A few years ago, Mattel launched a new subline of action figures based on their most famous IP: Masters of the Universe. The subline was titled Origins and it basically took the vintage toys of the 80s and updated them with more modern articulation while still preserving that vintage aesthetic. And ever since then, collectors have been barking up the tree of Playmates Toys, known throughout the world as the producers of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures, for something similar. And so far, Playmates has said “nah.” Instead, the company seems more interested in reissuing figures from its back catalog and reworking the Classics line from 2012. This is all well and good for folks looking to add or replace vintage figures, and I guess the 2012 reissues are good for those who want a Shredder or Ryu figure? All right, those reissues are pretty terrible, but I’m guessing they’re doing well enough that Playmates sees little value in sinking money into a new line. Then again, who knows with Playmates as they recently re-sculpted a new turtle body for the Stranger Things two-packs. They look okay, though scale with nothing, making the whole thing feel very perplexing.
Since Playmates seems to delight in surprising us, they had a new figure to show off earlier this year based on The Last Ronin. The Last Ronin has been a popular addition to the TMNT universe and it’s a not surprise to see toys follow, it’s just a surprise to see one from Playmates. Especially one that would appear to present a solid enough blueprint for a hypothetical TMNT Origins line. I was initially going to pass on the figure when it was first shown, but my curiosity recently got the best of me. Playmates released two versions of the figure: a standard, painted one, and a black and white version with some hatching, “comic,” paint effects. For some reason, that black and white version really appealed to me, which sucks for me since it’s considered a “chase” version and virtually every retailer that carries it will apply a surcharge to it. Oh well. It comes in a nice window box though with artwork from the series on it and surprisingly no product shots. Since there’s no cross-sell, I’m assuming this is a one and done release, but I suppose if it does well Playmates could revisit it in the future.
Even though this is considered the rare chase version, I am an opener so we’re going to talk about this figure. The figure stands around 4.75″ in height and is pretty close to the same size as a turtle from the vintage line. A direct comparison is a little difficult since those figures all had pre-posed legs, but the height is pretty close though the vintage figures are all chunkier. It’s especially noticeable when comparing the hands between the two releases. Even so, the face on this new figure definitely has a vintage look to it. He has visible teeth on both sides of his beak, but more of an effort has been made to round the features and add detail. He has way more teeth, for example, than a vintage figure and they don’t have a large gap of green (or white, in this case) between them. As far as sculpting goes, this guy is all unique as far as I know. He’s depicted in his overcoat complete with hood and it’s all done in plastic with no soft goods or removable pieces. The hood is a separate piece that doesn’t seem to peg into any part of the figure, but is nevertheless quite secure where it is. With heat, I’m guessing one could pry it off, but I’m not going to attempt any such thing. The bandana underneath is fully sculpted though from what I can tell. The goggles are part of the sculpt on the hood so you can’t do a goggles-on look, but I’m not particularly disappointed by that. The belt and bottom of the coat seems to be the only other overlay and it’s either glued or keyed in. It’s a slightly softer plastic, though the flex isn’t going to facilitate any extra poseability with the figure. The black linework on this guys is very clean save for the top of the bandana on mine and I love the added scuff marks and such all over him. I would have welcomed a little more in some places, especially the hands, feet, and weapon holsters, but it looks solid nonetheless. I also like how he has different knee pads since that asymmetrical look was so popular in the old line, though in this case it’s done to be accurate with the source material.
This guy is really charming to look at. It’s not the hyper-accurate to the source material the NECA version goes for, but it has a certain appeal for those who either grew up with or just collect the vintage line. He may lack the chunk of that old line, but I think he can fit into a vintage display without too much issue. The standard version might stand out a little more given it has far more paint apps, though a stark white figure doesn’t exactly have any comparables in the line either. This is a fun look though, it just might be a little too pricey for what it is. Most seem to list the regular version for around 30 dollars. If Playmates could do this level of quality at 20 or even 25 that would feel a lot more agreeable. Having this black and white version has made me more curious about the regular release and how many paint hits it has. Are all the ropes painted? Are there any wash effects? I don’t know if I’m 30 dollars curious, but maybe if this thing hits clearance I’ll add another.
The big selling point of the Origins line is the addition of modern articulation, so it’s fair to wonder if this figure could be a model of things to come in a similar line from Playmates. And if that’s the case, well then there’s some good, and some not so good when it comes to this figure. The head appears to be on a ball peg, but the hood makes manipulating it rather difficult. I can get him to look left and right, and even up and down a little, but I’d call it more nuance posing than anything. The shoulders are ball-hinged and he can raise his arms up past a horizontal position, so that’s good, and there’s no real shell to prevent rotation all the way around too. The elbows are double jointed and bend past 90 degrees with ease and the wrists swivel and feature horizontal hinges which is a bummer since vertical would have been better. There is a waist twist and the legs attach via ball and socket joints. He can spread his legs basically as far as the skirt of the jacket will let him, which isn’t much, and the same is true for kicking forward and back. You get a tiny bit of thigh twist, or pivot, on that ball joint, but it’s not a lot. The knees are double-jointed and bend past 90 without issue while the ankles feature a hinge. The feet appear to peg into the hinge so you get a tiny bit of swivel there, but there’s no ankle rocker which is a bummer. That’s the biggest omission for me as being able to pivot down at the feet really opens up the stances available when posing a figure. Without it, there’s not a whole lot he can do below the waist. The other major omission is the lack of a biceps swivel. If they added those two points, which might not have cost them anything when they were tooling this guy, it would have made a world of difference. Instead, he moves just okay. It’s certainly below average for a modern figure, and this is a guy with a lot of weapons so it’s an extra bummer he can’t pose better. Yeah, he’ll pose better than your turtles from 1988, but that’s probably not the standard we should be holding Playmates to in 2022.
One of the hallmarks of The Last Ronin is the character is basically a one turtle army. He has all of the weapons of the core 4, and even more in the book, so this edition has to do the same. There are no extra hands or portraits so all of the accessories are weapons. In the box, you get: two sai, two nunchaku, one sword, one broken sword, one bo staff, two star-shaped shurikens, and two diamond shaped shurikens. It’s a good assortment and the only weapons missing are the tonfa the character wields in the book. There’s also a grappling hook that pegs onto the belt, though it’s just a lump of sculpted plastic and not something he can really do anything with. All of the weapons are sculpted in a light gray with a black wash added. The shurikens might be a darker gray, but they also have a much heavier wash on them making them appear more black than gray. The sculpt of the weapons is all solid. The ‘chuks are sculpted to have ropes instead of chains and they all feature wraps sculpted onto the handles. The sai are the only ones I don’t love since the bladed portions have been rounded off significantly and look a bit silly as a result, but I guess that’s because Playmates adheres to department store standards when it comes to safety. Like the book character, this figure has room for weapon storage, but he can’t store everything. There’s a slot for the bo on his back and a scabbard for one sword. There are two pieces for the sai, one on the rear and one on the front, and they even pivot so you can adjust them as needed. There’s no way to store the nunchaku though nor is there a place for the shurikens. He can at least hold everything and his hands are sculpted so the sai blade can go between his fingers if you wish. I just wish he had a true belt to slot some of this stuff into when he’s not holding it. I almost feel discouraged from displaying him holding any of the weapons he can otherwise store.
On its own, this Playmates version of The Last Ronin feels like a worthwhile release. The word I keep coming back to with this guy is “charming.” He’s a charming figure. It has enough of that vintage aesthetic going for it with the face, but it also brings its own flair to the shelf. As a one-off, it feels okay at this price point, but as a blueprint for a potential revival of the old line it does feature some room for improvement. I would like to see the articulation shortcomings addressed, and if they can’t get the price below 30 then it might not matter what they do. That feels way too close to the going rate for something from NECA, though an Origins-inspired line might not face competition from NECA, but Super7. Maybe a 30 dollar price tag is good enough if consumers are comparing that to the $55 remakes Super7 is doing? It’s hard to say. I’m not even sure I want such a line to exist as I feel pretty well covered at this point when it comes to TMNT toys. As a novelty, I could see myself kicking the tires on the four brothers at least, but as another line I’m all-in or nearly all-in on? I don’t know if the appetite is there, but I could be in the minority. Hopefully, if Playmates continues to do one-off styled releases, or even does more of those two-packs, they try to adhere to this style more than the 2012 Classics Collection mold which just doesn’t hold up very well. More of this, please, Playmates.
We are back with one more look at Wave 6 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of Ultimates! action figures: Sewer Surfer Mike. This, like every figure in the line so far, is a recreation of a Playmates Toys figure from the vintage line of TMNT action figures, and in this case it’s of Mike the Sewer Surfer. That was the Michelangelo included in the inaugural disguise series which was basically the first of the “wacky” variants that Playmates would do. Many more followed, but for me, that first wave was the most memorable and Michelangelo as a surfer dude made plenty of sense. And it was a toy I really enjoyed as a kid. Something about that pink and blue wet suit was just a pleasing aesthetic for me. I loved the sculpted details like the octopus on one of Mikey’s legs or that metallic paint on his sunglasses. He also had a little, crab, buddy that affixed to his surfboard and it was just a fun, silly, figure. And because of that affection I had for it as a kid I had to get the Super7 version. There was at least one other compelling reason to get this, which we’ll get to, but it was largely a no-brainer. I really liked all of those disguised turtles, it’s one of the few waves I had every figure from, and the nostalgia is strong here.
Mikey comes in the standard Super7 Ultimates! box with slipcover on the outside and window box within. Mikey stands around 6″ and is basically in-line with the other turtles, as expected. Since he features a new outfit that’s all done as part of the sculpt, everything about this guy is new. The only parts Super7 could reuse were the hands and maybe the shins. He’s done in as much colored plastic as possible, which for Mikey is that deep, forest, green that distinguishes him from his brothers. The wet suit feature some painted details and it’s done in an acceptable fashion. There’s a lot of additional, fun, sculpted bits on this guy in the form of various sea creatures. Mikey looks like he was vomited up by a whale or something as he’s got crabs (the good kind), sharks, and seawood all over the place and it’s something I remember fondly of the original figure. I’m a little surprised some of these aren’t removable, but they weren’t on the old figure so I don’t hate it. I’d have kept them on, but I understand if some are disappointed just like how some out there wanted Scratch’s shackle to be removable. It is interesting that the default portrait for this figure has Mikey with his tongue hanging out. That is not how the original figure depicted him as he instead had a sly smile and shades. The shades, by the way, are removable this time. The second portrait is more in-line with the original. It doesn’t matter since both heads are in the box, but I found it a bit curious. He still features a big, yellow, belt and I am a bit disappointed there isn’t more paint here. I thought Super7 did a good job making Slash’s belt pop more, but with this one it’s like they didn’t even try. Despite that, I think he looks good and I’m as charmed with this version as I was the original when I was a kid.
What certainly adds to the fun factor here rests with the accessories. Mikey’s got a decent spread, and it starts with the optional hands. Mikey comes with two sets of gripping hands (vertical hinge and horizontal), fists, and style posed hands. For those gripping hands he has his trusty nunchaku. These are of the molded plastic variety and Super7 added some seaweed to them in keeping with the theme. The original figure did not come with these so I like that Super7 gave us some. The only issue is they’re very gummy to the point where I find the texture unpleasent. It’s a shame, because the sculpt and paint are nice, but they’re so soft that I couldn’t even get them into his gripping hands. He also has three cans of wax, I guess to maintain his board, and I initially wasn’t sure what they were. They’re painted okay, my blue and yellow one isn’t lined up properly, but don’t do much for me otherwise. He also has his starfish shurikens which is something that did come with the old toy, and most important he comes with his surfboard. It looks like the vintage one as it’s cast in orange plastic and has a decal on it. It’s disappointing to see a decal in place of paint or a printing, but that’s what we got. The little crab guy is included, but he no longer clips into the board and instead is intended to just be placed on it which doesn’t work as well since the board needs to lean forward. There’s also a foot strap for the board in case Mikey wipes out. It looks pretty cool, but it’s really crying out for a display stand of some kind. Similar to the Optimus Prime figure Super7 did, the fins on the underside of the board make it a challenge to actually pose Mikey in a surfing position. He’s a bit annoying to pose because while he can peg onto the board, nothing else does and his sunglasses just rest on his head unconvincingly so there’s a lot of balancing going on. Lastly, he has a weapon sprue which contains the shuriken, nunchaku, crab, and wax cans surrounded by a block and tackle. It would have been cool to get the block and tackle as an accessory, though admittedly I don’t know what I would have done with it. Just like I don’t know what to do with the sprue. These are being phased out from future waves and I consider that no great loss.
Of course, we also have that other head which is more vintage inspired. Put that on your figure with the shades and the look is mostly complete (the fit of the shades is rather poor) which frees up that other head for another figure. It’s no secret that a lot of folks weren’t crazy about Michelangelo’s alternate head from the Wave 3 release of Ultimates! I’ve been using that head, because I overall liked the alt heads more, but it is my least favorite of the four. It’s just an odd expression. They were going for a smile or a laugh, but it’s very blocky and he has huge gaps between his teeth. This one kind of carries that weakness forward, but overall both heads do a much better job of getting Mikey’s termperment across. And the good news is that Super7 was able to match the colored plastic very well between this release and that past one so, if you want to, you can swap out the old head with one of these. I’m definitely going to do that with my display, though I haven’t yet decided which head I want for which figure. And I suppose the inverse is true if you really want your Sewer Surfer Mike to have one of the old heads. The classic, vintage, head doesn’t look terrible, though I can’t see myself going in that direction, but it’s always nice to have options.
Now, the big deal with this line of late has been articulation. Wave 5, which arrived at the same time as Wave 6, was pretty much a disaster as far as loose joints are concerned. The Wave 6 figures I’ve looked at have been much better. Slash was pretty great, and while Scratch had some odd engineering choices, he was at least plenty sturdy. Mikey, being a Wave 6 release as well, is more of the same which is a good thing. He articulates just like the other turtles so we have a double ball peg at the head that has subpar range because of how low it sits on the unarticulated neck. The shoulders are ball-hinged and he can just about get his arms out to the side. He has a biceps swivel and the elbows are single hinges with rotation and it’s fine. The wrists swivel and hinge and the hands swap fairly easily. In the torso, is a waist twist that does little and at the hips Mikey can almost do full splits (it’s the sculpted eel on his left thigh that keeps him from achieving a true split), kick forward, and can’t really kick back due to the shell. There is a thigh twist and the knees are single hinges with a swivel. At the ankle, we get hinges and rockers which continue to be the strong point of the line. The rest is just basic. The range is mediocre as he can’t quite hit a 90 degree bend at either the elbow or knee, but there are at least no surprises. We know what to expect and that the articulation is going to be a weak spot for this line, at least what is here seems fine as far as quality control is concerned. I’d love to see Super7 do better, but we’re at a point that we should expect this level of articulation and either accept ir or pass because it’s unlikely to change.
This is a figure that is not likely to excite many, but it’s probably not going to let many down either. It feels like it should be regarded as a new baseline for the entire series. There’s a good amount of paint on the figure proper and it’s applied reasonably well. Yes, it’s not pristine upon close inspection, but it’s good enough. The articulation is not impressive, but is up to the line’s own standard and at 6 waves deep it’s mostly on the consumer at this point if they’re letdown in that department. And the figure also comes with enough, though I definitely would have appreciated some new hands like open palms for a more traditoonal surfing pose or maybe a “Hang 10” gesture. At least there is already plenty of new tooling with this guy so it doesn’t feel like Super7 cheaped out on us. My only true criticisms rest with the belt and nunchuks. The belt just needs more paint as it shouldn’t be all yellow like that. At least hit the cans with something. And that gummy plastic utilized for the chuks needs to take a hike. I get that they were looking for a flexible alternative for the weapons, but this isn’t the right solution. Mostly though, if you’re into this line and have been generally pleased then you’ll like this figure and if you liked the vintage one well then it’s a no brainer. The fact that his second head works well with the older Mikey might be reason enough for some to drop the $55 it costs to get this guy.
In the late 1980s the arcade scene in the US was still going strong. Classic style arcade games like Donkey Kong and Pac-Man were being overtaken by a new genre of quarter-munching pain: the brawler. Or the beat-em-up. If you’ve played one, then you can picture what I’m talking about. It was usually a one to four player experience where each player would take control of an avatar and battle hordes of enemies all while gradually moving to the right with the goal to reach a boss encounter by the end. These games were often very simple, usually requiring just two buttons and a joystick, and most all played the same: you punch, you jump, you unleash a special move that consumes a portion of your health, and you die. A lot. Most games required the player to pump in another quarter upon a final death, usually giving them 10 seconds to do so, which would allow the player to re-spawn immediately. This made completing the game quite manageable, provided one had enough quarters because these games were designed to beat the player down. There was often just too many enemies onscreen for even the most accomplished player to dispatch in a flawless fashion. The character the player controlled just wasn’t equipped with enough maneuvers to avoid hits while simultaneously dishing out punishment. Plus, the games weren’t above getting cheap by having players get attacked by unseen enemies or by having boss characters just shrug off all damage. Actually having a story and an ending made them unique at the time since the goal wasn’t to just play as long as possible and get the highest score, which also made them addicting. Yeah, I want to see the X-Men defeat Mangeto, I need to know if the Simpson family rescues Maggie, and I have enough money to do it!
One of the developers who best exemplefied excellence in the field of the beat-em-up was Konami, and two of their biggest hits belonged to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The other part of this genre that appealed to players was they looked lovely. As video game technology advanced rapidly in the 80s, the home consoles could not keep up with the arcade. That’s why it was the arcade where you could find a brawler with beautiful, large, sprites that truly resembled what they were supposed to. It made this genre a magnet for licensed properties and developers could even sneak in some soundbites if the property was from television or a movie. And for a franchise like TMNT, it made creating a game that actually looked like the mega popular cartoon show a feasible thing. The home Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for the Nintendo Entertainment System sort of looked like the property. I knew I was looking at the turtles when I played it, even if they didn’t exactly look like the characters from the show. And the enemies were pretty damn confusing as well, and not always for technological reasons. With the arcade game that released the same year, there was none of that. It felt like playing an episode of the show and was a delight to my kid-brain. My strongest memory of that title was playing it at my cousin’s birthday party which was held at a roller skating rink. We were there, confronting Shredder, after spending who knows how many quarters to get there, when a kid who had been watching for most of the time accidentally stepped on the power cord. My cousin, the birthday boy, went ballistic on the poor kid while my aunt tried to calm him down. At the time, I was initially disappointed to not see the end of the game, but I think I felt worse for the kid. My aunt had been trying to corral us anyway for cake and ice cream so she wasn’t disappointed. Maybe she actually did it and blamed the kid!
That initial offering from Konami looked great, and the pacing was a lot of fun, but it was very much a basic game design. When the developer came back for the sequel, Turtles in Time, it did more than just put a shine on the experience. Special moves were added, the kind that take away health to execute, and some additional maneuvers were added to freshen up the experience. By far, the biggest new addition, and the flashiest, was the ability for the player to toss enemies at the screen which was highlighted during the attract mode setting and certainly worked to get attention. And when that game was brought to the Super Nintendo, it was a near perfect port. Some animations and sound clips had to be removed, but the game made up for it by adding new boss encounters and levels making it the superior experience. And it was beatable at home, with the ability to adjust the amount of lives players had and toggle the game’s difficulty. It was a terrific experience for kids in the early 90s into the franchise and it’s a shared experience for men my age (and probably a fair amount of women too) and one most remember quite fondly.
Because of the popularity of those two games, developer Tribute Games returned to it for 2022 with Shredder’s Revenge. The turtles never actually left the brawler genre, more were made into the 2000s including a re-make of Turtles in Time, but none managed to capture the attention of fans like Turtles in Time did. Tribute seemed hell-bent on changing that as Shredder’s Revenge was revealed well ahead of the launch and it was immediately clear that the game was after adults who grew up with those old school games. It’s a 2D, sprite-based, brawler that incorporates a lot of what Turtles in Time did, plus it adds a dash of something new. Yes, it’s still limited by its genre and it’s not out to reinvent the wheel or reexamine what this genre is capable of, but it does provide for some depth. Mostly, it’s designed to take players on a trip through an enhanced episode of the classic cartoon series and returns the original voice cast for the turtles. And because we’re now in the year 2022, the experience has been enhanced to include up to 6 players either via the couch or online and it’s no longer limited to those who own a Super Nintendo.
Shredder’s Revenge presents two main game modes out of the gate: Story and Arcade. Story mode is self-explanatory, while Arcade is basically just the story mode without the interludes and map and is intended to be more challenging. From the get-go, players have access to six playable characters: the four turtles (Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael) plus their master, Splitner, and main ally April O’Neil. All of the characters differentiate themselves via three attributes: Range, Speed, and Power. Leonardo is intended to be the most balanced, while the other characters all lean towards something such as Donatello having the best range and Raph hitting the hardest. The characters also handle slightly differently with Mikey being able to bounce off of foes while Leonardo has a wide-ranging jump attack. As you progress through story mode, characters earn experience and progressively get better via enhancements to their special move so it pays to replay with different characters.
The actual gameplay should feel rather familiar to those who played Turtles in Time. The face buttons on the controller all do something different with one being attack, jump, parry, and special. Special moves no longer consume health and instead have their own meter that gradually fills as you dish out damage. Most special moves are designed to clear the screen, or at least a portion of it, and are best used when undier siege by a lot of enemies. As characters accumulate experience, the special move meter expands and a special dive attack can be unlocked as well as a ninja master mode that’s like a temporary buff in place of just one, singular, attack. Jumping and attacking the standard way should feel pretty familiar as well, while the parry button is where the backflip is basically mapped to now. Players can also still grab enemies by simply walking into them which opens up the bash attack where the player slams the enemy to either side in a comical fashion and the screen-toss is still present, and just like the SNES game, plays a role in one boss encounter. There’s also a taunt button which allows the player to earn special move power without fighting and in co-op mode there’s a button dedicated to assisting allies via a high-five which transfers health from one player to the other. Each player has a set amount of lives at the beginning, but beating back enemies can earn extra lives. Pizzas still restore health and are scattered about the levels and new to this game is a massive pie that will restore the health of all active player characters, so no fighting over that one. There’s also still power-up pizzas which make the player momentarily invincible and places them in a spinning attack to smack away all foes. There’s also a new one that just enables the player to spam their special move too. In short, it’s all rather familiar, but there’s enough new wrinkles to please old school fans and nothing added breaks or ruins the experience. It’s all for the better.
Where the game really shines is in the presentation. There’s a great intro done in a hand-drawn style with a new arrangement of the theme song (sung by Faith No More’s Mike Patton) to accompany it and really set the mood. The sprite work is bright and vibrant, and while the characters seem a little small relative to their environment in this one, it all fits well on the screen. The art style is obviously based on the cartoon, but it also has it’s own thing going for it. Foot Soldiers have more of a squat appearance with oversized heads while the sizing on the boss characters fluctuates quite wildly. Bebop and Rocksteady are huge, while Rat King is fairly petite. All of the enemy deisgns are also based on the show, so you’ll see Triceratons that look removed from their lone experience and Slash has his very toon specific look. All of the bosses from Turtles in Time return for this one, but there’s also some new ones that I won’t spoil. I would consider at least one a true deep cut from the show, but if you’re as into collecting NECA’s action figures as I am then none will appear that deep. You also get the returning cast from the show so you have Cam Clarke (Leonardo, Rocksteady), Rob Paulsen (Raphael), Barry Gordon (Donatello, Bebop) and Townsend Coleman (Michelangelo, Rat King, Rahzar). Unfortunately, they’re the only ones brought back so someone like Pat Fraley is missed, but if you’re only going to bring back four cast members from the show at least it’s the turtles. Most of the characters are one and done battles, but like the original game, you’ll chase Bebop and Rocksteady around a bit. Levels in story mode are laid out on a map of New York that are accessed by driving the Turtle Van around which feels like a nod to the original NES game, though you never get to drive the van in a level which feels like a missed opportunity. There are still surfing and hoverboard levels, and in story mode there are collectibles scattered across levels that can be uncovered for an experience bonus, but they’re not very compelling. The story itself is also mostly non-existant and of little importance. Shredder is still interested in the Statue of Liberty for some reason and most of the game involves the turtles trying to prevent the bad guys from re-assembling Krang’s body.
Completing all of the levels in story mode will unlock one additional character: Casey Jones. Depending on who you beat the game with will also influence the ending you receive in a small way so there is some encouragement to replay the mode with different characters. Not only will they get stronger, but you’ll get a little bonus postscript for the ending. You can also replay any level at any time throughout story mode and the game will keep track of what you accomplished, or did not, for each one. There are cameos hidden throughout the game in addition to other collectibles. None of them are particularly difficult to find, it just requires the player to bash away at all destructable objects in a given level. There are also additional challenges for each one that range in difficulty. Some will require the player to just avoid a certain obstacle or maneuver an enemy in the level posseses, while others just task you with not taking damage. The difficulty can be toggled as well and playing on the normal setting presents a modest challenge. I haven’t tackled the game on hard yet, and I don’t know when I will since I tend to play with my kids, but I will probably try it at some point.
Shredder’s Revenge is available on all of the major consoles out there. It was first made available digitally, but physical copies have been made availble via Limited Run Games. There’s a standard version available now which is how I purchased the game for the Nintendo Switch, but more robust collector versions were also available. While it was tempting to go for the version that came in a VHS styled box, I ultimately didn’t want to pay the extra money or endure the longer wait to get it. All physical versions come with a Pizza Hut coupon like the NES version of the arcade game back in the day, which is certainly a fun inclusion that I assume most owners would prefer to keep over actually exchanging it for a personal pan pizza. And that inlcudes me. All physical versions also come with a fairly robust manual and some stickers which is pretty cool. As for the Switch version, the performance is great. I didn’t notice any slowdown or frame rate hiccups and it was easy to add players to the mix. I haven’t tried it online, but I hope to whenever my buddy who did go for one of the fancier packages finally gets his.
I don’t want to oversell Shredder’s Revenge. It is, at its heart, a humble beat-em-up that doesn’t require numerous amounts of quarters to get through. It is a fun experience though and is especially so for those who grew up on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the games from Konami. And even if you didn’t, my son is proof that it can appeal to the kids of today as well as he’s had his nose buried deep in this one since I got it despite us beating it in a mere two play sessions. It doesn’t do anything to elevate the genre, but it does do enough that I feel it’s easily the best beat-em-up I’ve ever played. There’s enough variety in the characters to make it worthwhile to experiment with them all and the player has enough control over the characters to make it possible to actually get really good at the game. Turtles in Time had some of that going for it, but mostly getting good at that game just involved managing the amount of enemies on screen in the most economical fashion possible and knowing when it wasn’t worth it to try and damage a boss. Some of the bosses in Shredder’s Revenge can feel a tad cheap at times, but for the most part, it’s also easy to see how to tackle each one and for the most part it’s pretty fun too. I think I only dislike one boss fight, Rat King, as it’s just too long and mostly involves the player dodging swarms of rats. Other than that, the other fights are fine and there’s a fair amount of variety in the encounters as well. I don’t think I’ll sink 60 hours into this game or anything, but it’s a good time and I feel motivated to at least power up all of the playable characters. If you grew up on this stuff, then this game is a no-brainer.
As NECA continues to find success with its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lines of action figures, the company has sought to branch out beyond the usual source material in an effort to give collectors more of what they want and also likely to just keep the hype train rolling. NECA started first with doing figures based on the original comic appearance of the turtles in the Mirage Studios series which has lead to video game, movie, and cartoon adaptations. The cartoon is, by far, the most popular and successful it would seem and a natural complement to that television show is the line of comics released by Archie while the show was in production titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. These comics started off as adaptations of the show, but soon went their own way. It’s through this comic that many characters fans would come to enjoy in both the Playmates toyline and the show actually originated. One of the most popular characters to debut in this fashion has been the sometimes evil mutant, sometimes alien, turtle Slash!
Slash is someone we’ve talked about recently as Super7 just sent out their take on the beastly snapping turtle. That figure is based on the Playmates release which really honed in on Slash’s debut where he was more bad guy than good. It likely made sense to someone in marketing to basically have an anti-ninja turtle in the ranks of the bad guys and that toy set the stage for the character’s introduction in the show, even though toon Slash would end up being quite different as far as temperament goes. Slash as he was presented in the comics was a little more nuanced. His home world was destroyed by industrialists which essentially sent him into a frenzy that landed him in an intergalactic prison of sorts where he befriended Krang. Not really knowing how evil Krang was, Slash helped him and was introduced as a villain to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but he’d eventually come to realize that Krang was no friend of his and was taken in by the Mighty Mutanimals which basically made him a good guy. A lot of other takes on the character seem to have followed suit where Slash will start off as an adversary before becoming more ambiguous and even heroic. His debut was in an issue of the series written by Stephen Murphy, though I can’t find a credit for who actually created the character, but many on the Archie staff were unhappy with how the Mutanimals characters were treated when brought over to the cartoon and I assume Slash was no exception.
Slash, being a popular character within the fanbase, makes some sense as NECA’s debut in the Archie universe. They have done two versions of the character already, one for the video game and one for the cartoon, but both utilized the standard ninja turtle mold. I like both interpretations of the character, but my main criticism with each release was that Slash was too small. He doesn’t necessarily need to be taller than the turtles, but he should have more mass. NECA seems to have heard that criticism from the fanbase as this version of Slash is on the newer Tokka base body. It’s amusing to me because in the vintage Playmates line, Tokka was basically a repurposed Slash so the cycle is complete! This body though gives Slash that thicker, more physically imposing, appearance that I think fans wanted from the other figures. TMNT brand director for NECA, Trevor Zammit, has even indicated they may redo the cartoon version on this body. They have been saying similar things about April for awhile too so I certainly wouldn’t hold your breath, but as the toon line gets further into deep cut territory it wouldn’t shock me to see a fan favorite like Slash revisited once again.
Since this is the first in a new subline from NECA, we should talk a little about the box. It’s in the same shape as the Fugitoid and Loot Crate Claw Shredder packaging which is that of a trapezoid and features a window display on the front with artwork on the sides and product shots on the rear. All of the art is done by former Archie artist Kevin Mitchroney who also previously worked on the San Diego Comic Con exclusive carrying case from a few years back. It’s great to see NECA continue to seek out an authentic artist for these lines as it really does add to the presentation. Of course, ultimately the box is just trash that houses the action figure and mine has been ripped open, but I still think the box is pretty cool. Slash comes on a plastic tray that is easily removed from the box, if you want to preserve it, and the backdrop is that of his home world, if I’m not mistaken. Possibly my biggest pet peeve with this release starts here as every limb and accessory for this guy is held down by an annoying, plastic, tie-down. I hate these things so much because you have to pull on them to stretch them and then snip. You can try to rip past them, and I ended up doing that for the optional hands, but these little things get everywhere and leave your fingers sore. You also can’t do the rip technique for anything painted, which for a NECA figure is almost everything, as that could damage the paint. I find the tie-downs unnecessary as the bubble is plenty strong enough to keep the figure in place, but maybe it’s extra reinforcement to appease mint-in-box collectors, but screw them! NECA, please, ditch these things!
With that out of the way, lets actually talk about the figure. Slash when standing upright is about 5.875″ tall. He is one of those characters that’s a bit hunched forward so he’s never as tall as he could be. He seems to scale well with the toon turtles, and I’m assuming if they do Archie turtles they’ll be the same height, and that promised mass is certainly on display out of the box. He is just a chunky boy. Most of the figure is cast in a muted green, but then painted over, to give him a matte finish. He has some black linework on his muscle lines and the plastron which helps the figure to pop. The warts on his skin are done in a darker green and the plastron brown. On the back, his shell is cast in a much richer green and features a lot of that linework featured elsewhere. It’s also on his belt, and the metallic portions are painted white with a hit of blue shading which gives him a very comic-like appearance. There’s no panel shading so the approach here is definitely similar to the Mirage line. As for the new sculpt, the new parts are the plastron, hands, shell, and obviously the head. I love this expression Slash is sporting with one eyebrow raised and his sharp teeth all on display. The paint on his head is really clean and: Look! – painted shoulder pauldrons! His trademarked blades are also quite pointy and a little sharp and if I have one critique with the sculpt it’s that I wish they were longer like they are on the box art. In terms of presentation issues, it’s basically just paint imperfections here and there. There’s a small blob of white on the back of the belt that I might try to remove and there’s a couple of rough spots. One is on the edge of the plastron above his right pectoral and the paint is pretty choppy around the thigh joint on the rear of the leg. There’s also a bit of paint transfer around the the knees on mine from the kneepad to the thigh. That joint was also stuck out of the box and I think it’s because of the paint there. When you use as much paint as NECA does, these blemishes are bound to happen and overall I’d say it’s at an acceptable level here. Especially since the alternative would be to use less paint which I am not in favor of.
Slash, being a chunker, is not the most impressive figure when it comes to posing. He has pretty much all of the joints one would want, but his design limits his range. The head is on a ball peg and since it’s positioned forward he doesn’t get as much range as one might hope. He can look up a little, down a little, and to each side a little. Perhaps if he had more of a neck he could get better range, but as it stands it’s a bit lacking. The shoulders are ball-hinged, but he has those white pauldrons to be mindful of. The right one on mine sometimes wants to curl under the shell when positioning the arm which makes me worried about paint transfer. He basically isn’t going to get his arms out all the way to the side, and since he’s a turtle, he can’t rotate all the way around either as the shell gets in the way. We do have a biceps swivel after that and the elbows are double-jointed. Because of the elbow pad, he’s basically only good for a 90 degree bend. If you really work at it, you can possibly get him to go past that. The hands swivel and all feature horizontal hinges, which is a bummer for the accessories. It also kind of stinks that he can’t rotate his blades at all. In the torso, there is a waist twist that’s either single or a double-ball, but because he’s a turtle, it doesn’t allow for much movement. The hips are ball and socket joints with a thigh swivel. He can just about hit a full split, though the built-in thigh swivel doesn’t seem to want to move much on mine. Instead, the hip mostly pivots on the ball and socket, but that might be enough rotation for most. The knees are double-jointed, but like the elbows, you’re probably not getting past 90 here. The ankles are hinged and have a rocker and both work well. In terms of joint tolerance, I would say most of the joints are on the tight side. The right knee is the only one I had to heat up, but the shoulder hinges seem especially tight as well. The hips are a little on the loose side, but he’s holding himself up even at the widest stance possible so it’s not presently an issue. Because of the blades in his wrists, the wrist hinges are pretty tough to make much use of as you definitely don’t want to rub the hands on those mostly white blades. It mostly just highlights the need for vertical hinges as those would be far more preferable than what’s present.
Slash does come with a few accessories he can make use of in the form of weapons and spare parts. Out of the box, he’s equipped with fists, but he also has a set of gripping hands and clenchy, style, pose hands. Swapping them is a bit tricky because of the blades, and the fit is also rather snug, but do-able without any heat. In terms of weaponry, he has his kris sword which some refer to as a sai. It’s just a crooked, short, sword and it has the same white and blue paint app that his belt and blades feature which I like a lot. Based on most of his artwork, I think it could have been made a little bigger, but otherwise it gets the job done. Slash also comes with a bladed, hook, weapon and it’s mostly known as that thing that came with all of the vintage turtles. I have no idea if he actually used such a weapon in the comics, but I’m probably not going to make use of it. That’s it though. It’s definitely not a lot, but for most it will probably be enough. I think an extra head is always nice to have, but admittedly, I really like his present expression so I’m not sure another would be any better. I find it curious that he’s depicted with his little, toy, palm tree on the box art, but NECA declined to include one with the figure. It’s made more odd since they’ve already tooled such an accessory for the toon Slash. The only thing I really miss is just vertically hinged gripping hands. It would have also been cool if the bladed wrist weapons were removable just for some different posing opportunities.
Slash is a pretty cool looking figure. I suppose I didn’t need to write as much as I did up to now when I could have just said that and been done with it, but it’s the truth. He just looks cool. There are some issues with the articulation and paint, but the overall package seems to overcome that just fine. And since he’s the debut of a new line, there’s an added element of excitement at play as well. Slash is just the first, and still come to are Man Ray, Jagwar, and Dreadmon with more certain to follow. It would seem that NECA is prioritizing the Mutanimals first, and I think that’s a sound strategy since some of them have never been in plastic before. This figure is currently being sold at specialty retail for around $38 which is basically what NECA Ultimates are starting to retail for these days. It’s higher than I would like, but I have already seen this one discounted in some places. I do not know if there are any plans to bring any of this line to big box retailers like Target. The fact that Man Ray was unveiled quite a while ago and no preorder has gone up makes me think there’s a chance he’s going to one of the big stores initially, like Fugitoid, before specialty gets a crack at him. Unless the plan is only to do one figure from this line per year. I actually have little affection for the comic this figure is from so I don’t know how deep I’ll go on this line, but I liked this look enough for Slash that I got it anyway. I’ll probably do the same with at least Man Ray since he never had a proper appearance in the cartoon. For fans of those Archie comics though, this is pretty exciting and I hope they’re happy with how this figure turned out.
Ask a casual fan of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who Scratch is and it’s possible they’ll have no idea who you’re talking about. Ask a collector of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures who Scratch is and their eyes will shift to one of longing. Scratch the cat was a late entrant in the classic line of Playmates action figures. He was originally released in 1993 when the basic assortment of TMNT figures had shrunk to just 7. In their place were figures based on a new movie, the toon subline, cave turtles, mutating turtles, and a bunch of other gimmicks. Kids had basically grown bored with the franchise, so Playmates was throwing a bunch of different tricks at them to try to cling to a demographic that had been obsessed with their product for a few years at this point. And a few years for a children’s toyline can sometimes feel like an eternity.
So it was that Scratch, Halfcourt, Hot Spot, and the other figures from ’93 went somewhat ignored. They were also produced in fewer numbers compared with the basic assortment of the prior years, and the people who were buying them were kids which meant they’d get beat up, broken, donated, etc. As a result, they’re even harder to find today and if you have a mint, carded, Scratch or one of those other guys from ’93 then you have yourself a decent little payday in front of you, should you wish to sell. And for whatever reason, Scratch has become “the one” from that assortment and for collectors of the line he’s become a bit of a grail piece, despite the fact that there are other figures more rare in the line. Because of his infamy, it’s not surprising that Super7 would turn to the character that went unloved nearly 30 years ago, but so many are after today.
In 1993, I was barely clinging to my TMNT fandom. I saw the third film and liked it enough and would get it on VHS later that year. I had Cave Turtle Leonardo from the prior year and was very smitten with that year’s Turtle Trolls. It was also the year I bought my final TMNT figure until 2003, a Ninja-flipping Raphael. Otherwise, I was really into X-Men and the offerings from ToyBiz. Plus, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers debuted that summer and set the toy world on fire as well. And I can remember encountering that basic assortment like Hot Spot, Mona Lisa, and yes, Scratch, and my take then was “Wow, these look stupid.” And they kind of were. Mona Lisa is fine, but Hot Spot? He’s a mutant dalmatian that is a fire fighter – how creative? Scratch is a mutant cat burglar who….wait for it…is a cat! They’re two of the laziest designs put out by Playmates and are totally unremarkable as characters and as action figures. If that’s the case, why did I bother with this updated version of a character that I think is kind of lame? The answer is: I don’t know! When the solicitation went up, I didn’t give it much thought. I guess I liked the idea of a figure with a ball and chain and I was intrigued by the presence of a diaphragm joint and what looked like a fairly ambitious paint job, by Super7 standards. I don’t know if that should have been enough to get me to drop $55 on the figure, but it did so here we are.
Scratch is one of those figures that can best be described as “what you see, is what you get.” He stands about 6.5″ in height and comes in a standard sized box. He’s sporting an old timey jailbird outfit, so white jumpsuit with black stripes. He’s got a cat burglar mask and a little hat too. Like many, many, figures from Playmates, he has one foot sporting a boot and one that’s bare. The booted foot is also shackled and a bluish-grayish ball is attached to the shackle via an actual chain. Around his neck is a piece of black thread with a small nail file attached for busting out of jail. His clothing is mostly in tatters as he’s either gotten into some scrums in prison or his escape act left him a bit worse for ware. It was a pretty bland design in 1993, and it’s really no better in 2022. I suppose the thinking here is that the large scale of this line can improve the sculpt and the added paint can elevate it. And I suppose it does. Kind of. His face is very expressive and every piece of exposed flesh is nicely textured to simulate fur. There’s no texture to the clothing, but there are numerous rips and the folds of which are sculpted on. I like that his prison uniform was apparently custom made because it continues onto his tail, though it’s pretty torn. The end of his tail is wrapped as well, like many a cartoon cat. The shackle on the left ankle is a bit odd though. It’s part of the sculpt, which was true of the original toy, but it feels like this is something Super7 could have improved upon by making it removable. The area between the curved bar of the lock and the actual lock itself is also filled in with plastic so it doesn’t look as good as it could. The actual ball portion can be removed since it’s just affixed via a small, weak, chain, so if you wish you can simply bend the last link and slide it off, though each time you do you likely risk the link just breaking all together.
Excepting the shackle, I think the sculpt looks pretty good from a technical standpoint. Whether or not you like the character design is certainly subjective. The paint though is a bit of a mixed bag. The fur is the standout. Scratch is basically a light brown with a red-brown overcoat. The hands, the feet, the face – all look good. The teeth and the mask are especially clean, though the factory screwed up Scratch’s missing tooth by basically painting the gap as if a tooth were there which just looks strange. It also looks like they missed the black outline for his right fang as it’s present on the left side. The jail suit is a little less impressive. Scratch appears to be mostly cast in white plastic so the black lines and the exposed fur are all painted effects. This is a sound strategy, but may have been a little too much for Super7 to handle. There are numerous places where the paint doesn’t go far enough to the edge of the clothing and doesn’t look great. It’s especially noticeable on the wrappings on his tail. The rip around his right shoulder also looks weird because the arm is cast in white, but it looks like the rip should result in an exposed armpit, but doesn’t. There’s also a scuff on one of the black lines on my figure’s left leg. Interestingly enough, some of the spots that look hard to paint turned out very well. There’s a thin rip at the base of his rib cage on his left side that’s nice and clean and the little slashes on his left thigh all look great. “Mixed bag” is probably the best way to describe this one when you’re talking paint.
Scratch, being one of the more generic character designs in this line, should be one of the best articulated as a result. There’s no shell to work around, he’s not super chunky, or an alligator, he’s basically a humanoid character that just happens to be covered in fur and features a tail. Again, you would think that would bode well for Scratch, but eh, more mixed bag. It starts at the head where Scratch is surprisingly locked down. He basically can’t look up at all and only down a little because his head sits so low on the neck, which is unarticulated. He does get a little tilt to each side and can rotate, but the lack of up and down is disappointing. At the shoulder, he can just hit horizontal and rotates all the way, of course. There is no biceps swivel once again, and instead we get an elbow swivel that can at least go all the way around. The hinge there can’t hit a 90 degree bend which continues to be a disappointment. Yeah, there’s little different between 90 and almost 90, but the goal here is to be able to go past 90 degrees. The wrists swivel and hinge and Scratch does have a vertical hinge for his trigger hand, so that’s a plus. In the torso we have a new joint not featured on other figures in the line which is at the diaphragm. It feels like a ball joint, and it allows Scratch to rotate a little bit and he seems to have more range rotating to his right. He can’t really bend back far, but he does crunch forward a bit. You also get some nuance posing which I like. It’s not amazing, but being able to break-up the torso like this adds more than you think. At the waist we have a twist that is surprisingly tight. He can’t go all the way around, or at least he doesn’t want to and I’m not going to force it. The hips can go out to the side to almost a full split and he kicks forward well and there’s a bit of a thigh swivel. At the knee, we have the standard single hinge and swivel which rotates all the way around on the right leg, but does more of a pivot on the left. The right leg can hit a 90 degree bend, or close to one, while the left knee barely does anything because of it’s shape. It’s a poor design as there’s nothing unique about this guy preventing better range. The ankle hinges and can rock to the side, and just like the knee, the right foot is far more functional than the left though the ankle rocker is more like a swivel on the right foot than a true pivot. Lastly, the tail is on a ball peg and doesn’t do much of anything save for swivel around. Trying to pose it any other way is likely to just result in it popping off.
The articulation continues to be a weak spot for this line and Scratch is, in some ways, more disappointing than most. As I said before, there’s nothing about this character’s design that should make the articulation hard to implement, but it still comes up short. With the knees and elbows, they’re just not allowing for enough room to add in the necessary range. Don’t do double-hinges if you don’t like them, but single-hinged joints should work better than this. A double-ball peg approach to the waist would add a lot of nuance as well, and Super7 needs to allow for more clearance at the head. I should also add, the joints on the knees are painted so you’ll want to be careful there. The right calf is actually cast in clear plastic, so it’s not too unsightly if some of that paint rubs off of the hinge. The left calf is in white and part of the stripe by his knee is painted onto it. The knee barely moves as it is so most should be okay, but it’s something to be mindful of. As far as tolerance goes, Scratch is definitely more in-line with Slash than he is with the Wave 5 releases. Most of the figure moves fine, though that diaphragm joint is a bit loose. It will flop a bit if you shake the figure, but otherwise seems to hold its pose okay. The hips are fine and so are the wrist hinges and waist.
So far I would categorize this review as merely okay, but Scratch has one last chance to impress and that’s with his accessories. Scratch is pretty well loaded with stuff and it starts with an assortment of hands. Scratch has a set of fists, gripping hands, style pose hands, and trigger finger hands. The gripping hands feature a different grip for each so one is tighter than other. His left trigger finger hand has a horizontal hinge, which is useless, but the right has a vertical hinge. I don’t know why they did it that way, but as long as we have one good trigger hand I’m content. Scratch also has an alternate portrait and this one features more of a closed mouth and side-eyed glance. I don’t normally like side-eye expressions, but something about this one works for me. It’s a little more toony in the eyes as there’s no exposed eyelid so I might settle on this one for my display. This expression also dates back to an uncovered clay sculpture for the original figure, which was done by Anaglyph, and was apparently considered for the final figure (image above is from the wonderful TMNT toy resource Rad Plastic). Getting the head and hands off is no problem, though seating the second head is a bit of a pain, but doable without heat.
For those hands, Scratch has a few items he can wield. I already mentioned the small file dangling from a rope around his neck, but he also has a large one he can kind of hold in the tighter gripping hand. It’s cast in that same blue-gray as the smaller file and the steel ball and it looks fine. There’s a dead fish for Scratch to apparently snack on that’s also the same blue-gray color, which is weird, but has some yellow, painted-on, eyes. There’s a claw hammer for Scratch to smack stuff with and it’s fully painted and fits well on the other gripping hand. There’s a sack of money and it’s really well painted. It’s flat on the bottom so it’s designed to be placed on a surface and it’s sculpted to look like the gold coins inside are spilling out. You can put it in his hand if you want though, but it will look weird. My favorite accessory though is the cake gun. It’s a handgun with a slice of cake over it implying that Scratch snuck it into prison in an actual cake and pulled this sucker out. It’s goofy, but reflective of the vintage line. I’m left wishing Super7 gave us the rest of the cake. Lastly, Scratch comes with a buddy figure named Jailbird. Again, pretty weak design as he’s just a bird in a prison uniform, but who didn’t like getting a little buddy figure in the vintage line? Jailbird is well painted and in a casual pose where he looks like he’s flipping a coin. I think he’s supposed to be a hawk, though he’s purple. He doesn’t stand totally upright, which bugs me a little, and features zero articulation. At least he’s fully painted. There’s also a weapon sprue for Scratch and it’s cast in yellow like the vintage toy, though it appears to be a paler yellow. The ball and chain accessory makes up the outer part of the sprue, with the file, cake gun, fish, and hammer inside it. The shackle doesn’t open or anything so I don’t see how you could get it on the figure without removing a foot. It’s more for those who want Scratch to wield yellow weapons though, but still feels rather pointless. It’s no surprise then that these look like they’re going to be phased out in the next wave.
At the end of the day, Scratch was a fairly unremarkable figure in the vintage line, and he’s close to that in the Super7 line. He’s a little better than unremarkable and that’s mostly accomplished with the accessories. I love the cake gun and the money bag is one of the better painted items I’ve received from Super7. The hammer, file, and dead fish are done well, but aren’t particularly exciting. I do like the alternate head, and the ball and chain is basically an accessory too and one that’s pretty fun. The vintage figure did not have the actual ball and chain, but did have the shackle, so I guess it isn’t a terrible thing that the shackle isn’t removable. You can make this display like the vintage toy, though going the extra mile there would have been cool. The articulation is subpar though. He’s better than some of the other figures in the line in that regard, but those figures were poorly articulated so that makes Scratch just underwhelming by comparison. I think Super7 can do better and I’d like to see them try. The paint is at least more ambitious than some of the figures in the line, even if it isn’t exactly a homerun. He’ll look fine on a shelf, but closer scrutiny leaves something to be desired.
Your fondness for Scratch will likely come down to your subjective reaction to the character design, which I don’t hate, I just find boring. There’s enough here in the accessories and overall look to leave me content, but this figure will never enter my mind when I’m trying to pick my favorite from this line. That’s also true of the opposite though as he’s far from the worst and if anything collectors should feel okay about the quality of the product coming out of Wave 6 considering how shaky Wave 5 turned out. And even as I say all of this, I can’t deny that I had more fun than usual snapping pictures of this guy, utilizing my own cat’s carrier, and such. Scratch is a corny design that’s been elevated due to the scarcity of the original figure and for many longtime TMNT collectors this is as close as they’re going to get to that figure. If you have always desired Scratch the action figure, then this should “scratch” that itch. It’s unarguably a better, more enjoyable, figure than the vintage release and should look fine with the rest of your collection. On the other hand, if you see a figure of a literal cat burglar and it does nothing for you then you probably won’t miss this one. I give it a measured recommend for that reason.
When we last looked at a wave 5 release in Super7’s line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimates! it didn’t go that well. Sewer Samurai Leonardo wasn’t an abysmal failure, but it had some problems that really took some of the shine off of the release. It was the type of thing that really shouldn’t occur at this price point when it comes to action figures, so I approached my next Wave 5 release with some trepidation, but I’m happy to say that this one is a better, overall, experience. It’s not without it’s flaws, but they’re more acceptable than what we saw with Leonardo.
When Wave 5 went up for sale, I initially only pre-ordered Leonardo. Some time later I put in for Ray Fillet, but as time went on I fell out of love with that decision. The one I was on the fence about from day one though was Leatherhead. When it comes to this line, I’m finding the attraction for me is either a love of the original figure from Playmates, or I’m just blown away by the larger scale. With Leatherhead, I never had that old figure and it wasn’t some giant hole in my collection. I’m pretty sure I wanted it, as when I had a friend over that brought the figure with him I remember being happy he forgot it as he was getting ready to leave, only for his mom to remind him not to forget his toys. Damn! When the Super7 solicitation came out though it was clear Leatherhead was going to be the big boy of Wave 5, but I wanted to see the final product before putting in an order. When they started to trickle out, I decided to take the plunge, though I was a bit afraid I was going to get burned. It was a daily decision, do I keep my preorder or drop it? Then it came in stock and the decision was made, so lets check it out!
Leatherhead comes in a massive version of Super7’s standard Ultimates! packaging. It has an extra 2″ of depth which really makes a difference. By height, it’s basically the same, but they must have found themselves in no man’s land when it came to the figure. I’m surprised they didn’t package him with a profile view instead, but the box is certainly an attention grabber as a result. The figure itself isn’t massive in the same way that Bebop or Muckman is. By height, he’s about 6.25″ to the top of his head and approaches 7″ when you factor in the hat. He doesn’t really stand fully upright, so his height is deceiving. Where the size comes in is from his depth. He’s a gator, so he has a massive snout plus a tail, though that comes disassembled form the figure in the box. In the same stance as I took the heigh measurement, his length is approximately 9.5″ which can actually be made longer if you crouch him down into a pose more resembling the vintage figure.
Leatherhead is a uniquely sized beast for this line, but he’s still fundamentally a Super7 release. Most of the figure features sculpted plastic done in a base color that negates a need for paint. Or at least, that’s the thinking. The scaled texture of his green flesh looks nice and his belly is less scaled, though still green unlike a real alligator. There is a hint of a wash on his hands and maybe a touch on the neck, chest, and tail. What’s there is extremely subtle and I wish there was more of it since this guy came out of a swamp. He should be grimy and gross. His vest is sculpted in a marigold color and that has a wash applied to add some texture to it. Parts of the pants and boots are painted, but the right leg is a little off. He has a torn knee in his jeans on that side so they sculpted it in green and painted the blue onto it, but it doesn’t match the thigh. A wash to make those jeans look dirty might have helped to conceal that, but oh well. The painted parts of the boots also don’t match the colored portions, and it seems to stand out even more in pictures than it does in reality. On the face, his eyes are painted well and his blonde eyebrows look okay. The teeth are a bit of a mixed bag. They’re painted an off-white color and in some places that ended up covering the gums, namely right on the front of his muzzle, which sucks. The hat is rather well-painted as are the various bits and bobs on his belt. There’s a dagger sculpted onto the arm that is also well-painted, but I wish it had been made an accessory instead. Isn’t that part of the point of this line to make some of those sculpted bits more realistic and functional?
The paint is acceptable. It’s not exactly praise worthy, but I can forgive some of the sloppiness. There is an odd scuff on the right side of my figure’s face. I can’t tell if it’s just some glue-like residue from the factory or actual damage. I’ll probably hit it with something later, but I don’t know if it shows in pictures. From a presentation perspective, how much you like this figure will largely depend on the overall look and that’s a good thing. It has some of the oddities of that vintage figure like the big, buck, teeth on the front of it. I know a lot of people find that part of the sculpt off-putting and it’s something that stands out more at this scale, but it was on the old figure. There’s no alternate portrait, unfortunately, so if you don’t like the look there’s nothing in the box that’s going to remedy that.
Let’s just jump right to the articulation since that was a major problem with Leonardo. Leatherhead is definitely better, though not perfect. He is going to suffer because of his form factor. Some of that couldn’t be helped, some of it could have been, but Super7 declined to address it. His head is on a big ball-peg and he can rotate all around and has some room for nuance posing. He can also look up, but he can’t really look down. The jaw is articulated and as long as you don’t have his head all the way down it can open reasonably far. The shoulders are simple ball-hinges and he can raise his arms out to the side past horizontal, so that’s nice. There’s no biceps swivel as he has that at the elbow instead. It’s not ideal, but it works okay. The wrists rotate and hinge and all hinges are of the horizontal variety including his trigger finger hands, which is unfortunate. The waist is a bit of a trouble spot. It just swivels, but it’s very loose. Just flicking him will make him turn. The hips are okay though so he stands up fine. The range at the legs isn’t very good though, and the knee is even worse. They’re practically useless for the hinge, though the swivel is okay. The ankles have a hinge and a rocker and they’re fine. He can be positioned forward into his vintage pose which was low to the ground like a normal alligator. The balance is tough though as he wants to tip forward. I never planned to display him like this so I’m not bothered, but anyone who prefers the vintage look you have been warned. Lastly, the tail is on a big ball peg, but it doesn’t do much since that’s the only joint on it. And do yourself a favor and just heat that sucker up before trying to put it on.
Leatherhead is a figure of limited pose ability, but that was expected just by looking at him. The hips being fine are what makes him for me. If those had been terribly loose then it would have ruined him. Instead, it’s just the waist, which since it just twists, isn’t a huge posing issue. It still sucks that it’s as loose as it is and it really shouldn’t be, but he’s not falling over so I’m not angry about it. The hinges for the hands are a bit loose too, but his accessories are staying put so I guess it’s not a big deal. Swapping his hands is also much easier than it was with Leo. The plastic used for Leo feels a lot more rubbery and the ridges they put on the pegs seem more pronounced. I still don’t know why they put those on them when the hands have been fine up until now, but it is what it is.
When it comes to accessories, Leatherhead has a mix of old and new. For hands, he comes with gripping hands attached in the box and he also has a set of trigger hands and fists. As mentioned previously, the trigger hands have the wrong hinge. I’d even liked the standard gripping hands to have a vertical hinge as they would work better with his other accessories. His main one is a shotgun and it’s cast in orange plastic with some brown wood grain added and a silver barrel. The pump action on it works, but mine was kind of warped and hard to manipulate out of the box. I heated it up to straighten it out some to get it moving, but be careful as the silver portion of the gun is all paint and it can rub off. It kind of sucks that the weapon came with the pump in the wrong place so most will want to move it at least once. Maybe they should have just cast it in a gun-metal gray like Rocksteady’s machine gun? There’s also almost no indentation at all in at the end of the barrel, or black paint to create the illusion it’s an actual barrel, which looks weird.
Leatherhead’s other vintage accessories include a giant claw trap. It has a metallic finish, almost bronze, and it too works in that it hinges. It’s pretty menacing looking too. He also has his belt fixtures from the old toy: a crayfish, turtle, and flock of feathers. Unfortunately, they’re unpainted and just case in red plastic. The crayfish looks fine, but the turtle and feathers look pretty stupid all in red. All three key into his belt and they all do so in a different manner so they can’t be put in the wrong place. They stay on okay, but in order for these to work well the factory had to cast the belt in some fairly rigid plastic which doesn’t work as well for the shotgun holster. It has to really be squeezed in there and I worry about paint rub, which is why I’ll probably just keep it in his hand anyway.
New for this release is a fly-fishing rod. Like the gun, it was a little warped out of the box so I tried to straighten it as best I could. It’s painted rather well, but the wheel on it doesn’t spin or anything which would have been cool. I like it though and I think it adds to this hillbilly persona the character has. Lastly, he has a weapon sprue which features the shotgun, claw trap, and rod which is used as the frame of the sprue. Apparently it snaps together, but I don’t know if that painted one is supposed to come apart. If you like that look though, it’s here, only they did it in brown and not the red of the vintage toy so it feels kind of pointless, more so than usual.
Leatherhead is an overall better release than Sewer Samurai Leonardo. He is more in-line with the level of quality and functionality of past releases in this line and the shortcomings are more acceptable as a result. He’s still not perfect, and I feel like the Wave 6 Slash is a higher quality figure so I’m eager to look at some more of that wave. At $55, it’s the type of release that warrants consideration, but isn’t a slam dunk either. It’s expensive for what it is, and I don’t know that it compares too favorably with other figures in that price range. As has been the case with this line, the main selling point is the sculpt and inherent nostalgia involved in remaking a classic figure from a memorable toyline. And for many, Leatherhead was a pretty important release for that vintage line so I suspect this is a figure a lot of folks have been looking forward to. I think if you know what you’re in for, this one can be a winner. As always, value is subjective and it’s hard to overlook how a lot of retailers have gone all-in on this line which has lead to discounts down the road. If you’re unsure about $55, maybe wait for a sale. As for me, I’m content and I think this figure is a fine addition to the collection. I don’t plan on getting the other Wave 5 releases, but I have a couple of Wave 6 figures left to talk about so stick around for that and plan for a few more Turtle Tuesdays in the near future.
Well, after looking at the Wave 6 Slash a couple of weeks ago we can now finally turn our attention to a Wave 5 release from Super7’s line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimates! series of figures: Sewer Samurai Leonardo. The thing with TMNT is, you have the four good guys, a few core allies, and then a whole bunch of bad guys or one-off guests. In the show, there was a constant presence from Shredder and his associates, but also often a mutant of the week as Shredder would enlist someone’s aid or create a new monster to throw at the turtles. This worked well for toys as Playmates always had new designs to work with. And they didn’t usually wait on the show anyway as the toyline seemed to introduce new characters more often than not with the show to follow. The only issue there is die hard fans are buying them all, but there’s also a ton of casual fans or kids that just bounce from one thing to the other and they only tend to recognize the good guys. What’s a toy company to do in order to sell more turtles? The answer is variants.
Playmates kept the original four turtles in circulation for much of the toy line. They’re technically still releasing them to this day. To keep the line interesting though, the company would take those characters and do something different several times a year. This first took place with the Wacky Action series in 1989. Those were new sculpts with wind-up features which is a fairly typical variant for a toyline to introduce. After that, Playmates started doing more “weird” versions of the turtles to the point where it’s one of the often cited things about the line today as people remember seeing Leonardo as a life guard and Raphael as a magician which is pretty damn goofy when you think about it. The variants started off a little more straight-forward though with the 1990 Disguised series. That line consisted of Raph the Space Cadet, Mike the Sewer Surfer, Don the Undercover Turtle, and Leo the Sewer Samurai. Of the four, I’d say only Raph as an astronaut seems particularly odd. Mikey was using surfer lingo in the show and Donatello was just sporting the disguise look from the same show. Leonardo as a samurai also felt pretty normal as the turtles often do feel more like samurai than ninja, so why not depict the stoic leader as a ronin? And now that Super7 has released all four base turtles, they too are turning to the variants and up first is Sewer Samurai Leonardo.
Leonardo comes in Super7’s typical Ultimates! packaging with a green slipcover on the front that features an original logo for the figure and the classic logo on the rear. The shade of green on the slipcover this time seems just a touch more saturated than the others I have, but otherwise everything is pretty familiar. Inside is the same sewer deco with the figure behind a window box. First of all, I should say I am a big fan of the Playmates original for this figure. Leonardo was my favorite as a kid, so naturally, this was my favorite figure from the Disguise series. I don’t believe there is a Leonardo variant in that line that I enjoyed more than this one. Tragically, I no longer have that figure and I contemplated buying one just to have on-hand for when this came out. I obviously didn’t or I wouldn’t bothered to have mentioned that, but I am predisposed to like this figure and I’m going to do my best to be objective here, because subjectively I am practically bursting with glee just looking at him in the box.
This design for Leo is indeed samurai inspired, but he’s pretty garish. I don’t know if any real world samurai ever had this kind of color combo, but that’s part of what makes this line fun. First of all, we have this gold, open-faced, helmet which is non-removable. The portrait of the vintage figure was basically Raphael from the first wave. Playmates basically switched up the expressions for this line for variety (Donatello had Leo’s old facial expression and Raph had Donatello’s while Mikey was all new), but Super7’s looks more like the Wave 2 Leo’s mouth, but with Raph’s eyes. It’s slightly different, which also makes it more it’s own thing. I’m not bothered by it, but some might be if they want this to look exactly like the vintage toy. The chest plastron is armored and painted gold. It’s not a very shiny, or metallic, gold. It’s definitely less lustrous than the original and less than Super7’s Metalhead, but I don’t dislike it. I like the finish, but I know many others don’t.
Beneath that armor, this figure is sporting sculpted chainmail which is where things get kind of weird because it’s blue. It works for a ninja turtle, but for an actual samurai would come across as pretty baffling. I love this shade though as it’s basically the same as Leonardo’s bandana. The sculpt itself though is pretty soft and I wish there was more detail. There’s some blue piping on the gloves and feet too and I like how that plays off of the torso. The pants and sleeves are black which creates a nice contrast with the blue and gold. The hands are now just sculpted hands with black rope over them where as the old figure had a bug or something sculpted onto one. I’m fine with that omission. Where the presentation does take a bit of a hit for me is with the red shoulder pauldrons and thigh guards. They’re sculpted and look nice, but there’s zero paint on them. They just stand out as plain, lumps, of red plastic. And it’s a soft red that reminds me of lipstick. I basically had the same issue with Slash and I don’t know why Super7 seems to refuse to paint shoulder parts on their figures because it’s an area that stands out, so why not make it look good? There’s also minor paint slop here and there, like on the neck and the red straps could have been hit with another coat as the black plastic shows through a bit. It’s the type of stuff you notice when looking the figure over, but not something that shows on a shelf save for a black smudge on my figure’s left, gripping, hand. I’ll probably try to take that off with a magic eraser since the only painted part of the hands is the black rope as Super7 has seemingly stopped painting the finger and toenails.
The thing I really liked about this figure as a kid were the accessories and the options for weapon storage. The original figure had a belt loop on the rear that was really intended for his banner, but could also store his sword. He also had a loop on the side of his belt to store his katana like a traditional samurai would. And on top of that, he also had a scabbard he could put it in and sling over a shoulder. This figure does the same and you actually have three standard swords and one short sword. Now the odd thing is the swords here look more like a ninja-to, or ninjatō, which is basically what Leonardo often has. They were always listed as katanas, but in actuality he almost never wielded swords that looked like a true katana. The Wave 2 Leonardo from Super7 gave him actual katanas, but this one has swords that look better suited for that figure. It’s bizarre. Now, there’s three of them here so one could take two and give them to the old Leo and keep one for this Leo (and he only needs one), so that might be intentional on Super7’s part since they do hear the criticisms out there. As for what we do have here, the swords are painted well and have a green accent, likely an homage to the original figure coming with all green weapons and accessories (and yes, you do get a green, unpainted, sprue with all of the weapons on it). I think they work for this figure, but I’m not sure I like the green with the prior figure. They’re also soft and some arrived warped which I do not like, but I hope to straighten them with some heat.
In addition to the swords, Leonardo comes with a trio of kunai that are nicely painted with a steel and green finish. There are two throwing stars which are a different design from the Wave 2 figure. He also has a set of “Samurai claws” which he can hold in his gripping hands or the more style posed hands and they basically turn him into Wolverine. They too have the green accents, but also a hit of blue and blend in quite nice. These were not featured on the vintage release. His banner returns and it looks like bamboo held together by wrappings. It can fit in a loop on the figure’s belt and be displayed as so. The banner itself is soft goods and looks okay. It’s not the highest quality print, but better than a sticker like the old figure. His shield returns which is now fully painted. It’s gold with green, red, and blue on the front and it’s the only place on this figure where I think this color combo doesn’t work. I think I would drop the red, and maybe the blue, if I could. There’s a slice of pizza in case Leo gets hungry which has a sardine, or anchovy, on it to distinguish it from other slices we’ve seen. The fish has this really nice metallic blue paint on it and I kind of want to see how that would look for a blade. He also has his scabbard which now features an actual, nylon, string instead of a soft plastic loop so it’s easy to slip on and off, but the plainness of the string doesn’t look great going across his chest. He also has a second head, and this one is a unique creation for the figure that features a mask on the front. It’s pretty cool looking, though swapping heads is harder than I would like. The default one comes off and on fine, but the masked head looks to have a smaller indentation for the ball peg so it’s really hard to snap into place. It does further the trend though of the original portraits included with these figures being really tempting. I think I’m going to stick with the vintage look, but I bet I switch it up from time to time.
Not mentioned in that list of things are the hands, because I wanted to talk about that separately. This figure comes with 4 sets of hands: open, gripping, style posed, and fists. Out of the box, he has open hands and they’re really hard to get off the figure. I’ve never had this issue with a Super7 figure before, but definitely be careful. A lot of folks resorted to heating the forearm, myself included, out of fear of breaking the peg or even the hinge. You may think that since it’s just a peg that if you don’t exert any bending pressure that you’ll be fine, but sometimes the hinge can break in the hand leaving the peg stuck inside the arm. The other thing that sucks about these hands though is that we have 4 sets, but we don’t get the set that is most appropriate and that would be gripping hands with vertical hinges. The prior Leonardo came with such hands, all of the turtles did, and so did Slash and probably some others. Vertical hinges work best for melee weapons, and even guns for that matter. The horizontal hinge is useless and I’m shocked that’s what we got. I just figured that was something Super7 was sensitive to and when I saw the solicitation image that featured just the one set of gripping hands I assumed we were just getting vertical hinges, or a set was left out mistakenly. I was wrong, obviously, and it’s a disappointment and I wish that’s where the disappointment ended. To rub salt in the wound, the fists have vertical hinges, which is pretty useless for a fist. I think this was an error at the factory and they messed up which hinge went with which set of hands, but it either wasn’t caught during the approval process or Super7 (or the factory) declined to correct the error for one reason or another (likely cost).
This figure was manufactured out of a factory in Vietnam. That’s not a good or bad thing on its own, but I think it’s worth pointing out for what’s to follow. My Wave 6 Slash came out of a factory in China and I was very happy with the articulation. And as far as I know, every Super7 figure I own was made in China. Given the pandemic, it’s not at all surprising to see that Super7 enlisted the help of a Vietnamese factory. We’ve seen Bandai do it as well, and it makes further sense since Waves 5 and 6 essentially arrived at the same time indicating they were made at different factories. I don’t know if Super7 used this factory for anything else, but the end result for the articulation is not good.
In general, this guy moves the same as past characters, but I’ll run it down here. We have a head on a ball peg that can rotate, look down, up, and has some room for nuance posing. The shoulders are ball-hinged and can raise out to the side until the shoulder pads get in the way. For some reason, the right shoulder pad on mine likes to curl under the shell when moving it and some red has transferred to the blue trim of the shell, so be careful with that area. I wish they had done what they did with Slash and actually pinned the pauldron to the bicep and not the shoulder as that allows Slash to move the shoulder pad out of the way via the swivel point. In addition to the biceps swivel, there’s a single-hinge at the elbow and a swivel point that’s fairly useless. This turtle doesn’t have elbow pads so he should be able to bend his elbows better than the others, but he still can’t quite hit 90 degrees. The wrists rotate and I already mentioned the horizontal hinges. I wish he had a forearm swivel so we could re-position the forearm guards, but that didn’t happen. In the torso, there’s a diaphragm joint that’s not very functional given the turtle design, but you get a little range. The hips peg in and hinge and he can raise them out for near splits and swivel at the ball joint. The knees are single-hinged and can’t quite hit 90, they also pivot, but the range is pretty poor. The ankles are hinged and can go forward and back, plus rock side-to-side.
All of that is largely as expected. Super7 is what it is at this point and expecting double-jointed elbows is basically a fool’s game at this point. The articulation is always going to feel somewhat like an afterthought. What’s not acceptable is the tolerance. I already mentioned how swapping the hands and heads are a pain, but the joint in the torso and at other spots are far too loose. They’re awful, and really, they’re unacceptably bad given that this is actually the first wave of TMNT Ultimates! at the higher MSRP of $55 a piece. This guy is as floppy as it gets in the torso and it’s a damn shame. This has been a problem going all the way back to wave 1 that appeared to be steadily getting better. Each turtle since then has been a little bit better than the previous one. None of the four were perfect, but definitely better. This is absolutely a step back and should not have made it out of the factory in this condition. These are premium, collector-grade, action figures. This can’t keep happening. And I personally hate that it happened to the figure I was looking forward to the most, not just this wave, but this entire line up to this point. It’s bad enough that I’m not actually angry, I’m just really downhearted and bummed out about it. I got this figure direct from Super7, which I can’t recommend going that route anymore because of the cost and the fact that other retailers seem to get this stuff in first, and I probably could attempt an exchange, but I have no reason to think the replacement would be any better. I checked out other reviews and impressions and this seems to be a widespread issue not just with Leo, but Wave 5 as a whole. His upper body just wants to flop around and within the hips are slip points so as you widen his stance he starts to slide at certain points. The wrist hinge on my left gripping hand is also really loose and can’t support the weight of the shield. It’s just such a bummer especially because that torso joint brings so little to the table. If they can’t get it right they should just scrap it all together.
How does one review such an experience? I think the sculpt on this guy turned out great, I’m largely content with the paint excepting the shoulders, and he has plenty of accessories including stuff the old toy didn’t even come with. On the other hand, we have a design omission when it comes to the missing hands that should never have happened. I just personally don’t get how that could unless the factory screwed it up and Super7 didn’t want to spend the money to redo them. The bigger issue for most though will be the unstable joints. This guy is tough to pose as a result. Once he’s standing he seems okay, but he’s limited to narrow stances and wide open stances with little in-between because the hips can’t stay in place and the torso keeps tilting to one side or the other. The hands and head are problematic to swap so you end up with a figure that can look passable on the shelf, but isn’t fun to mess around with because of the frustrations. For some, that’s fine because they’ll set it and forget it. I like to repose and mess around with my figures from time-to-time so it really bums me out when I want very little to do with that part of a figure. As a result, I can’t recommend this one to everybody. If you’re in love with the old toy as much as I am, then maybe you can justify adding it to your collection. For that person, they probably feel like this is a necessity for their collection. For anybody else, I say don’t bother. At least wait until it hits clearance and can be had for less than $55 because right now I can’t honestly say it’s worth the price and that really bums me out.
It’s been a little more than 3 months since our last dance with Loot Crate. If you’re new to the experience, it has been quite a drag. Crates that were supposed to ship a year ago are still outstanding, communication has been poor, rumors have painted a dire picture of the company’s finances, and the actual quality of the product has taken a hit as well. Since we last looked at one of these, someone decided they were so fed up with the experience that they doxed NECA director or product Randy Falk which he was understandably not happy about. That was a dick move on the part of whoever did that and anyone who actually took the time to call Randy on his cell phone or shared that info is a grade A asshole. That’s the type of entitlement that makes me embarrassed to be a part of this hobby.
Ugliness aside, Randy didn’t deserve that. Saying that doesn’t mean we’re letting Loot Crate off the hook though. They’ve been pretty terrible, but I don’t feel the need to get into that once again. If you want more of a rant, check out the last entry on the subject, for the rest of this one I’m just going to talk about the contents of the latest crate.
And this latest crate is the fourth one which is themed around the 1987 cartoon series. What happened to crate #2? Nobody knows, but it was skipped in favor of crate #3 and now we’re onto #4. I guess they’ll come back to it, hopefully in another 3 months or less. The toon one, being the fourth one, comes with a bonus figure as well so we have a lot to talk about. When consumers had the option to subscribe to this service, they could either purchase individual crates or all 4. Those that bought all four were to receive a bonus figure, Scrag, one of the gang members from the original mini series who hung out and committed crimes with Bebop and Rocksteady. He had his own little arc in that mini series. Despite never being named, or having a line to speak, we saw him go from punker, to mutant bat, back to punker again. After that, he went away and was never heard from again.
We’ll do Scrag last, but for now lets get the other junk out of the way. The Loot Crate model is to take something people want, like a NECA figure, up-charge it and toss in some junk to make it seem like it’s worth the $50 price tag. Obviously, it’s not or else they wouldn’t do things this way, but it’s always going to be a case of “your mileage may vary.” The bonus figure is another added layer of grift since you may not care about one of the other crates, but if you care about Scrag, you have to buy them. NECA and Loot Crate will point to eBay sales as a way to suggest you’re not being taken advantage of, but again, if they actually had that much faith in the product they’d just put them up for sale and let you buy what you want.
The model for these crates has been to include a t-shirt, some pins, and a few extras. Maybe a keychain, a sticker sheet, whatever. The first wave of crates definitely had more, while this current wave has had severely less. And this crate has the distinction of being the first without a t-shirt. I thought these things were advertised to always have a shirt, you even select a size when subscribing, but I haven’t looked up the actual solicitation so maybe that wasn’t the case. It’s certainly an expectation that one will be included. Instead of a shirt though, we get an apron. It has a Ninja Pizza logo printed on it which is taken from the show, but is otherwise just an off-white apron. Do people still use aprons? It being October, I just re-watched Beetlejuice once again and thought how old-fashioned Geena Davis looked sporting an apron at the film’s start. I have aprons in my house as they tend to be something you acquire through things like a bridal shower, but I don’t think I’ve ever used one. And I don’t recall ever seeing my mom or dad wear one. Same for grandparents. And when I go to my local pizza shop, few of them wear one. And if they do, they don’t bother with the top. Maybe they were more popular when washing machines were less common? Now if I’m cooking I just change my clothes if they get dirty in the process. I guess I’m just saying a novelty apron is not something I’ll ever use or know what to do with. It’s not that I need more t-shirts either, my dresser is bursting with them, but I at least wear them.
What pairs well with an apron? How about some oven mitts! We get a pair of pizza monster oven mitts. They’re yellow and they have a face on them so they look like cheap puppets. They’re a bit thin and are only rated for temperatures up to 392 degrees Fahrenheit which seems pointless since most pizza is cooked at a temperature above that. There goes my master plan of preparing pizza in my Ninja Pizza apron and pizza monster oven mitts. We also have the customary pin, this time it’s the head of a Triceraton from the cartoon. Lastly, we get a novelty license plate. It’s yellow and green with the Statue of Liberty in the center like an actual New York plate and it reads “PRTY WGN.” Cute. I’ll probably display the license plate in some fashion, but the rest will probably live in a drawer somewhere.
Let’s get to the main event, or the first main event, which is Donatello as The Dark Turtle. Dark Turtle has been on my wish list for a couple of years now. He’s from the same episode of the show as the Triceratons (“Night of the Dark Turtle”) and I just think he looks neat. In the episode, Donatello gets electrocuted and basically becomes a parody of Michael Keaton’s Batman. I’ve always liked the look of the character because the costume is a great Batman knock-off and the character looks really interesting because the artists cheat with him. They basically give Donatello a superhero-type body and ignore the fact that he’s a turtle. He still has the rear shell hidden under his cape, but the torso where the plastron should be just looks like a muscular dude bod. It makes no sense, but it looks cool.
NECA’s approach to the figure is basically the same as the artists who designed the character. They didn’t just take their existing turtle body and re-paint it, they actually did a new torso. If they reused it from another figure, I can’t easily tell, though most of the figures in the line also feature an overlay of some kind so maybe this body is underneath another piece of plastic somewhere on my shelf. Either way, it looks cool. He looks very close to the character in the show. He might be a little more squat and chunky, but essentially looks the part. His face is sporting a yelling expression, but it’s also the same engineering used in the Turtles in Disguise set so you can swap his mouth piece out in favor of another expression if you have that set. The costume is done in a gray with shading on the sides and rear and I love how the belt and chest insignia came out. Best of all, the cape is wired so this guy can really hit some dramatic poses. He looks great and whatever corners may have been cut for a Loot Crate release do not come through in the quality department.
The paint job on The Dark Turtle looks pretty nice. The main color is gray, and NECA shaded it slightly differently from other figures as they included it on the sides of the torso. I wish they continued it just a little further and under the pectorals, but what they have here adds some nice definition to the figure. On the arms and legs, it’s more of the same with light gray on the front and dark on the back. There’s plenty of line work throughout the figure and the trim of the gloves and boots features some purple, a nice touch since this is Donatello, after all. I love how the belt came out which features three holstered turtle bombs that are probably glued on. The cape is pinned into his chest via the insignia on the front and it too is likely glue down. The cowl on the head is cast in black and the eyes are painted. Lastly, we have the cape which is black on the outside and purple on the inside. It’s all quite neat and clean and the only blemish on mine is a little black mark on the stomach. If I can get a magic eraser in there I might be able to take it off. I think he turned out well though and NECA didn’t take any shortcuts with the costume in making it screen accurate which is nice to see.
The cuts they did have to take will come through in the accessories. That’s been the case for all of the figures released this way and Dark Turtle is no different. He comes with gripping hands in the box, but also has a right pointing hand, and left open hand. Unlike the mouth, you can’t technically use hands from other sets with this figure because he wears black gloves. I think it’s a bummer they just didn’t give us a set of fists, a set of open hands, and maybe one pointing hand. Tossing in an already tooled accessory like a hand adds minimal cost, but obviously it wasn’t a cost NECA was willing to absorb. Dark Turtle does at least come with one accessory, his turtle smoke bomb. It’s a newly tooled accessory, so that’s cool, and it’s well-painted. It would have been nice to get another Turtle Hook accessory, but I wasn’t expecting one and I definitely wasn’t expecting a tooled version of Dark Turtle’s unique grappling hook.
Dark Turtle is mostly reuse from the other turtles, and as a result largely moves the same. The head is still on a double-ball and the base of the neck articulates as well. He can look up and down just fine with plenty of nuance posing available as well. The shoulders are just ball-hinged and he can raise his arms out to the side, rotate, and so forth until he hits the rear shell. The left shoulder hinge on mine is pretty stuck and I haven’t been able to get much movement out of it, which is a bummer. There’s a biceps swivel after that and the elbows are still single-hinged with rotation and they bend pretty close to 90 degrees. At the wrist we have swivels and horizontal hinges. The torso is the big change as we have this big diaphragm joint. It feels like a ball peg, but we get some twist and tilt plus a little crunch forward, but not a lot. There’s basically no rear movement because of the shell, but it’s cool to have something here for a change on a turtle. At the waist, there’s a twist, but you get less than you do with the standard turtles because he’s wearing a black “diaper” piece. The hips are ball and socket joints and he can nearly do a full split. He kicks forward just fine, though not back due to the shell. There is a thigh pivot and the knees are double-jointed and bend past 90. At the ankles, we have the hinge and rocker combination that works well. He’s pretty decent for this line, and technically a little better than most since he does have some posing in the chest, but it’s so limited that it’s hardly worth celebrating. I just wish mine didn’t have the frozen shoulder joint. I’ve tried hot water, but I don’t want to risk breaking it so I might just have to live with it as-is.
The last thing I want to talk about with Dark Turtle is the face-swapping. Just like the other turtles from the Turtles in Disguise set, Dark Turtle’s mouth can separate from the top of the head so you can mix and match expressions. The top piece even features a little tab on the rear to cover the cut-out for the bandana knots on the mouth pieces. He comes with a yelling expression, but he looks good with basically all of the other mouths. He’s always going to be frowning so any smile gives him a real sinister vibe. This figure is done in a matte style, so the glossy first-run set of the Turtles in Disguise do look a bit jarring on him. I have since picked up a matte version and I like the look of those much better. Also of note, the mouth on Dark Turtle is a newly tooled piece. The prior yell mouths NECA did were glued together from the top and the seam lines stood out. This one is glued together from the bottom and just looks much cleaner. I didn’t get the style guide four-pack so I don’t know if that change was done there, but it’s nice to see NECA continue to refine their product when the opportunity arises.
That’s a rather positive review of The Dark Turtle, but now lets turn out attention to Scrag. Scrag is an interesting character in that he just appears in the original mini series and then is never heard from again. For me, he was always the most recognizable of Bebop and Rocksteady’s original gang. We even see him before we meet the turtles! In the show, he’s never named and speaks no lines of dialogue. He just joins in on some vandalism and the whole threatening of April before getting experimented on by Shredder. For some reason, Shredder didn’t think much of the rest of Bebop and Rocksteady’s gang and only chose to keep those two. If they were the best that gang had to offer then the others must have been pretty terrible. Scrag is shown on a monitor when Shredder makes a comment to Krang about experimenting on the punks, and when that happens, we see he’s become a bat (some supplemental material even gave him the name Bat Boy). There’s a quick shot later of the punks locked up in a cell, but Scrag’s final appearance comes in the fifth episode (the final of the original mini series) where Shredder uses him to demonstrate a reverse mutation ray which restores his original, human, look. After that, who knows what became of old Scrag? Presumably Shredder didn’t waste more mutagen on him to re-mutate him so he was either disposed of or allowed to leave. Shredder and Krang weren’t really portrayed as killers, so my guess who be they opened a portal and just chucked him somewhere and had a good laugh about it later.
For a figure of Scrag, NECA turned to their Vernon body. We’ve seen that one reused before for Ace Duck and here it’s going serve us well as Scrag. And that’s because it will allow Scrag to be displayed in human or mutated form, but first let’s talk about human Scrag. Scrag stands a bit over 6″ and sports a black trench coat, purple shirt, and blue jeans. The main part of the coat is an overlay, as is the shirt, while the sculpted parts are basically all from Vernon including the neck piece. He has different shoes, which are just all black, and features these silly looking Mickey Mouse styled gloves. The head is the most obvious new piece and he looks pretty damn good. Some have been disappointed that the head-sculpts for this figure appeared to change noticeably from the initial solicitation, but I think both were changed to better reflect the source material. I suppose if you prefer one over the other that’s subjective, but as far as accuracy goes, this head-sculpt looks great. He has his unique hairstyle with hot pink painted on top and black on the underside plus his recognizable shades which feature one, continuous, lens, surrounded by a yellow frame. The only room for criticism I find with this guy is that just by virtue of sharing a body with Vernon he’s not exactly an impressive, physical, specimen. Scrag probably would have benefitted from some more mass, but the coat helps and I’m not surprised they went in this direction.
The paint on Scrag is less ambitious than what we saw with Dark Turtle, but still looks solid. The coat is all one color, save for the little logo on the chest that looks like a Pokémon, which is black so NECA didn’t bother shading it. And since it covers the shirt, they didn’t shade that either. There is shading on the pants with blue on the front and a dark blue on the back, but that’s it. The head is painted very clean though and there’s still plenty of painted black linework to be found on this guy. The white gloves are painted, but also appear to be cast in white plastic and they look fine, but will also transfer some of that white paint to anything he holds which is a bummer. I normally talk about accessories separately, but for the bat head I will say the paint looks awesome on it. There’s some nice linework inside the ears and his nose and teeth are painted cleanly. The frames of his glasses have a little gray sneaking onto them so that could have been cleaner, but it is what it is. It’s a tough spot and if it came out perfect I would be praising it, but since it didn’t, I have to mention it even if it’s understandable for this type of figure.
The articulation on Scrag is basically the same as Vernon only now we have a big overcoat to contend with. Both heads on this guy are pretty tight on the neck, but the base of the neck is articulated so I don’t have much trouble getting him to look up and down or rotate. And at least with it being tight, the front of the throat stays in-line with the chin on the un-mutated head. The shoulders are ball-hinged and oddly they’re very “clicky,” almost like they’re ratcheted. Maybe that was to help keep them in place since people will be tugging on the forearms to swap out parts? I don’t know, but by being this way it means you lose some nuance as the arm moves from click-to-click. They raise out to the side just fine and the elbows are the goofy NECA double-elbows with two swivels and two hinges, but they look okay on jacketed figures. The forearm rotates where it meets the sleeve and at the wrist the hands rotate and hinge in and out. There’s a diaphragm joint in this guy, but the overlay makes it useless. The waist rotates on a ball so you do get some nuance posing there as well. The hips are ball and socket joints and, like Vernon, are looser than I would like. He seems to stand better than either Vernon I have, but any wide stance would probably start to slide on its own after awhile. There is a slight thigh twist and the knees are double-jointed. The feet peg into the legs so you do get rotation, but it was very tight on mine. I only know it’s there because my figure’s toes were not in-line with the knees so I had to rotate them into place which took some force. After that though they move quite freely so I must have just needed to break up some paint. The ankles also hinge and rock side-to-side.
Scrag moves as expected. There’s some room for more dynamic shots, but mostly he’s just going to stand around and try to look intimidating on your shelf. To help him do so he comes with a pair of weapons. Up first is a mallet. To my surprise, it’s not a repeat of the mallet that came with Casey Jones. I don’t know if it will show up somewhere else, but it looks fine. The handle is just a light brown while the head is sculpted to resemble an actual mallet, as opposed to just a rectangular cube, and it’s fine. The hands will likely transfer paint onto it though if you’re not careful. The other weapon is a revolver. It’s surprisingly not the same as the one that came with Ace Duck and it’s painted gray with a dark gray handle and some black linework. To wield these he has a right trigger finger hand and a left gripping hand. The trigger finger is subtle enough that it can work as just a gripping hand with the mallet. Both are hard plastic though and to get the weapons into his hands as clean as possible you may want to heat them up first. Especially if you want the trigger finger in the proper spot on the revolver. I plan to heat that hand to get the revolver on then just leave it.
Lastly, Scrag has his optional bat parts. I already mentioned that the head is well-sculpted and pretty well-painted, so I don’t have much to add there. The forearms have fur sculpted onto them so they’re not just gray and the cuffs of the gloves are sculpted on as well so they’re not just taken from Vernon. The hands are these somewhat relaxed gripping hands which is a bit of an odd choice. You can swap the hands between the two sets of forearms, which is why I would have preferred something more dramatic, I suppose, for the bat arms. Or maybe just fists? These wide hands can’t hold either weapon, but I suppose could hold some of the stuff Bebop and Rocksteady came with in the Premonition of a Premutation four-pack. I’d try a spray paint can, but I don’t want the white paint to transfer. As far as swapping the parts goes, only the right arm was easy on mine. Getting the left arm off was easy, but the bat arm didn’t want to go on (and taking off is no picnic either). I had to heat that up. The head also didn’t want to come off so I heated that as well. I probably could have forced the issue, but I was afraid of the head coming off of the neck joint which would have been a pain to correct for. The hot water worked fine though and ultimately I’m not sure how I want to display this guy. I think his human form will work a little better in my display since he can go with the pre-mutated Bebop and Rocksteady. I also think the human form looks just a little bit better as the bat head sits really low on the shoulders. It doesn’t look bad or anything, but another half-centimeter on the neck might have helped.
As is the case with all of these Loot Crates, how much you like this one will largely depend on how you feel about the included action figures. And in this case, I think we may have received the best ones yet. Dark Turtle was a figure high on my wants list and I think he turned out awesome. Scrag is another figure I wanted because he’s never had a figure before and he has a memorable look and he turned out just fine. And the fact that both came with this crate makes it feel like a good value. Of course, that part is purely subjective. Each crate costs 50 bucks so if you want to you can rationalize it as paying 25 each for Scrag and Dark Turtle, which is below MSRP these days at retail. On the other hand, you had to buy the other 3 crates too to get Scrag so it’s more like the price for that figure is spread amongst the others. Again, it’s all in how you want to rationalize it for yourself. The other stuff included really adds little or no value for me. I said I’m likely to display the vanity plate, but had that been sold separately it’s not something I would have purchased. Ultimately, we got two new figures for the toon line and I’m pretty happy with them.
That leaves one crate outstanding. The supposed crate #2 features Armaggon and is video game themed. We know the figure has been done for months and I believe even Randy at NECA confirmed it’s on US soil as well so something else is holding it up. My hope is it gets shipped soon so we can put this Loot Crate nonsense behind us. It sounds like there’s very little enthusiasm on NECA’s part to continue with this release model, but nothing has been confirmed. NECA has even shown off prototypes for the rest of Bebop and Rocksteady’s gang so we know they’re on the way, we just don’t know how NECA plans to release them. The very fact that they’ve been shown is a good indicator that they won’t have anything to do with Loot Crate so that’s a plus. Hopefully they’re not part of this NFT garbage the company recently unveiled through Walmart as that is a non-starter for me thus far. Whenever that crate gets shipped though, rest assured I will be here to tell you all about it.
It’s been over 9 months since I last reviewed a figure from Super7’s line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures. That figure was Muckman, and I actually waited on that one a little while because I ordered through Big Bad Toy Store and wanted my pile of loot to fill up a bit. Had I ordered directly from Super7 or had it shipped immediately from Big Bad, that month count might be 10! COVID has been crazy, obviously, and it’s caused a lot of delays. I think when I got that Wave 4 Muckman I was hopeful that Wave 5 would follow closer to the original plan of a 3-4 month lag in between. That obviously didn’t happen as we’re here in September ready to talk about the latest and greatest from Super7: Slash!
Slash is the first figure I’ve received from Wave 5 of TMNT…wait! This isn’t a wave 5 release! Slash is wave 6! Yup, I don’t know what’s going on, but somehow Big Bad Toy Store received Wave 6 before Wave 5. Super7 sent out review samples around a month ago for Wave 5 to the usual places, but as far as I know, still hasn’t shipped Wave 5 to any non-reviewers. They haven’t shown up at other retailers either, but here we are with a Wave 6 figure. And the interesting thing about Wave 5 for me is I ordered from both Super7 direct and Big Bad and still haven’t seen a whiff of either (I did get a “pre-order processing” soon for Leatherhead, so maybe the wait is almost over).
It doesn’t make much sense, but I suppose it doesn’t matter so lets just talk about Slash. Slash is billed as the evil mutant from Dimension X and he’s one of the characters associated with TMNT that has had a lot of different looks. He originated in the pages of Archie’s TMNT books where he’s a good guy. He still looks rather menacing, but he’s not an enemy of the turtles and will end up a member of The Mighty Mutanimals. When he went to the cartoon, he was made to be Bebop’s pet who gets mutated just like the other turtles. He’s pretty dumb, and gets outfitted with some random tech around the Technodrome and doesn’t really resemble any other iteration of the character. In between both appearances we had the action figure from Playmates which decided he was some evil character. He partly resembled the character from Archie, though they darkened his skin and added some additional details to basically make him fit in with that toy line. He was pretty squat in appearance and came with an arsenal of wicked looking weapons. Since this is how most fans were introduced to the character, it’s often the first thing that comes to mind when someone brings up the topic of Slash. And it was the toy version of the character that was added to the Super Nintendo port of Turtles in Time.
Because the old toy of Slash is so beloved, this was a figure pretty high on my personal list of wants from Super7. I’m a little surprised we had to wait until Wave 6 considering how popular the figure is, but it’s not like the past waves were full of duds and unpopular releases. And it could be worse since Super7 have revealed 8 waves and still no Rat King! Slash comes in the standard Ultimates! window box with the purple slipcover over it, because he’s a bad guy. The figure is a very faithful recreation of the Playmates original and that’s evident in just looking at it through the packaging, but like the other releases in this line, this new approach should do wonders for the detailing.
Out of the box, Slash stands just a little over 6″. This makes him not much taller than the hero turtles, but he’s far more bulkier. And like the old toy, his head sits low so he has this crouched appearance to his posture. Handling him though is a trip down memory lane. I didn’t retain my original Slash figure, unfortunately, but this one helps me to remember every nook and cranny on that guy. I really like that old figure, though I hated his belt which never wanted to stay on, and my collection of Super7 figures would not be complete without him. His face perfectly captures the maniacal grin of the old figure with one eye being larger than the other. The teeth are well-painted, though I’m torn on if I like how they just filled his mouth with plastic or if I would have preferred to see it sculpted out. At this scale, it just stands out in a way it doesn’t on a 4″ figure. The skin has a nice, weathered, texture to it that’s consistent throughout the sculpt and Super7 added a wash to the figure to really bring those details out. I love what they did with the belt, going with a black and pink combo (the original was all black and a pink version followed later), and it’s great to finally see him with painted blades on his hands. The only thing I’m not crazy about are the shoulder pauldrons. They’re fully sculpted, like the vintage toy, but also like the vintage toy they’re unpainted. I feel like a major selling point of this line is to get all of the detail of the original toys, but now painted to bring them out, so when something so visible is missed it really stands out.
The big talking point with this line since the first wave was delivered has concerned the articulation. Specifically, joint tolerance. Lets just get right down to it since that’s what people are most curious about. Slash is pretty good. The hips don’t flop around on this guy like they have on other figures and they stay where they’re supposed to when he’s standing on a shelf. The torso joint also doesn’t wiggle around which I think is a source of the problem on some of the other figures, but hopefully this is a good sign for the rest of Wave 6 (the early returns on Wave 5 paint the opposite picture, unfortunately) as it would be nice to put that issue to bed. Considering their production runs must have essentially been back-to-back, I’m not super optimistic.
The hips are fine, and the rest of the articulation is basically what one would expect of this line. Super7, probably more than most, prioritizes the aesthetic over basically anything else. Their founder, Brian Flynn, is even on camera saying he thinks most collectors just place their toys on the shelf in a fairly neutral pose so that gives you some idea of where their thinking comes from. For Slash, we have a figure understandably limited by the fact that he’s a giant turtle, but it’s also limited because not much effort was made to do anything different with it. The head is on a double-ball-peg that is useful mostly for nuance posing since his head essentially juts forward and to the sides. He can look up a bit, but has basically no range looking down. The shoulders are ball-hinged and he can just about raise his arms out to the side, but those pauldrons get in the way. The arms rotate forward just fine and there’s a biceps swivel past that. The shoulder pauldrons actually pin into the biceps which is smart because it allows you to manipulate them out of the way where the shoulder is concerned. The elbow is single-hinged with a swivel, but because of the elbow pad he can’t quite achieve a 90 degree bend. The wrists rotate and he has both vertical and horizontal gripping hands for his weapons, so that’s a big plus. There is a joint in the torso, but it’s functionally useless and there’s no waist swivel nor is his tail articulated. The legs can go out to the side better than 45 degrees and the thigh twist works fine. The knees are single-hinged with a swivel, and like the elbows, the kneepad prevents a true 90 degree bend. The ankles hinge and rock pretty well and he’s a fairly easy figure to stand as a result.
Slash basically is a what you see is what you get kind of release as he looks to only facilitate simple posing, and that’s basically true. It would have been nice to get a better waist twist like the other turtles, but that’s probably the only thing I miss. I don’t think they could have sculpted the neck in a way that would have let him stand up totally straight and still preserve the look of the original figure. It would have been nice to see the shoulders given more range via a ball-peg or butterfly joint, because he has room for one, but I’m not surprised that Super7 didn’t try this. And I would have liked to have seen the tail get some articulation because it’s current placement is a bit…phallic. At least the belt obscures it a bit.
One thing we can count on when it comes to Super7 Ultimates! is that there will be no shortage of accessories and Slash is true of that. Slash actually has more stuff than the vintage figure and he even has some sculpted pieces from before turned into accessories this time. First of all, we get some extra parts. Slash comes with vertical gripping hands in the box, but if you want horizontal hinges he has those in the box too. He also has a set of fists and a set of style pose hands in the same style as the turtles. They can be used to hold larger objects or to just embellish a pose. All of the hands are sculpted and painted well and the blades are consistent from hand-to-hand which is nice. Slash also has a secondary head, and also like the turtles, it feels like a slightly more realistic interpretation of the character, but in a comic book sense. The expression is also very similar to a lot of the comic art as he has exposed teeth on each side of his mouth. It’s well-painted and looks really nice and, once again, I don’t know which head I like best. The default head is more of a maniacal expression, while this one with the more grimace expression and narrow eye has a whole different vibe. This one makes him look dangerous and sinister and it’s really cool. All of the hands and the two heads are also easy to swap.
Slash also comes loaded with weapons to slice, chop, and bludgeon the turtles. The old toy featured ninja stars molded onto Slash’s belt and now those have been turned into weapons that peg onto the belt. There are two curved stars and one that’s more traditional. They don’t feel secure when pegging them on, but they also haven’t fallen off my figure so I guess the effect works fine. It’s the type of thing I like to see with these new figures so I like the approach. Slash also has two hand grenades and they have this metallic finish to them that looks really cool. The style pose hands can hold them all right and you can hook them onto the belt if you so desire.
The other weapons should seem more familiar as most of them are from the vintage release. Slash, being the anti-ninja turtle, basically came with a twisted version of the weapons featured by the heroic turtles. He has his spiked nunchaku with features studs on the handles and spiked chain. It’s done entirely in plastic as I’m guessing Super7 had no idea how to do it with real chain and preserve the look, but it is bendy, it just doesn’t hold a pose. Slash also has his trademarked crooked sai which can slide into the pink loop on his belt. There’s his giant, serrated, knife with a handguard and that too has a slot on the rear of his belt where it can be stored. He also has his club, which features black wrapping and a spiked ball at the top. I think I used to store this weapon on the rear of my old toy, but Super7 cast the black wrappings at the end in a hard plastic so there’s basically no way to get it into the belt without a lot of heat, and then getting it out would require the same. Lastly, we have a new weapon which is a crooked sword. I think the nunchaku, sai, and club are like the twisted versions of Mikey, Raph, and Donatello’s signature weapons while the giant knife is more its own thing. The crooked sword draws a more obvious parallel to Leonardo and it definitely looks like it belongs here. Lastly, we have the unpainted weapons sprue which is massive for Slash. I think these are on the way out, so enjoy them while you can. The club, knife, and nunchaku feature the hot pink color scheme with painted silver and black details while the sai and knife are black and silver. I feel like the hot pink might not be an exact match to the old toy, but it’s not something I care about personally, but it’s something I felt I should point out.
Super7’s take on Slash is mostly what one would expect. It takes that old Playmates figure and ups the scale while also taking advantage of modern sculpting and paint applications to really make this figure look as good as it can be. The engineering and paint applications help push this release to among the best in the line so far. There will always be room for criticism when it comes to Super7’s articulation choices, but aside from that, my only criticism is I wish the shoulder pauldrons were painted. They’re sculpted to look like wood planks held together by rope and just look like something that should have been painted, but wasn’t (to clarify, the renders featured unpainted shoulder pauldrons too so I’m not suggesting it’s an error). Aside from that, nearly every part of the figure has some kind of paint wash applied which really helps to reduce that “plastic” look some of the other figures in the line possess. He may not pose super well, but he at least has enough stuff to provide variety for your display. In short, this is one of the best releases by Super7 I own and if you’re collecting this line then you owe it to yourself to add Slash to the display.
As the toyline and cartoon series started to go long, Playmates Toys turned to other ideas to keep the good times rolling on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Long thought to just be some quick fad, the turtles outlived all expectations into the 90s spawning multiple films and video games and a cartoon series that would total nearly 200 episodes. Such longevity was basically unheard of for such a blatant kid’s property and I have to think some of it is due to the creativity of Playmates. There were lots of variants of the turtles starting with different costumes and the introduction of action features into the toyline. Playmates would double-down on wacky variants with some featuring action features, like the sports turtles, or different gimmicks all-together like the beach turtles that could spit water. Talking turtles, mutating turtles, boxing turtles – basically everything was on the table. And when that started to run dry, Playmates turned to another tool: the brand mash-up.
In 1993 Playmates introduced the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as Universal Monsters line. It featured Michelangelo as Frankenstein’s monster, Leonardo as The Wolfman, Donatello as Dracula, and Raphael as The Mummy. It was apparently successful enough that Playmates would come back with a second wave the following year. Playmates would also combine TMNT with Star Trek and make an effort to cross-brands with various properties at Lucasfilm including Star Wars and Indiana Jones. In later years, there were other mash-ups with the likes of Ghostbusters and WWE so there is apparently an appetite among TMNT fans to see their favorite heroes combined with various other brands. It’s become a recognizable aspect of the IP to the point that when NECA announced it had acquired the Universal Monsters license basically everyone and their mother started asking “So, are you going to do TMNT X Universal Monsters?”
NECA initially responded to such questions in a non-committal fashion, but it’s now clear that was always on their mind because it didn’t take long for NECA to unveil Raphael as Frankenstein’s Monster. Other reveals, and releases, have followed and NECA’s approach to the famous combination has become clear. It should be noted, that when both NECA and Super7 were awarded a license for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the two individuals most in-charge of the direction of the lines, NECA’s Randy Falk and Super7’s Brian Flynn, got together to get a sense of where each company was going with the line. When NECA said it wanted to do toys based on the cartoons and movies, Super7 was delighted because their aim was to basically re-create the vintage toyline. It could be that gentlemen’s agreement between the two that is the reason why we’re not seeing the same turtle and monster combinations in NECA’s line as Super7 also has a Universal Monsters license and might recreate those old toys. Or, it could simply be NECA’s desire to do their own thing that is driving the creative process with this line.
And that process is to take the designs and likenesses from the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film and combine those with the film depictions of the Universal Monsters. It’s a great idea on paper as it takes a realistic depiction of the turtles and combines them with a realistic depiction of the monsters. The past versions of these figures (and Playmates revisited it in the 2012 line) were all cartoon-based and the realistic visual fits NECA’s strong suit when it comes to their Ultimates line of figures. It also opens the door for a version of April to feature the likeness of actress Judith Hoag and if any other human characters are featured it’s assumed they too will feature an actor’s likeness. NECA also seems to have deliberately avoided the past turtle and monster pairings. For the first time Raph got to play Frankenstein, Leonardo is Ygor the Hunchback (a character previously unexplored by Playmates), Donatello will be the Invisible Man, and Michelangelo the Mummy. Splinter is also onboard to play Van Helsing, and April has the distinction of being the only repeat pairing as she is once again the Bride of Frankenstein. More figures are expected and it will be interesting to see if NECA doubles-down on the turtles and gives everyone a repeat release as a different monster. There are certainly plenty of unexplored monsters by NECA and plenty of opportunities for more figures.
Now I personally am not a big fan of the Universal Monsters. I never bought any of the Playmates figures, and I wasn’t sure with this new line. When NECA announced Raph, I did pre-order it immediately, but I would eventually cancel it. I didn’t have an obvious place for it in my collection and I was certainly helped by my favorite turtle, Leonardo, having an unappealing mash-up. I have seen all of the released figures so far in stores and I think they look fantastic for what they’re going for, it just wasn’t something I felt I needed. Until I came across Michelangelo.
I already said I’m not much of a fan of Universal Monsters, but if I had to pick a favorite it would be The Wolfman. That was the only figure I was tempted by back in the 90s since it was my preferred monster with my favorite turtle, but ultimately I decided I could do without. I don’t know where I’d rank The Mummy amongst the other monsters, but definitely more towards the bottom than the top so it’s a bit of a surprise that this is the one figure that moved me to make a purchase. It’s also just a testament of how good it turned out. Taking the 90’s costume for Michelangelo and dirtying it up with a mummy aesthetic is surprisingly brilliant. This figure looks amazing.
For starters, the textures achieved by sculptor Tony Cipriano looks incredible. The many wraps that adorn Mikey look like they could be soft goods to the point that it’s almost jarring to actually handle the figure and feel that they’re made of plastic. The texture of the skin on Mikey’s head has this very dried out and weathered appearance. His lips are cracked, there’s creases in the forehead, and various warts mar the skin. The bandana has a dark wash over it making it appear dirty and old and he has one eye that’s closed, or possibly missing, and another looking off into nowhere. It’s important the face capture an unsettling expression since Michelangelo is typically the comic relief and least threatening of the four turtles. The shell of the figure has more of a wood look to it as it’s washed out. It’s also adorned with various carvings like a couple of turtles, a Foot logo, ninja stars, and what might be a reference to the ooze canister. What’s visible of the plastron on the front is very cracked and weathered, but it’s mostly covered in wraps. The belt has a nice leather look to it with a gold scarab on the buckle. It’s sculpted throughout with more glyphs and weathering and looks terrific. The elbow and knee pads from the film are present and look as good as ever. They look a little bigger and bulkier when compared with the movie releases, but it’s also possible these will be on the Secret of the Ooze figures to come.
Michelangelo looks amazing. I can’t get over how well this figure came out. If this were a 60 dollar boutique release I think I would still be satisfied, but it’s a $36 or $37 figure from Target which is mind blowing. There’s really nothing for me to complain about when it comes to the sculpt and overall look for this figure. What nitpicks I can come up with are basically paint-related. There’s a spot at the top of the wrap on the right thigh where the beige paint bled over to the skin. There’s a little of that down by the knee of the same leg as well. In the hands or around the heel there are small spots where the paint for the wraps was missed, but it’s all in areas that are only noticeable when you’re looking for such things. Since there is a wash on basically every spot of this figure there may be some figures where that’s missed or too heavy. There’s one glyph on the shell that’s missing the wash, but from what I have seen around the web, this is an error on all of the figures. The wraps inside the shell don’t feature a wash, but they’re areas that really aren’t visible unless you’re holding the figure in-hand and really inspecting it. The small paint imperfections seem acceptable to me at this price-point. The only cause for concern I see is that this is a complex figure and paint job so it might suffer from inconsistencies from figure to figure, but that’s not something I can predict with any degree of certainty and it’s personally not something I would be concerned with. Plus, that’s what window boxes are for!
The Mummy is basically known for one pose: a shuffling walk with arms outstretched. Because of that, it would have been reasonable to assume NECA would not prioritize the articulation on this guy, and while NECA definitely does indeed prioritize aesthetic, this figure still moves pretty well. The head is on a double-ball and has good range in basically all directions. The bandana knot just pegs into the head so you can rotate it if need be to help the figure look up. The default head is a little loose fitting on mine, but holds a pose. The neck is independently articulated as well, but mostly just helps the figure look down. The shoulders are ball-hinged and can raise out to the side just fine. The shell is going to get in the way a bit with rotation, but that’s nothing unfamiliar for TMNT fans. There’s no biceps swivel, and instead the figure has NECA’s double-jointed elbows with the hinge and swivel above and below the elbow. Because of the elbow pad, he can just barely bend the arms 90 degrees, but the swivel works fine. The hands swivel and hinge horizontally. At the waist, there is a twist, but it barely does anything. The hips are ball and socket joints and come out to the side for splits, but kick out and to the side when coming forward because of the plastron. The knees are double-jointed, but because of the knee pad, can’t quite hit 90 degrees. There is a swivel above the knee and the thigh also swivels, but just barely. At the ankle we have a hinge and rocker which works fine. It’s basically the same articulation as the movie figures, only with the double elbows. It’s not the thing the figure does best, but if you want your mummy in more “ninja” poses it’s certainly feasible.
You may think a mummy doesn’t need much in the way of accessories, but NECA apparently feels differently. For starters, Mikey comes with three sets of hands: “mummy” pose hands, gripping hands, and fists. The default, mummy, hands are basically posed how one would associate the mummy when it’s walking and reaching out towards a victim. They’re kind of curled and misshapen and since the thumb is under the fingers they can be considered loose, gripping, hands if you wish. As for what he has to hold, we have a set of nunchaku. Only now, the handles are gold-painted ankhs with brown tape around the handles. They have real chains, and there’s a gap on each side of the shell between the belt and shell they can be forced into if you like weapon storage. Mikey also has two pre-posed wraps that can be clipped onto a leg or arm for a little added effect. There’s a giant cobra which has a bendy wire through it that Mikey can hold, or have draped over his shoulders, or just have hanging around nearby. It’s in a hissing pose like it’s ready to strike.
Lastly, we have the best accessory: Mikey’s decaying, alternate, head. An image of a decaying Leonardo mask from the third TMNT movie has been floating around online for years, if not a decade. I believe it originated from an auction and it’s pretty damn hideous. Other images of decaying turtle costumes have followed, but that one is the most memorable and widely seen. Mikey’s alternate head is a clear homage to that one as the lips have been rotted away revealing two rows of big, flat, teeth. The flesh around the eyes has also receded leaving the face wide-eyed and a bit crazy looking. There are also chunks missing from other parts of the head and the bandana tails are a bit more wild looking. I don’t know if you’re supposed to be able to swap the knot between the heads, but as far as I can tell, they just peg into the head so it’s theoretically possible. The alternate head fits a little more snug than the default one and swapping them is pretty painless. It’s really hard to settle on one, though I feel like this alternate head captures a little bit of that Mikey humor inherent in the character and it might be the look I go with.
This figure actually presents a lot of display options. Classic Mummy pose? A Mikey nunchaku pose? Something with the snake? Default head or crazy, rotting, head? I’m planning on making Mikey a Halloween decoration that may live in his box (which I didn’t even talk about, but it’s beautiful) 10 months out of the year so it will be impossible to get all of these display options into one season. Maybe I’ll just need to find a place for him a little out of the way for the rest of the year. If you can’t tell, I love this figure and I absolutely recommend it. I don’t think it’s convinced me to buy the rest of the line, but if they hit clearance maybe I’ll reconsider. I think this guy displays just fine on his own, and if anything I’m more likely to invest in the accessory set for The Mummy than more TMNT x Universal Monsters figures.
This figure was part of the Fall Geek Out event at Target. It was online as well, but I’m guessing that by the time this post goes live it will no longer be available there. This is the one and only Mummy Mike I saw in-store so it doesn’t look like he’s being shipped in the same vast quantities as the Leonardo figure from this line, but I could be wrong. If you missed the Target release, don’t fret. This figure is available to preorder in many of the usual places online and should be showing up in those same places eventually. Hopefully in time for Halloween.