For the first time in a long time we went a week without a blog entry here. That’s because I took a much needed vacation and didn’t schedule anything. I’ll probably be backing off a little bit as we dig deeper into 2022 since there’s a certain holiday I need to get crackin’ on if I don’t want to be chained to this blog in December. I’m still committed to reviewing all of the fun toys I buy and today we’re going full Turtle Tuesday with a look at the latest from NECA Toys: The Secret of the Ooze Ultimate Shredder!
NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles family of products has expanded exponentially over the past few years, but the movie line has been far more steady. The company has pretty much exhausted product for the first film which means it’s time to dig a little deeper into the 1991 sequel The Secret of the Ooze. The Secret of the Ooze is definitely one of those films many loved as children, but upon a revisit in adulthood it doesn’t hold up particularly well. That’s largely due to the shift in direction to pivot away from the gritty format of the comic book and more into the Wacky Town antics of the cartoon that really launched the TMNT franchise into the stratosphere. Many parental groups took issue with the violence of the first film and supposedly actress Judith Hoag wasn’t really onboard for it either nor was Jim Henson whose Creature Shop provided the sophisticated costumes to bring the turtles to life. Golden Harvest and New Line Cinema were able to convince Henson to return for the sequel (he would unfortunately pass away before the film’s release) while Hoag was replaced with actress Paige Turco and the sequel was fast-tracked for a 1991 release to capture on the fad before it burned out.
A less obvious recast for the sequel was actor James Saito in favor of François Chau. I don’t think there was any real reason for such a decision beyond the sequel being put together quickly and some actors likely having other commitments. Like Saito, Chau is just asked to put on a costume and emote while the voice of the character was actually dubbed later. I guess neither was able to do a menacing Shredder voice. As a kid, it was not a surprise to see Shredder return for a sequel since he was the big bad guy in the cartoon, but when viewing the film franchise on its own it’s a bit surprising to see him back since his defeat at the conclusion of the first film seemed pretty final. The guy fell off of a building into the back of a garbage truck. Maybe the fall didn’t kill him, but Casey Jones (who also didn’t return because some felt his character was too violent) activating the crushing function of the truck surely would have! No matter, this is a story about mutated turtles after all, so Shredder is back and he’s got a new look to show off as well, hence why we need a proper action figure.
Ultimate Shredder is the fourth “Ultimate” release in NECA’s movie line and just the second release for The Secret of the Ooze at retail, not counting the Super Shredder variants. Tokka and Rahzar were released as a web exclusive while the actual Secret of the Ooze turtles were put up for preorder earlier this year and are not expected to arrive until early 2023. Considering how turtle-heavy so many lines associated with TMNT have been, it’s pretty cool to see Shredder be the first one out of the gate here and not just once, but twice! This Shredder follows the release of the same character from the first film and utilizes quite a few parts from that figure. And even though Shredder just basically storms around a garbage dump screaming about babies for most of the film, NECA still crammed the box full of accessories to make this a worthwhile release.
Shredder comes in the standard five-panel window box packaging that’s largely adorned by photographs of the figure itself. He stands right around 7″ to the top of the head and beyond that if you factor in the entirety of the helmet. Shredder is depicted in his film-accurate costume which featured a purple suit and swanky new helmet. Like the first Shredder, the paint job on the costume has a slight shimmer to it which bounces light very nicely. The black belt returns with the fabric strip over it to make it sort of functional if you want to stash a weapon or accessory in it. The arms and legs are reused from the first Shredder release as are the bladed bits on the forearms, shoulders, and shins. What’s new is obviously the head as this Shredder helmet featured serrated blades while the helmet portion has gold-tinted panels affixed to it (I think this was supposed to make the helmet look repaired in the film). The faceguard is the same, but underneath that is Chau’s likeness and it’s far more beat up than previous. NECA did a fantastic job with the painting of the face and for trying to piece together what Shredder’s face was supposed to look like now given that we never see it, we just see hints of the damage in the few closeups we get. Also new is the torso which is a bit of a surprise. I’m not sure why they felt the need to sculpt a new one, but I’m not complaining.
Shredder looks good placed among the few other Secret of the Ooze releases we have. He’s well-sized and the appearance of the figure looks very screen accurate. There isn’t much to find fault with from an aesthetic point-of-view, but I can find something. The blades on the helmet look like they could be angled down a bit more to better match the film and the box cover image. The only other very minor criticism I can levy at this one is that when viewing the figure from the side it’s clear there’s flesh-colored plastic in use inside the torso, which should be purple. The shoulder pads basically hide this when posing the figure and it’s only something one notices when inspecting the shoulder articulation, but this is a review and it’s something I noticed. Otherwise, I am quite satisfied with how this guy looks.
And it’s good that I’m happy with the visuals here because they do come at a cost. NECA always prioritizes the aesthetics of the figures in this line when it comes to adding articulation. The company usually includes a lot of joints, but it’s loathe to cut into the sculpt in some places if it will result in the figure looking “off.” And since this Shredder is very similar to the past one (and the Foot Soldier), it has the same limitations. The head is pretty locked-down because of the cumbersome helmet, but he can look down and gets some side-to-side rotation, but he doesn’t really look up much or feature much tilt. The shoulders are able to come out to the side fine, but the shoulder pads have to be worked around when rotating them. The elbows are the same, funky, double elbows NECA uses from time-to-time that few seem to like. As is always the case with these, they looks passable for sleeved characters and Shredder’s loose fitting attire works even better than some others. The joint features two hinges with a swivel point at each one so he can bend past 90 degrees. The wrist also swivels and all of the included hands have a horizontal hinge, a bummer when it comes to gripping hands and melee weapons. The waist just features a twist with nothing in the torso, the biggest shortcoming this figure has. The legs are the old-model ball-hinge that pegs into the crotch. They feel surprisingly loose on my figure and he can nearly do a full split. There’s a thigh twist there that’s rather tight with double-jointed knees below that. On both legs, the lower hinge is pretty tight, but I got both to move with just force. The ankles are hinged and can pivot, though the feet are pretty small so he doesn’t always stand as well as I’d like him to in more dynamic poses, but that’s what stands are for.
The articulation is passable and this particular Shredder really doesn’t need to do much. As mentioned before, he doesn’t really do anything in the second film. He doesn’t fight the turtles or even handle a weapon. Still, if you prefer to do something more dynamic with the figure it’s certainly possible it’s just not great at doing sword-swinging poses or two-handed poses beyond just holding a staff in front. It was something more frustrating with the first Shredder as I tried to recreate certain shots from the first film from the rooftop scene, but with this figure I’m left feeling more content and satisfied and I’m glad that NECA didn’t cut a diaphragm joint into this guy.
Even though Shredder has little to do in the film, NECA still stuffed the box full of accessories. For starters, Shredder’s faceguard can be removed and it just snaps into place. It’s a little tight and tricky to get in there, but once seated it looks great and it’s not going to move on you. The figure also has a removable cape which comes attached in the box. It has that wonderfully, ludicrous, swirly pattern from the film and it affixes to the figure via a wire that just wraps around the shoulder pauldrons. It’s a clever way to do it and less messy and bulky than the first film Shredder though I fear that I won’t be able to get it back on as neatly as the factory so I have yet to actually take it off (just watch one of the many video reviews likely floating around if you’re curious). Plus, I like how the figure looks while wearing it. In addition to those attachments, Shredder has three sets of hands: fists, open, and gripping. As stated previously, they all feature a horizontal hinge which is a bummer for the gripping hands.
NECA made sure to include some fun accessories as well giving Shredder all that he needs, and even some stuff he does not. Shredder comes with a TGRI canister of ooze, the same canister we’ve seen come with all of the Secret of the Ooze releases up to this point. I guess it didn’t cost much to include again, so I now have a bunch of these things. He also comes with arguably the only accessory the figure needs: the last vial of ooze. This is from the scene in the night club when he pulls out a little test tube of ooze to threaten some woman with. This is the ooze he eventually consumes to becomes Super Shredder. It can be stored neatly in the fabric belt or held in a gripping hand. A word of caution though, I placed one of the larger gripping accessories in the figure’s hands overnight which stretch them out a bit and now the vial doesn’t fit well as the grip is too loose. The hand might return to its tighter shape with time, but if you want to display Shredder holding this, maybe keep one hand reserved for it. In addition to that he comes with two weapons. These may not even exist in the film, and if they do, they were held by other members of the Foot or seen in the background. The first one is a short sword that fits into a sheath. The sheath could be wedged into Shredder’s belt, but it’s pretty bulky and would probably look dumb. The sword is the same one that was included in the Shadow Warriors pack making it a katana, per Splinter’s flashback, though it doesn’t really look like one. The second weapon is a large spear. It’s different from both the Super Shredder release and first film Shredder. It looks fine, but again, the character never used this so I don’t plan to display him with it. Lastly, we get the mutated dandelion that Freddy delivers to Shredder as proof of the existence of ooze. It’s fun and appropriate, though I can’t see myself displaying Shredder holding a massive flower.
NECA’s Ultimate Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is an excellent release in what is arguably the best subline from NECA. Just about every release in the movie line has been a knockout and Shredder is no exception. Considering the company is running out of character’s to do, this one feels like an essential figure for the collection for those collecting the figures from The Secret of the Ooze. And we know it won’t be the last as we have the turtles to look forward to and Keno has been confirmed as well with a full reveal expected soon (probably at San Diego Comic Con). I was able to import my figure for this review from a seller on AliExpress as it showed up in China first, but it’s also currently shipping out to Walmart stores in the US with some already finding it. Like Ultimate Casey Jones, it appears to be shipping in frustratingly low numbers for now, but hopefully that changes or NECA just makes it available on its website for those who can’t find it (the company has yet to do that for Ultimate Casey Jones). Even with shipping factored in, the total I paid to import the figure was less than what I would have paid if I had purchased it from NECA’s webstore, so if you want it and don’t want to stalk Walmart, keep your eye out. You’ll have to wait a few weeks for delivery in the US, but it is convenient. The price has likely climbed though and so far the secondary market is rather high here in the US making Walmart potentially the preferred option. It’s a pain, but hopefully everyone that wants this figure is able to find it for retail. Resist the scalpers and good luck!