It’s that time of year when a lot of folks are reflecting on the past year and all of the things that happened. This usually coincides with list-making for favorites and worst of the year in basically every category you can dream of. And for action figure enthusiasts, there’s definitely a lot of list making. And here to blow it all up is NECA who managed to sneak this set out before the end of the year even though it wasn’t expected until Q1 2023. When the set went up for preorder in April, I think most hoped that by Christmas we’d have it hand. And when a few months ago two-packs of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from The Secret of the Ooze started showing up at Walmart that seemed to encourage fans to dream of an early arrival. It also predictably annoyed some since the stuff that was prepaid for in the spring was still outstanding while Walmart was getting basically the same thing, but that’s a whole other thing.
NECA has eased into the second film in the TMNT franchise. After first indicating it wasn’t that interested in any of the films beyond the first, we started to see the villains. Tokka and Rahzar, multiple versions of Super Shredder, and a standard Shredder all arrived before the actual turtles. Those first film turtles are some of my all-time favorite action figures. They began life as quarter scale figures and the very first one I got was Donatello. It was a Christmas gift in 2016 so it’s fitting that I’m still talking movie turtles now six Christmases removed. Despite my love for those figures, I wasn’t really feeling that excited about these ones. I ordered the set largely out of convenience. I had no desire to stalk Walmart in search for them and my Secret of the Ooze collection had grown large enough that it needed the turtles. I don’t even particularly like the movie, but I did as a kid, and I’m still at least fond of the costumes from it. I also expected these figures to be very similar to the previous ones so there wasn’t a lot to be excited about. Then I got them in hand and I felt rather stupid for ever overlooking a NECA TMNT release.
This set is the NECA store exclusive VHS four-pack. Just like NECA did with the first film, this set of four turtles comes housed in a pretty substantial box which is designed to resemble the original VHS release of the film. Only the turtles on the box have been substituted for images of the actual figures. It’s pretty cool, though this set made it a lot harder on photographer Stephen Mazurek. The front cover looks fantastic, but the image on the rear is pretty goofy looking because these figures really aren’t articulated enough to replicate the poses from the back of the VHS box. As a result, Mikey and Donnie both look like they’re riding an invisible horse or something. The box is huge though as it’s nearly 17″ in height and 10″ across. The lettering on it is raised, like a VHS, and it will look nice next to the same box from the first movie set. And like that, it’s a slipcover and the inner box features a tray with the figures and accessories inside secured behind a plastic cover with more photography all over the place. Considering that nothing in the box is exclusive to this set, you’re basically paying a premium for the fancy box and at least it delivers. Well, there is one thing that’s exclusive and it’s a backdrop. It’s a thick cardboard and it’s of the club from the film’s climax, the exterior wall. Could we one day see the interior stage setup? Only time will tell.
I’m as charmed as anyone by a fancy box, but what I really care about are the figures inside. The turtles are all on the same body, but it does differ from the body of the first film turtles. They each stand at around 6.25″ in height, and considering it’s a 7″ scale line, that seems pretty good. The only thing that stinks about that is all four turtles are the same height when at least Michelangelo should be shorter, but that was something we had to overlook with the other figures too. The stuff that’s reused are the arms and legs and maybe whatever is inside the shell. The plastron, shell, pads, belts, and heads are all new. Even though the thighs appear to be the same between releases, these figures do have updated hips with the ball and socket joint. Like the previous figures, the biceps are actually a little different as Leo and Mikey share the same parts while Donnie and Raph share some as well. The shells are all the same, though Raph’s has some distress marks carved into his and Leo’s appears to allow for the scabbards of his swords to key-in. Each turtle does differ in that the pattern of their freckles are applied different from brother to brother.
In terms of changes from the past figures to these ones, they’re mostly subtle, but apparent. Obviously, the heads are all different as the costumes were overhauled to allow for a wider range of expressions. Donnie’s changed the most, while there’s a hint of the first film Leo and Raph in their designs. Mikey was practically unchanged, but his head seems a little smaller and more round. All of the turtles wear their bandanas over both shoulders and that’s reflected here. There are no optional display parts there. The colors are also a bit softer, especially Leo and Raph, and it’s captured here. The skin tone also appears to have more yellow incorporated into the green so they have a slightly different appearance. For some reason, there’s a powdery, green, residue on them this time around which tends to rub onto the accessories when placed in the gripping hands and can even find its way onto one’s hands after extensive play. I’m not sure why that is, but it’s so far been easy to clean off of the accessories. The plastron of each turtle is shaded more heavily than it was in the first film and I like how it contrasts with the otherwise brighter look. Michelangelo also has satchels for his nunchaku this time around which is cool and a nice addition to both the real world costume and the figure. Perhaps due to the flaky nature of the topcoat, there are a few spots on the figures where the plastic is shiny. On Leo especially, his right foot appears a lot glossier than the left which is a bit odd. Maybe they missed that piece with a final paint app or something. The powdery green also shows up in some of the grooves, especially on the hands, which is a little off-putting but not something that can be seen from a shelf. I would classify such issues as relatively minor, for otherwise these look like they jumped out of the movie. It’s almost eerie at times to look at them because they seem so lifelike.
Since the bodies in use are very similar to the past turtles, it shouldn’t surprise anyone to learn the articulation is more or less the same. All of the turtles feature a double-ball peg for the head. The lower peg is recessed quite a bit so the range isn’t optimal. The turtles can basically rotate fine, but looking down varies from turtle to turtle with Michelangelo performing the best. None of them can look up and the ball peg is pretty snug and tight. At the shoulders we have ball-hinges and they can raise their arms out to just about horizontal and rotate all around. There’s no biceps swivel, which is something I would have welcomed, but we do have the NECA double-elbows which feature two hinges and a swivel above and below the joint. The elbow pads are smaller this time around and peg into the elbow like the quarter scale figures. This results in better range than we saw on the first film release as the turtles can now bend their elbows past 90 degrees. The wrists swivel and every hinge features a horizontal orientation, which is a bummer for Leonardo, especially. In the torso, there’s a ball joint or something, but it doesn’t do a whole lot. It basically just provides a tiny bit of rotation and tilt. The hips are the newer model hips and the turtles can just about do splits. They can’t quite kick forward all the way though as the thighs rub against the plastron. It’s also very creaky and unpleasant. There’s a bit of a thigh swivel at the ball-joint and the knees are double-jointed. They can just get past 90 degrees there while the ankles feature the usual hinge and rocker combo and works all right. They’ll move okay, but elaborate stuff is a bit out of the question. I do wish they had decided to sacrifice a tiny amount of the aesthetic to carve in a biceps swivel, but I understand why they didn’t. The lack of vertical hinges for the gripping hands is the one major oversight and NECA frustrates me in that area. They sometimes include such a hinge, and sometimes they don’t. Toon Leo and Raph, for example, have them and even the quarter scale movie Leonardo has them. The 7″ scale ones don’t though and that’s a real bummer.
This four-pack also comes packed with a fair assortment of accessories. Some are repeats, and some are new. For hands, all four turtles come with gripping hands. They then share the following sets: open, relaxed gripping, thumbs up, and pointing/sai grip. The gripping hands are really tight, but pliable. They’ll hold almost everything, but the green paint will transfer. There’s a full canister of ooze, which you probably have several of by now, and a second empty canister of ooze which is new. The fire extinguisher makes a return, but new this time is the foam bat from the opening of the film. It’s not actual foam though, but painted, hard, plastic. There’s also a new pizza box and it comes with a bunch of pizza “stubs” which is a nice addition. There’s also a full slice with a hole through the center so Raphael can catch his touchdown pass as he did in the film. There’s an extra left forearm and this is for Donnie as his default forearm features the wristwatch in the wrist strap as seen in one scene of the film. I have no idea how easy it is to swap forearms as I have no intention of removing the unique wristwatch arm. Mikey also comes with his “combat cole cuts,” two pairs of linked sausages which are in a nice, rubbery, plastic that almost makes them feel real. And lastly, each turtle has his standard weapons. For Leo, Raph, and Donnie, these are the same as the first film turtles with Donnie’s bo having a noticeably lighter paint app. For Mikey, his nunchaku have been updated so that instead of a pair of strings connecting the two he has something more like a bendy wire. It doesn’t seem to be strong enough for posing, but perhaps it will be more durable. They slot rather snugly into his new satchels too.
That’s a fair amount of stuff. I think we could always use more hands, especially with vertical hinges, but I think they come with enough. Maybe another set of open hands should have been included so they could execute a proper Cowabunga pose, but at least we have the hands from the first set. If that’s not enough though then NECA has you covered as they also put up for sale an accessory set alongside this release. I passed on the same for the first film, but this time I decided to go all-in. And there’s a lot of stuff in here. It comes in a square box with an image of one of the film’s theatrical posters on the cover (the same image we saw on the Super Shredder release) with photography on the rear and spines. Inside the box is a big plastic tray with a cover over it and all of the accessories are visible. It’s not as flashy a package as the VHS box, but it’s durable and easy to reseal if you can’t find a home for all of this stuff.
I guess we’ll just plow through it, but this thing has a lot of stuff pulled from the film. Up first, another ooze canister! This one though is basically the catalyst for the film as it’s the empty, broken, canister and it can separate just like the one in the film. It’s a nice little thing to have and kind of makes me wants another Splinter. To keep track of these things, there’s a computer and keyboard and, uh oh, one canister is still active! Also in here is Michelangelo’s chocolate bar so he can annoy Raph. And if he’s thirsty, there’s a red mug of what appears to be cola that features a straw and a blue mug without a straw. If salty is more your thing, there’s also a bowl of popcorn and two bags of potato chips (the bare essentials). When it’s time to clean up after another pizza party, there’s a pair of aprons: pink and purple. They’re soft goods and can tie onto any of the figures. There are also two cleaning brushes (wax on, wax off) and Donnie’s bo with a mop molded onto both ends – perfect for cleaning and romancing! These guys eat a lot of pizza, so there’s another box of pie! It’s the same box as the one featured in the four-pack, but this one has four, full, slices inside. They appear to be the same mold as the pizzas that came with the first film figures. When it’s time to move out of April’s apartment there’s a suitcase which can open and actually has a lot of room for stuff inside. Michelangelo’s hat is also included to protect him from the rain, and since you’ll be wanting to contact April once a new home is found there’s also a payphone. It has a slot on the back so that it can be hung on a nail or tack, if you wish. As for something cute, there’s a pre-mutated Rahzar which features articulation at the head. Less cute is the pre-mutated Tokka which has a hinged jaw. Rahzar looks fine, but Tokka is actually pretty impressive. There’s more paint on this little snapping turtle than is featured on most Hasbro figures. There’s also some included reading material, a little, paper, newspaper with “NINJA RAP IS BORN” as the cover story. They had to include that. And if reading’s not your thing, then you can also rock out with the included keytar. It easily slips over the head/shoulder of any turtle and is known to cause massive headaches in villains.
That’s a lot of stuff, and I feel like I’m forgetting something, but I don’t think there’s any way to shake that feeling. Probably the main draw of this set is the five extra heads included for the figures. For Donatello, we get an open mouth expression which works for any of his talking poses. For Michelangelo, we get the opposite as his is more stoic compared with his default open mouth. Leonardo also gets a stoic face and it’s an expression I more associate with the character than his smiling portrait from the four-pack. Raphael’s is the least different as he has a half smile, I guess, by default and the new head is a full smile. He gets a third head though which features tape across the mouth so he can be “a little too Raph” should it please you. I wish they included a post to tie him to as well. Oddly, the Raph heads feature a darker shade of red on the bandana while the others are more uniform. I’m guessing this is an error, but it’s probably not something that will bother most. As for swapping the heads, it’s pretty painless. I was nervous about it at first, but I didn’t even need to heat them up or anything (same is true for the joints on the figures) and was able to just pop them off. Getting the secondary heads to really snap-in is tricky and may require heat. It does create a dilemma on what to display. I definitely prefer the alternate Leo head and I think I like the open mouth Donnie head more. Raph is the only one where I’m kind of lukewarm as far as preferring one over the other. Eventually, I probably will tie him up as it’s just too funny.
These figures are pretty damn terrific. If you have any desire to add action figures of the turtles from Secret of the Ooze to your collection then you absolutely should track these down. The four pack is basically long gone, but two-packs should continue shipping all throughout 2023 to Walmart stores. Hopefully, NECA does a big restock at some point to help make it easier because they’re going to be in demand. The accessory set is unfortunately a NECA store exclusive and it too is long gone. They might reissue it at some point, but considering they’ve never done that for the first film accessory set it likely will be a long wait. If it’s something you have to have then you’re just going to have to bite the bullet and buy one on the secondary market. For 60 bucks, I think it’s worth it, but I don’t think I’d personally go much higher than that. The two-packs are a complete enough package that it’s hard to call the accessory set essential, but there is a lot of fun stuff in there. I particularly like the phone and the PC, though figuring out a way to display the PC is going to be tricky. I wish they had just included a little table for it and the office chair Donnie went surfing on. If the accessory set had included more hands, especially the coveted vertical hinged hands, it definitely would have been more of a slam dunk.
This is another homerun from NECA and an A+ release. It’s also potentially the last release from the Secret of the Ooze for me. A figure of Keno with his moped is coming in 2023, but I’m on the fence there. Do I need a Keno? No, but the fact that he comes with his motorcycle is pretty cool. And if he’s sold on the NECA website that will go a long way. I’m definitely not going to run around Walmart looking for him. If this is the end though, then I’m pretty damn happy with the display I have and I think anyone else who invests in this line will be too.
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