We’re almost done with all of these NECA Haulathon drops from March and up today is the last of the single-packed figures, the Mighty Mutanimal Dreadmon! Technically, he’s the third figure in NECA’s line of figures from the pages of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures since he’s listed as number 3 on the box. However, Dreadmon was the most recent to actually hit stores as Man Ray and the actual number 4 figure Jagwar were released on the first weekend with Dreadmon following a week later. I don’t know why they shipped out of order, but it hardly matters in the end. Like Jagwar, this is Dreadmon’s first go at plastic. I could not confirm if he started off as action figure concept art like Jagwar did, but like Jagwar, Dreadmon has basically only existed in comic form. He started off with Archie in issue #15 in an adventure where the turtles and Jagwar encounter him and he’s also made the jump to IDW, albeit with a pretty substantial redesign. As another member of The Mighty Mutanimals, Dreadmon continues to put us on the path to one day assembling the full team which is something a lot of fans have been dreaming about for 30 years now.
Dreadmon comes in the same style box as Jagwar featuring new artwork from Ken Mitchroney, who was also the illustrator for Dreadmon’s debut issue. Out of the box, Dreadmon stands around 6″ to where his head most likely would end and 6.75″ to the highest point of his mane. I’m measuring him with his legs bent slightly as he’s intended to be posed, but you could possibly get him a little taller, or shorter, depending on how you position the legs as he’s one of those characters that really stands on his toes. As for what he is, he appears to be some sort of wolf man. The newer version of the character has clearly landed on jackal, but wolf seems fine for this version. Like Jagwar, he’s not a mutant and is actually a thief who was magically turned into this beast by a talisman. He’s of South African descent and his family escaped apartheid to Jamaica where a young version of Dreadmon became a street thief before eventually turning a corner after his encounter with the good guys. Even though the Archie books always had a reputation for being like kid version of the more serious Mirage comics, it’s pretty cool how a lot of the characters born within those books have a pretty mature backstory.
Dreadmon is a character with a pretty neat design. He has a wild mane of hair on top of his black face that is supposed to be dreadlocked. There’s some evidence of that where the hair is twisted and slid through tiny skulls two of which hand over his shoulders with three more on the back of the head. There’s a lot of black linework in the hair to add some character while the sculpted texture looks more like thick fur to me. There’s even a curve to the back of the mane and from the side it looks a little spiky giving me images of Sonic the Hedgehog as I look at him. The ears and face are black with the nose and inner ear painted purple. It’s a fun look and the paint is really clean. The inner portion of his mouth is also painted and looks clean. For his attire, I’m not really sure what he’s wearing. He’s got this black tank top and a three-ringed necklace. Unlike a lot of figures from NECA, the torso clothing appears to be part of the sculpt instead of an overlay. He has a belt that looks like it’s wooden slates bound together by hemp rope and there’s a purple skirt sticking out below that. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be an actual skirt or was conceived as the end of a tunic, but it’s essentially a skirt and I think he pulls it off.
A lot of the body outside of the torso on this guy is actually shared with Jagwar. The shoulders, biceps, hands, and thighs are the same which is fine. They don’t need to be different and this sort of reuse is what companies should be doing to keep costs down. And the parts are well-sculpted with a fur texture applied and they’re painted a matte brown. There’s also some black lines applied here and there and it’s a nice touch. The forearms are unique so that Dreadmon can have tufts of fur which are done in a redder brown to match his mane. He has some black spots there as well and there’s some on his thighs too. The lower legs had to be different to accommodate his canine feet so the calf is shorter because the foot is longer with a hinge in the center of it. He stands on his toes, though if you wanted to you could flatten the feet and stand him that way, but it looks pretty silly. He does have a tail which is a unique sculpt and it’s a bushy one the color of which matches the mane and there’s some linework applied as well. He looks nice as the paint is once again really clean and has the appropriate finish. The darker palette certainly adds some contrast to the display, but he still has that “pop” factor by nature of the design and those little hits of white and purple help. About the only thing, aesthetically speaking, that bothers me a little is that it’s hard to get him to look like he’s staring straight ahead. His head seems to always be tilted down and it’s hard to pose away and that’s basically due to the hair. We’ll get into that more with articulation, but that’s pretty much it. You do have to watch out for paint rub too as the white skulls that hang over his chest can leave behind streaks on the torso. I had some and I did lightly hit his torso with a dry Magic Eraser and it mostly came off, but I also don’t want to take off too much of the black either as everything is painted on this guy.
A lot of Dreadmon’s accessories feel similar to Jagwar’s in both concept and because they are quite literally the same. That includes the hands as Dreadmon comes with the same, three, sets: fists, open, and gripping. NECA painted some black linework around the claws which does make them look a little better when compared with Jagwar’s which lacked that detail. Dreadmon also has the same Malignoid worm thing. The one I got with Jagwar was missing the lower jaw, while the one I received with Dreadmon has a terrible paint job. The black lines weren’t lined up properly so it looks stupid. I guess I can’t win when it comes to this thing. Dreadmon also has a fruit bowl, but it’s different from Jagwar’s as his bowl is a bit more distressed and also features some intestines under the fruit. He is a wolf or coyote or something and they do enjoy their entrails! It looks appropriately gross, though not exactly realistic, so it doesn’t throw off the vibe of the property. If it’s too nasty though you get a pair of bananas that he can hold. One is intact while the other has been partially peeled and is ready to eat. He has a blue can of something. There’s no indication of what’s inside it so someone more familiar with the property will have to clue me in, but it looks like a soup can. There’s also an unmarked grave. It just sits on a surface and looks foreboding though I have no idea what significance it holds since it’s unmarked. The Mutanimals did meet an unfortunate end in the books so it could just stand for that. Lastly, Dreadmon comes with a second set of eyes. His default ones are wide open and have a bit of a toon vibe to them while the alternate set is narrowed and more menacing. I like the look of both so I haven’t decided what I’ll ultimately settle on for the shelf, but it’s nice to have options. Swapping them is also pretty painless, provided you keep your thumbs clear of those pointy ears.
After being pleasently surprised with the articulation on Jagwar, I’m sorry to say that Dreadmon is a bit of a step back. Much of that is unavoidable based on his character design, but it is what it is. The head is probably on the standard double-ball setup we’ve been seeing with NECA figures of late, but the hair isn’t going to let you do much with it. You get some rotation and a little tilt, but virtually no ability for the figure to look up. There is a hinge at the base of the neck which will allow the figure to look down pretty far. The jaw is articulated and it’s fine as it looks good when open or closed. The shoulders are the standard ball-hinges we’re used and they rotate just fine and allow the character to raise its arms out to the side to a horizontal position. There’s a biceps swivel plus single-hinged elbows that have some room to swivel. He can hit a 90 degree bend, though I remain surprised that NECA opted not to use a double-jointed setup here. The wrists swivel and hinge and all of the hinges are of the horizontal variety. In the torso, we get just a ball joint at the waist with no diaphragm cut. He can rotate freely on that peg and crunches forward a bit, but doesn’t go back at all which is a bit surprising. There’s some tilt as well, but it’s pretty limited. The legs are ball and socket joints and NECA put slits in the skirt to keep them pretty much unencumbered. Dreadmon can just about his a full split and he kicks forward to about horizontal and kicks back a bit too. There’s some twist on the ball joint so you have some play there followed by the usual double-jointed knees. After that comes the ankle hinge and rocker followed by the mid-foot hinge. That hinge is a little loose for my liking, but he’s standing okay so I guess it’s fine for now. There’s also a ball hinge for the tail that gives him some pretty good range there as well. Because he has a bushy tail, it’s not wired for added posing like Jagwar’s or Man Ray’s. It’s also too short to be relied upon as a third leg of sorts unless you put Dreadmon in some really low poses.
Dreadmon’s unique leg situation and the more simplified approach to the torso means he’s not as poseable as Jagwar or even Man Ray. The unique nature of the legs can also make him a bit tricky to just get straight up and down. You have to make sure both hinges in the knees are bent at the same angle in each leg and then the same is true at the ankle and foot. Often times, I find myself placing Dreadmon on a surface and he’s taller on one side than the other so I have to mess around to try to get his shoulders more level, unless I’m going for a more angled look. And then there’s the previously mentioned annoyance of just trying to get him to appear to be looking forward. I wish the waist joint could bend back to help with that as the range going forward just works against what I’m trying to do. As far as tightness goes, everything felt pretty nice out of the box. The joints are all tight in a satisfying manner. The only ones that are a bit on the loose side are the waist and foot, but neither are failing to hold a pose. He is going to be a little harder to stand than the other figures in the line, but if you’re having problems he does have peg holes on his feet. I’ve done a couple of poses with him so far to just leave alone and he’s fallen over a couple of times. Other times he’s been fine, so there’s a nuance to it when it comes to finding a shelf-safe pose that will last longterm.
Dreadmon gets us one step closer to assembling the entire Mighty Mutanimals squad. Slash was associated with them, but most consider the core team to be Man Ray, Jagwar, Dreadmon, Wingnut, Screwloose, Leatherhead, and Mondo Gecko. NECA has yet to indicate what’s coming next, but it will be interesting to see if they continue with the Mutanimals or if they pivot to something else. They have stated that evergreen versions of the turtles aren’t really in play right now as they’re design is very similar to the cartoon, but it was suggested that some of their other looks from the comics might be in play (think wrestling attire). Could that be next? Maybe, though I wouldn’t be shocked if such a set started off as a convention exclusive or something. I hope they don’t dick around though and just continue with the Mutanimals as a lot of people have been waiting a long time. Mondo and Leatherhead from the toon line can kind of fake it as Archie versions, but Wingnut and Screwloose most certainly cannot so it’s for that reason that I’d like to see them be next in line. Hopefully we won’t have to wait long.
If you’re looking to add Dreadmon to your collection of NECA TMNT figures then you shouldn’t have too hard of a time. Haulathon has come and gone at Target, but Dreadmon is not exclusive to that event or store. He should start showing up at other brick and mortar locations and will also be solicited to specialty retail. At Target, this figure cost $35 so the specialty shops will likely tack on a few bucks, but if you missed the initial drop your patience should pay off eventually.
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