Tag Archives: playmates

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 form, 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, and 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 form 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 is still 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 interest 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 Ultmates 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.


Action Figures!

It’s been almost a year since I made my initial entry talking about my affection for collecting things.  In that entry, I mentioned how I used to collect action figures.  I loved action figures as a kid, even more so than video games.  Action figures were my go-to toy when I needed to entertain myself.  I even separate my childhood into phases based on what line of action figures dominated my playtime.  In chronological order, they are:  Ghostbusters, TMNT, and X-Men/Spider-Man.  That basically took me from age four to ten or eleven.  Around that age playing with action figures and acting out climactic battles starts to feel childish, plus puberty kicks in which brings along a whole host of new interests and time-wasters.  Most of those toys are gone now, either sold at yard sales or thrown away.  I have most of my X-Men and Spider-Man ones, and I did save the original TMNT line and movie line, not because they’re worth anything, just because I’m sentimental.

Once I hit my late teens I started working a part-time job and soon found myself with disposable income for the first time in my life.  Most kids my age probably spent their money on booze and drugs, I ended up buying toys.  I’m not saying that makes me better than most of my peers, actually it kind of makes me a dork.  New action figures were way better than anything I ever had and they impressed the Hell out of me.  It didn’t make much sense to me, but I started buying more and more.  At first it was a figure here or there, then it started to become whole lines.  I’d buy what I thought looked cool, and then I’d just buy everything.  It was a compulsion.  This lasted probably from the time I was 16 until 22.  At that point in time I was living on my own, I had no place to really put more toys, and the Marvel Legends line switched from Toy Biz to Hasbro and went down the crapper.  Since then I’ve bought a few toys here and there, but by and large I’m done unless I have a kid who gets action figures.

To break up the monotony of all of these video game posts of late, I thought now would be a good time to go digging through some boxes and come up with my 10 favorite action figures.  And by favorite, I mostly mean favorite looking with some addition of intrinsic value taking hold as well.  If I were to make a list of my favorite and most played with toys it would have been an entirely different list.  These are, for the most part, all modern action figures that I acquired in my teens and twenties.  Most of them are from the world of comics, with some cartoon characters as well.  Before I get to my list, let’s take some time out for one honorable mention:

Turtle Trolls

There are some pretty cool gimmick action figures out there.  Lego versions of popular characters come to mind as well as Lego-type toys like Mini Mates and Kubricks.  The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had many such gimmicks that range from cool to embarrassing.  This one such cross-over falls somewhere in between, though for many it might fall into the embarrassing category.  Treasure Trolls were really popular in the early ’90s.  They didn’t do anything and were cheaply made, but for some reason kids had to have them.  Seeing an opportunity for a cross-over, Playmates and whoever made Treasure Trolls combined the TMNT brand with the trolls and the result was Turtle Trolls.  These things are quite silly, but terribly cute.  They still look mostly like turtles, just with big, colorful hair.  The accessories they came with were mined from existing Turtles figures and really don’t make much sense (Leonardo has the stone katanas that came with Cave Turtle Leo, for instance) but I guess Playmates felt they couldn’t just go with normal weapons.  For whatever reason, I liked this gimmick as a kid and still like it today which is why I still have a set of Turtle Trolls.

Honorable mention out of the way, time for the The Nostalgia Spot’s Top 10 Action Figures!

10. Marvel Legends Green Goblin/Spider-Man Classics Hobgoblin

I couldn’t separate these two, and since they’re so similar, they both get to share spot #10.  Hobgoblin was treated quite well by Toy Biz in the aughts as he received two really sharp figures.  The first Spider-Man Classics Hobgoblin was based on his demonic appearance.  Creatively, the sculpt took some liberties in making him look quite fearsome and the sculpter opted for brown instead of orange for the costume which gave the character a certain gritty-ness not seen in the comics.  As cool as it was, I prefer the more traditional take that came later.  This Hobgoblin is picture perfect when compared with the comic book character.  The colors are vibrant and clean and he wasn’t given some cheesy action feature that could detract from the sculpt.  The pumpkin bomb is permanently affixed to his left hand, but that doesn’t really bother me.  The Green Goblin is every bit as good.  He’s from the Marvel Legends line from the Onslaught wave.  The colors are a bit darker as the Legends line tried to appeal more to adults than the Spider-Man Classics line.  Perhaps a more vibrant paint job would have been more comic accurate, but this works just fine.  It’s not the worst thing in the world to downplay the purple and green color scheme.  Like Hobgoblin, his pumpkin bomb is also permanently attached to his hand.  His glider also has a nice stand for displaying instead of the more cartoonish smoke cloud that Hobgoblin has.  I like the angle the glider’s wings are at too, as it makes the figure much easier to pose.

9.  IF Labs Super Saiyan Vegeta

Dragon Ball Z was a big reason for my renewed interest in action figures.  I got into the series as a teen which made the action figures suddenly appealing.  For awhile, they were terrible as the US distributer, Irwin,  just re-released the old Bandai and AB figures which had long since become outdated.  Eventually, Irwin would start producing its own figures.  There were some growing pains, and the normal five inch line was geared more towards kids than collectors, but they ended up putting out some worthwhile stuff.  Their high grade collector line, IF Labs, had its share of misses but had some hits as well.  IF Labs focused more on the DBZ films, and this version of Vegeta is from the The Return of Cooler OVA.  Articulation wise, the figure leaves something to be desired as its pretty basic, but the sculpt and paint job is bad ass.  Vegeta was one of my favorites from the show, and I was stoked to pick this one up.  He’s around 7″ tall, making him short compared to the rest of the line but still larger than the standard line of action figures.  Irwin/IF never made a better Vegeta than this one, and arguably never produced a better figure than this one.

8. Marvel Legends Apocalypse

Not to be confused with the series 7 Apocalypse action figure, this is the massive build-a-figure Apocalypse from series 12.  At that point, Toy Biz had started releasing each figure in a wave with a piece of a larger figure.  This particular wave of figures came with a piece of the world’s oldest mutant, Apocalypse.  This was a welcomed figure as the series 7 Apocalypse was not well-received.  He was short and fat and a rather poor representation of the figure.  Most figures in the Legends line could trace their appearance to a certain point in time, but that Apocalypse really had no comic counterpart.  This one was true to the likeness of Apocalypse from the ’80s, just huge.  Yeah it would have been nice to have a 6″ scaled Apocalypse as this one is perhaps too big (even though one of Apocalypse’s many mutant powers was the ability to grow in size) but still pretty awesome.  He’s hefty too and one solid figure.  This Apocalypse was the last of the standard waves of figures to feature a build-a-figure of this size.  Future ones were much smaller in scale, which really diminished their coolness (especially for the series 13 Onslaught).  This Apocalypse is a mix of blue and black, though apparently some pieces were colored black where they should have been blue so there are a few more black Apocalypse’s floating around.  The range of motion on his legs is a bit limited, and he’s so top-heavy that he can be hard to stand.  The rest of the figure features typical Marvel Legends articulation.  In the original batch of figures one of his cables was missing and collectors had to go to Toy Biz for a replacement.  As you can see, I went through the effort to have a complete Apocalypse.

7. Unifive Ultimate Saiyan Vegeta

The only character to appear twice on my list, this Vegeta is of a much smaller scale than the previous one and attempts to capture the character in all of his forms from the anime.  It doesn’t quite pull that trick off, but he’s pretty cool nonetheless.  Unifive is a Japanese company and as such this is a Japanese figure that was never released in the US.  He was pretty costly at the time, and has only become more costly since release.  The figure is probably less than 5″ tall though I assume that’s so he can fit in with the other figures from the line (I don’t own any of the other ones).  His coloring is also supposed to resemble the manga more than the anime which basically just means he’s a little darker than usual.  The articulation is rather interesting as it’s mostly cut joints instead of ball joints.  He’s capable of a variety of poses but the cut joints hide the articulation well and make him easy to display.  He comes with a bunch of accessories that I didn’t feel like digging out.  As such, only a couple are displayed in the picture.  He came with four heads:  regular, super saiyan, majin, and oozaru (great ape).  The oozaru head includes damaged saiyan armor like what he wore in his first appearance.  He has a display base that’s just some barren ground with little saibamen heads poking out.  There’s an attachable mountain to cover-up the heads and a little tiny Goku clicks into it so you can display Vegeta in his ape form and he’s actually to scale with Goku!  He also has a removable tail and scouter.  It would have been nice if he had some shoulder pads to more accurately depict him in his Saiyan Saga attire.  There’s also no top to pair with the Majin Vegeta head for an accurate portrayal of that character.  The second set of figures from Unifive (featuring Trunks and Gohan) would do a much better job of accounting for the different looks of the characters.  Short-comings aside, this is my favorite 5″ scale DBZ figure.

6.  Marvel Legends Sentinel

Another build-a-figure, and this one really made use of the format.  This is a more modern take on the Sentinel character from X-Men and he’s pretty bad ass.  Pieces of this figure were distributed in wave 10 which had a very X-Men feel to it.  The coloring is muted and gritty and great care was taken to sculpt the more mechanical parts of the figure making a giant red and purple robot seem almost believable.  Like Apocalypse, there’s a tremendous heft to this figure that’s quite satisfying.  Unlike Apocalypse, his feet are huge making him easy to stand and pose.  He came with a couple of detachable cables (the same that were used for Omega Red from the same series) to coil around various mutants.  Not surprisingly, this one was a real hit with collectors as this was one giant figure that was mostly in scale with the others.  Many would buy multiples of the figures in wave 10 to create their own Sentinel army.  I was satisfied to just have one.

5.  Marvel Select Ultimate Venom

While Toy Biz was releasing highly articulated action figures to toy stores across the globe, Diamond was releasing high grade figures to specialty shops.  Their Marvel Select line had its own scale and focused more on creating a dynamic scene as opposed to making an actual action figure.  Most of the toys featured little articulation but usually came with a display base of some kind.  They also weren’t afraid to tackle some of Marvel’s more obscure characters and embraced the Ultimate Universe that was fairly popular at the time.  I was always a big Venom fan and I always bought the latest action figure to depict him.  Perhaps my standards were set too high considering he was my favorite character, but I often wasn’t completely happy with Venom figures.  This one though is the first I can ever recall being truly satisfied with.  He’s based on his appearance in Ultimate Spider-Man, but Diamond put out two versions of him and this one featured the iconic white spider logo that wasn’t present on the character in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man.  Like most Venom figures, he’s black but with some purple accents.  He’s a solid and heavy figure and has many sculpted pseudopods protruding from his costume.  I especially like the work done on the head and claws.  He also came with a frightened Peter Parker to torment eternally.  This is easily my favorite Venom action figure and there really isn’t a close runner-up.

4. Masterpiece Optimus Prime and Megatron

I’ve never been anything more than a casual fan of Transformers.  The cartoon never grabbed me like the TMNT cartoon, and I just wasn’t that interested in cars that transformed into robots, as cool a concept as that is.  That concept was cool enough for me to acquire a few Transformers here and there.  As a little guy, I had a couple that I only vaguely remember.  When Hasbro released the Generation 2 wave I bought a couple including the Generation 2 Grimlock and Optimus Prime.  When Takara/Hasbro unveiled the Masterpiece Optimus Prime a few years ago the collector in me had to have it.  Here was the perfect Transformer.  Not only does Optimus look like he was pulled from the cartoon, he also transforms into a perfect rendition of his truck form.  No sacrifices had to be made for one form or the other.  The one pictured is the US version which had smaller smoke stacks (apparently we can’t handle longer ones) but he’s still just as cool.  He came with several accessories, and is actually fairly easy to transform.  My favorite touch is the little button on the back of his head that makes his mouth-piece move like he’s talking.  It kind of makes me want to play with him right now.  And after Optimus was released, it was only a matter of time before a Megatron came out as well.  Like Optimus, Megatron is designed to resemble his cartoon form.  Here the designers weren’t as successful which isn’t surprising considering Megatron’s transformation is the most absurd one in the cartoon.  Still, they did a good job with what they had to work with.  His legs did come out skinny making him hard to stand.  Adding the tremendous weight of his arm cannon just makes posing him even more difficult.  When transformed, he makes for a pretty convincing replica of a Walther P38.  Gun enthusiasts won’t be fooled, but others might.  As a result, the US forced Hasbro to put a bright orange cap on the end which is why I got the Japanese version.  Unlike Prime though, transforming Megatron is a total bitch and is something I’ve only done a couple of times.  He has less die-cast than Prime too, making him more fragile.  He’s definitely the lesser of the two, and other Masterpiece figures like Starscream and Grimlock are probably better, but what’s Optimus Prime without his arch nemesis?  I had to include him.

3. Marvel Legends Deadpool

A piece of advice for any toy manufacturers trying to win me over; I love accessories!  When an action figure comes with everything it’s supposed to I get excited.  Marvel Legends Deadpool is a great example of a character coming with just the right amount of accessories.  He’s got a 9mm, two AK’s, two katanas, and a pair of sai.  He even comes with a second, mask-less head that’s totally creepy and an action stand for cool poses.  All of the details are in place including the goofy Deadpool mask-logo on his belt.  This figure reused probably the most popular sculpt Toy Biz would produce, the Daredevil sculpt, and even left Daredevil’s leg pouch on the right leg.  Reusing sculpts kind of sucks, but if it’s done well I can forgive it and this one is.  The only negative I can say about it are that the shoulders are a bit too bulky.  In that case, appearance was sacrificed some for articulation and Deadpool is loaded with articulation.  He can be posed in just about any position one can dream up and I love that all of his accessories have a place they can be stored on his belt.  The paint scheme is very clean and the costume is spot-on.  He is a perfect action figure.  Toy Biz either underestimated the character’s popularity or just plain had distribution issues because he was a bitch to find in stores.  Not long after Marvel Legends Series 6 was released, Deadpool was showing up on eBay for big bucks.  Really, that whole series was botched as Juggernaut and Phoenix were a colossal pain in the ass to find which is a shame because that was one of the better waves of figures Toy Biz ever put out.  Deadpool also came with Doop from X-Force, the slimer wannabe.  I don’t like Doop, so he’s not pictured.

2.  Hot Toys Dark Knight Batman

You may have noticed that some of these toys appeared in my original post about collections.  That’s not a coincidence because most of my favorite toys are still on display in my home, while the rest are sealed away in the basement.  This one was featured in that post and represents one of the last figures I ever bought.  Normally movie themed lines are terrible.  Action figures seem to always come out better when they’re trying to resemble a piece of art and not an actual person.  Action figures can sometimes point out how absurd a character would look in the real world making the figures totally undesirable or just plain ugly.  This is no such toy.  Hot Toys puts out high grade action figures that are more like dolls than what most would consider an action figure.  These things are stupidly expensive, which is why I only bought one from the series, but are extremely nice.  This take on Batman is from the film The Dark Knight and depicts his updated costume in that film.  He comes with a stand and a bunch of little accessories including an assortment of bat-a-rangs, bombs, and even a second head.  I’ve never bothered to switch him to the Bruce Wayne head because why would I ever want to?  His costume is a rubbery material that works really well because it’s how I imagine the costume would actually feel.  All of the little details are present making this probably the most accurate movie-based figure in existence.  He also came with an extra set of hands but good luck getting the factory attached ones off, I never could.  That’s okay though, because he looks cool as is.  He also sports quite a bit of articulation.  I’ve never gone through the trouble to really pose him but there’s plenty of pictures online of people who have.  If you’ve got about $150 burning a hole in your pocket and really want an awesome Batman toy, you can’t go wrong with this one.

1.  NECA Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Maybe I’m cheating again by making my number 1 action figure four figures, but as you can see, it couldn’t be done any other way.  The Ghostbusters got me into action figures, but my obsession exploded with the TMNT and they were really my first love.  These toys are everything I love about action figures.  They look great, move great, are loaded with accessories, and are of characters that I adore.  Each one has just the right amount of personality to separate it form the rest, perhaps even more so than the comics they come from.  And as you can see, these turtles are based on the ones from Mirage Comics.  Each one comes with a base, some knives, their turtle specific weapons, a little turtle, and an extra set of climbing hands.  That’s all well and good, but all I really care about is that each turtle has his weapons.  Mikey stands out in this regard as his nunchaku have real chains, how awesome is that?!  Every incarnation of the character released before that had all plastic nunchaku and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think one would come along with actual chains.  Raph’s sai are just wide enough that he can fit his fingers within the blades which is cool for display purposes (though I’m too scared to do it as I’m afraid the sai will stretch and break after awhile).  I love the expression on Donatello’s face, it just looks exactly how I picture him.  And Leo is Leo, which means he’s awesome.  Somehow, some way, NECA did not sell enough of these figures to warrant future ones.  They did do an April O’Neil figure that was just as ugly as the source material.  I’m guessing that one sold poorly which is why we never got a Mirage Shredder to join these turtles.  One was unveiled at a Toy Fair along with a Foot soldier, but he has never been released which is a shame.  At least we got four comic accurate turtles that kick all kinds of ass.  And if you really want a comic accurate set, NECA released a four-pack of the Turtles that are colored in black and white.  I prefer the colored ones, but it’s pretty cool they went through the effort of putting out a second set.


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