Tag Archives: teenage mutant ninja turtles

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Last Ronin #4

“Blood in Snow”

The wait was a bit longer than originally anticipated, but the fourth issue of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flash-forward story The Last Ronin has arrived. If you are not familiar with this story, The Last Ronin was a concept first kicked around by TMNT co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird back in the late 80s/early 90s about a final story for the turtles. One, last, ronin, makes a final stand against the Foot with the memory of his family burning in his heart. It’s in some ways a parallel to the original story where the turtles set out to kill the Shredder to avenge their master, only their master was still alive. With the success of films like Logan and their comic counterparts, it made sense for the creative team to adapt this story now especially after Waltz and Eastman concluded their run on the main comic.

The first issue of The Last Ronin told the story of the last ninja turtle. The unnamed ronin infiltrated New York City, now under the control of the Foot Clan, on a suicide mission to avenge his family. The final panel reveals who the identity of this character is, and in my reviews of each so far I’ve not revealed that spoiler so I don’t plan to now. We’ll just call him Ronin. It almost doesn’t matter anyway as this turtle is like an amalgamation of all four as he wields all of their weapons (and then some) and has become consumed by his quest for vengeance. All trace of his normal personality is basically gone. Since that issue though, the following two took place in both the present (which is the future) and the past and showed how one of the turtles met his end. As a result, not a whole lot of plot has moved forward in the present timeline.

Issue #4, subtitled titled “Blood in Snow,” has what feels like a shorter flashback to reveal the fate of the final turtle and moves things forward in the present timeline far more than the others. When I read issue #2, I actually found it a bit challenging because it basically bothered me to see one of my childhood heroes fall. Issue #3 surprised me in that I didn’t get the same feeling, and as a result, it disappointed me a bit. Issue #4 is more of the same. It’s not that I expect these to be gratuitous in their depiction of death and violence, it just doesn’t do much to tug on the heart strings. There was a lot of room especially in this issue for some tragic drama, but the writers and artists chose not to lean into it giving the flashback more of a procedural feeling than an emotional arc.

Let’s not do this.

The plot that takes place in the present is, unfortunately, no better. It’s very cliché with its plotting. One moment had me rolling my eyes as our Ronin has taken on a protégé. In this issue, the characters are assaulting a fortress that is a key to breaking into the main Foot headquarters and Ronin goes ahead telling his pupil not to follow. Of course, he gets into some trouble and his protégé does indeed make the save leading to this exchange:

Ronin: I thought I told you to stay put!

Protégé: You did. I didn’t.

Ronin: Terrible discipline, excellent initiative. DON’T do it again!

How many times has such an exchange taken place in movies and comics? The characters also just march along with not much of a climax. There’s a villain from the past at the end, but the villain receives no development and is entirely dependent on the reader just being familiar with them. And the showdown really doesn’t land. I get the sense that more energy has been put into telling the story of how the turtles were defeated with little regard for this current timeline. We don’t even know how New York ended up in such a state, you would think the US government would have some issues with it, but I can at least understand the creative team not wanting to tell that story. What is unfortunate is that their main story just lacks drama and excitement. I fully expect the next issue will just feature Ronin leading a last ditch attack on the tower where the leader of the Foot waits. All or most of his allies will fall, but it will end with the two facing off at the top of the tower with likely both falling. And I’m not saying that can’t work as an outline, but they really need to land on some of the bigger moments to make it work.

The future stuff looks good, but I found myself really enjoying the setting of the flashback portion.

What hasn’t been a letdown though is the artwork. The Escorza brothers handle the majority of the work and they continue to do a good job. There’s plenty of good action panels and they really do a terrific job with the flashback sequence which features some characters in rather resplendent armor. Eastman does contribute 4 pages as well and continues to handle the portions where the Ronin character narrates his own flashback. His pages are done in black and white and feature his own, unique, artwork. For fans of the original Mirage line, these panels are a delightful throwback. A novelty, but a fun one. Newer readers might see them as weaker since Eastman’s art is not and has never been as polished as many of his professional peers, but that was part of the TMNT charm back in the day. And it was good enough to make him quite wealthy.

I’m guessing we’re not quite done with flashbacks as we need some Eastman art in Issue #5.

The trajectory for The Last Ronin appears clear with issue #4 concluded. With only one issue left in the mini series, and the flashbacks seemingly complete, we’re ready to see this revenge story come to its conclusion. I do feel like The Last Ronin began with tremendous momentum and spark, but each issue to follow has been weaker than the one preceding it. I’m hopeful they’ll rebound and stick the landing. It’s possible the story just wasn’t necessarily big enough for five issues and maybe that’s the problem, but we’ll see. I don’t expect Alan Moore writing or anything from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but it could definitely be better. As such, I began this series giving it a strong recommend, but at this point I might suggest to newcomers to wait for the trade paperback edition at this point. We’re also in for a bit of a wait, it would seem. Issue #4 was delayed about a month and the fifth and final issue has yet to be solicited by the publisher. That means it’s probably slipped to 2022 at this point. This year has been one of delays so I’m not surprised by any at this point. Hopefully the extra time allows the team to do something special. I want this story to succeed, and I am eager to see how it concludes.


NECA TMNT “The Colossal Chrome Dome” – Deluxe Chrome Dome

Chrome Dome – he’s bigger than you think.

Many television shows have what is sometimes referred to as “event” episodes. These are often episodes that complete long-running arcs, have an extended runtime, and might even be featured in a more prominent timeslot. It’s usually something for shows that take themselves rather seriously do. A show that featured very little of this sort of thing was the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Like many 80s properties, that toon was developed with the main purpose of selling toys. Sure, the writers, artists, and directors who worked on the show probably tried to do their best to make something worthwhile, but for the most part, each episode was a self-contained story often introducing a new hero or villain that Playmates Toys wanted kids to run out and buy. Especially after the second season when the show really took off.

All right, he’s not quite as big as the box would lead you to believe.

One of the few moments where the show aimed a little higher was with the season five finale “Planet of the Turtleoids.” This one was hyped a bit by the network the show aired on as a one-hour special which aired a little over 30 years ago on August 31, 1991. It still kept the turtles in their usual Saturday morning timeslot, but it at least felt like something that was more important. The episode brought in the villains Groundchuck and Dirtbag as well as featured a golden Technodrome – how’s that for fancy? The most memorable villain introduced in that episode though, was Chrome Dome. Chrome Dome was a colossal robot created by the Shredder and Krang to, what else, destroy the turtles. And he was indeed colossal as he was basically the same size as the new Technodrome. This was quite different from the toy version which, like basically every figure in the series, was around four inches tall. If my memory serves, the toy preceded the episode so we as fans had no idea just how big the character was supposed to be. The card back didn’t list a height, but it did list a weight of 600 pounds. A giant, metal, robot would probably weight tons as opposed to pounds, so safe to say we were surprised and we should have been.

Seriously though, this box can barely hold him.

In order for NECA to do Chrome Dome properly and have him scale with the rest of the line, he’d basically have to be the same size as the quarter scale Raphael or maybe as tall as the diorama itself. Lucky for NECA, Chrome Dome returned in the season seven episode “Night of the Rogues.” In that appearance, he was still a big boy, but not to the degree he was originally. He was more like 9 or 10 feet tall in that appearance. This works perfectly for NECA’s deluxe line of TMNT figures. Recently, we looked at both Muckman and Mondo Gecko, characters that were forced into the deluxe line due to their unique tooling and accessories and not so much for their size. Chrome Dome brings both and it’s actually a little surprising he matches Mondo’s retail price of $40. This dude is a beast as he towers over the previous biggest figure in the line, Krang, and he has the beef (steel?) to match. For collectors, this guy is the new centerpiece for NECA’s cartoon line as anyone who sees such a collection will probably immediately have their eyes drawn to Chrome Dome.

I love weapon storage on a figure.
Here come a bunch of pictures to illustrate how big this figure is. First up, we have Android Krang and Metalhead.

Just how big is NECA’s Chrome Dome? About ten inches tall. Even telling you that, and showing you all of these pictures, can’t properly convey how big of a figure he is. The box he comes in, lovingly illustrated by Dan Elson just like the other deluxe releases, is pretty heavy and it barely holds Chrome Dome. He uses up the entire inner blister. The box is the same height as the one that housed Krang, but it’s deeper by nearly an inch. Once extricated from his paper and plastic confines, Chrome Dome is immensely impressive. NECA adjusted its cel-shading paint to go with something that feels more accurate to what they’re going for. Rather than bisect the figure with light shades on the front and dark on the back, he simply has embellishments all over. His chest is white with black piping and NECA added angular gray swaths of color to create the illusion of light falling over him just like the actual cartoon would have done. The same is done on his face and abdomen and the white patches on his arms and legs have gray added as well and the blue kneepads utilize a darker blue to accent that. It looks phenomenal and I hope more figures down the road present an opportunity for this sort of approach. He really pops like no other release in this line and the closest comp in terms of paint is the rock soldiers. This sort of approach probably wouldn’t work for every character to come, but maybe if they do a robot Bebop and Rocksteady? I’m suddenly excited to see them attempt such a figure!

Did you think Super Shredder was large? Hah! Chrome Dome laughs at Super Shredder!
Super7? Bandai? None can match Chrome Dome!

The paint is terrific, in terms of how it’s stylized and in application. There’s a lot of room for things to go off the rails, but for the most part it’s clean. Upon closer inspection, there are a few problematic spots, but the only true drawback is some smudges on the white of the chest and rear of the “dome.” It’s something that can happen when a figure uses a lot of matte white, but it’s not noticeable from a shelf and wasn’t even something I spied through the box. There appears to be some missing gray on the right shoulder disc as the left one is painted gray all along the edge, but the right is not. Also of interest is there appears to be some lubricant in the same area in the biceps swivel. There’s none present on the left arm so maybe this side just got a little extra “juice.” I’ve wiped it off a few times, but it’s still a little shiny. Needless to say, it’s good to see NECA using lubricant though to reduce over-tightness at the joints.

If you want Chrome Dome to look small you have to bring in another scale.

The sculpt for this bad boy is basically just as nice as the paint. He looks just as he did in the show with his samurai inspired head and various ridges and vents sculpted into his body. Every black line painted on this guy is also sculpted, same for the black rivets. He has these big, wing-like, appendages on his back that are quite sturdy. I always thought it was an odd part of the character’s design, but it does give him a bit more presence. What I find myself really liking is the sculpt of the hands. His fingers have this boxy shape to them, very robotic in a sci-fi way, and they just look so cool. The open, style-posed, hands he comes with in the box are quite fun and that boxy aesthetic is also apparent in the other hands. The old cartoon wasn’t known for great designs or cool looking characters, even a lot of the characters that looked great as toys were downgraded for the show, but Chrome Dome stands out as just being a really bad ass looking robot.

He kicks too.

And NECA made sure this beast could move. NECA managed to get the standard articulation into this guy even though he’s so big, and they did it without the need for ratcheted joints. The most limited part is right at the top. His head can’t really look up thanks to how large the helmet is and the ability to tilt is limited. The good thing is, he doesn’t need to look up at anyone. At the shoulders, we have standard ball-hinges with a biceps swivel just past that. His elbows are double-jointed, and the lower hinge is pretty tight on my guy. I should note, however, I did not have to heat any of his joints. At the wrist, he can rotate and swivel. In the abdomen is a big ball joint. It’s tight at first, but he can crunch forward and back a bit and tilt side-to-side. There’s a lot of paint there though so I would advise to be gentle so there’s no paint rub. At the waist is a twist and below that are the ball and socket legs we should all be getting used to seeing at this point. Chrome Dome’s have a nice tolerance there though, where some of my figures have been overly loose. There’s a thigh twist past that and double-jointed knees. There’s a sculpted “boot” line, but no twist there so don’t try. At the ankles he has hinges and rockers plus a toe-hinge. I don’t think you’ll need that toe hinge for anything, but it’s there.

Lets do some martial arts poses.

It’s a standard allotment of articulation for Chrome Dome, but it’s always a little surprising anytime a big figure like this comes around packed with this much. That’s because bigger figures mean more weight, and any articulation point is a chance for the stability to falter. I am happy to say that Chrome Dome stands just fine. His legs have become a little looser since removing him from the box and breaking him in, but he’s yet to fall over or anything. With the aid of a simple NECA disc stand, I was even able to get him into a one-foot pose. The only shortcoming I’m finding with the articulation is just with the shoulders and the lack of a butterfly joint. I don’t know if NECA could have pulled it off without breaking up the sculpt on the chest, but if Chrome Dome could reach across his body to grasp a the handle of a sheathed sword that would have been cool. Even without that though, the combination of his size and what’s there for articulation should be plenty to find some dynamic poses for your shelf.

Because he really needs two swords.
The belt clasps at the back, but I’m not brave enough to remove it. Plus, I like the look of it anyway.

Chrome Dome probably doesn’t need any weapons to crush his foes, but his figure still comes with some anyway! Chrome Dome has not one, but two, belts. In the show, I believe he just had the sculpted blue belt while the Playmates toy had the second belt with sheaths for his swords. NECA replicated that with the outer belt being pretty true to that old toy as it even has a clasp on the back if you want to remove it. There are two, blue, sheaths on the left side for his twin katana. The katana have this neat, techno, design to them. They’re mostly white and gray with blue on the handles and they very much stylistically fit it in with the other weapons Shredder and his minions wield. They slide into the sheaths rather snugly, but they can fit all the way. The only drawback is you will most likely experience some paint rub with a little blue getting onto the white portion of the blade. The same is true on the handles when fitting them into his hands as it’s a tight fit. To wield the swords, Chrome Dome comes with a set of gripping hands. They have vertical hinges and swapping hands is painless. There was a bit of paint on all of the hinges of the spare hands so breaking them in is a bit of challenge, but the plastic is also black so once that paint flakes off it doesn’t leave behind an eyesore.

Bang!

If swords aren’t your thing then there’s a blaster too. Chrome Dome is a big boy so he needs a big gun and this thing is quite large. It’s painted in a white and gray scheme and NECA included a right, trigger, hand to wield it. The hands on this guy are very stiff with almost no give, so if you want him to hold this gun you will almost certainly need to heat the hand first. I just used running, hot, tap water and that worked just fine. His trigger finger fits in exceptionally well too and it’s quite satisfying to look at. If you prefer he store the weapon, there’s a peg on the right side of the floating belt. Now, I am not sure how NECA intended for this to go on. Some have been able to get it to peg on as there’s a hole towards the rear of the gun. It’s a shallow hole though, so it doesn’t peg in very well. What I have done is utilized the rear of the gun which has what looks like a molded hinge. The peg on the belt is like rubber, and I simply stuck it through this hinge which works fine. It keeps the gun low so it’s not up in his armpit and it hasn’t fallen. I’m probably going to display him with gun in hand though, but if I wasn’t this is how I’d store it.

“Oh, Shredder, come on! I am the superior machine, come push MY keys!”

In addition to the weapons, Chrome Dome also has an assortment of hands and a computer. He has the open, style-posed, hands in the box, plus a pair of fists and a pair of “chop” hands. It’s honestly more than I was expecting and it presents a conundrum in terms how to pose him on the shelf. I love the style-posed hands, but I also love having him hold his swords and gun. I’ll probably never use the fists or chops, but I can see how others might. The computer is an interesting inclusion. If memory serves, it’s from “Night of the Rogues” and Zach, the “Fifth” Turtle, uses it to retrieve some information out of Chrome Dome. I don’t remember if it’s his computer or Donatello’s. Zach is featured on the box though, so expect a figure of that lame, little, dork some day. The accessory is well done though, and it even features a floppy drive. I don’t know what I’m going to do with it in the near term, but I do know it would look nice in a lair set, or maybe even inside the Turtle Van.

“Ugh, Mikey, I don’t think now is the time to whip out your little hook.”

Chrome Dome is a spectacle of an action figure. He’s so big, and so well detailed, that he commands attention. If it wasn’t already clear in this review, I am in love with this figure. I think it’s my new favorite in this line. He has to be! It’s just so impressive from every aspect that’s important for an action figure. And at an MSRP of $40, I don’t know how NECA does it! I don’t want to sound like a corporate shill, but I sometimes don’t know how NECA does what it does. Mondo Gecko might have seemed a touch underwhelming at 40 bucks, but Chrome Dome is the opposite. And I compare him to some of the other stuff I get and it just blows me away. The Super7 Michelangelo I reviewed recently is more expensive than this guy, and so is the comparatively massive Rocksteady. I know it’s a whole different release strategy, but it’s hard not to compare these things as a consumer because at the end of the day I am getting a figure of a certain quality at a certain price. I don’t care about production numbers and parts reuse, and it’s hard not to see how NECA is putting everyone to shame with such a release. And it’s shocking because this guy features no parts reuse and I don’t see how NECA will benefit from these molds again. Maybe they’ll do a video game variant? I’m definitely not expecting another release in this line that is this much of a value though so get him while you can, because it’s possible future runs won’t be $40.

I love this figure. Settling on a pose is going to be a challenge, but that’s a good problem to have.

And if you do want a Chrome Dome of your very own, he can currently be found at Target. I got mine direct from NECA as they made some available online a little over a week ago (he thankfully shipped a lot quicker than Mondo and Muckman), but he appears to be arriving in large numbers at stores right now. This line is getting easier to obtain as I’ve seen Mondo and Muckman with some degree of frequency, so hopefully Chrome Dome is the same. He is the type of release though that could entice casuals because he is just so neat looking, so if you want him for your collection I would suggest not sleeping on it.


NECA Turtles in Time Baxter Stockman

“Big Apple, 3 AM”

When NECA finally received access to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license to release product at retail, the company decided to focus on three pillars: cartoon, movie, video game. The cartoon product, being the most sought after, was exclusively sold at Target stores in the United States. The movie line, probably nearly as desirable as the cartoon, but not as deep, was to be sold exclusively at GameStop and has since been moved to Walmart. The third pillar, and probably the least desirable, was the video game brand. Those figures were to be sold across various comic and specialty shops. Basically, anyone who sells collector-grade action figures can place an order for these. Which, incidentally, made it possible for a retailer like GameStop to at one point sell both movie and game figures based on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The design of the original cabinet was so bizarre. This odd Baxter fits right in that.

The video game line was always going to be the lease desirable because it’s the most gimmicky. All of the figures feature a pixelized deco to create the illusion that they came out of a video game. Only, this sort of thing is basically impossible to properly replicate since pixels, by their nature, are arranged in a very strict fashion and any three-dimensional object that can bend and move in the third dimension is going to break those rules. It also was a line designed primarily for repaints and re-releases. The turtles themselves had been originally released as a comic con exclusive already along with Shredder and the Foot. They were based on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game, but NECA’s line for retail was to be based on Turtles in Time. Still, the turtles didn’t change enough from one game to the next to warrant new sculpting, so instead the pixel deco was modified slightly and each figure came bundled with a surf/hover board based on the bonus level Sewer Surfin’. As for the rest, well most could just be repaints of the cartoon line or re-releases with slight modification. Shredder, for example, had his shoulder pauldrons adjusted while Slash received a new head to differentiate him from his toon counterpart. And since these were priced under the usual NECA Ultimates price point, they tended to just come with a few extra hands and a weapon or two.

It seemed like that was all the line would be. NECA also expressed interest in winding it down in favor of a new line based on the original Mirage Studios source material, even though there were still a few boss characters missing. NECA didn’t want the line to just fizzle out though, so it decided to do a couple of special releases. One is a two-pack of Bebop and Rocksteady which is due any day now, while the other was the line’s first Ultimates release: Baxter Stockman.

The video game version of the character always struck me as a great deal more creepy than the cartoon one.

Baxter, like many characters from the game and this line, have a cartoon counterpart. NECA released Baxter alongside Splinter in early 2021 so NECA double-dipping with a game repaint was not a surprise. The only thing was, it didn’t make a ton of sense. Baxter in the cartoon is a diminutive, mutant, fly. He’s a pip-squeak. In the video game though he’s pretty beefy. Maybe because he’s a boss Konami felt he needed some presence because he’s as big as the turtles, if not a little bigger. He also looks just a little different. His head is a bit more grotesque and he has this one, ugly, tooth that makes him look like an old man. NECA could have just faked it and did Baxter up in a different color scheme and called it a day, but most probably would have called them out on it.

Two different interpretations of the same character. I do love how that toon one turned out.

Rather than make Baxter a lesser release, NECA did the opposite. They upped the price to an Ultimates tier which gave the company the freedom to do a new sculpt. Now, some of his parts are probably sourced from other, non-Baxter, figures, but some is also unique. He also got his own, unique, packaging in the Ultimates styled box with the fifth panel for product shots and artwork (and the front of the box is basically NECA’s interpretation of Baxter in the same style as the turtles were presented on the original arcade cabinet). It also meant more accessories! Baxter comes with the usual assortment of extra hands, but he also has two guns, a flight stand, and an effects piece with a stand of its own! It’s quite the package, and it’s nice seeing NECA sink a little extra love into the video game line.

Thank goodness his union kept their dental plan.

Baxter stands at around six and a quarter inches, making him nearly two inches taller than his cartoon version. He has shaggy, red-orange hair, and bulbous pink eyes and a hideous grin. He has a purple sweater vest and red bowtie to go along with some tattered, white, dress sleeves and blue pants. It’s tough to get a good look at a sprite in a 16-bit video game, but this looks pretty consistent with the arcade game. His flesh is a fuchsia or hot pink which also includes those extra arms on his back. The wings are just lightly sculpted and feature a powdery, pink finish, that are ever so slightly transparent, but functionally not. The pixel paint job seems less intense than some of the other figures released. It’s mostly on the front of his vest and sides of his pants while the gray shading on his sleeves is given a boxy edge. They really didn’t attempt anything on the head, save for the diamond pupils in his eyes, nor is there any on his wings or extra appendages. I think it looks fine and I prefer the pixel effect to be underplayed as opposed to overplayed, and the paint application in general is quite clean. In terms of parts sharing with the cartoon Baxter, I can’t see any. I thought they might have the same pincer arms, but those are different as well. The hands, feet, arms, torso, even the bowtie are all different. He probably shares legs and arms with Vernon from the toon line, and whatever is under the sweater vest as well, but this guy is largely unique.

He’s trying to look tough, but he really could use some more meat on his bones.

All of the ingredients are there for Baxter to be a visual splendor, but I do think he has one obvious flaw. He’s just not chunky enough. The character model in the game was about as tall as the turtles, but noticeably thicker. This Baxter has the height, but he’s pretty thin. I’m sure some of this perception is magnified by the fact that he’s kind of hunched over in the game and squat. Even if I try to scrunch him up though the effect still isn’t achieved. Is it a deal-breaker? Well, almost. I really waffled on this release for a bit as I liked it, but just didn’t think it was a terrific likeness of the video game art. I really only gave in because of availability and my own desire to just get a new toy. Plus, even with the likeness issue, it looked like a fun toy because of all of the stuff. Anybody interested in this figure will just have to decide for themselves if the likeness is good enough or not. I think NECA brings it on themselves here since a lot of their toon figures look like they stepped right out of the television so that’s a standard we’ve come to expect for their TMNT figures, whether they’re based on a cartoon, movie, or video game.

Baxter, I told you not to try to swallow a fistful of sugar cubes.

In the game, Baxter attacks from the air and land so such a character needs to be able to achieve a variety of poses and this Baxter is more than up to the task. He’s pretty loaded when it comes to articulation. His head sits on a ball-peg and has some solid functionality there made even better by the fact that his head sits on a rather large neck with a hinge at the base. This does help him achieve that stooped look he has in the game when on his feet, and if in the air, he’s able to look down at his target just fine. At the shoulders, he has the usual ball-hinges and they have a terrific tolerance for moving around and out to the side. For this guy, NECA used their slightly unusual double-elbows that the cartoon Baxter had. When these elbows are used on a sleeveless character like the movie Casey Jones they look really bizarre, but on a character in a dress shirt like Baxter they look fine. He can bend well past 90 and the arms swivel above the elbow as well. And since you can point that hinge wherever you need it, Baxter can basically bend almost as well as a character with a butterfly joint at the shoulder. He can reach across his chest, achieve two-handed, gun holding positions, or even choke himself! At the wrists, he can rotate and hinge, but all of his hands have in-out, horizontal, hinges which is unfortunate as vertical ones are better for handguns. He has some articulation under his shirt, but it’s not particularly functional as the shirt doesn’t feature a cut anywhere. He can crunch forward slightly, but mostly his waist is available to swivel. At the hips he has ball-joints underneath one of those soft, “diaper,” pieces. I’m happy to report that the diaper appears structurally sound with no cracking or flaking present on mine, though the hips are too loose for my liking. He does have a slight thigh twist there and the standard double-knees. On the rear of the figure, his wings and pincher limbs are the same as cartoon Baxter. They swivel and hinge where they meet the body, but there’s no “elbow” or pinching articulation which is kind of a bummer. Lastly, he has a hinged jaw which I always love on NECA’s figures. They just add so much personality without hindering the sculpt and with Baxter the same is true.

He didn’t like my mocking his toughness earlier, so now he’s got a gun.
Make that two guns.

Baxter’s articulation is pretty impressive. The pincher limbs lacking a little more is basically a nitpick. My only real criticism rests with the loose hips. I’m able to get Baxter to stand, but sometimes the legs kick out to the side and he tumbles over. It’s less an issue with this figure than it was with the frogs because he’s made for a flight stand, but he should still be able to stand on his own without fear of falling. He can definitely achieve basically any pose from the game, be it standing, hovering, or even his damage pose. Beyond that, he can achieve any sort of flying pose you could want. He has no problems lifting his head and looking straight-ahead when flying parallel with the ground. And since virtually none of his joints came stuck and his joints are all cast in the proper colored plastic, he’s really a joy to mess around with. I said the likeness gave me pause, but I’m happy to say my assumption that this guy would be fun was definitely the correct one to make.

Sorry Leo, you’re the sacrificial lamb today.
This is fun, but damn, does it require a lot of space. The surface of my deep freezer is definitely not a permanent solution.

And Baxter is made fun because he has a nice assortment of accessories. In terms of optional hands, he has three sets: fists, open, and trigger/gripping hands. For weapons, he has two guns: a submachine gun, and a revolver. These are taken from the game as the boss fight begins with Baxter wielding the machine gun and then he loses it and switches to the revolver-styled weapon. Of course, that one doesn’t fire bullets, but a gigantic hand thing. When flying, it comes out like a yellow, goopy, slap while on the ground it would form into a fist. NECA provided this hand effect weapon, though it doesn’t match the game. Rather than use a slap or fist, they went with a grabby hand as they likely felt that would work better with the turtle figures. I do wish they had included a fist part to swap as the hand can swivel and probably separate there, but I’m mostly fine with this artistic license the company took. It pegs in rather snugly to either gun, so if you want the machinegun to fire the hand it can. The guns and hand have the same pixel deco as the figure and look fine. NECA also did what they should have done with the toon Baxter and tossed in a flight stand. It’s similar to the one they sell at retail and it’s functional. It’s not my favorite flight stand, but it works. This one has an added hinge which make it better than the retail version so maybe they plan on replacing it with this new model. There’s also a second stand for the hand effect since it’s pretty hefty. It just clips onto the “body” of the effect and helps to keep it suspended in the air. It works for straight-on poses and for angled, flying, poses. The only thing that sucks is the hand is so heavy it doesn’t work great when it’s actually clipped onto a turtle. That makes it even heavier so you have to account for that somehow in how the turtle is positioned, but it’s also so high off the surface that it makes it hard to do that. You almost need a third stand for the victim. It can be finagled, and the accessory is still fun and welcomed, but it can get frustrating trying to achieve the “perfect” pose.

The added functionality to the stand plus Baxter’s excellent head/neck articulation means he can achieve a variety of flying poses.

The Turtles in Time Baxter Stockman is a figure that looks great, even though it doesn’t perfectly match the source material, that’s also a lot of fun to pose. NECA put the effort into this release to make sure it came with everything it needed and the results speak for themselves. I was very close to passing on this one, but I’m glad I changed my mind. Now, my only regret is not having the actual video game turtles to pose with him. I should have them eventually, but for now I basically have a collection of gaming villains ganging up on one electrified turtle. I don’t know which turtle that is, but it sure sucks to be him. As for Baxter, the only other downside is trying to decide how to pose him. I like the two-handed weapon pose, but the hand effect is too fun not to use. On the other hand, pun intended, utilizing that attachment means dedicating some serious shelf space to this one figure as the hand is about seven inches long, not including the gun it has to peg into. These are good problems to have though and I’m very happy with my purchase. Baxter Stockman ended up being a worthy first video game Ultimates release for TMNT and now he’s got me hoping that he won’t be the last!

That poor, poor, turtle.

NECA TMNT “Shred, Mondo, Shred!” Deluxe Mondo Gecko

You gotta be pretty confident to call yourself Mondo.

When we took a look at NECA’s Muckman from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon line of action figures, I mentioned how Muckman was supposed to be released in a two-pack with Mondo Gecko. That obviously didn’t happen and it’s because the figures just got too expensive for the two-pack format. Rather than release a 60 dollar or more two-pack, NECA split them up to be a pair of deluxe releases. Muckman was on the larger side and required entirely unique tooling to create, Mondo Gecko though is more average for the line in terms of size and he probably shares at least a few parts with other figures. And yet, when both figures were released Muckman came with the MSRP of $35 while Mondo is up at $40. What gives? Well, NECA decided to make this one a little different, and I’ll tell you how.

More awesome box art from NECA.

Mondo Gecko was one of the more popular ancillary characters associated with TMNT when I was a kid. He was created for the Archie Comics series The Mighty Mutanimals, but most kids knew the character from the Playmates Toys action figure. That one came with a skateboard and a bunch of stickers and he was just very much a product of his time. A skateboarding, party, gecko? Hell yeah, kids loved that shit! He was a natural companion character for the original party dude, Michelangelo, and since so many kids loved Mikey it’s hardly a surprise they enjoyed Mondo Gecko too. It would take a little while for the character to show up in the cartoon, and when he did he actually started off as a bad guy. He’d flip by the end of his debut episode, and he was one of the few characters who really didn’t change much in going from toy to toon. He basically just lost a lot of the little details like the scaled texture to his skin, blue ridges around the eyes, and even his braces. The toon also dropped the skull from his shirt either because it would be hard to animate consistently or maybe they thought it was too scary. The only thing I wish the cartoon had been able to keep was the lone roller skate the figure had on the end of his tail.

Hey, it’s Mondo, but who is the little guy in his bathrobe?

Mondo Gecko comes in the usual deluxe packaging. He gets the smaller box treatment like the Ultimate Foot Soldier and, like all of the other releases, the package is adorned with f.h.e. inspired artwork by Dan Elson. The figure itself is about 5 and 3/4″ tall putting him on par with the turtles. I haven’t watched the episode he first appears in recently, but I remember him being just a little taller than Michelangelo so this checks out (if my memory is correct). His tail is not attached in the box so some assembly is required. It’s a snug fit, but I got it on without having to resort to heating up the ball or the tail. His attire matches the cartoon well as he lacks the skull on his chest, but has the skull kneepad and spiked elbow pads. He has the overbite the cartoon depicted and his face is in a bit of a smile. That smile is accentuated when you open his jaw, which is a really nice touch. The slits in his eyes are striking and I like that they sculpted a new torso for him rather than try to get away with an overlay since they went that route with his tattered, yellow, shirt. He has the two-tone cel-shading paint job as well with a light green on the front of the figure and a darker one on the rear. Perhaps most impressive are Mondo’s sneakers. NECA sculpted the laces and everything and the paint application is quite clean. That’s not easy to pull off since there are three colors on the shoe alone.

Red, half-closed, eyes seem to indicate this guy could have come with one other accessory.

It’s interesting the shoes turned out so well, since my one contention with this figure from a presentation aspect is the paint. NECA’s application of the paint is remarkably clean for what is a fairly busy figure, but the shortcuts the company took (likely to save money) are what hurt it most. And it’s a problem we’ve seen before that apparently got cleaned up, only to resurface with Mondo. And that is NECA choosing to paint some of the joints rather than sculpt them in the proper base color. Much of the figure is sculpted in a light green that’s close to the skin-tone featured on the front of the figure. NECA even had the thighs and biceps peg into the upper thigh and shoulder and cast those pieces in the proper color, purple and yellow, respectively. Where they took a shortcut is with the hands, and in particular, the right hand. Mondo wears a red glove on one hand, and rather than mold-inject that hand in red, they kept the green plastic and tried to paint over it. This creates an ugly situation as once the hinge in that wrist is moved even once, the red paint flakes off leaving an unsightly green piece. They painted the fingertips green and yellow (for the claws) anyway, why not cast the part in the red? Maybe there was an issue in getting the paint to properly cover the red, though my guess is it’s just a cost issue. It’s one, small, piece that needs to be in red and rather than switch out the plastic they just had the factory roll with it. It’s unfortunate, because this figure looks really good and it deserved better, but I’m forced to basically ignore the articulation in that hand because I don’t want a random blob of green to show.

Mondo’s pride and joy.
This is probably how I look on a skateboard.

That brings us into the articulation. Mondo is pretty standard for the line and is quite familiar when compared with the punk frogs we’ve already taken a look at. For starters, he has that hinged jaw which adds a lot of personality to the figure. Seriously, a hinged jaw does wonders for pretty much any figure it makes sense for. His head is on a ball-joint and there’s also a ball-joint at the base of the neck which is entirely hidden by the shirt. As a result, his head has a terrific range of motion with the only hindrance being his ponytail which prevents him from looking up. At the shoulders, we have standard ball-hinges and he can raise his arms up just fine and rotate all around. At the biceps, the arm just pegs into the sleeve affording swivel articulation. It can be popped out rather easily too, which I consider a plus since I don’t fear anything breaking. At the elbow is a single hinge and swivel and he can’t bend past 90 degrees. I’m guessing they didn’t want to do a double-hinge since he has elbow pads like the turtles, though they also bypassed that with the frogs so who knows? There’s no pin so at least it looks nice. At the wrist he can swivel and he has those hinges we already talked about. I would avoid engaging them with the gloved hand. In the torso, he has a ball joint in the diaphragm under his shirt so he can rotate and pivot and crunch forward and back a little which is great for a skateboarder. At the waist he can swivel, and the hips feature the new style ball joints and are much tighter than the frogs, which is welcomed. The thighs swivel where the shorts connect and he has double-hinged knees. The plastic is on the softer side and bending his knees isn’t as “creamy” as I’d like them to be. At the ankles, there are hinge joints, but the shape of his shoes really limits how far they can go. If he has a rocker, I can’t tell, because again the shoes prevent his feet from really going anywhere. Since they look great, I’m not really disappointed by that, but your mileage may vary. Lastly, the tail connects via a ball-peg and it can move a bit, but like the Triceratons and Leatherhead, it’s range isn’t impressive.

Now that’s more like it!
Let’s shred!

Mondo’s articulation allows him to do some pretty cool things. He is a skateboarder, so his articulation should reflect that and if there’s anything missing I would say a true ball-joint at the waist allowing for more ab crunch motion might have been the way to go. Otherwise, I think he can do enough and I’ve certainly seen plenty of images online that support that. Obviously, if he’s going to do some kick flips and grinding he needs a board, and NECA included his oversized, motorized, skateboard. It’s nearly 5 inches long not including the tail pipes and features some flames painted on the surface. There’s one peg placed on the edge of the board and it seems NECA took care to not put it on the flame where it would need to be painted. Both of Mondo’s feet have peg holes, though I think the peg works best when used with his right foot. A second peg towards the front of the board would have been welcomed, but I think the company was trying to preserve the aesthetic of the board as much as possible and didn’t want a peg in a high visibility area. Since most are likely to display Mondo on his board, I don’t think it would have been a big deal to include a second peg, but it still works fine as-is. The wheels are actual wheels so the board can roll and the paint-job is well done so it’s good to see NECA nailed the look of Mondo’s signature accessory. About the only thing I wish NECA had been able to include or done with the board was a display stand like what the Turtles in Time figures came with. That would just make it a lot easier to display the figure in a more dramatic pose. Instead, you’ll have to get creative (and his tail can be helpful in that regard to prop him up) or provide your own stand.

He does have a gun, if you think he needs one.
“Cool armband, dude!”

As for the rest, Mondo comes with one extra set of hands. They’re gripping hands, to go along with the open hands he comes packaged with, and they’re here to work with his accessories. NECA included the rounded, blue, rifle we’ve seen with the Foot. I think he did wield a gun in the show, though I don’t recall the specifics of it. Regardless, I probably won’t display him with a gun so I’m not particularly bothered by the reuse. Mondo also comes with a loot sack and a timebomb. The timebomb is a bunch of bricks and six pieces of dynamite and looks pretty cool. The time on it is “09157” and if that’s a reference to something I haven’t figured it out yet. Mondo also comes with the compliance cuff from the Dirk Savage episode. It slides onto the wrist and looks kind of neat so I’ll probably use it in my display, even though wearing it means Mondo is being mind-controlled. There’s also a little green gecko representing Mondo before he was mutated. The paint looks good and it’s kind of fun to have another little creature to add to the rest like the frogs, gerbil Mike, and Pigeon Pete.

Kerma is pretty simple, but he gets the job done.
He’s rather fond of the gecko.

The big accessory though, literally and figuratiely, is Kerma. Kerma is an alien turtle from the Planet of the Turtleoids who appeared a few times in the show. He has no connection to Mondo, but to dress-up this release and really make it feel like a deluxe one he was inserted into the box. It makes sense to see Kerma released this way as he’s a little guy who really doesn’t require much articulation. He stands at approximately 3 and 1/4 inches and his sculpt is quite nice, though his sash is just painted on. He has a big smile on his face which is suitable for the rather good-natured character. His head is on a ball-peg so he can rotate and look down. Unfortunately, he can’t really look up which feels like something a short character would need to do. At the arms he has ball hinges and the wrists rotate. That’s it, since he’s a robed figure and a turtle at that. I wish they had snuck a ball into the base of his neck to allow him to look up, but otherwise the shortcuts don’t bother me all that much. He has peg holes in his feet should you want him to skateboard and he stands well on his own. Kerma is not a super-important character, but this is about the best way to release him which is to make him a glorified accessory. And assuming he’s the reason for the extra five bucks tacked onto the MSRP then I’m fine with that. Five bucks for a Kerma feels right.

Another banner release for NECA as this line just keeps chugging along.

NECA’s deluxe Mondo Gecko is yet another release in this line that feels like a homerun, or close to it. NECA is so good at nailing the aesthetics of the figures in this line that it’s almost become boring. It’s hard to blow the customer away when the line is so consistently good. That’s obviously a nice problem to have though, and while I have one major nitpick with the paint on the gloved hand, I’m still largely satisfied with how the figure turned out. I’m not going to pass on a toon Mondo, and while I didn’t need Kerma, I’m not disappointed in having him either. I’ll find a home for him in my display, while finding one for Mondo is going to be tricky because I’m running out of room! As usual, this figure is exclusive to Target in the US, though I got him from NECA’s online store as he was made available last month in limited quantities. The quantities that made it to Target seem plentiful, so he’s definitely one of the easiest releases to find, so hopefully anyone who wants him is able to get him.


NECA TMNT “Muck Everlasting” Deluxe Muckman and Joe Eyeball

Here comes Muckman!

There was a bit of confusion in the collector space when NECA unveiled the fourth figure in its deluxe line of action figures based on the 87 cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Muckman was the company’s chosen character and some immediately scoffed at the presentation. The green, lumpy, orange-clad mutant didn’t look “good” to them. It would have to be pointed out, numerous times, that this was Muckman from the classic cartoon series who appeared in only one episode, the 1991 “Muckman Messes Up.” In that episode, garbage collectors Garson Grunge and Joe Gunkee are exposed to mutagen via Bebop and Rocksteady causing them to mutate into the duo of Muckman and Joe Eyeball. Considering it was just one episode, it’s easy to see how some could forget over the ensuing 30 years, especially when as kids they were exposed to the original Playmates toy version of the duo. That figure was far more gross and detailed. When the character was brought to animation, there was just no way to preserve that on a TV budget so the character was simplified. He was still pretty grotesque, just less defined.

I have a love/hate relationship with these f.h.e. inspired boxes. I love the execution, I hate that I can’t bring myself to throw them away.

And NECA’s version of the character is TV specific, and like almost every figure from this line, the character looks like he was yanked right off of the screen. All of the details one would expect to be there are present: the banana peel on his head, the clothespin on his nose, flower petal on the shoulder, aerosol can on the ankle, mirror in the stomach, etc. There’s even that weird, gray, blob, on his chest which I have no idea what it’s supposed to be. He’s goopy and gross and looks just like how he’s supposed to.

This is the only slime pic you’re getting out of me.

Muckman getting the deluxe treatment was originally not supposed to happen. He was supposed to be in a 2-pack with Mondo Gecko, but the pricing wasn’t working out for NECA. Both he and Mondo are two characters that require a lot of unique tooling and it’s not the kind that can be reused down the road. Rather than up the price on a two-pack, NECA decided to split them up and make some changes. We’ll talk about how that impacted Mondo when we get to him, but for Muckman it would appear it had little impact. He is in his own unique packaging which seeks to emulate the f.h.e. VHS releases from yesterday, as have all of the deluxe releases in this line, and it looks terrific. He comes with less stuff though in comparison to other deluxe releases. Again, the cost of tooling likely played a role and NECA probably doesn’t plan on reissuing this figure as much as it will someone like Krang which helps offset some of those initial costs. This means Muckman will run you about $35 at retail, which is the higher price point for deluxe figures previously occupied by Krang with Metalhead and the Foot Soldier coming in at $30. With prices skyrocketing over the past year, I’m guessing $35 is going to be the new floor for this kind of release and $40 will be reserved for the higher cost figures (like Mondo and the upcoming Chrome Dome) going forward. It’s an unfortunate reality, but one all toy manufacturers have to deal with and as collectors we can either accept that or accept lesser products that must make sacrifices to keep costs down. I definitely prefer to keep the quality high, so for now, I’m just rolling with it.

Finally, someone who smells worse than Rat King.

Muckman stands just shy of 7 inches. He’s got a slight crouch to his stance so if you straighten him out completely he can probably hit that 7 inch mark or exceed it slightly. This is true to the show as he was larger than the turtles and he definitely looks to fit-in just fine with the rest of the line. He’s painted just like every figure in this line in that he’s got a darker paint job on his backside to simulate cel-shading and it generally looks pretty sharp on this guy. His bright, orange, jumpsuit is in tatters and there’s a ton of linework on him to accentuate each goop and glop on his body. This paintjob is super impressive as there’s a lot going on and I can’t find a touch of paint slop anywhere. This may be the best paintjob the line has seen to date and it’s great to see that level of quality on such a nice sculpt. This dude is one heavy figure and he’s very solid. I’m sure there will be people out there a little irritated at the price of the figure, but I doubt many will say this guy doesn’t feel like a deluxe release.

What’s up, little buddy?

Muckman is a beefy dude, but he still has plenty of articulation. He basically has what you would expect him to. He’s a character without a neck, so his head mainly pivots from side-to-side. He can look up, but not down. At the shoulders we have ball-hinges and his arms can raise out to the side just fine. The tattered edges of his jumpsuit are soft and flexible so you can rotate his arm all the way around if you want to, though I would be mindful of potential paint rub. Past that we have a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows. The hands can rotate and are hinged for in-out motion. In the abdomen we have a diaphragm joint that is likely a ball joint that allows Muckman to rotate and tilt. There’s a lot going on with the sculpt in that area, so you do need to be mindful of that so you don’t mess up the paint. He can also swivel at the waist below that. The legs are the new model hips and, unlike my frogs, is plenty tight so he has no trouble standing. There’s a thigh twist and double-jointed knees below that and each, goopy, ankle has a hinge and a rocker. Yes, even that left foot with the manhole cover base can rock side-to-side. On my figure, the only joints that were tight out of the box were the knees. I’ve heated them up once and got them to budge a bit, but they’re still not perfect. I could probably heat them again to correct this, but I’m not sure I need to as I can’t see myself doing anything elaborate with his lower half.

Does this count as a third expression?

Muckman pretty much nails the presentation side of things. The sculpt is excellent and so is the paintjob and he has more than enough articulation to satisfy collectors. Where he may come up a tad short is on the accessory end. Muckman comes with two sets of hands: gripping/trigger hands and open hands. He also has an alternate mouth which just plugs into the figure’s face. One is open and one is closed. He has his garbage can which slides into a slot on his back. The connection is loose, but the bucket will sit there just fine and it can support the weight of his biggest and most appropriate accessory: Joe Eyeball. Don’t try to force the bucket in or look for a click or you’ll risk breaking the tab on it. Just set it and forget it. As for Joe Eyeball, he’s a slight upgrade over the version Playmates released 30 years ago. He’s fully painted in the same cel-shaded style as Muckman. The cartoon version of the character omitted that weird, armpit, eyeball so it’s not on this one either. He does have some articulation though. His head is on a ball joint so he can rotate and tilt and look up and down as well. His top, two, arms are also on ball-hinges so there’s some pose-ability there as well. The two lower tentacles, legs, and tail are non-articulated so don’t try to crank on them. The tentacles are just glued in so they look like they could be articulated, but are not. Same for the eyes. It would have been fun if they were bendy, but then you have to worry about paint cracking and such so I get why they did it this way. He fits in his bucket just fine though and he can also stand on his own if that’s your preference. I like positioning him in the bucket with the bottom tentacles hooked onto the lip of the bucket so he looks like he’s peeking out from behind Muckman.

He has a gun, but he also kind of doesn’t.

The Playmates version of the character came with this big, trash, bazooka-like gun, but in the show Muckman just tossed globs of himself at people. To replicate this, NECA included a cannister of green slime. There’s a radioactive symbol on the canister, which kind of resembles a drum barrel, just on the small side, and it’s sealed with cellophane. The substance, from what I’ve seen, is pretty viscous and actually holds together fairly well unlike the old slime which was thinner and ran all over the place. This Muckman can’t have slime dumped through his head and out of his mouth like that toy, but you can have him hold globs of it in his open hands or fill his bucket up with it. It’s not something I really want to mess around with though, so it’s just going to sit in that bucket and function as a visual accessory, but I suppose it’s cool NECA included it. What I would have preferred instead though, is just some trash globs that could fit in Muckman’s hands made out of a green, semi-transparent, plastic similar to an energy or blast effect that comes with various figures out there. I can accept a low accessory count with a figure that doesn’t really need accessories, but it is definitely something I feel like is missing and I’m actually a little surprised it is. The slime is kind of fun, but also not really something an adult collectible should come with. I guess it was cheaper than the alternative?

It’s almost a shame that the gun, technically, isn’t meant for him because he holds it really well.

Muckman does come with one additional accessory and I wonder if it was added when NECA decided to make him a deluxe release. NECA is pretty good about setting a cost baseline for their figures, and if a figure comes in below that cost, they add stuff to bring it up as opposed to just pocketing the savings. At least that’s the approach brand director Trevor Zammit takes so Muckman comes with the Rockilizer gun. The gun was seen in a completely unrelated episode and was given to General Traag by Krang. The Traag and Granitor two-pack was a high-cost two-pack which didn’t come with a lot of accessories so using Muckman to get a unique weapon into Traag’s hands is pretty cool. I mean, I’d prefer that Muckman just have his globs of goo, but the gun is definitely a welcomed addition. It’s a cool looking design, though it’s potentially brittle since there’s not much holding it together besides a thin, tube, of plastic. That’s not NECA’s fault as it’s just how the design of the gun was made. I suppose they could have cast it in a more flexible plastic, but it at least looks as it should and the paintjob is well done. And to his credit, Muckman can hold it very well with his trigger hand, better than Traag can since he doesn’t have a proper trigger hand. That’s where it will go though in my display with Muckman opting for his open hands instead.

Now Traag, I hope you remembered to say “Thank you,” to Muckman for bringing you your gun.

Muckman was probably not high on the wants list for a lot of people, but I doubt any are going to complain about this guy. He’s somewhat quietly turned out to be one of the best figures in this line so far. He looks just like the TV version, the sculpt is awesome, the paint is great, and he has plenty of functional articulation. And if packaging is your thing well that looks fantastic too! The only negative I could find with him is the lack of molded goop for him to hold in his hands. Otherwise, everything is awesome! The only other negative was having to wait a day shy of four weeks for NECA to ship him and Mondo Gecko my way after having a sale on their website. Both figures were advertised as “in-stock and ready to ship,” but it still took almost a month for him to reach me. I basically paid 15 bucks for the privilege to sit at home and wait, even though I’ve been seeing the figure in plentiful quantities at Target. Hopefully that’s good news though for anyone reading this that has yet to get one. He is a Target exclusive and if there’s demand beyond that NECA will probably make him available as a made-to-order item, but that’s probably a year away if not more so don’t delay. This guy may not seem like an essential character to some from the show, but he’s definitely worthy of being in your display.

This barrel of goop is apparently the only weapon Muckman needs.

Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Rocksteady

Bebop’s got a buddy.

We saved the big boy for last! The lone villain of wave 3 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimates! line is the mutant rhino, Rocksteady. He follows in the footsteps of the monstrous Bebop who was released in wave 2 and is the crown jewel of the young line for many collectors so far. Rocksteady follows a similar path as he too has seen an upscaling in his size. Unlike Bebop, who’s original figure was squat and thus should have been taller, Rocksteady was not. His Playmates figure, which this figure is based on, was pretty much straight up and down so had Super7 wanted to make him shorter they had a reason to, but I am glad they decided against doing so.

That can’t be a very comfortable way to travel.

Rocksteady arrives in the purple slipcase cover that all of the villains get to wear. If you really like this package soak it in now, because there is no villain planned for wave 4. Now, I didn’t really talk about the packaging in my reviews of Michelangelo and Metalhead because it’s the same as all of the figures in the Ultimates! line, which is to say it’s quite nice, but a tad excessive. Rocksteady is worth pointing out though because he looks pretty ridiculous, in a good way, in box. And that’s because his head is so massive that he needed to be packaged looking over his should in order to fit in the box. His profile is roughly 3 inches long and it certainly is an eye catcher. When looking at him in box, I was a little concerned that Super7 may have gone overboard with his head, but once I got him out of the box and looking straight ahead I found my concerns were baseless.

His ENT doctor either loves or hates him.
The dermatologist definitely isn’t a fan.

Rocksteady is a big boy. That’s the main takeaway anyone is going to have when handling this guy. He stands at about 8″ tall and certainly commands respect with his impressive stature. The body is basically the exact same as the vintage Rocksteady this figure is based on, only with the details embellished. His skin has a texture to it that adds a bit of realism to this guy. All of the warts and scars are still in place, except now they’re either fully painted or Super7’s black wash they added to the figure really brings them out. His black tank top also has some added texture to it and the camo on his otherwise brown pants is plentiful. Unlike Bebop, he does not feature a tail, but neither did the original figure. He has his helmet, which is non-removable, and still sports the same, stoic, expression as the old toy. The paint on his eyes is nice and glossy giving it a natural sheen that really adds a lifelike quality to this guy. He’s easily the most “alive” of any of the figures in this line so far and it’s a testament to the quality of both the sculpt and paint.

That’s quite a profile.

In terms of articulation, Rocksteady is quite a bit like his mate, Bebop. The head can rotate and pivot a bit and has a decent amount of range looking up, but almost none looking down. Normally, that’s not something that bothers me, but with a figure who towers over the others, it would have been nice to see him able to look down more. At the shoulders, he has ball-hinges that are at a good tolerance. He can lift his arms out to the side and rotate all around. There’s no biceps swivel, but he does have a swivel and single hinge at the elbow to make up for it. Like the other figures in the line, he can’t quite achieve a 90 degree bend at the elbow, but he gets closer than the turtles at least. There’s no articulation in the torso, but he does have a waist twist. The belt is permanently affixed to him so there’s no fear of losing it this time, which is nice. At the legs, we have ball joints that let him kick forward and back a generous amount and he can basically do a split too. There are thigh swivels below it and one arrived stuck on my figure. A quick twist though was all it took to free it up, so crisis averted. At the knee is another swivel and a single hinge that gets him to about 90 degrees. There’s a boot cut below that, and at the ankle there’s only a rocker joint because of the way his boot cuffs are sculpted, so no hinge there.

Well, hello little buddy!
The new model isn’t as proficient a nose-picker as the original.

Rocksteady moves well enough. With Bebop, I felt he really could have used a diaphragm joint, but with Rocksteady the need is less since he has a shirt. They could have attempted to make the shirt an overlay, but that usually negates articulation in that kind of joint anyway. Where Super7 definitely missed an opportunity is at the jaw. A hinged jaw would have really added some personality to this guy. My biggest complaint with Bebop and Rocksteady is that they’re so stoic looking to the point of coming across as passive. Neither looks ready to obliterate a turtle. With Bebop, a hinged jaw would have been harder to do without harming the aesthetic, but with Rocksteady his lower jaw is a separate piece already. It’s just glued on. Why not slip a hinge in there? Plenty of companies have proven at this point that you can do it and hide it extremely well. The seam is already there!

At least he’s got a knife for those hard-to-reach places!

Considering this guy contains a lot of plastic, it would seem Super7 had to pair back the accessories a bit even when compared with Bebop. Rocksteady comes with a pair of gripping hands in the box and he has a second pair of fists. I really miss some kind of style pose hands with this guy and I would have taken those over fists, for sure. In terms of weapons, he has his trusty Retro-Mutagen Gun which is basically a scoped rife of some kind. In what has become an unfortunate trend with this line, there’s virtually no paint on the gun. Super7 gave it a graphite finish, which distinguishes it slightly from the weapon sprue version also included, but it’s still just a big, gray, gun. There isn’t even a dab of blue or white paint on the scope lens, which is unfortunate. Rocksteady also has his knife, which would look huge in the hands of most, but looks a lot smaller in Rocksteady’s hands. It’s bigger than Bebop’s though so it still looks fearsome. The blade is also painted silver, thankfully. His manhole cover shield, unfortunately, did not receive an upscaling. As was the case with Bebop’s trashcan lid, it looks pretty silly in Rocksteady’s hands and it’s a pain to fit into them because it uses the same backing as Bebop’s trashcan. It’s at least bigger than the vintage one, which basically takes up the smaller “disc” inside it, unlike Bebop’s which somehow turned out smaller. Lastly, Rocksteady has a trio of grenades to wield. Much to my surprise, they’re different form the ones that came with Metalhead. These ones have some silver paint on the metallic portions and look a whole lot better as a result. His belt also has a lip on the rear part of it so you can stick the knife in there if you want or clip the grenades in as well. I love weapon storage on figures! This is also good because he doesn’t really hold the grenades that well. You basically have to just kind of position them on the openings of his gripping hands and hope for the best.

You would think that’s Bebop’s shield by looking at this picture, but it’s not.
From the front, the shield looks like the vintage model, but it’s easily the dud of the accessories since it’s too hard to hold and it lacks paint.

It’s a solid assortment for Rocksteady, but the big omission is obviously a second head. Bebop got one, but it was the same sculpt just with a different deco. Rocksteady didn’t need one in that sense, but I still wish he had an alternate portrait like the turtles. I just wish Super7 viewed that as a feature of this line and not one reserved for the turtles alone. It looks like some of the upcoming non-turtles will get that though, like Mondo Gecko and Ray Fillet, but it’s too late for Rocksteady. Again, a hinged jaw would have accomplished the same for me. And I already mentioned my disappointment at the hand allotment. Especially considering he can’t really hold his grenades in a natural manner. Just one, open, hand would have been fine, but oh well.

Bebop’s got his buddy.

Rocksteady ends up being a lot like Bebop, and that makes perfect sense. The issues I had with Bebop are present with Rocksteady, but so are all of the things I liked. Rocksteady relies on his size and impressive sculpt to get attention and he does a great job at that. Where he stumbles is just in how passive he looks in basically any pose. A jaw hinge, style pose hands, or an alternate portrait would have solved that issue while retaining the look of the vintage toy for those who want it. Super7 could have even looked to some vintage versions of Rocksteady that they’ll likely never reproduce to find an alternate portrait like Mutations Rocksteady or the kickboxer Rocksteady. It’s just enough of an issue, for me, to view this as a very good figure that could have been truly special.

It’s shell-shocking time!
It can’t be undersold how big these dudes are.

I am happy with Rocksteady and very happy to pair him with Bebop. They go together like peanut butter and jelly, and even though I was able to pass on Shredder, there was no way I could pass on Rocksteady after getting Bebop. I love his size and I love the paintjob he was given. I do still prefer Bebop to Rocksteady, but that has little to do with how the Rocksteady figure turned out and everything to do with how much fun the design on Bebop is. The red vest, skeleton turtle shoulder pads, high top sneakers – he’s just a product of his era. By comparison, Rocksteady is the no nonsense soldier just hear to blast turtles and maybe get paid. He’s not the dimwit he was in the cartoon, but he’s also not a genius either. He’s just a soldier who wants to pulverize some turtles, and he looks like he could!

Lets bring Baxter in, since I so often leave him out of these group shots.

That is going to do it for me with wave 3 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimates! collection. I decided to pass on the fourth figure, April O’Neil, as I never liked the look of the figure she’s based on and I felt no attachment to the Super7 offering as a result. As of right now, the fourth wave for the line is aiming for a December release. They’re scheduled to leave the factory by the end of September and Super7 is asking people to plan for a 60 day transit given the global shipping crisis. Considering they’re going to come in around December, things could get even more backed up given the holiday shopping season will be well underway. Hopefully, the wave reaches us in 2021, but whenever it gets here, I’ll have some thoughts to share on two of the figures: Donatello and Muckman. Until then, the other turtles are just going to have to make do as a trio. At least they have a party robot to keep them company.

It’s a minor miracle my Mutations Rocksteady survived the great purge of 1998. The only other TMNT toys from that era I have are the original ’88 figures and the movie ones.

Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Metalhead

Let’s get this party started!

This post marks number 800 for this blog! Now, when I hit a nice, round, number like that I usually try to find a special topic of some kind, but also one representative of the content on this blog. Well, we certainly look at a lot of toys on this space, and there have definitely been a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles posts, and I do consider myself a metalhead so why not do a figure review of Super7’s TMNT Ultimates! Wave 3 Metalhead? Now, I’m taking a bit of a gamble in making such a milestone post a figure review. This thing could suck for all I know, but I’ve handled enough figures from this line that I’m reasonably confident that it won’t. Plus, it’s Metalhead, one of my favorite figures from the original Playmates line and one I wish I had held onto (sorry, no comparison shot).

There’s a lot going on with this sculpt.

When it comes to this line, it’s interesting to see the choices Super7 makes in regards to how faithful they want to be to the vintage toy and what they want to change. With Bebop, we saw they elected to pump him up quite a bit so that he towers over the turtles. Metalhead is a robot turtle, and across other mediums he tends to be on the larger side. Super7 though, saw him as a robotic duplicate of the turtles akin to the fifth turtle, so they decided to make him the same size. He’s not the same sculpt as his body is loaded with tiny, technical, bits, but he is the same height, width, and obeys the same proportions. This puts Metalhead at about six inches which means that, despite this being a 7″ scale line, he’s actually shorter than NECA’s cartoon version of the character by nearly an inch. Obviously, these two are not meant to be exactly the same as they’re the same character from two different sources, but it is an interesting comparison.

I had to bring out the flash for this shell.

Metalhead was one of the more detailed sculpts released by Playmates in the original toy line, and the same is true for this version as well. His entire body is covered with grooves, buttons, vents, wires, and rivets. It’s an impressive mold and it also means Super7 had to use a lot more paint than they usually do. The base color for the figure is gray, so every bit of red, black, yellow, silver, and green is painted on. And a lot of the details are quite familiar to me as I look this guy over, especially the little lightning bolts on the forearms and shins. Those were sculpted on the original toy, but unpainted and it’s nice to see them brought to life here. The head still features the light piping which is to say that his eyes and brain are cast in a red, transparent, plastic and the rest of the head is molded around it. Shine a light into the top of his brain and it should filter through the eyes. If you don’t care for this though, Metalhead’s alternate head is exactly the same, but with that feature removed in favor of red paint. Super7 seems to have taken some small liberties with the figure’s legs as there are now tubes connecting the back of the knee to the thigh. I don’t recall how these looked on the old figure, I’m guessing they were there, but part of the sculpt. Here it looks cool, but is a little concerning when it comes to articulation, but we’ll get to that in due time.

“I will crush you, puny robot!”

Of course, the elephant in the room concerns Metalhead’s torso. The original figure was vac metal, a process by which a layer of reflective, metallic, paint is placed over a hard plastic to create a finish akin to chrome. The vac metal is less a paint, and more like a heavy, duty, coating. The problem is, it only adheres to harder plastics like ABS (most toys are a type of PVC) and it’s prone to chipping as it does not possess any sort of give. Super7 opted not to do the chest or shell in vac metal for these reasons. I think, with a little creativity, they could have made it happen if they had really wanted to. The front of the figure’s “shell” is a separate piece so they could have made that removable and given people a vac metal plate to put over it if they so desired. Instead, they just went with a super, metallic, paint job for the torso that’s a very lustrous gold. I am personally not that into vac metal, so I don’t really care. I think this paint job is pretty flashy and I quite like it. Something about how the light rolls across the rear of the shell is very pleasing. It’s so pleasing that I kind of don’t want to put the backpack on him.

Light piping in action! The other head just has red-painted eyes.

If there’s anything to nitpick about the figure’s appearance, beyond the size (I get it, but I do think of Metalhead as being bigger than the turtles), is mainly in just some of the finer details. So much of the character’s sculpt has been painted and brought to life, but the belt is just three colors and most of that is black. The oil can, funnel, and bolts affixed to the belt are unpainted while the grenades are just green. It would have been cool to see some added embellishment there. There’s also the unsightly holes in this figure, one on the rear and two on the chest. They’re to accommodate his backpack accessory, but when that’s not in use you get the holes. Some plugs would have been cool to fill them, or they could have used magnets to hold the pack on. It’s not the end of the world, and I suspect most will use the pack anyway, but it’s just neat when companies go that extra mile.

Robo-chuks and grenades. You can see how the stuck thigh swivels impact how the left kneed is positioned. It’s irksome.

In terms of articulation, Metalhead is basically the same as his organic allies, though the execution is not. Metalhead has a head that sits on the same ball joint and he can pivot up, down, and to the side. The range isn’t spectacular since he has a sculpted neck with no lower neck articulation, but it works all right. At the shoulders, we have ball hinges, but the shape of the shoulder means he really can’t lift his arms out to the side much. He won’t be serving as a “T” for any cheer squads. The elbows are single-hinged, and like the other turtles, the elbow pad won’t let him achieve a 90 degree bend. The wrists rotate and have horizontal hinges. At the hips, he can pivot a bit, but the shell won’t let him spin all the way around or anything. The legs connect via these small, skinny, pegs and below them should be a thigh swivel, but my figure is totally stuck on both legs. I’ve tried heating it, then freezing, to see if that will get it moving, but to no avail. It really stinks because the left leg is rotated inwards a little so his knee isn’t facing forward. He has a swivel at the knee, but you have to be mindful of those hoses on the back because they link the upper and lower leg which really isn’t a smart design. I wish the thigh cut had been repositioned to just above the yellow knee indicator as there is a natural place for it in the sculpt. The other swivel is just too close to the hip and it’s hard to get any real torque without putting pressure on the peg connecting the hip. Below the knee is the standard ankle rocker which works well.

I do really like his tentacle finger.

Metalhead ends up not being the best articulated figure, but he’d have enough if it just worked better. To make up for it though, he has stuff. Like every figure in this line, Metalhead comes with extra hands. He has gripping hands in the package plus a pair of fists and wide gripping hands. I’m not really sure what the wide hands are needed for, but he has them. He also has another right hand which features a tentacle like extension popping out of his index finger. It’s pretty cool looking and something the original toy did not feature. He also has some mechanical nunchuks that clip into his wrist in place of a hand (like the original figure, which I think was the first figure I ever had with swap-able hands). The actual ‘chuks portion can rotate, but not freely like a propeller so it’s more for positioning. Swapping parts is easy, and if anything too easy as they sometimes pop off when just positioning the figure. He also has his pizza oven backpack, since this guy is a party robot. It snaps into his back and the straps plug into the chest. There’s a mini satellite dish that plugs into the top, or you can use the second nunchuk attachment which makes it function like a helicopter. I think this resulted in someone on staff at Super7 saying they mistook the nunchuk that came with the original Playmates toy for a propeller as a kid and wanted to give anyone else who did the same that option with the new toy. Lastly, we have a pair of grenades that Metalhead can toss at his foes. They look just like the ones molded into his belt, so that’s a nice touch, but I wish they could affix to the belt in some way. Or if the backpack could open, now that would have been cool!

You can see how the backpack causes him to lurch forward to stand.
I guess the primary function of this pack is to supply pizza and soda, but according to the bio it has the features of a jukebox, arcade, and can blast Foot Soldiers. That’s quite a bit better than my backpack.

The accessory assortment is solid, though I wish Super7 took more time in painting them. The vintage line was all uniform, so I get that they want to match it, but they provide an unpainted weapons rack with every figure, Metalhead included. Why not add more paint to the rest? The backpack especially could use a little flair on the rear as could the innards of the nunchuk. The grenades don’t even have silver on the handles or pin. They provide these nice, painted, weapons for the turtles, but it seems Super7 shorts every other figure in the line in this area. There’s also the issue of the backpack being quite heavy. Metalhead’s hips aren’t flimsy like Raph’s, but they’re also not strong. His torso might also weigh more than the other turtles because he’s prone to falling backward. Add the backpack and the problem is exacerbated. This is one you’ll need to keep an eye on and you shouldn’t get too ambitious with the posing. It would be a shame if that shell were to scuff or worse. I’m not sure why they didn’t make the backpack hollow, and therefore lighter, but I have a conundrum where I want to display the figure with it on, but it would be a great deal more stable to go without.

And now he can fly!
“Thanks, dude, I needed a pick-me-up!”

These issues with the figure may seem like a classic case of nitpicking, but they all add up to be more problematic than expected. Getting Metalhead to stand is more challenging then it should be, add the backpack and it really becomes an issue. Then when you take away something like a thigh swivel, you’re forced to rely on the other joints to create a strong base. And when you find yourself constantly tinkering with the figure to get him to stand, you end up grabbing the lower leg and forgetting there are hoses behind it and that’s how you end up with a broken toy. Yup, those hoses I pointed out as a potential problem turned out to be just that. The right leg ended up breaking on me, and not from twisting the lower leg too far, but just by my finger wrapping around the leg in just the right (wrong) way, apparently. It’s a very thin, soft, plastic and it won’t take much to break. I have a feeling in ten years when we’re looking back on this line that Metalhead’s tubes will be akin to the old Playmates Krang and the antenna on top of the head that always broke. I ordered this figure through Big Bad Toy Store so I reached out to them (because Super7 asked me to do that first with my Michelangelo issue) to see about an exchange. The stuck thighs already had me frustrated and contemplating an exchange, and the broken coil became the tipping point.

I can’t believe this design choice made it into the final figure.

Metalhead ended up being a more frustrating experience than I expected. He had become the one I was looking forward to the most from Wave 3 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of Ultimates!, and now he’s my most disappointing. It has not been a great start to this wave as I had the ankle issue with Michelangelo so hopefully the last figure I look at (Rocksteady) won’t be more of the same. This follows really no issues with waves 1 and 2 for me beyond stiff or loose joints, and it’s not causing me to rethink all of the open preorders I have with Super7, but it has taken some of the wind out of my sails.

Hooking the tentacle on a more stable figure has the hidden benefit of helping Metalhead stand.

In the end, maybe Metalhead wasn’t the best choice for my 800th post, but it’s a decision I’ll have to live with. I’ll come back and update this post if I have any success on getting a better Metalhead. Right now, the figure is available in a few places to order, but he won’t last forever since Super7’s model is made-to-order. They’ve relaxed their one and done strategy for this line for both of the first waves, but I wouldn’t count on that going forward. Especially as factory availability remains challenging and shipping from Asia continues to be a problem. I can’t give my full endorsement to this figure as-is, but if you like the look and are okay with the limitations, then you should have enough information to make an informed decision that works for you. I do like the look of this one, and no matter how my interactions with customer service goes, I’m not about to toss him in the trash or anything, but he definitely feels like a “set it and forget it” action figure which is a shame since he has enough stuff that a variety of display options are present. His base just won’t cooperate though, so he gets to be a shiny, golden, idol instead.

Bebop is so big.

UPDATE: I reached out to Big Bad Toy Store, where I bought my Metalhead, about the issues I had with it and they replaced it at no cost to me and without any additional questions. They also let me keep the first one. My new Metalhead arrived a few days later and he’s much better in some ways, and not in others. First of all, all of the joints are free and usable and obviously the wire/hose/coil behind the knee is fine. On the negative side, the hips on the new one seem even more loose than my first one so he’s still no fun to stand. I’m guessing that’s just going to be the reality of this figure where some are tighter than others. There was also some yellow paint slop on the black portion of the knee which was unfortunate. At any rate, he at least looks better because his knee isn’t constantly twisted and I went over the paint slop with a black marker. Because of the performance issues though, I do think Rocksteady is the superior figure in this third wave and I’m still a little disappointed in Metalhead, but I feel better about this one at least. And hats off to Big Bad, I’ll definitely continue to turn to them for my action figure needs.


Super7 TMNT Ultimates! Michelangelo

Turtle #3 is here!

It’s been a longer wait than expected, but Wave 3 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ultimates! has finally arrived. The original plan was for a new wave of figures to start shipping every 4 months, but COVID had other plans. When we last looked at a figure from this line, there was snow on the ground, we were all trapped in our homes waiting on a vaccine, and Valentine’s Day cards had yet to hit the clearance rack. Now we’re in the dog days of summer, people are arguing over masks again, and kids are heading back to school. It is what it is, but at least the wait is over and collectors now have 3/4ths of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles assembled for Michelangelo has arrived!

This packaging shot is the only time you will see the extraneous “ninja” weapons.

If you’re unfamiliar with this line of action figures form Super7, this line is an homage to the original Playmates line of action figures first launched back in 1988. Actually, it’s less an homage and more like a straight remake with the figures boosted to fit in a 7″ scale with updated articulation, paint, and sculpting. Some look so much like the old toys that from a distance one might think they’re the same, just bigger. Up close though the differences become more obvious. With the turtles themselves, they especially look more updated than some of their friends and foes. Those old figures had permanently bent elbows and knees and while you could approximate such a pose with these new figures, it’s not something most would want to do. The turtles also come with a secondary portrait that’s a lot different from the original so if that’s the chosen method of display then they’ll actually look quite different. All of the main details are still in place though including the white eyes, facial expressions, belts, and skin tone.

Yup, that’s Mikey.
How do you store your ‘chuks? Chains up or chains down?

And if you’ve handled Raphael or Leonardo, then you know what to expect from Michelangelo. The party dude is essentially the same figure as his brothers. The only thing that distinguishes the turtles from one another is the color of their skin, shell, mask, pads, and the shape of the belt which needs to be customized to serve the turtle’s chosen weapons. Michelangelo sports a deep, forest, green for his skin which has always looked great with the orange mask and pads. As a kid, it was toss-up for me which shade of green I liked best between Mikey and Raph, but I think I can safely say I prefer Mikey now. His default head still sports that side grimace with the right side of his mouth baring teeth and the left not. He has four loops on the rear of his belt to store his chosen weapon, the nunchaku, and a yellow M is emblazoned on his belt buckle so he doesn’t forget his name. He looks good and there is a black wash over parts of his body to accentuate the muscle tone. It does, unfortunately, seem to be on the default head and gives his orange mask a dingy quality. There’s also a bizarre factory error on my figure concerning the left ankle (pictured below). It looks like the cut was done incorrectly for the ball-hinge. Since his foot can only rock, not twist, it means it can never lineup with his knee and looks weird. It’s probably only something I’ll notice, but it’s definitely one of those things that once seen cannot be unseen. One of the horizontal hinged hands has a similar issue. Regardless, it’s not enough of an issue for me to initiate a return and exchange, but I did reach out to Super7 to see if they are willing to send a new lower leg (which just pegs into the knee) and I’ll update this post accordingly if they do indeed provide such.

That’s not supposed to be that way. You can see the outline for where the cut was probably supposed to be made for ankle articulation.

Where Mikey differs from his brothers is in some small ways. The rear of his shell is basically black where Raph’s was a light brown and Leo a deep green. His belt is all black and the trim on his belt buckle and the rings in the belt is ever so slightly darker than the same on Raph’s, and a lot darker than the chrome used on Leo (which sounds like that was a factory error and re-releases of Leo should be closer to Raph and Mikey). The front of his shell is fairly yellow, which surprised me a little because Leo’s was darker, with more orange mixed in, than Raph’s. Mikey’s though is pretty much the same shade of yellow as Raph though making me wonder if Leo was supposed to match and it’s just a factory variance. Oddly enough though, one difference that looks weird is Super7 declined to paint Mikey’s finger and toenails. Leo and Raph both had a bright, yellow-green, color to their nails that looked fine on Raph, but a little like nail polish on Leo. Maybe they didn’t like how it looked on Mikey who features the darker skin tone. They could have gone with another color though rather than not paint them at all, but it’s not something that stands out on a shelf either so I guess it’s just me nit-picking.

I hate taking this picture because Raph’s heads are not fun to swap.
And that’s because I choose to display Leo and Raph this way, so this is likely how Mikey will have to be displayed.

In terms of articulation, Michelangelo is exactly the same as his brothers. As such, I don’t feel the need to break it down completely again since you have that in my reviews of Raphael and Leonardo, so instead I’ll just say what’s good and bad about it. For one, Super7 does not like double-hinged joints. It’s something we just have to agree to disagree with when it comes to Super7. I will say, Mikey’s joints are at an appropriate tolerance which is an improvement over his predecessors. His extra hands and head also swap a lot cleaner. Maybe all of that extended time sitting in a hot shipping container did some good? The only joint that is a little tight is at the shoulder, but that’s a strong joint so it’s something I don’t worry about breaking. The hips, a point of contention with the past figures, seem tighter and Mikey stands just fine. The lack of a butterfly joint and the fact that his arms can’t quite bend at 90 degrees are more of a problem for a ‘chucker like Mikey. I can’t, for example, get him to do the ‘chuk over the shoulder with the other hand reaching across the chest/belly to grab it pose. The ‘chuks aren’t quite long enough, nor can he reach all the way across his body. He can at least hold one handle of the nunchaku while the second is in a belt loop.

The most popular nunchaku pose? At least absent a whirling piece.
Chains are awesome, but it does suck that they can’t be posed.

Where Mikey is the same, but different, from his brothers is in the accessory loadout. Obviously, he’s got to have his ‘chuks and Super7 decided to give him three sets. One is all painted, plastic, versions of the nunchaku he came with in ’88, only now the chain is sculpted instead of plain. The second set is painted as well, but features actual chain links between the handles which has basically become the standard ever since NECA’s 2008 release of the Mirage Michelangelo. Both have advantages and disadvantages when it comes to displaying the figure as the real chains give the figure an added sense of realism, while the plastic version allows for gravity-defying posing. The plastic links have a slight bendy quality to them so you can try to position them in a manner that makes it look like Mikey is swinging them. Both sets can fit into the rear holsters on his belt just, albeit quite snugly, though I prefer the chained versions for that since it’s not going to put stress on the weapons like it would the all plastic version. The third set is another pair of plastic nunchaku, but unpainted like the vintage toy. It’s attached to a sprue/rack along with the other “ninja” weapons likely no one uses. Something I’m just now noticing is that all three turtles feature a slightly different shade of brown for their weapons rack. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but might bug some people. I, personally, never take them out of the package so I have no right to complain.

Michelangelo comes with the box, but he’ll need help from his brothers if he wants to score a slice.
The alternate head has been a point of contention in the fanbase. I think it’s okay, but yeah, it could have been better.

In addition to the nunchaku, Mikey also comes with painted versions of the generic weapons all of the turtles came with and have come with: ninja stars, that hooked thing, and the little knife weapons. He also has an assortment of hands including gripping, fists, and style posed hands. He also has another set of gripping hands with a vertical hinge instead of a horizontal one. The second head follows in a similar aesthetic to his brothers in that it’s a bit more realistic, with actual wrinkles and lines to accentuate his expression and basically bring him to life, albeit in a comic book sort of way. Where his alternate head differs though is that Mikey isn’t just wearing an updated version of his old expression, but one entirely different. It’s an all toothy, open mouthed, grin and it definitely takes a little getting used to. It reminds me of the 2k3 Michelangelo from Playmates, as well as that popular GIF of the costumed Mikey head grinning. It’s an appropriate expression for Mikey, but I’m not super enthused with the execution. There’s a rather sizable gap between each of his teeth that looks odd and it made painting the mouth a great deal more difficult. It’s a little sloppy. On a shelf, it’s probably not noticeable, but it should look better. It puts me in a bit of a tough spot with the figure as I’ve gone with the alternate portraits for Leo and Raph in my display, but those old toys ones just don’t blend well with that look. So while I want to go default here, I’m likely go with the alternate head just for balance. It’s not a terrible look or anything, but I definitely have a clear preference for the vintage head with this figure where as with Raph I definitely preferred the new one, and with Leo it was more 50/50.

It’s well-painted, but yeah, my Mikey won’t be wielding this thing.
I feel like Super7 missed an opportunity for a pun here.

We’re not done though as Mikey still has a few more accessories. Unlike his brothers, he does not come with any Turtlecoms or even a slice of pizza. Instead, he has his trusty Turtle Hook weapon/grappling hook that he featured in the cartoon. The Turtle Hook started off as this piece of equipment all of the turtles seemed to carry, but it would eventually become Michelangelo’s weapon of choice because certain parts of the world had some issues with the nunchaku. It makes the Turtle Hook something that’s both loved and hated, we all loved it as a fun accessory, but hated to see Mikey running into battle with just a grappling hook. It’s a smart inclusion for a toy though, and while I like the look of it, I must say this is my least favorite attempt at the Turtle Hook to date. It’s non-articulated, and the string attached to it is very plain and lacks something that would make it easier for the figure to hold. Both Bandai and NECA put a piece of plastic at the end of their Turtle Hooks, but Super7 elected not to. It’s probably not something I’ll display with my figure, though I suppose I prefer it to another Turtlecom. Mikey’s other unique accessory makes a lot of sense for him though and it’s one I do like: a box of pizza. There’s only one slice left in it, and there’s some “cheese” stuck to the top of the box, and it’s just a smart inclusion for Mikey. I do wish the box could open and close though, but it works for a display. The pizza in it is permanently glued in at an odd angle which kind of stinks since you can’t fill it with more slices. It also seems a touch small given the size of the slice. I’m guessing a lot of collectors will choose to display Mikey with the pizza though alongside the slices that came with Leo and Raph as opposed to a more battle ready pose. It certainly works well with his alternate head.

Like father like son. My old Mikey was certainly loved over many years.
I really should have dug out my 2003 Mikey for this, but he’s buried under a bunch of stuff in storage.

Super7’s take on the party turtle arrives largely as expected. That’s what happens when a mold is reused for four different characters. The good thing is that mold looks pretty great and packs enough functionality to make this a worthwhile figure to own. And if you already have Raph and Leo, well then you’re going to get Michelangelo. Super7 did right by the character when it comes to his signature weapon, and I do appreciate Mikey getting a couple of unique accessories to help differentiate him from his brothers. I do wish he didn’t come with more ninja stars and those generic weapons, but I also understand what Super7 is going for with this line. Thankfully, there’s only one more turtle to go and then we can hopefully bid those things goodbye. Hopefully, the wait for Donatello won’t be as long as the wait for Michelangelo was as that would mean a 2022 release for Donnie. I guess we’ll just have to cross our fingers until then. And if you want to know more about Wave 3 of Super7’s TMNT Ultimates! line then check back soon as we have a couple more figures to talk about!

Now that we’re done here, it’s pizza time!

UPDATE: After reaching out to Super7 about my Mikey’s weird ankle joint, I was asked to contact the retailer first to see if they had replacement parts on-hand, so I did. I emailed Big Bad Toy Store and about 2 days later I heard back. They were sending me a new Michelangelo at no cost to me and didn’t even want the other one back. That’s some pretty awesome customer service. I’m no shill, and I don’t have any advertisements on this blog or receive review samples, so I’m just telling you as a consumer that Big Bad is pretty great. The unit was partially defective through no fault of theirs and they still made it right. Now, I’m guessing they get reimbursed by the manufacturer when these things happen, but it doesn’t change the fact that it makes things really easy on the consumer when retailers just replace product with zero hassle.

A tale of two heads: matte (left) vs shiny (right)

And upon receiving my new Mikey, I did notice something that escaped me in my initial review. Truly, it wasn’t really something I could have seen unless I had two figures in front of me that featured this distinction. And that is, my new Michelangelo has a coating on his default head that gives it more of a textured, matte, finish. It’s subtle, but it’s something that’s on Leo and Raph. And with Leo, I noted in my review that he had a little swath on his face where this was missing and it seemed to be widespread. I have no idea why this is the case with Michelangelo though. There’s only been one factory run so it’s probably not a running change, unless it was something that was supposed to happen and the factory noticed it mid-production, but it’s pretty odd. It’s hard to predict if this will be an issue in the collector community to the point that Super7 will be asked to respond. I definitely prefer the matte look, but maybe some will like the glossy appearance since it more resembles the original. Who can say? If it matters to you though, there’s not a lot you can do since most of these are purchased online. If buying from eBay, you can inspect pictures. If you find it in a comic book store then obviously you can get a better look at it, but you’ll also likely be asked to pay a significant mark-up.

The alt heads. I probably wouldn’t have noticed anything with these two if not for the regular heads being more apparent. Matte left and “glossy” right.

What I Want from Super7’s TMNT Ultimates! Line

The year 2020 will forever be linked with the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic that has stretched on into 2021 and may very well continue into 2022 at this point. The greatest tragedy of the pandemic is obviously the millions of lives lost to the virus, and I don’t want anyone to forget that the lives lost far surpasses the inconveniences we’re currently dealing with. One of those inconveniences just happens to be a global shipping crisis. When the virus first ravaged China, it causes factories and ports to shut down. Since many consumer goods are manufactured in China, that lead to shortages across the world and things have been slow to come back. Now, many factories are at least operational, but the ports have a huge backlog. Some companies are pointing the finger at the few shipping companies in operation and accusing them of unfair practices and price gouging as the cost to ship a container across the Pacific has exploded. This doesn’t figure to be something that will resolve itself anytime soon either, and some are already cautioning the American public that the holiday shopping season won’t look like seasons from years past.

One industry affected by all of this is the toy industry. Most plastic toys are manufactured in China or Hong Kong and have been affected by the factory closings and shipping situation. Release dates in 2021 have practically lost all meaning as a result and a March release became an April release, became a Q3 release, and so on. One company hit by all of this has been Super7. Super7’s business model is essentially to put a line of action figures up on their site for a one month preorder. When that month concludes, the company places a factory order for the amount of presales (plus extra for quality control and to sell at their physical store) and eventually consumers have something in their hands in roughly 8-10 months. The idea is to put a wave for their various lines up for sale every 4 months, so that by the time the first wave is shipping the third wave is available for pre-order. This model has been blown up though, and one line affected has been Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The first wave of TMNT figures from Super7 started rolling out last August and into September. Wave 2 followed in December/January and Wave 3 was expected around May. Well, delays pushed things back further into Q2 2021 and then the shipping industry struck. Up until just last week, Super7 was still waiting for the container holding some of the figures for this line to be unloaded at the port. They had the turtle from this wave, Michelangelo, in their warehouse nearly two months ago, but not the rest. It’s something that likely frustrates all parties involved since the product is there, ready to go, but still out of reach. Some retailers, like Big Bad Toy Store, managed to get some of their stock before Super7, which is unheard of. They didn’t get everything though, and many collectors are still waiting. It was actually last night that I finally saw someone post that Super7 is shipping their set of figures so at least the long wait for some is about to end.

As for me, I’m still waiting with no end in sight. I only ordered 3 of the 4 figures in the wave and I ordered them from Big Bad Toy Store. The store prioritized complete sets of orders before fulfilling a handful of singles and has now stopped fulfilling orders leading me to believe they’re waiting on more. Since I can’t tell you what I think about the likes of Michelangelo and Rocksteady right now, I’ll pivot and do a post I’ve been kicking around in my head for awhile.

If you’re unfamiliar with the line, Super7’s take on TMNT is to recreate the toys made famous by Playmates and realize them with a modern aesthetic and in a 7″ scale. As a result, it’s pretty easy to make a wish list since the figures the company produces will mirror those, for the most part. The company has said it intends to do at least a few figures in the line that Playmates never did (maybe more of the Punk Frogs?), and there are some that are off-limits due to licensing issues. For the most part though, I’m expecting we’ll get most, if not all, of the unique characters from the vintage line and some of the turtle variants. The company has already unveiled 5 waves of figures which cover all of the original 10 figures and a bunch of the later figures. They’re clearly not focusing on one year over another, so anything is fair game.

So what would I like to see next? Well, I have some thoughts. I’m not all-in on this line as I’m mostly cherry-picking my favorites, but if Super7 were to release any of the following I’d probably buy it.

Slash

I feel like I’m one of the few who actually likes the cartoon Slash, but this is the Slash we need Super7 to adapt.

If you polled collectors about what character they want to see next it would not surprise me in the least if Slash finished in first. The evil, mutant, turtle from Dimension X was taken from the Archie companion comic Mighty Mutanimals where he was actually a good guy. In what quickly became a trend, Playmates and the cartoon would take a Mutanimal and make him evil which apparently annoyed creators Ryan Brown and Stephen Murphy. When the cartoon wanted to make Ray Fillet a villain, they put their foot down which is why we ended up with just Ray, a weird, composite, fish, mutant.

I certainly respect the views of the creators, but unfortunately, evil Slash is my preferred take. Even the good guy version looks like a bad guy, and this guy is begging to be realized in a modern style. Super7 plays fast and loose with the scale so I’m curious how they’ll approach Slash. The vintage figure was quite squat and actually shorter than the hero turtles, but I’d prefer Super7 make him just a touch taller than the good guys. He certainly should be chunkier, and I’m curious if they’ll give him a proper neck or just stick with the vintage approach. I’m also quite curious to see how the company approaches the figure’s spiked nunchaku. They probably can’t do an actual, spiked, chain, so I suspect it will be bendy, molded, plastic, but maybe they surprise me with something more elaborate. I’m also curious if they stick with the solid purple blades on his hands, or do something more metallic. When the company did Shredder, they basically just stuck with the Playmates colors which is partly why I passed so I suspect they’ll treat Slash in a similar fashion. Mostly though, I hope they take their time with the headsculpt and really bring out those teeth. It would be a shame if they stay too true to the original and produce something soft instead.

Triceraton

I forgot about the rat hanging off of his belt, a snack for later? photo: tmnt-ninjaturtles.com

When I was a kid, I had no idea this guy was part of a race of space dinosaurs called Triceratons, and just thought his name was Triceraton. When the cartoon finally got to him I was forced to admit my head-canon was off. I don’t care though as this guy was pretty bad ass looking. And he was a character I frequently paired with Slash as they had a similar aesthetic with their bumpy skin and all together evil appearance. The cartoon Triceratons NECA gave us are pretty cool and true to the source material, but this guy is different. He’s still an orange, bipedal, triceratops with big guns, but he just looks all together meaner and more formidable. I’m also hopeful that Super7 makes this guy big! I’m talking Bebop size! He’d just have a ton of shelf presence with his bright, orange, skin if made at that size. I just hope they give him some more expressive hands as my only gripe with the Bebop figure rests in the static nature of his posture. At least the Triceraton has a snarling facial expression which will help give him a more dynamic feel all by itself.

Monty Moose

Oh Monty, how I pine for thee. Photo: hollywoodheroes.com

I talked about this guy in my Toys that Got Away feature as he was a figure I saw at the store, but couldn’t buy at the time, and then never saw again. I don’t know what it was about Monty Moose that appealed to me. Maybe it was because I grew up in New Hampshire where a moose sighting wasn’t terribly uncommon? Or maybe it was the Canadian Mountie inspired attire that just looked cool to me. Whatever the case, I still think he looks rather unique and this is another figure that would be huge. The newly released Rocksteady has that long snout of a face that forced Super7 to package him him looking off to the side. Monty Moose has a similar visage, but also packs those massive antlers. Turn him to the side and you just create a new problem. He might need special, oversized, packaging to get the job done and I do feel like he’d come in pretty close in size to Bebop and Rocksteady since he is a freakin’ moose!

Space Usagi

Blast-Off Bunny – Hah! Photo: Google

Earlier in this post I mentioned that some figures from the vintage line were off-limits due to licensing issues, and unfortunately that happens to affect Usagi Yojimbo. It wasn’t that long ago that Super7 founder Brian Flynn mentioned in an episode of The Fwooshcast that Usagi was coming and the contract was already signed, but since then things have apparently changed. Either Flynn got a little ahead of himself, or that agreement became null and void thanks to a new Netflix series featuring the samurai rabbit. Basically, anything Usagi is on pause right now which affects both Super7 and NECA who also have not featured the character in their TMNT line. I’m reasonably optimistic that things will get worked out, but there’s no guarantee.

And if they do get worked out, I suspect we’ll see a standard version of Usagi before we see the space one, even though if I had it my way I’d go with the radical space variant first. I guess some folks in the 90s just found space rabbits appealing because I have no idea why Usagi ever needed to go to space. It was pretty gnarly though and I used to pair him with Space Cadet Raph (who is all but assured to be released in Wave 6, 7, or 8) for intergalactic adventures in my bedroom. He had this neat mask molded to his face that kind of made him look like a Star Trek villain, plus a cape and and dome that fit around his ears. He got to pack a gun instead of his boring old katana, and it’s just the type of wacky character the line was known for and one I’d like to see get another shot at life.

Walkabout

Photo: tmnt-ninjaturtles.com

The old Playmates line is incredibly nostalgic for me, and for various reasons. One reason is when I happen to remember getting a specific figure. Even though my grandmother bought me lots of TMNT stuff when I was a kid, I associate her with Walkabout because she and my grandfather gave him to me when they got back from a vacation. Normally, they’d vacation in a place like Mexico and bring me back a sombrero or t-shirt that probably advertised alcohol, but this time I got a turtle toy and I was pretty surprised and excited. The orange kangaroo Walkabout just looked different to me than many of the other toys in the line and there was just something about him that I really liked. Maybe it’s because a kangaroo was just an exotic creature to someone living in the US, maybe I was really enamored with Crocodile Dundee, or maybe I just liked that he had a tail and articulated knees? I don’t know, but if Super7 makes him I’m buying him!

Rat King

There’s a lot of stuff going on with that sculpt. Photo: dallasvintagetoys.com

When I talked about Slash I said I felt he was the character most fans were looking forward to seeing the most. Well, if he has a rival it’s probably Rat King as he’s another classic figure of a now classic character begging to be realized by Super7. Not much distinguishes Rat King from his cartoon appearance, he’s just more detailed and a little more gross. And speaking of gross, how will Super7 sculpt and paint Rat King’s dead cat belt?! There isn’t much Super7 will need to do with this figure, sort of like how it really didn’t have to do too much to Baxter Stockman. Just make him bigger, add some articulation, and paint every last detail that was in that old sculpt. And please, paint the damn accessories! If I have one, lingering, complaint with this line as a whole it’s that the turtles get their weapons painted up all nice and pretty while everyone else largely gets monochrome accessories that aren’t nearly as flashy.

Hothead

Hey Super7, looks like he’d pair well with Samurai Leo… photo: dallasvintagetoys.com

Hothead is a figure I never had as a kid and I don’t ever recall playing with him either. He was a late comer to the line when I was getting pulled in different directions and would eventually devote my meager resources to X-Men. However, I do feel like I missed out on a cool figure in Hothead. I mean, he’s a mutant dragon – what’s cooler than that?! Or should I say what’s hotter than that? Regardless, he has a killer look and a neat feature that allowed his neck to extend. I suspect Super7 would have to include two necks with this guy, which kind of messes things up for them as they like to make the neck just part of the torso sculpt, but would they do this figure any other way? I guess they refrained from making Mutagen Man water-tight so maybe they’d ignore the extending neck feature and just settle on a middle-ground. Honestly, as long as he comes out looking good I’ll be interested, but I hope they come up with something interesting. A fully articulated neck, or bendy neck, would probably be the most extravagant way to go as he’d look so awesome if he could be positioned looking around and such. Ah, I shouldn’t get my hopes up though.

Scale Tail

This guy is just insane, check out his “tail” gunner. Photo: transformerland.com

Another one I never had as a kid is Scale Tail, but I at least had friends who had this guy. He’s just another bonkers sculpt from Playmates and Varner Studios, who handled a lot of the figures in the line. He’s a mutant cobra, but one arm is composed entirely out of snakes while his forked tongue has been outfitted with a forked gun. He’s just ridiculous, and that’s really the only reason why I want to see Super7 tackle him. They’d definitely make him fairly large, not so much in height, but length, and it’s hard to imagine someone coming into a room and seeing that thing on a shelf and not immediately asking about it.

Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles

One of the few left from my personal collection.

Super7 started with the main turtles with each figure anchoring one of the four waves. For the fifth wave, Sewer Samurai Leonardo is the anchor turtle leading most to believe that Super7 will do the rest of the “disguised” turtles across the next 3 waves. Recently, Super7 designer Kyle Wlodyga, during an appearance on The Fwooshcast, indicated that we will eventually see an entire wave of four turtles and my hope is they’ll be the Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles! One of the few figures to survive my purge many years ago is my Classic Rock Leonardo. He looks like Leonardo doing a Springsteen cos-play, and despite my not having any particular affection for the music of Bruce Springsteen, I just happen to like the figure. The leather vest, denim pants, turtle guitar – all solid gold as far as I’m concerned. The rest of the wave was a Rappin’ Mike, Punk Rock Don, and Heavy Metal Raph (more like Hair Metal Raph) which I do not currently own. I think I used to have Mike, but never Don or Raph. If Super7 did all four, I’d at have to consider getting them all, but I’d definitely get Leo to pair with my vintage one. There aren’t many turtle variants that I need to see updated, but these are pretty close.

Sports Turtles

Mikey was the star of the sports series. Photo: Rad Plastic

Behind the Rock’n Rollin’ Turtles in terms of importance to me are the sports turtles. These included the likes of Michelangelo as a pro wrestler, Raph as a baseball player, and Leonardo as a quarterback, among others. I would not need to get all of these guys, but I really liked my vintage baseball Raph for some reason, and Mikey as a wrestler is just a lot of fun. Some of the others included a soccer Raph, basketball Donatello, and hockey Leonardo. Some of them are fairly charming, but definitely not essential (especially at $55 a piece if prices remain steady). Most of the other wacky turtle variants are things I don’t need. I have some nostalgic attachment to a few here and there (like Raph the Magnificent), but even as a kid they were figures I’d be excited to get, play with for a weekend, then retire. Unless they’re interesting visually, they have no appeal for me in a collector line.

That’s about it for me though. If Super7 gets to all of these figures then great, and if not, I guess I’ll have to live without them. I’m not saying I wouldn’t buy figures not listed above, but the rest aren’t figures I’m really rooting for. Some of that has to do with NECA as their cartoon Scumbug and Groundchuck are pretty close to that Playmates aesthetic, and since I’m all in on their toon line, it makes me less likely to get the Super7 offering. Had Super7 got to those characters first, then yeah, I probably end up with them similar to how I ended up with Baxter Stockman. That’s fine though. These things aren’t cheap and I have only so much room in my house to dedicate to toys.

Hopefully, retailers start getting their stock of TMNT Ultimates! Wave 3 and I can tell you how much I love the figures from that line. And hopefully Wave 4 remains on-track for Q4 2021. And hey, maybe some day I’ll be able to tell you what I think of Super7’s Disney Ultimates! which I ordered roughly a year ago. It’s 2021, baby, and release dates don’t mean a thing!


A little Christmas in July

I’ve had Super Nintendo under the tree once before, but never on the tree!

As someone who loves Christmas time, the concept of Christmas in July should sound appealing. Instead, I’ve always kind of thumbed my nose at it. Part of what makes Christmas so special is the fact that it only comes once a year. Even though the actual holiday season is pretty lengthy, it still never overstays its welcome, for me anyways. And when it’s over, it’s over. I always put out my Christmas stuff on the day after Thanksgiving and I’m quick to put it away. Sometimes I leave stuff out until New Year’s Day, but if there is some unseasonable warmth between the 25th and the first then I’ll take advantage of that when it comes to the outdoor decorations.

Christmas in July is something that exists because it’s halfway until Christmas, and probably because Christmas is such a strong performer at retail. I’m assuming most of the Christmas in July mindset is driven by corporations looking to make an extra buck during the summer months and for companies like Hallmark, it’s become the time of year to unveil the latest in holiday décor. As a kid, I can recall Cartoon Network also using it as an excuse to tap into the trove of Christmas cartoons and fill some programming blocks during leaner times. Their Christmas in July programming was never appointment viewing or anything for me, but it wasn’t something I was offended by either. Even though in my household growing up we had a Christmas Tape; a VHS of Christmas specials recorded off of TV. That tape was completely off limits between New Year’s and Thanksgiving and it wasn’t as if it was under lock and key, it was just understood that to indulge in such when it wasn’t Christmas was borderline offensive. That tape, by the way, still exists to this day.

As an adult, I’ve softened a bit on the whole Christmas in July thing. The past couple of years I’ve caught Christmas episodes of popular shows on television during this time of year. Just last weekend Disney aired the excellent Duck the Halls, and getting in an early viewing was actually somewhat pleasurable. In 2020, it was positively delightful to take in some Christmas programming during a long year of lockdowns and isolation and catching a show set in the winter time is a bit therapeutic during a heatwave. No, I’m not getting out the decorations and breaking out the Christmas Tape, but a little holiday cheer in July isn’t so bad.

Isn’t it cute? Sadly, the NES ornament from last year is put away with the other Christmas stuff so no comparison shot with that.

One thing that’s good for Christmas lovers during the summer months is it’s a good time to do some shopping. Around the holidays, anything Christmas related is sold at its peak value, but during the rest of the year you can score some deals. I’m always on the look-out for stuff I like that I don’t have, and I’ll share some of my more recent scores shortly. Things that aren’t cheap or on-sale though are Hallmark ornaments. Like a lot of people who enjoy Christmas, I have probably more ornaments than can reasonably fit on an average-sized tree. And with the kids reaching school age, I’m probably due for a lot more homemade ones too that I’ll have to find room for. As a result, I tend to be rather picky these days with what ornaments I invest in, but one I couldn’t turn down was the new Super Nintendo ornament from Hallmark.

Part of me wishes the controllers weren’t glued down, but I’m sure there are some grooves in the sculpt for them so it probably wouldn’t look as good if someone were to pop them off.

Last year, I grabbed the Nintendo Entertainment System ornament from Hallmark and was quite enchanted by it. The sculpt is fantastic and it plays the theme from Super Mario Bros. when you press the power button. Naturally, I had to pair the SNES one with it when I was made aware of it. The SNES one is modeled after the US SNES and it features two controllers and has a copy of Super Mario World in the game slot. When you press the power button, it plays the main theme from the game complete with sound effects as-if you were watching the demo screen. The Super Mario World theme isn’t as beloved as the Super Mario Bros. one, but it’s still an ear worm all its own and an appropriate choice for the ornament considering it was a pack-in game originally (and I originally received my copy and a SNES on Christmas, as I imagine many kids did who had one). It might have been cool to see a different Nintendo franchise get to shine a little, but it’s also hard to fault Hallmark for just sticking with Mario. The ornament was created by artist Jake Angell and retails for a pretty reasonable sum of $20. It comes with the batteries needed to work the music, though Hallmark continues to cheap out on us by not including an ornament hook or ribbon to actually hang the thing from the tree.

Even the backside is accurate. The only question remaining is will this thing yellow over time like the real thing?!

The ornament itself though looks terrific. It’s pretty tiny, measuring approximately 2 and 7/16″ wide by nearly 3″ long. The power, reset, and eject buttons are sculpted and detailed, though only the power button functions. It also presses down instead of slides. Both the Player 1 and Player 2 controllers are sculpted separately and attached to the ornament; one on the left side and one on the top-rear. The attention to detail is, again, superb as the shape of the face buttons are even accurately represented in addition to the colors. The L button on the Player 1 controller kind of words on my ornament as well, though it doesn’t actually do anything and I’m not certain it’s supposed to have this much play. I am left wishing the controllers weren’t glued to the unit though. If the wires had been done to be bendy that would have been pretty near. Especially because the Player 1 chord wraps under the console so it doesn’t sit perfectly flush on a surface should you choose to utilize this as a desk adornment instead of a tree one. The rear of the unit is also accurately represented with really the only thing missing being the 1-800 Nintendo repair sticker.

It even fits in pretty well with your quarter scale action figures!

It should also be noted, the song is loud! I was pretty surprised when I hit the button for the first time that such a small device can generate such a big noise. As stated though, you get the regular theme from Super Mario World with some sound effects of Mario jumping around and finding Yoshi. It then breaks into the victory theme to close it out which is a nice touch. All in all, if you’re a Nintendo fan then you’re probably getting this thing or someone who loves you is planning on gifting it to you in December. It will probably be a big seller if it’s anything like last year’s ornament so it’s actually a good thing that it’s out now so you get several months to try to score one. They’ll be stocked regularly from now until the end of the year and you can pre-order it from some stores right now so anyone who wants it should be able to get it for retail. It might get harder though the closer we get to the actual holiday.

New ornaments are fun and all, but what people really love are novelty, singing, dancing, figurines which is why I invested in a Santa Dancing Homer. This guy comes courtesy of eBay as he’s no longer in production. He features a 2002 copywrite which makes sense as this was when Simpsons merch was still pretty robust. It would fall off not long after and resurface for the 25th anniversary, though surprisingly little seemed to come out for the 30th. Are we as a culture just officially sick of The Simpsons? Maybe, though I’m not. I hope it never ends! There’s just something comforting about there always being new episodes of a show that’s been on since I was a kid and it’s not some dumb news program or pro wrestling. And yeah, I know, it past its peak in 1999 or so, but so what?!

In case you’re wondering, yes, that countdown is accurate.

Homer is festively attired in a Santa suit which has a soft, though somewhat rigid, texture. Not including the base he’s attached to, Homer is about 12″ tall with the base adding roughly 1 1/4″ to that height so he doesn’t require a lot of room for display. The portions of his body that are visible are cast in yellow plastic and the added details, like his eyes and trademark stubble, are painted effects. I suppose it should be noted this Santa suit is a bit nicer looking than the one he wore in the series premiere, “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” though it’s pretty similar to the much later Christmas episode “Grift of the Magi.” The main difference between the two is the original costume came with a scruffy beard.

Homer runs on double A batteries and is not, by himself, posable. When you have fresh batteries in him, you can either activate him via the yellow button or by a switch on the bottom of the base. The yellow button will make him wiggle and utter one of his many phrases or sing a song. The button on the bottom of the base is for activating the motion-sensing function so you can scare people who walk by him. When he does animate, his lower jaw moves and his hips sway. Sometimes he’ll turn his head too. If he goes into song, his arms will move up and down a bit along with the hip swaying and mouth-flapping. The songs are pretty amusing as Homer doesn’t know all of the words. When he sings “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” he mostly just says the song’s title over and over and ad-libs a bit all while adhering to the song’s melody. The speaker is a little fuzzy, but Homer can be understood clearly and obviously the lines were recorded by Dan Castellaneta. It’s a novelty Christmas item, so how much you enjoy it probably depends on how much you like Homer Simpson. I love Homer, so this decoration is an easy win. It also wasn’t hard to come by, nor was it super expensive. I think I basically ended up paying retail for it, though he’s used. Another neat feature is that you can use a 6V wall plug to power him if you would rather not use batteries. It’s not a bad idea since batteries being left in a Christmas decoration like this one throughout the year can often lead to leakage and a ruined toy.

The last holiday item we’re going to look at is a simple one: this plush Santa Raphael from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It was in reading the book Rad Plastic earlier this year that I was reminded about the plush line of TMNT toys from the early 90s and it was the first time I can recall being made aware of this Christmas variant. It pains me that the original Fred Wolf cartoon never did do a Christmas episode, but this plush kind of makes up for that. Well, not really, but hey, it’s Christmas!

There’s not much to say about this guy though: what you see is what you get. The tags on him reflect a 1990 release for this guy and that agrees with the book. It’s basically the same as the regular plush turtles that were available, only this one has Santa pants and boots stitched onto it. He’s about 17″ long from the top of the head to the tip of his toe as his feet are kind of outstretched as there’s no stitching to orient his feet in a standing position. The coat can probably be removed, as I don’t see any stitching holding it to the body, but it has white elbow pads stitched to it that are pretty tight and I don’t want to risk messing this up. The white elbow pads are actually a nice touch and the white cuffs on the boots basically line-up with where Raph’s kneepads normally would end up. It even appears he has his red elbow pads on underneath the jacket, though it’s impossible to say if the same is true for the knees. He also comes with a removable hat that mostly just rests on his head. I wish it was a bit bigger, but it’s all right.

“Aww c’mon, man! You’re embarrassing me and the other Raphs around here with that get-up!”

As you can probably imagine, this was another eBay purchase and yet another inexpensive one. For a 30 year old plush, Raph is in pretty good shape. The whites are still white, and the only sign of ware really is on the eyes which are a bit scratched. This style of plush is definitely assembled on the cheap, so there are exposed seems and I don’t really like the material used for the mask as it’s thin and prone to wrinkling. On the plus side, he has no odor which is always the risk when buying an old, used, plush and he’s still quite soft to the touch. It’s probably helped that he’s a Christmas decoration and whoever owned him before me may have had him put away 11 months out of the year lessening the annual ware and tare. He’s kind of dumb, but what can I say, I like him!

Well, that’s about all of the holiday cheer I have in me at the moment. Maybe I’ve inspired you to hit a Hallmark store or check popular resell locations for some Christmas stuff while the getting is good. It’s a good time to be on the hunt right now, but things tend to change quickly. If you need more Christmas in July though, you could always head on over to The Christmas Spot and check out several year’s worth of Christmas goodness. I’m already at work on the 2021 version and I’ve got some slight changes in store for this year, but don’t worry, you’re still getting 25 posts in 25 days about a Christmas special of some kind. Unfortunately, there will not be anything TMNT related this year, but it’s a safe assumption we’ll be heading back to Springfield, at least. And you know what? Mario may make an appearance this year too. Be sure to check back in December! Merry July, everybody!


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