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NECA TMNT “Trouble’s Afoot” Deluxe Foot Soldier

Threatening, but also not.

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

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

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

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

Yeah, I had to get two.

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

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

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

This really only happens in video games.

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

“You have failed me.”

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

You’re in trouble now, Shredder. Maybe.

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

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

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

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

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


NECA TMNT Cartoon Rat King vs Vernon

This might not be the mismatch you think it is.

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

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

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

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

Look at that smug asshole.

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

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

“April!”
Get behind the camera, Vernon!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bomb’s away!

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

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

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

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

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

Run, girl!

NECA TMNT Cartoon Splinter vs Baxter

Got another two-pack for ya!

I didn’t intend for so many TMNT reviews to hit one after the other, but Christmas pushed a bunch of stuff into the final week of December and then some surprise difficulties with another review has moved this one up. So be it. 2020 had a final surprise in store for collectors of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. NECA had previously announced all of Wave 4 of its cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure line would release in the fall, before having a change of heart. The two most anticipated releases of the wave were pushed to 2021, the deluxe Android Krang and the two-pack of Master Splinter vs Baxter Stockman in his mutated fly form. In addition to being some fan-favorites, these two releases were important to collectors as they represented for many the last essential release of the line. Everyone’s mileage is a bit different, but I think all can agree that the most important characters in the show are (in some order): the turtles, April, Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang, and Splinter. You could certainly make a strong case for the generic Foot Soldier, and maybe some would push for Irma considering she was in a lot more episodes than you may recall. No one would argue though that those 10 previously mentioned characters are not essential.

I guess these two were paired-up because of their similar height?

Well, as I said, 2020 had a final surprise and it’s that both the deluxe Krang and Splinter vs Baxter two-pack arrived early. They first popped up in California Targets in the middle of December and gradually worked their way east before the end of the year. I actually found my Krang on New Year’s Eve, but had to wait on Splinter vs Baxter until 2021. While it’s always nice to get something earlier than expected, I definitely wasn’t thrilled about the prospect of running out to stores and hunting for action figures during the holiday rush, COVID or not. The whole pandemic thing just added another layer of anxiety, but I suppose there’s enough fool in me that I did go out. I masked-up, armed myself with a ton of hand sanitizer, and went through stores as quickly as possible until I found what I was looking for. In the case of this particular set I’m reviewing today, I never actually found it myself and was helped out via the CollectorsHelpingCollectors hashtag on Twitter so a special shout out is reserved for user og3 (@OG_mulch) for helping a fellow collector out!

Check out the sculpting around the base of Baxter’s wings and extra limbs.

Splinter vs Baxter comes packaged in the standard NECA window box. It’s a thinner box than some of the more recent releases as these are two of the smallest figures in the line so far. The only one smaller is the Roadkill Rodney. Not that we’re going to hold their size against them as these two boys more than make up for their small stature. And perhaps to compensate, there’s a ton of stuff included with this release, most of which belongs to Splinter. Some of it should be very familiar, but some of it is pretty obscure and I’m not even sure where it all comes from, but I’m happy to have it! More than accessories though, I am just thrilled beyond belief to finally have cartoon accurate depictions of both of these characters. The old Playmates line featured a Splinter that didn’t really resemble any version of the character. There was a slight resemblance to the Mirage Studios depiction, but he was kind of his own thing. And there weren’t a ton of Splinters to follow, and none really resembled the cartoon look. As for Baxter, his Playmates version was close, but like a lot of that line there was a lot more detail and grotesqueness with the figure that the cartoon chose to ignore. Playmates also wasn’t that concerned with scale so even though he was a fly he was the same size as basically everyone. For the cartoon, they took the already short Baxter Stockman (he was the same height as the turtles, pre-mutation) and shrunk him further when he was mutated resulting in a rather diminutive villain. They also gave him a sweater vest, but kept the bowtie, which just further separated him from the action figure.

Enter: The fly!

I get the sense that Splinter is the figure fans are most excited for, but I want to talk about Baxter first. I touched upon it a bit in my review of the Super7 Baxter Stockman, but this character was one of my favorites in the cartoon. And since I never got the original toy, it actually made me drawn to him more. He was used sparingly in the show, and he was able to be a sort of perfect villain for the show because he could be threatening, funny, and even sympathetic. He was as much a villain for the turtles as he was for Shredder, whom he blamed for his transformation into a fly. And I love the design! He’s got that big fly head with tiny wings and those purple appendages coming off of his back. He’s just a fun design.

Aww, he brought flowers!
And he brought a friend.

For this figure, NECA absolutely nailed it. First off, I love his size. Like a lot of characters in the show, he could be inconsistent in how he was portrayed, but generally speaking, Baxter should be shorter than the turtles. And he is here as he stands around 4 3/4″ when standing upright. The proportions also look pretty good with Baxter having a rather large head given that he has those big fly eyes. The paint though is where this thing shines. The way NECA painted the eyes is especially striking. This line does a great job of really giving the impression that these characters stepped out of a television set, but Baxter might be a new highwater mark as far as that goes. And I think it’s partly due to the fact that Baxter is basically fully clothed as the shading NECA has utilized for this line works really well here. NECA also matched all of the hinged pieces to the appropriate color this time around, so no paint-flaking that reveals the wrong color underneath as we saw with Leatherhead and the Triceratons. Oh, there’s still plenty of flake though as NECA continues to paint over joints, but at least once removed it doesn’t leave behind an eye sore.

“Hey, dude, you’re lucky I left my fly swatter in my other shell!”
“Lucky, am I?”

Little Baxter comes packed with an impressive array of articulation. Mine did feature some pretty stiff joints out of the box. Some of that is likely due to arriving rather cold since it did come by mail to the north east in January, and some of it is just the usual assortment of stuck joints this line is known for. Strangely, the joint that gave me the most trouble out of the box was the head which is just a simple ball-joint. I held him under running, hot, tap water for a bit and was able to get it to move. It sounded like there was some paint or something just holding it fused and once broken his head spun just fine. He has good rotation up there with a little ability to look up, but he can look down quite far which is useful if you intend to place him on a flight stand. His shoulders are pretty standard, ball and hinges, but at the elbow he features NECA’s somewhat unique double-joint. There are two hinges at the top and bottom and the arm can swivel at the top joint. He can bend well past 90 degrees as a result, but be a little careful as after the head this was the part that was toughest to free up. The hands are pegged in and can swivel. There’s also a hinge, but the hands sit fairly deep into the cuff of his dress shirt so it doesn’t do much. There’s what seems to be a ball-joint at the waist hidden under the vest that allows for some rotation and a little pivot. The legs are secured via a ball-joint, but they lack the usual amount of swivel we see in this line. He can swivel his thighs maybe 45 degrees or so, it’s not much. The knees are double-jointed and his feet are hinged and can rock side-to-side. The feet are also stuck pretty well on mine, so be careful. Lastly, Baxter has those wings and extra limbs on his back which are all attached via a ball-joint and hinge. I wish NECA had added additional hinges to the purple “arms” and some pinching articulation at the claws, but they’re largely just decorative.

I hear people enjoy comparisons.

Baxter is able to move around quite well which comes in handy since he has plenty of stuff he can be posed with. For starters, Baxter comes packaged with fisted hands, but he also has a pair of gripping hands and a pair of trigger finger hands. I’m glad NECA gave him trigger finger hands since it could have been argued he didn’t need to come with them since his main weapon, the trans-mutation ray, doesn’t have much of a trigger. You may recall this weapon from the cartoon as it allowed Baxter to mutate Shredder into a fly and Michelangelo into a gerbil. It’s mostly white and features a dial on the rear of the gun by the sights that allowed Baxter to select what animal he wanted to apply to his victim. It’s well-painted and looks great, though I wish that dial could actually move. Mine has a black blemish across the top too that I hope to rub off. Baxter’s hands are painted purple and are pretty stiff so it’s probably not a bad idea to heat his hands before trying to insert this gun into them lest you want ugly purple smudges on it. Baxter also comes with his computer buddy who helped him escape Dimension X. I don’t remember if he had a name, but he’s basically a computer monitor with attached keyboard. The screen is a lenticular image so he can display different emotions and it’s pretty cool. He has an opening for a socket underneath, so I’m curious if NECA will sneak a body into another pack for him, even if it’s non-articulated. The doku flower is also included, which poisoned April in the same episode Baxter debuted his fly form. I’m actually not sure if this is a Baxter accessory or a Splinter one, as it could be the gazai plant which was used by Splinter to cure April. Both plants looked identical in the episode. What will likely entertain people the most though is the included fly Shredder and gerbil Mikey. Both are non-articulated, but they look pretty great. The paint is applied well and Mikey is actually quite cute.

“What the devil?!”

It’s an impressive haul for Baxter, and like I said, I appreciate NECA including proper trigger hands with him so he can also wield any of the other guns from the show (like the small handgun that apparently belongs to Splinter, but kind of looks like the gun Baxter used in “Enter: The Fly”) with ease. Maybe some wanted a goofy accessory like a stack of sugar cubes and I know people are aching for Mousers, but I suspect those will be included one day with a human version of Baxter. I’m happy with this loadout and it’s cool that his computer buddy could even just function as a computer in a display for someone like April, if it’s so desired. The inclusion of the trans-mutation ray also makes it more fun to compare this figure to the Super7 version since that one came with the same weapon, albeit, unpainted.

Your ninja training has begun!

Baxter is impressive, and his box-mate Splinter is much the same. He stands basically at the same height as Baxter with his ears taking him up to approximately 5″. This is a depiction of Splinter from early in the show when his fur was a lighter brown and his kimono a deeper magenta. In later seasons, his fur would change to a much darker brown and his kimono lightened to a shade of pink, or maybe it just looked lighter by comparison. This is my preferred look though and it makes the most sense since the main turtle figures we have feature that olive flesh-tone from the show’s early seasons. Splinter has a rather stern and serious expression on his face which is appropriate for the character. NECA’s toon shading they utilize is blended really well with the sculpted fur which is different as it’s usually more pronounced. I think it works quite well. There’s a minor paint imperfection on my figure where a blob of the light brown is present on the back of his neck, but it’s partially hidden by the kimono. His body doesn’t have the toon shading on it and is painted the darker brown as it’s hidden by the kimono. His hands though are cast in the light brown so it looks odd when his wrists are visible. The kimono itself is a soft goods addition which I think is the way to go with this figure. I just wish NECA had done something different with the belt as it’s just a black ribbon tied in a knot. It sits too high on the character’s chest as his lower abdomen is very round making it hard to put it in the right place. A plastic belt like the old Playmates toy or the more nylon one Super7 used might have worked better. Or they could have sculpted a channel for the belt to fit in. It would have made the figure look a bit ugly when disrobed, but who is going to display Splinter without his kimono? They also could have just made the figure less round which probably would have worked the best.

Well, he apparently didn’t put much thought into their names.

The articulation on Splinter comes largely as expected. He has articulation at the base of the head and where the neck meets the torso. It’s very stiff on mine even after heating it multiple times so I’m not sure if this is just my figure or if the articulation is doing what it’s supposed to. He can look down, but I can’t really get him to look up and turning his head is also a bit challenging. It’s hard to get just the head to turn without the lower joint trying to as well. And that one is sculpted fur to fit over the body so it’s a bit rough and definitely not a fun joint to mess with as it feels like it’s rubbing quite a bit on the torso. His jaw is articulated, but mine looks miss-aligned. It’s like he has a cross-bite and I’m tempted to see if I can get it into a better position with a heat gun, though I’d probably have to remove the soft goods lest I want to set them on fire. The arms are standard joints at the shoulder and feature double-joints like Baxter’s. They move very well considering you have to contend with the soft goods. My only concern is that the top pin holding the elbow joint together on the left arm of my figure looks pretty jacked up like it was damaged during insertion and pushed in too far. I’m only pointing this out because it seems to be rather widespread with this figure. He moves fine right now, but I’m definitely being careful there. The wrists are the same peg and hinge joints we’re accustomed to. There is a diaphragm cut and the legs are joined with standard ball-joints. The shape of his rump prevents him from kicking back, but he can kick forward and balance on one foot so ninja kicks are still on the table. His knees are double-jointed in a very rat-like manner as they angle backwards. There’s a hinged joint at the ankle and also a toe hinge. Thankfully, that ankle joint is cast in white so no paint blemish down there, but the toe hinge is a bit ugly as there’s a gap between the wrappings and toes. Lastly, Splinter’s tail is connected via a ball-joint and moves much better than any of the other tails we’ve seen in this line. It’s also a wire with plastic sculpted over it so there is some bendy quality to it. It’s not a lot, but better than the movie Splinter from NECA.

Splinter, I think it’s upside-down…

Splinter probably won’t demand a ton of posing ability from most collectors, but he is a ninja and should be able to move like a ninja. I think NECA did just okay in that respect. I really wish they could have figured out a scheme that allowed him to cross his legs in a meditative pose or got some more torso articulation into him as well. I feel like they could have taken advantage of the fact that this is a robed figure, like they kind of did with the movie version, to fit torso articulation into him that may not have been super aesthetically pleasing, but would have been covered up. He looks the part, which is most important, he’s just not quite the homerun I was expecting after seeing the promotional images.

That’s a lot of stuff for both figures.

Even more so than Baxter, Splinter is loaded with extra goodies. He comes with gripping hands instead of fists, but also has five extra hands to work with. I should clarify they’re more like relaxed gripping hands as he has a set of tighter gripping hands he can swap for. He has a set of what I would call martial arts posed hands, or maybe even meditative hands. One even looks like Bart Simpson’s infamous Touch of Death. The other is a two-finger pointing hand. And lastly, he has a right, single-finger, pointing, hand. All of the hands are painted light brown and feature sculpted fur and claws, though the claws are unpainted (which is consistent with the show).

When a walking stick literally won’t cut it.

Splinter has all of those hands because he has a lot of stuff to hold. The relaxed gripping hands work great with his books and scroll. He has two books, one is open and features depictions of the artists that inspired the names of the turtles and the other is closed. The scroll, which is from an episode of the show and did something, is unfurled and he can hold it via either end. He also has his walking stick which the relaxed hands can fit over for standing poses. The tighter gripping hands come into play with the sword and gun. The sword is the Sword of Yurikawa taken from the episode of the same name. It looks a lot like one of Leo’s non-stylized katanas, which is to say it doesn’t really look like an actual katana. It has a yellow-gold hilt and short blade, but best of all, it comes with a flaming effect piece which is cast in translucent orange plastic and slides over the blade. It’s pretty cool and if you prefer your Splinter to be less of a pacifist this should work. If you think that blade is too elegant though, there’s a gun. I don’t recall where this gun came from, but it’s a small pistol. Splinter also has a Yin Yang medallion that he can wear and a dojo mat to meditate on. The mat is kind of cool as it’s made of a springy, foam-like, material instead of paper of cloth. Lastly, we have a little rat. It might have made more sense for a Hamato Yoshi to come with a rat, but I’m not complaining. The martial arts pose hands can even allow the rat to sit in Splinter’s palm.

When necessary, Splinter can turn up the heat.

That’s a lot of stuff, and there was so much in the box that NECA had to put the extra hands on their own, separate, tray and tape it to the underside of the main bubble tray. It’s something I really appreciate about NECA and this line as when figures seem to come in under budget they fill the set with extra stuff until they hit their standard baseline. They could have just shipped a set with a larger profit margin than usual, but didn’t, and that’s cool. I give a lot of credit to brand manager Trevor Zammit for spending probably far too much time with this cartoon to find all of this stuff and to director Randy Falk for encouraging him. Of the two figures, I think I prefer Baxter as he both looks fantastic and has the articulation needed to make him wonderful. I do wish he had a little more articulation in those purple appendages he’s got, and I wish NECA in general would start supplying vertically-hinged hands for proper weapon wielding. And I also largely like what we have with Splinter. He looks like the character from the show, and while I found more room for criticism with him, I still think he turned out well enough. You won’t hear me asking for a better version anytime soon.

And when that doesn’t work, he’s also packing heat.

This puts a capper on NECA’s release schedule for 2020 as far as TMNT is concerned. It was quite a year for the line with lots of frustration, but also lots of damn good toys. Trying to figure out a favorite is an exercise for another day, but I’m really looking forward to seeing what’s next. Next up is a Rat King and Vernon two-pack and I am super stoked to add a cartoon accurate Rat King to my collection. Also announced are the punk frogs, Ace Duck, Mondo Gecko, Muckman, Chrome Dome, and a four-pack of turtles all featuring cloth goods trench coats and new headsculpts. There’s also the cartoon city scape diorama set to ship to those who ordered it last year sometime this quarter. 2021 is going to be busy, but hopefully rewarding. Once again, thanks to those in the collecting community who helped me secure this set and good luck to the rest of you. Remember, don’t feed the scalpers! Good luck, and happy hunting!

At long last, the family is together.

NECA TMNT Cartoon The Wrath of Krang!

Bring the wrath!

We’re back for 2021, and right now it looks like a lot like 2020 as we have a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figure to talk about – Android Krang! Hopefully, this doesn’t mean 2021 is a lot like 2020 going forward, but if it’s going to copy anything from 2020 then let it be the toys. There were a lot of toy releases in 2020 that caught my fancy, so much so that this blog is practically a toy blog 11 months out of the year and a Christmas blog the other month. As long as the toy releases remain this good, then that’s fine by me!

One of the weirder characters from the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon is Krang. It’s easy to lose sight of just how weird he is because he’s in nearly every episode. He’s overexposed so it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that he’s largely portrayed as a rather large, thick, dude in a Speedo with a brain in his stomach. Krang was obviously inspired by the Utrom from the original line of Mirage Studios comic books, but in the hands of Fred Wolf Productions he became quite an intriguing character. An oversized brain with a face and tendrils, he was there from the start and Playmates quickly introduced an action figure into its toyline. That version of Krang was depicted in his “bubble walker,” which was basically a bubble with robot legs he could sit in. The toy also had robot arms that could be attached to it, though when it came to the cartoon I do not recall ever seeing such a thing (the bubble walker in general was rarely seen). From the moment we meet Krang in the series, he’s demanding Shredder create a body for him based on some blueprints he keeps waving around. By the end of the original mini series, he has that body and that was the version of Krang we came to know and love.

When NECA first tapped into the cartoon property for a comic con exclusive set, it included Krang with that same bubble walker Playmates had run with for its first version of Krang. All probably assumed NECA wanted to do a proper body for Krang, but at the time no one knew how far the company was going to be permitted to go with this property. When the inaugural wave was first unveiled, NECA referenced the expected body with their version of Krang waving a set of blueprints in action figure Shredder’s face. The following year, the body made its debut! Titled “The Wrath of Krang!” this release marks the second in what NECA calls the deluxe line of figures following last summer’s release of Metalhead. The deluxe line is essentially reserved for larger figures and figures that require their own unique tooling that won’t bare fruit later. Metalhead retailed for $30, while Krang retails for $35 likely due to the amount of accessories included and the figure’s increased size. It’s still a Target exclusive, so if you’re sick of hunting for toys at that store I’m afraid Krang is no different. However, if a figure was worth the trouble it might be this one as Krang in this form is definitely an essential character and one no TMNT collector likely wants to go without.

The only downside to NECA’s retro packaging is you’ll likely want to keep it.

Krang comes packaged in NECA’s Ultimates styled packaging which is the five-panel window box. The artwork on the box is a direct homage to the TMNT VHS releases by F.H.E right down to the font and art style for the characters depicted. Credit for the concept goes to brand manager Trevor Zammit with the actual packaging and illustrations credited to Chris Raimo and Dan Elson. It’s really a sight to behold and definitely hits all of the right nostalgia notes for those who grew up with the property. I’m able to bring myself to toss the standard two-pack boxes, but I can’t trash these ones. They’re just far too charming.

The original Krang (left) really captures the season one look while the new one is designed to fill-out the opening in the body and is more reflective of the other seasons.
The new Krang may be larger, but he still fits in the bubble walker. His tendrils are more secure in his body too, which I assume to is to prevent them from dislodging inside the body.
“Krang, would you shut up about that stupid body!”

Krang is relatively easy to remove from his package and presumably would be easy to re-insert should you desire. Once removed, he stands around eight and a half inches tall before inserting the antenna into the top of his head (which he comes with an extra, in case you lose or break one). Krang is packaged separately from his body and needs to be placed inside the body’s stomach opening. To do so, you have to remove the top half of the body from the bottom above the yellow cavity. The body is pretty rigid and NECA did not include instructions. The easiest way I’ve found to take him apart is to push from the inside against the side wall to release the body from a little tab in each side and front. Once you get one side out, it comes apart easy, but definitely don’t force it or you could scratch the paint. Once apart, Krang can be placed inside it and has a little plug that will hold him in place to a point. He can’t be shaken or turned upside down and expected to stay put, but if you’re sticking him on a shelf he should be fine. There are two joysticks inside the body to simulate Krang’s control over the body and they can slip inside his tendrils. They’re both on ball-joints and can be manipulated which is a really cool touch. The Krang figure is also brand new as the previously released one was deemed too small to work. He has a different expression that I’d say is fairly neutral and his tentacles are shaped to work with the joysticks. He still fits in the bubble walker though, if that’s something you want to do.

Some assembly required.
He looks happy (you’ll have to take my word on that).

The first thing you’ll notice once in hand, aside from the size, is that this guy has a lot of paint on him. NECA seems to love paint with this line and very little on this guy is just colored plastic. Even the body’s flesh tone is paint on top of a similarly colored plastic. The end result is a figure that looks like it was ripped from a cartoon, but it also means he’s susceptible to paint imperfections, chips, and the like. I was lucky to find this figure at retail along with five other sets so I was able to look at them all and choose the best one. Of the six, only two featured minimal imperfections. The others had eyesores on their chest or arms that couldn’t be ignored. Would they have stopped me from buying one had they all been like that? Probably not, but I might have kept the figure in box in hopes of finding a better one later. It’s definitely something to be aware of and if you’re buying one online or receiving via trade or something then buyer beware.

You’ve got to admire Krang’s confidence in his choice of fashion.
The handle and “butt port” seems to imply it’s also been built for fun!

Aside from the paint issues, the only other item to concern yourself with are the joints. I’ve seen many reports of tight or stuck joints, and that’s usually a symptom of the paint getting into them. I didn’t have any stuck joints, but I did have the usual paint flaking from the elbows and knees as I worked them a bit. I probably worked this one less than most NECA releases as his joints were fine on mine and to avoid more paint flaking. I don’t need him to do anything too extravagant, so I didn’t push it. The actual look of the figure is very cartoon-accurate. I like the scale quite a bit and I think NECA settled on the appropriate height and mass for the figure, which is tougher than it sounds as his size fluctuated a lot in the show. And I’m not referring to the few times he literally grew in size. All of the little touches I recall are present too, like the handle on the back of the body and even a port, which I don’t remember, right on his ass. Was this for charging the body? He has red hands, which I believe were quickly changed to flesh colored in the cartoon, though it wouldn’t surprise me if they went back and forth as that show was not a model of consistency. The sculpt is great though, and the only room for criticism resides in the face. When the figure was first shown, he had a more pronounced frown with the mouth shaped a little differently. I’ve seen some express a preference for that, but I don’t really care or feel that one is any more appropriate than the other. The only other oddity is with the eyes in which the left eye slit is larger than the other. This also wasn’t present with the prototype and I have no idea if it’s intentional or not. It’s one of those things that you may not notice, but once you do, it cannot be unseen.

“Bring me my rock soldiers!”
“I said rock soldiers!”

Krang articulates in basically all of the manners necessary, though he’s functionally a bit more limited than most of the other figures in the line. The actual Krang features ball-jointed tendrils that can be popped out if you want to make use of the bubble walker. The body features a ball-jointed head that mostly just rotates. The shoulders are hinged and on ball-joints, but the oversized shoulder pads restrict a lot of the range. The shoulder pads are soft so you can force the arms higher, but keep in mind it will probably put stress on the paint on those shoulder pads. The elbows feature a single hinge, but do swivel. The hands swivel as well and have a hinge, but they sit pretty deep and that hinge is largely rendered moot. There is a waist swivel below the yellow compartment for Krang. It’s a little loose on mine, but I was able to seat it a little better out of the box and there’s no gap issues. The thighs are are on ball-joints and the red underwear or trunks is a soft plastic that can be moved around, but you’re still not going to get a ton of range from that area. The thighs do swivel and the knees are double-jointed. The feet are on hinges and I think they should rock side-to-side, but mine may be stuck and I don’t want to push anything. If this figure is going to have durability issues it will likely be with those feet as I’ve seen a few broken ones on social media. This guy isn’t really meant to be posed in too dramatic a fashion. He doesn’t need to as his size alone gives him plenty of shelf presence since he’s easily the tallest in the line (a title that will be short-lived as NECA is prepping a Chrome Dome for 2021). He can be made to look like he’s swinging one of his arms or aiming a blaster and that’s really all he needs to do. He stands all right by himself, but he’s definitely a top-heavy figure and those tiny feet do not do him any favors. Because of all the paint on him, I think I will also reinforce him with a stand as one fall could really do some damage to the aesthetics of this one.

Ready to bust shells.
For when a gun seems too clean.

Krang comes packaged with a whole mess of optional parts and items. Way more than what came with Metalhead. For starters, he comes packaged with open hands and comes with two sets of gripping hands. One set is a relaxed gripping hand and the other a tighter one. He doesn’t actually come with anything that he needs to grip, but if you wanted to give him a gun or communicator you have the hands to do it. It would have been cool if one of the sets of hands was flesh-colored to match his other appearances in the show and it’s a detail I’m honestly a little surprised NECA didn’t capture. In addition to the hands, he has other attachments that can take the place of his hands. He has a set of lasers that definitely look like something that would be featured in the cartoon. He also has a pair of flails with actual chains that look really neat, though I wish one had a rigid, plastic, chain for style-posing rather than both featuring the real thing which just hangs from the arm. There’s also an axe head that can be attached to one hand and a circular saw to the other. The circular saw is pretty cool as it actually spins, but sadly a factory error means every saw was assembled incorrectly and the back of the blade is exposed. The only way to fix it is to break it and re-assemble as it’s on a peg. The reverse side is properly painted and looks awesome if you have the courage to do it, but I’m still getting there. I’m not expecting NECA to offer replacements and if it does get corrected it will be with the next factory order so we’re probably on our own with this one.

Only slightly more ridiculous than his usual look.
Aww, what a cutie!

In addition to the assortment of weapons, Krang also comes with some fun stuff that’s definitely on the lighter side. Remember the episode where Shredder contacts Krang on their video communicator only to find Krang recently emerged from the shower? If that’s something you do remember fondly, you can recreate that look for your Krang! NECA included a shower cap that rests on his head. Just remove the antenna, put it on, and replace the antenna! There’s a bar of soap on a rope that fits around his neck and a blue, felt-like material to wrap around him for a towel. It’s goofy and I love it and it might make people want to buy two so they can display both versions. Krang also comes with the blue prints for his body and what looks like the Foot Knucklehead. They’re printed on paper and might look nice in a diorama. Lastly, there’s also a mini figure of Baby Shredder. He gets exposed to a fountain of youth or something in one episode and reverts to a toddler. The figure has a great, bratty, expression on his face and even features some articulation. The head is on a ball-joint as are the arms. There’s also a hinge in the middle of his torso so he can sit or stand. The paint is nice and clean and his shoulder blades feature mud, or sand, which is a reference to the episode. It’s silly, but fun, nonetheless.

He’s got a day care business on the side.
PSA from Krang: normalize breast feeding.

The deluxe, or ultimate, release of Krang largely lives up to expectations, which were pretty high for this guy. NECA nailed the likeness and made sure to include a ton of optional, but worthy, accessories. It’s really tough to settle on a display for him because there are just so many options and the desire to have multiples is pretty strong. He looks great beside his fellow rogues or in combat against his enemies and I do get the sense that NECA went the extra mile to really make sure that this figure felt special. And that’s a great feeling to have with any purchase and especially with collectibles. The only drawbacks I really find with him rest with the paint and the saw error is a bummer. There’s no denying that all of the paint utilized for this figure helps give him that cartoon look, I just wish it could be applied more consistently. I also wish it was a little easier to separate the two halves of the figure, but once I have the figure inside I don’t really need to pull it apart anymore. He’s easy enough to reset, it’s just getting his tendrils around the joysticks that often necessitates more intervention.

“So, do we like, look at the head of the brain in the stomach?” “I don’t know, Mikey, just hit him!”

NECA’s The Wrath of Krang is currently a Target exclusive. There is some hope that eventually NECA will offer a made-to-order method of production with this one as it figures to be a figure that’s very much in-demand with collectors, more so than other releases. NECA is currently still working to fulfill all of the made-to-order items it offered last summer so I wouldn’t expect any news on that front until late winter or spring, at the earliest. The other silver-lining though is that both Target and NECA seem to be on the same page with this release and he’s being shipped in far greater numbers than we’re used to. Most stores appear to be receiving one or two cases with each featuring six Krangs. There’s still some confusion on how they’re being stocked though as images have circulated on social media of the shipping containers indicating that these are to be stocked and handled by Target employees. This differs from every other NECA release which is handled by an independent rep. Normally, that rep comes in once or twice a week and puts out new stock and Target employees largely have little to do with it. With them being handled by Target though, this means stock actually gets scanned into inventory and employees may be more willing to help collectors find them. It’s still a free-for-all though as my nearest store appears to still be leaving these to the rep. Target has yet to offer this release online as it has for every other TMNT release so if you’re having no luck locally you at least have an online release to (hopefully) look forward to. And if you’re really having trouble, get on Twitter and look for the CollectorsHelpingCollectos hashtag. Chances are, someone will have access to this figure and will be willing to help you out without any mark-up. It’s a great way to beat the scalpers and it’s nice to know that fellow collectors are looking out for each other. Good luck, and happy hunting, as this is a release not to be missed!


NECA Gremlins Santa Stripe and Gizmo

There’s a new Santa in town this year.

The Christmas Spot is just around the corner, but before we can get to there we have a new Christmas action figure release from NECA Toys to talk about: Santa Stripe! NECA has done an admirable job of mining material from the film Gremlins and it’s sequel Gremlins 2: The New Breed, and Santa Stripe is another fine example of that. This figure originates from a promotional image used for the film around Christmas 1984, and since Gremlins is a Christmas movie, it works on two levels. While Stripe never dons a Santa suit in the film, he did in that image and it’s hard to argue it’s not something well suited for an action figure release.

That’s some fine packaging.
Good luck recreating that pose on the inside panel.

Stripe is essentially a re-release of the Ultimate Stripe figure released by NECA, which is more or less the same Gremlin figure that’s been released over and over. That’s not a criticism or anything, it’s just an observation. The base Gremlin figure is a roughly 6″ tall figure with solid articulation that can be added onto to achieve a desired end by NECA. There’s a gamer Gremlin, flasher Gremlin, caroling Gremlins, and so on. This one is different in that it’s a specific character, Stripe, and the only difference there lies in the face and head which contains his signature stripe of white hair and unique portrait. The rest of the package consists of soft goods and accessories to go along with the terrific packaging NECA products are known for with its Ultimates releases.

Look at that handsome boy!
Aww, he’s smiling!

This festive rendition of Stripe comes in the five-panel window box package all of the Ultimates come in. The front panel features an update to the promo art the figure is based on and the rest of the panels contain product shots. There’s a window box revealing the figure inside and I must say this packaging is excellent because it’s easy to reseal. This is extra important for a Christmas themed release because I can see a lot of people taking this guy out for the holidays and then tucking him away with the other Christmas decorations in the new year.

The entire wardrobe is removable, though I’m too much of a baby to take off the suit.
Stripe’s signature hairstyle can be found under the hat.

Stripe comes packed with a solid range of articulation. His head has excellent range and can rotate and look up and down and the base of the neck is also articulated as well. His ears are posable which helps with the hat and his jaw is articulated as well. He does not feature the same eye articulation that the Ultimate Gizmo possesses, but he also doesn’t really need to express much range of emotions, he’s mostly just homicidal. The shoulders are on ball-joints allowing him to raise his arms almost to 90 degrees. The costume prevents him from going forward and back all the way, but I assume he could if it was removed. The elbows are single-hinged, but do rotate, though the costume again limits that function, and the wrists are hinged and can swivel. There’s articulation at the thigh and knee, but given the crouched position he’s in the range is rather minimal. Like a lot of insects which Gremlins seem to borrow some style from, he has what is kind of like a second knee above the ankle which gives him that crouched look. There’s nothing going on in the torso, so Stripe mostly just stands there with his arms and head being relied upon to add character to his posture. It’s, as I said, solid. It’s not spectacular, but given that these characters were rather stiff puppets in the film they’re not really begging for articulation as a means of being screen accurate. This figure also has the added burden of the soft goods, which is quite form fitting, but does restrict movement. I suppose the optimal way to pose him would be to remove the costume, pose him, then replace, but I’m the type who doesn’t like to mess with soft goods. Plus I think he looks good as-is.

Everyone’s favorite Mogwai is now the cutest accessory.

It’s the accessories that make this figure, and that’s where NECA nailed this release. Santa Stripe’s uniform looks great on him and I like the inclusion of soft goods over molded plastic for the main uniform. While it does hinder the articulation, it’s just too authentic a look to make that trade-off not worth while. It’s a plush material that’s soft to the touch and the belt across the coat is quite sharp looking. It has Velcro in the back so don’t try and undo that buckle. The coat also has Velcro in the front and the pants on the seat. There’s even a little opening for his “tail” or carapace to stick out. The hat is the same plush material and has a wire running through it for posing. The beard is attached to the hat via an elastic which slips over Stripe’s face and stays on just fine. He also comes with a sack for whatever a Santa Gremlin delivers. It’s blue and the same plush texture of Stripe’s suit with gold moons and stars printed on it. A wire runs through it so you can shape and position it however you like. Rather than have an actual drawstring, a gold-colored rope is included to tie around it. It’s a bit of a pain, but maybe a drawstring would have interfered with the wire. Lastly, there’s a little, to scale, Gizmo that can fit in the sack or just hang around. It’s actually articulated, with rotation at the head, shoulders, and wrists which is nearly as much articulation as what is found in the larger Ultimate Gizmo. It’s painted and has sculpted fur and Gizmo has a permanent smile on his face. He’s adorable and the only thing that looks odd about him are that his hands are a bit big. The left hand especially just looks odd on mine and I initially thought he had two right hands by mistake, but I don’t think that’s the case. He also has a candy cane he can hold which I find hides the oddness of the hands a bit.

Stripe can kind of haul Gizmo around over his shoulder.
He’s better equipped though to cradle him lovingly like a little baby.

If you’re looking to pose Stripe in a manner similar to what’s on the front of the box, you may get discouraged. The limited rotation of the arms is a challenge, as is getting him to properly secure his sack over the shoulder since that rope isn’t attached. The only way to really do it without introducing other elements is by having the figure crouched so far forward that he’s almost horizontal and resting the sack on his back and using one arm for stability by placing his hand on the ground. If you don’t want Gizmo in the sack, then it’s much easier since it’s so light, but I suspect many may just resort to having Stripe hold the sack open at his feet with Gizmo either popping out or standing nearby. On the plus side, I guess I don’t have to try and construct a chimney to display with him.

Gizmo roasting on an open fire…
Ahh Cindy, you might just want to let this Santa take the damn tree.

Santa Stripe is definitely an eye-catching item to add to one’s Christmas display. Obviously, being more a horror-themed creature he’d probably stand out in most displays, but the bright and well-detailed Santa suit gives him that “pop” factor. He mixes well with the Ultimate Gizmo in his festive, Christmas, attire even if the scale isn’t perfect. I imagine he mixes even better with the winter caroler Gremlins sold in two-packs, but I don’t have a set of those (I’ve resisted that one, don’t tempt me further) and if you like Gremlins, or are more like me and just love everything to do with Christmas, this one should leave you feeling pretty happy.

Merry Christmas, and watch your back!

Santa Stripe is presently being sold as a Target exclusive in the US for $29.99. He has sold out online, but should be hitting stores right about now. If he’s anything like the other Gremlins releases, he shouldn’t be too hard to find, but don’t sleep on him if you do run across him as I assume he’s limited to the holiday season. He could return in 2021, like the carolers, but I don’t believe that’s been confirmed. Happy hunting!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Triceraton Infantryman and Roadkill Rodney

That Triceraton cartoon has some real “Karen” energy.

Wave 4 of NECA’s Target exclusive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon line continues with its second two-pack release: the Triceraton Infantryman and Roadkill Rodney. The Triceraton has been adapted for basically all iterations of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles save for the live-action films. The Triceraton frequently appeared in the collections of kids in the early 90s as it was a somewhat early release in the Playmates line of figures. Despite that distinction, it was a late addition to the cartoon universe not showing up until the Season 7 episode “Night of the Dark Turtle” where the character took a backseat to a crazed Donatello who basically fancied himself as Batman. As for the Roadkill Rodney, it was an early addition to the cartoon universe as it appeared in the original mini series that got the whole TMNT craze kickstarted. Despite that though, this tiny robot went without a figure entirely until now.

The Triceraton basically looks like a mutated triceratops, as the name would suggest. In the cartoon, they’re a race of space reptiles looking to conquer and enslave Earth. In order to make that a reality, the Triceraton Empire sends a whopping five units to Earth to get the job done. You can probably guess how that turned out. Among those numbers was Captain Zorax and his attendant, Zork. If you prefer those two to what we have here then you’re in luck as they should be released soon as a two-pack of their own. What is contained in this two-pack is the lowly infantryman (infantry…dino?) whom the Playmates figure was based on. The major distinction between the three is in the color of their scales as this fellow happens to be mostly orange with an armored onesie. Being a soldier, he’s packed with weapons and this two-pack is being advertised by NECA as an “army builder” set as many fans may want two or three of these brutes in their collection as opposed to one. Never mind the fact that many Target stores limit these sets to one per customer.

Don’t laugh at his space onesie!
He can really look up should he find himself in the rare position of being shorter than his foe.
The tail is not cartoon accurate, but NECA is counting on you either not noticing or not caring. You can also see the “pants folds” on the sides of the thigh from this angle.

The Triceratons are a rather brutish race of reptiles and therefore are rather large. This figure from NECA captures that reality as it’s one of the largest in the series thus far standing at roughly 7 and a half inches tall which puts it on par with the likes of Leatherhead and Granitor. Being that he is a big dude, there’s a lot of parts reuse at work here and I suspect that will be very true of the other Triceratons to come. The arms and legs are likely shared with Leatherhead, as is the tail. It would not surprise me at all if the torso is as well, but it’s impossible to say given the presence of the armor in place. I don’t mind parts reuse at all, especially since it keeps costs down, but there are aspects where it’s a negative here as there are sculpted folds on the back of his leg that don’t make a lot of sense. They’re there because these were previously meant to be pants, but the Triceraton has decided to forgo such a restrictive garment. They’re on the back/side of the thigh, so it’s not super noticeable, but worth pointing out. The other shortcoming with this direction rests in the tail. In the show, the Triceratons have smooth tails, but since this guy is using Leatherhead’s tail, it has a dual fin running down the top of it. Again, reuse is par for the course with figures, but it does harm NECA’s credibility when they claim to be making the definitive versions of these characters when they’re not entirely screen accurate.

Sorry Mikey, it’s yet another bad guy who can probably squash you like a bug.

The obvious new pieces of plastic rest with the head, hands, and feet. And it’s the head that really needs to shine and indeed it does. While I prefer basically every version of the Triceratons to their cartoon counterpart (the Triceratoons?), I cannot argue that this figure doesn’t look the part. The shading and line work that has become a staple of this line are at incorporated here and the figure very much looks like it originated from a cartoon source. It’s pretty clean, though there’s some paint build-up at the base of one horn on mine and it’s a little messy around the eyes, but not too bad. If you have always longed for a cartoon version of the Triceraton, then this should satisfy that hunger, tail be damned.

The oversized feet make it pretty easy to find a walking pose for this guy.
“Hey dude, are you like, related to Cheesasaurus Rex?!”

In terms of articulation, there are no surprises here. The Triceraton is basically articulated just like Leatherhead before him, with the only difference really being the lack of a hinged jaw with this guy (a real missed opportunity, to be honest). The giant “fins” on the back of his head (I’m sure a paleontologist would be able to tell me the proper term for that part) are surprisingly not a deterrent to the head movement as this guy can look much higher than basically every other character NECA has done so far and can also tilt his head side-to-side quite well. Ball-joints at the shoulders and thighs allow for proper rotation, and double-jointed knees and elbows have become standard for basically everyone in this line except the turtles themselves. He has swivels and hinges at the wrist and the ability to swivel at the bicep and thigh. His feet are on ball-and-socket joints so they can rotate and rock a bit side-to-side. There’s articulation in the upper torso which is probably on a ball-joint, but the armor limits the movement here to basically a swivel. It’s soft plastic, so you can kind of force the character into the desired positions, but at risk of possibly marring the paint on that armor. He’s got plenty of range though for a behemoth who is mostly just going to blast away at his enemies and if you are able to army build these guys you shouldn’t have a problem finding a variety of styles and poses for your display. The only thing missing for me, and I say this a lot with this line, is a butterfly joint at the shoulders so he could properly two-hand hold his weapons. The way NECA does their torsos though, often layering rubbery plastic over a harder base to distinguish characters, basically makes such a joint impossible.

Bang!
The design of this bazooka is great. It fits the figure well and I just really like the look of it.

The Triceraton may be a large hunk of plastic, but he also comes packed with a vast assortment of weapons and accessories. This is an improvement over Traag and Granitor and I suspect it’s due to those rock boys not lending themselves well to parts reuse. The Triceraton has five hands; a set of gripping hands (which work as fists as well) and a set of open hands. He also features a trigger hand (right) and if I have one, small, complaint it’s that NECA didn’t just go ahead and give us two trigger hands since now all of your Triceratons are expected to be right-handed. As for weapons, he has the rifle/bazooka the Triceratons were shown wielding in the cartoon, plus two additional guns that appear to match what Bebop and Rocksteady were wielding in their debut episode. And yes, I am definitely giving those to my Bebop and Rocksteady for my display.

The more realistic rifle can kind of balance in his trigger hand, or be jammed into a gripping one.
The machinegun only works in the gripping hand and it looks a bit goofy as a result.
At least both seem to work just fine with their true masters, Rocksteady and Bebop.

The only downside with the Triceraton arsenal, is he can’t really wield the majority of his weapons convincingly. The trigger hand basically just fits his bazooka, and it’s a unique handsculpt for the Triceraton which features a larger opening and two fingers (as opposed to the three of Bebop/Rockstead/Leatherhead). The trigger hand works great with the bazooka since they were literally made for each other. It, and the open hands, are fairly soft and pliable which helps in getting the hand into his hand. The trigger hand is too big though for the other guns. You can kind of fake it with the rifle, but the shorter machinegun looks silly. The gripping hands he comes with are much harder and quite restrictive. You can get the machinegun into it, but it sits high and really calls out attention to the fact that the trigger is well above his hand. The rifle is harder to get in and if you’re determined to do so you’ll want to soften those hands up with some heat lest you want orange paint scraping off of the hands and onto the handle. The guns were definitely designed for Bebop and Rocksteady, and for them, the rifle works well. The machinegun is a bit loose in their trigger hand, but a great deal better than the Triceraton.

These little guys have had to wait over 30 years for proper figures!

With this set you get not one, but two, Roadkill Rodney robots. That makes sense since the machines always showed up in pairs in both the cartoon and video games and because they’re rather small (about 3 1/4″) compared with most figures. Don’t let their size fool you though as there’s a lot of personality baked into these suckers. For starters, the sculpt is perfect and these guys look like they were pulled from the show. That’s to be expected, but it had to be stated as well. Since they’re armless, legless, robots there’s really very little articulation to speak of, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t some clever engineering going on here. The “arms” rotate and bend, and there is a swivel above the wheel. The wheel itself can also spin like a proper tire would, though it’s rather stiff as it’s meant to hold its position once set. The front of each unit opens and a blaster can be pulled out. It appears to work exactly as it was depicted in the show, which is both a compliment to NECA and to the animators of that original mini series who could have just fudged it. It’s almost stupidly satisfying to open and close that portion of the figure, and best of all, it doesn’t feel super fragile.

This little gun is pretty cool.
They also come packed with a piercing headache.

Since these guys balance on one wheel, they need a way to stand. NECA included a smoke trail base that clips into a hole on the wheel to accomplish that feat, but that’s not the only thing NECA packed into this box. There’s also a pair of rock formation bases, but these aren’t intended for the main figure, just the heads! Yes, that’s right, you can remove the head from the figure and clip it onto this formation. Remove the top plate of the head and you even have a drill attachment that can be placed on the unit to make it look like it’s coming up through the ground. And for your figure proper, you have a battle damaged dome with three holes in it to accommodate one sai from Raphael. The only drawback is that NECA made the top of the head swap-able for the battle damaged portion. If they had made it a whole separate headsculpt then we could have effectively got four units out of one box. And doing it that way would also have eliminated the largest shortcoming with these robots which resides in how difficult it is to remove those headplates from the figure since NECA declined to sculpt an opening. Instead, you have to choose between displaying the figure proper, or just the head if you want to take advantage of the rock base. I suppose if you do add the rock base to your set you could use the rest of the body as just some discarded carcass on the battle field, but given the choice, I’d rather have two functioning robots. To sum it all up, since there’s a lot here, you get: two robots, two battle damaged domes, two drill bits, two smoke cloud stands, and two rock formation bases.

Back off, reptile!
The longer coils would have worked better if they held their shape after bending. As long as I can get one to work with the Electrified Turtle figure I’ll be content, I guess.

Lastly, the Roadkill Rodney robots (holy alliteration) also come with their signature weapons: the metal coils. The figures come equipped with short, bendy, coils on each side and a much longer pair to share. It was smart of NECA to make the long ones bendy so you can stretch them out and wrap an end around another figure, be it a turtle foe or a misbehaving Bebop and Rocksteady. It’s not fully poseable though, so while you can uncoil the tentacle it will immediately try to recoil itself. It makes it tough to pose with a turtle since those figures are so light and it’s also not quite long enough to wrap around their waist. You’ll probably prefer to wrap it around a forearm or something. That said, i’m quite eager to pair these guys with the upcoming Electrified Turtle figure featured in the next release from Loot Crate. That figure is intended to be from the classic arcade game, but I think an electrified turtle at the end of a cartoon Roadkill Rodney tendril will work fine in any TMNT display.

Being that this is an army builder set, this one has a bit of a utilitarian feel to it. The characters are a personality-less grunt and a pair of faceless androids, but they’re still pretty fun to look at and handle. It’s a bit surprising to get the Triceraton this early in the line since it came at the tail-end of the original cartoon’s run (the following season was the start of the redesigned “Red Sky” era), but I view that as a testament to how recognizable the Triceraton is to the entire TMNT franchise. For what he is, I think the Triceraton turned out well. He’s not really threatening to become my favorite in the line, but I’m happy to have him. The Roadkill Rodney, on the other hand, is a clever little design. Both figures though, feature unfortunate and preventable shortcomings. The Triceraton has all of these weapons, but only one works well. The Rodneys have a bunch of effects pieces, but the coils could have been done better and those little plates are really frustrating to swap in and out.

Do you army-build this set for more Triceratons and Rodneys, or do it for more Bebop and Rocksteady guns? Maybe both? Maybe neither? Hard to say.

NECA is hoping collectors will want multiple sets, but I don’t know how successful that will be. In the cartoon, there were three Triceraton grunts so some devoted to having an accurate display may want 3 for that reason. There won’t be much variety in the display though since every Triceraton will be right-handed and will probably feature the same weapon since the other two aren’t a great fit. Having some extra Rodney robots popping out of the ground will add some character to any display, but is that worth another 52 bucks? I’m not sure. I was lucky enough to find a pair of these sets in-store. I bought both and sent one off to a fellow collector. I also was able to order one from Target that hasn’t arrived yet and I’m not sure if I’ll keep it or send that one along to another collector too. What’s tempting me most about keeping it is the chance to have another set of Bebop and Rocksteady guns in the event the Easter Bunny versions coming via Loot Crate do not have weapons.

As has been the case, this set is a Target exclusive and is profoundly difficult to find on shelves. It was sold online, briefly, on October 28th and is unlikely to be offered online again. Since it is an army builder, I’m cautiously optimistic that NECA will make the set available again sometime in 2021 as a made-to-order pre-order like it did with many of the sets released during the summer, but there’s no guarantee of that at this time. For now, your best bet is to stalk your local Target stores and figure out the local rep’s stocking schedule. And definitely ingratiate yourself to an online community of collectors who help each other out. A very helpful resource is the #CollectorsHelpingCollectors hashtag on Twitter as it’s literally just fellow collectors picking up the most sought after items and passing them along at cost to fellow collectors. And as always, don’t feed the scalpers!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Traag and Granitor

Reinforcements from Dimension X have arrived!

After I posted my review of NECA’s take on Metalhead from the classic cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I thought I’d have a little break based on the upcoming release schedule for the line. Turns out, that break ended up being almost exactly one month as while I was out toy-hunting for my kids I happened upon the latest two-pack from NECA: Traag and Granitor!

And when I say it was a chance encounter, I mean it. This set started rolling out maybe a week or two ago in parts of the country. Like all of the NECA product based on the old TMNT cartoon, this set is exclusive to Target and a pain to find. The sets usually start showing up in California first and then gradually make their way east. As a denizen of the north east, I’m used to waiting a bit for them to show up in my area. Though in the case of Wave 3, I never saw a damn thing and had to purchase product from Canadian retailers that were willing to ship to the US. Well, either NECA or NECA’s vendor squashed that going forward so I was back to the old-fashioned way, since these guys have yet to appear on Target’s website (despite indications from NECA it was supposed to happen last Friday).

My kids love the show Bluey and a set for that toyline was supposed to release on the 4th. I went out looking for it locally, but while on my way my wife texted me to say she just scored a set online at Walmart. Since I was already out early on a Sunday, I decided to take a drive. While browsing Target’s app I had been keeping an eye on this set since it was supposed to go up any day now. I noticed when I looked at the stores in my area, there was actually one store across the border in New Hampshire that listed the item as in stock. I couldn’t do store pick-up though, and I have found it’s hard to get anyone at Target to answer the phone before 9, so I made the half hour drive to the store. Sure enough, the little inventory machines they have in some aisles indicated there were two sets in stock, but they weren’t on the shelf. I asked a clerk in electronics and he didn’t think they had anything since they never show on the app, but that he’d check in the back. Lo and behold, they did indeed have a set! It seems the store did its monthly inventory the night before, and someone actually scanned the sets into the inventory. This is unusual as a NECA rep is the one that stocks the section, not a Target employee, but in this case it worked out for me. It was especially surprising as I had yet to see anyone in the region on social media or even eBay list a set so this store may be one of the first in all of New England, maybe even including the tri-state area, to receive stock. Needless to say, after feeling rather snake-bitten with the last wave, I’m feeling quite fortunate today.

And it was a great set to get lucky with because Traag and Granitor are practically all new. Traag did receive a figure in the vintage Playmates line, but he looked nothing like his cartoon counterpart while Granitor never received a figure. And this was despite the two appearing in the first mini series as they debuted in episode four “Hot-Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X” when they crossed over into the dimension of the Turtles in pursuit of those pesky Neutrinos. And being made of stone means these guys are pretty unique looking to begin with so there’s little opportunity to reuse parts from already released figures. They’re big, dense, and chunky. I want to say beefy, but that doesn’t seem appropriate for beings made out of stone. And to top it all off, these guys have been a long time coming as NECA unveiled them years ago as part of the video game line, since both appeared as bosses in the original arcade game, but soon moth-balled them for the release we now have.

Traag and Granitor come in the standard window box format you should all be familiar with at this point. You get a nice look at the figures from the front with some licensing art beneath. The backdrop for the two has actually been changed from the sewer one we’re accustomed to and replaced with the Technodrome in Dimension X, which is very appropriate. The side and rear panels feature product shots of the figures in action while the rear also includes the series bio (sadly, not character specific) along with promotional shots of two of the sets to come as well as the previously released Metalhead. Since these boys are on the larger side, this is the oversized box previously used for Bebop and Rocksteady so if you’re a mint-in-box collector you’ll need to plan for a little extra room on the shelf for these guys.

Buns of stone.

In terms of likeness, Traag and Granitor are like a lot of this line – damn near flawless. Traag stands around 6 5/8″ while Granitor is slightly taller at 6 7/8″. Both feature a ton of sculpting to capture that rock appearance. They share some parts between the two in particular at the hands and basically from the abdomen down. The upper body is probably the same as well, but with different parts glued onto each to differentiate the two as they were quite different in the show. The plastic is very rigid and not that pliable, rubbery, stuff we’ve seen in some of the figures (in particular, the human figures like Casey and April) which really enhances the feel of the pair in-hand. Traag has very rocky shoulders while Granitor possesses a rock collar at the base of his neck and these huge shoulders and biceps. Of course, their heads are where they differ the most. Both are helmeted, but Traag has a flatter face and his open-mouth expression is a dead-ringer for how I continue to picture the character in my head. Granitor has this huge nose and these triangular eyes that make him look a great deal more evil than the general. If I have any criticism of the sculpt, it would be that Granitor’s head probably could be a little smaller as he was quite the pinhead in the show. I think the prototype head from a few years ago was a little better, but you’re not going to mistake this guy for someone else. The legs also probably should be longer, but I’m guessing these guys are just so big that NECA was limited to what it could do there and it was certainly more important to capture their massive upper-body.

General Traag seemed to always be making this stupid face in the show.
Meanwhile, Granitor looks ice cold! He’s not planning on playing nice with those Neutrinos.

Where I can’t render a single complaint with these two is with the paint app. This line just keeps getting better in regards to the paint and these guys look amazing. Traag, in particular, is an almost perfect recreation of a difficult deco to capture from the show. He’s mainly a red-orange, with a softer orange used for highlights that imparts a volcanic glow quality to the texture. Granitor is a bit cooler with shades of gray and both feature a lot of black line-work where appropriate. It’s all been applied in a very neat and clean fashion, which is especially impressive considering how much is here. There’s a little badge on the chest of each and both feature a belt complete with ammo and a holster for their gun. The belt is soft plastic, which has been the case with a lot of this line, so you do need to be a bit careful with the accents on it as they’re just glued on.

As far as articulation goes, these two are not quite as robust as some of the other figures in this line. That has a lot to do with the sculpt which only allows for so much. In terms of the points of articulation, it’s fairly similar with past figures. There’s a ball-joint at the head which affords the typical range of motion and both heads are on a neck with articulation at the base. Traag can look up, but not much down. Meanwhile, Granitor’s neck is quite long and thin and reminds me of an analog joystick on a video game controller, only without the tension that pulls it back to center. As a result, his range of motion feels a bit more dynamic and it’s a satisfying joint to play with, though also a bit scary since it’s so thin. The shoulders are on ball-joints and here Traag gets a bit more use as he can raise his arms outward, while Granitor’s massive shoulders are a hindrance, though his ball-joints are extended from his body more to at least provide for some functional range of motion. The elbows are double-jointed, though the top joint doesn’t have much range due to the bulky nature of the bicep. You still get close 90 degrees out of both. The triceps area swivels at that second elbow joint and the hands swivel and are on hinges. The hinges are pretty tight on mine, so a little heat goes a long way. The upper torso is on a ball-joint and you get a lot of twist there and it’s also nice and tight. The waist does swivel, but it was super tight on both of my guys to the point where I haven’t bothered to get it moving so be careful there (edit: I got it loosened up with just some added effort). The ball-joints at the thigh allow for some forward and outward motion, but nothing really backwards. There is a thigh swivel, but it doesn’t offer a ton. The knees are single-jointed at the hinge, but there is a tiny bit of swivel articulation at that point. The ankles are on hinges and have some outward, rocking, motion. Watch out for paint-flaking though as the entire boot and foot is painted over the base color. It’s not as visible as it was with Leatherhead at least, but still disappointing to see NECA isn’t casting the feet in the base color of the boot still.

“Lord Krang, please forgive us for our posture.”

The articulation is a bit less than what maybe some were expecting, but all in all I think it’s fine. These are big, bulky, rock creatures and they’re not looking to strike much in the way of dynamic poses. They basically lumber around, shoot their guns, and that’s about it. The upper torso is what really helps give them some posing options, and despite the fact that they’re rather top-heavy, they’re still fairly easy to stand. The only pose I wish I could pull-off that they just can’t do is to have them on one knee paying fealty to their lord Krang. Their arms are so long that they can even mostly pull off the ability to two-hand grip their pistol as they do in the show which is pretty cool as most NECA TMNT figures can’t do something like that since they lack a butterfly joint at the shoulder and chest.

Stuff.
“Can I interest you in the finest retro-mutagen Dimension X has to offer?”
“Traag! You must eliminate those radical teenagers before they start a rock concert! No offense…”
“Have you seen this boy?!”

Since these guys are so big and mostly new molds, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the only true negative here is the lack of accessories. It’s a business, so it’s to be expected, but still a bit disappointing. Both figures have a trigger finger right hand and an open, stylized, left hand. There are no optional hands to switch in and out, but I’m honestly not really missing them. Maybe a pointing finger for Traag, since he is a general after all, would have been fun, but it’s not a big loss. Their main accessory that both feature is a pistol. It’s a new sculpt and it’s painted up in a dark and light blue scheme that I find really appealing. It honestly probably has a bit more flourish to it as far as the paint is concerned when compared with the show, but that’s for the better. The only drawback is the hands of these guys are very rigid so you may want to heat up the hands before placing the gun in to avoid any paint scraping, which would be tragic. The pistols also fit into the holster on their belts in a snug manner. They also come with the Dimension X communicator many of the villains have featured in this line. In this case, the sticker decal is of Krang, but it appears to be the new Krang that’s expected to be released in November with the android body. The final, plastic, accessory is a mutagen canister. This time it’s painted gray instead of blue. It’s fine, though not really applicable to these guys and I think it’s just included because it was cheaper than doing a new one, like the weather bomb Traag unleashes. I was expecting that to come with them so it’s a bit disappointing to see it excluded, but again, I get it, it all has to do with costs. Lastly, they do come with three wanted posters each featuring one of the Neutrinos. They’re printed on a transparent plastic giving them a holographic effect which is pretty neat. They’re in a little bag taped to the underside of the blister so don’t throw it out by mistake!

Pictured with fellow big boy, Leatherhead.

Traag and Granitor are yet another addition to the many rogues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It’s great to see them as part of Wave 4 since, even though they appeared infrequently in the show, they felt important. That’s probably owing to their debut appearance in just the fourth episode and those early episodes just feel a lot more important to the show than what followed. It’s especially great to finally have a Granitor since he was overlooked back in the day. I’m very happy with how these boys turned out and my only real issue is trying to find room for these bulky beings on my shelf. I’m really going to need that street diorama, NECA!

Poor Raph, he’s really going to need a few more allies.

Traag and Granitor is just the first two-pack in Wave 4 of this line. They’re being rolled out slowly across the US at Target, though considering I found my set in New Hampshire I would expect them to be in every state this week so start looking! There should also be an online release at some point, but that can be a real shit-show as product usually goes fast. Follow NECA on twitter (or me @samhainsgrim) with alerts switched on for your best chance to land them. This looks like it’s going to be a pretty awesome wave as up next on or around the 15th is the Triceraton Infantryman (Infantry-dino? Infantry-reptile?) and Roadkill Rodney (2) set followed by a big one on the 29th, Master Splinter and Baxter the Fly! The Triceraton officers, Zarax and Zork, finish things off on November 12th alongside the deluxe Krang with his android body. This line is hotter than hell right now so don’t go to sleep on it. NECA also isn’t offering any more made-to-order sets in 2020 so if you can’t get these guys at Target over the next couple of months the wait will only get longer. Plug yourselves into a toy community, stay vigilante, don’t feed the scalpers, and good luck!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Metalhead

Metalhead has arrived to join the ranks of friend or foe, you decide!

It took longer than anticipated, but at long last I now have a complete Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Wave 3 from NECA as I have in my hands the Deluxe Metalhead! Metalhead was released back in July alongside the Casey Jones and Slashed Foot Soldier set at Target stores in the US. While distribution numbers are not particularly high for this line as-is, it seemed most stores that received stock only received two copies of Metalhead. Re-stocks over the ensuing weeks were sparse and it soon became obvious that Metalhead was the figure most sought after from this wave, simply because he was the hardest to obtain. It was hard enough that NECA even put Metalhead up on their webstore for a week in August as an open pre-order. Fans could pre-buy the figure and NECA would deliver at a later date (right now, estimated to be in November). It’s a pre-order model that Super7 has utilized for awhile now and it was something NECA had to hear a lot about from angry fans on social media that couldn’t find this guy in stores. It probably didn’t help that Super7 even had their own version of Metalhead up for pre-order for a large chunk of the summer.

Fans might be driving NECA up a wall with all of the complaining about how difficult it is to find their product, but at least they’re not complaining about the figure. And that’s because Metalhead is one fine hunk of plastic. This is the first of the deluxe line of TMNT figures from NECA which means it’s a stand-alone figure, not a two-pack, and it’s priced a little higher than the other figures. In this case, Metalhead will run you $30 at retail as opposed to the $26 we pay per figure with the two-packs, so it’s not a big change. The figures come packaged in NECA’s five-panel window box that it utilizes for a lot of its Ultimate releases and the figures in this line will largely consist of new tooling and sculpts that can’t easily be leveraged for other figures, thus justifying the added cost. Originally, NECA envisioned these deluxe figures having their own release in between waves of two-packs, but NECA’s move to stagger their releases (and the delays caused by COVID) obviously altered the company’s strategy. It remains to be seen how the next deluxe figure’s release, Android Krang, will be handled when it ships sometime this October.

First of all, the move to the deluxe format has one obvious advantage: the packaging. I’m not ragging on NECA’s window-box packaging for the two-packs, but it’s basically the same thing from release to release. With this deluxe release though, NECA did something fun. Referencing the old f.h.e. VHS releases of the cartoon, NECA created new artwork depicting The Mighty Metalhead. It looks just like an oversized VHS right down to the font utilized on the cover. The panel on the front opens up to reveal the figure and some nice photography of it in action. Mint-in-box collectors should be really happy with this release, and I even placed an order via NECA’s pre-order to potentially do just that. For this release though, I’m cracking this sucker open!

Metalhead is a big, beefy, boy despite not containing any organic matter. He’s noticeably taller than the turtles, coming in at about six and a half inches, and much wider too. He’s obviously based on his animated series look which was also similar to the old Playmates toy. The biggest change is in the vac-metal chest, which is just a shade of orange here, and in the absence of an exposed brain in his head. He’s mostly gray, with a yellow “mask” and green feet. I love the linework, as I usually do with NECA’s cartoon releases, and there’s some nice texture work as well. He looks great, like he was pulled directly from the cartoon, and has inserted himself into the conversation for best figure released in this line. I have no issues with the sculpt work here, though some of the paint leaves room for nitpicks. There’s a bit of slop in the linework, like with his feet, and some stray paint around the elbow pads. The paint on the rear knee joint also flaked off exposing gray plastic in an area that’s otherwise supposed to be black. It’s the rear of the figure, so it’s not a huge deal, but I was expecting a higher level of quality with the deluxe release instead of arguably a lesser one.

This big boy can also move, and when it comes to articulation, Metalhead’s unique construction actually affords him a little more movement than his organic brothers. He has all of the usual articulation: ball-jointed head, shoulders, and legs with single joints at the elbows and double-joints at the knees. His ankles are on ball-pegs and can go up and down and rotate with some rocker action. He swivels at the hips, biceps, and wrists and his hands have a hinge as well. What he has that the turtles lack is an articulated jaw and a waist swivel. The jaw adds a lot of expression to the figure and is done so well that it’s not even apparent his mouth can open when looking at him. The waist swivel is hidden by the belt and it adds in some extra poses for the figure, especially when using one of his attachments. Since it does mean his shell is in two pieces, he looks pretty bizarre from the rear when his waist is turned, but I’m guessing folks aren’t going to have his shell showing in their display. He also has an articulated lever on his back, an on/off switch from the show, which is a nice touch. It’s fun to play with, but if you’ve read or watched a review of this figure already then you know that it’s a piece one needs to be mindful of. It can snap, and you’ll want to make sure Metalhead is positioned on your shelf in a manner in which he’s unlikely to fall, lest he land on his back and break that thing off. He moves well, and the bulkiness of his sculpt interferes only a little. The pads at the elbows do appear to prevent him from bending a full 90 degrees and the lack of a butterfly joint can make it a little tricky to get him into a proper pose with his vacuum cleaner attachment, but inserting such a joint would have messed up the chest portion and I understand NECA being unwilling to make that sacrifice.

Metalhead required a lot of independent tooling to create, and if you’ve been collecting toys for awhile you should know that means the figure is probably going to be light on accessories. In the case of Metalhead, that’s not exactly true. He comes with the usual assortment of hands one would expect: fists, gripping, and open. To go with those hands are three distinct accessories that provide Metalhead with some varied display options. One accessory is a drill attachment for his hand. It has a little peg inside it that fits into the wrist socket and is the go-to accessory for many a robot in animation. His second optional hand attachment is pretty fun: a vacuum cleaner. It snaps in like the drill hand and contains a hinge joint at the base like, you know, an actual vacuum cleaner. Should NECA make good on its tease to release a sewer lair diorama, I foresee many Metalheads converted to the role of turtle maid. And lastly is Metalhead’s defining ability in the cartoon and Turtles in Time: his chest cannon. Metalhead’s “pectorals” are on hinges and open to reveal a peg-hole for his chest laser. In the show, it popped out of his chest, but that obviously won’t work for an action figure. The peg-hole approach works just fine and NECA even added a second hole to feed a little wire into it. It’s a hard, prehensile, wire, like what we’ve seen on the battle-damaged Foot Soldiers, and you do probably want to be careful with it so as not to strip-off any of the plastic coating it. This is my favorite of the accessories and I assume it’s the favorite of most of the collectors who get their hands on this guy.

Metalhead is a tremendous amount of fun as an action figure. He is a terrific likeness in regards to the source material, and if you’re like me and always wanted a cartoon-accurate version of the character, this release should satisfy that craving. The only thing disappointing about this figure is the availability. I wish I had received my copy before or during NECA’s pre-order window so I could have ended this review by posting a link of where to order, but unfortunately I wasn’t able to do that. Hopefully, anyone who wanted one got their order in or found another, scalper-free, way to get one. Wave 3 is still showing up in Target stores in the US, so there’s still a chance a store near you gets one. And I assume the factory order NECA places for those who pre-ordered won’t be an exact one-for-one order so there likely will be leftovers that either get made available on NECA’s website or get shipped to Target around the end of the year. It’s also possible he gets a new paint deco and release as part of NECA’s Turtles in Time figures in 2021, though probably without the vacuum.

That also closes the door on my look at the third wave of cartoon releases from NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license. It’s been the most exciting wave yet for me as I had the first seven sculpts via the San Diego Comic Con release, so this was the first retail wave in which I was after every set. While there were some ups and downs, and I actually never found any of these in a physical store, I was left largely impressed and satisfied. I do think Metalhead is the star of the wave, and he should be since he’s the most expensive of the bunch, but that’s no slight on the likes of Casey Jones or Leatherhead as they were mighty impressive as well. As of right now, we don’t have a date for Wave 4. We know Krang in his android body is expected in October. He’s the next deluxe figure so we know he’ll cost at least $30, but he’s also damn big so it won’t shock me if NECA needs to up that price. International retailers are taking orders for the Granitor and Traag two-pack, so I think it’s reasonable to assume that is the next two-pack headed our way and it certainly would be appropriate if Krang arrives at retail alongside his two most loyal soldiers. Beyond that, Wave 4 should also include the much anticipated Splinter and Baxter the Fly two-pack, a two-pack of Triceraton officers Zorax and Zork, and another two-pack containing a Triceraton soldier and a pair of Roadkill Rodney robots. It’s going to be an expensive fall, so start saving now!

As for me, I’m happy for a break. It’s been a month of NECA posts on this blog, almost all of which were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles related. I’ll look to add a little more variety in September, though I still have one TMNT post in progress to come in a week or so. We’re also rapidly approaching fall, so I need to get Christmas on the brain and get to work on that feature for December. It’s always busy around here, even if the posts slow down.


NECA TMNT Cartoon April O’Neil and Bashed Foot

The true subjects of today’s post.

There’s a line from one of my favorite Christmas movies, Bad Santa, in which the main character, Willy, says to The Kid, “Well, they can’t all be winners,” when The Kid pulls a candy corn out of his advent calendar. Bad Santa isn’t a movie for everyone, but the sentiment expressed by Willy in that moment could be applied to this latest two-pack from NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line.

When it comes to the original cartoon series, the list of essential characters goes something like this: the four turtles, Splinter, Shredder, Bebop, Rocksteady, Krang, and April O’Neil. We have received versions of almost all of those characters from NECA, and now it’s April’s turn. All of the characters NECA has targeted thus far have arguably become the definitive take on that particular character from the show upon release. Some might argue in favor of a different set of turtles, but few would argue anyone has created a better Shredder or Bebop and Rocksteady. The expectations are now set for this line and fans pretty much assume that NECA will nail the likeness on any character it does, but maybe such an expectation is unrealistic.

Unfortunately, the line’s first lackluster offering is the ravishing reporter April O’Neil. When it comes to the sculpt released here, there’s a lot to be desired. April stands just a tick taller than her turtle allies, when she should at least be a head taller. I have her at 5 1/2″ and the turtles at about 5 1/4″. She has her yellow jumpsuit complete with white boots and all the details appear to be in place, but the proportions are off especially when it comes to her head. I think most fans are accepting of a figure that is maybe a little too short or too tall, but missing on the facial likeness is perhaps the greatest disappointment. Her face appears to be too full and round, and the size of her head is far too big for her body. I think that’s largely a product of her face being too large as her hair was fairly poofy in the show, but few would deny that something is off here.

When it comes to nailing down the scale and look for these figures there’s an admitted challenge. The original show could be wildly inconsistent when it came to scale, colors, and so on. When NECA did its initial figures for the Turtles, it cited the first series which was animated by Toei and was a mere five episodes. It allowed for the company to have a more consistent look to reference, which mostly came in handy when it came time to color the Turtles as the sculpts were actually reused from the arcade series. April appears in every episode from that inaugural season, and it would seem it would have made the most sense to base her sculpt on that season. Maybe that’s what NECA did, and maybe it didn’t, either way it’s a shame an integral character like April failed to live up to expectations.

The image on the left is what I think of when I hear the name April O’Neil.

I don’t want this to turn into a rant or anything, as a subpar NECA figure still gets a lot right. And when it comes to April she possesses a lot of the articulation one would come to expect of a NECA figure in 2020. For starters, her head is on a ball-peg and it’s pretty easy to pop her head off and on, which is good as it’s preferred for one of her accessories. She has ball joints at the shoulders and then she has some funky double-jointed elbows. There are basically two ball joints on top of each other. The first joint is in her sleeve, and the second is part of the bare portion of her arm. Her arms are quite thin, and I had to heat her up to get any movement out of the upper joint. The yellow portion of the joint is painted, and as you could probably guess if you’ve read my review of the other figures in this wave, the paint flakes off quite easily. Fortunately, the plastic is also yellow so it’s not nearly as much of an eyesore as it is with Casey, Leatherhead, and Slash. The bicep also swivels where the sleeve meets the arm and then it also swivels at the triceps at the second ball joint. April’s wrists are just on pegs and can rotate, she also has hinges in her hands, but they feel really fragile. The watch on her left hand is a separate piece of soft plastic and will fly off if you’re not careful when switching hands. April’s upper torso is on a ball joint just below her bust and she gets a lot of motion out of that joint which makes up for the lack of a waist swivel. Her thighs can rotate at the joint and are on ball-pegs, and she does have double-jointed knees, but the top joint doesn’t really do much. She can still bend her leg rather far at the knee so it’s not a big deal. There’s no boot cut on her, and her feet just have vertical hinges so no rocker or swivel motion is available. It kind of stinks because I envisioned displaying her on one knee with her camera sneaking a shot of a battle or something, but she can’t quite pull that off without being able to rotate her ankle. Oh well.

April could stand to be taller and probably not so thin.

Aside from her head, the body sculpt is pretty good. The arms feel a little thin and flimsy, but they’re obviously trying to make her noticeably smaller and slimmer than the other figures in this line. I do still wish she was a little taller and fuller though, I don’t think she needs to be quite so thin. I do like the very bright yellow NECA went with and the black line work helps make the figure have that extra pop when looking at it. I do see some room to argue that maybe yellow plastic with a wash instead of so much paint might have worked just as well, or better. Some of that black line-work does get a bit messy in places, but overall it’s pretty clean. NECA did match the plastic of the foot hinge to the white of her boots, thankfully, but that also means from behind the white hinge is visible among the otherwise gray backside of her boots. If one part of the hinge has to be off, might as well let it be the back. There’s also some nice attention to detail with the little white, o-rings, on her pants and the tape recorder on her belt.

April is not lacking in the accessory department.

If April is a bit underwhelming, well at least she tries to make up for it with a bunch of fun accessories. She comes packaged with open palm hands and she has a set of gripping hands as well. She comes with a Channel 6 microphone as well as a corded microphone affixed to a reel-to-reel recorder. It’s on a strap, like a purse, and this is where it’s nice that her head pops off easily if you want it to go across her body. I suppose you could also just drape it over her shoulder too. She also has a Channel 6 camcorder which she can carry by the top handle or hold via the fold-down handle for when she wants to record something. She has her Turtle-com, which opens and closes, though doesn’t feature the face of a turtle on the inside. She also has the Maltese Hamster from the episode of the same name, which is a bit fun though it doesn’t do anything. Lastly, there’s a little, baby, pizza, monster. I have to assume an ultimate, adult, version is in our future at some point. He’s pretty cute, despite being vicious, and even though he’s non-articulated he’s packing a lot of personality in that sculpt.

With April being part of a two-pack, one would naturally look to the second figure in the pack to perhaps help elevate the total package. Unfortunately, April comes bundled with what I would consider the least exciting figure in this line so far. The Bashed Foot Solider is essentially the same Foot Soldier that has been released in two-packs with the Turtles and in a double-pack as part of Wave 2, only now it has a new torso with some battle damage. This one is referred to as the Bashed variant because the wound appears to be blunt in nature, perhaps a jab from Donatello’s bo staff, and is basically a rip in the clothing with some exposed metal and wires beneath. The effect is neat, but if this figure weren’t packed with a character as important as April then I’m not sure I’d have bought it. I think it would have been neat to bundle it with an undamaged Foot to give consumers more of a say in the matter. Bundling it with April feels like a bit of ruthless capitalism.

Now in the unlikely event you do not already have a Foot Soldier, the articulation here is the same. He has ball-joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips with swivels at the thigh and bicep. The hinge joints at the knees and elbows are double-jointed and the wrists are on pegs. He also has some ankle articulation and stands pretty well. He comes with the same the rifle other Foot and even Bebop and Rocksteady came with, but also has a new gun that’s bit more cartoonish looking. It’s not my favorite weapon design from the show, but I welcome the additional variety for the bad guys. He also has the same assortment of hands which include fists, gripping hands, and karate chop hands plus a pair of open hands that are new this time around. There’s another communicator, this one with an image of the Bebop action figure on the other end, and a pair of ninja stars. The ninja stars appear to be a deliberate throwback to the Playmates line as one is even brownish-orange like the old toys.

If that all sounds familiar it’s because it’s the same round of accessories the Slashed Foot Soldier came with as part of the Casey Jones two-pack. The only difference between those sets is the sticker on the communicator and the battle damage on the torso. I think many fans expected April and Casey to come together, so it was a bit disappointing to see that wasn’t the case. While I liked the battle damage of the Slashed Foot quite a bit, this one doesn’t excite me. It’s not that it isn’t done well or anything, but it hardly feels essential.

Let’s see what you had for breakfast!

Which is the downside to these figures being released as two packs, because April does feel essential. Unfortunately, she’s a letdown as well so I can comfortably say this is the least glamorous two-pack released in this line thus far. And based on the promotional images for what’s up next, it looks like this will be the low bar for a long while. It’s definitely the set that fills me with the least amount of excitement. These things are hard to get a hold of, so there’s a sense of glee whenever one can be acquired, but the lackluster results mostly squash that enthusiasm. There’s little to sugar coat here, this April is a poor representation of the cartoon character. Since it’s largely her head that’s the problem, perhaps NECA can remedy that at a later date. The company has big plans for the lines and is exploring concepts for vehicles and even a sewer lair. Perhaps an alternate head is included with one of those along with alternate happy heads for the Turtles as well? It’s a long shot, but hopefully NECA is receptive to criticism and doesn’t just dig in its heels because mostly I’m just surprised this one made it past the approval stage. It’s the burden of success, I suppose.

Smile for the camera, Donnie.

I do also want to stress that it isn’t all bad. April is subpar, but anyone who sees her still knows it’s April O’Neil from the 80s cartoon. She has a ton of neat accessories and is certainly not lacking there. It’s hard to even come up with an accessory she should have come with that isn’t present. Maybe swap-able cat parts like the upcoming Vernon is going to feature? That’s just wishful thinking though, and how many collectors would prefer to display mutated cat April as opposed to a more traditional April? Probably few, though then again, that head…

In terms of battle-damaged figures, it’s pretty hard to top that slashed Foot Soldier.

For now, April will be a part of my cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles display. She’s April, so she has to be! I’m just thankful she has so many killer accessories so I can hide that melon behind a big old video camera or maybe wrap her up in Leatherhead’s net for the time being. This is the last two-pack of Wave 3 though, and as mentioned in the prior paragraph, more additions to the Channel 6 news crew are indeed on the way, but not until 2021. The next wave is probably going to be staggered like this one and it appears that the rock soldiers Granitor and Traag are up next. A deluxe Krang is coming as well in October and you know that will be a big hit. For now, at least until I get my hands on Metalhead, it appears I’ll get a reprieve from cartoon turtles, but NECA is hardly slowing down. Super Shredder, Toka, Rahzar, Splinter, Baxter, and on and on are all expected this year! Enjoy the breather while it lasts!


NECA TMNT Cartoon Slash and Leatherhead

You’re gonna like this one, I guarantee!

NECA’s incredibly popular and white hot action figure line based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series of the late 80s/early 90s has slowly rolled out its third wave. The wave consists of three two-packs and a single-packed deluxe figure, but perhaps to increase the numbers of individual items it can ship at once, NECA opted to roll them out one-by-one starting in late July and finishing by the end of August. The first two-pack was the Casey Jones and Slashed Foot Soldier, and now we’re onto the second which is the villains pack of the wave: Slash and Leatherhead.

In the case of both characters, this is the second attempt at both of these characters from NECA as both have been featured in the Turtles in Time line of figures. Slash was released back in the spring, and Leatherhead was part of the more recently released second wave. Leatherhead is basically a straight re-paint of that release, or that release is a re-paint of this one depending on which you consider “first.” Slash, on the other hand, is a little more involved. This is the first action figure of Slash based on his appearance in the cartoon series. The Playmates action figure was based on his comic appearance where he was actually a good guy and part of the Mighty Mutanimals (along with Leatherhead, it should be noted). His Turtles in Time sprite was also based on that source so cartoon Slash has received very little love in the ensuing years. As such, I get the sense this version of Slash isn’t remembered fondly by a large part of the fanbase, though I like him well enough. The Slash of the cartoon was more of a tragic figure, a contented pet turtle mutated and turned into a tool by those who held power over him. The cartoon wasn’t really equipped to truly explore the complexity of the character though, so they just sent him into Dimension X and when he came back he’s basically a typical villain.

If you thought a lack of enthusiasm towards Slash was going to make this two-pack easier to find, think again. This set is proving just as hard to find as any other in this line. Target at least was a bit more stealthy about the release on target.com which allowed online orders for this set to last a whopping ten minutes! Perhaps that will be the model for future releases.

Slash may be quite different in appearance from his Turtles in Time self, but the figure should still be fairly familiar. He uses the same body as the previously released Slash, which also used the same body shared by the turtles. The only difference is in the paint, head, and other embellishments on Slash’s person, most notably the spiky shell. The head is the most striking part as the cartoon Slash was an ugly, soft-bodied, turtle. He has full cheeks and pockmarked skin with ugly teeth reminding me of a jack-o-lantern. This Slash wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and his face captures that. It also features that metal headband that covers his eyes. It’s a perfect representation of the character from the source material.

Slash’s body only differs from the past Slash release in that he has metal fixtures on his body where the previous one had cloth and wood. He has a bright purple belt with a skull logo on it that’s really cool. I love how NECA’s belt has the extra part flapping off of the front, a nice attention to detail. The gloves and kneepads are a steel gray in color with a single, purple, spike on each. About the only thing he shares with his other self are the black elbow pads which are traditional in design. His skin-tone is basically a match for NECA’s Wave 1 turtles, an olive green, as opposed to the deep green of the video game figure. He also gets to have painted claws on his hands and toes where the video game one did not. He also has a large backpack strapped to his shell and across his chest. This backpack is not intended to be removable, though mine arrived damaged and I had to superglue the bottom “clasp” back onto it. It’s held so far, but it’s also only been a day.

Lots of accessories with this guy.

Since Slash is the same base figure as the other turtles, he has the same articulation. There’s a ball-joint at the head that provides mostly for side-to-side motion, but the shell prevents much up and down motion. The neck has a joint at the base, but it doesn’t seem to offer much. The shoulders are on ball-joints with bicep swivels, single-jointed elbows, wrist swivels, and a wrist hinge. There’s a torso joint inside the shell, but again, the shell removes most of the function. It allows the hips to move a little left to right, with some slight twist. It’s subtle, but it’s not nothing. The legs are on ball-joints and rotate at the thigh as opposed to a true thigh-cut. The knees are double-jointed and the feet are on ball-pegs. They can rotate just fine, but have little up and down motion and minimal side-to-side. It’s all pretty basic, but it feels like NECA’s base turtle design could use another look, especially at the elbows, wrists, and feet.

In the accessory department, Slash is a curious case as his accessories are both abundant and lacking. As a surprise, he only has the one set of hands. Every figure in this line so far, excepting Krang who doesn’t have hands, has had multiple sets of hands for punching, gripping, trigger fingers, etc. Slash just has gripping hands, which is certainly better than having closed fists, but it’s odd he doesn’t have trigger hands or something more expressive. On the other hand, he’s able to wield the accessories he does come with just fine: twin katanas, a Dimension X rifle, a pistol, half-eaten pizza, baby Slash, and his precious “binky” which is a tiny palm tree. I love the design of the new rifle and I appreciate that the included pizza resembles the actual pies he munches on from his episode as opposed to just being the same pizza packed in with the turtles. And as stated, he can hold all of his weapons, and the only thing he can’t really grip is the palm tree, but you can finagle it into his hand. The swords he comes with are quite striking, and are my favorite swords this line has produced so far. He can store them in his purple belt too, which is certainly appreciated since he has so much stuff.

It’s great to finally have a cartoon-accurate version of Slash. Even though he only has the one pair of hands, it’s not a huge loss since he does have a ton of accessories likely to occupy both hands in a display. He does possess one other area for criticism though, and it is again with that base turtle body. Slash in the cartoon was pretty chunky compared to his fellow turtles while this figure is definitely quite lean and trim. It’s most apparent when comparing his head to the rest of his body. The width of his head basically reaches his shoulders on the figure, while in the show it sat inside the yellow “pectorals” of his shell because he was so squat. I’m fine with NECA reusing the limbs from the past figures, but I wish they had at least given him a wider shell. And in terms of scale, he was shown to be the same height as Rocksteady, but if anything NECA’s Rocksteady is a little taller than necessary. I also don’t hold that against either figure since the cartoon tended to be all over the place with scale. He also has some issues with paint to go along with the backpack issue I had. The paint on the hinges of his hands will rub off almost immediately out of the box. One hand on my Slash is still hanging onto it, while the other is not. There’s also a little bit of paint slop on the right knee pad, and I’ve heard from a lot of people their figure had really tight, stuck, joints out of the box, so beware. Mine was tight, but not too bad. I was able to get all of his weapons in and out of his hands okay, though with some paint flaking. Only the elbows gave me any trouble, but I was able to get them to move with plain old force as opposed to heat.

Slash’s box-mate, Leatherhead, had a figure in the Playmates line a bit more like his cartoon self, but this is still the first Leatherhead to truly go after that cartoon look. He’s a big boy, standing at about 7″ with a little extra thanks to his hat. He’s about the same height as Bebop, coming in at about 7 1/4″. His color scheme is also very much in-line with the cartoon version as his skin-tone is this odd blue-green with darker green used for the shading. It looks off at first glance, but go check out the old cartoon and you’ll see this color scheme is basically dead-on. The same is true for Leatherhead’s legs. I believe he’s wearing hip-waiters for trudging through a swamp, which means his pants and boots are one, uniform, color. In this case that’s blue, though with black used as the shaded part on the back. It makes the character look odd and it’s a knock against the character’s cartoon design, not the figure. Did they do this just so they could paint his legs all one color? Probably, because cartoons tried to be made as cheaply as possible. As a result, I can see why some might prefer the Turtles in Time version of the character which opted for a brighter green and gave him jeans with traditional boots on his feet.

The basic construction of this figure shares a lot in common with Bebop and Rocksteady, and might even share some of the parts. The chest is probably the same, but where Rocksteady has a rubbery shirt, Leatherhead has a plastic addition to simulate his scaled belly/chest. He also has his vest which is done up in soft plastic and is part of the same piece as the chest. There’s a lot of paint on this guy so take care when first messing around with him as some joints might be stuck. Mine was pretty loose though, much to my surprise. Unfortunately, he shares the same paint issues as Casey Jones where the ankles were cast in a neutral color as opposed to blue, so when bending his feet some white plastic can be exposed. It’s especially striking on Leatherhead since his legs and feet are all supposed to be one color. I heard there was a running change made to Leatherhead to eliminate this issue, but I haven’t had that confirmed for me. It’s rather mind-boggling that his legs were done this way, since it looks like his torso was cast in blue plastic so I don’t know why the ankle/feet weren’t as well. He also sports a rubbery belt over a sculpted belt, which is a bit odd. That rubbery belt has a hook on it for one of his accessories and I’ve seen several reviews already where that hook broke off, so again, beware.

Since Leatherhead appears to be some mix of Bebop and Rocksteady parts it’s probably not surprising to hear he’s about as well articulated as both. His head is a bit hunched forward so the ball-joint doesn’t afford much motion. He does though have a hinged jaw which is really important for a gator to possess. I don’t know if it’s just mine, but it doesn’t like to stay open and will basically slowly close after I pry it open. He has ball-jointed shoulders with bicep swivels, double-jointed elbows, and wrist rotation. His hands are big and possess hinges, but the range of motion on those hinges is limited to a degree. Any torso articulation that might be present underneath that plastic chest-piece is rendered virtually useless as a result of that piece. He does have waist articulation with ball-joints at the legs, thigh swivels, double-jointed knees, and ankle ball-joints with a little side-to-side range. The main difference for Leatherhead is the added tail functionality. It even comes packed separately and getting it onto the ball peg can be a bit tricky so don’t fret if you need to heat him up to get it on snug. It mostly just swivels as the ball is set back rather deep so he can’t do much with it. It still looks good, at least.

NECA got creative with some of Leatherhead’s accessories.

Since Leatherhead is a pretty massive chunk of plastic, his accessories are a bit sparse compared with Slash. He does come with extra hands so he has fists, open hands, and a single trigger hand. He has his weird ketchup gun, which is a pretty fun accessory and is meant to pair with that trigger hand. You’ll probably want to heat the hand in some hot water for a few seconds to make it more pliable before trying to force that gun into it as it’s a tight fit.

Leatherhead comes with a pair of lobster/crayfish which often hung from his belt in the show. They can’t really hang from his belt here though, which is a bit odd. There are two loops on his belt they can kind of dangle from, but they’re not on his hips. In the promo shots, it looks like NECA just crammed the tails under the belt. He also has a shackle accessory with a real chain attached to it, good for catching turtles and pesky TV news reporters. There’s a bear trap that can open and close and also clips to his belt via that fragile hook. And lastly, he has a net and rope which was apparently the compromise to offset the cost of plastic with him. It’s a fun accessory to have as Leatherhead can round up some turtles (and maybe some frogs in the future) and even suspend them from something if you want to as the net has a string at each corner.

Slash and Leatherhead are fun additions to the cartoon line. While I have some nitpicks about each, they’re both overall quite successful at being representations of the source material and are instantly recognizable. They’re also a good choice at this stage in the line as they’re both quite memorable since they appeared in a whole bunch of TMNT media during peak Turtle-Mania. I get the impression from the fandom that Leatherhead is the star of the show here, but I am one of the few who really liked the cartoon take on Slash so I think I prefer to him Leatherhead, but only slightly. I find my eyes are definitely drawn to Leatherhead more than I expected. Either way, this is the star two-pack of Wave 3 and not one to miss if you’re into this line.

“Got a couple of live ones here!”

This set is currently exclusive to Target stores in the US, and if you’re having difficulties tracking a set down help might be on the way. NECA recently took pre-orders for the Deluxe Metalhead figure on its own webstore with the promise to make other figures from this line available in the future. It also recently opened another batch of pre-orders for the movie Casey and Raph pack as well as Super Shredder. It might take a little while, but it would seem NECA understands the frustrations in the collector community and is committed to making sure every TMNT fan gets a shot at owning these figures. Which is certainly a plus as these figures are too good to remain so scarce.

If you’re looking to get your hands on these guys they’re currently up for pre-order RIGHT NOW on NECA’s website! They’ll be available until the morning of September 4th so don’t wait too long. Also up for pre-order is Bebop and Rocksteady, quite possibly NECA’s best two-pack so far.


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