Tag Archives: teenage mutant ninja turtles

NECA Cartoon TMNT The Neutrinos

Far out dude, a rare NECA three-pack!

Check it out, daddio! The totally frozen trio of Zak, Dask, and Kala have joined NECA’s line of action figures based on the cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! The Neutrinos come straight from Dimension X, having debuted during the original mini series of the show now referred to as season one, in the fourth episode overall: Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X. Even though they share a dimension with Krang, these kids abhor war and prioritize having fun above all else, which is the antithesis of what Krang and Shredder stand for – so they must be eliminated!

The Neutrinos are a wacky premise in a fairly wacky cartoon. Perhaps created to give the kids watching at home an audience surrogate, they would return a few times after their debut and often with some wild antics taking place. Even though they’re supposed to appeal to kids of the1980s, they talk like beatniks with goofy 50s slang – maybe they just assumed kids were watching a lot of the Fonz on Happy Days? Because of their rather extreme personalities, the Neutrinos are something you either love or hate. I lean more towards the “love” side as they don’t particularly bother me and I’m pretty sure I was excited to see them return when I was a kid. Plus it doesn’t hurt that “Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X” might be my favorite episode of the show. It’s the episode where Donnie invents the Turtle Van and we’re introduced to the rock soldiers Traag and Granitor. It’s also the episode most responsible for making Leonardo my favorite turtle who already had a head-start in that department by virtue of wearing my favorite color and my favorite weapon of the four.

The Neutrinos and their stuff. If you need a refresher on who’s who, left to right we have Zak, Kala, and Dask with the Grybyx and Baby Tribble in front.

Like Usagi, the Neutrinos were put up for preorder on NECA’s website back in March and both sets arrived at the same time, which is pretty cool and pretty fast in this day and age. They represent the first 3-pack (unless you count the Triceraton and Roadkill Rodney set as a 3-pack) in the line as they couldn’t be split up since they always appeared as a trio. Since they are a 3-pack they’re priced accordingly at $75, which I assume will be the MSRP on this set when it hits Target stores later this year. We’re essentially paying $25 for each one which is actually lower than the usual two-pack pricing. And if you think that’s because there’s a ton of parts reuse among the three well then you’d be wrong. To my surprise, these three are fairly unique so lets get to it.

“You dudes like pizza?!” “Yeah, but not that kind, daddio!”

First of all, the Neutrinos are comprised of Zak, Dask, and Kala. Zak has the blue outfit, Dask the yellow, and Kala is the lone female of the group. This is their first appearance in NECA’s line, but all three actually were featured in the vintage line from Playmates with Zak getting a release in the standard line followed by a repaint in the Toon subline where he was joined by Kala and Dask. I had all three as a kid, though I passed on the Zak repaint when he got re-released, and I remember them rather fondly. Too bad I don’t still have them for comparison’s sake, but I remember them being surprisingly accurate when compared with the show, especially Dask and Kala. I also liked how Playmates did Dask’s unusual hair with two shades of blue, light blue on the inside and dark blue on the outside.

At least the Neutrinos being on the small side works well with their primary antagonists, the rock soldiers Granitor and Traag.

These three are fairly show accurate. Zak is the tallest at about 5.5″ to the top of his hair while Dask is a little bit shorter at 5.25″, but he also doesn’t have a ton of hair sticking straight up preferring to have his going forward. To the top of their foreheads they’re basically the same height. Kala is the shortest, though to the tip of her hair she’s about 5.25″ as well. Some were a bit disappointed when these figures were shown off because their proportions appear to be more in-line with some of their later appearances in the show. All three have pretty large heads relative to their body and are a lot smaller than the turtles. It’s show accurate, but not to their debut episode where I personally think they looked their best (as the show basically looked its best during that initial 5 episode run). In that, their proportions were fairly normal for a human on the show and they basically stood eye-to-eye with the turtles. Of the three, I’d say Dask looks the most on-model when comparing him to that specific episode. Kala would be rather close if she had a longer neck (she basically looks neck-less from the front). Zak is a bit more “toonified” by virtue of his giant ears sticking way out. Their proportions here are probably more representative of their other appearances in the show, but I’m of the mind that NECA should rely on those first five episodes whenever possible so even if there are more episodes with them looking like this, the debut is still the best way to present them.

Even though it’s 3 against 1, I wouldn’t call this a fair fight.

All right, aside from my nitpicking of the proportions, the overall looks is pretty good. Paul Harding was the sculptor on this set and he captured all of the intricacies of each character’s outfit. Dask has the giant shoulder pads, Zak his massive popped collar, and Kala her skirt and rounded shoulder pads. The only places NECA could reuse parts are largely in joiner pieces like the lower torso, knees, and hips on Zak and Dask. Those two might share thighs as well as I can’t tell if the fins on Dask are glued on or part of the same mold. It must have drove NECA nuts that the characters of Zak and Dask are reveresed when it comes to the legs with Dask having the fins on his thighs and Zak on the calves. Both also feature different feet. All of the pieces are fairly hard-sculpted too with few, soft, rubbery, overlays. It’s basically just the “diaper” piece over the hips that’s soft.

My Zak had a paint flaw out of the box, but nothing a Magic Eraser couldn’t solve.

For the paint, we get the usual NECA toon shading with bright on the front and darker shades on the back. On Dask, there’s a paint chip right on his chest which is a bummer as well as some excess at the tip of his left ear. Some of the linework on his left sleeve is also inconsistent with the line being thinner in places. On Zak, we have a figure that’s pretty clean with the only issue I have being the white paint on his ankles showing as not quite opaque enough. Obviously, they were painted white over blue here and sometimes that happens. Zak also came out of the box with an ugly blob of black on his left wrist that sort of looked like a tattoo or something (I had to go to the source material to make sure it was a defect). It was very unsightly, but thankfully it came off with a magic eraser. With Kala, there’s a spot of dark green on her torso that’s a bummer because it’s in such a prominent place, but otherwise she’s mostly fine. NECA uses a ton of paint, so the small imperfections are going to happen. There’s at least no instances of wrong color hinges or anything like that so overall I’d consider the paint applications here to be acceptable. They’ll certainly pop on your shelf.

The tiny feet and big heads make these guys tricky to pose. They’re not going to be able to do too much on your shelf without some help.

Now if you’re looking at these outfits and thinking “That can’t be good for articulation,” well then you would be correct. All three figures feature the same points of articulation. They ball joints at the head, neck, abdomen, and hips which also swivel. The shoulders are ball-hinges, the elbows single-hinged with a swivel, the wrists swivel and hinge, the knees are double-jointed, and the ankles hinge and rock side-to-side. That’s pretty standard for the line with the only thing missing being a waist twist and double-joints at the elbows. What doesn’t work too well are the shoulders, especially on Zak because of his odd setup. He can’t really raise his arms out to the side unless you first rotate them 180 degrees. Once you do that you can raise them about 45 degrees and then rotate them back which allows the shoulder pads to slide under the softer plastic on his torso. I’d be cautious about doing so though as you’re rubbing painted white plastic on blue and that could go bad. Dask and Kala don’t have this problem, though Dask’s shoulder pads won’t allow his arms to stick straight up, but that’s not much of a loss. Dask is the most limited when it comes to kicking forward and back as his “diaper” is rather tight and constricting with Kala’s skirt being the least constricting and Zak sort of in the middle there. All three feature really tight, slightly gummy, knees and it’s probably due to all of the paint. Their limbs are very thin, especially at the forearm, so if your set feels stuck definitely air on the side of caution with them.

More often than not, this is the end result. Especially if you try to use those hoverboards.

The actual range of articulation is a bit mediocre by the standards of more, highly, articulated lines, but not a huge surprise for this particular line. What is less enjoyable is the looseness of some joints. These figures are all top heavy by virtue of their big heads and that torso joint. Zak’s torso is pretty floppy, while Dask is a touch loose and Kala is fine. All three also feature tiny feet and weak ankles which makes all three a chore to stand up. Zak seems to stand the best because he has the largest feet, but he’s still a pain to keep upright on a surface. Dask is by far the worst though because he has skinny feet and the ankles on mine are very weak. Kala’s are tighter, but her feet are the smallest of the three so she’s no better. NECA foresaw this issue and included a small, transparent, plastic, disc stand for each figure. The problem with that is it’s very light so there’s no weight holding them down and it does nothing to solve the issue of the weak ankles. About the only way they work is to position the figures with one foot forward to help better distribute the weight and leave the disc on the rear foot. This seems to work with Kala. Zak is almost better off without the disc as it makes his base uneven and it’s too small to put both feet on it. I can get Dask to stand if I pitch his head forward as if he’s looking at his toes, but that’s hardly a good look. In short, don’t position these three close to the edge of a shelf.

If you have the vintage Playmates versions of these characters then these boards should feel familiar.

Also included to perhaps help out with the standing issue and the lack of a hover car are three hoverboards. These were never in the show, but are a callback to the Playmates action figures. I assume Playmates included them since the Neutrinos are known for driving a hover car, but that would be big and expensive. Playmates actually did release a hover car, but as a vehicle for Shredder and his minions which was strange, but a fun toy nonetheless. NECA may one day do a car if there’s demand for it, but for now we have the boards. Each one is fully painted and unique to the rider and comes with a stand similar to the ones included with the Turtles in Time turtles. They’re cool and all, but have the same problems as the disc stands in that there isn’t enough weight to them to really help in getting these guys to stand. They look cool and all, but I have no confidence in the figures remaining on them when I walk away since they have yet to last 15 minutes on my shelf.

In addition to the hoverboards, we do have a handful of other accessories and two mini figures. Our first accessory is this little, chunky, gray, box that reminds me of portable televisions from the era. It’s a communicator that Donatello uses in the show to contact the Neutrinos all the way in Dimension X, if I’m not mistaken. There’s a handheld device that looks like Egon’s PK Meter from Ghostbusters that I think was called a spectral analyzer. There’s another handheld device that’s a tracking one used for another accessory in this set which I’ll get to it. There’s yet another one that looks like a mashup between a flashlight and a microphone and I have no idea what it does in the show. Lastly, there’s a ray gun or something that resembles a bullhorn. Sometimes NECA includes a list of the items in these sets, and sometimes they don’t, and this is one of the sets where they didn’t. We also get an assortment of hands. For the boys, there are two sets of gripping hands and fists, and one set of open hands and a loose open hand that almost looks like a devil horns gesture. Kala gets open hands, fists, a gripping right hand, and a right “Peace” sign hand. Kala’s hands are a little smaller than Zak and Dask’s, but she could use one of the boys’ hands if she wants and vice versa without it looking too ridiculous.

These two don’t do much, but they are pretty cute.

In addition to all of that are two mini figures. First up, is Princess Tribble from the episode “Four Turtles and a Baby.” For some reason, every show during this era needed to do an episode with a title that was a pun on Three Men and a Baby. The Neutrinos are not featured in that episode, but she is a Neutrino child so it makes sense to include her. She’s in a seated position and her head can rotate and her arms are on ball hinges. She’s also looking up given how her eyes are painted so she can resemble a baby with its arms up expressing a desire to be picked up by an adult. It’s cute. The other mini figure is the Grybyx, Kala’s pet which escapes from Dimension X and arrives on Earth in the episode “The Grybyx.” In that, he gets mutated as he’s basically the show’s version of a mogwai and becomes a rampaging beast, but here he’s in his much smaller and cuter form. He’s positioned in a crouch and his only articulation is a ball-jointed head, but he’s well painted and rather cute so it’s all good. The tracking device I mentioned earlier is from the same episode and was used to try and locate the Grybyx.

Mikey certainly looks happy to have his favorite gal join the party.

That’s all, and it’s a pretty solid collection of stuff. I don’t know what half of it is, but it’s not like the Neutrinos were associated with many accessories in the show aside from their kick ass rides. This set from NECA is yet another solid addition to the collection. My only gripes are that I wish these figures were based more on their appearance in the first season and that they weren’t such a pain to stand. It’s nice that NECA included the disc stands to try and help, but these three need something more substantial unfortunately. I have so far been able to get them to stand only for short durations, and that’s with and without the aid of the stand or hoverboard. I’d love to have Kala holding her pet, but that seems unlikely. In the meantime, I’ll keep them away from any edges and sort of on their own as I don’t need them taking anyone else out during one of their falls. If you want to add these guys to your display keep your eyes on Target as they should show up there eventually, possibly as part of a collector event scheduled for September. Yeah, I hate those things, but sometimes we have to deal with them. Also keep your eyes on costumes.com as NECA has been randomly dropping stuff on there lately including old exclusives and new ones like the Mousers. Hopefully everyone who wants this set can eventually get it.


NECA Cartoon TMNT The Tale of Usagi Yojimbo

The samurai rabbit joins NECA’s toon line!

The early issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles released by Mirage Studios include a few guest stars here and there. One of them comes from the pages of Usagi Yojimbo, the samurai rabbit by the name of Miyamoto Usagi. The pairing of samurai rabbit and ninja turtles was a big enough success that it migrated to television during the original run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. For some reason, the character Miyamoto Usagi was named Usagi Yojimbo in the show. I don’t know if it was deliberate or a mistranslation, but because of that a whole generation of kids grew up referring to the samurai rabbit character created by Stan Sakai as Usagi Yojimbo. To his credit, Sakai doesn’t seem bothered by this as he has let Usagi be utilized for pretty much every iteration of the turtles that followed. I’m sure he was compensated for that, but he seems totally willing to let this association continue and that’s why I’m here talking about NECA Toys’ latest deluxe release in its line of action figures based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Usagi Yojimbo.

Usagi seems to pondering if we may have some turtle variants in our future.

Whatever you refer to him as, know that I’m just going to call him Usagi for the duration of this post. Usagi, as stated, is the latest deluxe release in NECA’s toyline which means he comes in that VHS style packaging with artwork by Dan Elson and Aaron Hazouri that is just so hard to throw away. It looks terrific and it’s loaded with product shots of the figure in action which is easily displayed by opening the front, fifth panel which is seated by a piece of Velcro. Usagi was put up for order on NECA’s website back in March as an open preorder and he’s just now making his way into the hands of eager collectors even faster than Storm, which I noted was the shortest wait between preorder and release I’ve had since 2019. This should be followed by a general release at Target stores across the US and other online outlets in international territories, but that could be a few months off given how long it took some past preorders to do the same. Target has a collector event planned for September so that’s a safe bet for when this figure (and others) may appear.

Yep, that’s Usagi all right.

Usagi stands about 4 5/8″ to the top of his head and 5.5″ to the top of his tallest ears. He’s depicted in his show accurate black and blue attire with a gray sash around the waist and purple wraps around the base of the ears. He even has those circular, brownish, emblems on his vest that always looked like chocolate chip cookies to me as a kid. He comes out of the box with a very serious expression on his face (he’s a rather serious character in the show) and he has some open hands. He also has a set of gripping hands and fists and overall he looks great. Usagi is easily one of the best in this line based on likeness which is a testament to his simple design and the quality of the sculpt from Paul Harding and the paint of Geoff Trapp and Mike Puzzo. There’s virtually no paint slop on my figure and the black linework this line is known for looks crisp and I really like the subtle fur texture sculpted into the exposed fur on the character.

He may not be particularly dynamic, but he does make up for that in stability.

Usagi looks terrific, though some sacrifices were meant to get there. His articulation is a bit impacted as a result. The head is on a double-ball-peg and is articulated at the base of the neck as well. He can look all over the place and there’s no complaints there. The ears can swivel too. The shoulders are ball hinged and he can get to about horizontal when lifting them out to the sides. The elbows are just single-hinged and feature a swivel, but the cut of the joint is at an angle and you’ll need to be mindful about paint rub. The hands swivel and are hinged horizontally, also known as the “wrong way,” and at the waist there’s a ball joint that basically just allows for a twist. At the hips he can pretty much do a full split, but he really doesn’t kick forward very far nor does his leg go back much at all. That seems due to the baggy pants which also only let the single knee bend go about 45 degrees. The ankles are seated deep in the cuff of the pants so they too don’t have much range. The rocker is okay, but the forward and back is negligible.

More figures should come with tiny dinosaurs.

For a samurai rabbit, it is a bummer to see the articulation so limited. Usagi basically can’t even do a two-handed sword grip, but his feet are big and sturdy enough that he can stand on one foot so it isn’t all bad. It’s obvious why he’s like this though so I have a hard time critiquing NECA too hard for the articulation when the aesthetic of the figure is so good. It’s just the trade-off collectors of this line have come to expect. The only improvement that would have made sense is double-jointed knees or a butterfly joint at the shoulder, but I don’t know if I own any NECA figures with such a joint so it’s not like I was expecting it.

He looks like a little kid being forced to dress-up against his will.

As far as accessories go, Usagi comes packing quite a bit. I already mentioned the hands, but Usagi also has a pair of swords at his disposal. One is a katana while the other is listed as a wakizashi. Basically, you have one long sword and one short one and there’s a set of scabbards for each to go into that’s molded together. The scabbard can be affixed to the figure via a black, elastic, sash that’s very similar to what we’ve seen in the movie line with Shredder and the Foot. Just slip it over the figure and stick it on his waist. It will mostly disappear in the waist joint, but it can hold the scabbards just fine. Mine did start to fall out after a day or so though either due to the elastic stretching or part of it getting hung-up on the ball joint at the waist. Usagi also has two additional weapons: a kunai and a katar, which is that fist-dagger that came with all of the Playmates turtles and fit into the rear holster on Raphael’s belt. They’re well-painted and nice to have. We also get a little dinosaur, the Tokage, which is from the Usagi Yojimbo comic. It’s a fun little thing to have, plus who doesn’t want a tiny dinosaur?

NECA didn’t provide much room to work with, but with a little hot water and some persistence, you can fix this if it happens to you. And if you’re looking for an IPA recommendation, Sip of Sunshine is my go-to.

We also have a second portrait that features some teeth and ears draped along the skull. The ears are swappable between the heads, but I have thus far encountered a lot of difficulty swapping the heads. The head is connected to the neck via a double-ball-peg and the bottom peg in the neck is the one that keeps popping out as opposed to the ball in the head. It’s so small that I can’t pull it out with with my fingers, so I had to resort to tweezers (I wasn’t sure my needle nose pliers would even get in there). With some advice and ecncouragement from Twitter user Uncle Jesse (@Mesademon149), I was able to dig the peg out with hot water and said tweezers. Even after lubricating the portion that inserts into the head, I still have been unable to get the peg to function properly so I’ve had to dig this thing out a few times so I need to pick a face and stick with it.

This cloak is pretty bad ass.
“My name is Usagi: Jedi Master.”

Lastly, we have some extra clothing. There’s a soft goods cloak that’s a dark gray with a wired hood. It’s easy to slip on and it looks terrific and there’s a black ribbon included to be utilized like a sash. I just wish there were belt loops on the cloak to better utilize the sash, or just another elastic band. I’m guessing it was a knotted robe in the show as I don’t remember, but I would take the trade-off. Usagi also has hit hat, a type of kasa or Jingasa, that most likely see and just think of as a samurai hat. It looks like it’s made of wood and is very well painted with a light brown on top and a dark brown inside. There’s a lot of nice linework on it as well. There’s a strap made of a thing plastic sculpted onto it to hold it on Usagi’s head and it works well with the flat ears. The strap is supposed to connect to the hat at four spots, but mine is only attached at two. Thankfully, it’s one on each side so it works, but it looks a little silly. I might try to glue those little strands in place, but then again, I’m not really planning on displaying him with the hat anyway. I thought I same promotional shots of the figure with the hat on his back, but I could be mistaken. If not though, it’s not something I would try as I don’t think those straps would hold up. They look quite fragile, so user beware.

“Rabbit, those turtles are your enemies! It’s they who trapped you here in this dimension!”
“Foul being! Your treachery shall not go unpunished!”

Overall, Usagi is a dynamite release form NECA that just has a couple of hiccups. The articulation doesn’t bother me much, it’s really just the inability to swap the heads easily that’s irritating me. The cloak is really good though and I’m torn on how to display my figure because of how much I like that thing. I wasn’t expecting to use it, but now I’m reconsidering. The weapons are great, and the other other critique I really have is the absence of vertical hinges on the gripping hands. He’s a samurai, NECA, give him the right hands! NECA is sometimes very good about that, and sometimes not, it makes it hard to know what to expect.

There’s certainly room for a samurai rabbit amongst ninja turtles, but what about an Easter Bunny? Hmm…

This figure was $35 when it went up for preorder in March and hopefully it stays that way at retail. NECA Ultimates have been trending toward $38 of late so it may come in a little more pricey. This guy features tons of unique tooling so the value is there and I honestly don’t know how NECA does it considering what some other companies are charging for repaints these days. Usagi Yojimbo is a memorable character from the show, so anyone who has been collecting this line is likely going to grab him and he’ll be money well spent.

“Hey dude, you ever have pizza?” “Pizza…?”

NECA TMNT Secret of the Ooze Ultimate Shredder

“There is only one thing next…”

For the first time in a long time we went a week without a blog entry here. That’s because I took a much needed vacation and didn’t schedule anything. I’ll probably be backing off a little bit as we dig deeper into 2022 since there’s a certain holiday I need to get crackin’ on if I don’t want to be chained to this blog in December. I’m still committed to reviewing all of the fun toys I buy and today we’re going full Turtle Tuesday with a look at the latest from NECA Toys: The Secret of the Ooze Ultimate Shredder!

NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles family of products has expanded exponentially over the past few years, but the movie line has been far more steady. The company has pretty much exhausted product for the first film which means it’s time to dig a little deeper into the 1991 sequel The Secret of the Ooze. The Secret of the Ooze is definitely one of those films many loved as children, but upon a revisit in adulthood it doesn’t hold up particularly well. That’s largely due to the shift in direction to pivot away from the gritty format of the comic book and more into the Wacky Town antics of the cartoon that really launched the TMNT franchise into the stratosphere. Many parental groups took issue with the violence of the first film and supposedly actress Judith Hoag wasn’t really onboard for it either nor was Jim Henson whose Creature Shop provided the sophisticated costumes to bring the turtles to life. Golden Harvest and New Line Cinema were able to convince Henson to return for the sequel (he would unfortunately pass away before the film’s release) while Hoag was replaced with actress Paige Turco and the sequel was fast-tracked for a 1991 release to capture on the fad before it burned out.

Considering we never see his face in the film, NECA really didn’t have to go after the likeness of actor François Chau, but it did and as usual completely knocked it out of the park.

A less obvious recast for the sequel was actor James Saito in favor of François Chau. I don’t think there was any real reason for such a decision beyond the sequel being put together quickly and some actors likely having other commitments. Like Saito, Chau is just asked to put on a costume and emote while the voice of the character was actually dubbed later. I guess neither was able to do a menacing Shredder voice. As a kid, it was not a surprise to see Shredder return for a sequel since he was the big bad guy in the cartoon, but when viewing the film franchise on its own it’s a bit surprising to see him back since his defeat at the conclusion of the first film seemed pretty final. The guy fell off of a building into the back of a garbage truck. Maybe the fall didn’t kill him, but Casey Jones (who also didn’t return because some felt his character was too violent) activating the crushing function of the truck surely would have! No matter, this is a story about mutated turtles after all, so Shredder is back and he’s got a new look to show off as well, hence why we need a proper action figure.

There’s a lot of old with this figure, but also some new including something I would not have expected.

Ultimate Shredder is the fourth “Ultimate” release in NECA’s movie line and just the second release for The Secret of the Ooze at retail, not counting the Super Shredder variants. Tokka and Rahzar were released as a web exclusive while the actual Secret of the Ooze turtles were put up for preorder earlier this year and are not expected to arrive until early 2023. Considering how turtle-heavy so many lines associated with TMNT have been, it’s pretty cool to see Shredder be the first one out of the gate here and not just once, but twice! This Shredder follows the release of the same character from the first film and utilizes quite a few parts from that figure. And even though Shredder just basically storms around a garbage dump screaming about babies for most of the film, NECA still crammed the box full of accessories to make this a worthwhile release.

Of course, the biggest change is in the design of the helmet.

Shredder comes in the standard five-panel window box packaging that’s largely adorned by photographs of the figure itself. He stands right around 7″ to the top of the head and beyond that if you factor in the entirety of the helmet. Shredder is depicted in his film-accurate costume which featured a purple suit and swanky new helmet. Like the first Shredder, the paint job on the costume has a slight shimmer to it which bounces light very nicely. The black belt returns with the fabric strip over it to make it sort of functional if you want to stash a weapon or accessory in it. The arms and legs are reused from the first Shredder release as are the bladed bits on the forearms, shoulders, and shins. What’s new is obviously the head as this Shredder helmet featured serrated blades while the helmet portion has gold-tinted panels affixed to it (I think this was supposed to make the helmet look repaired in the film). The faceguard is the same, but underneath that is Chau’s likeness and it’s far more beat up than previous. NECA did a fantastic job with the painting of the face and for trying to piece together what Shredder’s face was supposed to look like now given that we never see it, we just see hints of the damage in the few closeups we get. Also new is the torso which is a bit of a surprise. I’m not sure why they felt the need to sculpt a new one, but I’m not complaining.

Shredder and his super form(s).

Shredder looks good placed among the few other Secret of the Ooze releases we have. He’s well-sized and the appearance of the figure looks very screen accurate. There isn’t much to find fault with from an aesthetic point-of-view, but I can find something. The blades on the helmet look like they could be angled down a bit more to better match the film and the box cover image. The only other very minor criticism I can levy at this one is that when viewing the figure from the side it’s clear there’s flesh-colored plastic in use inside the torso, which should be purple. The shoulder pads basically hide this when posing the figure and it’s only something one notices when inspecting the shoulder articulation, but this is a review and it’s something I noticed. Otherwise, I am quite satisfied with how this guy looks.

“Mama!”

And it’s good that I’m happy with the visuals here because they do come at a cost. NECA always prioritizes the aesthetics of the figures in this line when it comes to adding articulation. The company usually includes a lot of joints, but it’s loathe to cut into the sculpt in some places if it will result in the figure looking “off.” And since this Shredder is very similar to the past one (and the Foot Soldier), it has the same limitations. The head is pretty locked-down because of the cumbersome helmet, but he can look down and gets some side-to-side rotation, but he doesn’t really look up much or feature much tilt. The shoulders are able to come out to the side fine, but the shoulder pads have to be worked around when rotating them. The elbows are the same, funky, double elbows NECA uses from time-to-time that few seem to like. As is always the case with these, they looks passable for sleeved characters and Shredder’s loose fitting attire works even better than some others. The joint features two hinges with a swivel point at each one so he can bend past 90 degrees. The wrist also swivels and all of the included hands have a horizontal hinge, a bummer when it comes to gripping hands and melee weapons. The waist just features a twist with nothing in the torso, the biggest shortcoming this figure has. The legs are the old-model ball-hinge that pegs into the crotch. They feel surprisingly loose on my figure and he can nearly do a full split. There’s a thigh twist there that’s rather tight with double-jointed knees below that. On both legs, the lower hinge is pretty tight, but I got both to move with just force. The ankles are hinged and can pivot, though the feet are pretty small so he doesn’t always stand as well as I’d like him to in more dynamic poses, but that’s what stands are for.

Remember Shredder, stupid babies need the most attention.

The articulation is passable and this particular Shredder really doesn’t need to do much. As mentioned before, he doesn’t really do anything in the second film. He doesn’t fight the turtles or even handle a weapon. Still, if you prefer to do something more dynamic with the figure it’s certainly possible it’s just not great at doing sword-swinging poses or two-handed poses beyond just holding a staff in front. It was something more frustrating with the first Shredder as I tried to recreate certain shots from the first film from the rooftop scene, but with this figure I’m left feeling more content and satisfied and I’m glad that NECA didn’t cut a diaphragm joint into this guy.

This version of Shredder doesn’t call for many accessories, so of course he’s going to get this flower.

Even though Shredder has little to do in the film, NECA still stuffed the box full of accessories. For starters, Shredder’s faceguard can be removed and it just snaps into place. It’s a little tight and tricky to get in there, but once seated it looks great and it’s not going to move on you. The figure also has a removable cape which comes attached in the box. It has that wonderfully, ludicrous, swirly pattern from the film and it affixes to the figure via a wire that just wraps around the shoulder pauldrons. It’s a clever way to do it and less messy and bulky than the first film Shredder though I fear that I won’t be able to get it back on as neatly as the factory so I have yet to actually take it off (just watch one of the many video reviews likely floating around if you’re curious). Plus, I like how the figure looks while wearing it. In addition to those attachments, Shredder has three sets of hands: fists, open, and gripping. As stated previously, they all feature a horizontal hinge which is a bummer for the gripping hands.

This is the only accessory he truly needs, though unfortunately, his grip isn’t very tight on it.

NECA made sure to include some fun accessories as well giving Shredder all that he needs, and even some stuff he does not. Shredder comes with a TGRI canister of ooze, the same canister we’ve seen come with all of the Secret of the Ooze releases up to this point. I guess it didn’t cost much to include again, so I now have a bunch of these things. He also comes with arguably the only accessory the figure needs: the last vial of ooze. This is from the scene in the night club when he pulls out a little test tube of ooze to threaten some woman with. This is the ooze he eventually consumes to becomes Super Shredder. It can be stored neatly in the fabric belt or held in a gripping hand. A word of caution though, I placed one of the larger gripping accessories in the figure’s hands overnight which stretch them out a bit and now the vial doesn’t fit well as the grip is too loose. The hand might return to its tighter shape with time, but if you want to display Shredder holding this, maybe keep one hand reserved for it. In addition to that he comes with two weapons. These may not even exist in the film, and if they do, they were held by other members of the Foot or seen in the background. The first one is a short sword that fits into a sheath. The sheath could be wedged into Shredder’s belt, but it’s pretty bulky and would probably look dumb. The sword is the same one that was included in the Shadow Warriors pack making it a katana, per Splinter’s flashback, though it doesn’t really look like one. The second weapon is a large spear. It’s different from both the Super Shredder release and first film Shredder. It looks fine, but again, the character never used this so I don’t plan to display him with it. Lastly, we get the mutated dandelion that Freddy delivers to Shredder as proof of the existence of ooze. It’s fun and appropriate, though I can’t see myself displaying Shredder holding a massive flower.

NECA’s Ultimate Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze is an excellent release in what is arguably the best subline from NECA. Just about every release in the movie line has been a knockout and Shredder is no exception. Considering the company is running out of character’s to do, this one feels like an essential figure for the collection for those collecting the figures from The Secret of the Ooze. And we know it won’t be the last as we have the turtles to look forward to and Keno has been confirmed as well with a full reveal expected soon (probably at San Diego Comic Con). I was able to import my figure for this review from a seller on AliExpress as it showed up in China first, but it’s also currently shipping out to Walmart stores in the US with some already finding it. Like Ultimate Casey Jones, it appears to be shipping in frustratingly low numbers for now, but hopefully that changes or NECA just makes it available on its website for those who can’t find it (the company has yet to do that for Ultimate Casey Jones). Even with shipping factored in, the total I paid to import the figure was less than what I would have paid if I had purchased it from NECA’s webstore, so if you want it and don’t want to stalk Walmart, keep your eye out. You’ll have to wait a few weeks for delivery in the US, but it is convenient. The price has likely climbed though and so far the secondary market is rather high here in the US making Walmart potentially the preferred option. It’s a pain, but hopefully everyone that wants this figure is able to find it for retail. Resist the scalpers and good luck!


TMNT Loot Crate Series 2 Vol. 3 – Unfriendly Shredder Crustacean

At long last, it’s Crate #2! Crate #3!

It was October 12, 2021 when I last posted a review of a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles themed Loot Crate. It did not go well, but the review closed with some optimism for the future. I made mention of the delays impacting the latest series of TMNT themed crates from Loot Crate and NECA, but I made sure to praise the communication we were receiving from Loot Crate about said delays. 2021 was full of them, so it wasn’t exactly a surprise these things were impacted as well. All a supplier can do is keep the consumer informed and offer a reasonable timeframe for delivery. And Loot Crate was doing just that, until it wasn’t.

When that October review concluded the expected ship date for Crate #2 was December. If you look at the title of this one, you will notice this is not a review of the second crate. We still don’t know when that is coming, but we have Crate #3! The last update we received from Loot Crate was via the company’s Twitter account on January 25th. I’m shocked the Tweet is still up, but in it the author acknowledged the frustrations of fans, but shared some good news: the items for crates 2 and 3 were in the warehouse and should ship in February! Hallelujah! Obviously, that didn’t happen since this post is going live on the last day of June. I can handle a missed shipping date, what I don’t like is being lied to. Those items clearly were not in warehouse and if the social media person simply made a mistake it should have been corrected, but that didn’t happen.

Loot Crate’s Twitter handle has basically gone dark since March. Rumors have swirled around the company since that there have been layoffs, missed payments, and pending litigation. A Facebook user claiming to work at a factory in China even shared an image of a bunch of apparent product for Loot Crate that was allegedly being held hostage at a factory because Loot Crate had yet to pay for it. I don’t know how much of that is true, or if any of it is, but I do know that their customer service has gone to shit and when responses have been made to emails (and for a while, customers were getting automated responses that the recipient’s inbox was full) they’ve been coming from reps that seem to represent Costumes.com and NECA.

I know this is what everyone wants to hear about, but we do have to talk about the other “loot” first.

Which brings us to NECA. NECA and Loot Crate are both owned by Joel Weinshanker, but they aren’t the same company. Whenever NECA’s social media has responded to questions from collectors about where their Loot Crates are they’ve been quick to point out that fact. And it’s not a lie, but NECA obviously knows more about the situation than we do. And when it comes to consumers conflating the two, they only have themselves to blame since they partnered with Loot Crate to offer exclusive figures. And the two companies are clearly intertwined since my NECA Mousers, purchased directly through NECA’s website, was shipped to me by The Loot Company. NECA can scream from the mountaintops that they’re separate from Loot Crate and be absolutely correct, but there’s no denying that this relationship with Loot Crate is hurting their reputation just as much as it is Loot Crate.

The packaging for the Claw Shredder fits in with the recently released Fugitoid.

I couldn’t talk about this crate without talking about the drama surrounding Loot Crate, but with that out of the way, how about we actually talk about this crate? Like the title says, this is actually Crate #3 which is the Mirage Studios themed crate. Like last year’s movie themed crate, this one is rather small compared with the 2020 crates. It seems clear to me now that rather than raise the price on these that Loot Crate opted to put fewer items in the crate. That’s fine by me so long as the figure isn’t compromised. Unfortunately, that was not the case with the first crate as the Danny Pennington figure is the worst NECA figure I own. It was bad and that crate felt like a real rip-off. I suppose the counter to that is “If you hated it so much, why don’t you sell it for more than 50 bucks?” and the answer is “Because I’m too much of a completist.” The movie line is rather small and the Danny figure is a unique character as opposed to a variant, so it is what it is.

Hey look! A pin! Normally these crates come with a little card that details the contents which probably would have told us which turtle this is supposed to be. This crate did not.

Let’s get the extraneous stuff out of the way first. This crate comes with two standard items that have appeared in every crate thus far: a pin and a shirt. The pin is of everyone’s favorite turtle. I say “everyone” because the comic turtles are indistinguishable from each other and the pin is of just the turtle’s head. Yes, it’s probably lifted from existing art so if you really must know which turtle the pin is of that’s probably do-able, but I don’t recognize the image to that degree and a cursory look through the first few issues of the comic didn’t turn up anything for me.

I would very much like to wear this shirt, but it’s a bit snug.

The shirt is more specific and features Raphael with the comic logo above. The word “Turtles” is printed in white with an image of Leo’s blood-soaked sword within it colored in red. The shirt is fine, but it lacks the creativity of some of the others we’ve seen. Loot Crate also sent me a size small shirt despite the fact that I ordered a medium. This seems to be happening to a lot of people and an informal Twitter poll turned up several instances of people receiving a size smaller than what was ordered. I have yet to see the inverse, which is annoying because collectors could at least swap with each other if that was the case. A few people did receive what they ordered, but they appear to be in the minority for now. I can at least pull off most small sizes, but this one definitely feels a bit tight especially at the neck so I don’t know if I’ll ever wear it. Maybe my daughter, who has a newfound love of the 2012 show, will welcome a new Raphael “nightgown.”

That explains the fit. It seems this is a common problem that Loot Crate is unlikely to remedy.

Lastly, we have a gimmick item in the form of an Utrom fanny pack. If you’re not familiar with the Utrom, they’re basically Krang in other iterations of the property. By printing the image of the alien on a fanny pack it simulates the wearer being controlled by a brain alien much like the robot bodies inhabited by the Utrom. It’s impractical in this day and age to sport a fanny pack, but cute, I suppose. Would I buy any of these items if sold separately? No, but I’m at least willing to wear the t-shirt so long as it fits. The rest is going in a drawer or something.

Ok, this I like for the sheer lunacy of it.

Which brings us to the main attraction: Claw Shredder. Shredder was rather famously killed-off in the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Despite that, he would be made the central villain of the cartoon and film series of the franchise and basically every version of the turtles that’s followed. Naturally, TMNT co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird felt they needed to bring him back and they first did so by way of a trio of failed clones. Claw Shredder, or Crab Shredder, is one of those failed clones and he’s pretty grotesque looking. He’s basically Shredder, but with an elongated face and arms that end in massive, hideous, claws. His legs are also mutated as well and he’s just an all together abomination. The figure comes in the new style of comic packaging we first saw with Fugitoid so in-box collectors should be happy to see he’ll fit in with that release and the ones to come. It’s numbered “LC01” which could signal an intent for future Loot Crate figures. It also ignores the previously released First Appearance Shredder Loot Crate figure which I suppose might bother some.

He looks like a hugger.

Claw Shredder stands at approximately 6.625″ to the top of his head and slightly taller depending on how high that middle tine on the helmet rises above the dome. The figure is a mixture of old and new parts. The torso, shoulders, and biceps are reused from the previous Mirage Shredder figure while the hips and thighs are from the updated Turtles in Time Shredder and Stern Pinball Shredder that featured the newer style ball and socket joint. What’s new is obviously the head which is largely distinguished from regular Shredder by the elongated mouth guard. The lower part of the legs and feet are new as this character has oversized feet wrapped in brown bandages and then the most noticeable difference are the monstrous, clawed, forearms. In addition to all of that, the shoulder pauldrons also feature new, longer, spikes.

Who needs Foot Soldiers when you have 3 Shredders?

I’m happy to report that this figure looks and feels like a standard NECA release. The plastic and the figure as a whole has a nice weight to it, there’s a good mixture of painted parts and bare plastic, and the presentation is just very good. I love the comic deco that NECA does which includes a lot of black linework, dots, and cross-hatches on the “metal” parts. It looks like the character from the comic and the paint applications are all very clean. There were some stuck portions due to all of the paint, namely the ankles, but no joints are cast in the wrong color so when some paint flakes off it’s not leaving behind a mis-matched color. Interestingly, the lower part of the shirt that hangs over the crotch and part of the thighs is a floating piece and isn’t locked down. The left and right forearms appear to be exactly the same, but the source art appears to illustrate them as being identical too. One could argue this figure should be more spindly, or thinner, than it is when compared with the comic, but I don’t think it would work very well as an action figure if done that way given how large and heavy the claws are.

I really like the scale of the Mirage line. These turtles are just the perfect size and all of the figures to follow have been sized appropriately.

Being that this figure shares a lot of parts with previous Shredder figures, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that it largely articulates the same way. Basically, the only joint this one omits is something at the wrist since it doesn’t really have wrists. The head is on a ball and the neck is independently articulated via a swivel and hinge at the base. It’s a little tricky to work that neck joint, but it does allow the figure to look up and down an acceptable amount. The shoulders are standard ball-hinges. The pauldrons will obstruct some movement, but you get what you expect there. The biceps swivel is intact and the elbows are still double-jointed. The elbows feel a bit gummy on my figure so I would caution doing too much there. In a rare feeling for me, I actually wish NECA had used those odd double-joints we sometimes see (like the first movie Casey) so we could get a swivel point there as the actual claws can’t rotate at all. The big, “thumb” claw does feature a hinge so it can kind of pinch though it’s not big enough to grab a turtle by the throat or anything. The waist swivels and on mine it was partially separated out of the box, but seems fine now. The legs are the previously mentioned ball and socket and you get some twist there along with the usual forward, back, and out to the side motion. They are very loose and floppy though similar to the cartoon Deluxe Foot Solider which is a bummer. Fortunately, the giant feet help alleviate any standing issues. The knees are double-jointed, and the ankles hinge and pivot. Initially, the ankle rocker didn’t really want to do much on my figure, but a little persistence cured that. It’s always a bit stressful to force the issue with a joint and even more so with these exclusive Loot Crate ones. I probably should have played it safe and hit the joint with some hot water, but I got away with it and the pivot points work well now.

Raph, meet the lord of the crab people.

The articulation is solid and about what I expected. I do wish his legs weren’t so floppy, but as I said above, he stands just fine. I only run into stability problems if I try to position his claws too close together as their weight will cause the figure to topple. And while the shoulders, biceps, and elbows are fairly tight, there are “slip points” in the shoulders and elbows that won’t hold a pose due to the weight of the claws. It makes the figure a bit finicky to pose, but the nature of the character’s design was always going to limit the posing somewhat. I wish there was a way to position the claws via a swivel somewhere other than the biceps, but otherwise I’m not crying out for more articulation here. Or at least, no more than I would a standard NECA release as I would like them to switch to a ball-peg system in the torso to allow for some more forward and back posing.

Claw Shredder is thankfully a much better release than the figure in the last Loot Crate. It doesn’t feel like a downgrade from a standard retail figure and the only shortcoming is the complete and total lack of accessories. However, this isn’t a figure that really needs accessories which is partly what makes it an appropriate selection for just such a thing. The figure looks good in or out of the box, the quality is there, and it’s not just a repaint. Does it and the included “loot” add up to a $50 value? No, not really, but that’s apparent from the beginning as these sorts of things rarely feel like they’re worth the money. The good thing is if someone truly feels they’ve been had, the figure and items can probably be flipped for a small profit. I don’t know if this particular figure will be as in-demand as some of the others, and I suspect this time around more people ordered multiple crates with the idea of flipping some than before, so don’t expect to send your kid to college via Loot Crate. Ignoring the terrible consumer experience that has become Loot Crate, I am satisfied with what I got here. Hopefully we get a chance to add the other Shredder clones to our collections via a different delivery method. That four-armed clone would definitely make for an interesting figure.

I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to get this new figure onto this crowded shelf, but somehow I did. I don’t think it can handle any more so I guess it’s time to build another shelf.

Don’t confuse that sentiment for me breathing a sigh of relief or anything. I am still owed two crates plus a bonus figure and I won’t feel any sense of relief until all of those are in my possession. We have seen the figure for Crate #2, Armaggon, and the bonus figure, Scrag, show up in the hands of some people in China and at least one comic book store in New Jersey located suspiciously close to NECA’s headquarters. That at least tells me that those figures are done and hopefully in Loot Crate’s possession, but it’s also possible they haven’t left China. Again, no one is saying anything and we only have one Tweet from January saying that stuff had been received into the warehouse. We have yet to see the figure for Crate #4, Dark Turtle, in anyone’s hands. Is that the figure supposedly being held hostage by the factory? Considering that’s the figure I was most excited about, I’m going to remain anxious until we have some confirmation it’s actually done and manufactured as that one did not make an appearance in the NJ comic store like the rest. Maybe that’s because the owner of the store, or an employee, kept it for themself? That’s possible, but at this point nothing would surprise me. I just want my stuff and I look forward to a day when I can say that I am done with Loot Crate and I really hope NECA is too.


Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012 Turtle Figures Collection 6-Pack

I guess it’s been a long time coming that I touch some 2012 TMNT action figures.

Playmates Toys has been the master toy license holder for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for as long as I’ve been aware of TMNT. In the 80s, the toy line produced by Playmates was excellent: fun sculpts, imaginative characters, crazy set pieces, and tons of vehicles. It was a great companion to the animated series airing on television five days a week and it was a huge reason the TMNT franchise became as big as it did. As the property cooled off and moved on from the old show, Playmates was the one constant that remained. When the turtles jumped to live-action for The Next Mutation, Playmates went with them. When they came back in 2003 with a new animated series, so did Playmates. And it’s been that way for over 30 years now with no end in sight.

Right now in 2022 we’re living through a dry spell for TMNT multimedia. The comics are still going strong, but there are no new episodes of a TV show airing on television and no feature film is set to hit theaters this year. Often times when a toy maker enters into an agreement to be the master license holder for a property there are various stipulations in the agreement that need to be satisfied in order for the agreement to remain valid. One such common stipulation is that new product has to be shipped at set intervals since whoever actually owns the property (in this case, Viacom) stands to make money on units sold and wants its property to remain in the spotlight with consumers. I don’t know if such a clause exists in the license that Playmates holds, but it would certainly explain the vast amount of reissues that have been shipping over the past two years. Rereleases of the vintage figures showed up at Walmart last year while new variations on the Classic Collection figures from 2012 have been available at comic shops and as part of some bizarre two-packs with Cobra Kai. For fans and collectors, some of these reissues have been welcomed, but some have not. The quality has been suspect at times while other releases have left fans scratching their heads wondering just who actually wants some of this stuff?

If you like gimmicky packaging then Playmates has you covered.

I’m mostly in the camp that doesn’t place much value in the recent Playmates releases, but one such bundle did finally get me to pull the trigger. The 2012 animated series that aired on Nickelodeon is one of the blind spots for me as a toy collector. Prior to that series, I had dabbled in basically every line Playmates released. I also watched that 2012 series as it aired and really came to love it. I saw the toys on shelves at various big box retailers and I thought they looked fine, but I just never felt compelled enough to pull the trigger. It was a line aimed at kids, and the Classic Collection did arrive that same year and largely scratched my itch for new TMNT product, so I felt comfortable passing on it. Now though I’m re-watching the series with my kids and I’m being reminded how good it is and Playmates made it really easy to grab some of what I had missed.

6 figures for 50 bucks – can’t argue with the value!

The latest bundle of figures from Playmates centers on the 2012 series. For 50 bucks you get a fancy box decked out to resemble the Shellraiser from the show that contains six, carded, action figures inside. If you’ve been following the Playmates reissues this kind of packaging has become common as they’ve done movie turtles, toon turtles, and even sports turtles in this same style. Once I saw these sets arriving in the hands of collectors I felt comfortable to grab one myself. Some of the others have been rather lackluster, like Bebop having solid black legs and the movie turtle reissues lacking the soft, rubbery, form of the vintage versions so it was hard to predict just what the 2012 reissues would look like. And in general – they’re fine. They’re pretty standard reissues and largely get the job done, but they do have their issues as well.

First of all, the box is pretty neat. It comes in a rather plain, white, slipcase with green font and a Playmates logo on it that basically just exists to protect the inner box. The interior box is fairly sturdy and the art looks great. There’s a turtle on 3 of the sides while Donnie is on top in the gunner position. The turtles are designed to resemble the toys and not the show and there’s even a handle on top of it should you feel the need to bring this to your buddy’s house. Each end is taped closed so you’ll have to break out a knife to get into it if you don’t want to rip tape off. Once opened, the figures can be found stacked 3×3 with some tissue paper wrapped around them. All 6 cards arrived in good condition. They’re the standard blisters from the line sold at retail only the cross-sell on the back has been updated to feature just the six figures in this set: Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, Michelangelo, Splinter, and Shredder.

While I had to warm up to the look of the CG in the show, the actual designs for these turtles clicked with me right from the start.

Let’s talk about the turtles first. They were the main reason why I decided to grab this as the other two figures were almost irrelevant to me. Like past Playmates lines, these turtle figures are more inspired-by the show they hail from and are not aiming to be true recreations. They’re all generally much rounder in appearance and each turtle is a unique shade of green, as Playmates often does. Leo strikes me as the most neutral as far as his shading goes while Raph is definitely the darkest of the four as his shade of green skews more blue. Michelangelo has a lot more yellow mixed into his coloring while Donnie comes across as more pale. Each turtle has their own unique mask with the traditional color assignments while the kneepads and elbow pads are brown. There is an ever so slight variation to the shade of brown for each turtle and each one also features athletic tape around the wrists, hands, fingers, and feet. Leo’s tape is an off-white while the other three brothers all have brown tape, except the hand tape which is the same across all four. Raph and Mikey’s tape is a pretty close match in shade to their knee and elbow pads, while Donnie’s is noticeably lighter. Each turtle also has a unique belt for storing their weapons with both Leo and Donnie having a shoulder strap.

I’m not going to display them with the box, but I suppose I could.

These versions of the turtles are actually not the 2012 releases, but the updated 2016 reissues. The main difference between the two is that Playmates re-sculpted the feet to resemble the show. These turtles have the all-white eyes of the 2012 release, but the eyes are painted to be much larger and extend outside of the actual sculpted portion. They don’t look as clean, and the paint in general isn’t great. There’s a lot of slop around the masks on my Leo and Donnie while Mikey’s doesn’t appear to be painted all the way to the edge of the sculpted part of the mask. Mikey also has some of the white from the teeth on his chin. Donnie is by far the worst of the four though as his mask was not painted well at all. The rear of the mask is almost all green plastic with much of the purple applied to the top of his head by mistake. It’s a bummer. To my surprise, the gold on his belt buckle is rather clean so he at least looks passable from the front.

That is a brutal attempt at painting Donnie’s bandana.

I never expected the paint to be much to write home about as it’s the sculpt that interests me most with these guys. It’s a very fun look for the turtles and it’s a look I much prefer to that of the actual show which tended to give the characters these blocky looking muscles. Each turtle is individually sculpted which is actually pretty standard for Playmates. They probably expect to sell so many of the base turtles that they’re willing to sink more money into each one. The texture of the turtle flesh is well done with some featuring bumps, scaling, and cross-hatching to add a touch of realism to otherwise unrealistic designs. Somewhat unique to this iteration of the turtles at the time is the fact that each turtle had a distinct shape. Donnie is the tallest at about 4.625″ with Mikey the shortest at an even 4″. Donnie’s head also has an egg shape to it (fitting) with Raph being close to his shape while Leo and Mikey have comparably wide heads. Raph also has a unique crack in the plastron of his shell near his left shoulder. Donnie is the only turtle with a closed mouth expression which is a bit of a surprise since his model in the show had a gapped-tooth smile. They’re all good sculpts and I’m very charmed by them. The only thing holding them back is the paint and some of the materials as the belts have a very plastic look to them and the accessories do as well, which we’ll get to.

I would caution against storing Mikey’s weapons in such a fashion.

One thing Playmates has never been known for is articulation, and these guys are mostly more of the same. They’re certainly more articulated than some of the past iterations of the brothers, but obviously way less than the Classic Collection. Each turtle has the same articulation: ball-head, shoulder ball-hinge, elbow hinge and swivel, wrist swivel, thigh ball-hinge, knee hinge and swivel. What is present at least works all right. The elbows bend about 90 degrees while the ball-hinges at the shoulders and thighs allow for a wide range at both. The only thing I don’t like is the peg in that shoulder hinge which is pretty ugly and really odd. I also wish they had articulation in the ankles as that would really help in posing, but I’m also not surprised to see such a thing missing.

Everyone comes with extra, unpainted, weapons because that’s how Playmates likes to roll.

The accessories for these guys are also pretty standard. Each turtle comes with his signature weapons: swords for Leo, sai for Raph, bo staff for Donnie, and nunchaku for Michelangelo. The weapons are cast in colored plastic. Leo and Raph’s weapons are gray while Donnie’s is brown and Mikey’s is a more orange-brown. They look okay, but it would have been nice to see some paint. Mikey’s ‘chuks are also all plastic, and while they are flexible, stress marks will quickly form on the chain portion if they’re bent and stored in his belt. All four turtles store their weapons on the rear of their shell and it works fine excepting the issues with Mikey’s ‘chuks. Raph’s right hand also features a wider gap between his fingers so he can do the sai grip with the blade between his fingers just fine. In addition to the standard weapons, each turtle also has a weapon rack with extra stuff. Leo has a much longer, tachi-like blade here while Mikey has his chained sickle offshoot which his nunchaku basically transformed into in the show. Donnie has the bladed variant of his bo here as well and Raph has some strange, broken, sai where each is missing one of the side points. Raph also has some hooked weapons, Donnie a chained weapon, Leo various kunai, and Mikey multiple styles of shuriken. The other three also have their own shurikens and Leo also has what looks like a chisel or something. I like the variant weapons that Don and Mikey feature, while the extra large sword for Leo is cool too. Mostly though I assume people display their turtles with their traditional weapons and that’s probably what I will do as well.

Oh yeah, can’t forget about the other two…

If this contained just the four turtles, I’d be fine with it. 50 bucks for four figures in a specialty box is a decent value in 2022, but we do have two other figures to talk about. First up is Master Splinter. Unlike the turtles, he is a straight re-release of the 2012 figure and he basically looks the same. He’s about 4.5″ tall so he’s a little shorter than Donnie despite being taller in the show. He’s also pre-posed like the classic figures with knees bent so he’s actually taller, but functionally not. He’s also way more basic than the turtles. Remember how I said Playmates seemed inclined to sink more money into their turtles? Well, they’re definitely not for the supporting characters as Splinter is barely more engineered than his vintage counterpart. He just swivels at the neck and elbows with ball-hinges at the shoulders and thighs. There are no knee or elbow hinges or even wrist swivels. He does have one additional point of articulation and that’s a swivel at the tail which comes unassembled in the box.

I guess he’s just always going to be looking up.

If Splinter is to be a statue then he’s going to have to make up for it with the paint and sculpt, and unfortunately that’s really not the case. The paint is fairly clean on this guy, but I’ve never liked the mix of white, brown, and black on his face. His legs and body are also gray which seems odd, but they’re not really visible so I guess it doesn’t matter. His left eye doesn’t appear to be aligned properly so he’s a bit goofy looking. I also wish Playmates used a different shade of white for his exposed teeth as they just blend in with the white fur around his mouth. He does have wraps on his forearms which are gray while the exposed fingers and tail are pink. He has one arched foot which is annoying, but he at least can use his tail as a third leg. The kimono is soft plastic, but aside from the black buckle there’s no paint on it which is a bummer. He looks like a toy wrapped in a fruit rollup. His lone accessory is his walking stick which is cast in a semi-translucent green plastic so it at least looks interesting. Otherwise though, he’s a dud and not something I would have bought outside of this set.

Eh, I guess he kind of scales with the turtles.

Our last figure is the sworn enemy of Splinter and the turtles: The Shredder. He’s better than Splinter, but not as good as the turtles. Like Splinter, he’s a 2012 reissue which is a bit of a bummer because Playmates would do a version 2 that was much better. He is at least sized appropriately at a tick over 5″ and his chest is broad and barrel shaped. He’s also fairly on-model with the show. Like the rest, the paint isn’t great. The chest, sleeves, thighs, belt and part of the boots are painted and it’s all fairly uneven. His eyes are also painted white and look pretty terrible. The armor bits not painted are cast in gray plastic and they look fine. The forearm blades are retracted and Playmates declined to include an extended variation which is also a bummer, but true of the 2012 release as well. I do like this look for Shredder as he’s quite menacing, this just isn’t a great interpretation of it.

Shredder at least has some size, but those statue-like legs are just so bland.

The articulation for Shredder is also lacking. His head is locked down to just a swivel while the shoulders and thighs are the same ball-hinge joint the turtles have. He also has hinged elbows and a swivel at the wrist and waist but nothing at the knees. It’s odd to not have at least have a boot cut and I feel like with better articulated legs I could deem this one acceptable. I do applaud Playmates for putting the shoulder pauldrons on hinges so that Shredder has more range at the shoulder, but that’s about it. He doesn’t make up for the lack of articulation with his accessories either as he just comes with a sword and a pair of shuriken. The sword fits rather loosely in his hands which drives me nuts, plus I don’t know if he ever used a sword in the show. I’d much rather he just have extendable blades for his forearms. The updated Shredder Playmates released had a removable helmet, cape, and hinged knees and the forearm blades were sculpted to be extended. He couldn’t retract them, but I’d rather they be extended than not.

Let’s sneak in a comparison before we put a bow on this one. Everyone likes to compare to the ’88 figures, so I’ll switch things up by comparing 2012 Leo to 2003 Leo (left) and 2007 Leo (right). It’s a shame that when Playmates added painted weapons to the 2k3 line that it didn’t become standard for all future lines.

This boxed set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures mostly does what I want it to do. I don’t particularly care for Shredder and Splinter, but at least Shredder has decent shelf presence. I mostly just wanted the turtles and I do like these sculpts and designs, I just wish my Donatello in particular had been painted better. I’m torn on if I prefer the 2012 versions to the updated 2016 ones too. I like the new feet, but dislike the wider eyes on these ones. Still, it probably would cost me more than 50 bucks to acquire a set of 2012 releases so I’ll take the trade-off. By getting these I’m also more likely to dig out more of my vintage stuff to better display my collection. As for the rest of this line, I don’t know if I’ll add to it. I do like the Metalhead that was released, but nothing else comes to mind. Maybe I can talk myself into that 2.0 Shredder. Otherwise, I’m content to let it be unless NECA or someone else wants to take a whack at the 2012 series with more of a collector mindset. I would certainly welcome an alternative to the Revoltech releases, but for now, this should suffice.


NECA Cartoon TMNT Mousers Pack

I hope you have plenty of rats, because these Mousers brought their appetite.

It’s been a little while since we had a Turtle Tuesday around here. NECA was keeping me quite busy in March with release after release and really putting a hurting on my wallet. Not only were sets hitting stores, but items were going up on NECA’s website for preorder, all of which require payment upfront. It almost became exhausting especially since the capper on all of that was a Turtle Van in April, and as you can probably guess, that thing ain’t cheap!

One of the surprise solicitations of 2021 was for a set of Mousers. The Mousers are from the comic and made the jump to animation pretty early in the show’s life. They have since appeared in nearly every iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to follow. In most versions, if not all, the Mousers are an invention of Baxter Stockman and are intended to solve New York City’s rat problem, but they often hide a more nefarious purpose. Being that the turtles are lead by a mutated rat, it’s pretty easy to see how the Mousers can work their way into a story for the series. And most of the toy-lines have sought to introduce them as well to varying degrees. The original Playmates line featured an oversized Mouser as part of the wacky action line of figures, while the 2003 line made them a pack-in accessory and portrayed them at the appropriate size. Pretty much ever since this line took-off, collectors have wanted to see NECA introduce the Mousers. They previously did some for the Mirage line as a convention exclusive and their April figure came with a pair, and NECA has finally come through.

A familiar box, but much smaller.

The Mousers from NECA come in a small, toon-style box, that reminds me a bit of the boxes the bunny Bebop and Rocksteady came in for Loot Crate. It’s just a lot smaller in comparison with the NECA two-packs since Mousers aren’t exactly big. This set was retailed for $40 and is a NECA website exclusive, but individual Mousers are likely to be worked into the retail line as accessories (this year’s San Diego Comic Con set includes Baxter Stockman and a Mouser). It’s great to see NECA just come right out with a pack like this as if they had released a Baxter with a Mouser or two people would be trying to army build Mousers while getting stuck with multiple Baxters. Even Super7 has made collectors wait a couple of years after including their, lone, Mouser in the first wave of Super7 Ultimates! as they have a Mouser pack due to arrive at some point this year.

Look at all the tiny robots!

With this set, NECA is providing each buyer an assortment of Mousers. There’s enough here that many collectors will probably be satisfied with just one, but others can likely easily talk themselves into multiples since the variety is done well. So what’s in the box? Well, each box comes with four, complete, unblemished, Mousers. Their design matches the toon as they have a slight curve to their head as opposed to the more rounded look of the comic version. They’re painted white and gray, with the gray acting as the “toon” shading and the proportions look spot-on. They’re over 2″ tall, but they’re construction affords a range of posing in which they can be more upright or hunched over. They’re quite bird-like in their design with thin legs, clawed feet, and “knees” that can bend forward or back. There’s a single stripe of red for the glowing “eye” on the head, and the interior of the mouth is sculpted and painted a slate gray. There’s black on the joints too and gray on the “neck” of the robots. The sculpt is basically perfect. It’s not a demanding design, but credit where credit is due. The paint job is also nice and free from slop. There’s a little excess black on the hip of one of mine, but otherwise the set is pristine.

The battle damaged ones are pretty damn fun.

Now, four Mousers is nice, but not 10 bucks a piece nice, so it’s good that there’s more! There’s an additional, complete, Mouser with a bashed-up head. It’s lovingly dented and scratched and the red light has been extinguished on this one because it has a hole going through the top of the head that can accommodate Raph’s sai. Both pieces of the head are re-sculpted for this and the mouth hinge still works while the body is the same as the others. The sixth Mouser is more destroyed as it has a bashed head that’s a different sculpt from the other bashed Mouser. The neck is extended to imply the cable has been forced out and there’s a new body as well. It’s nicely dented and even features an adorable mouse popping out of a hole in it along with some wiring. There’s an added, non-removable, cap on the bottom which does look a little odd since it’s not on the others, but maybe it’s there for a reason I forgot. One leg is the same, while the other is a new piece that has a frozen knee joint and the foot is broken off. Lastly, we have a completely smashed Mouser that’s in three pieces: head, neck, and the rest. There’s sculpted wiring in the husk of the body with more sticking out of the neck of the headpiece. Between the battle damaged and the non, this is quite a little collection of Mousers and certainly strikes me as enough for a display.

Poor Splinter. He used to be displayed enjoying a nice book, now he has to deal with these things.

I touched on it a little already, but I should take some time to rundown how much articulation is in these little guys. Each Mouser has an articulated jaw, even the busted ones, which opens quite far. They’ll have no problem gobbling up rats or latching onto a turtle limb. The head is on a ball joint, and the neck too is connected to the torso via a ball joint basically making it a double-ball-peg joint. They can look up and down and get some nice nuance in the tilt. The only thing they can’t do well is look to the side. They can a little, but probably not as much as the robots in the show. The hips are just simple swivel points. It would have been nice to get some rotation out of there, but it’s suitable for what these need to do. The knee is a hinge that goes in both directions and there’s an ankle hinge as well. An ankle rocker would have been cool, but I can see why NECA went with the hinge as it’s much closer to the design in the show. Plus, without a ball joint at the hip there’s little need for an ankle pivot. It’s a neat and tidy assortment of articulation which definitely prioritizes the aesthetics of the sculpt, but also doesn’t really feel like any sacrifices were made so overall a good job.

Mousers need rats, and rats demand cheese and pizza. Not sure who requested the VHS tape, but it’s delightfully nostalgic!

To sweeten the package, NECA did toss in a bunch of extras. These are mostly limited to the various rats we’ve seen bundled with figures like the Rat King previously as well as the sitting rat that came with Splinter. There are 6 rats in total, three are reissues of the ones that came with Rat King but painted in a light gray with a brown tail. The sitting rat from the Splinter/Baxter set also has lighter fur and a re-colored tail and NECA painted the feet gray instead of brown. There are two, new, rats in this set: one on all fours and one that’s on its hind legs with the forelegs against its chest. That one is the cutest one yet and while it’s good to have rats with Mousers, I may take the Rat King re-issues and add them to him since they have the coiled tails. Also included is a wedge of cheese the sitting rat can hold, the VHS tape that came with Ace Duck previously (only now with a little blue paint on the label area), a slice of pizza that we’ve seen before, and a little drone robot that looks like a fly. It’s another Baxter invention and something to hide in a display. I’m curious if the controller for it has been released or will be in the future to pair with the Baxter figure.

With the Super7 version. That one is a little bigger and is colored to be in-line with the Playmates figure, but it has way less articulation..

The accessories are fine, and even though I don’t know that I need so many rats, I can’t deny the wisdom of including them here. Plus there’s not a lot that can be released alongside Mousers. Another controller maybe? A new panel for the street diorama with a hole munched through it? That would obviously be more ambitious than what is here, but I can’t say we’re truly missing anything.

And Rat King gets some new rats out of this set, what’s not to love?

NECA’s Mousers set is a solid addition for those who want Mousers in their TMNT display. For 40 bucks, it’s not hard to see the value here as the small army of damaged and undamaged Mousers is sure to eat up some shelf space and there’s some extra rats to keep them busy too. And most importantly, the actual figures turned out very well and I think fans will be quite pleased. Unfortunately, this was offered only through NECA’s webstore and isn’t coming to retail. Several have made it onto AliExpress for basically MSRP so check there if you missed out or if you just want more. The mere fact that they’re available there means these weren’t made-to-order so it’s possible that NECA ordered extra and might make them available again at a later date. And as mentioned earlier, we’re likely to see these guys pop-up here and there as an accessory in other releases. If you want this specific set though I’d suggest you act fast as this is one likely to rise in value on the after-market since collectors love army builders.


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – The Last Ronin #5

After lending Tuesday to the gargoyles for one week, the turtles are back on Turtle Tuesday and this time it’s for the latest (and final) issue in the The Last Ronin storyline. The Last Ronin is a concept for the final story of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles dating back to the days of Eastman and Laird. It was decided in 2020, after issue #100 of the modern IDW series, that the time was right to tell this story. Despite being only five issues, it took awhile for the series to finish as multiple episodes were delayed with the final issue being the longest such delay. If it’s done to tell the best story though, then who cares? It’s here, and now I’m ready to talk about it.

The Last Ronin tells the tale of the last of the Ninja Turtles. The first issue introduced this dreary future where New York is controlled by a descendent of Oroku Saki and times are bad. We get to see the last turtle on a suicide mission that’s basically a failure, since the villain isn’t toppled and the turtle isn’t dead! Over the next three issues, the plot advances quite slowly as Ronin (yes, I’m still committed to not spoiling anything) acquires some allies, but we also see lengthy flashbacks detailing how each of the brothers fell and the present came to be. The violence is not gratuitous, so while seeing our beloved childhood heroes actually dying is uncomfortable, it wasn’t exploitive in any way. The flashbacks are over though, and the stage is set for the final confrontation.

From that perspective, issue 5 delivers. We see Ronin go after the big, bad, guy of the series with the intent being to kill him or die trying. There is a B plot to the story as well, so it isn’t just straight action, but it’s not the most compelling of B plots. It’s merely a plot device to keep Ronin isolated from his allies. Otherwise, this is a brisk read as it reads almost like how a video game plays with Ronin dispatching of the fodder with minimal challenge before getting to the boss. Roughly half of the book is reserved for that battle and there is a wrinkle tossed in that Ronin needs to overcome in order to actually inflict damage upon his foe, but otherwise it’s pretty straight-forward.

Ronin being so sick of the guilt and grief associated with his past trauma that he wants to banish his brothers forever is an interesting plot device that could have been expanded upon.

And if that’s all you wanted, you’re probably happy. For me, I found the first issue very intriguing, but every following issue was less interesting. The gravitas of this story demanded something a bit more epic, but we don’t get that. We don’t really get much character development either, only finally getting a glimpse of such at the start of this issue as Ronin tries to banish the “ghosts” of his brothers once and for all. It’s assumed they’re a figment of his imagination, but it was interesting to see how Ronin feels each brother views him. It might be something more interesting for me as someone who has not read the IDW series as I don’t know if it’s a lot of re-tread, but for me, it was the best part of the finale. The ending was very predictable. That’s not necessarily a weakness as many stories have obvious outcomes, but there wasn’t anything special tacked-on to that end to earn it.

What largely remained a strength of the book for all five issues was the artwork within. The Escorza brothers brought it, and not just in a technical sense. I really enjoyed the look of a lot of the characters in this series. The flashback turtles had a neat construction about them that was a bit more modern, but also implied a grizzled lifestyle of battling crime. I love the look of Ronin, and the action in this was easy to follow. The only thing I didn’t care for was the battle armor of the ultimate foe, who looked like the Shredder crossed with a costume from Tron. Eastman gets an art credit as well, though this time it’s not obvious to me which section. It’s possible that credit is just there because some of the variant issues feature a cover by Eastman.

If you were just looking for some action from a cool looking turtle then you are probably quite content with The Last Ronin.

Were my expectations unreasonable? Perhaps. It’s possible they always intended for this to be a very straight-forward tale for how the turtles could end up. There are certainly a lot of similar stories in cinema and television that are much celebrated, but I think all of those do a better job of developing the characters. I’m just left feeling like this could have been one issue, and considering the impact that first issue had, maybe that would have been the way to go? It’s possible I’m in the minority as well. I just wanted this story to elevate itself above other TMNT stories similar to how Logan elevated itself above other X-Men films. It’s certainly not a bad read or anything, it just doesn’t leave a mark on the franchise or the main character. Hopefully for IDW I’m in the minority as the issue ends with a “To be continued…” The story of The Last Ronin is complete after this issue, so I’m left to assume any future stories will center on his allies. Personally, I’m not interested, but others might be.

The Last Ronin #5 is currently on-sale at your local comic book stores. If supplies have already been depleted, rest assured there will likely be a trade paperback collecting all five issues. It also looks like there may be future director’s cut styled issues to come as well. Needless to say, you shouldn’t have to pay 20 bucks or something on the secondary market to experience this issue.


NECA TMNT Mirage Studios Fugitoid

I’m having a hard time coming up with an action figure line that has had retail releases separated by more than a decade. I don’t mean long-running lines of figures like G.I. Joe or Marvel Legends which have been around for decades, I mean a line that was started, ended, then re-started like NECA’s line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures based on the work of Mirage Studios. That source is the original incarnation of the green machine made famous in the late 80s by a cartoon, video games, toys and movies. The Eastman and Laird turtles were of a different mold: more violent, less polished, and with less color. If you’ve ever been into TMNT then you likely know all of that already as it’s pretty well-covered at this point.

It’s pretty cool to see Kevin Eastman’s art on an action figure box in 2022.

When NECA first got permission to do figures based on Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was via a deal they struck with Peter Laird and Mirage Studios to bring the original turtles from issue #1 to comic book shops. It was in 2008 when those figures hit stores, and they would be followed-up with a black and white variant as well as an April O’Neil. After that, things came to a halt. NECA unveiled a Shredder, but it was cancelled. It’s unclear if the line was ended because the sales weren’t there (NECA’s Randy Falk has indicated in the past that consumers aren’t that interested in pre-toon TMNT) or if Playmates had something to do with it being that they held the master toy license and had really never been challenged on it. Playmates definitely wasn’t happy, and would remain a challenge to getting non-Playmates TMNT toys to retail for awhile longer, but I suppose it doesn’t matter as the line did indeed come to an end.

This paint job is amazing.

Since then, things have obviously become better for NECA where TMNT is concerned. The company has been able to branch out while turtle nostalgia has taken off. Once Laird sold the property to Viacom, it seemed to open the door for non-Playmates action figures, likely because Viacom is big enough to toss its weight around if Playmates starts threatening legal action or something. NECA was able to find a loophole that allowed it to produce TMNT action figures as convention exclusives, and in 2016 the company finally got that Shredder out they had unveiled nearly a decade earlier. And he came with a trio of henchmen too making the Mirage subline feel relatively complete. As things progressed and NECA brought TMNT to retail, there wasn’t room for more Mirage Studios figures, until now.

And unlike some companies, NECA doesn’t cheap out on the paint when it comes to the rear of the figure.

Relaunching the Mirage Studios line in 2022 is Fugitoid, a character arguably made famous by Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but who actually came first. Fugitoid is an interesting character when you factor in that the Mirage version of the TMNT are often associated with violence as Fugitoid is a noted pacifist. Not that it stopped NECA from including a small arsenal with their figure. He’s the displaced Professor Honeycutt who after an accident found his mind transferred to the body of his loyal, robot, sidekick. He never made the jump to animation in the original cartoon series, but still received an action figure from Playmates. He would show up in later iterations, and in future toy-lines, but the Mirage original has been waiting on the sidelines (like just about every Mirage version of a classic character).

The articulation on this guy is a bit weird. That’s probably as steep an angle you’re going to get for an “elbow.”
Looks like he’s giving up on pacificism.

Despite all of my talk about Fugitoid being the next figure in a long dead line, he is numbered 1 for this relaunch. While there are likely more fan-favorite characters out there, and there’s certainly a lot of collectors out there that missed out on the previously released figures, I would say Fugitoid is a worthy figure to kick things off. He’s certainly an interesting one and I’m curious how much of a reflection this figure is of what’s to come. From a packaging standpoint, I’m guessing he’s very indicative as he comes in a window box adorned with artwork by co-creator Kevin Eastman. It’s an attractive box, but not so attractive that I am tempted to keep it (the best kind of packaging). There are three editions of the figure released to retail : standard with black font, signature edition with blue font, and signature edition with black font. The standard edition is self-explanatory, while both signature editions come with a little piece of card art signed by Eastman. The black font variant is either an error or was originally planned to be a surprise. Fugitoid is being released via NECA’s Haulathon event which was originally advertised as featuring surprise variants at retail. Perhaps that was nixed in favor of just charging extra as the standard version is $32 while the signature version is $100. Even though the black version of the signature variant looks like the standard version, the UPC is correct if you find it at Target which has probably caused some confusion at the register. I also saw more than one confused collector who received a black version via Target.com and thought they were sent the wrong one. You can see the art card behind Fugitoid in the box, in case you’re confused about which version you may be staring at.

I do not have a specific memory for the pistols, but I know this one comes from the Triceratons.

I, being an opener and not really interested in Kevin Eastman’s signature (no offense, Kev), went with the standard version. Fugitoid is a very unique entry in this line, or any NECA TMNT line, because of his design and construction. First of all, he’s cast in gray plastic and stands around 5.5″, but the deco designed by Geoffrey Trapp and Mike Puzzo aims to recreate the character’s look in the comic. It’s a very aggressive approach, and I have seen some turn up their nose at it, but I for one love it. He looks like he stepped out of a comic book and the shading really matches the unique look of the Mirage books, something natural lighting just can’t reproduce. He looks perfect and while Fugitoid is not my favorite design from the world of TMNT, it wouldn’t be hard to make the argument that his likeness is the best yet from any TMNT line by NECA.

The little guy doesn’t even know what to do with this one.

Where things might change for people is how the figure is constructed and articulated. Fugitoid is basically a head, body, hands, and feet, joined by cables. He reminds me a lot of Blinky from Bucky O’Hare, and like the Blinky figure released by Hasbro in 1991, Fugitoid features bendy wires for his limbs. There’s no elbow or knee articulation, just bendy wire coated in plastic. It looks good, but you’re never going to get the same kind of posing out of this approach as you would plastic joints. Aesthetically though, it’s hard to imagine NECA finding a better solution. Where things are a bit more confusing is in the choice to go with just swivels at the shoulders and hips. NECA probably opted for that approach to preserve the aesthetic as much as possible, or perhaps there were issues with having the wired limb end at a ball hinge. Whatever the reason, it’s disappointing as I think a ball hinge in both spots would have been fine from a visual perspective, and it would have given the figure much better range. At the head you have what is likely a ball joint that works just fine to let the character look up, down, and all around. The feet feel like they have a joint in there as they turn just fine and the hands can rotate. The upper torso can tilt and move forward and back slightly as well. Fugitoid is not going to be very dynamic, but it’s obvious that NECA opted for aesthetics over articulation and it’s hard to disagree with their choices here (excepting the lack of ball joints at the hips and shoulders).

Always remember to secure your turtles.

Fugitoid does come with a lot of stuff, most of which isn’t really for him. He almost feels like an accessory pack as a result. He does have three sets of hands which just plug into the ends of his arms rather easily. He has just three fingers composed of coils that just sort of pop out of the ends of his arms. He has two sets of gripping hands, one tighter than the other, and a set of “open” hands. They’re more of a style pose hand, I guess, but quite suitable for the character. He also comes with four different guns all sourced from the comics: two blue pistols, one Triceraton pistol, and a blue, long, rifle. I don’t know exactly what issue each comes from, but they all look great as they have a similar deco to the figure. If guns aren’t your thing, he also has a set of Triceraton “handcuffs.” It’s a big lump of plastic that the hands are designed to go into. It can fit on Fugitoid, but is likely intended to be worn by a turtle. The other gun is definitely for the turtles as it’s from the Donatello one-shot. It’s a forearm canon that fits over the forearm and it’s really cool. I put it on my Donnie immediately and I don’t plan on taking it off. As for the other guns, I don’t know what I’ll do with them. It feels wrong to have Fugitoid posed with a weapon, but also equally wrong to put a gun in the hands of the turtles. I like the look of all of them, but I don’t know what to do with them.

Best accessory in the set? This one!

NECA’s return to Mirage Studios is a welcomed thing and Fugitoid is a character worthy of getting things restarted. I wish he wasn’t exclusive to Target as the line had been billed as something for comic shops and specialty retail, but I suspect that’s where he’s headed once this Haulathon nonsense is over. He doesn’t seem terribly hard to find as I was able to get mine online, but also came upon sets at physical locations too. I think he looks great and his price-point is on the low end (provided you’re not talking about the signature version) for stand-alone NECA releases these days. Especially considering the tooling for this guy is unlikely to bare fruit elsewhere. The articulation is not great, and while the accessories are plentiful, they’re not all particularly useful. At the same time, what else is there to include for a Fugitoid? He’s not missing anything, so I’m fine with the accessory loadout. And more importantly, I love how the figure is presented. That deco is fantastic and I’m excited to see the line move forward. We’ve seen two of the next three releases: an Utrom body and Renet. The third is probably the one people are most excited for, Casey Jones, who has yet to have a full reveal. And it’s a given that the turtles are coming back too and it sounds like in a new form. Those old figures are great, but would merit updates in 2022. Plus they’ve been bootlegged to hell and back and it’s been rumored that the tools were actually stolen so it’s unclear if NECA could re-release them if they wanted to. My guess is we’ll see the new ones around San Diego Comic Con time. For now, I’m going to enjoy what we have and wonder about what other exciting plans are in-store for this line. It’s great to be a TMNT fan!

The days of this shelf being able to hold all of my Mirage figures may be coming to an end.

Hasbro MMPR x TMNT Shredder

Now you face the morphed Shredder!

We’ve looked at the two-packs from Hasbro’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures based on the comic book crossover, but have we saved the best for last? Coming in on his own is the arch nemesis for the turtles: The Shredder! And since this is a line specializing in combining the two properties, he can’t just be regular old Shredder, he needs to be something more! Now, maybe there was a thought to having Shredder somehow acquire Lord Zed’s staff or even Rita Repulsa’s magic (imagine Shredder in a Rita costume), but rather than do that they just gave him the powers of the former evil Power Ranger, Tommy, and his Dragonzord coin.

Is it just me or does he look huge in the box?

Shredder as the Green Ranger is a design unique to him. There’s obviously elements of both the traditional Power Ranger costume and Shredder’s, and the design is involved enough that he couldn’t be directly lifted from an existing figure. That is likely why this figure did not arrive in a two-pack but as a single carded figure with the MSRP of around $30. He comes in an oversized Lightning Collection box with new art and he looks sort of massive from the outside, though he’s not demonstrably larger than other figures in the line standing right around seven inches. Some of the body here is likely recycled from other figures in the line, or from other Hasbro lines in general, but there is quite a bit that’s new for us to dig into.

There’s a lot of good here, but some not so good.

First off is the head sculpt. Shredder comes with his helmet permanently affixed to his head, which is often the right way to do a proper Shredder. The base look of this Shredder gives me strong 2003 vibes as his face is all black with red pupils and the mouth guard is painted silver. It makes him look pretty bad ass, but also accomplishes the task of merging the helmet with the Green Ranger helmet since having his exposed flesh painted black conforms to there being a visor there. Atop the helmet is the Green Ranger’s dragon theme with the red eyes and ridge in the center. The center diamond is there as well and then it’s rimmed with the silver “tines” customary to Shredder helmets. The sides are silver and they’re staggered in the design resembling blades one after the other. It’s a very striking Shredder design and I think the artists involved did a great job blending it with that of the Green Ranger. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said of the factory as the main head and the top of the helmet are separate pieces glued together. The top of the helmet is on crooked and set back too far on my figure and looks terrible. He should look like the box art with the center of the top piece lining up with the center of the mouthguard and the two should nearly touch. It’s not terrible enough for me to attempt an exchange or try to order from somewhere else, but terrible enough to drive me nuts. I’m very tempted to try to pry it off and re-attach it because it really does ruin what is otherwise a solid sculpt.

That mis-aligned helmet is driving me nuts. Even more so than the yellow knees.

Below the head we have the customary Dragon Shield. Shredder’s version of it is a bit weathered looking with sculpted spikes near the shoulders. They’re less pronounced than the comic art, but it’s still cool that Hasbro sculpted a new Dragon Shield. His arms are bare and end with his Shredder gauntlets, only now they’re gold with the actual blades on the back of his hands in silver. His belt is a purple sash and the Power Morpher is off-center, which is a nice touch to differentiate Shredder from the others, and he’s sporting a soft goods, purple, tattered, cape. It would have been cool if it was a wired cape, but it has some personality by virtue of the holes cut into. The only thing, design wise, I’m not crazy about with this figure is below the waist. He has the same gold and silver combo for the greaves on his shins, but the knee portion is a separate piece so there’s visible green in-between the knee and boot. From what I can tell, this isn’t the case in the book either and it’s supposed to be one piece. I’m not sure why Hasbro did it this way as they didn’t have to and it wouldn’t have cost any more money. And they also sculpted the kneepad in gold which creates unsightly gold lumps of plastic above the knee on the joint. The better move would be to simply paint the kneepad, especially since it’s actually the top of the boot, but Hasbro likes to cut paints apps wherever possible.

I always like open hands with Shredder, even going back to the Playmates original.

The boots and misaligned helmet are the only true eyesore to be found on this guy from a design point of view. The straps on his forearm gauntlets aren’t painted, so on the open hands he has “flesh-colored” straps that look kind of dumb, but not as bad as the knees or helmet. Those looking for true comic accuracy will likely be a little disappointed that the blades aren’t more pronounced, but this is a toy intended for a mass market release so some safety measures likely play a role. Aside from that though, the only other issue from a presentation is one also found on the standard Green Ranger and it’s the omission of the white diamonds on the shirt. On the Green Ranger, Hasbro kept the white pieces for the butterfly joint so he had a hint of the side diamonds, but with Shredder they just ignored them all together. This is fairly common with Hasbro and the manner in which they cut costs as they often eliminate painted details. It’s been acceptable for the company when their prices made them perhaps the best bargain in the hobby, but with their prices creeping up into NECA territory it’s becoming a problem. I’ll have more to say on that subject in the not-too-distant-future. Here, it’s relatively minor though I do think a little dash of white on the torso would have done the figure well.

Go ahead, Tommy, try and take back your Dragon coin.

This guy commanding a premium price might have lead you to believe he’d come with a bunch of stuff, but that’s really not the case. He comes with open hands in the box and a set of fist hands. The claws were straight on 3 of the 4 hands I got, with the open right hand being bent in the package. It’s nothing a little hot water can’t remedy though. He also has a pair of effects pieces. I guess they’re an energy effect or something? The claws slide into them and they’re a translucent blue. They actually can poke all the way through as there are slits on both sides so you can adjust the effect as you see fit. You could also have them shooting forward from the blade, but I think they’re intended to be more of a slashing effect and that’s how it’s depicted on the box. They’re fine, though personally I would have gone with more of a lightning look as the flame look Hasbro appears to be going for makes them look like water. One of mine also has some black flakes of plastic within it, which is a bit of a bummer, but honestly only noticeable from up close. That’s it though. No sword, no alternate head, just two sets of hands and two effects parts. It’s not terrible, but not exactly overwhelming either.

Shredder triumphant!

The articulation on Shredder is mostly as expected. If you’ve handled a Lightning Collection Ranger or a Marvel Legend then you should know what to expect. He has a ball hinged-head and probably some articulation at the base of the neck, but if so, it’s useless given the cape and Dragon Shield. He’s able to rotate and look up and down fairly well with basically no tilt due to the size of the helmet. His shoulders are ball-hinges with a butterfly joint. The spiked pauldron is pinned above the actual shoulder so it moves with the butterfly joint and doesn’t really interfere all that much with the range. It’s quite good and the cape and shield help hide any gaps left behind when the butterfly joint is fully extended. The left shoulder on my figure is really tight and hard to rotate, but I don’t feel like I’m going to break it, it just needs more breaking in. He has a biceps swivel and double-jointed elbows that give you about a 90 degree bend. No forearm swivel which stinks because the gauntlets are frozen in place which makes posing a bit annoying at times. The hands peg in, per usual, and can rotate and also feature a horizontal hinge.

There are some out there who wish the green on Shredder was a bit more like the Green Ranger, but I enjoy the muted shade.

In the torso, we have a diaphragm joint that’s pretty floppy. I don’t really like it as a result, but you can swivel there and get Shredder to bend forward and back an acceptable amount. He has an ab crunch below that, but the sash gets in the way so it doesn’t offer a ton. It’s a floating belt, but it’s way too tight. There also appears to be a seem underneath it that might be a waist twist, but I can’t get him to go. At the hips we have the standard ball pegs with thigh cuts below them. He can kick forward to about horizontal, but his cheeks prevent his leg from going back. The knees are double-jointed and work fine, which is good since I already mentioned they’re ugly. He does have a boot cut and at the ankle we have hinges and a rocker. The rocker works fine, though it’s a little loose while the hinges appear to be ratcheted. They’re annoying though because I can’t quite get the feet into a neutral position. The toe seems to always be pointed up a little, or down. I guess it’s not a huge problem as it just makes the most vanilla of posing difficult, but it is odd. I don’t have too much trouble getting him to stand even with the loose rockers. The only hindrance, really, is the floppy upper torso as he tends to bend back after being set down.

I think they scale pretty well. Shredder is taller and leaner, but still pretty damn beefy.

What we have with Shredder is what should be the best figure in this line if not for a few errors. I genuinely like the color palette on this guy as the muted green contrasts well with the bright Turtle Rangers and original Green Ranger. The gold paint and texture of the metallic parts of the armor look awesome, which is why the gold plastic knees really stand out as an eye sore. That torso really could stand to be tightened up though as I don’t like it. I’m more forgiving when it comes to the ankle hinges as I’m sure they had to use that ratcheted design for a reason and a standard one probably would have been too loose. The low accessory count is a bit of a bummer, but he does look great just armed with his claws and, even though it isn’t wired, I think the cape turned out very well. He’s a striking figure, but he is sold at what is a premium price for a Hasbro figure so I do think some of the flaws should not be readily overlooked. At the same time, he looks a million times better than the monsters released in the Lightning Collection so at least he has that going for him.

Group shot!

Shredder is the final figure in this line and is currently still available for preorder at various online stores. Gamestop is stocking this line as well and they can be found both online and in-store while supplies last. I would say normally if a line like this is a success then it will likely get reissued, but I have no idea what kind of arrangement Hasbro made with Viacom when it comes to the TMNT license so it’s possible they’ll be one and done. I wouldn’t wait on it if you’re interested. Given how terrible the helmet turned out on my figure, I would say take a look locally if you can to make sure the one you’re buying looks okay, but I suspect most will have to resort to online orders and hope for the best.


NECA Cartoon TMNT Tokka and Rahzar

Memorable mutants from their not so memorable role.

There is certainly a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles product flying around these days, but I would guess collectors and fans of the property are paying the most attention to two toy makers in particular: NECA and Super7. One search for “NECA” on this blog will reveal that the company has produced a ton of TMNT action figures based on various iterations of the characters be it movies, television, or comics. As for Super7, their output is much slower and more specific, though they still have released 16 figures thus far and a handful of variants and have three additional waves already solicited. Super7’s approach is to essentially reproduce what Playmates made 30 years ago at a new scale and with modern technology. Both NECA and Super7 basically received permission to go full tilt on TMNT at the same time, and both have said they basically sat down at Toy Fair, explained the direction they were each going in, and basically have a handshake agreement to not step on each other’s toes which has held up just fine.

Sometimes though, multiple iterations of the property intersect. Playmates very much did its own thing when it came to characters and designs, and for awhile, the cartoon did as well. As the show went on though, the writers, artists, and so on started to just lift more from existing sources probably because it gets hard to keep coming up with new ideas for a show that’s pretty formulaic and largely exists just to sell toys. And since it’s a glorified commercial, why not just include the toys in the show directly?

Stop me if you’ve heard this before about this line, but these guys look like they jumped right off of the screen.

When it came time to make a sequel to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1990 film, the writers wanted to include some mutant henchmen for Shredder. When Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird balked at including the cartoony Bebop and Rocksteady, new mutants were created in Tokka and Rahzar. Playmates foolishly felt the first movie would be a massive flop and did not support it with toys, but after it was a success, they were ready for the sequel and produced figures on several characters including the newly created mutants. Playmates wasn’t going to match the look of the costumes in the film, and it’s likely things were being worked on simultaneously, so their take on Tokka and Rahzar turned out a little different from how they appeared in the film. The film was another hit and the characters proved popular, so to no one’s surprise, Tokka and Rahzar made the jump to television. And since it was likely far easier to model them on the toys, that’s what the show did. All of this is to say I feel a little bad for Super7 since NECA has essentially provided us a set of figures that are based on the cartoon, which was based on the toys. It’s basically the same deal as what we saw with Antrax and Scumbug earlier this year.

Let’s just jump right to the comparisons! Left to right: Playmates Tokka (first run), NECA toon, and NECA movie.

Tokka and Rahzar come in the standard window box packaging we’re all used to at this point. They were initially offered as part of NECA’s Haulathon event and in a confusing fashion as they were sold on costumes.com. Apparently, it would have cost too much to create a new website. That website was also supposed to be for international customers only, but no one configured the site to actually lock out US residents so it ended up being a free-for-all when everything went up on March 18th. This set was said to be open to all in some places, but it was all terribly communicated and a lot of confusion was out there. I placed an order on that site, and a set arrived less than 2 weeks later even though product wasn’t supposed to ship until April (I’m not complaining). These guys are going to Target, and maybe online too, and it’s possible by the time this post actually goes live that all of this has been sorted out. For now, it’s a mess, but I got some toys out of it.

And now for the wolf. Same arrangement as before. I think my vintage Rahzar is the first run which had red paint around the eyes in error. Later releases featured black like the toon version.

As mentioned before, Tokka and Rahzar are based on their appearance in the episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter!” and the designs for the characters are clearly based on their action figure counterparts from Playmates. It came pretty late in the cartoon’s life, episode 166 out of 193, so several people collecting this line barely remember their appearance. I personally was still watching, but I’d drop off the following season when the “Red Sky” era began and the show underwent a soft reboot of sorts. I remember being quite surprised to see this pair show up though, and even more surprised when they were intelligent creatures. Aside from resembling the movie characters to a certain degree, the pair are pretty damn different. They’re a bit morally ambiguous and largely out to satisfy their stomachs. Rahzar makes it very clear to Tokka that he’s his only friend in the world, which is about the only character development they really get. Rahzar seems to dislike everyone, but Tokka, and he does make some comment about no one being able to stop them so I guess they’re villains? Tokka is mostly useless though as he’s easily subdued and just exists to make Rahzar mad when something unfortunate befalls him. He gets captured by the mutant racist Dirk Savage, leading to a showdown between Savage and Rahzar that’s just a set piece for the turtles to save Savage and have him realize the errors of his ways. That’s the cure for racism in Hollywood, you just need to have the party the individual is racist towards save them. Problem solved! Tokka and Rahzar’s story just sort of ends there and they never show up again.

“All right son, I’ll take you to the dog park.”

Rahzar is obviously the larger of the two standing at around 7.25″ to the top of his hair. Tokka, is much shorter and chunkier coming in at around 5.25″. Both were sculpted by Paul Harding who has already made a mark on this line with expressive sculpts of Dirtbag and Groundchuck and it looks like NECA was so pleased with Tokka that they’re prepping the figure for a re-release as an Archie Slash, which makes sense since the Playmates Slash was repurposed into Tokka! Both figures are impressively sculpted. Rahzar has a lot of extra parts added to him like the broken shackles, forearm and thigh pads, and that grill on his chest. Tokka has various warts and similar blemishes on his body to go with a spiked shell that’s a dead-ringer for the old toy. He has elbow and knee pads plus those spiked shoulder pauldrons. I love the detail on both and the paint is what is expected of this line. The black linework is clean and really causes the pair to “pop” and we get that bisected shading as well with light on the front and dark on the back. The only overlay in use here is the green “diaper” on Rahzar so it’s hard to say if NECA expects to get much reuse out of his mold. If not, I love to see the commitment on display here from NECA to make the best possible versions of these characters uncompromised by cost-cutting measures.

Tokka’s shell features the same arrangement as the old toy for the spikes. There’s even the same linework on the center nubs.

When it comes to shortcomings from a presentation perspective, there’s very little to complain about here. We’re basically down to nitpicks as the paint around the spikes on Tokka’s shell is a little sloppy around the edges, but it’s pretty minor. The shurikens on his belt also have a soft appearance in the paint department, but again, it’s a nitpick. The only real blemish on either figure is with Rahzar’s right shackle. There’s a sizable blob of gray paint on it from the forearm guard that’s a bit of a bummer. The shackle is a separate piece that can come right off once the hand is popped off so, if I want to, I could easily take it off and try to touch it up. It’s tough to paint white over a dark color though so I don’t know that I’ll bother, but that really is it as far as issues. This is a very clean set.

These guys just want to eat and hang out, and honestly, I can relate.

Since our boys here only showed up in one episode, they didn’t really get to do much aside from eat and get captured by Savage. Given that, NECA included a bunch of food! There’s a turkey platter with about half of a bird on it, some sliced potatoes, and a big slab of salami, I think. There’s also a turkey leg and some bone-in-meat plus a whole fish which was something actually used as a weapon against Rahzar. There’s also yet another handheld, control, device that looks like a fancy adding machine. It’s the controller to the control cuff that actually came with the Mondo Gecko figure so, little by little, we’re building the arsenal of Dirk Savage (the foot trap that came with the Punk Frogs also belongs to Savage). Each figure also comes with a set of gripping hands and a set of open hands. I’m a little surprised there are no fists, but I don’t know that I actually miss them. The accessories are all painted very nicely, and even though I’m not sure what I’ll do with a big turkey platter, I’m happy to have it.

“Hey, gimme a bit of that.” “No.”

This line is certainly an appearance first, articulation second, sort of line, but these two boys move pretty well. We’ll start with Rahzar first who has a ball-jointed head. It feels like it might be a double-ball peg as he can look up very well, and bury his chin with rotation and tilt. There’s also a hinged jaw to add personality and it works very well. He’s most limited at the shoulders where traditional ball-hinges are hampered by the shoulder pads. The pads can slide a little, but he can’t really lift his arms out to the side much. He can rotate just fine though, and he has a biceps swivel, double-jointed elbows that get you 90 degrees or better, and wrist swivels with horizontal hinges. In the diaphragm is a ball joint that will mostly let the figure rotate, but you get some tilt and he can arch back and crunch forward a little bit. The hips are on ball-sockets and are nice and firm. You get a thigh twist there to go with double-jointed knees and the standard hinge and rocker combo at the ankles. All of those joints work quite well and I love that he has big feet because he’s easy to pose and stand. There were no stuck joints and they’re all cast in the most appropriate color of plastic too.

They seem to scale just fine with the turtles.

Tokka is similar, but being another turtle character, he has some limitations of his own. His head basically sits forward on the sculpt so he’s more limited in the up and down department, but he does have a really nice jaw hinge to make up for it. This dude can open wide! Like Rahzar, he has shoulder pads too that prevent him from bringing his arms out to the side, but he gets good range out of the double-elbows despite the elbow pads (why can’t we get these on the hero turtles?) and has a biceps swivel and standard wrist articulation. Like the turtles, he appears to have some joints in the torso, but unlike the turtles, it’s pretty useless. I can’t get any twist out of them, but braver folks than me might be more willing to really crank on that joint. The hips are ball and socket joints and he has the same thigh twist, double knees, and ankle articulation as Rahzar. Tokka’s feet are really impressive as he can bend each one back all the way so the foot lines up with the leg and he can bend it really far forward. It gives the figure a great base and I’ll definitely be happy to have a Slash with this kind of articulation later this year.

“Tokka, you and I are all we got!” “Have you been watching those Fast and Furious movies again?”

I feel like I’ve been saying this with a lot of the two-packs of late, but this set is another contender for best in the line. I’m partial to the bugs from a design standpoint, but I can’t imagine these two turning out any better than they did. These guys are picture perfect recreations of their animated look and the sculpt, paint, and articulation really comes together nicely. I suppose the accessories aren’t the most exciting we’ve seen, but it’s not as if there was much in the show associated with them. I guess we should be mad at the designers of the toon for not giving them some of their action figure accessories.

Tokka and Rahzar have started off as another Haulathon exclusive, but I suspect NECA will make every effort to get these figures into as many hands as possible so if you missed the initial drop keep your eyes open. Basically every set these days to hit Target brick and mortar has been relatively easy to get ahold of, excepting maybe the turtles themselves. I’m willing to bet Tokka and Rahzar will follow a similar pattern and hang around for a bit. Maybe I’m underestimating their popularity due to their appearance in The Secret of the Ooze, but that remains to be seen. If you can’t tell, I definitely give these guys a strong recommend so get out there and hunt these bad boys down like you’re Dirk Savage himself, just don’t be a racist!


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