Tag Archives: playmates

Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Metalhead

Let’s get this party started!

This post marks number 800 for this blog! Now, when I hit a nice, round, number like that I usually try to find a special topic of some kind, but also one representative of the content on this blog. Well, we certainly look at a lot of toys on this space, and there have definitely been a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles posts, and I do consider myself a metalhead so why not do a figure review of Super7’s TMNT Ultimates! Wave 3 Metalhead? Now, I’m taking a bit of a gamble in making such a milestone post a figure review. This thing could suck for all I know, but I’ve handled enough figures from this line that I’m reasonably confident that it won’t. Plus, it’s Metalhead, one of my favorite figures from the original Playmates line and one I wish I had held onto (sorry, no comparison shot).

There’s a lot going on with this sculpt.

When it comes to this line, it’s interesting to see the choices Super7 makes in regards to how faithful they want to be to the vintage toy and what they want to change. With Bebop, we saw they elected to pump him up quite a bit so that he towers over the turtles. Metalhead is a robot turtle, and across other mediums he tends to be on the larger side. Super7 though, saw him as a robotic duplicate of the turtles akin to the fifth turtle, so they decided to make him the same size. He’s not the same sculpt as his body is loaded with tiny, technical, bits, but he is the same height, width, and obeys the same proportions. This puts Metalhead at about six inches which means that, despite this being a 7″ scale line, he’s actually shorter than NECA’s cartoon version of the character by nearly an inch. Obviously, these two are not meant to be exactly the same as they’re the same character from two different sources, but it is an interesting comparison.

I had to bring out the flash for this shell.

Metalhead was one of the more detailed sculpts released by Playmates in the original toy line, and the same is true for this version as well. His entire body is covered with grooves, buttons, vents, wires, and rivets. It’s an impressive mold and it also means Super7 had to use a lot more paint than they usually do. The base color for the figure is gray, so every bit of red, black, yellow, silver, and green is painted on. And a lot of the details are quite familiar to me as I look this guy over, especially the little lightning bolts on the forearms and shins. Those were sculpted on the original toy, but unpainted and it’s nice to see them brought to life here. The head still features the light piping which is to say that his eyes and brain are cast in a red, transparent, plastic and the rest of the head is molded around it. Shine a light into the top of his brain and it should filter through the eyes. If you don’t care for this though, Metalhead’s alternate head is exactly the same, but with that feature removed in favor of red paint. Super7 seems to have taken some small liberties with the figure’s legs as there are now tubes connecting the back of the knee to the thigh. I don’t recall how these looked on the old figure, I’m guessing they were there, but part of the sculpt. Here it looks cool, but is a little concerning when it comes to articulation, but we’ll get to that in due time.

“I will crush you, puny robot!”

Of course, the elephant in the room concerns Metalhead’s torso. The original figure was vac metal, a process by which a layer of reflective, metallic, paint is placed over a hard plastic to create a finish akin to chrome. The vac metal is less a paint, and more like a heavy, duty, coating. The problem is, it only adheres to harder plastics like ABS (most toys are a type of PVC) and it’s prone to chipping as it does not possess any sort of give. Super7 opted not to do the chest or shell in vac metal for these reasons. I think, with a little creativity, they could have made it happen if they had really wanted to. The front of the figure’s “shell” is a separate piece so they could have made that removable and given people a vac metal plate to put over it if they so desired. Instead, they just went with a super, metallic, paint job for the torso that’s a very lustrous gold. I am personally not that into vac metal, so I don’t really care. I think this paint job is pretty flashy and I quite like it. Something about how the light rolls across the rear of the shell is very pleasing. It’s so pleasing that I kind of don’t want to put the backpack on him.

Light piping in action! The other head just has red-painted eyes.

If there’s anything to nitpick about the figure’s appearance, beyond the size (I get it, but I do think of Metalhead as being bigger than the turtles), is mainly in just some of the finer details. So much of the character’s sculpt has been painted and brought to life, but the belt is just three colors and most of that is black. The oil can, funnel, and bolts affixed to the belt are unpainted while the grenades are just green. It would have been cool to see some added embellishment there. There’s also the unsightly holes in this figure, one on the rear and two on the chest. They’re to accommodate his backpack accessory, but when that’s not in use you get the holes. Some plugs would have been cool to fill them, or they could have used magnets to hold the pack on. It’s not the end of the world, and I suspect most will use the pack anyway, but it’s just neat when companies go that extra mile.

Robo-chuks and grenades. You can see how the stuck thigh swivels impact how the left kneed is positioned. It’s irksome.

In terms of articulation, Metalhead is basically the same as his organic allies, though the execution is not. Metalhead has a head that sits on the same ball joint and he can pivot up, down, and to the side. The range isn’t spectacular since he has a sculpted neck with no lower neck articulation, but it works all right. At the shoulders, we have ball hinges, but the shape of the shoulder means he really can’t lift his arms out to the side much. He won’t be serving as a “T” for any cheer squads. The elbows are single-hinged, and like the other turtles, the elbow pad won’t let him achieve a 90 degree bend. The wrists rotate and have horizontal hinges. At the hips, he can pivot a bit, but the shell won’t let him spin all the way around or anything. The legs connect via these small, skinny, pegs and below them should be a thigh swivel, but my figure is totally stuck on both legs. I’ve tried heating it, then freezing, to see if that will get it moving, but to no avail. It really stinks because the left leg is rotated inwards a little so his knee isn’t facing forward. He has a swivel at the knee, but you have to be mindful of those hoses on the back because they link the upper and lower leg which really isn’t a smart design. I wish the thigh cut had been repositioned to just above the yellow knee indicator as there is a natural place for it in the sculpt. The other swivel is just too close to the hip and it’s hard to get any real torque without putting pressure on the peg connecting the hip. Below the knee is the standard ankle rocker which works well.

I do really like his tentacle finger.

Metalhead ends up not being the best articulated figure, but he’d have enough if it just worked better. To make up for it though, he has stuff. Like every figure in this line, Metalhead comes with extra hands. He has gripping hands in the package plus a pair of fists and wide gripping hands. I’m not really sure what the wide hands are needed for, but he has them. He also has another right hand which features a tentacle like extension popping out of his index finger. It’s pretty cool looking and something the original toy did not feature. He also has some mechanical nunchuks that clip into his wrist in place of a hand (like the original figure, which I think was the first figure I ever had with swap-able hands). The actual ‘chuks portion can rotate, but not freely like a propeller so it’s more for positioning. Swapping parts is easy, and if anything too easy as they sometimes pop off when just positioning the figure. He also has his pizza oven backpack, since this guy is a party robot. It snaps into his back and the straps plug into the chest. There’s a mini satellite dish that plugs into the top, or you can use the second nunchuk attachment which makes it function like a helicopter. I think this resulted in someone on staff at Super7 saying they mistook the nunchuk that came with the original Playmates toy for a propeller as a kid and wanted to give anyone else who did the same that option with the new toy. Lastly, we have a pair of grenades that Metalhead can toss at his foes. They look just like the ones molded into his belt, so that’s a nice touch, but I wish they could affix to the belt in some way. Or if the backpack could open, now that would have been cool!

You can see how the backpack causes him to lurch forward to stand.
I guess the primary function of this pack is to supply pizza and soda, but according to the bio it has the features of a jukebox, arcade, and can blast Foot Soldiers. That’s quite a bit better than my backpack.

The accessory assortment is solid, though I wish Super7 took more time in painting them. The vintage line was all uniform, so I get that they want to match it, but they provide an unpainted weapons rack with every figure, Metalhead included. Why not add more paint to the rest? The backpack especially could use a little flair on the rear as could the innards of the nunchuk. The grenades don’t even have silver on the handles or pin. They provide these nice, painted, weapons for the turtles, but it seems Super7 shorts every other figure in the line in this area. There’s also the issue of the backpack being quite heavy. Metalhead’s hips aren’t flimsy like Raph’s, but they’re also not strong. His torso might also weigh more than the other turtles because he’s prone to falling backward. Add the backpack and the problem is exacerbated. This is one you’ll need to keep an eye on and you shouldn’t get too ambitious with the posing. It would be a shame if that shell were to scuff or worse. I’m not sure why they didn’t make the backpack hollow, and therefore lighter, but I have a conundrum where I want to display the figure with it on, but it would be a great deal more stable to go without.

And now he can fly!
“Thanks, dude, I needed a pick-me-up!”

These issues with the figure may seem like a classic case of nitpicking, but they all add up to be more problematic than expected. Getting Metalhead to stand is more challenging then it should be, add the backpack and it really becomes an issue. Then when you take away something like a thigh swivel, you’re forced to rely on the other joints to create a strong base. And when you find yourself constantly tinkering with the figure to get him to stand, you end up grabbing the lower leg and forgetting there are hoses behind it and that’s how you end up with a broken toy. Yup, those hoses I pointed out as a potential problem turned out to be just that. The right leg ended up breaking on me, and not from twisting the lower leg too far, but just by my finger wrapping around the leg in just the right (wrong) way, apparently. It’s a very thin, soft, plastic and it won’t take much to break. I have a feeling in ten years when we’re looking back on this line that Metalhead’s tubes will be akin to the old Playmates Krang and the antenna on top of the head that always broke. I ordered this figure through Big Bad Toy Store so I reached out to them (because Super7 asked me to do that first with my Michelangelo issue) to see about an exchange. The stuck thighs already had me frustrated and contemplating an exchange, and the broken coil became the tipping point.

I can’t believe this design choice made it into the final figure.

Metalhead ended up being a more frustrating experience than I expected. He had become the one I was looking forward to the most from Wave 3 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of Ultimates!, and now he’s my most disappointing. It has not been a great start to this wave as I had the ankle issue with Michelangelo so hopefully the last figure I look at (Rocksteady) won’t be more of the same. This follows really no issues with waves 1 and 2 for me beyond stiff or loose joints, and it’s not causing me to rethink all of the open preorders I have with Super7, but it has taken some of the wind out of my sails.

Hooking the tentacle on a more stable figure has the hidden benefit of helping Metalhead stand.

In the end, maybe Metalhead wasn’t the best choice for my 800th post, but it’s a decision I’ll have to live with. I’ll come back and update this post if I have any success on getting a better Metalhead. Right now, the figure is available in a few places to order, but he won’t last forever since Super7’s model is made-to-order. They’ve relaxed their one and done strategy for this line for both of the first waves, but I wouldn’t count on that going forward. Especially as factory availability remains challenging and shipping from Asia continues to be a problem. I can’t give my full endorsement to this figure as-is, but if you like the look and are okay with the limitations, then you should have enough information to make an informed decision that works for you. I do like the look of this one, and no matter how my interactions with customer service goes, I’m not about to toss him in the trash or anything, but he definitely feels like a “set it and forget it” action figure which is a shame since he has enough stuff that a variety of display options are present. His base just won’t cooperate though, so he gets to be a shiny, golden, idol instead.

Bebop is so big.

UPDATE: I reached out to Big Bad Toy Store, where I bought my Metalhead, about the issues I had with it and they replaced it at no cost to me and without any additional questions. They also let me keep the first one. My new Metalhead arrived a few days later and he’s much better in some ways, and not in others. First of all, all of the joints are free and usable and obviously the wire/hose/coil behind the knee is fine. On the negative side, the hips on the new one seem even more loose than my first one so he’s still no fun to stand. I’m guessing that’s just going to be the reality of this figure where some are tighter than others. There was also some yellow paint slop on the black portion of the knee which was unfortunate. At any rate, he at least looks better because his knee isn’t constantly twisted and I went over the paint slop with a black marker. Because of the performance issues though, I do think Rocksteady is the superior figure in this third wave and I’m still a little disappointed in Metalhead, but I feel better about this one at least. And hats off to Big Bad, I’ll definitely continue to turn to them for my action figure needs.


What I Want from Super7’s TMNT Ultimates! Line

The year 2020 will forever be linked with the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic that has stretched on into 2021 and may very well continue into 2022 at this point. The greatest tragedy of the pandemic is obviously the millions of lives lost to the virus, and I don’t want anyone to forget that the lives lost far surpasses the inconveniences we’re currently dealing with. One of those inconveniences just happens to be a global shipping crisis. When the virus first ravaged China, it causes factories and ports to shut down. Since many consumer goods are manufactured in China, that lead to shortages across the world and things have been slow to come back. Now, many factories are at least operational, but the ports have a huge backlog. Some companies are pointing the finger at the few shipping companies in operation and accusing them of unfair practices and price gouging as the cost to ship a container across the Pacific has exploded. This doesn’t figure to be something that will resolve itself anytime soon either, and some are already cautioning the American public that the holiday shopping season won’t look like seasons from years past.

One industry affected by all of this is the toy industry. Most plastic toys are manufactured in China or Hong Kong and have been affected by the factory closings and shipping situation. Release dates in 2021 have practically lost all meaning as a result and a March release became an April release, became a Q3 release, and so on. One company hit by all of this has been Super7. Super7’s business model is essentially to put a line of action figures up on their site for a one month preorder. When that month concludes, the company places a factory order for the amount of presales (plus extra for quality control and to sell at their physical store) and eventually consumers have something in their hands in roughly 8-10 months. The idea is to put a wave for their various lines up for sale every 4 months, so that by the time the first wave is shipping the third wave is available for pre-order. This model has been blown up though, and one line affected has been Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The first wave of TMNT figures from Super7 started rolling out last August and into September. Wave 2 followed in December/January and Wave 3 was expected around May. Well, delays pushed things back further into Q2 2021 and then the shipping industry struck. Up until just last week, Super7 was still waiting for the container holding some of the figures for this line to be unloaded at the port. They had the turtle from this wave, Michelangelo, in their warehouse nearly two months ago, but not the rest. It’s something that likely frustrates all parties involved since the product is there, ready to go, but still out of reach. Some retailers, like Big Bad Toy Store, managed to get some of their stock before Super7, which is unheard of. They didn’t get everything though, and many collectors are still waiting. It was actually last night that I finally saw someone post that Super7 is shipping their set of figures so at least the long wait for some is about to end.

As for me, I’m still waiting with no end in sight. I only ordered 3 of the 4 figures in the wave and I ordered them from Big Bad Toy Store. The store prioritized complete sets of orders before fulfilling a handful of singles and has now stopped fulfilling orders leading me to believe they’re waiting on more. Since I can’t tell you what I think about the likes of Michelangelo and Rocksteady right now, I’ll pivot and do a post I’ve been kicking around in my head for awhile.

If you’re unfamiliar with the line, Super7’s take on TMNT is to recreate the toys made famous by Playmates and realize them with a modern aesthetic and in a 7″ scale. As a result, it’s pretty easy to make a wish list since the figures the company produces will mirror those, for the most part. The company has said it intends to do at least a few figures in the line that Playmates never did (maybe more of the Punk Frogs?), and there are some that are off-limits due to licensing issues. For the most part though, I’m expecting we’ll get most, if not all, of the unique characters from the vintage line and some of the turtle variants. The company has already unveiled 5 waves of figures which cover all of the original 10 figures and a bunch of the later figures. They’re clearly not focusing on one year over another, so anything is fair game.

So what would I like to see next? Well, I have some thoughts. I’m not all-in on this line as I’m mostly cherry-picking my favorites, but if Super7 were to release any of the following I’d probably buy it.

Slash

I feel like I’m one of the few who actually likes the cartoon Slash, but this is the Slash we need Super7 to adapt.

If you polled collectors about what character they want to see next it would not surprise me in the least if Slash finished in first. The evil, mutant, turtle from Dimension X was taken from the Archie companion comic Mighty Mutanimals where he was actually a good guy. In what quickly became a trend, Playmates and the cartoon would take a Mutanimal and make him evil which apparently annoyed creators Ryan Brown and Stephen Murphy. When the cartoon wanted to make Ray Fillet a villain, they put their foot down which is why we ended up with just Ray, a weird, composite, fish, mutant.

I certainly respect the views of the creators, but unfortunately, evil Slash is my preferred take. Even the good guy version looks like a bad guy, and this guy is begging to be realized in a modern style. Super7 plays fast and loose with the scale so I’m curious how they’ll approach Slash. The vintage figure was quite squat and actually shorter than the hero turtles, but I’d prefer Super7 make him just a touch taller than the good guys. He certainly should be chunkier, and I’m curious if they’ll give him a proper neck or just stick with the vintage approach. I’m also quite curious to see how the company approaches the figure’s spiked nunchaku. They probably can’t do an actual, spiked, chain, so I suspect it will be bendy, molded, plastic, but maybe they surprise me with something more elaborate. I’m also curious if they stick with the solid purple blades on his hands, or do something more metallic. When the company did Shredder, they basically just stuck with the Playmates colors which is partly why I passed so I suspect they’ll treat Slash in a similar fashion. Mostly though, I hope they take their time with the headsculpt and really bring out those teeth. It would be a shame if they stay too true to the original and produce something soft instead.

Triceraton

I forgot about the rat hanging off of his belt, a snack for later? photo: tmnt-ninjaturtles.com

When I was a kid, I had no idea this guy was part of a race of space dinosaurs called Triceratons, and just thought his name was Triceraton. When the cartoon finally got to him I was forced to admit my head-canon was off. I don’t care though as this guy was pretty bad ass looking. And he was a character I frequently paired with Slash as they had a similar aesthetic with their bumpy skin and all together evil appearance. The cartoon Triceratons NECA gave us are pretty cool and true to the source material, but this guy is different. He’s still an orange, bipedal, triceratops with big guns, but he just looks all together meaner and more formidable. I’m also hopeful that Super7 makes this guy big! I’m talking Bebop size! He’d just have a ton of shelf presence with his bright, orange, skin if made at that size. I just hope they give him some more expressive hands as my only gripe with the Bebop figure rests in the static nature of his posture. At least the Triceraton has a snarling facial expression which will help give him a more dynamic feel all by itself.

Monty Moose

Oh Monty, how I pine for thee. Photo: hollywoodheroes.com

I talked about this guy in my Toys that Got Away feature as he was a figure I saw at the store, but couldn’t buy at the time, and then never saw again. I don’t know what it was about Monty Moose that appealed to me. Maybe it was because I grew up in New Hampshire where a moose sighting wasn’t terribly uncommon? Or maybe it was the Canadian Mountie inspired attire that just looked cool to me. Whatever the case, I still think he looks rather unique and this is another figure that would be huge. The newly released Rocksteady has that long snout of a face that forced Super7 to package him him looking off to the side. Monty Moose has a similar visage, but also packs those massive antlers. Turn him to the side and you just create a new problem. He might need special, oversized, packaging to get the job done and I do feel like he’d come in pretty close in size to Bebop and Rocksteady since he is a freakin’ moose!

Space Usagi

Blast-Off Bunny – Hah! Photo: Google

Earlier in this post I mentioned that some figures from the vintage line were off-limits due to licensing issues, and unfortunately that happens to affect Usagi Yojimbo. It wasn’t that long ago that Super7 founder Brian Flynn mentioned in an episode of The Fwooshcast that Usagi was coming and the contract was already signed, but since then things have apparently changed. Either Flynn got a little ahead of himself, or that agreement became null and void thanks to a new Netflix series featuring the samurai rabbit. Basically, anything Usagi is on pause right now which affects both Super7 and NECA who also have not featured the character in their TMNT line. I’m reasonably optimistic that things will get worked out, but there’s no guarantee.

And if they do get worked out, I suspect we’ll see a standard version of Usagi before we see the space one, even though if I had it my way I’d go with the radical space variant first. I guess some folks in the 90s just found space rabbits appealing because I have no idea why Usagi ever needed to go to space. It was pretty gnarly though and I used to pair him with Space Cadet Raph (who is all but assured to be released in Wave 6, 7, or 8) for intergalactic adventures in my bedroom. He had this neat mask molded to his face that kind of made him look like a Star Trek villain, plus a cape and and dome that fit around his ears. He got to pack a gun instead of his boring old katana, and it’s just the type of wacky character the line was known for and one I’d like to see get another shot at life.

Walkabout

Photo: tmnt-ninjaturtles.com

The old Playmates line is incredibly nostalgic for me, and for various reasons. One reason is when I happen to remember getting a specific figure. Even though my grandmother bought me lots of TMNT stuff when I was a kid, I associate her with Walkabout because she and my grandfather gave him to me when they got back from a vacation. Normally, they’d vacation in a place like Mexico and bring me back a sombrero or t-shirt that probably advertised alcohol, but this time I got a turtle toy and I was pretty surprised and excited. The orange kangaroo Walkabout just looked different to me than many of the other toys in the line and there was just something about him that I really liked. Maybe it’s because a kangaroo was just an exotic creature to someone living in the US, maybe I was really enamored with Crocodile Dundee, or maybe I just liked that he had a tail and articulated knees? I don’t know, but if Super7 makes him I’m buying him!

Rat King

There’s a lot of stuff going on with that sculpt. Photo: dallasvintagetoys.com

When I talked about Slash I said I felt he was the character most fans were looking forward to seeing the most. Well, if he has a rival it’s probably Rat King as he’s another classic figure of a now classic character begging to be realized by Super7. Not much distinguishes Rat King from his cartoon appearance, he’s just more detailed and a little more gross. And speaking of gross, how will Super7 sculpt and paint Rat King’s dead cat belt?! There isn’t much Super7 will need to do with this figure, sort of like how it really didn’t have to do too much to Baxter Stockman. Just make him bigger, add some articulation, and paint every last detail that was in that old sculpt. And please, paint the damn accessories! If I have one, lingering, complaint with this line as a whole it’s that the turtles get their weapons painted up all nice and pretty while everyone else largely gets monochrome accessories that aren’t nearly as flashy.

Hothead

Hey Super7, looks like he’d pair well with Samurai Leo… photo: dallasvintagetoys.com

Hothead is a figure I never had as a kid and I don’t ever recall playing with him either. He was a late comer to the line when I was getting pulled in different directions and would eventually devote my meager resources to X-Men. However, I do feel like I missed out on a cool figure in Hothead. I mean, he’s a mutant dragon – what’s cooler than that?! Or should I say what’s hotter than that? Regardless, he has a killer look and a neat feature that allowed his neck to extend. I suspect Super7 would have to include two necks with this guy, which kind of messes things up for them as they like to make the neck just part of the torso sculpt, but would they do this figure any other way? I guess they refrained from making Mutagen Man water-tight so maybe they’d ignore the extending neck feature and just settle on a middle-ground. Honestly, as long as he comes out looking good I’ll be interested, but I hope they come up with something interesting. A fully articulated neck, or bendy neck, would probably be the most extravagant way to go as he’d look so awesome if he could be positioned looking around and such. Ah, I shouldn’t get my hopes up though.

Scale Tail

This guy is just insane, check out his “tail” gunner. Photo: transformerland.com

Another one I never had as a kid is Scale Tail, but I at least had friends who had this guy. He’s just another bonkers sculpt from Playmates and Varner Studios, who handled a lot of the figures in the line. He’s a mutant cobra, but one arm is composed entirely out of snakes while his forked tongue has been outfitted with a forked gun. He’s just ridiculous, and that’s really the only reason why I want to see Super7 tackle him. They’d definitely make him fairly large, not so much in height, but length, and it’s hard to imagine someone coming into a room and seeing that thing on a shelf and not immediately asking about it.

Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles

One of the few left from my personal collection.

Super7 started with the main turtles with each figure anchoring one of the four waves. For the fifth wave, Sewer Samurai Leonardo is the anchor turtle leading most to believe that Super7 will do the rest of the “disguised” turtles across the next 3 waves. Recently, Super7 designer Kyle Wlodyga, during an appearance on The Fwooshcast, indicated that we will eventually see an entire wave of four turtles and my hope is they’ll be the Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles! One of the few figures to survive my purge many years ago is my Classic Rock Leonardo. He looks like Leonardo doing a Springsteen cos-play, and despite my not having any particular affection for the music of Bruce Springsteen, I just happen to like the figure. The leather vest, denim pants, turtle guitar – all solid gold as far as I’m concerned. The rest of the wave was a Rappin’ Mike, Punk Rock Don, and Heavy Metal Raph (more like Hair Metal Raph) which I do not currently own. I think I used to have Mike, but never Don or Raph. If Super7 did all four, I’d at have to consider getting them all, but I’d definitely get Leo to pair with my vintage one. There aren’t many turtle variants that I need to see updated, but these are pretty close.

Sports Turtles

Mikey was the star of the sports series. Photo: Rad Plastic

Behind the Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles in terms of importance to me are the sports turtles. These included the likes of Michelangelo as a pro wrestler, Raph as a baseball player, and Leonardo as a quarterback, among others. I would not need to get all of these guys, but I really liked my vintage baseball Raph for some reason, and Mikey as a wrestler is just a lot of fun. Some of the others included a soccer Raph, basketball Donatello, and hockey Leonardo. Some of them are fairly charming, but definitely not essential (especially at $55 a piece if prices remain steady). Most of the other wacky turtle variants are things I don’t need. I have some nostalgic attachment to a few here and there (like Raph the Magnificent), but even as a kid they were figures I’d be excited to get, play with for a weekend, then retire. Unless they’re interesting visually, they have no appeal for me in a collector line.

That’s about it for me though. If Super7 gets to all of these figures then great, and if not, I guess I’ll have to live without them. I’m not saying I wouldn’t buy figures not listed above, but the rest aren’t figures I’m really rooting for. Some of that has to do with NECA as their cartoon Scumbug and Groundchuck are pretty close to that Playmates aesthetic, and since I’m all in on their toon line, it makes me less likely to get the Super7 offering. Had Super7 got to those characters first, then yeah, I probably end up with them similar to how I ended up with Baxter Stockman. That’s fine though. These things aren’t cheap and I have only so much room in my house to dedicate to toys.

Hopefully, retailers start getting their stock of TMNT Ultimates! Wave 3 and I can tell you how much I love the figures from that line. And hopefully Wave 4 remains on-track for Q4 2021. And hey, maybe some day I’ll be able to tell you what I think of Super7’s Disney Ultimates! which I ordered roughly a year ago. It’s 2021, baby, and release dates don’t mean a thing!


Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Bebop

He don’t get mad, he gets stabby!

This is a big figure. That’s the take-away and the thing any reviewer has to mention when reviewing Super7’s take on the classic warthog from Playmates. Back in ’88, Bebop was bigger than the turtles, but he was also really hunched over to the point where it was like his neck was coming out of his chest. This made sure the figure would fit on the blister card and not break the mold of a line that was just starting out and probably needed to keep costs down as much as possible. With Super7’s line of Ultimates! based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, no such compromise needed to be made. Bebop can be his big, beefy, self and it’s quite a sight to see.

I won’t make you wait for the big comparison shot with the turtles in this line.

The turtles in this line come in at 6″ in height. It’s a 7″ scale line so the turtles are a bit on the short side in this universe. Bebop is definitely the opposite as he comes in at 8″ at the top of his mohawk. More so than the height though is the fact that this guy is chunky! Just picking up the box after handling the Leonardo one drove the point home that there was a lot more plastic in this package than before. It’s a bit awe inspiring to behold this figure as it just so fundamentally changes how one views the character.

It only took the better part of 30 years, but Bebop finally has something he can call a logo all to himself.

Bebop comes packaged in the same window box style we’ve seen with the other releases. Even though he’s much larger than what’s been released so far, he still fits into the same sized box, though he certainly takes up more room in the window. The slipcover that goes over his box is purple, as all of the villains are, and features a Bebop face on a manhole cover on the front with drill bits on either side of his head. It’s a small thing, but I love how each character gets their own logo of sorts for this line.

That’s a tight fit.

This Bebop is, like the other figures in this line, a throwback to the old Playmates toy released in 1988. He’s very similar in terms of sculpting, even though he looks quite different at first glance. That’s due to that old figure having so many sculpted details that were left unpainted. Some may see the knee brace on this figure and struggle to remember if the vintage one had that. And it did, as it did the turtle skeletons and stich pattern pants. By far the biggest benefit to this new scale and approach is Bebop’s red, leather, vest. The texture and the saturation of the paint is just exquisite. It might sound ridiculous, but it was how this jacket looked in promotional shots that got me to buy into this figure. It’s a separate piece of soft plastic that fits over the torso which just adds nice depth to the figure. Especially considering a lot of the other effects are sculpted into the main body. The necklace, bracelets, belt – that’s all sculpted which is in contrast to the more recent NECA offering which went with chains for the belt and bracelet. It gives this figure a bit of a juxtaposition in terms of the presentation as the separate pieces (jacket, shoulder pads) really bring this guy to life while the sculpted-in parts preserve the toy aesthetic of the original.

I don’t know if it sounds stupid, but I’m obsessed with how good this jacket turned out.

The paint job on Bebop also walks that line a bit. There’s a lot of pink utilized on his snout and the underside of his neck. The original figure did feature a pink tint as well, though not to this extent. If it’s too much for you, Super7 did include a second head which is the same as the default one, but without the pink air -brushed on. The hair, shells, and shoes look terrific with their paint app, while the chain bracelet came out a bit chunky. We should probably see some of his flesh through the chains, but it’s just solid gray. The arms and the main body of the figure are just brown plastic and he does have a bit of a shine to him. He’s just so big that when you have something that’s low detail like his arms it really stands out. Maybe a wash or some fur sculpted into him would have improved this. His old, purple, mohawk is now more of a hot pink and it looks like they failed to paint the elastic at the end of his ponytail. It’s not a big deal, but again, with such a big figure everything stands out.

I think this drill gun showed up in the cartoon and it fired a laser, in case you thought it was just a power drill. That would explain why it has a scope on it.

In spite of those critiques, I will say the overall sculpt and look of Bebop is pretty fantastic. If you prefer your Bebop to look more like the old toy and less like the cartoon then this is going to make you happy. As a kid, I was the opposite as I wanted Bebop and especially Rocksteady to look like the characters I saw on TV every day. And yet, I am floored by this sculpt and am completely smitten. It’s just so demonstrably different from the NECA offering that I don’t even think they’re comparable. The NECA Bebop is my favorite figure in that line because they so perfectly nailed the aesthetic of that cartoon. And this one is terrific because he’s just not that character. This is a more monstrous Bebop. I assume if he were in a cartoon he wouldn’t be as dim as the one we got. He’d actually be something to fear rather than laugh at.

It’s a lot easier to put him in a “knife toss” pose than a conventional knife pose given how tight those gripping hands are.
The rare two-headed warthog.

A big figure like this presents some opportunity for articulation. Even though he’s a brute, he still needs to move. Bebop’s head is on a big ball peg. I was worried it would be hard to remove, but it actually pops off pretty easily. He can look up, down, tilt, and swivel. It’s a lot better than expected and also plenty sturdy. The shoulders are just ball-hinges and those big shoulder pads will limit how high his arms can come up. They’re also pretty tight, but that’s good for a big figure and the bonus of him being big is he at least feels less fragile. He has a hinge at the elbow and his arm also swivels there. The wrists swivel and have big, horizontal, hinges in them. Like the head, they’re surprisingly easy to pop on and off. There is a waist swivel, but it’s just a swivel and there’s no other torso articulation. The thighs are on ball-joints and they can swivel there. The knees are single-jointed and the right leg can swivel at the knee. The left cannot and that’s because he has that big knee brace and it’s pretty cool that Super7 respected that brace and didn’t just ignore it. He can also swivel above the ankle, below the cuffs of his pants, so the knee swivel isn’t missed. The ankles are hinged and can also rock side-to-side. Lastly, Bebop’s tail is now articulated. It’s just a swivel, but it’s cool to be able to position it a bit now.

The second head basically just omits the pink wash on the snout.
A close-up of the alt head.

Bebop’s articulation is just okay. The range of motion at the elbows and shoulders isn’t very good. You can argue it doesn’t need to be great, but it’s disappointing. More disappointing though is the lack of something in the torso. He really would benefit from a diaphragm joint that would allow him to twist a little and tilt. The articulation just makes him quite static. He really needs his size to command attention on your shelf because his posing just isn’t going to do it. What also works against him is his very neutral expression. It’s accurate to the vintage toy, but there’s just no personality there. Bebop relies on his attire and the fact that he’s a big, ugly, warthog to form an identity. It makes the second head feel like a wasted opportunity as since it’s just the same head, but with less paint, it took away a chance for Super7 to create something more expressive as it’s been able to do with Leo and Raph. Imagine a Bebop with a snarling mouth or even a hinged jaw, that really could have taken this one to another level.

As you can see, Bebop may have increased in size, but his accessories have not.

Somewhat playing into the nonchalent posing of Bebop are his accessories. He’s a lot of plastic and his tooling is unique. Maybe some of this will work for Rocksteady, but I am assuming Bebop is a high cost figure when compared with Leonardo. That probably plays a role in his accessories, which are limited. He comes with just one extra pair of hands and they’re fists. His standard gripping hands are so close to fists that these just feel like a waste. I would have much preferred a style posed hand in place of fists. Bebop also has his drill gun which is almost comically small in his massive hands. Super7 should have probably considered upscaling the gun to go with the figure, but instead, it’s actually a little smaller than the vintage one which makes no sense. The trash can lid is the exact same size and getting him to properly hold it is nearly impossible. His hands are super stiff and I had to heat them to get them to bend a little to try and force that handle into his hand. At best, I basically just got it to hook on his thumb. It’s so small though that it looks stupid. His knife is his best accessory. It’s a little tough getting it into those tight, gripping, hands of his, but once there it looks fine. It does make me wish they added a sheath for it on his belt though for storage. Or if he had an actual belt we could have slipped it behind that. Oh well. Like the turtles, there’s also a set of unpainted weapons on a sprue. Bebop’s are gray and I don’t know why you’d ever want them, but they’re there if you do.

The pink on the new figure is definitely a lot more pronounced than it was on the vintage figure.

Super7’s take on Bebop is both incredibly impressive and also a bit disappointing all at the same time. It averages out to a really good release though because what’s most important are the overall aesthetics of the figure, and that’s the part Super7 handled the best. The only reason to not like it is if you disliked the Playmates figure, and if that’s the case, why would you buy this? I suspect those who just want this line to match the vintage one piece for piece are very happy. I’m more of the type that wants Super7 to key in on the nostalgia, but also improve things where possible. I accept that they have a different philosophy when it comes to articulation too, as I know they dislike double elbows and probably aren’t fans of torso joints either. I’ll continue to call out where I think those joints make sense though, and maybe one day they’ll come around.

Here’s the one for folks who like to put Super7 against NECA. I love both of these figures for different reasons.

Bebop is a tremendously fun figure, and you still have a shot at getting him. Super7’s Ultimates! line is a made-to-order line, but retailers are free to order as many as they want and sell them and he’s still available in some places. The MSRP is $45, but you’ll probably have to pay a small markup at this point. And it’s small compared with what this figure will fetch going forward so if you want him, grab him. He’s the last of Wave 2 that I’ll be reviewing as I just wasn’t feeling Shredder or Mutagen Man, but when Wave 3 drops I’ll have at least 3 reviews coming your way so there’s something to look forward to!

Good luck, boys! This isn’t the moron you’re used to!

Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Leonardo

“Leonardo is the perfect turtle…” is the truest statement to ever appear on the back of a product box.

If you ask me what my most cherished childhood toy was I won’t hesitate to answer Leonardo. My original Playmates Leonardo was a figure I adored and played with for years. I would get other Leonardo action figures, but they were always a temporary joy. When I sat down to act out and play with my figures, it was the original Leo from 1988 that I reached for. And it’s one of the few figures from that line I can vividly remember getting since he (along with Donatello) was my first. I was so young that I was too short to even reach the pegs and my mom had to sift through the rows of figures for me to find that Leonardo.

When Super7 first debuted its Ultimates! line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I was noncommittal. It wasn’t until Leonardo and the rest of wave 2 was unveiled that I felt the pull. I could push aside the strings of nostalgia on that first wave, but it was Leo I could not resist. I then had to scramble to get Raph, and I was quick to pre-order the other turtles as they became available all eagerly awaiting the release of Leonardo.

Since Leo’s accessories are all the same as Raph’s, consider this your accessories pic.

Leo finally arrived in February after a lengthy wait. I pre-ordered him through bigbadtoystore.com which had pre-orders open for a long while beyond the usual Super7 window. It was certainly convenient, but it meant a long wait as, for whatever reason, BBTS seems to be the retailer who always receives Super7 releases last. While those who ordered direct from Super7 had their Leonardo in December, I was forced to wait nearly two months beyond that. BBTS did come through, and I was never in doubt about that part, and he’s largely as expected. Like all of the figures in Super7’s line of Ultimates!, he comes in a cardboard mailer with the product logo on it and the figure’s name. Open that and you get the actual box the figure comes in. It’s a three-dimensional, trapezoid, which probably has a proper name, but I was never into geometry. The green slipcase slides off and the figure is below in a nice window box. It’s the same packaging as the wave one figures and it’s great. One could argue lesser packaging would result in a cheaper price (the MSRP on Leo is $45), but at least it’s attractive and mint-in-box collectors are happy while openers have a reasonably easy to reseal packaging for moves and such.

It’s like seeing an old friend…who has had some cosmetic enhancements.
Are your swords hanging low? Well have we got a product for you!

Leonardo should be quite familiar to anyone who has Raphael. That’s because they’re the same figure. The only differences between the two are the head and belt. Even the little blemishes on the shell and creases of the skin are identical. Leonardo is designed to mimic the 1988 release so he’s an olive shade of green with a belt that features a crisscross design across the chest, white eyes, and a blue mask with blue pads. Super7 added a bit more embellishment to the buckle area of Leo’s belt seemingly swapping some of the gunmetal parts of Raph’s belt for a chrome color. I really liked the understated gun metal so this looks less neat to me and I even wonder if the extra chrome was a factory error that Super7 was forced to just roll with or if they just view it as a way to distinguish the turtles from each other. I guess we’ll see what the other figures feature down the road as the promotional shots of Leo, Mike, and Don feature a belt similar to Raph’s and not the final Leo belt. The shell is now a deep green color as opposed to the brown Raph had and the front of the shell is a deeper yellow, like a marigold, when compared with Raph. The headsculpt that Leo comes packaged with looks just like the Playmates Leo. He has that almost concerned look to him, but Super7 did adjust the angle of his eyes ever so slightly so it’s not as pronounced. I feel like I was always a little disappointed in Leo’s facial expression, and yet I find myself really loving this head for pure nostalgia reasons. There is a bit of shine on the head of my figure, under his right eye, that might not come across in the photos. I don’t know if they’re all like that, or if it’s just mine.

Imagine if he had swords like these in Turtles in Time.

Since Leo is the same figure as Raph, his articulation is the same. He’s got a ball-peg that his head sits on which allows for some up and down movement and side to side along with full rotation. I didn’t really touch upon it in my Raph review, but the only aesthetic with these figures I don’t care for is the gap between the head and neck as from some angles they look like amusement park actors in oversized costumes. From head-on, it looks fine though. The shoulders are standard ball-hinges with swivels at the biceps. The shoulders were really tight out of the box, but I didn’t need any heat to get them moving. Single-jointed elbows follow with wrist rotation and hinges, and he has hands with vertical hinges and horizontal, so that’s a major plus. There’s some rotation at the hips, which are still fairly loose, but not quite as bad as Raph’s, but the shell won’t allow for too much range of motion. The legs are on ball-pegs and can swivel and kick out forward and to the side just fine. The knees just peg into the lower leg with single-hinges and swivels below the kneepad while the feet feature a hinge and generous rocker. The ankle hinges were, by far, the tightest joints on my figure out of the box and I did run them under hot tap water to get them going. It’s a suitable level of articulation, though it doesn’t really rise above other brands and some would argue it doesn’t even meet them. The lack of double elbows and knees is unfortunate and I still don’t like how the knees are engineered. It feels like there’s a lot of stress on that peg holding them together every time I bend the knee. Since Leo and Raph are the same though, I suspect I’ll just have to accept what we have here is what we’ll get with Donatello and Michelangelo.

Even Leo is subjected to Zoom meetings these days.
I think he dropped it…

It’s great to receive updated articulation, but one of the major selling points of the Super7 Ultimates! brand is the wealth of accessories the figures come with. Leo has a plethora of hands at his disposal for holding his various weapons and accessories. He has vertically hinged gripping hands in the box, plus horizontal gripping hands and open style pose hands as well as a set of fists. They peg in and the peg is small and thin, but thus far I have not heard of any issues and haven’t experienced any myself. Leo also comes with the same slice of pizza as Raph and the same communicators: one open and one closed. The only difference there is the parts painted red on Raph’s are brown on Leo’s (why not blue?!). He also has the standard allotment of ninja weaponry including throwing stars, a small, triple, bladed knife, and that large, hooked, thing. It’s a lot of stuff, but plenty could argue a large chunk of the accessories are useless. Are you ever going to pose Leo with one of the other weapons or ninja stars? Not likely. And strangely, the paint app on the pizza slice is different from Raph’s. I don’t think it’s intentional, but it looks almost dirty.

Careful there, buddy.

Most importantly, Leo also has his trusty katana blades. This has been a minor point of contention in some of the collecting spheres I frequent as these swords are not accurate when compared with the vintage figure. There was some hope that Super7 would include two different sets of swords to appease collectors (as they did with Splinter’s robe including a plastic one and a cloth one), but apparently collectors didn’t make enough noise for that to happen. Leo’s old swords were basically fake katanas. They were referred to in all TMNT media as katanas, but looked nothing like an actual katana. Super7 decided to get authentic so Leo has two, long, curved, blades. It takes some getting used to, not so much because of the curved nature of the swords, but the length. Anyone fighting with two swords, especially two katana, looks ridiculous. Part of the nature of the brand though is to look ridiculous. These are giant, mutated, turtles after all. I do wish they were smaller though as it’s hard for me to suspend my sense of disbelief that this character could effectively wield these swords in this manner. I think I may opt for a one sword look for my more permanent display as a result. The actual swords though at least look great. The paint is nice and the handles are well done and they’re not warped and flimsy like Raphael’s sais. And they also fit in the holsters on the back of his shell fine, and despite their length, don’t look particularly silly.

The alternate head definitely has a different energy.
I wish his bandana tails had a bit more life to them. It’s very rare to have a turtles figure where the bandana knot and tails aren’t visible from the front.

Lastly, Leonardo comes with an alternate head. Like Raph’s, Leo’s alternate head is a brand new, stylized, headsculpt that’s an all new creation. It obeys the same rules of colored mask and blank eyes as the vintage toy, but has a more realistic expression and texture. There’s a warmth with the new one that creates the illusion of this character existing in the real world, as opposed to the cold, plastic, very toy nature of the original. The expression is similar, but clearly more angry, and I think I prefer it to the vintage look. It’s basically how I would envision a new Leonardo would look today if the line were just starting from scratch like the original Playmates line did once upon a time. And it’s a nice look, though I think Raph’s second head turned out a little better. It’s the straight bandana tails that change the head profile a bit for me and I would have preferred something more dramatic. Though if you like the vintage look, you have it with the default head and you even have a sprue of weapons and accessories in classic brown, though the swords are the updated, curved, ones. My affection for that old head would probably win out for my display if I didn’t like Raph’s alternate head so much. I want a uniform look and don’t want to mix vintage and alt heads, so for now, I’m going with this updated one.

If you prefer a more vintage look.

The Super7 Ultimates! Leonardo is basically the figure I thought it was going to be. And that’s good! As I expected to like this one. I do think there’s room for improvement, as there often is with anything, as the articulation is lacking, most of the accessories are useless, and the swords are too long. That sounds like a lot of negatives, but this is a $45 action figure so it should be held to a higher standard than a $20 one found at Target. Where it does succeed is just in the overall look and presentation of the figure. Even if a lot of the accessories are ho-hum, the extra head is great and the hands are what you want. He looks like Leonardo and really captures that Playmates look which was so obviously inspired by the art from the Mirage line of comics, but was also its own thing. He looks great with Raph and I have a feeling my display will only improve with the additions of Michelangelo (expected probably four months from now) and Donatello (hopefully before the end of the year). Leonardo is also yet another reminder of how awesome it is to be a TMNT collector right now. Turtle power, indeed!

You didn’t think I’d end this without a comparison shot, did you?
It’s a Leo convention! Left to right: S.H.Figuarts, NECA toon Leo, Super7, Playmates, Playmates ’03, which was really the first attempt at making over the classic ’88 figure and still kind of kicks ass today.


Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Baxter Stockman

Baxter is here to swat some reptiles!

I am weak. When Super7 first unveiled its Ultimates! line of figures based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toyline from Playmates I said I was out. I still had those toys so why did I need 7″ versions of them in 2020? I had NECA and all of the TMNT product being released there, which was more than enough for the meager space in my home that I have for toys and it was going to eat up enough of my disposable income. “Not for me,” is I believe how I rationalized it.

I am weak, for I have since given in. I detailed it my thought process in my review of Raphael from the same line. In that I said I had decided I only really had affection for the actual turtles and that was it. I secured a Raph, and submitted orders for Leo and Mikey. When Donatello goes up for pre-order I’ll get him too.

Like Raph, Baxter gets his own logo on the packaging.

Again, I am weak! For when Big Bad Toy Store started putting figures up for sale, at the unfriendly price of $59.99 at that, I caved. If I am looking for small hints of my inner strength, at least I left Splinter and the Foot Soldier alone. I did not, however, pass on Baxter Stockman. Perhaps Baxter The Fly is the more appropriate name for this figure for it does indeed depict the mad scientist Baxter Stockman in his mutated fly form.

Hear him scream, “Let me out!”

Why Baxter? Well, I always liked that old toy from Playmates. Baxter was gross looking, like a lot of the figures in that line, with great sculpting on his feet and these two, purple, insect-like, limbs coming out of his back. He was just fun, and for some reason I have a “thing” for action figures with extra limbs. The thing is, I never got that toy. I didn’t lack for much as a kid, but I also wasn’t truly spoiled so on the rare occasion I was allowed to pick out a toy at the store I was limited to what was available. I don’t know if I just never ran across Baxter, or if when I did there was something else I happened to fall for instead. I usually could count on Santa or my parents to get me the top tier figures for Christmas or my birthday, but maybe I just didn’t push for Baxter as much as I should have? My grandmother got me Scumbug, and it would be a very grandma bit of reasoning to wonder why I needed two bug-based figures.

As tall as he can go.
And you thought back hair was gross.

In the end, I never did get a Baxter Stockman figure. I thought I would be content to just get a cartoon accurate version later this year from NECA, but apparently I’m wrong. I had even passed on the figure several times as pre-orders were available for quite awhile, but I just couldn’t let it go this one, last, time. Which is unfortunate since I ended up paying a $15 mark-up for my indecision. I did it though, what’s done is done, so how do I feel about it?

I call this pose “The Honker.”

For one, no amount of reviews I watched or read on this figure could properly prepare me for just how big he is. He may have been tiny on the small screen, but the action figure of Baxter is quite large, made even more so by the fact that he comes with his legs fully extended. Being a fly, he’s supposed to have his legs positioned in a crouch-style pose reducing his height, but since this is a super-articulated figure all of those joints are functioning now so he can stand as tall, or as squat, as you like. Fully extended, he’s a touch over 7″ in height, but in his crouch he gets down to about 6″. Even ignoring his height, he’s a pretty beefy boy even next to Raph. His torso is big, his hands are huge, and his head is also quite massive. The extra, bug, limbs on his back really widen the figure and overall he is just a really imposing presence on a shelf, which is amusing because again, he’s a fly!

It might be a stretch to say that’s a face only a mother could love.

In hand, he’s quite solid and has a nice feel. He’s weighty, and out of the box I found almost all of his limbs to be quite free and easy to move. The only joint that was stuck on my figure was the right elbow. I ran it under hot water and have had no issues since, unlike my Raph who still has a stubborn knee joint. His limbs are also the right tightness and if you position him a certain way he’s going to stay in that position. The only loose joints are the hinges on the hands. It’s unfortunately worse on the trigger hands so his wrist basically flops around whenever he has his gun in hand, which is a bummer. It’s amusing to me though, since tiny hinge joints such as those are often the hardest to break-in.

It’s like squeezing a melon.

Baxter comes pretty well loaded-up with articulation, especially if you compare him to the old Playmates toy. His head is on what I assume is a ball-joint or maybe a dumbbell. It’s hard to say since it can only rotate side to side as he has basically zero ability to look up and down. The shoulders are on ball joints with single-jointed elbows with a swivel at that point as well. The hands rotate and have those aforementioned loose hinges as well. There’s articulation at the waist and ball-joints at the thigh with a swivel as well. Single-jointed hinges at the knees and hinges at the ankle. The feet can swivel, but don’t have much movement side-to-side to speak of. The back arms are on ball-joints with hinges at the “elbows” and wrists with an additional swivel at the elbow joint. The wings are also on ball-joints so they can be rolled around and positioned where needed. It would have been nice to see double-hinges at the elbows, though they’re not really missed at the knee since he will most likely be crouched in many displays. The lab coat is a separate piece of sculpted plastic and I wish they had utilized that to hide a butterfly joint in the torso, but oh well. Overall, the articulation is good and pretty much what would be expected.

I love the sculpt work on those rear arms.

When it comes to these TMNT Ultimates! from Super7, I would say the articulation is good enough, but what helps sell these figures is the sculpt. Once again, this is from Four Horsemen and the reference is Playmates. Baxter has all of the little details you remember from the toy, and maybe some you never noticed or forgot like the wedding ring or watch. I love how the lab coat is soft plastic over a sculpted body as it adds some depth and texture to the figure. I’m surprised I haven’t seen any images online of folks removing the coat to look at what’s underneath. He’d look a little silly as the sleeves are sculpted with the arms, but from what I can tell the body underneath is a full sculpt. What really pushes Baxter to another level is the purple, bug, skin featured on the rear arms and feet. It’s so veiny and gross, but in a most excellent way. I get a very Xenomorph feel from it. It was the defining characteristic of the toy and Super7 did not disappoint here. Baxter’s face is also wonderful and he has this fiendish grin that I love. The hair is glued on and features some nice paint. The only aspect of the sculpt and paint that disappoints me a little rests with the wings. They look “too Playmates” for my taste. There’s so much good texture on the figure, so it stands out when the wings are just gray plastic with some purple splotches. I wish Super7 had gone with a translucent effect or something, but this just seems like the one area of the figure where they were too beholden to the original release. If they had even just painted the veins on the wings it might have done enough to add some more pop to the figure.

Baxter’s got some stuff.

On the accessory front, Baxter is a little less exciting than Raph. He comes with enough hands though as he has a pair of trigger hands, gripping hands, fists, and open hands. They pop in and out real easy and I can honestly say he’s not lacking there. If anything, it would have been cool to get extra bug hands in place of the fists or something. For weapons, he has a pistol which I believe was adopted by the cartoon as an animal muation weapon of some kind. It’s a nice sculpt, but for some reason Super7 neglected to paint it. It doesn’t “wow” like it should as a result. He also has his fly swatter painted teal with a smashed, baby, turtle on it. It can clip into this red contraption that fit on the original figure’s wrist, but now appears to just slide on the gun. It at least breaks up the gray of the blaster, but the weak hand hinges make it almost impossible to pose well in this form. He also comes with the old weapon rack like the original toy which features the same weapons, but all cast in gray.

You probably wouldn’t want to reach in there.
I tried to tell you…
“Good boy!”

By far, Baxter’s most exciting accessory is his mouser. The mouser features the same color scheme as the wind-up version from the old Playmates line, just not nearly as big. It’s about 3″ tall and features articulation at the jaw, neck, and each leg can rotate where it meets the body. The feet are nice and big so it’s easy to position the mouser standing upright or leaning forward a bit. The sculpt is great as there’s some nice detailing inside the mouth that makes it look like a really bad time to get your arm stuck in one. The only disappointing aspect of it, aside from there being only one, is the paint is a little sloppy on mine. The “eyes” aren’t very clean and there’s some slop on the legs. Hopefully Super7 finds a way to release more of them though, especially some with slots for maybe a sword or sai to stab at them as they are a lot of fun to have around.

“You have anything better than a turtle swatter, bud?”
“Good answer!”

Baxter Stockman from Super7 is largely as expected for me. He takes an old design from Playmates that was actually pretty good to begin with and just draws it out further. Every little nugget of detail on that old figure is here, but times 10. His size might shock some collectors who are more used to the cartoon version of the character, but few will argue he doesn’t look great on a shelf with your other TMNT toys. He was one of the best figures in the old line, and I think he definitely will be for this line as well. If I only end up with one villain from this toy line, I think I picked a good one. Though since I’m planning on assembling a squad of turtles, it would probably be a good idea if I grabbed another villain or two to supplement things. Maybe something awaits in the yet unannounced Wave 4, but since we’re probably a year away from release of that series it would seem Baxter will have to tend to whatever turtles stand in his way alone. At least he’s got a mouser.


Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Raphael

Most people in this world grow up with toys. Most of us love toys as kids, and some of us love them as adults. Even though they are material things, we tend to form bonds with them either because of where they came from, who they came from, or just how much joy they brought into our lives at such a formative age. Even though we’re able to forge such bonds with these material objects, pretty much no one can remember getting their first toy. That’s because many of us probably received our first toy while we were still in the womb. I know both of my kids had stuff waiting for them before birth. What we can often remember is how we got our favorite toy, assuming it wasn’t one handed over at birth, especially if we had a say in what that toy was.

For me, I can vividly remember being in the toy section of a store and having my mom shuffle through rows of the brand new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. What I can’t recall is what store we were in, or even what time of year it was. If I had to guess, it was near my birthday because I apparently had money allocated to me for some reason and was able to pick out some toys. I don’t think I had really seen much of the cartoon that had begun airing on television, and I may have only seen promos for it. At the time, it was only five episodes, but the second season was fast-approaching. That day I selected for myself Leonardo and Donatello. I think my mom was searching for Raphael for me, because as a kid my favorite color was blue and after that was often red. When you’re 4, that’s how you select a favorite character.

Those first action figures from Playmates would end up being some of my favorite toys of all time. Maybe even my absolute favorite, all things considered. I played with them extensively and I still have them to this day. They’ve been beat up, even though I was largely careful with my toys. They were just played with a lot, enough so that I know I don’t have the original weapons (I loved having Leo pull the swords from the holsters on his back which really beat them up) and Donatello’s holster for his bow has completely broken off. I would eventually add Michelangelo and Raphael over the ensuing months, along with many villains and accessories, and the turtles basically dominated my life for the next few years.

It’s time to upgrade!

When Super7 acquired the rights to create figures based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, few knew just what direction that would take the franchise. Everyone basically could have guessed there would be TMNT product in the ReAction line, a very basic figure line inspired by the old Kenner Star Wars toys from the 70s. Many hoped there would be something from Super7’s Ultimates line, and we ended up getting our wish.

The Ultimates line from Super7 is a seven inch scale line of figures that are basically made-to-order. Super7 puts up figures for a month or so, and whatever is ordered gets made. It means it takes a while for consumers to actually receive their product, but it’s also a hassle-free way to build a collection. The method does mean the toys run a bit pricey, $45 for most, and that’s before shipping and taxes are figured into the equation. Fans of TMNT were certainly happy though when Super7 committed to doing figures based on the franchise in this format, and since Super7 tends to enjoy doing “retro” inspired releases, it should have come as no surprise that the main source of inspiration for this line would be the vintage Playmates toys.

He was a little upset by my use of the word “upgrade.”

Super7’s TMNT Ultimates is basically the old Playmates line at a bigger scale and with modern engineering. As a result, how much affection you have for Super7’s offering is going to largely depend on how much affection you have for those old toys. The original Playmates line was made in conjunction with the cartoon, but it wasn’t necessarily intended to represent the show. The figures were conceived of first, and the cartoon was fast-tracked as a vehicle for selling the product. There ended up being quite a bit of difference between the two, such as the turtles all having a unique skin-tone and Shredder sporting a blue and purple mask. Today, a lot of the fandom can be divided into two camps: those who associate TMNT most with the toyline, and those with the cartoon.

It’s all good now!

As a kid, I loved both the toys and the cartoon, but there was a part of me that longed for the toys to better sync-up with the show. I really wanted Shredder and Splinter, for example, to better reflect the show. For the most part though, I was happy with the turtles. They were clearly inspired by the comics from Mirage Studios, but also incorporated the colored masks, pads, etc that would come to define the cartoon. And those white eyes just made them look cool. I was so satisfied with what I had as a kid that initially Super7’s offering didn’t stir anything within me. The first wave was revealed as Raphael, Splinter, Baxter the Fly, and a Foot Soldier. For the most part, I felt they all just looked like bigger versions of the old toys. If anything, the only one I felt drawn to was Baxter because I never had his toy as a kid, but always wanted it. His design was just cool, but I also knew NECA was prepping a figure of the same for its cartoon line of figures and that was good enough for me.

Smile!

As the months went by, I paid little mind to what Super7 was doing with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Then the first wave started showing up and reviews were popping up all over the web. It was at this point nostalgia started to grab at me. I thought about how much I loved those old toys, and I even retrieved what remained of my once massive collection from my childhood home and brought it into my own. It soon became apparent to me that I wanted to experience this line in at least a small way. And while it was a combination of the reviews of Wave 1 and the pull of my cherished Leonardo figure, it was enough to cause me to at least seek out a Raphael. Of course, this wasn’t easy since the pre-order window had long since passed and basically every retailer had sold out as well. The only places still offering the figure were based in the UK, which came with the cost of currency conversion and astronomical shipping to the US. I had to do what I often loathe to do as a result: I turned to the secondary market. I eventually found an acceptable price, made easier by a generous $25 coupon to eBay, and secured a Raphael of my very own.

If you hung with me through that long preamble, well I can tell you now we are onto the actual review portion of this blog post. Raphael arrived at my door in the same manner he would of had I ordered it from Super7. The box comes in a cardboard mailer with the vintage logo on the front. Remove that and you’re presented with a bold, green, box with the logo embossed on one side and a new logo on the other. The new logo is a manhole cover with an image of Raph in the middle and his sai alongside. Slide that bad boy up and you finally get to the window box with the figure inside. The image surrounding the figure appears to resemble a sewer tunnel and the window on the front is big and provides for a comprehensive look at the figure inside. This is a really nice package and mint-in-box collectors will surely appreciate that. The only difficulty there is even the slip-case looks nice, so how should one display this thing? I guess you need to buy two, three if you want to open one!

Let me out!

Raphael is based on the Playmates toy from 1988 and is sculpted by Four Horsemen Designs. That’s the same team that did NECA’s Mirage line of TMNT figures so it’s nice to see them return to the property. Even though they get the credit for sculpting this and all of the Wave 1 releases, it should be noted a huge amount of the credit goes to the sculptors who worked for Playmates in the 1980s. Raph largely looks like that old figure, just bigger. He’s about six inches tall and is in that light shade of green he sported back then. This time it appears to be slightly darker, but not by much. He has a lot of the same musculature, the same blank eyes, and the same teeth. His belt even features the holster on the back for that big knife all of the turtles came with. The main difference here, aside from the size, is in the detail and articulation. Raph’s belt, for example, has a lot of texture work on it that really brings it to life. It’s a far cry from that old rubber one that was prone to breaking in places, in particular the holsters for Raph’s sai. There’s also some nice, subtle, texture work on the front of the shell and the red pads on his elbows and knees. You can also see creases in the skin around the knees and neck that just really bring this guy to life. It very much is just a modern update of a vintage action figure.

Raphael comes packed with a fair amount of articulation for a turtle. The old toy only had 7 points of articulation: head, shoulders, wrists, and legs. It’s not surprising then that Super7 was able to improve upon that. Raph sports articulation at his head on a ball-joint. He can look side-to-side as well as up and down. His shoulders are ball-joints and he has articulation at the bicep, elbow, and wrist. His hands are on hinges and he has two sets of gripping hands with different hinges, some meant to move horizontally and some vertical. There’s some articulation at his waist underneath the shell that provides for some limited movement there, but the shell obviously prevents him from swiveling completely at the waist. The legs are on ball-joints with articulation at the knees and ankles. He can rotate his feet and he gets a lot of side-to-side “rocker” action down there as well.

Probably the only time you’ll see my Raph with a throwing star in hand.

Raphael moves pretty well, but there have been some criticisms in this area. For one, his elbows and knees are single-jointed as opposed to double-jointed. I don’t think, functionally, it’s a big deal, but there’s also part of me that expects all action figures in this day and age to feature double-joints in those areas. He also lacks swivels at the thigh and what would be called a boot-cut. This seems to be more of an aesthetic philosophy on the part of Super7 as cuts in those areas can take away from the sculpt. I agree with Super7 when it comes to true thigh cuts, and this figure doesn’t need one anyway since he can swivel at the ball-joint where the thigh meets the waist. The lack of a creative double-joint at the knee means no cut as well and while it would add something, it’s not a huge omission. He’s basically on par with what NECA has done with its TMNT figures and this one makes up for the shortcomings with more waist functionality than anything we’ve seen prior on a turtle. And the feet are really strong which further aids posing in more dynamic positions.

I don’t get angry, I get stabby!

Raph comes with a slew of accessories. He has more hands than most will know what to do with. For starters, he comes packaged with gripping hands in which the hinge is on the side of the hand allowing for what I call up and down motion. He has another set with the hinge in the middle for side-to-side, or in-out motion. This helps in giving him more options when holding his weapons and it’s something I have wanted NECA to do with its turtles for awhile. He also has a set of gripping hands in which the gap between his fingers is wider so he can hold his sai with the center blade going in-between his fingers, a popular pose for Raph. He also has a pair of open hands for handling pizza and such and they’re kind of clawed as opposed to an open palm. No fist hands, but honestly, he doesn’t need fists. Maybe a pointing finger would have been cool in place of the tighter gripping hands, but all in all I can’t complain much.

You know what they say about two heads…

Raphael comes sporting his default look, which is in-line with the old toy. He also has a second head that’s a bit more stylized. The teeth lack paint in-between them making him look much more modern. The bandanna tails look like they’re blowing in the wind and there’s a dark wash over his beak that gives him a real “print” quality. It’s a nice alternative and I’m honestly torn over which I prefer. He also has a pair of ninja stars and the old ninja weaponry all of the turtles used to come with. I don’t know what the proper names are, but there’s the big bladed weapon that can be stored on the rear of his belt, a small bladed weapon with three “teeth,” and a hook-bladed weapon as well. There’s also the old weapon rack in which all of the weapons are cast in that orange-brown plastic from the vintage line. One could conceivably snip the weapons off of it like they did back in 88, but I assume most will leave it as-is. It’s kind of neat to see it included, but also totally non-essential. Raph also has a turtle-com from the cartoon, two actually. One is open and one is closed. Super7 added some red paint to the shell portion of it that looks really cool too. Lastly, there’s a slice of pepperoni pizza. I have a feeling we’ll be getting more pizza as this line rolls on.

What is Raph without his sai? Not much, I’m afraid, and Super7 must agree because he comes with three pairs of sai! There’s the unpainted pair on the weapon rack that most are destined to leave alone, unless they REALLY want that vintage look. The figure also comes packaged with a pair of partially painted sai in his holsters. They’re cast in a gray plastic with painted, black, wraps on the handles. They look fine, but they lack some flair by just being colored plastic. Which is where the third pair comes in as they’re fully painted in a metallic, silver, finish. These are definitely the flashiest set, but they’re also the most flimsy. For whatever reason, the plastic used for the painted sai is very pliable and prone to warping in the package. The paint is also kind of sloppy at the tips which takes away from their pointy nature. The imperfections with this set makes it tough to settle on a preferred pair for display. I like the overall look of the fully-painted pair, but the integrity of the gray pair is far superior. It makes me wonder if Super7 should have packaged him with the painted pair holstered as maybe that would have helped to keep them from warping, or maybe it would have made it worse. Whatever the cause, hopefully it’s not an issue for the next turtle, Leonardo, since warped swords would be very disappointing.

There are lots of choices when it comes to the sai (not displayed, the brown ones), though it’s a bit like selecting the “least worst” as opposed to the best.

Aside from my sai criticism, the quality-control on the figure seems pretty good. There’s not a ton of paint on this guy, but what’s there is clean and neat. He’s a pleasant shade of green that’s a near enough match for the old toy and the red is striking and bold. The paint on the teeth is where things could have gone off the rails, but it too is quite clean and really captures that toothy expression of the classic toy. The hands are on thin pegs, but they’re easy to remove and replace so I don’t have any real concerns about those pegs becoming an issue. The head is far more snug, but the peg it sits on is quite beefy so, again, no fears of breakage there. The only consistent criticism I see for this guy is in the hips which are fairly loose. Shake him around gently and those legs are likely going to flap back and forth at the hip. It’s not so loose that he can’t hold a pose, and overall I’d say this is an easy figure to stand. My only concern here is that over time the hips will continue to become even more loose at which point we will have a problem. It’s an area that could stand to see some improvement going forward, and since it’s expected the other turtles will basically all share the same body, Super7 will have ample opportunity to make some improvements. Some of the joints are also quite tight, mostly the hinge joints on the hands and the left knee on my Raph. When I tried to work the hinge at the knee the lower part of the leg popped right off. It’s on a short peg which likely helps in keeping it from breaking, but it’s annoying. I heated up the joint with water and finally got it to move after applying some pressure. It’s held up, though it’s still not as easy to work with as the right knee.

Lots of hands and things.

Raphael is a great pick for the first turtle in this wave. He’s arguably the most popular turtle, owing in large part to his portrayal in the 1990 film, and a logical choice to lead the pack. Super7 is rather wisely choosing to have a turtle lead each wave of figure releases which is smart, as they probably pick-up a few sales here and there that may have otherwise not have been. It’s no secret that there are a lot of TMNT collectors out there just looking to grab the four turtles from a given line and leave the rest. And with this line, I’m one of those guys. I already mentioned who is joining Raph in this set, but folks who are looking to rebuild their TMNT collection of yesterday can look forward to the likes of Shredder, Mutagen Man, Bebop, Rocksteady, April, and Metalhead. Leonardo is the turtle chosen to head the second wave, with Michelangelo leading the charge for the third. We have yet to see Donatello and we don’t know who will be joining him in the fourth wave. It seems like Super7 is looking to replicate the original 10 figures from the Playmates line, plus fan favorites. Could we see Casey Jones? Maybe Krang in his bubble walker? Or how about Slash since many fans seem to prefer his toy look to his cartoon one? I suspect we’ll know fairly soon just what to expect.

As for Raph, he’s probably going to please a lot of folks who pick him up. I hesitate to call him a “home run” because so much of what we have here is taken from that original toy. Four Horsemen Designs had a pretty easy job here making this feel like the action figure equivalent to a cover song. It’s definitely relying heavily on nostalgia as a selling point, and given the name of this blog, I’m obviously no stranger to nostalgia. For those who do just desire a bigger version of the old toys with more articulation, this is basically what you want. I’m left wishing Super7 had taken more of an homage path than an almost straight recreation, but I also can’t argue this turtle isn’t a lot of fun. He looks great on a shelf and there’s only so much one can do with that old turtle design. I suppose if it had been me, I might have tried harder to make the figure look like the old card art, but those were pretty close to the look of the Mirage comics so maybe that wouldn’t have been necessary. I think the approach works well with the turtles, though I’m less sold on some of the other figures I’ve seen shots of. I’m certainly happy enough with Raph to feel good about my purchase and also eager to add Leo, Mikey, and Don when they become available.

Let’s sneak in one more comparison before we wrap this up.

If you’re interested in collecting this line of Ultimates from Super7, make sure you get your pre-orders in now for waves 2 and 3. Plenty of retailers are still taking orders even if Super7’s window has closed. And definitely jump on wave 4 whenever it goes up. My guess is that happens before the end of the year, but it’s mostly just a hunch. If you want any of the figures in wave 1, unfortunately your chance to acquire them easily has passed. You’ll likely have to chase them down on the secondary market and pay a mark-up. The prices have actually already started to come down a bit, but they’re still above the $45 MSRP. Super7’s Ultimates are basically one and done when it comes to production. Because they are a business, there’s always the chance these figures get made again if the demand is there, but I wouldn’t count on it. Better to pay a little more now, than a lot later, or risk having a set of incomplete turtles.


The Toys that Got Away

My whole life I have loved toys. Anytime I had money as a kid I wanted to spend it on a new toy, for my birthday I always wanted more toys, and when it came time to write Santa a letter I asked for more toys. Most kids like toys, that’s a given, but I feel like many mix in some other loves as well. Maybe arts and crafts, movies, books, comics, etc. And I liked a lot of that stuff too, but not enough to sacrifice even a tiny fraction of my toy allotment. As an adult, my love continues though I’m not as single-minded when it comes to my pursuits and hobbies. Though even now, few things thrill me in such a unique way as a brand new toy.

For a kid with a middle-class upbringing, I really wasn’t left wanting for too much. My parents usually delivered around the holidays and I had a grandmother that seemed to enjoy buying me toys as much as I enjoyed receiving them. It also helped that I liked action figures and they usually weren’t too expensive. Most Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cost less than a Barbie, and I never really got into more expensive properties like Transformers and Lego. Sure, I had a few from both lines here and there, but for the most part I focused on one major franchise.

Even though I rarely lacked for anything, inevitably there’s always something that remains elusive. Either the toy was hard to find or it arrived at an inopportune time, but there are a few items that vexed me as a child enough to still leave a lasting imprint. Now that I’m an adult, there’s sometimes a temptation to try and fill that void now that I have the means, even though I know doing such is often fleeting. A recent reintroduction of a certain property to my life has recalled some of these feelings though and is serving as the genesis for this post, and I’ll save those for last. This post though is about the toys I never got as a kid, but am sorely tempted to seek out now.

Venom II – Toy Biz 1992

Toy Biz had the comic book figure on lockdown in the 80s and 90s. It even held both the Marvel and DC license at the same time, before it eventually became owned by Marvel through one of the venerable comic book company’s many bankruptcy filings. Toy Biz no longer exists now, but it was best known for its Marvel action figures and the first line was simply referred to as Marvel Super Heroes. As part of that line’s second series, a Venom action figure was introduced. It came with a plastic spider that resembled the insignia on Venom’s chest. It could be inserted into a rather large hole on the figure’s back and squeezing it caused black goo to ooze from a hole on the figure’s chest. Eventually, a running change would be made to replace the spider with a generic red plunger that was instead intended to just use water instead of slime. The lame gimmick, combined with the giant hole it required exist in the figure, made this Venom kind of shitty.

Toy Biz rectified this with a new figure in 92. I recalled seeing it for what felt like a year on the back of other card-backs, but never could find it in stores. This Venom was leaner with a bit more articulation. It’s gimmick was a tongue-flicking action controlled by a little button on the figure’s back which was simple and didn’t detract much from the sculpt. It also came with a chest attachment that I guess was meant to create the illusion of a living costume, but it was kind of dumb. Venom would become my favorite Marvel character, due mostly to my dad taking me to a flea market where he bought me a copy of Lethal Protector #1. When the Spider-Man cartoon arrived in 94, it meant more Venom action figures so even though I really wanted this one, the sting of never finding him was mostly removed. This is the only toy on this list that I did seek out as an adult. Since I have him now, I can say if I had been able to find one in 92 it probably would have been one of my favorite toys for a long time, at least until the Venom II from the cartoon line with removable mask.

Monty Moose – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1993)

I had a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys as a kid, most of which are now gone which is unfortunate (kids, don’t let your parents throw away your old action figures!). That line was fairly easy to collect because it was well distributed and also pretty affordable. When the first figures came out, they retailed for $3.99 in my area – that’s a mere two visits from the Tooth Fairy! Because for a few years Turtles were all I wanted I usually cleaned-up at Christmas and birthdays and as a result there were only a few I didn’t get that I really wanted. Some of them included really popular characters like Baxter Stockman and the Rat King, but for some reason the only one that bothers me a little today is Monty Moose.

Monty even got featured in a commercial, though he never made it into the cartoon.

I don’t know what it was about Monty Moose I found so appealing. Moose are kind of funny looking in general, and Monty Moose certainly looked a bit odd with his huge antlers and long snout. I also really liked the blue and red color combo as a kid, so he was just eye-catching to me. And I saw him in a store on one occasion. It was an Osco Drug, which I don’t think even exists anymore. For those who don’t remember, Osco Drug is basically like a CVS or Walgreen’s and it was a store that was never known for its toy selection. My mom and I had to go into one for a prescription for some reason, it wasn’t our usual pharmacy, and we walked down the toy aisle and I saw Monty Moose staring back at me. I tried to get my mom to buy it for me, but I think my birthday was coming up so she was in no mood to buy me a toy with that on the horizon. My birthday would come and go and I had to beg my mom to take me back to that specific store now that I had some birthday money. She thought it was silly to go to a pharmacy, of all places, to spend birthday money, but she took me and of course the figure was gone. I’d never see him again.

Batman Returns Batmissile Batmobile – Kenner 1993

Despite being a bit dark, the Tim Burton Batman films were a merchandising behemoth for DC and Warner Bros. I had a few toys from the first film and the supplemental series Kenner produced in-between, but what really caught my attention was the Batmobile from Batman Returns. If you recall, in the film, the Batmobile demonstrates a new ability to shed the sides of the vehicle to take on the form of a skinny, missile-like, vehicle to fit through a narrow alley. Kenner made a Batmbile that could do the same with the push of a button, and when I saw the commercial I immediately wanted it.

I do wonder how well this thing actually worked.

I had that toy on my Christmas list for 1993, and when Christmas morning came there was indeed a Batmobile under the tree. Only it was the wrong one. I was never one to complain about gifts, so I was happy to have a Batmobile. This was one was a re-release of the first film’s Batmobile with pop-up machine guns. It was pretty cool, just not what I wanted. It was somewhat overshadowed though by another gift that year – a Sega Genesis. Sometime after the holiday, I even saw the Batmobile that I yearned for at the toy store. I had some money and nearly bought it, but I did the smart thing and decided to be happy with what I had and put that cash towards something else. And I feel good about the decision even now and I mostly have it on this list because I’m still curious if the gimmick worked well or not.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Green Ranger and Dragonzord – Bandai 1993

And now we get to the real deal. Recently, my son has shown an interest in Power Rangers largely thanks to his best friend having some affection for the property. We’ve watched around ten episodes or so of the original run, and it’s stirring some memories. Painful memories.

Power Rangers burst onto the scene in the late summer of 1993. Saban Entertainment had found it hard to sell the property to American broadcast networks for years, and maybe because of that there was skepticism that the property would be a success. Whatever the reason, the show ended up being a smash hit, but Bandai of America was woefully unprepared to meet the demand for toys. Which sucked because the toys were awesome! The Rangers themselves were huge, around 9 or 10 inches, with loads of articulation. I had never seen an action figure with finger articulation before, and it blew my mind! I wanted them, but I wasn’t quite sure how much since the show was pretty new. I was also at an age where it was almost taboo to like it. I was supposed to be growing out of toys, but I found them way too compelling.

When these came out, I thought they were the most incredible action figures imaginable.

I didn’t get any Power Rangers toys in 1993 and I spent much of 94 chasing them without much luck. I would eventually get a Power-Morphing Green Ranger, but that was nearly all I got. What I really wanted was the deluxe Green Ranger who came bundled with the Dragonzord. I even found a page from a flyer sitting outside at my grandmother’s house advertising the set. I carried that thing around and clung to it reminding my mom and grandma that I really wanted that toy, but try as they might, it just didn’t happen.

He’s practically a statue, but damn does he looks cool.

I never once saw that toy in a toy store. To this day, I’ve never seen it in person. None of my friends had it, and because of that I still kind of want it. Looking at the set now, I still think that Green Ranger is pretty slick. The Dragonzord impresses me less, but he’s still a delightfully, chunky, robot dragon and robot dragons are pretty awesome on their own. It doesn’t do much beside just look cool, but that’s basically all I ask of my toys in this day and age.

Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Deluxe Megazord – Bandai 1993

As much as I wanted that Green Ranger and Dragonzord, I think the toy I wanted most that I never was able to my hands on was the Deluxe Megazord from the same line. Tommy the Green Ranger was my favorite of the Power Rangers for the time I watched this show (basically up to the first movie), so I naturally wanted the best toy based on him along with the zord. The White Ranger was cool too, but not as cool as the Green Ranger. The Megazord though, was just too awesome to ignore. It was five robots that combined into one massive robot – how awesome is that?! Yes, I realize this made the toy very similar to Voltron, but the Voltron toy from the 80s didn’t impress me much because it didn’t really look like the cartoon. It had to fudge with the scale of the lions a bit to work in real life, and that’s the type of thing that would bother me as a kid.

Now you can re-enact that same transforming sequence you see every episode!

The Megazord, however, seems like it was designed to be a toy from the very start. The toy basically imitated the transforming sequence from the show to perfection. The only compromise really was in the articulation of the finished product. The show would feature models to assemble the Megazord, but once formed it then swapped that out for a guy in a costume who would battle the monster of the week. He could obviously move in ways a clumsy toy could not, but that seemed like a small price to pay for such accuracy.

Robots that combine to form bigger robots are arguably the greatest toys ever made.

Unlike with the Green Ranger/Dragonzord set, I did actually see the Megazord in the flesh. A kid in my class brought one into school, maybe for show and tell or something, and he showed it to me at his desk. Cruelly, he wouldn’t let me touch it, but he at least demonstrated the transformation including both the robot and tank modes. I was floored by it and I wanted it so bad, but it was just so impossible to find! I never saw the thing in stores and I’m sure my grandmother likely never did as well.

I was able to get the Red Dragon Thunderzord (left), but never did get the rest.

When the showed moved on from the original zords, the toy supply improved. For Christmas, my grandmother was finally successful when it came to Power Rangers and she was able to get me the Red Dragon Thunderzord as well as some of the roleplay toys (blaster and morpher). The Red Dragon was pretty cool, and if I’m being honest, a better toy than the Dragonzord would be. I was never able to get the other zords though to form the new Megazord, and by the following Christmas the fad had passed for me. I would put all of my energy towards video games at that point, leaving toys behind for a few years.

In 2010, Bandai re-released the original Megazord, now often referred to as the Dino Megazord. It was almost an exact recreation of the 93 toy with a few changes to make the set cheaper to produce. The wheels were removed from the Triceratops and Sabre-toothed tiger, as well as the articulation on their guns. Otherwise though, it’s basically the same. It retailed for $75 and I am kicking myself now for not just buying it then. The 93 version, if you can find one in good condition, easily fetches thrice that on eBay and the re-releases are expensive too. I was tempted to buy one when I was first on my own, but got cold feet and didn’t really know what I would do with. Maybe my son or daughter will become obsessed and force my hand, or maybe Bandai will re-release it again when the show turns 30 in three years and I’ll finally take the plunge. Or maybe the Megazord is just a toy destined to haunt me for the rest of my days.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1989 Arcade)

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Faithful to the cartoon in every way except the cabinet art. It has since become charming on its own.

What began as a joke between aspiring comic book creators, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, eventually morphed into a multi-media juggernaut bestowing wealth and status upon the two. Along the way though, few predicted such big things out of a property titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The books sold well, but they were independently produced and in small numbers limiting how much money could be earned. Plus they were pretty violent and would never be considered suitable for a general audience. Eastman and Laird believed in it though, they just needed to convince those with the means to catapult their franchise to believe in it. Toy companies passed though, but eventually doll maker Playmates, needing to add a “boy’s toy” to its portfolio decided to take a chance. In order to help market the toys though, they needed something more suitable than the black and white, ultra-violent, comics that existed and a cartoon was born.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon was conceived basically as a means of promotion. A direct-to-syndication order was out of the question, and even a full season was apparently deemed too extravagant. Instead, a five episode mini-series was produced for air in 1987. The confidence in the property was still too low to even warrant a more traditional half-season order of 13 episodes. Five episodes was all it took though, and kids were hooked pretty quickly causing them to flock to stores and leave bare the TMNT section of the action figures aisle. A second season would be ordered, and apparently confidence was still a bit tepid as that was only 13 episodes. It wasn’t until the third season, which premiered in 1989, that the property received a direct-to-syndication massive order of episodes.

Because of the wavering, Turtle-mania basically had to wait until 1989 to really flourish. That’s when all of the merchandise started to arrive now that it was a proven hit. The first movie would arrive the following year, with the second close behind in 1991. 1989 was also the first year when video games started to arrive, and the no doubt biggest video game release of the year for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the arcade game of the same name.

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The Turtles made their arcade debut in 1989.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game gave fans a chance to basically play through an episode of the show. It was as true to the cartoon as any game would get and even featured voice talent from the show. The very first stage has Splinter sending the Turtles into a burning building to rescue April O’Neil and culminates in a showdown with Rocksteady and ends with Shredder making an appearance. The game throws a seemingly endless supply of Foot Soldiers at the Turtles and brings in more characters from the show such as Baxter Stockman (in human form), Bebop, Krang, among others and ends with a showdown against Shredder himself.

The game was created by Konami, who was awarded the license for all of the video games for this era. At this stage, Double Dragon had taken arcades by storm ushering in the era of the Beat-Em-Up genre of games. This genre, in which one or more players controlled a character who fended off wave after wave of enemies, became the preferred dumping ground for licensed software. Konami was arguably the leader in this development as it looked to the genre to support not just the Turtles, but also The Simpsons and X-Men. Konami’s take on the genre was far simpler when compared with rival Capcom or Sega. Rather than introduce complicated maneuvers to the action, Konami focused mostly on performance and presentation making sure their game resembled the source material while remaining accessible.

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Battling Bebop and Rocksteady with all four Turtles at the same time was something few thought was possible at the time.

Even by Konami standards, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a fairly simple gameplay experience. Players control one of the four Turtles with each one being mapped to a specific joystick on the four-player version of the arcade cabinet (the less popular two-player edition allowed players to select a character). Michelangelo was oddly assigned the color yellow instead of orange, a mistake Konami would double-down on with the sequel, Turtles in Time. Each Turtle could perform just two actions:  jump and attack. Players could combine them for a jump attack, but special super moves were years away. Players simply walked right for the most part and took down whatever came their way. A skateboarding level was tossed in to mix things up, though that just made the level auto-scroll instead of the usual deliberate pace. Still, little tricks like that work wonders on kids and most cited the skateboarding level as the highlight of the gameplay experience. Stages also introduced multi-level layouts and there were some interactive elements in the stages too. The only power-up was a pizza to restore health, a logical decision.

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The skateboarding level was just as mindless as the others, if not more so, but damn was it cool!

The music and visuals were where Konami really distinguished itself. The gameplay may be shallow, but there was enough glitz to sort of hide that. The Turtles looked and moved great and the boss characters were often bigger and a touch more elaborate. It felt like a real technological marvel to battle Rocksteady at the end of stage 1 followed by Bebop in the next stage, only to later take on both of them at the same time! The game was also murder on quarters as it was primarily designed to extract as much money as possible out of kids (or more appropriately, parents) and the game was pretty long to boot. Enemies are not staggered easily, or at all, forcing the players to either be deliberate or just charge in. The game is noticeably easier with 4 players, especially for the final boss who splits into three enemies. My most vivid memory of the game is playing it at a cousin’s birthday party at a roller-skating rink (yeah, dated). We made it to the Technodrome and were in the midst of battling Krang, the penultimate confrontation before Shredder arrives, when a kid who had been hanging around watching the whole time accidentally stepped on the power chord ending the game. My cousin, the birthday boy, was apoplectic while my aunt was probably relieved that she no longer had to feed us quarters. I was disappointed as I think it was the first time I even saw that much of the game, but I couldn’t help but feel bad for the kid who accidentally stepped on the thing.

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The NES port was woefully inferior, but it gave us Tora!

As was the case with any popular arcade game, Konami moved to release the title to home consoles. Since it arrived after Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NES), it had to be re-titled as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II:  The Arcade Game. It was a severe downgrade as the sprites all had to be redone with less detail and fewer colors. The Turtles were just green and whatever color their mask was, while the boss characters often were limited to two or three colors as well. Konami tried to make up for this by adding additional stages, but you can’t put lipstick on a pig. It was also a lot easier so the game was actually beatable without a ton of quarters, but it was an immensely inferior experience.

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The Arcade1Up release bundles the game with its sequel, but it’ll cost ya. Plus the smaller scale makes playing as Leo and Raph more than a little awkward.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a huge thrill for arcade-goers and fans of the cartoon in 1989. It had the look, the sounds, and the swagger to get attention and mostly satisfy. In 2020, the nostalgia does make up for the diminished returns, but only so much. This is a simple and depth-free gameplay experience so it’s really only worth playing for the experience of seeing everything, before it runs out of steam. It makes it hard to recommend as an arcade cabinet for one’s home, whether you’re talking about buying an old cabinet or investing in Arcade1Up’s emulation machine as you’re not only devoting a considerable sum of money towards such a thing, but also the space it will occupy in your home or place of business. The NES port holds up even worse, and while I considered it a passable experience as a kid, I think I’d rather play any of the other TMNT NES games over it. The time to get one has mostly passed on it as in the late 90s one could have acquired a cabinet in decent shape for a reasonable sum as the nostalgia wasn’t quite there yet to drive up the price. Still, there are other ways to experience it and those might be worth a look for individuals wanting to take a stroll down memory lane or introduce a kid to the game. If you’re in the right headspace, you can have a bit of fun with this one, just don’t expect the fun to last very long.


NECA San Diego Comic Con Exclusive TMNT Animated Series Action Figure Set

IMG_1436Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the franchise that won’t go away for me. I’ve been involved with it since the 80s when the cartoon series debuted and the first line of action figures started popping up in retail. I dropped the series when The Next Mutation came around, but picked it right back up when the 4Kids version of the Turtles debuted on Fox in 2003. And always there was a line of toys to go along with them that I happily indulged in. The only toy line I’ve really passed on was the current line that ties in with the Nickelodeon show. Even though I like that show, I never felt the need to go buy the toys. I thought, perhaps, I was finally maturing, but nostalgia for the original 1987 cartoon series has pulled me back into the world of TMNT toys.

Last year, Bandai gave us its take on the fearsome foursome based on the 87 series through its SH Figuarts brand. I reviewed all four and they were very impressive, but also costly. Those toys exist because they’re technically imports, though some retailers carry them in the US. When it comes to the real domestic products, Playmates still has a stranglehold on all things TMNT when it comes to action figures. Because of this, toy companies have had to get creative or get discouraged from even trying. NECA has been the leader in US TMNT toys and they’re willing to jump through the loopholes to get their versions of the Turtles to the public. When they wanted to do a set last year, they had to base it on the original TMNT arcade game which meant a bright, faux-digitized paint app for the figures. When NECA wanted to do a line of figures based on the 1990 movie, it meant they had to release them in a massive quarter-scale (and they’re awesome). Not satisfied, NECA has wanted to get cartoon accurate Turtles to market and finally got the clearance to do so. The catch, of course, was that it had to be a convention exclusive. Also possibly apart of the stipulation, was that it had to be a box set, which is how we ended up with this brand new set.

NECA’s San Diego Comic Con exclusive set of the TMNT is proving hard to get. NECA was granted permission to sell them on their website as pre-orders to be delivered the week of the convention. In addition to that, the set is available to buy at the convention the old fashioned way. It’s an eight figure set with a price tag of $200 that comes housed in a box meant to resemble the old action figure carrying cases of the 80s and 90s. I was fortunate enough to score one of the pre-orders which went live last month over the course of 4 days (and each day they sold out in about a minute) and my set arrived at my door last night. NECA is referring to this as the definitive take on the 87 Turtles, so how did they do?

The set comes housed in an attractive case. It’s decorated with all new artwork by Archie Comics artist Ken Mitchroney and depicts the Turtles outside the San Diego Convention Center with Shredder and Krang on the reverse. The case is likely made out of cardboard with a vinyl outer coating. Two clasps on the side made of metal close it up, though the case isn’t too rigid making the clasps hard to engage. This is clearly a case designed for decoration and to add a “Wow!” factor to the presentation, it’s not something you would have wanted to ferry back and forth between home and grandma’s like the case you probably had when you were a kid. I do find it a bit odd they went with an Archie look as the Turtles on the cover do not resemble the television show, but at least it’s original and not a stock image.

The set itself contains eight figures:  Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, Shredder, Krang, and two Foot Soldiers. The figures are packaged in a black plastic trays with a transparent outer shell that fits over it like a clamshell design. The trays are stacked in two layers, with the Turtles on top and the Foot on the bottom. The packaging is designed to be resealable, though it’s probably not durable enough to withstand repeated use. The figures themselves were pretty easy to remove, though some of the accessories were a bit trying (and there’s a lot of them, more on that later) and I worried I’d crack the plastic shell casing, but it held up.

If you’ve purchased prior NECA TMNT sets, then this one should feel some-what familiar. The Turtles are essentially the same figures released last year, just with a cartoon-specific paint application. Shredder is a composite of the two Shredders released last year (the arcade one and the Mirage Comics one), but with an all new head sculpt and re-tooled abdomen. The Foot Soldiers also borrow parts from last year’s Mirage Foot, but obviously with new head sculpts and new arms to represent the very long-armed look of the cartoon. The only all new sculpt is Krang, and that’s because he’s a pretty unique character and not one NECA has released before.

Let’s talk about the heroes first. The Turtles feature a dark, almost olive, paint-app for the majority of their body with a darker green used for shading on the backside of their limbs. Lots of black lines are used for definition and the look is certainly striking. The skin tone is quite close to that of the cartoon’s first season, especially for the scenes taking place in dimly lit areas like the sewers. The decision to add shading is a bit of a controversial one in the collector community; some like it, most don’t seem to care for it. I don’t think it works as natural light would have accomplished the same thing. A paint wash may have been a better approach, but it’s not something that kills the figures or anything. The colors of the pads and masks are vibrant, and each turtle sports a fighting expression. The articulation is pretty standard, and NECA hides the joints and cuts well within the sculpt. The only drawback is the hips feel a bit loose and some more ankle articulation would have been welcomed. The shells look great, and there’s no noticeable paint slop on any of mine. The only production error appears to be with Raph’s pupils, as one is centered in the eye and the other towards the top of the eye, making him look weird from head on.

The actual sculpt of the figures is also pretty solid. They’re about 5 1/2″ tall and fit nice in scale with Shredder and the Foot. The wrist bands and pads are all part of the sculpt and not separate pieces, and they look pretty good. NECA was able to get the kneepads to sort of hide the knee joints like an actual pad, though the elbow pads sit above the elbow joints. I’m always torn on what facial expression these 87 Turtles should possess since the show was so light-hearted and campy. In a perfect world, NECA would have included swappable heads, but those obviously add a lost of cost. Grim and serious works for Leo and Don, though I wish Raph’s sarcasm could have been reflected and Mikey’s more jovial nature. NECA also ran into the challenge of how to mold the head. These sculpts worked really well in nailing the likeness of the arcade TMNT, but they’re a little too frog-like for the cartoon. That’s partly because the Turtles in the cartoon look very different when they’re presented head-on or at an angle, versus a profile look (just watch the opening credits). The season one Turtles often had a vertical line on their beaks to give the impression of a sharper mouth that was mostly dropped after season one. NECA wisely didn’t try to incorporate that as I don’t think it would have turned out well had they. Overall, I do really like the look of these figures, though I think they come up just a tad short if they’re trying to be the definitive take on these characters.

The accessories for the Turtles are numerous and appropriate. Each character comes with his specific weapons which means Leo has two katana, Raph a pair of sai, Don a bo staff, and Mikey twin nunchucks. Don’s bo is especially well-detailed and probably the finest bo staff the character has ever come with. It also breaks apart in the middle which can make storing it in his belt a bit easier to manage as it’s really tight. Leo’s swords are quite broad and resemble a falchion more than a katana. This is consistent with the show, though the broadness might be exaggerated some (though his swords were kind of all over the place and not very consistent in the show). He has holsters too for his blades and they too are also really tight. I couldn’t really get them in and didn’t want to force it, though I’ve seen holstered pics online so it’s certainly possible. Raph’s sai are probably the worst of the bunch as they’re really out of scale and resemble tuning forks. Raph also carried his sai in his belt near his buckle on the show which isn’t possible with the figure as the belt is glued on. It would have been nice it NECA had found a way to make it possible without taking away from the look, but I see why they wouldn’t want to add a pouch or something where there really isn’t supposed to be one. Mikey’s nunchucks are twin pieces of plastic connected by actual metal linkage, a practice NECA basically started with its Mirage version of the figure 9 years ago that has been adopted by pretty much everyone since. One ‘chuck handle can detach and a “spinning” chuck attachment can go in its place, which is a pretty nice feature. Like Raph though, he can’t store his weapons in his belt, though I suppose you could wedge them under his arm if you wanted. In the show, Mikey stored them on his shell in little holsters that basically disappeared when he was holding his weapons (Don and Leo’s holsters often did this too, especially after season one) and NECA must have valued the look of his holster free belt over one that basically never existed in the cartoon.

Additional accessories include four turtlecoms; two are open and two are closed, that look awesome. There’s also an additional four pairs of hands that can be used on any turtle, since their wristbands are part of the arms. There’s a box of pizza from Weird Pizza with one slice missing. That slice is also present and even has a hole through the center for placement on Raph’s sai. The turtle-hook, which showed up in later seasons, is also here if you wish to change-up Mikey’s weapon. It’s slightly oversized but that’s likely because the hooks actually come out of it slightly. It’s not a great effect, but still appreciated.

Naturally, these editions of the TMNT invite comparisons with the Figuarts ones from last year. I think, overall, the Figuarts ones are superior, but they should be since they retail for around $65 a piece. Their articulation is better, the swappable heads help make the likeness better, and I really love that Bandai came up with those swappable belt pieces so all of the Turtles can holster their weapons. NECA’s chosen skin tone is definitely closer to that of the main show, while Bandai’s resembles the opening credits and later seasons. The Bandai Turtles also each had four pairs of hands, while the NECA ones share a community of hands. If I had to pick one I’d take the Bandai ones, but I wouldn’t feel disappointed if I only had these NECA ones. Both look great and they complement each other pretty well as now we have turtlecoms and a closed turtle-hook.

Of course, the NECA Turtles have one big advantage over the SH Figuarts ones:  they come with a Shredder! Shredder, for some reason, has really received some bad treatment from toy manufactures. Even from NECA, who delayed the release of their Mirage Comics Shredder by eight years (with part of that being attributable to Playmates, but mostly to a marketing decision). Toy manufacturers are scared that Shredder and other villains won’t sell. Playmates cancelled their own toon Shredder after showing prototypes, and Bandai has yet to bring theirs to market even though he was unveiled over a year ago. And the old Shredder toys from the original line? They were terrible, with Shredder having blue spikes and no shirt, plus that really weird semi-crouching pose. Naturally, this Shredder is the crowned jewel of the set as he’s a near perfect likeness to the cartoon. He comes in at nearly 7″ tall making him much larger than the Turtles. The head sculpt is perfect and conveys a lot of personality despite the restrictive nature of the character’s helmet. The spikes are a nice, soft, pliable plastic and the fabric cape adds a nice touch. I had to watch old episodes of the cartoon to spot any differences, and the only inaccuracy I could find was with the shoulder pads that featured fewer spikes on television, but I’m not going to complain about some additional spikes! My only other criticism would be the two-tone paint job is again a bit overdone, especially on the helmet, though overall it works better on Shredder than it does on his adversaries. His open hands also have some excess plastic from the mold that’s a bit ugly, though if it really bothers me I could probably trim it off with a razor blade.

Shredder comes with a few accessories of his own to go along with his excellent sculpt. He has a katana of his own, which is unique to him, for sword-fighting with Leo. He also has a gun that resembles the retro-mutagen ray from the cartoon and looks good in his hands. He has three sets if hands: fists, gripping hands, and open hands. He also has a com-link with a little picture of Krang on it as well as a blue canister of mutagen. I do not remember this blue canister from the show, but I’m sure it existed. I only remember the standard glass one with glowing, pink, mutagen contained inside.

The two Foot Soldiers are identical to each other. They are slightly stooped over and feature those long limbs they were known for. They too come with three sets of hands each:  fists, gripping fists, and open hands in a karate chop like pose. There’s also a rifle and a large gun with a bowl-shaped end which was featured in the cartoon and also with the Playmates version of the character as well. The two-toned paint works well on the Foot, probably due to their clothing have a lot of molded creases and folds, and it’s hard to find any fault with these figures.

Lastly, we have Krang, who too looks fantastic. He’s a light pink and features his trademark scowl lots of lumps and veins. Liberal use of black lining gives his face added definition, though they may have gone just slightly overboard with it. His tentacles are on ball joints and are also easily removable. This is so Krang can hop into his bubble walker and the tentacles clip onto outside joints to resemble the cartoon look. When not in his bubble walker, he also has his little tripod from the first season that he scooted around on before Shredder completed his body. This is a great touch by NECA as I don’t think this has ever been done before. It snaps into a recessed area on his underside so it stays in pretty well.

The villains really help round out this set as NECA hit a homer on each figure. It’s nice to have a new set of the Turtles without having to worry if they’ll ever have some villains to tangle with. Naturally, there are people who probably wish they could get more Foot Soldiers for display purposes, but that has more to do with licensing than NECA’s wishes. I have no idea what the future is for this property as it concerns NECA. The popularity of this set leads me to believe that NECA would like to do more, but it may have to wait until next year. Fans undoubtedly would love a Bebop and Rocksteady and Krang is just over here begging for a body. Other characters like Splinter, April, Baxter Stockman, and others would probably be welcomed too. I personally have no desire to go in too deep, but I definitely am hoping for more. If the property dies here though, it’s still a very satisfying collection of figures that will display well for years to come. I hope to be done with buying anymore action figures of the Turtles from this show, and I may even pass on the Bandai Shredder should he ever see release as I’m more than happy with this one. If you have the opportunity to get this set at a reasonable price, I fully recommend it.

UPDATE 2019! – If you’re finding this late and want to get a set of your own, in early 2019 NECA announced a new relationship with Target that will allow them to sell these figures at retail. The catch? Playmates mandates they not be in the toy section and retail for at least $50. NECA has a spot in electronics and as of this update you should start seeing TMNT two-packs on shelves either really soon or already. Each turtle comes with one villain and all of the accessories from this set are spread across the releases. Check them out if you can because these are absolutely worth owning and future figures are expected in the fall of 2019! Happy hunting!


TMNT Classic Collection

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics are here!

I’ve been out of the toy collecting game for several years now.  I used to enjoy it as a hobby and it was a nice way to link my childhood to my adult life as I pursued action figures of characters I loved as a kid.  It became a compulsion eventually.  I started off just buying the characters I was particularly fond of like Venom and Iceman, but once it became a full-fledged hobby I was suddenly finding myself scouring department store toy aisles six at a time looking for an obscure Man-Thing or Warbird.  That’s when it became about the hunt.  Tracking down the exclusive Wal-Mart wave of Marvel Legends was especially thrilling.  It seems silly in hindsight, but it was kind of addicting.  Eventually though the quality of the figures declined and I also ran out of room for all of these toys.

I got a little taste of that rush today when I tracked down a set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics.  It was a pretty easy hunt as I found a full set at the first place I went to, but I can’t deny it was a lot of fun.  The wondering, the hoping they’d be there.  I credit my interest in the line to my love for the TMNT as a kid and the new collections put out by IDW Publishing of the old books.  I’m currently onto volume 3, expect a review once I finish it.

The reverse side of the packaging.

I’ve talked about it many times, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but I did love the TMNT as a kid and they still hold a soft spot in my heart.  One of my last toy-related purchases before today was for a set of the turtles puts out by NECA.  I dubbed them my all time favorite as they’re a wonderful representation of the turtles as they appeared in the pages of Mirage Studios brand comic books back in the 80’s.  These collections, plus a new line of comics launched by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, have helped to contribute to a renaissance for the turtles that will soon culminate in a new television show aimed at kids on the Nickelodeon network.  To capitalize on this, and the original cartoon’s coming 25th anniversary, Playmates has launched a new line of toys aimed at those who fell in love with the turtles through the toys and cartoon back in 1988.

This new line, appropriately titled TMNT Classics, was first shown last February at the New York Toy Fair and has recently hit shelves in speciality shops and big box stores like Toys R’ Us.  The packaging on these new turtles states that they’re based on the look of the turtles from the old cartoon, but it would be more appropriate to say they’re combination of that look along with the style of the old toys.  Back in the 80’s, kid’s shows were basically extended commercials for toy lines and the turtles were no exception.  The toys were developed alongside the show and since Playmates only had concept art to go off of they ended up having their own look.  Each turtles had his own unique skin-tone and all sported solid, white eyes.  It was basically a hybrid of the comic look and the one the cartoon would go with.  These new toys sport the rounded features of the cartoon along with pupils in their eyes but retain their unique skin-tones, though they’ve been changed some.  Raphael has a darker green complexion while Don isn’t as brown as he used to be.  Donatello and Leonardo also retain their shoulder straps and each turtle, excepting Donatello, has wraps around the handles of their respective weapons featuring their trademark color (Raph’s sais are red, Leo’s katana handles are blue, etc).  It’s an interesting approach though I do kind of find myself wishing that Playmates just went all out in trying to make these turtles television accurate.  We already have comic accurate turtles, and the 2003 toy line paid homage to the original toy line, but we’ve never had cartoon accurate turtles.  Yes there was a wave of Toon Turtles in the 90’s but they were pretty crappy looking.

Group shot! Notice how some of the pupils are oddly placed.

Even though they’re not entirely cartoon accurate, these turtles are pretty nice to look at.  They’re loaded with articulation but their features are more reminiscent of the TMNT movie line of figures than the NECA one.  NECA went through the trouble of trying to hide the articulation but Playmates didn’t see need to, so while a lot of poses are possible, the numerous holes and joints do detract from the look of the figures.  And if the joints aren’t tight, it really hinders the amount of poses one can achieve.  My Raph has pretty loose leg joints which makes standing him a chore.  The hands on all of them are particularly combative as each features articulated fingers and thumb.  The finger piece on the left hand of my Leo figure even fell off in the packaging.  They can never get a good, solid grip on their weapons and the hands on all four definitely feel fragile.  There’s also an abdominal joint in each turtle that’s kind of odd.  The show’s animators definitely did take liberties in how the turtles could bend and move in those shells but I’m not sure the abdominal joint adds much.  Playmates at least had the foresight to only insert the joint in the front and not the rear of the shell, which would have looked horrible.

I’m pretty disappointed with Mike’s face sculpt. It just doesn’t suit the character.

Scultp wise, all four turtles are the same with the exception of a unique head sculpt.  The head sculpts are a call back to the original toy line as each turtle features the same or similar expression he had back in 1988.  This means they all look angry and I kind of wish they had gone with less intense expressions.  Leonardo should probably be grim and serious, but Raph and Mike definitely shouldn’t be.  The figures are tall, around six inches, so they don’t fit in with any other TMNT toy line.  They’re not too stocky looking either, and their proportions do remind me a bit of the movie line for the TMNT film.  They have kind of odd looking forearms and really long arms in relation to their legs.  Overall though, the sculpt is pretty solid for each turtle and they look good side by side though I really do wish Mike had a better face sculpt.

As far as accessories go, these are pretty bare-boned.  While the original toy line came with a bunch of ninja stars and other oddities, these turtles only come with their trademark weapons and Don only comes with one bo staff.  Each turtle also comes with a personalized manhole cover stand and their belts can hold their weapons easily.  Some toon specific items would have been fun like a mouser or turtle-com, but oh well.  The quality of the weapons is pretty standard, though Playmates did go above and beyond with Mike and gave him actual chains on his nunchaku which is a nice addition.  I never want to see another Mike action figure that doesn’t feature this.

NECA Don with TMNT Classics Don.

The paint job for each turtle is solid, though not very demanding.  Playmates opted for colored plastic for most of the parts with the paint only really coming into play with the bandanas, eyes, and teeth.  In the case of the eyes, it leaves something to be desired.  The rounded shape of each turtle’s head makes it difficult to paint on pupils that appear to be focusing on the same spot.  As a result, both my Don and Mike almost look like they have a lazy eye.  This has convinced some collectors to just paint over the pupils on their figures and go with the classic all white look.  From what I’ve seen, this actually looks pretty good but does take away from the cartoon look.  I’m not one to modify my toys anyways.

So did Playmates deliver with their classic TMNT line?  Mostly.  These are the most cartoon accurate turtles to date and they feature a lot of articulation which will allow fans to pose them in almost any position they can dream up, provided the joints are tight enough.  Even though they are the most cartoon accurate figures of the turtles to date, they’re still not the definitive take on the source material and the copious amounts of articulation does take away from the look a bit.  They’re also light on accessories which is hard to take considering these are the most expensive turtle figures I’ve ever bought.  I paid 20 bucks a turtle at a specialty shop, though the MSRP is said to be $18.  That’s still a lot of money for an action figure that’s pretty basic but hardcore fans will probably pay it.  I’ll have a hard time finding display space for these guys, but the nostalgic factor alone makes me mostly happy with my purchase.  They don’t top what NECA did with the turtles a few years ago, but they’re pretty damn good in their own right.  If you’re the sort of fan that’s really in love with the TMNT, then these figures are for you.


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