for your action figure display. It’s a three-level display once completed: street, balcony, roof. It’s colored and styled to evoke images of the classic 1980s cartoon series with an almost cream colored brick pattern and a cardboard backdrop featuring the iconic Channel 6 building. The included tower is intended to go on the roof and it was featured in an episode of the cartoon and is the unique item expected to get the most attention. There’s also a manhole cover, fire hydrant, and numerous paper goods dotted with familiar faces and references for anyone who grew up watching the show. It’s also not just a façade as there is room behind the windows to place figures and objects so that you can have a villain lurking in the shadows or maybe place a cowardly camera man to shoot the violence on the streets.

The billboard also serves as an excellent way to cover a flight stand.

The controversial brown box comes in a an outer shipping box. It’s about 27″x14″x6″ so it’s a pretty sizable package. The diorama is designed to be assembled starting from the ground up. The walls basically tab into each other, but forcibly so they’re not going to fall apart. Each front-facing wall features removable components as this is a modular set. There are two blank walls, five windows, and one shutter and you’re free to arrange those however you want. The shutter is non-functional, but the windows are open and there are included window panes that snap into place. The window panes are fingerprint magnets though as well as dust and hair or pet dander and installing them means you can’t have figures reaching out or into the windows, so I didn’t use them. There are also several holes that bricks can peg into. NECA did it this way so you could peg additional accessories basically anywhere.

This corner will haunt me.

I didn’t run into any construction issues until I reached the top. Getting the top level to slide into the roof of the bottom was rather cumbersome and it seems to want to bow out. I was able to get it to a place I was happy with, but the following step was far more annoying. NECA included six support pieces intended to snap under the roof. I don’t see how these add a ton of support, but it didn’t matter since I could not get the pieces to actually fit the peg holes. I wrestled with it for far too long before just ditching them and it seems fine. The rear of the unit also is designed to have the backdrop peg in. You line it up and NECA included some push pins that are meant to hold it on, but all it did was fall for me. And I definitely should have done this on a large surface or floor, and not the shelf, because my backdrop fell and the corner dented which left me momentarily irate. I ditched the pegs and am just relying on good old gravity for the backdrop as my diorama is against a wall so it doesn’t really need to peg in.

A familiar poster.
Ace Duck is apparently far more popular than I realized.

Once the diorama is together there are quite a few accessories that can be added to the display. NECA included a pizza billboard that pegs into either side of the unit and looks pretty cool. There’s a second billboard that is modular in that NECA provided multiple cardboard art pieces so yo can customize your look (I went with Slash for Cash for now), most of which feature a pizza advertisement. There are little lamps that can plug into it too and NECA included a stand so you can either position it on the roof or it can tab into the side of the building. There’s an air conditioner that can peg into virtually anywhere you want it and a bunch of paper goods. There are three wanted posters and four Ace Duck themed posters. The wanted posters should look familiar to anyone who got the cartoon themed Loot Crate as stickers of them were featured there. These ones are a little larger and they feature Mad Dog McMutt, Jersey Red, and Scrag who were all featured in the actual show. I stuck all of them on with some blue sticky tack and they hold fine. I do wish there was a bit more variety though as I don’t think we need four Ace Duck posters. The last two accessories are a fire hydrant and manhole cover. They don’t tab into anything and are just meant to be placed wherever you wish. The manhole cover is a little weird since the street-level portion looks like a sidewalk, but whatever. It also doubles as something a figure could wield so that’s cool.

Sigh…

The main attraction is the large antenna tower that sits on the roof. It’s made of plastic and painted in a two-tone black and gray and looks sharp. There are two pieces that tab into it in the form of an extended antenna on top and a satellite dish that can go on any side. Unfortunately, my dish arrived broken as the center antenna was snapped off. I don’t know why they didn’t make it two pieces that snapped together to prevent damage in shipping, but it is what it is. I know a few other people had the same problem and I reached out to NECA’s customer service about a replacement and received a response that was essentially “we’ll see what we can do.” I don’t really expect anything as this was made to order and I don’t know if they had the foresight to make extras for such an issue. With past made-to-order sets, like Tokka and Rahzar, customers have basically been shit out of luck when running into problems.

One loaded diorama.

The finished diorama accomplishes two goals: it looks great and it provides a lot of room for toys. The unit itself is pretty large measuring around 19″ tall, 13″ deep, and 25″ wide. Factoring in the backdrop brings it to around 27″ tall so you need a fairly large area to display this thing properly. I was able to incorporate every figure I have in the toon line, though the posing had to be kept a bit vanilla to fit them all on. I also positioned the triceratons on either side of the unit and Metalhead, Casey, April, and Vernon are inside the unit. The bottom piece does result in a lot of wasted space as the building has a ton of room inside it. It’s at least a good spot to store extra hands, weapons, heads, and so on and keep them out of sight. It would have been cool if NECA found a way to better utilize that space, maybe with a panel that looks like a smashed wall so you could make it look like a figure is busting out or something. I can see some people adding lighting to make the figures placed behind a window stand out better, though it’s not something I plan to do.

Finally, a play pen for the juvenile Shredder.

The NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Street Scene Diorama largely accomplishes its goal. It’s not without some minor disappointment with the packaging and a broken accessory. I was at least able to glue my piece together so even if NECA doesn’t come through with a replacement (and I will update this entry if they do) I can at least display it and likely only I’ll notice that it’s been glued. I’m actually far more bothered by the damaged corner of the backdrop as that sticks out more to me. The only other real negative is my diorama is basically full! Whatever figure comes next is going to be a challenge to incorporate into the display, but I suppose that’s a good problem to have. I’m sure there will be those who wish they could buy a second, or even third, especially since the non-licensed version doesn’t really fit the look. NECA might one day put this set up for order again, or maybe they’ll re-color the standard version to match the color of this one, just without the accessories. Unfortunately, if you didn’t grab this last year it’s to the secondary market you must go where $150 probably seems pretty cheap now.


NECA TMNT Turtles in Disguise

We got some new turtles on the block!

When NECA started on this journey into the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon it first began with a video game. An adaptation of a video game, to be more precise. The 2016 San Diego Comic Con exclusive contained a four pack of the famous, green, pizza destroyers in a pixel deco. They were the first figures based on the turtles since the 2008 Mirage Studios figures which felt like the start of something special, then quickly came the end. Convention exclusives were the name of the game the following year when those same arcade inspired figures were re-painted in the colors from the now classic cartoon series and released as part of an 8 pack with Shredder, Krang, and some Foot Soldiers. By then, the craze had begun and collectors were paying crazy sums on the after market just to get these limited release figures. Relief finally came in 2019 when NECA was granted the license by Viacom to sell its TMNT products at retail. It’s an odd relationship, and the popularity has not really subsided one bit, but TMNT figures are definitely a lot easier to come by now than they were just a few years ago.

I was one of the lucky ones to get ahold of that 2017 convention exclusive set. I very much liked what I received, but there was no denying that the figures had begun life as something else. Now, it’s possible when NECA sculpted these turtles for release in that arcade pack they always intended on them being cartoon iterations as well, but for me, the sculpt definitely looked more game inspired than show inspired from the start. The colors and weapons and all of the extra stuff was there, but the head-sculpts just never screamed “80s cartoon” to me. Those figures have also aged and since NECA has made strides in the articulation department and as more new figures are added to the toon line the actual turtles start to look more and more average. I still like those initial figures, but I don’t get the same “ripped from the source material” impression from them as I do with Rat King, Splinter, or Casey.

The quarter-scale engineering is coming to the main line!

It was a little over a year ago now that NECA’s director and main public face, Randy Falk, made it know that the company was planning on re-releasing the green machine as a four-pack. It was being promoted as a way to get the turtles into the hands of those who were late to the party or just plain couldn’t find the four at retail. The original plan was to have the set out for Christmas, but the shipping industry being what it is, things changed. We did get a tease though when NECA sent out some retro inspired checklists for their TMNT product designed to resemble the Playmates card-backs of old. They were just digital files, but they contained images for the four new turtles and all were sporting soft goods trench coats and cartoon-inspired face sculpts. It wasn’t long before more images were unveiled and information was passed on to collectors that these turtles would indeed feature the new head-swapping tech being unveiled in the quarter scale line. There was also some new articulation and the set would feature a whole bunch of other stuff. When I initially thought it was just going to be a four-pack with some extra stuff, I wasn’t too interested, but once I saw those images I had to have it!

Regardless of your feelings on the Wave One release, you’re going to want these new turtles.

The Turtles in Disguise four pack finally hit Target stores in April. Retailing for $125, the set is expensive, but not so expensive that it causes any kind of sticker shock, apparently. Sets have been flying off the shelves as quickly as they show up and the auction sites are loaded with listings of people seeking as much as $300 for a set. The initial shipment appears to be just concluded and it was a modest one that appeared to contain just 2 to 3 units and didn’t hit every Target in the country. This has set off a bit of a frenzy, but NECA has assured collectors this is just wave one of three with the third wave expected to include more units than the first two combined. NECA knows people want this set, it is the actual turtles after all, and it appears to be doing everything it can to get as many to retail as possible (which probably had something to do with the delayed release, as well).

In my area, I had zero luck tracking down a set, but then a fellow collector came to my aid on Twitter. A special shout out is reserved for Robert (@drcipherpeaks) who sent this set across the country to me and wouldn’t even accept full payment for the very expensive shipping. A great guy and a true asset to the collector community whom I hope to be able to repay in kind some day. I probably could have held out and scored a set from a later shipment or even via a Target web drop or eventual NECA pre-order, but it’s always nice to have the hunt concluded as soon as possible, so many thanks again to Robert!

I love the artwork NECA commissions for these releases. Art by Dan Elson
Lets set these turtles free!

Like NECA’s deluxe releases in this line, the Turtles in Disguise four pack comes in a box adorned with some delightful f.h.e. inspired artwork. It’s a window box with a flap that conceals the figures inside who are presented in their disguises and with their accessories laid bare. There’s a street theme going on with the interior artwork and there are loads of Easter eggs to find which I won’t spoil. I will say that some of the characters hinted at in this artwork have already been revealed since this was released so it’s fair to assume any other character present in this artwork is sure to follow. It’s also quite big, measuring approximately 19″x 9 1/4″x 3″ so if you’re planning on shipping any of these to some buddies you may have some trouble tracking down an appropriate box. The turtles themselves sit in a tray alongside some of their accessories with a second tray underneath securing the rest of the accessories and many hands included with this set.

Yeah, April, no one will be able to tell they’re turtles if they just wear a hat.

Since it’s the Turtles in Disguise set, it’s probably not surprising to see that the turtles arrives already in their disguises. Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael are all sporting blue pants and beige trench coats and happy expressions. Freeing them from their plastic prisons is actually quite painless as they’re each held in place by a single, plastic, strap that’s easily snipped away. Once out, they stand about 5 and a 1/2″ tall, just like their predecessors, and they should feel quite familiar to anyone who has those wave 1 turtles. The soft goods are done pretty well. The coat is tailored (by Nicole Falk), though not as extravagantly as the Raphael one from the movie line, and contains pockets and a belt to fasten around the waist if you prefer a closed look. Want them to go full flasher, simply pull the strip of fabric out of the buckle and let it all hang out. The collars are very stiff as the turtles usually wore them “popped” to better conceal their appearance in the show. You can push them down though if you prefer, and if you really want them to lay flat you could always get out an iron and go to town. The pants are far more simpler and include an elastic waistband to keep them up. They come with the pants tucked under the rear and front portion of the shell, though if you wanted to you could slide them over the front too. They’re very easy to work with.

Clothes are for suckers!

When you do take these figures out of the box for the first time you will probably want to remove the coats. Even if you intend to display these guys in disguise, removing the coat is still a good idea as you have no idea how the arms are positioned out of the box. Some of mine had the elbow turned all the way around so if I had tried to bend the arm with the coat on it wouldn’t have worked and could have possibly broke. Removing the coat is far trickier than getting the pants on and off. I recommend popping the hands off first to make it a little easier as the coat is tailored to be just big enough to get these on. The only drawback to this strategy is you may cause a wristband to pop off, which happened to my Donatello. They’re just glued on, so it’s not a difficult repair or I could just let whatever hand is in place hold it on. At any rate, I haven’t ripped a jacket yet and I’ve put these things on and taken them off a few times now. Just be patient and try not to force anything and you should be okay.

Take those pants off and celebrate!

Once the disguises have been removed you’re left with four glorious, naked, turtles! Seriously, the disguises draw attention to how naked the turtles are by default. These figures though are almost identical to the previously released figures, but with at least one obvious change. And that’s the head sculpt, which I’ll get into in more detail soon, but let’s just say these sculpts are far more toon accurate than what was released before. The other visual difference rests in the finish as these figures are noticeably glossier than the others. It’s a little bit disappointing because the rest of the line has a very matte look, but it’s not as bad in person as it looks in pictures. The chest and rear of the shell are still quite matte, it’s basically just the green skin that has a shine to it.

Good thing Mikey got a skateboard before his home boy Mondo arrives.

The visual distinctions are not the only differences though as these boys do sport some new articulation. Of the stuff that’s the same, we have a double ball, or barbell, joint at the head and base of the neck. It’s much smoother this time around and the figures have good rotation, tilt, and are capable of looking up and down. At the shoulders are ball-hinges and they were consistently the tightest joints on my set. There is a biceps swivel and another swivel at the elbow with a single hinge. The wrists are on pegs with hinges. All of the figures come with gripping hands by default with Leo and Raph having vertical hinges and Mikey and Donnie horizontal. Inside the shell, there’s a lot going on. There’s a ball joint in the abdomen that affords slight crunch and a little tilt. It also allows for a waist twist and you can turn their legs all the way around if you wish. This articulation is not new, but it’s far more loose than before causing some to think this is actually new articulation, but if you really want to, you can spin the legs on those old turtles too. What is new is below the waist we have the new style of legs. These are on ball pegs and they’re far more stable than before and allow for greater range. They can split, kick forward, and kick back. There is a thigh swivel, though it’s a bit limited. Below that we have double-jointed knees and new ankle articulation. The previous turtles just had ball pegs and weren’t the greatest. Now we have hinges and rocker articulation.

Do you like Choco Puffs (legally distinct from Coco Puffs) on your pizza?
Dinner’s over, time for a story?

These turtles are definitely better articulated than before. It’s a bit subtle, but it’s certainly noticed and appreciated by anyone who likes to open and pose their toys. These guys are all painted, including the joints, so you’ll likely have a breaking in period when first opening them. My set was mostly fine, but every turtle had tight shoulders and elbows. Mikey’s right elbow also has some orange paint slop on it that’s hidden when the arm is straight, but visible when bent. I might try to get that off with a Magic Eraser or just some careful scraping. The only turtle that needed some help was Raph. His right elbow and left shoulder were quite stuck. I submerged him in hot water for a bit and it only helped a little. I was actually able to get the right arm separated at the biceps peg and just let the elbow and forearm sit a little longer submerged in the hot water. At that point I was finally able to get it to move, and having it removed from the shoulder meant I didn’t have to worry about snapping the peg. The left shoulder was more stubborn, and perilous, as it’s hard to put pressure on the shoulder hinge without stressing the biceps, but I got it to go with only some minor terror. Aside from that, my set is pretty free of quality control issues. There’s a few paint imperfections here and there, but nothing out of the ordinary so I certainly feel fortunate in that regard. The only disappointment with the articulation is we’re still waiting for proper double-elbows. It can be done, NECA just apparently hasn’t found a way to do it that it likes.

I’ll let someone else make the head jokes.

All right, lets talk about those new heads! Each turtle has two different “skull tops:” angry eyes and wide open eyes. Each also features the last new piece of articulation at the knot in the bandanna. It’s a simple peg and hinge so you can reposition the “tails” as you wish. It’s a nice addition, and each skull piece has it unlike the quarter scale Raph who needs to swap the knot from each top, though the knot was molded in green and then painted to match each turtle. Like some of the ankle and wrist hinges we saw last year, the paint flakes off almost immediately leaving behind an eyesore. On a knot that’s always behind the figure’s head it’s at least not as big of an issue as an ankle or wrist hinge. The heads though separate below the mask and we have eight mouths which include two of each of the following shapes: neutral, smile, yell, open mouth smile. It’s a great load-out of expressions as they all work really well with each of the eyes. Take the smile and combine it with the wide open eyes and you get yourself a happy, gentle, turtle. Swap in the angry eyes and now you have a cocky smile like the turtles just pulled a fast one on Shredder. It’s a fantastic concept because it opens the door for NECA to do accessory packs down the road to give collectors either more of what’s already here or new mouths and eyes all together. Maybe they do a sewer lair set one day that includes bunk beds? They could offer closed eyes, snoring mouths, or even mask-less heads! A few people may be a little disappointed they can’t replicate the same expression across all four turtles at the same time, but I prefer what NECA did here as I want my guys to have some variety anyway. And these expressions are just so much more toon accurate than what we had before. Just take the open eyes and yell combo which results in a frightened turtle. How many act breaks did we see as kids where the turtles are making a face like that because some new danger was just introduced? When I look at that face I can hear that foreboding music that would always kick in at those moments. And unlike my quarter-scale Raph, I’ve had really no issues with the heads staying together so that’s also a huge plus.

Admittedly, they’re probably less upsetting for a normie without the masks.

And we don’t just have the eight turtle heads to talk about, we also have those creepy masks! Early in the show, April felt the disguise needed to be more convincing so she got the turtles these weird looking rubber masks. They look like a cross between Alfred Hitchcock and Rodney Dangerfield. NECA included four of them in this set and they function as separate heads since getting a mask over those turtle heads would have resulted in something horrible. There are two each of a surprised face and a smiling face. The included hats fit on them really well, even better than they do on the turtle heads, and they’re a smart inclusion. Should NECA ever visit the idea of an accessory pack for the toon line it wouldn’t surprise me to see a few more of these with different expressions. They look great, but I do wonder how many collectors out there will actually display their set this way, unless they buy multiples. Photographers or those who just like to change their display frequently will certainly enjoy them though.

“Hello, my name is…Hughe…Mann…”
If you prefer a more Playmates inspired disguise.

Beyond the disguises, NECA also included a ton of extra stuff. We have a total of eight extra sets of hands included in this thing. The turtles all come with gripping hands, and the extras include four sets of open palms, two sets of thumbs up hands, a set of gripping hands with a wider gap in the fingers for Raph, and a set of pointing fingers which also work well with Raph as a stylized sai grip. It’s a solid assortment, though I might have preferred to swap out two sets of the open hands for two more sets of vertical hinged gripping hands, but it’s a minor quibble. This set is also loaded with pizza as we have two full pies, one of which appears to be sardine and ice cream, and a slice that looks nice and gooey. There’s a skateboard with a nice turtle shell logo in the center, though it’s strangely missing any kind of peg to securely fasten a figure to. There’s a “The Hare and the Tortoise” book which is from the first season and it’s well painted. We also have a massive 80’s boom box which was also featured in the first season (when the turtles wear a more ridiculous disguise that will undoubtedly be immortalized in plastic by NECA eventually) that’s neatly painted. There’s a Weird Pizza hat for Mikey from his short-lived stint as a delivery driver and we’ve also got a Pigeon Pete. He’s just a little lump of plastic, like gerbil Mike and fly Shredder, but he looks cute and he’s a fun inclusion. Lastly, there’s also the weapons of the Ninja Turtles. They’re the same as the original release except that none of Mikey’s ‘chuks can separate from the chain as this set does not include the whirling effect piece. I was kind of hoping NECA would opt to include the sai that came with the Turtles in Time Raph, as I just think they look better, but it’s not a big deal. And if you’re wondering, Raph and Mikey still don’t have holsters for their weapons. You can kind of slip them under the arms, which works better for Raph than Mike, but it’s not show accurate. I wish NECA would just rip-off Bandai and include a swappable belt piece for Mikey so we could have holsters for his nunchuks when we want them.

Now he has the hat to go with the pizza!
It’s easy to forget that the turtles spend just as much time in the cartoon wearing expressions like these as they do looking fearsome.

There’s a lot in this oversized box and a lot of it is good. What’s most important though is we have some new turtles that really capture how they appeared in the vintage cartoon. There are so many different variations of those turtles between the actual show, licensing art, toys, comics, and other sources of artwork so everyone’s concept of that 80s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle aesthetic can vary a bit. This figure line though is based on the show so I want them to look like they came right off of my TV. These new head-sculpts capture the look of the show from Season Two through the show’s main run up until the redesign in Season 7. My preferred look will always be that original opening title turtle with the beak line and saturated colors, but this is great as a general cartoon look. Those NECA originals were fine, but the head-sculpts came from an unknown source. Maybe it was simply a case of them being video game turtles first, maybe it was a bit of homage to the Playmates expressions, or maybe it was just the best attempt at the time. All I know is this is an improvement and if you collect this line then this set is a must have, regardless of whether or not you bought the originals or not.

I can’t overstate how happy I am with these new heads.

NECA’s Turtles in Disguise four-pack is currently exclusive to Target in the United States. I do not know if there are any international plans in the works. I have to assume this set of figures will be made available outside of the US eventually. It will either be this exact set, or maybe special two-packs or something. I think what is happening right now is that NECA knows this is a hot item and it’s prioritizing the retail release in the US because that’s where TMNT is most popular and demand is highest. The second wave of releases for this set should either be underway or soon to be so if you haven’t found one yet, keep checking. And should all three waves come and go, plus the online drop, and you find yourself still without a set of poorly disguised reptiles then worry not, as NECA indicated they will eventually do pre-orders so long as demand is there (and it will assuredly be). I get it though, if you don’t have one now and you’re after it then it can get disheartening, and even infuriating, to see others have better luck or see the many listings on auction sites. The only cure for scalpers is to not feed them so I encourage all collectors to avoid doing so, but at the end of the day, it’s your money and your decision. And if you need help, turn to social media. Find collector groups, hashtags, and trends and see if you can even find some local collectors. With a line this popular, a little help goes a long way. Good luck!

Cowabunga!

NECA TMNT Cartoon Rasputin and Genghis

It begins now: the invasion of the (not so) Punk Frogs!

During Season Two of the classic cartoon, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the world was introduced to the Punk Frogs. Despite their name, there was nothing particularly punk about these mutated amphibians as they all dressed like they were going to a Jimmy Buffett concert. They make a few return appearances in the show, and given that they’re four identical characters save for some color changes, it’s no surprise the characters made the leap to plastic. Oh, actually, only two of them did. Genghis Frog was a 1989 release in the Playmates line of toys and he, more or less, looked like the cartoon version. His skin tone was a deeper green and his shirt blue instead of purple, but he looked the part about as much as any character in the toyline did when compared with the toon version. He did come with a cool tongue gun that never appeared in the show where he instead would wield a rather ordinary axe, but that was par for the course with that line in which the toy designs were often far more imaginative than what would appear in the show. The only other frog to get the toy treatment though was Napolean Bonafrog, who looked nothing like his toon counterpart. The toy turned him into a horny toad or something similar, an odd change, but at least it was a new sculpt.

The Playmates line actually wasn’t big on repaints and parts reuse with the most notable being Slash and Tokka or the toon Shredder which was just a repaint of the original figure. NECA on the other hand? They love it! That’s not intended as a criticism of the company’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure line as the cartoon had a bunch of these style of characters. All four frogs in the show look the same. Their skin is just a different shade of green (like the Playmates turtles, which oddly all shared the same skin tone in the show) and their clothing was colored differently as well to distinguish the four. With the cost of making toys rising across the industry, figures like the frogs become even more desirable as it’s a way to get new characters to market at a smaller cost than some other two-packs in the line. And now, thanks to NECA, the Punk Frogs who never made it to plastic get a new lease on life.

Frogs and stuff.

Initially, I had no plans to purchase this set at retail. I had pre-ordered it through a foreign retailer at only a slight markup so I was content to wait on the frogs. Plus, I’ve been incredibly busy with work this month so I haven’t even had time to hit the stores in search of them. I was only passing through a mall location Target over the weekend to get to a jewelry store for a Mother’s Day gift and there just happened to be one Rasputin and Genghis set hanging out on the shelf. I didn’t hesitate to grab it as I know other collectors in my area are in search of these, so I knew I was going to find a happy home for these guys with no problem. Then I got home and started looking them over. Probably contributing to my interest is the fact that the last NECA two-pack I got was back in January, and eventually my curiosity got the best of me. Worry not, local collectors, for I will have an extra set available at some point this summer, and at least it gives me something to talk about here in May on this blog.

“Sir, you’re clearly a giant frog in human clothes.” “No, I’m not.”

As I alluded to earlier, Genghis and Rasputin are essentially the same figure. With the turtles, NECA used the same body for all four, but gave each a unique head-sculpt. With the frogs, NECA just gave each one the same two head-sculpts to alternate. At least I think that’s what is going to happen as I’m not certain the next two-pack of frogs will feature the same two head-sculpts, but I want to say they do. The frogs stand at about 5 1/4 inches making them just a tick shorter than the original release of the turtles. Since they’re frogs, they’re designed to stand with their knees bent which will make them appear noticeably shorter than their reptilian allies. Genghis is a pale green with a purple shirt that features orange polka dots while Rasputin’s shirt is basically the inverse. Genghis has some fashionable light purple shorts while Rasputin goes with red. Both have the same sculpted necklace and bracelets and bisected paint scheme that this line is known for. Aside from the color differences, the only other physical distinction between the two is the pattern of the freckles on their snout. The paint is used liberally and you’ll probably fine some flaking when you move the joints for the first time. It’s all quite clean though, especially around the eyes, and NECA is once again utilizing soft plastic for the clothing which provides for flexibility when working the articulation. As is the norm for this line, these frogs look pulled right from the cartoon.

You could get some juicy frog legs off of these boys!

NECA always seems to prioritize the look of the figures in this line when it comes to articulation, and these boys are no different. Their head sits below the shoulders as they have that hunched over look in the show which really limits the articulation at the head. It’s on a double ball-joint, but the head sits so low in the chest that it basically can just rotate. At the shoulders, we have ball hinges and the elbows are single-hinged, but do swivel. The hands rotate and have a horizontal hinge. In the chest, there’s a diaphragm joint that provides plenty of twist and a little bit of forward and back, though no tilt really. There’s also a waist joint that provides a swivel. At the hips, we have the new style of joints, but they’re pretty loose on Genghis and super loose on Rasputin. Rasputin can be a challenge to stand as a result as his legs will gradually slide apart. They kick forward and out to the side, but the crotch piece keeps them from going back. The thighs swivel below the shorts and the knees are double-jointed. At the feet, we’ve got the usual hinge and rocker combo.

“Rasputin! You better call them turtle fellas up north!”

The frogs check most of the boxes when it comes to articulation, about the only obvious missing piece is double-jointed elbows. Even with out them, they can achieve a 90 degree bend at the elbow so it’s not a huge loss. Where they feel limited is in the shoulders and hands. The shirt would have seemed to provide cover for a butterfly joint, though that’s something NECA rarely, if ever, utilizes. It’s only worth pointing out because they just feel stiff and Rasputin is an archer who really can’t wield a bow. The other missing item is properly hinged hands. Genghis sports an axe and could really use some vertically hinged hands, but NECA declined to include them. More annoying is that the same hinge would have been more useful for Rasputin, who comes with two sets of gripping hands, neither of which features the proper hinge. The default gripping hands for these figures really should have featured the vertical hinge, which honestly should be the default for most figures, but rarely is. They all wield melee weapons, so it’s a bizarre oversight. NECA seems to always get it right when it comes to Leonardo, but rarely seems to with everyone else. And since we’re talking NECA, stuck joints seem to always be a popular conversation topic. With the frogs, the joints were definitely stiff, in particular the knees and elbows, but nothing too bad. I didn’t need heat for anything and was able to break them in without much fuss.

“Sorry, Genghis, but I don’t know how to use one of them there telephones!”

NECA included in the box basically everything these figures required, and some of which it did not. Each frog features three sets of hands, and since the characters sport different skin-tones, they’re not interchangeable. Genghis has gripping hands, pointing hands, and fists while Rasputin has the same gripping hands, loose gripping hands for using his bow, and a pair of peace sign hands. They also have two heads: one smiling and one that looks concerned or scared. The hands pop in and out pretty easily, but the heads are far more stubborn. Genghis has his battle axe which looks fine and features some sculpted distress marks on the axe head. Rasputin has his bow with quiver and four arrows. Three of the arrows are traditional looking while the fourth has a bomb or something at the end of it that looks like a Bullet Bill from Super Mario Bros. His bow features real string, like the same we saw in the Mirage line, and while it features a spot to knock an arrow it’s quite difficult to find a natural pose with the arrow in position. Plus the string doesn’t seem too durable so it’s probably not wise to actually use it, though if you’re wondering, it does work!

The rest of the accessories include a pair of turtle communicators and pre-mutated frogs. The Turtle-Coms are the same as what we’ve seen released with the other turtles as they’re in the open position and feature blank screens. The little frogs are non-articulated lumps of plastic and most have noticed these boys are quite thick. The final two accessories are a futuristic, laser, bear trap that I think was used by Dirk Savage in the show. You can slide a froggy foot into it or drape it over the non-mutant frogs. It looks cool and might be fun to mess around with. There’s also a disguise which fits over either head-sculpt that’s a hat with novelty glasses and is from the episode where Genghis takes a trip to New York. It’s quite fun and I like how NECA was able to engineer it to just rest on the frog heads without having to click into place. It stays on just fine too and there’s a good chance I’ll display at least one frog with it on at all times.

Now the wait to complete the quartet of frogs has begun!

The Rasputin and Genghis two-pack from NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line is another solid effort from the company. I feel like this is turning into the toyline of B+ releases. They’re remarkably consistent at delivering characters that look the part, but at the same time, there seems to always be something holding each release back just a touch. And often, that something is more of an oversight than anything like the missing vertical hinges on the hands. I would also consider the hips a drawback with my set too, though I don’t know if most are as loose as mine. It’s still a fun set though, despite the few shortcomings, and the base, frog, sculpt is quite charming and certainly looks the part. This set is exclusive to Target and appears to be arriving in solid quantities, about 6 per store, and given that they’re not hugely popular characters they may not be as hard to find as some of the other sets from this line. I found mine in a busy Target on a Saturday, basically a time of day I’d expect to find nothing, so maybe that’s a positive indicator for those hunting this set, or maybe I just happened to walk in 10 minutes after they were put out. There will probably be an online release through Target as well, and NECA has become quite dependable when it comes to making second runs available through its website as a pre-order. Basically, the only figures to not be placed on pre-order so far include the turtles, Casey Jones, and April as I think everything else has been. It’s likely the frogs will be offered there as well eventually, but that’s likely a long ways off from happening meaning delivery is even further away. Collectors can at least be comforted in knowing these are attainable, it just might take some longer than others to get their hands on them.


NECA has acquired the Gargoyles License!

He lives….again! Check out NECA’s Twitter page for more images!

It was announced one week ago in a post timed for midnight on the east coat that toy maker NECA had acquired the licensing rights to produce action figures based on the Disney Afternoon classic Gargoyles! NECA had begun teasing a new intellectual property had been acquired back in January and the only clues provided were that it was a 90s property enjoyed by kids that had yet to experience a revival of any kind. This had heads spinning, including my own, and I nearly made a blog post on the subject itself. The reason I did not is because it started to become apparent that it was indeed Gargoyles. That wasn’t due to anything NECA said, but what it didn’t say as fans tossed ideas at the company’s official Twitter account and the Gargoyles suggestions were left untouched. Gargoyles just also made sense for NECA, who originally made a name for itself in the collector space with its horror themed releases. While not horror, Gargoyles is certainly horror adjacent with its gothic imagery and fright-inducing main cast. It also fit the description provided by NECA perfectly as no one has attempted a modern toyline, even though there’s an obvious fanbase hungry for more, and because there just weren’t a lot of other options. The best non-Gargoyles thing I could come up with was Captain Planet, a certainly remembered franchise, but one I’m not sure has a rabid fanbase. Though with NECA’s recent Defenders of the Earth toyline selling out I suppose it’s hard to figure out just what doesn’t have a fanbase eager for modern toys these days?

The Twitter announcement came with some delightful images of the line’s first figure: Goliath. For Goliath, and likely the line as a whole, NECA took the basic cartoon aesthetic and applied some artistic licensing in bringing the figure to life. He is far more detailed than the character model from the show with realistic (though exaggerated) musculature and textures to his skin and claws. He looks really cool, but it’s understandable that some fans were left wishing he better matched-up with the animated version, since that’s the look most remember. NECA’s approach does remind me of classic toy lines which were often more detailed than the cartoon source for the simple reason that cartoons have to dial down the details in order to keep costs down. This figure, which I’m judging based off pre-release images, looks like Goliath to me so I’m fine with the approach. Should the line find success it wouldn’t shock me to see NECA double-dip and add a toony line, especially as it pumps out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures at a tremendous pace potentially hastening the end of that line.

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And the early returns suggest the line is off to a fantastic start. Preorders opened up the day of the announcement at all of the usual online spaces. They sold well enough that NECA sent out a press release to its retail partners saying it needed to cut-off preorders earlier than expected and set a date for that to take place of April 2nd. It’s possible fans will be able to order Goliath figures past that date as that is the date for retailers to get their orders in. If a retailer like Big Bad Toy Store sees Goliath selling well, it might submit a higher order on that day than what it’s sold, especially since large retailers rarely submit an exact order. It does mean that once places start closing orders following April 2nd, Goliath will be unobtainable until the figure’s official release expected sometime in July. NECA has stated the figure will be sold, and I quote, everywhere so there should be no shortages of places to go toy hunting, but I for one definitely prefer to secure an order early rather than later.

And Goliath will not be the only figure from Gargoyles the company releases. NECA has yet to show off any other figures, but has stated there are five finished and more in development. The company hopes to reveal a new one each month and stagger the release in the same fashion. That means if Goliath is coming our way in July, then figure number two should follow in August, and so on until all five are out. And that certainly has fans speculating who will be among the five to follow in Goliath’s footsteps. The Manhattan Clan from the show included fellow gargoyles Brooklyn, Hudson, Lexington, Broadway, and Bronx. That’s five right there, but I’d be quite shocked if rogue Demona is not part of the initial launch. I’ll even go so far as to say I’ll be surprised if she isn’t number two behind Goliath. There are certainly plenty of other characters for NECA to turn to such as ally Elisa Maza and villains like Xanatos, MacBeth, and The Pack. It’s possible NECA will try to offset the development costs of the tooling intensive gargoyles with humanoid characters that might lend themselves well to parts reuse, either with each other or from other NECA lines.

We can probably expect the original Manhattan Clan to come to plastic, and more!

All that is to say this line could have serious legs. There are a lot of characters from Gargoyles to mine and I suspect NECA will be eager to do some of the clone characters, like Thailog, since they’re just redecos. The tooling in this line looks like it could be costly, but Goliath is being solicited for the extremely reasonable price of $33 in most places. That price gets you an 8″ tall gargoyle with a 16″ wingspan. He has multiple face portraits and extra hands to go along with a book accessory and the ever important jalapeno. The part where NECA will save some money does rest with the accessories as most of these characters require little to none. Hudson brandished a sword while Demona often had some heavy artillery, but the rest were just gargoyles armed with tooth and claw. I am supremely excited for this line though and I just wanted to share that with the world before the preorders close. Fans of Gargoyles have been waiting for something like this for a long time and hopefully it’s the start of a revival of sorts. If it only leads to an extensive toyline though, I’ll be plenty satisfied.

If you want a Goliath figure of your very own, here is a non-exhaustive list of some places where you can do just that (I receive no compensation from these websites if you do choose to order from one of them):

Big Bad Toy Store

Dorkside ToysLowest price of $30, not sure what the shipping charge is.

Entertainment Earth


NECA Quarter Scale TMNT Toon Raph

There he goes, thinking he’s the best turtle once again.

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 I eagerly awaited the following three turtles to complete my display. Following those, I’ve stayed away from the quarter scale largely because it’s expensive and takes up a lot of space. Those figures are over a foot tall and are quite beefy and it’s just more convenient to collect at a smaller scale. When NECA first announced it was going to bring the cartoon turtles to the quarter scale, I initially wasn’t interested. What would I would do with more giant turtles? The first one on the release schedule was Raphael, and I kept my eye on it, but wasn’t really feeling the pull to go for it. Then the figure was delayed from the jam-packed Fall 2020 to Q1 2021 finally arriving when there’s little action in the toy world. Maybe that was the reason for my renewed interest as once I go several weeks to a month without a new toy I get anxious. Seeing reviews online was enough to do me in, and here I am with a quarter scale Raph.

Raph and all of his bigness.

When I say I had little interest in the figure when announced initially, I am mostly referring to Raphael. I did plan to get at least one quarter scale turtle because one of my favorite Christmas presents ever was the Playmates Giant Sized Leonardo. I loved that big-ass turtle and I marveled at the changes made in going from 4″ to 14″. The “pleather” belt, pupils in the eyes, ankle articulation – it all seemed awesome to me at the time, even if by today’s standards that’s still a pretty basic figure. The only negative with that toy was Playmates was too cheap to include two swords. I no longer have that guy, but he was immortalized in a clock my grandfather made for me that he based on that toy and I still have that to this very day. It’s in my son’s room now and if he ever breaks it he’s in some major trouble.

This is an action figure that comes with instructions!

I caved though, and now I have a big, beefy, toon, Raphael on my shelf. I was able to order him from Big Bad Toy Store, which has since sold out, so apparently there are a lot of folks out there who slept on this thing for awhile, only to change their mind once released. I did try to find him locally first, but no comic shops around me seemed to carry him which was a bummer. Even though this is a big figure, I was still taken aback by the sheer size of the box he arrived in. This figure is actually smaller than the movie figures, so I kind of had it in my head to expect small, but there’s just no making a quarter scale figure small.

You have to look at the underside of the box to find the other brothers.

Raphael comes in a window box done up in the same style as the Target releases. NECA originally wanted to do retro packaging, but couldn’t get permission from Playmates to make that happen (which possibly accounted for the delay). There’s some nice photography on the box though demonstrating the product. Hidden on the bottom of the box is the cross-sell with the other three turtles set for release (Donnie is next and should arrive over the summer) and a demonstration of the features of the figure. The main selling point, aside from the aesthetics of a giant turtle, resides in the head. These figures come with two heads, but each head can separate at the bandana to create up to four, distinct, expressions. Not all of the turtles will come with the same pair of mouths, so once all four are collected you should have quite a bit of variety for mixing and matching. It’s a great idea, and it’s one that is also being brought to the 6″ line next month with a deluxe four pack being sold exclusively at Target.

The bigness of this figure means you’re going to see all of my bar stuff in every shot.
Because I know you want to check out what he’s got going on out back.

Extricating Raph from his box requires some work. This is not collector friendly packaging, which is actually liberating to a degree as I didn’t mind destroying it and trashing it when done. Once removed, Raph stands roughly 14″ tall. If you have the series one Raph from the toon line sold at Target, then he should look fairly familiar. The color scheme is basically the same with that olive green skin-tone. NECA uses an even darker green on the backside of the figure and the same is done with the red of the bandana and various pads as you have a bright red on the front and a dark red on the back. There’s some black line work at play to really bring out that cell-shaded look and the shell is a soft brown, as it was in the show, and not deep green like some of the licensing art. The obvious major change is just in the expression on the head. Raph’s default look is that big, happy, open-mouthed, grin. The other head features angry eyes and a yelling mouth while the smaller version of the character has a more neutral expression with gritting teeth. I’ve always felt the headsculpts on the standard turtles from NECA were the weakest aspect of the figures as they’re just not very representative of the cartoon and this is a major improvement.

Gotta go with the angry head when the sais are out.
Unless there’s pizza involved, then happy is the way to go.
This big boy can move around a bit.

The figure may look like a larger version of the standard release, but it’s actually a little different. This turtle is actually packing more articulation than the old one, which was a bit of a surprise. The head is on a double barbell styled joint so it moves inside the head and inside the neck. The neck is also articulated so you get a pretty good range of motion out of the old noggin. The shoulders are still standard ball-hinges and there’s a biceps swivel past that. The elbows though are now double-jointed like his movie counterpart. Also like the movie figures though, the elbow pads limit just how useful those elbow joints are and you’re basically only going to get 90 degrees out of the joints, but it looks better than the smaller one which placed the elbow pad above the joint. And that pad doesn’t just float in the joint either, there’s actually a little ball-peg that it clips onto. I don’t think it’s something you have to necessarily worry about breaking, but maybe just be mindful of it. The wrists still swivel and possess horizontal hinges and the inner shell has some articulation points, but they don’t really function at all because of the shell. At the legs, we have ratchets to help this figure hold his pose since he is quite heavy. The legs can go out to a full split and kick forward pretty far. The front part of the shell is pretty soft so it doesn’t hinder the kick too much, but the rear shell will keep him from kicking back. The knees are double-jointed, but like the elbows, the kneepads will get in the way a bit. I could get past 90 though, so all in all it’s pretty good. There’s a slight swivel at the knee and the ankles have been redone. The smaller figures just had their feet on ball pegs, but now we have true hinges and rockers which is really needed for posing because this guy actually doesn’t have a thigh swivel. I’m pretty surprised by this omission, but I’m guessing it’s for stability reasons. He moves better than he has any right to, and best of all no stuck joints! The only tough ones were the knee joints, but I assume they’re tight for a reason as loose legs would kill this figure. His bandana knot is also now articulated with a hinge, which is cool.

All the stuff. Note I do not have the Turtlecom all the way opened.
Now that Turtlecom is fully opened!

This guy comes with quite a slew of accessories for mixing and matching. Some of these accessories are definitely going to be repeated with the other turtles, like the pair of pizza slices which actually snap together. I suspect once all four are out we’ll have a full pie. The hands are familiar to anyone with the smaller figure: two gripping hands, two pointing hands, and two thumb’s up hands. The gripping hands feature the wider gap between the fingers so Raph can hold his sai with the center blade between them. The pointing hands also function as stylized sai-holding hands, though they don’t fit as neatly as the movie sai and hands. Best of all, the hands are actually quite soft so it’s easy to put accessories in his hands and there’s little risk of paint rub. To go along with these hands, are Raph’s trusty sai which don’t look quite so huge in this scale as they do with the smaller figure. Raph still can’t holster them in a toon-accurate manner, but they fit under his arms when not in use. He also has a Turtlecom that actually opens and closes now. Getting it all the way opened requires a little tug that may seem scary the first time you do it. Once opened, the shell ends are very loose and floppy making it hard for it to hold its shape when actually placed in the figure’s hand. I still think the added gimmick of it actually opening and closing is worth having over the previous method of one static closed Turtlecom and one static open Turtlecom. Lastly, there’s the dripping slice of pizza with the hole through it for placing on Raph’s sai as he does in the original cartoon intro.

The pieces we have to work with.
And the peg they sit on. It’s pretty easy to get his head off, but at the cost of them not staying on very well. It’s definitely one of the hardest things to get right about an action figure with swapping parts.

Of course, we need to talk about that big selling point: the face swapping. Raph’s head comes off very easily, possibly too easily, which is needed to change-up those portraits. The bandana knot just pegs into the back of the head. It’s quite snug, so go easy with it. Separating the top of the head from the bottom isn’t too bad as you can hold it in one hand and push from the bottom inside the head to pop it apart. Once you do that with both heads, you can swap to create expressions. He basically has four: happy, angry, scared, and a sort of wicked expression that is easily my favorite (angry eyes plus the smile). Unfortunately, mixing and matching doesn’t work as well as I had hoped. The two default heads snap together fine, but trying to combine happy eyes and yell or angry eyes and smile does not work as well. The happy and yell combination, which creates a scared Raph, is super tight. It took a lot of effort and repeated attempts to finally get it to snap together. I probably should have got out the head gun, but I did eventually get the thing in place with pure muscle without damaging it. It might seem like an odd choice, but in some respects, this scared face feels the most authentic to me since the turtles do react in a surprised, concerned, and even frightened manner to all kinds of dangers in the show. I might have to go with this look for at least one turtle when all is said and done. The look I was most interested in for Raph, that wicked smile, has a worse issue. It’s too loose! The two pieces will click together, but just the slightest breeze will cause them to come apart. I’d get them together okay, but then once I put the head back on they’d fall apart. It’s frustrating, because the only remedy I can think of is to just glue the pieces together, but that defeats the purpose of the gimmick. Very carefully, I did manage to get the head on and even posed Raph on my shelf with this expression. It’s held, for now, but this doesn’t seem like the type of thing that’s going to get better with time, only worse. Right now, my hope is that one of the other brothers comes with a smiling mouth that works better with Raph’s eyes. It looks like I’ll have to wait awhile though as Donnie appears to come with the yell and a closed mouth, but Leo and Mikey are both shown with big smiles. And maybe once I have a bunch of these guys I’ll be more open to gluing one head together. I’ve seen other reviews that did not have the same complaint, so this could be unique to my set, but I really hope the other figures work better than this one as this is the main selling point of the line, as far as I’m concerned.

Well, that’s no good.
And that’s no better. He’s right to look scared!

The issues I ran into with the expressions definitely put a damper on my enthusiasm for this figure. I do enjoy that he has this big, nice, weighty feel to him and the quality seems to be there as well. As it should be since this figure retails for around $125. He’s shorter than the movie version, but actually feels more substantial. And this is an eye-catching piece with enough posing options that it should be pretty fun to assemble a squad of four. NECA is aiming to release one per quarter and get them all out in 2021. Donnie is next, and we don’t know who will follow him, but eventually I will have my Leonardo! I am also very much looking forward to that four pack and I hope it won’t be a huge chore to acquire it when it’s finally released because these new portraits just work so much better for the source material than the grim ones we got a few years ago.

I’m guessing folks want some comparisons.
Quarter scale Raph and puny, insignificant, Raph.

This bad boy appears to be selling quite well, so if you think this is something you’re going to want then you probably won’t want to wait too long. There will be no restocks, according to NECA, until all four brothers are released and I’m pretty sure they’re looking to do more movie quarter scale figures in 2022 so it could be awhile before Raph is readily available once again. And if you’ve been collecting NECA TMNT, you know how hot it is right now and how crazy the after market can get. The good news is that hot after market means if you buy this guy and decide you don’t have the room or just plain don’t like him you can probably get your money back without too much trouble by flipping him. I do like the look of Raph, and I think I’ll appreciate him even more when I get my toon setup all situated once NECA releases the cartoon diorama it solicited last year. There’s going to be a lot of turtle power added to my house this year.

He’s going to have to chill with the movie figures for now. Hopefully no slight breezes enter my basement to knock his head off.

NECA Ultimate Flasher Gremlin

Here we go!

I’ve had NECA’s Ultimate Flasher Gremlin on my “want” list for awhile now. I grabbed the Ultimate Gizmo last summer, and while he’s fairly limited as an action figure, he is fun to have on display in my home. He has occupied a little section of my knick-knack shelf in the living room area of my house, a spot normally reserved for more “tasteful” decorations. I’ve changed his look up with the seasons and for Christmas he was joined by the Santa Stripe figure that came out last fall. When Christmas came and went though, so did Stripe leaving Gizmo all alone on the shelf. I wanted to pair him with another Gremlin, and it was the Flasher Gremlin that spoke to me the most. He’s ludicrous and comes with a bunch of stuff that makes posing plentiful, I was just hesitant to actually make the purchase. I figured, for once, I’d let it be known that I wanted this thing, but not actually buy it for myself. Christmas came and went, and so did Valentine’s Day, and when the wife decided not to indulge my passion for toys I finally caved. I added the Flasher Gremlin to my display one weekend in February, and I do not regret it one bit.

Both the figure and the packaging should be pretty familiar to collectors at this point.

The Ultimate Flasher Gremlin is based on the many background characters in the film Gremlins. He’s a gremlin in an oversized coat who wants to show the world what he’s packing (which isn’t much, so maybe he should be more bashful). For fans of NECA’s line of figures based on the film, he’s a very familiar release. He comes in the same five-panel window box all of NECA’s ultimate releases come packaged in complete with numerous product shots. All of NECA’s gremlins are basically re-releases of the same figure, but with new accessories. Perhaps that sounds cheap, but in the film most of the gremlins looked the same. There were a few unique ones, like Stripe, but the rest are indistinguishable. And to make the consumer feel like they’re getting their bang for their buck, NECA overloads each release with accessories. There’s basically more stuff here than could be handled by one gremlin, so the point is really to buy a bunch of figures to create your own gremlin horde. I don’t have the space to dedicate to a large Gremlins display, but I certainly see the appeal as this release is basically parts of a flasher, card player, and bar fly.

This guy comes with a lot of stuff.

The actual figure is basically the same as Stripe, but with the standard gremlin head. He’s a little over six inches tall and has plentiful, if not entirely functional, articulation. The sculpt is very impressive which is an especially good thing for a figure that gets re-released over and over. The texture, paint, and personality present in the face are just spot-on to the film. The paint is all clean and the darkness of the figure helps hide a lot of the articulation. The jaw is articulated, and yet you wouldn’t even know at first look because NECA engineered it so well. I’ve seen the prop replicas of the gremlin puppets from the film and honestly they don’t even look as good as what NECA has done. I have to hand it to sculptor Jason Frailey because this guy is awesome and it makes me want to buy more.

He’s so happy to be out of that box!

The gremlin is articulated just like Stripe, but I’ll give you a run-down here if you don’t want to read about the Christmas figure. The head is on a ball joint and can rotate, and independent articulation in the neck allows him to look up, down, and to the side. The ears and jaw are also articulated and it works well to have the ears articulated because it helps with positioning his hat. The shoulders are ball-hinged, but the way the shoulders are sculpted means he can’t lift his arms up all the way, but they rotate fine. There’s a swivel at the single-jointed elbow and rotation at the hands with a hinge. There’s a diaphragm joint that provides for tilt and an ab crunch. The legs have extra articulation to give the gremlin that insect like positioning. There’s a knee hinge, a hinge at the dewclaw, and a hinge at the ankle. Because he’s designed to be in a semi-crouch, it’s not terribly functional, but it looks good and that’s clearly what NECA prioritizes. The feet are rather small and the figure is top heavy given the size of the head and neck relative to the body, so he can be tricky to stand. There are peg holes on the bottoms of the feet if you want to use a simple stand, and there are more robust stands available from NECA and other companies if that’s your preference. I find the articulation does enough to allow the figure to mimic the actual puppets in the film. They were limited as well by the technology of the time and there’s a stiffness to their movements, especially with the excessively long arms.

Smoking is a terrible habit, but damn does he look cool.
Trench 4 life.

With the articulation out of the way, we can talk about what makes this guy fun: the stuff! He comes packaged in a trench coat and that’s the key piece here that makes him a flasher. The coat is similar to the one we saw released with Raphael in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie line, but it’s not the same coat. This one lacks pockets and the liner inside the coat is quite glossy, a necessity for someone trying to get attention. It has an actual belt and if you want to complete the whole flasher gimmick you will need to pull the belt strap out of the buckle to free the beast, so to speak. It’s pretty cool to see every day engineering like a belted coat on such a small scale, though I’m left wishing NECA cheated and made it Velcro for ease of use. He also has a plastic fedora that’s intentionally oversized for his head and just rests on the top of his noggin. There are some grooves in the opening of the hat for his eyebrows and they do a good enough job of keeping the hat in place that you can tilt the head up or down in your pose.

He’s setup for a good night.

Joining the hat are some additional accessories that may or may not complete the look for you. He’s got some black sunglasses that I believe have been released with other Ultimate Gremlin releases. They slip onto his face quite easily and are pretty snug once in place. He also has four, little, cigarettes that you can either wedge between some fingers or stick between his teeth. They’re white, though one of mine is almost translucent and I don’t know if that’s intentional or not, with painted filters and a long bit of ash at the end. It would have been neat if one had less ash and a red tip, but I suppose it wouldn’t be hard to modify one if I wanted to. There’s something extra sleezy about the long tail of ash that suits the character. I am not a smoker, and I find the habit disgusting, but these little cigarettes are really entertaining to me just for the novelty factor and it has me wondering what other figures in my collection I could pair them with. How many figures come with such a thing? Even though this is an adult collectible, it’s still almost shocking in this day and age to find evidence of smoking in a toy. And if smoking wasn’t enough, he also has a mug of beer. The beer is removable and is just a piece of thin plastic filled with air. The foam on the top though is highly detailed to an impressive degree. The only downside to that is it draws attention to the fact that the actual beer is just a flat color as opposed to a translucent, bubbly, form. It’s another re-released accessory from, I want to say the Ultimate Gremlin, but it works well to have extra so you can have empty mugs and full mugs in a larger display.

This is what you cam here for, right?

Pivoting from the flasher persona, there’s also some extra stuff that allows you to create a gambling gremlin or dealer gremlin. There’s a red visor that, like the fedora, just kind of sits on the gremlin’s head. It doesn’t really hook on, that I can see, so it just sits there and looks okay. There’s a hand of playing cards he can hold and a pile of poker chips and cards to plop on a table or something. Intermingled with the chips and cards is popcorn, which naturally makes this guy pair well with any of the gremlins that come with popcorn. If you want your gremlin to be a little more classy there’s a bowtie. It’s a solid ring of black plastic with the tie on it so in order to put it on the figure you need to pop its head off and loop it around the neck. Mine didn’t seem to want to come off so I didn’t push the issue since I have no plans to utilize the bowtie. The neck is pretty substantial on this figure so I don’t think I’d break the figure if I was more determined, but I’ve had some bad luck with figures breaking lately so pardon my reluctance.

It’s his dream to be a world famous ventriloquist.

In the realm of the goofy, this guy also comes with a hand puppet. It appears to be of a bee and I recall it from the film as it’s almost painful to watch the gremlin playing with it amongst spilled beer and soda and the like. That poor puppet probably got all gross. The texture and paint work on it is way better than it needs to be and it really looks like a grimy plush some gremlin has been dragging around all night. To actually use it with the figure, just pop one of the hands off and the puppet pegs in. Also included is a giant mallet, because a mischievous gremlin can always use such a thing. To best utilize the mallet, there’s an extra, gripping, right hand included. I actually couldn’t get the hand to peg into my figure, but I suspect if I were to heat it up then I could get it to go. The hand does get a nice grip on it, so if you want your gremlin to be less flasher and more Itchy and Scratchy, there you go. The gripping hand also works well with the beer mug, though the more relaxed hands the figure comes with work fine too.

I guess Gizmo doesn’t like what he sees.
Or does he?!

That’s a lot of stuff, but ultimately, I’m amused by the flasher gimmick so that’s how he’s going on my shelf complete with hat, beer, sunglasses, and a cigarette dangling from his mouth. And the gimmick works all right. It’s tough to actually get him to grip the edges of his coat, but it can be finagled. Had NECA run a wire though the coat it might have worked a little better, or if belt loops could have been strategically placed to hook onto figure’s fingers. There’s at least enough substance to the coat that it will hang open all by itself, so I think it accomplishes what it set out to do well enough. I love how this guy looks with my Gizmo and he’s a fun figure to have around. I haven’t decided if he gets to occupy the shelf 11 months out of the year, or if I should make him my winter gremlin and swap him out with another for the summer, or whatever. That would require a new purchase though, and while some of the other Gremlins releases are intriguing, none have pushed me to purchase any just yet. For now, this is good enough.

The display, for now.

And now, lets end this review with a series of tasteless pictures featuring characters smoking that should not be!

He wants to be Keith Richards, but Richards wouldn’t be caught dead in ankle warmers.
Maybe not that off-brand for Max.
You’re looking a little green there, buddy. Might be time to cut back.
After a long day fighting monsters, Tommy just needs a minute to unwind.
The mutagen probably already did a number on his life expectancy, so how much can a cigarette really hurt?

TMNT Loot Crate #3 – The Cartoon One!

It’s finally here!

When the second of 3 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed Loot Crates arrived in December it had me thinking that #3 was pretty far off. To my surprise though, the gap between #2 and #3 ended up being less than what was initially forecast had the release schedule held true. And that’s great because the third and final crate in this series was the one I was looking forward to the most because it’s the cartoon themed crate. Crate #1 had a Mirage Studios theme while #2 had a video game theme (there was also a one-off crate before the first one that was movie themed), but Loot Crate chose to save the most anticipated crate for last.

And it’s a big crate!

The cartoon crate, which is based on the original 1987 cartoon series, was probably always going to be the most popular because it’s the cartoon that folks seem to have the most attachment to from a nostalgia point of view. That doesn’t mean it was destined to be the best though. For me, it was my most anticipated because I was in love with the exclusive NECA figure included: Bunny Rocksteady. And if you prepaid for all three crates from the start, you got a bonus figure: Bunny Bebop. At the time, we actually only knew about Bebop who was teased with a silhouette image while we knew Rocksteady would be the figure in the actual crate. It made sense that it too was Rocksteady in an Easter Bunny costume as seen briefly in an episode of the cartoon. It’s just the sort of goofy variant that I enjoy. While a repaint of the Mirage Shredder for crate one was pretty bad ass, it was the bunny boys that sold me on the entire crate subscription.

My view upon opening the crate.

Since this is Loot Crate, the figures are not the only thing featured. We’ll save those for last, but first let’s talk about what else is included. These things, in my opinion, are largely just junk. The stuff isn’t cheaply made or anything, it’s just not practical, for the most part. There’s always a shirt, which is fine, but then an assortment of things like pins and keychains. If you like that stuff, great, I personally do not desire it. Still, Loot Crate has surprised a bit by including a decent tumbler in the first crate and by including the fun television accessory in the second crate, so what’s crate #3 have in store for us?

Oh boy, a coffee mug!

First of all, this crate is huge. It’s much bigger than the other two and I assume that’s mostly due to the fact that it has two figures in it instead of one. It has a sticker on it featuring Bebop and Rocksteady as Easter Eggs. For those who are only getting Rocksteady, I don’t know if they got a smaller crate with a different sticker or if they got the same. As mentioned before, it’s cartoon themed and also apparently Channel 6 themed as well. This is similar to the first crate where a lot of the stuff had a TCRI theme and that logo was repurposed throughout. For this one, Channel 6 appears in three places: in the window box for the bunnies, on a trucker hat, and on a mug. The mug comes in its own box which features the Chanel 6 logo and the same artwork of April we saw on the two-pack release of her figure. It’s kind of an ugly April, but the box for the mug has the same Turtle Van coloring the figures come in along with the Channel 6 blue, white, and red logo. My box was pretty beat up which is unfortunate because I want to display this in-box since my house is full of coffee mugs. The mug itself is your standard mug with the Channel 6 logo. It’s not bad, but I feel like every house has a surplus of mugs and there are better TMNT mugs out there anyway.

For anyone who wants to cosplay as a Channel 6 cameraman.

The Channel 6 trucker hat is pretty basic. It’s just a snapback with the Channel 6 logo on the front. The logo is clean and attractive, but like the mug, I have a ton of baseball hats so I’m probably never going to wear this. I’ve placed it on top of my glass cabinet which contains some of my action figure collection for the time being.

This mug is fine, but it has virtually no chance of unseating my Donald Duck mug pictured in the background.

We also get some pins (you can see them in the first pic of the open crate)! These have been in every crate and this one comes with two pins on the same backboard. One features the baghead of a Crooked Ninja Turtle gang member and it’s kind of funny. The other is the somewhat forgotten mutated form of one of Bebop and Rocksteady’s cohorts, Scrag. He’s the sunglasses wearing, mutant, bat, punk, from the second or third episode of the series. He and the other punks are only shown once on a monitor and never seen again.

A pretty cool Shredder, not consistent with the theme, but cool nonetheless.

Next up, we have a notebook and sticker sheet. The notebook seems pretty thin and small, but it does feature some cool artwork of Shredder on the cover by artist Freddie Williams III. It’s not a depiction of Shredder from the show, but his interpretation of the character. The sticker sheet features a bunch of wanted posters of various gangsters from the show: Don Turtelli, Big Louie, Mr. Big, Mad Dog McMutt, Jersey Red, and human Scrag. These might be fun to incorporate into the cartoon diorama whenever it releases, but at the end of the day, they’re just stickers.

Stickers…cool.
Arrived in time for the figure, so you can match!

Lastly, we have the shirt. I was kind of hoping for another long sleeve shirt, but we get a t-shirt. It’s a yellow Mondo Gecko shirt and it’s designed to just look like Mondo Gecko’s actual t-shirt from the show which was basically the same as the one worn by the vintage Playmates action figure. It’s cool, and I like that they didn’t just put some TMNT licensing art or whatever from the cartoon on a shirt and did something unique.

It’s been a long wait, but it’s finally over!

All right, let’s get to the bunnies! These guys arrived in the same crate, but packaged in their own window box which largely resembles the packaging for the two-packs sold at Target. The backdrop this time is an exterior shot of Channel 6 and there’s product shots on the sides. On the back is a huge cross-sell that would have been up-to-date had it dropped in November (as originally intended), but is now missing the recent Rat King vs Vernon set. Bebop and Rocksteady are essentially the same figure with a different head. This isn’t at all surprising given the costumes they’re sporting and also because their regular release in NECA’s cartoon line was essentially the same figure just with different stuff layered over it. For this release, NECA redid the shoulders to include that tuft of fur on each and also redid the feet so they have oversized, rabbit, feet. The legs are recycled from Leatherhead as he had a smoother sculpt compared with the original Bebop and Rocksteady. The grooves in the wrists where their bracelets were previously have also been filled with white plugs. It’s noticeable up close, but I wouldn’t call it an eyesore. The main torso has been outfitted with a soft, plastic, overlay to simulate the rabbit costume and a cowl has been attached to each head. You could probably get this cowl off if you wanted to, but it’s glued on and who knows what would be left behind. The back of the head has been painted to match the cowl and it’s even possible the sculpts were cut to better fit the cowl. I doubt, for example, Bebop has his mohawk and ponytail. Plus, there’s already an uncovered head with each of the regular figures so why bother?

I love that cross-sell. I wish they would do this on all of their releases rather than just include the four most recent releases.

If you saw my NECA rankings a few weeks ago, then you know I love the Bebop and Rocksteady figures that NECA put out. Much of that love is for the overall aesthetics of those figures because they look ripped from the cartoon. It’s not necessarily for the engineering. Unfortunately, these figures are the same in terms of engineering so prepare yourself for some stuck joints. It’s probably exacerbated by the face that it’s pretty damn cold out too so my boys arrived feeling quite frosty. Considering these are limited release figures, you will want to be extra cautious. If you can stand to do it, maybe even let them just hang out for a day at room temperature before opening. If any joint though is even the slightest bit stuck, take it to a heat source. Be it a heat gun, hairdryer, or simple hot water – it helps. And if you’re like me, you might just do that anyway before attempting to really move anything because cold plastic can snap with little warning. And if these guys snap or break in any way, there’s no guarantee that Loot Crate will be able to replace it. My Bebop also came with a partially broken nose ring. It’s cracked, but not quite all the way through, but cracked enough that there’s a gap. If I could match the paint I could possibly seal it with paint. It’s a bummer, but not a big enough issue for me to seek a replacement or anything, and I doubt one would be available if I did. As long as I don’t mess with it I think it will be fine, but it just makes me a little more nervous about falls so these guys are going on the bottom shelf of my cabinet, for now.

This makes me happy.
Look at those adorable little tails!

When you do get these guys all loosened up, you’ll find their articulation is okay, but maybe not great. The head is on a ball peg and can rotate a bit, but the cowl is going to impede movement. They can’t really look up or down much as a result, but they still have articulated jaws and Bebop’s eyeglasses can flip up to reveal the horror beneath. The shoulders are on ball-hinges and will probably be quite tight. The elbows are double-jointed and the hands just peg in so they rotate and have hinges. There is torso articulation in the diaphragm, at least I assume there is because there was with the original figures. It’s rendered moot because of the way NECA did the costume. They didn’t want to create a new torso, so they made a soft, plastic, shirt of sorts that covers the joint. The hips though are the worst part because these were strangely engineered from the start. They’re a mix of a peg and disc system with ratcheted edges. This makes them hard to work with and also really limited. The figures that came after these boys that used the same base switched to a double-barbell system and it’s bizarre to see that wasn’t carried forward here. The knees though are double-jointed and the feet might be on balls now, but they hinge and rock fairly well.

The busted nose ring makes me sad.
Ok, now I’m happy again!

What it comes down to, is we have two figures that aren’t particularly dynamic, but are certainly far from being statues. What’s important to me is the aesthetic of this ridiculous bunny costume which the articulation doesn’t interfere with. They’re meant to just sort of hang out and look silly, or maybe pose with a gun to emulate what was seen in the actual show. I do wish they used the updated hips and I also wish they had just re-painted the torso so we still had a functional diaphragm joint. That probably would have required at least one, new, sculpted piece if NECA wanted their bellies to protrude like they do here as the base abdomen was absent a potbelly. It’s obvious that the cost of one of these crate figures needs to be under the standard release, so it’s not a surprise, but I can still be a little disappointed by it. What they did do well was paint these guys and match the hinges to the proper base color. Rocksteady, in particular, seems to have denser line work on his face when compared with the first release and he really stands out. I should also note they’re a little bigger than before since they’re using Leatherhead’s legs. I have Bebop at close to seven and a half inches with Rocksteady at an even seven. Once you factor in the ears they creep over eight inches. And I love that their cowls are unique to each and Rocksteady has a bent ear like he did in the show. Both also have little, pink, bunny tails on the rear and overall NECA just nailed the look with hilarious results.

A close-up shot of the accessories.
I prefer guns to the remotes.

What’s an Easter Bunny without a basket? NECA certainly felt it was necessary to include such as each figure comes with a basket full of eggs. It’s the same accessory, but painted different to distinguish the two. I like Bebop’s a little more as his eggs are more colorful, but it’s a sharp, little, accessory. They also come with this remote-like device that Krang outfitted them with. I think it hypnotized people or something, but it basically just looks like an old school TV remote. It’s a tiny piece of plastic that likely didn’t cost much and it’s cool to have. They also come with the same array of hands as before. Each comes with fists in the box, plus a right trigger finger hand, a left gripping hand, and a set of open, stylized, hands. The open hands feature additional pink paint on the palms which is a nice touch. They can hold their baskets with either the open hands or the gripping hands and both gripping hands are suitable for the little remote. Chances are though, you have some extra rifles laying around you can outfit the pair with. I have them with the Triceraton guns for now, but I might switch them to the laser rifle which is a better match for what they were wielding in the cartoon.

Let’s bring in the old figures. You can really see the change in height here.

In the end, this Loot Crate is a lot like the others, which is to say it’s dependent on the action figures contained within. The shirt is something I will wear and I may have a use for the stickers since I did order a cartoon diorama for my display, but other than that I don’t expect to use anything in the crate. The figures though are awesome and the fact that the bonus figure was integrated into this crate makes it an easy pick for best crate in the series. I signed up for the Loot Crate subscription based on that one, single, silhouette, of bunny Bebop and I have not been let down. I very much enjoyed the Shredder as well, and the Shell Shock turtle is at least unique, even if it’s not something I probably would have bought at retail. These two I definitely would have purchased as a two-pack at Target or wherever. NECA’s approach with these figures is to make them fun, but not essential, but for me a goofy variant like this is damn near essential. It harkens back to the days of fun Playmates variants, only this pair actually appeared in the cartoon and wasn’t just made up to sell a toy or promote the invasion of Iraq, or something weird. Hopefully everyone who wanted these guys placed an order, because the after market is the only place to get them now and it’s going to cost you.

“Hey Boss, we brought you some colored eggs!” “I’m surrounded by idiots…”

This concludes the Loot Crate subscription for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but another is surely on the way. When will it be announced? Probably fairly soon. I think this one was announced in early spring 2020, so the next could come around then too. Based on an interview with NECA’s Trevor Zammit via the Fwooshcast on YouTube, it sounds like a batch of four with the same or similar theming is on the way so that means movie, comic, video game, and cartoon. It could change, but that seems like a safe bet. And my mind is already trying to imagine what figures will be included with those crates. It will likely be awhile before we know, but my overall experience with this series was a positive one so I will certainly sign-up again when the time comes.


NECA TMNT Cartoon Rat King vs Vernon

This might not be the mismatch you think it is.

When I last reviewed a NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles two-pack it was the Splinter vs Baxter Stockman set and I referred to it as potentially the last essential set for some. The key word there being “some” as I am not “some” and didn’t consider myself “some” when I wrote that, for there are more essential characters from the venerable cartoon as far as I am concerned. And the list of those remaining starts with the Rat King!

These two come packaged in the same window box we’re used to at this point. We’ve got character likenesses on the front which aren’t from the show, but are probably from the licensing art that Viacom has for the show. Rat King’s likeness looks pretty good though, and Vernon looks fine though it draws attention to the fact that he’s a cowardly sort, but his figure doesn’t depict that. NECA opted for something else which I think most will enjoy more, though. The rear features a cross-sell which just displays previously released figures so if you were hoping for a tease of what’s next you’ll be mistaken. And not to get ahead of myself, but I actually don’t know what’s next. It could be the deluxe Muckman, Mondo Gecko and Kerma, or our first punk frog two-pack. Time will tell.

Hey Vernon, the viewfinder is on the other side of the camera, buddy.

Rat King was cool, to put it simply. Some weird dude living in the sewer with a bunch of rats who has a unique look and speaks with this lethal sounding whisper. That patchwork costume, the double-wrapped face, he was creepy which made him a lot of fun on that old show because I was never creeped out by Shredder, Krang, or really any other villain. Most of that show was full of comic relief types, but Rat King had a different aura about him. He was a bit mysterious and his motives less defined than someone like Shredder. He wasn’t in a ton of episodes, but certainly enough to be memorable.

Look at that smug asshole.

And then we have Vernon. Oh, Vernon, the character you love to hate. Or maybe just hate – I don’t know. He was April’s co-worker and was sometimes behind the camera for on location shooting, but I feel like mostly he was just hanging around the Channel 6 headquarters acting like a dick. He was always telling April she was doing something wrong or going about something in the wrong way. At times he was portrayed like a rival, but mostly he was just a dick, and a cowardly one at that. Because he’s not a real villain or anyone that gets into fights on the regular, some may question the need for a Vernon. For me, he was a character that had a presence on the show, and he was in far more episodes than your garden variety villain. He is essential, for a different reason than someone like Rat King, but essential nonetheless. As is Irma, whom I suspect is not too far off.

Now Rat King vs Vernon? That does seem like a bizarre way to sell a two-pack of action figures on the surface. Mostly though, ignore the presence of the word “versus” and it starts to make sense and certainly the extra accessories for Vernon bring that home. There was an episode of the cartoon where both Irma and Vernon were exposed to mutagen via Rat King which caused the two to mutate. Vernon, a character who really only needs a camera and maybe some extra hands, in his mutated rat form is pretty interesting and since it was only his head and forearms that mutated, it was also really easy to work into this two pack.

“April!”
Get behind the camera, Vernon!

Vernon comes in right around the 6″ mark, actually a little over, and is featured in his classic attire of pink shirt, blue tie, and blue jeans. There’s even that little case on his belt which has an unknown purpose. Today, it makes me think of a cell phone case, but no cell phone in 1988 is going to fit in there. He sports a happy, yet cocky, expression that conveys his dickishness quite well. He comes packaged with gripping hands, but he also comes with these open, expressive, hands and a pointing, right, hand. His main accessory is a big ole Channel 6 camcorder with a big display on the rear. It’s much larger than the handheld that came with April as Vernon’s is the shoulder mounted style. The handle is articulated and can fold up so it looks appropriate when Vernon carries it by the top handle when he’s not shooting. You can kind of finagle it onto his shoulder too with his eye near enough the viewfinder and overall it’s a nice accessory.

“Oh please, sir, let me go!”
“No! What’s happening?!”

The best accessories though are definitely those were-rat pieces. Vernon’s arms detach at the forearm where they’re held on by pegs. His rolled up sleeves are a separate piece of plastic that fit over those pegs and can slide off if you’re not paying attention when prying the arms off, so be careful. Otherwise, they come off easy enough and the were-rat forearms pop right on with minimal fuss. Vernon’s head detaches at the base of the neck which is a little trickier to get off, but not as difficult as I was expecting. Be sure to grab the neck and not the head or else you might just pop the head off by mistake. I’m pretty sure it’s on a ball-peg, so you’re not likely to damage it or anything, but once the head pops off once it may pop off again with less effort which will only make it harder to get the neck off. Getting the rat head on is tougher and you should probably just heat it up before even trying. Once on though it looks great, and Vernon gains some articulation at the jaw too. It’s so fun that I’m torn on how I want to display this guy. I have a little bit more room where my villains are so he’s going there for now, but I see myself swapping back to regular Vernon and pairing him with April down the road.

If I’m being honest, he’s only slightly more intimidating like this.
He’s like Splinter with sideburns.

Articulation wise, Vernon is pretty familiar. He’s very much similar to April, even though I think he’s mostly all new parts. If he shares any parts with another figure in this line, it’s not obvious. His head is on a ball peg and so is the base of his neck so he’s got great range in that area. The shoulders are ball-hinges and he has the same double-jointed elbows as April which utilize a second ball joint above the elbow for a swivel. It’s kind of funky, but on figures with rolled-up sleeves like this it works pretty well. He has a swivel in the forearm thanks to the pegged in joint there plus the usual swivel and hinge at the wrist. His wristwatch is glued on, unlike April’s, so you don’t have to worry about it flying off when swapping hands. There’s probably some articulation in the torso, but his shirt is a soft plastic over a body and it steals any articulation that would be found there. And you really don’t want to mess with the diaphragm anyway since it would put stress on the shirt and possibly cause some cracking. He does have a waist twist and ball-jointed thighs that swivel. He has this rubber, “diaper”, over the crotch for his pants that restricts some of the leg movement, but it’s not too bad considering this is Vernon. He’s still capable of wide stances and such. His knees are double-jointed and you’ve got hinges and rockers at the ankles. Pretty typical, but technically a little more than we’re used to thanks to the forearm swivel. There’s certainly enough and I think he’s capable of plenty of expressive poses, which are aided by the extra parts.

There he is!
You can see a little of the brown paint smudges on the upper, inner, thigh

All right, let’s talk Rat King! I’m pretty impressed by Vernon, more so than I would have ever expected I would be for a Vernon action figure, but my focus is on Rat King. And he looks fantastic. This is the cartoon version of Rat King that I’ve wanted since I was a kid. I never had the Playmates Rat King, even though I wanted him, and I think that has made my desire to have this one all the more enhanced. He looks great though as NECA really nailed the likeness. He’s got this cocky grin with wild eyes and the patchwork nature of his shirt and pants just looks terrific. Again, this guy is mostly new parts because all of the stitching is sculpted in and there just aren’t many human males in this line. It’s basically these two guys, Casey Jones, and Shredder. He stands at about six and a half inches, which feels right for this line. Some characters have been either too short or too tall, but Rat King seems like he’s right on the money.

If you’re going to call yourself Rat King then you definitely need some rats.

The only area where Rat King could have been better is in regards to the paint. The actual paint job is pretty terrific. NECA also cast the hinges in the proper colors so when the paint flakes on those joints it doesn’t leave behind an eyesore. And it’s actually pretty clean, actually impressively so, considering all of the linework on this guy. It’s really just that diaper piece where things aren’t great. Before I even moved him out of the box I noticed paint rub on the back of his legs and inner thigh. It’s on the back of the figure so that’s obviously better than the front, but I have a feeling paint is going to rub off of that rubber crotch piece pretty easily so go easy on the thigh joints. I’ve also seen some people end up with cracking paint on that piece and when it flakes off it leaves behind a flesh color. Now Rat King basically wears rags so it’s probably not the eyesore it would be with another figure to see skin poking through, but I don’t know why they didn’t cast that piece in green to match the paint better. And it’s going to be an eyesore if you end up with a cracking crotch piece.

Bomb’s away!

We might as well talk articulation since it plays into that issue just discussed. Rat King’s head is hunched forward and on a ball-peg so it has the usual range of motion, but the hunch restricts it a touch. He’s got shoulder-hinges and biceps swivels and the stitching pattern goes all through both pieces so it still looks good in almost any position. He has double elbows and the hands rotate and have a hinge on them. He has a diaphragm cut that gives him some fun motion in the torso, though he has these straps going over his body which are a separate piece that you want to be mindful of. I don’t think he has a waist swivel. It didn’t turn and I don’t want to mess up those straps, so I’m going to assume it’s not there. His thighs are ball-jointed and, like I said, you’ll want to treat them gently. That diaper is going to limit how far his legs can move, even more so than Vernon because he’s thinner than Rat King, but my advice is only move him as far as that diaper wants you to and not beyond. There’s give there, and it will move, but you might not like the result. The knees are double-jointed and you’ve got hinges and rockers at the ankles. His articulation is fine. It could be better, and since they already had to sculpt so much new for this guy I wish they just sculpted a new crotch piece so they didn’t need that soft diaper, but he’s okay.

This has got to be Rat King’s ultimate fantasy right here.

For a figure with a lot of new sculpting, it’s actually surprising to see the amount of accessories that are included. For starters, Rat King comes with two, open, stylized hands in the box. He has a set of gripping hands he can swap to and a pointing, right, hand. He also has rats! He kind of needs them and he gets his own rather than sharing a rat with Splinter or something. They’re fun too as NECA gave two of them a curling tail so you can place them on the figure without the need to have peg holes. One fits very well on his shoulder, another can go around a bicep or leg and the third can go on his head or in his hand or something. If you place him on a shelf it’s then pretty easy to just place the rats right on him with little frustration. Rat King comes with his hypnotic flute that fits into his left gripping hand pretty well, less so the right one. He’s also got a bandolier that his soda can grenades fit into. He has two red ones and one blue one and it’s easy to slip over his head and the cans pop in and out easily. The cans also fit into his open hands well and look pretty cool. Lastly, he’s got the same gray cannister of mutagen the rock soldiers came with. He doesn’t need this, but I guess it’s good to have more? – EDIT: It’s actually not the same gray canister that came with Traag and Granitor, it just looks like it. This one can actually separate and there’s some pink ooze inside, so that’s pretty cool. And sneaky.

Here’s some size comparisons for you. Rat King with a turtle and one of the tallest figures in the line, Captain Zarax.
Here’s our dear rat boy with the same.

If it’s not obvious, I’m pretty much over the moon with this set. Both figures turned out well and they’re different from each other and from everything that’s come before so it just adds a little more excitement to the mix. They’re fun to pose with different characters. They can be with the Turtles, Splinter, April, or other bad guys. Vernon as a rat is really dynamic for posing opportunities and placement in a display. I really was tempted to buy two, and if Vernon had been packaged with Irma and she had rat parts too then I probably would have. I didn’t want or need two Rat Kings though, plus I don’t want to hog two sets for myself when they’re still hard to get. And that’s the last negative of the set, these are once again Target exclusives. We saw tremendous volume with Krang and the Splinter vs Baxter set because Target ordered direct from NECA to distribute on their own, rather than via NECA’s independent rep relationship. This set is back to that model so as a collector we’re back to stalking the stores when we know the local rep hits and hope for the best. I got lucky that someone on Twitter who follows me alerted me that the store near my house was just stocked late last Friday and I hauled ass to get there and get a set. If you don’t want to go to a store in the midst of a pandemic, I do not blame you one bit. An online drop at target.com is expected sometime this week which is why I’ve fast-tracked this review so I can get you that information! There is a placeholder page on Target’s website right now (search for NECA Rat King and make sure you select “include out of stock” in the filter to bring it up) and if you have the app you should go to it and turn on notifications. Sometimes those notifications work perfectly, sometimes they don’t, but it’s better than being left in the dark. Good luck out there and don’t feed the scalpers!

Run, girl!

Let’s Rank the NECA Cartoon TMNT Figures!

The collection swells!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He comes packing heat.

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

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

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

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

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

I just prefer my dino aliens to be green.

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

Slash is here and he’s armed!

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

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

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

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

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

“Tonight I dine on turtle soup!”

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

The disciplinarian has arrived.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lets see you get out of this one, Leo.

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

He’s about to say something stupid!

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

Oh I do love this little fly boy!

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

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

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


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