Tag Archives: teenage mutant ninja turtles

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!

NECA TMNT Cartoon Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady

The moronic duo gets an upgrade in every place except the one that matters most: the brain.

2021 introduced a lot of good things for collectors of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures based on the classic cartoon. The toy maker still kept the line a Target exclusive when it came to brick and mortar, but it also started selling a lot of it online to coincide with each new release. Sure, you still had some folks out there complaining about having to pay NECA’s $15 shipping charge, but to skip the aggravation of the hunt seemed like a worthwhile trade-off for me!

2022 has not started off that way. Well, it has and it hasn’t. The past few weeks have seen NECA post several products on their site as preorders to be delivered later this year, and some of those look pretty damn awesome. At the same time, they’ve also launched Haulathon – a “collector” event in coordination with Target that sees a lot of the first run of sought after items (as well as restocks of past items, so it’s not all bad) head to either Target’s stores, website, or both. And one of those exclusives is the two-pack of Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady. Or, is it Super Rocksteady and Mighty Bebop? The box and the episode title from which these two came say one thing, but Shredder and Krang say another in episode. I suppose it doesn’t matter as most just likely remember them as the robot versions of everyone’s favorite pair of dim-witted mutants.

Robot Rocksteady is packing a lot of heat.

Like a lot of characters from this era, Bebop and Rocksteady had toy versions that depicted them as robots, but they looked nothing like the characters from the show. For that reason, I consider these the first true depictions in classic for the robotic duo. They’ve been high on my own personal “Wants” list when it comes to this line for awhile, so I was thrilled to see the images leak online of the pair and even more thrilled to get them in-hand. Special thanks are reserved for a fellow local collector, @JoePoppingOn, who helped me in finding a set. Without his help, I’d still be on the hunt for these rad dudes.

These shoulder turrets are pretty cool, but sadly are non-articulated.

We’ve had three iterations of Bebop and Rocksteady from NECA at this point, but unlike those previous sets, these two are all new sculpts. There’s really nothing one can salvage from the other figures when trying to create the robot versions as they have an all-together different shape and the show made sure to put some kind of robot detailing on basically every surface. In addition to that, the two are pretty different from each other so NECA couldn’t even have them share too many parts. From what I can tell, the only parts shared between the two are the shoulders, biceps, hands, thighs, and lower leg. The forearms, torso, head, and feet are unique to each character and both feature extra additions like Rocksteady’s forearm mounted laser and Bebop’s shoulder guns. More importantly, they look just as they do in the show from the colors to the individual details. I love that Rocksteady appears to have a tape deck in his stomach while the Play and Stop buttons appear to be on Bebop’s belt. There’s little to no paint slop on my set and everything just looks terrific.

The parking meter will likely be the favorite accessory of many collectors who pick this set up.

These are big, chunky, boys that come in at around 6.5″ with Bebop’s mohawk and overall higher sitting head pushing him slightly beyond that. They basically articulate in the same manner as well. Both articulate at the head where they can swivel with some slight tilt. Rocksteady can look up pretty well, but Bebop not so well, and neither can really look down. Both have hinged jaws which work fine. At the shoulders are standard ball hinges, but both figures have stuff to maneuver around. For Bebop, it’s the shoulder pads which are connected to his vest. If you bring his arms up too quickly or forcefully you could risk popping them off so it’s best to be gentle. Rocksteady has these coils extending over his shoulders which creates a similar impediment, with more limitations on raising the arms out to the side. The biceps swivel and the double-jointed elbows work fine, as do the hands which swivel and feature a horizontal hinge. I’ll add that every joint is on these guys is tight, but not too tight, with none that I’d describe as loose. I did not have to heat up anything to get it working.

“What do you suppose this is for?” “I don’t know. Bowling?”

In the torso, we have the usual diaphragm joint. And as per usual with this line, it offers very little. With Bebop, he has a bandolier and a vest layered over it which makes it hard to get at. With Rocksteady, there’s really nothing in the way so you get good rotation there, but very little in terms of the ability to crunch forward and back. You also need to be mindful of the paint on his torso as I would hate to see anyone scratch it. Below the abdomen is a waist twist and below that is something we’ve all long been waiting for with a Bebop and Rocksteady set: ball-jointed hips! Yes, the old design which was a pin and ratchet combo is gone and these ball joints work great. They can’t do full splits, but the joint has solid tolerance and you get a thigh twist out of it too. The knees are double-jointed, and at the ankles we get a hinge and rocker which work great. The boxy design of their feet also makes standing these guys pretty painless, which is necessary because a lot of the accents on their sculpts (in particular Rocksteady) are made of hard plastic and likely wouldn’t handle a shelf dive too well. Overall, the pair don’t articulate all that well, but that’s par for the course with this line which prioritizes the aesthetics of the figure over pose-ability. I’d argue they have enough, but your mileage may vary.

More handheld gizmos to add to the collection.

In true NECA fashion we also get a generous assortment of “stuff” with this pair. There are two sets of the following styles of hands: fists, open hands, and gripping hands. For the gripping hands, the left hand is a standard “C” grip while the right hand has a trigger finger grip. A small nitpick for me is I wish we got a left and right trigger hand just to make the two look different, but it’s a minor complaint. We also get two new guns: a long rifle machine gun and a shorter machine gun with drill tip. They’re all new and are basically chunkier versions of the other guns we’ve seen for the duo. I love the sculpting on both of them, especially the long rifle, which has a scope and sight at the end. There’s also a busted parking meter for one to smash turtles with, and a pair of cartoon specific accessories to round things out. There’s the polarity deflector from “Return of the Technodrome”, and a cartoony, round, bomb with red and yellow wires sculpted on. Surprisingly, the bomb is here and not the Mezmerizer, which is a similar item from the episode they’re in, but I always enjoy a good bomb accessory. It’s from the episode “Mister Ogg Goes to Town,” Mister Ogg being one of the few characters I have zero interest in NECA tackling. The weapons are painted, and the hands pretty stiff, so you do need to take care when wedging the items in there because there probably will be some paint rub. The open hands are suitable for holding both the polarity thing and bomb, the latter of which has a flat, bottom, so it sits just fine on a surface. I personally wouldn’t try to get them to hold the polarity deflector with their gripping hands as I’m pretty sure that will lead to paint rub, but it’s your call. As always, if you’re nervous about it just run the hand under hot tap water for a few seconds and that should make them more pliable.

“At last! I have henchmen worthy of my stature!”

These guys are just great. They both look fine right out of the box as Rocksteady has his forearm blaster and a pair of guns on his shoulders as well. If I have a minor critique, it’s that those two guns on his back aren’t articulated at all as it would have been neat if they were on ball joints. Bebop also has his two “stock” guns in his shoulder pads, but they appear more decorative than anything as I can’t imagine it’s easy to aim a gun attached to the top of one’s shoulder. That’s what the accessories are for though and I’m torn on how to display them. I kind of wish I could just stick the parking meter into a slot on the street diorama, but sadly, there appears to be no way to do that.

“Hey, can you play this?”

These are good problems to have when it comes to toys, and this is a set that I hope all collectors have an easy time tracking down. Very few sets in this line have remained exclusive to Target stores, so once this Haulathon event is over there’s a reasonable chance that NECA makes them available directly through their store. It might be in the form of a preorder, so there would be a lengthy wait attached to it, but it’s better than not getting them. They were available on Target.com last Friday, but I assume by the time this goes live they will have sold out. The set retails for $60 too, which is becoming the standard for two-packs in this line that feature a lot of new sculpting that won’t likely translate to other figures. For now, we only have the hunt so keep an eye on your local Targets and coordinate with other collectors out there. Together, we can beat the scalpers!

Here’s a photo dump to end on:

“I don’t see what’s so great about this guy? He doesn’t even have a TV!”
“You call that a mohawk?”
“Well, at least it isn’t the meter maid.”
“Foul robot! Prepare to be destroyed!”

Hasbro MMPR x TMNT April O’Neil and Michelangelo

The end of the road…for now.

We have arrived at the last two-pack in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures from Hasbro and it’s that bodacious dude, Michelangelo, along with the ravishing reporter April O’Neil. There’s not going to be a whole lot to say about these figures at this point as, if you read last week’s review of Leonardo and Donatello, then you know that the turtles in this line are all essentially the same figure. And when it comes to April, she’s basically just a standard Lightning Collection pink ranger with some minor differences.

The two best Starburst flavors.

Michelangelo, like Donatello, has to assume a different preferred color and for him it’s yellow. This isn’t completely foreign to Mikey as the original arcade game had him as yellow instead of orange for some reason, and even the follow-up, Turtles in Time, kept the yellow buttons and joystick (though his character sprite was corrected to feature the orange pads and mask). Mikey is the standard turtle ranger body sharing more similarities with Raph due to both having a belt without a shoulder strap. His weapon slots on the belt are unique to him as is his helmet, which takes the form of the sabretooth tiger from MMPR. Mikey can actually claim to being the best looking ranger in this set since it’s very easy to paint white over yellow. He’s a very a bright yellow and the white paint on his gloves covers up the yellow plastic quite well. Unfortunately, the yellow diamonds on his boots are painted terribly because nothing can be perfect. He also has a red spec under the tiger nose on his helmet that I’ve been trying to scratch away. There’s also still a lack of paint, in particular with the helmet, but that’s par for the course with Hasbro. The lower part of the shell does stick out more with my figure. One could attribute that to Michelangelo’s almost exclusive all pizza diet, but it does look like the tab underneath the gold piece isn’t seated properly and it doesn’t seem to want to go in. It’s a minor imperfection, but an imperfection nonetheless. His articulation is exactly the same as his brothers, so I don’t feel a need to go over it a third time. It’s good though.

Not sure about that effect piece for Mikey.

For April, she is essentially just the pink Power Ranger with one obvious difference: no skirt piece. I don’t know why that was eliminated, but it appears to be consistent with the comic. I don’t mind as the skirt is just a restrictive piece when it comes to articulation and doesn’t really add much to the look of the character. In comparing her with my Lightning Collection Kimberly, I do notice a new helmet design. This one is noticeably taller and not nearly as long when viewing it from the side. I don’t know if this was a running change for the pink ranger figures or if it’s just more accurate to the source material for this comic. I am surprised that Hasbro would re-sculpt it though and I do think it’s more pleasing to look at. Otherwise, her shade of pink is also noticeably brighter. Her torso is still a darker shade of pink than the rest of the figure, but it’s less noticeable here and at least the limbs, diamonds, and the pink portion of the helmet look to be a similar shade of pink. The prior figure was all over the place and my pick for worst in the line, so at least if Hasbro is making me rebuy it, it looks better. The only thing that looks worse is the morpher on the belt as Hasbro omitted the silver paint, as it did for the turtles as well. Her articulation is the same as the previously released yellow and pink ranger so if you want a complete rundown check out that review.

It’s so hard to get April into a good bow pose.

The accessory loadout is also quite familiar here as both figures come with extra hands, an alternate portrait, weapons, and an effect piece. Unlike the last set, we do have some extra stuff which I’ll get to. First though, let’s talk about Mikey who has fists, gripping hands, and open hands. These are the same hands released in the other sets, only Mikey can actually benefit from the wide-fingered sai grip hands as his weapon can fit between the fingers. And his weapon is a mash-up of the power dagger and nunchaku. Basically, he has four daggers instead of two and they’re joined by a chain. The chain is sculpted plastic, which I’m kind of torn on. I like the look of real chain, but that sucks for posing and would look terrible in the combined blaster (not that these look much better). The plastic chain here though is just boring gray with no paint applied to even simulate steel. They’re also not very long so most classic, Mikey, two-handed poses are unachievable. I also wish the chains were bendy to the point that they held their shape for better swinging poses. There’s a purple effects piece that doesn’t look great because it’s hard to come up with a convincing swinging pose. Even the box art just kind of gave up and depicts Mikey just standing there with the piece dangling. It’s a good concept for a weapon, it’s just the execution that’s cheap. The dagger portions of each ‘chuk also key together which looks better on the combined weapon and when inserting them into his holsters. His weapons are the toughest to holster, though rather, getting them in isn’t too hard, but getting them out can be a pain. I feel like I’m going to break them every time so I’ll probably refrain from doing it too much.

Go Team Yellow!
Hasbro at least improved the coloring on the pink ranger body.

As for April, she comes with the weapons one would expect, plus some extra stuff. She has a pair of gripping hands out of the box, and strangely, Hasbro didn’t include Kimberly’s arrow nocking right hand which works much better with the included arrow than the standard gripping hand. She also has a left fist and right open, chop, hand. As for weapons, she has the same as Kimberly including the line’s only blade blaster. It has the white and red deco as opposed to the silver Kimberly’s came with, but is otherwise the same. The bow is now silver instead of white and the included arrow is a hot pink that basically matches her costume as opposed to Kimberly’s gray. She also has the translucent, pink, blast effect arrow that is slightly darker than Kimberly’s. Since this is April, to make her feel more like that character Hasbro included a stick microphone and camcorder. The mic has a white, triangular, box on it, but there’s no graphic for the station April works for so it looks kind of stupid. The camcorder is a shoulder-mounted design and it’s fine. It’s just black, molded, plastic and the only paint is on the lens. I get why she comes with this stuff, but I don’t know if I’ll actually use it. I’d definitely trade the microphone for a proper collapsed blade blaster she could holster, but that’s a criticism I have of the Lightning Collection as a whole.

That’s not an ugly portrait, but it doesn’t look like April.
This portrait, on the other hand…

Like the other figures, these two come with an unmasked portrait. Michelangelo’s is a wild, open-mouthed, expression that’s befitting of the character, but could use more paint. Hasbro painted his tongue and teeth, but left the rest of his inner mouth green which is a bit odd. Maybe it’s the expression, but this one looks especially goofy on the turtle body. As for April, it looks like Hasbro recycled the Evangeline Lily head from its MCU line for her and stuck a different hair sculpt on it. It doesn’t look bad, but it also doesn’t look anything like the character from the comic so I suppose that does make it kind of bad. It at least looks better on April’s body given she’s better proportioned, but I doubt I’ll use it since I plan to keep the turtles with their helmets on.

Mikey’s daggers peg into each other to at least keep them tidy on here (or when holstered), but they still look goofy.

As promised, I will mention the combining effect that’s available to all who collect the entire line. Just like with the standard Lightning Collection releases, the weapons can combine to form the giant, blaster, the Power Rangers are fond of using. The turtle version is mostly the same, and yet not as fun. The bow and power axe are exactly the same so they combine in the same manner. One of Raph’s sais slots into the top where the power sword goes, but it’s not as long as said sword so it doesn’t look quite as neat. Leo’s swords and Mikey’s dagger-chuks clip underneath the bow and this is where it starts to look dumb. Because Leo’s swords tab together to form a lance, only one actually has a hole on the bottom to resemble a gun barrel with the other having a plastic tab. Mikey’s chuks apparently go in chain forward which just looks ridiculous. I mean, the whole thing is supposed to look ridiculous by nature, but this takes it further with the weapons appearing to not even be able to fire. If the chains could detach on at least one set of the ‘chuks that would be fine, but Hasbro didn’t want to go that route. This could also be comic accurate, for all I know, and if so then this is a criticism of the design and not the toy. It’s still a fun novelty, but it’s not as neat looking as the MMPR version.

Group shot!

That’s it though. Again, if you have enjoyed the prior two-packs then you’ll like this one. This might be my least favorite of the three though as Mikey’s weapons aren’t as fun to mess around with and April is just a basic Power Ranger, with an odd, unmasked, head sculpt. I’m at least relieved to see that Hasbro made some improvements to the Kimberly figure I was so down on, but it also could have been improved further given her torso is still an odd color. Hasbro also did a comic shaded variant of the pink ranger which might have made more sense for this line, though she would have clashed with the other releases so I get why they didn’t go that route.

Lets bring Tommy in.

This may be the last of the two-packs for this line, but it’s not the last release. That honor falls to Shredder as the green ranger. I haven’t been able to get my hands on that one yet, but rest assured, when I do I’ll be back to tell you all about it.

And now with the OG team. Billy’s back there, I swear.

Hasbro Power Rangers x TMNT Donatello and Leonardo

Donatello and Leonardo are here to join the team.

It’s been a minute, but we’re back with another two-pack from Hasbro’s Power Rangers x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of action figures. If you’re unfamiliar, this series is born from the Boom! comics crossover in which the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers meet the turtles and somehow their powers end up getting handed over to them. I haven’t read the story, so I don’t know why any of that took place, but it did lead to some cool character designs and that’s why we’re here.

The first set I received was the Raphael and Tommy Oliver two-pack which was my introduction to this morphed turtle character sculpt. Because of that, this set is pretty damn familiar because, like many TMNT toy lines, the sculpt for each turtle is essentially the same. The only differences separating the turtles in this line are the unique, unmasked, head sculpts and the belts and weapons. And the other major difference is just the color scheme. With this set, Leonardo is logically the blue ranger, but since there is no purple ranger, Donatello had to take the black. It might have been kind of fun if the black ranger simply became the purple ranger in the hands of Donatello, but this is fine and I don’t fault Boom! for sticking with the traditional colors for MMPR.

It’s morphin’ time…dudes!

If you read my review of Raph and Tommy, then you know that I generally like this ranger turtle sculpt. It’s chunky and embodies enough of what makes the turtles unique while also mixing it with the classic MMPR look. For turtle fans, the biggest change from what we’re accustomed to is in the scale and proportions. These guys are big when the turtles are traditionally on the shorter side. They make Tommy look like a chump as they’re about the same height (six inches), but far more muscular. April, who is in the other two-pack I haven’t reviewed, is a little shorter than the turtles this time. The other big change is in the proportions as it relates to the head. The turtles usually have pretty big domes relative to their body, but here they’re much smaller and closer to more human proportions. It’s not something that I really notice with the masked heads, but swap to the unmasked ones and the contrast becomes obvious. Hasbro has to go off of the art, but I do think they could have gone a little bigger. Aside from that, the sculpt is fine and captures the fun mash-up this crossover embodies.

Both turtles get alternate methods of utilizing their weapons. For Leo, that means his swords combine, but for Donnie he just has a separate, standard, power axe.

Leonardo and Donatello, as mentioned before, are the same as Raphael. The only difference is they feature the chest strap on their belt (just like the vintage toys) which contains the center diamond. On Raph, that diamond is glued into the chest, but on Leo and Don it just pegs in as part of the belt and can be pulled off. Leonardo’s belt crosses over his left shoulder while Donnie’s comes over his right. The insignia on the morpher is unique to each turtle: triceratops for Leo and mastodon for Don. The holster on the rear of the belt is also unique as it’s catered to the weapon of choice for each turtle. Donnie’s is interesting because we’re accustomed to companies making a tube on his back, but Hasbro chose to do the same, but with a slit through the side. Instead of jamming the staff portion of his weapon through one end and out the other, you can just push it in through the slit which is made of a soft plastic. It doesn’t look as neat, but it is easy and there would be less of a chance of paint rub with this design, though his weapon isn’t painted on the staff portion.

If you want, they can go mask-less, though I don’t know how many would want to do that.

The body of each turtle is essentially three colors: white, gold, and the primary color. Hasbro is able to engineer these guys in a way that allows them to use mostly colored, unpainted, plastic. The only paint appears to be the gold bands on the arms, the white on the forearms, and the diamonds on the gloves and boots. On Donatello, the white isn’t really opaque enough on the forearms so the black plastic shows through a bit. It contrasts with the white plastic hands which have a slight off-white hue. By contrast, the boots are quite clean, but that’s because Hasbro was able to do them in white plastic. Oddly, the knees and elbows are an ever so slightly different shade of black. Since they’re a joiner for the articulation it could be they’re a different type of plastic. It was more noticeable on Raph, but with Don it’s probably only apparent to me because I’m looking for it. On Leo, it’s slightly more uniform than Raph, with the exception of his left knee which looks darker than the rest. His forearms at least look a little better, but there’s more paint slop in general on him than Don as well as mold release imperfections on his limbs.

Weapon storage!

On the helmets, we have a little more going on. There we get some silver for the mouth guard and some of the features like the triceratops horns and mastodon tusks. Maybe it’s the shape of the turtle head, but Leo’s helmet comes across a little plain. He still has the black visor with red eyes inside as well as the yellow triceratops eyes on the side, but it feels like there could be a little more going on here. It could also be just the shiny, blue, plastic which gives off a cheap look. Donatello’s helmet is a bit better as the mastodon design has more linework. None of it is painted though so it’s not as striking as the black ranger figure from the Lightning Collection nor does it look like the art on the packaging. The silver paint on his mouth guard also isn’t as clean. Both come with an unmasked option which look okay. The design for these turtles is a bit more froggy than I personally like, and the heads look really small on the body. Leo gets a stoic expression while Don has a traditional turtle mouth and features goggles and a skull cap instead of the standard mask. I’ll probably never use these heads in my display, but I like that Hasbro gives collectors options.

There’s a very different approach to the shade of blue used when it comes to Leo vs Billy.

On the accessory front, we have weapons, effects, and hands. Like Raph, Leo and Don each come with a set of gripping hands, fists, and open hands. The gripping hands are the same from turtle to turtle so they have a vertical hinge and a wide gap between the fingers to accommodate Raph’s sai grip. That’s not really useful for the other turtles, and the grip isn’t perfect for Leo which is on the loose side. I love the vertical hinge, though I wish Hasbro had cut out a bit more room for it as there isn’t a ton of range there. For weapons, the blue ranger’s lance has been split into two, short, swords. They can connect like the lance to form basically a really dangerous looking weapon, but I suspect most will have Leo dual wield swords, per usual. Donatello gets two versions of the power axe. One is basically the standard axe, only the quality is less than what was released previously as it’s very soft and gummy and I had a hard time getting the “pump” action to work. Trying to move it just caused the entire barrel to bend, but some hot water freed it up, though it’s still not a smooth action. He also has a pole axe version which is what fits into his belt. It’s kind of neat, though the paint job on it isn’t terrific. The bulky turtle hands also don’t grip the standard axe very well in a firing pose. They also each get an effect part. Donatello has a green, flame, effect while Leonardo has a blue lightning effect that’s very similar to what the blue ranger came with. I don’t know if I’ll use either, but I’d rather have them than not. And there isn’t really anything missing, just shortcuts taken to keep costs down that harm the figures in a mild fashion. I’d rather have better gripping hands than what was packaged with Raph, but it’s more of a nitpick than a true criticism.

The power axe mold is unchanged from the black ranger release, just the paint and overall quality is different, which means the blast effect from the prior release works with this one as well.

The articulation for both turtles is the same as what we saw with Raph, which is mostly very good. The pin-less engineering on the double knees and elbows works very well as they look nice and the range is better than 90 degrees in both places. The range in the ankle pivots helps to make standing them fairly easy, though the shell does add weight to the rear of the figure making it a little tricky to do just a standard, vanilla, upright pose. They have articulation in the torso, but the shell limits it to basically just a waist twist. Hasbro did cut the bottom of the front of the shell in two to better facilitate this. The joints are all pretty tight, but not to the point where I needed to heat anything. The only joints that don’t really work are the butterfly joints in the shoulders. There’s just no clearance because of the shell on both sides, so I don’t know why it’s here. Even with that limitation, these are some of the most dynamic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ever produced, probably surpassed only by the S.H.Figuarts versions. Obviously, the costume makes these almost a completely different animal in terms of aesthetics, but I can see why some people are interested in seeing what Hasbro would do with a proper line of TMNT figures.

For a ninja, balance is key.

Reviewing this set is pretty easy after having reviewed the Raph and Tommy set. If you liked what you saw there, then you’ll be pleased with what’s present here. Hasbro does skimp on the paint, but the sculpts are interesting and the figures are pretty well engineered. It all comes down to style: do you like this mashup of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? If so, then you’ll enjoy what Hasbro has put together. I think these make for a fun display whether you’re more of a MMPR fan or a TMNT one, and if you happen to like both, well then this was practically made for you. And I do like how Leo and Don turned out especially. The black and gold color scheme just works, while I’ve always been partial to Leonardo. I like the lance/katana cross more than Raph’s sai/power sword combo (it helps that Leo’s weapons are painted better) and I definitely like the versatility of both weapons here. Even though this two-pack is essentially the same figure times two, I think I like it a little more than the Raph and Tommy set. Sorry Tommy, you’re just not nearly as interesting as a turtle in a Power Rangers costume. Check back next week when we take a look at the final two-pack in this series: Michelangelo and April O’Neil.

Come back next week and I’ll tell you all about how the weapons combine!

Let’s Rank the NECA Cartoon TMNT Figures…Again!

My oh my how the collection has grown!

It’s the first Turtle Tuesday in a little while that I don’t have some new TMNT review to post. Given that, I think it’s time to revisit the rankings I did last year for NECA’s toon line of action figures. This has become NECA’s most popular line, and while it has cooled a bit since last year, that also could just be due to better distribution making it easier for collectors to get their hands on these things. NECA has done preorders and direct sales going back to April of last year and it’s made a world of difference. And it’s a great thing to be able to simply enjoy this line for what it is and not be frustrated with how hard it can be to get some of these.

Last year, I had 21 distinct rankings for this list and now a little more than a year later it’s doubled! The amount of figures has actually more than doubled as we’ve seen some variants come out and some figures I’ll rank together (like the frogs and various Foot Soldiers). It was a very busy year for the line and it’s pretty damn impressive how many new releases made it out given the ongoing global shipping and factory issues.

Forty-two is a lot of figures to rank so let’s not waste any more time. Where a figure is a repeat from last year, I’ll include the prior ranking. The order for those older releases is largely the same, but there were some changes here and there as certain figures have fallen out of favor a bit, or I’ve gained new appreciation for. There are no rules here aside from this is how I feel right now in this moment. Some of these are rather fluid, though I feel pretty good about my number 1, and about my number 42…

April O’Neil (21) – She’s still in last place because her sculpt just isn’t great. She’s also still hard to get, but NECA is prepping an update for 2022 so stay tuned.

Krang (Bubble Walker)(20) – Also still in second to last place, just not a fun release, and not really one that could be. It’s very much limited by the design, and the walker itself looks fine, but has a cheap feel. It could have used real knee joints and ball-joints where the legs meet the “bubble.”

“Hello, I’m Kerma. I’ll trade you this lizard if you’ll come with me to my home planet and save it. And if not, I’ll just blow you up with this bomb!”

Kerma – Figure or accessory? He’s just enough of his own thing that I gave him a ranking. He looks great, but he doesn’t articulate much because he was released as an accessory. I do draw a distinction between him and Joey Eyeball though, who won’t be ranked.

Turtles (Style Guide)(19) – The original turtles are a bit dated and these ones are colored to resemble licensing artwork. You either like them, or you don’t. Still the only release I entirely passed on in this line.

Roadkill Rodney (18) – This one’s fine, but there’s not much to him. A perfect example of how just because something is ranked near the bottom of this list doesn’t mean it isn’t worth owning.

Cat April – The good news is the body on the previously released April looks fine, it’s just too small. Cat April recycles that body and includes a new head that’s better proportioned for said body. It’s April mutated as a cat though, so it has limited appeal, hence why it was supposed to be a convention exclusive. She also doesn’t stand well and there’s just something missing here.

It’s sort of weird to feel excited about getting the receptionist from a 30 year old cartoon, but here we are.

Irma – Similar to the Roadkill Rodney, this is a figure that looks good, but is limited by the design. In this case, it’s Irma’s skirt which basically makes her a glorified statue as her leg articulation is useless. The optional rat parts are kind of fun though.

Foot Soldier (All versions) (17) – The Foot have been released in standard and two separate battle damaged variants as well as a deluxe option in 2021. The deluxe one is probably the best as it has updated lower leg articulation and a ton of accessories (including the ability to create a new character, the Alpha Foot), but it does suffer a bit from loose hips syndrome. It’s a good all-purpose army builder though and gets the job done.

Burne – April’s blowhard boss, Burne is an essential character to the show who doesn’t exactly translate well to the world of action figures because there’s just not much for Burne to do besides stand there and look pissed. Or smug, depending on your mood. As a short, squat, guy he doesn’t articulate very well, but we needed a Burne in the line and he’s solid.

Fly away, mutant mosquito! Or was it actually alien?

Screwloose – Screwloose was just an accessory in the Playmates line, but NECA made him his own thing. He looks pretty good, but he essentially comes with no accessories (aside from a flight stand) and has limited articulation when compared with other small fries Baxter and Splinter. Fine, but unremarkable.

Vernon/Vernon 1.1 – Vernon received not one, but two figures in 2021! Both are the same sculpt aside from the portrait, though the convention exclusive Vernon had slightly modified colors. That one came with my favorite expression for the character, scared, but the two-pack version came with the mutated rat parts so it’s hard to choose a favorite here. I’m just glad to have both because now I can display rat Vernon and normal Vernon.

The Punk Frogs – Finally, all four frogs have been released in figure form! The vintage line famously only did two, and one of them did not look a thing like the cartoon version. These four are definitely toon accurate, but they have the worst ball-socket hips in the line with some barely able to stand because of how loose they are. NECA also only did two different expressions so they’re a bit boring. A case where NECA did the minimum and did that well, but skimped on any extra bells and whistles to make them special.

Mutagen Man is not my favorite figure in this line, but he is the most unique.

Mutagen Man – He’s certainly one of the most unique characters from the show and toyline, he’s just not one of the most fun to actually handle. He’s pretty limited, and my version of the figure has a hose that won’t stay inserted in the tank which drives me crazy. The head-swap trick is pretty ingenious though and I definitely like having this guy in my display.

Triceraton Infantry (16) – This guy was pretty solid when he came out, and he’s still pretty solid more than a year later. A good representation of the character in toon form. My only complaint is the lack of a hinged jaw which the other Triceratons received, but the grunt did not.

First Edition Turtles (15) – The original four. NECA nailed the coloring, the head-sculpts were a little iffy, but acceptable. The articulation is dated though and there’s no reason for the company to revisit them now that we have the new four-pack.

Zarax (14) – The Triceraton leader, as far as we know. He looks cool and has unique, bladed, weapons. I liked him when I got him, and I feel the same way about him then as I do now.

Zork (13) – Same as above, minus the blades, and green!

Slash (12) – The controversial toon design of Slash. He actually received a running change in 2021 swapping out that mediocre hip connection for the new ball-peg design and the new ankles. It’s a change that’s for the better, though not enough to seek out if you have the first one. I have always liked the goofy toon Slash so I like this guy. I wish he used a different body from the turtles as he should be chunkier, but he’s good as-is.

He may not have been the best Muckman released in 2021, but he’s still damn good.

Muckman and Joe Eyeball – Our first, true, deluxe figure on the list, Muckman is plenty good. No, his toon design isn’t as fun and crazy as the old toy, but that’s animation for you. This guy is still cool and his sculpt is pretty damn impressive. The only downers with Muckman is he’s very light on accessories considering the gun he comes with isn’t even his. Joe Eyeball is cool though, but what he really needed was some muck effects parts to hold since that’s how he attacked in the show. His chunky design also isn’t fun to pose so he basically just stands there on my shelf.

Wingnut – The Batman parody turned out pretty fun, but similar to Muckman, he’s a chunky guy who doesn’t pose well. The sculpt though, especially the little wings inside the big ones, is terrific. The only negative really is he has those weird double-elbows and basically every figure of him I’ve seen has a crappy paint job when it comes to the fangs. Still a fun figure though.

Granitor (10) – I was a bit high on the rock soldiers last year, maybe too high. Granitor is a good figure, though his utilizing the same body as Traag means his proportions are not toon accurate. This set was also light on accessories so it’s basically you either love the sculpt, or you don’t. I very much like it, I just like others more.

Ace Duck – Ace Duck in figure form is about as good as he can be. His articulation is solid, he has plenty of accessories, and NECA was wise to make the beak removable so he has more variety than most in this line. He’s just Ace Duck who isn’t one of my favorite characters and he was barely in the show so my affection is limited.

Let’s shred!

Mondo Gecko – A character I had a tremendous amount of affection for as a kid is Mondo Gecko. The skateboarding lizard was designed to be cool, and he mostly is. NECA’s version is also just fine: good sculpt, has skateboard, solid accessories. The paint is a little iffy as NECA did that annoying thing where it painted the joints after not casting them in the right color plastic, but that’s pretty much the only negative wit this guy aside from the sort of steep cost ($40). He does come with Kerma, and apparently it was the board that knocked the costs out of whack, so it is what it is.

Shredder (9) – Shredder is a great sculpt that’s just becoming a bit dated at this point. The articulation is not terrific, and there are some little inaccuracies here and there when compared with the toon. Still, I’m not sure it’s dated enough that we need a new Shredder. Some torso articulation and better legs would certainly improve the figure, but I don’t know if it would be enough to get me to buy a new one. Maybe if they tossed in a wired cape?

Casey Jones (11) – I was a little hard on Casey last year. He’s not without some issues as he has the painted joints eyesore and there’s a gummy quality to the plastic on him that I don’t like. On the other hand, he looks terrific, has a bunch of weapons, and poses reasonably well. If he could stand a bit better and didn’t have the painted joints issue, he’d rank higher for me. And maybe NECA will fix those problems because he’s due for a re-release. He and April are basically the only characters not to be re-released at this point and there are a bunch of collectors who are missing out.

Traag (7) – Traag succeeds much better than Granitor at matching the source material. He’s still lacking in accessories, but if you got Muckman then at least you picked up a new gun for him.

A worthwhile update for the flagship line. We can’t have the turtles be upstaged by all of these rogues, can we?

Turtles in Disguise – A four-pack of the turtles with new head-sculpts that can separate at the bandana to create multiple expressions, plus they have better leg articulation and a ton of extra stuff. Want the turtles to go full disguise with those creepy masks? Go for it. I still think the heads need some tweaking, they’re very wide, but the expressions are more faithful to the cartoon than what we had previously which felt more like Playmates homages. The only downside is the glossy finish on the figures which really stands out as basically every other release in the line has a matte appearance. NECA reissued the set with a matte paint job on the head pieces, but the some of the bodies still appear glossy, while some don’t. And since they come wearing their disguises, you basically have no idea what you’re getting until you open the set making it hard to commit to a repurchase.

Bunny Bebop and Rocksteady – I had no idea where to rank these guys. The Loot Crate figures are essentially the same, only one has a Bebop head and one a Rocksteady head. They came with some extra hands, Easter baskets, and a little remote weapon. I love them. The engineering on the legs is unfortunately no different from the regular Bebop and Rocksteady, but otherwise these look terrific. And they make me smile. Your mileage may vary, but I am very much charmed by this duo.

Splinter (8) – What can I say? NECA nailed Splinter. He looks fantastic. He’s not exactly a blast to pose, but I don’t care, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Leatherhead (4) – Leatherhead is great, I’m just less forgiving of this body now than I was in 2021. He has terrible hips and ankles and I do wish his head had more range. Otherwise, he looks the part and he doesn’t need to pose much to be fun as a result.

This is one expressive figure.

Pizza Monster – The giant pizza monster is a terrific sculpt with some poor quality control when it comes to the ankles. Many a collector has broken them, and one of mine even arrived broken in the box. It’s enough of an issue that I basically just leave them alone. It makes him harder to stand, and those hips are too loose, but get him in a good pose and he’s a lot of fun to look at.

Rocksteady (3) – Same as Leatherhead. Rocksteady looks fantastic and I love how NECA was able to give him a paunch. I do wish he had a removable helmet, but that’s about it. This is mostly just a reaction to the lousy lower half and fragile hips. Mine has not broken, but I know many have. What’s disappointing is that NECA has re-released he and Bebop, but has yet to replace the leg system.

Dirtbag – One of the star two-packs of 2021, Dirtbag is the preferred figure in the set of many, but I lean Groundchuck. Dirtbag looks every bit as awesome, his design is just more conventional. He does have the added perk of being able to separate at the torso to simulate him emerging from the ground, but his articulation is a bit limited particularly in the head area. Obviously, it’s not enough to really damage the experience considering how high I have him ranked.

These guys are like a traditional, wrestling, stable.

Krang (Android) (5) – The mighty Krang is mighty impressive. Really, the only shortcomings with this figure is the pose-ability. What can you really do with this design? He’s a top-heavy dude with tiny feet. I do kind of wish the ball and chain weapon had plastic, pre-posed, chains as they just don’t look great on the shelf. I’ve basically gone with a standard hand and one gun hand ever since I got him. Also, his entire body is painted and prone to chipping which makes handling him a bit stressful. Still, I think he’s as good as can be and is an essential release in the line.

Baxter (2) – Was I a bit generous with Baxter a year ago? He was very new, so maybe a recency bias was in play, though really it just came down to him looking like he should. Baxter in his fly form looks terrific, and he came with a bunch of stuff and NECA jammed a ton of articulation into that little body. I have no bad things to say about this figure, and I also always loved the character’s design.

Antrax – The executioner! And one of the newest, and greatest, figures in this line. His negatives can be summed as a lack of vertical gripping hands and a lack of just extra hands. Maybe you can nitpick the posing too, but otherwise, the sculpt and paint are fantastic and he has a bunch of weapons. The character design is fun, and the figure equals that. A homerun for NECA.

Trying not to overload this post with pictures, so we’ll let Dirtbag get in here too.

Groundchuck – With this one, I maybe letting my affection for the vintage toy play too great a role in my ranking, but I don’t care. It’s my list and I’ll rank ’em accordingly. He’s a terrific figure though and that design; bright red-orange, metal bits here and there, it’s just cool. Or it was cool to me as a kid, and I’m sticking with it. He’s got the ridiculous, personalized, cattle gun too and I just have fun posing him and looking at him.

Bebop (1) – Formerly my number 1, Bebop is exactly what I want him to be from a likeness perspective. It’s just all in that old engineering that made me rethink my ranking of him. Plus, 3 of the last 4 on my list are all newer releases so I really only moved one figure ahead of him. Fix those damn legs and he’s back in contention for number 1.

Rat King is here to torture poor Vernon.

Rat King – The sewer dweller was part of the first set released after my last ranking post and the fact that I still think this highly of him more than a year later is testament to how good he is. In short, his sculpt is perfect and the paint on my figure is exquisite. I love all of the stuff he comes with and just the presence he has on the shelf. The only negative with this guy is that crotch overlay which is prone to flaking. Newer versions of the figure supposedly corrected that, but I have been unable to confirm that for myself. If you got a good one out of the box, as in one that didn’t already chip, and you knew of the issue, then your figure is probably fine. It only happens when really flexing that piece. It limits the posing to a degree, but not as much as you think.

With a name like Metalhead how can I not love him?

Metalhead (6) – I don’t know why I had Metalhead at six when I think he’s damn near perfect. He looks the part, he’s big, and chunky, and has some fun accessories. He was the first deluxe release, and he’s still one of the best. I love this guy!

Who would have predicted that two of the best figures in this line would be a pair of one-off bugs?

Scumbug – Yeah, the moment I saw the solicitation for this one I knew I was going to be over the moon with him. Scumbug looks like an updated version of the Playmates toy with some richer colors and a slightly more chunky appearance. He is awesome, but if you don’t like the character’s design then you probably aren’t as high on him as I am. I loved the old toy, so I think he’s terrific. And he has enough stuff and articulation to make him the second best figure in the line. Who would have thought that was possible a year ago?!

This guy is just the best.

Chrome Dome – The biggest figure in the line is also the best. Chrome Dome is impressive. He’s huge, he’s well-articulated, and his paint applications are exactly what I want from this line. And to my surprise, NECA loaded him up with a bunch of extra hands and accessories and still managed to keep the price tag at 40 bucks. He’s not only the best figure in the line, he’s the best value in the line! I just think about some of the figures I’ve spent 50, 60, 100 bucks on that aren’t as impressive as Chrome Dome. NECA has a way of putting out exceptional figures at crazy prices. Maybe no one wants to hear that in the current climate of rapidly rising prices, but it’s the truth. Don’t sleep on Chrome Dome because it’s hard to imagine anyone being let down by this guy.

NECA TMNT Cartoon Antrax and Scumbug

Two bugs I don’t want exterminated.

I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile. Antrax and Scumbug only appeared in the cartoon series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles once, but like last week’s figure review, they were present in the toy line long before their animated debut. And these later period episodes, such as “Night of the Rogues,” tended to just stick with the Playmates look rather than do their own thing (Slash) probably because they just didn’t have the time to design their own characters. And for me, Scumbug is a very nostalgic character. I can still remember getting him from my grandmother along with Michelangelo. The character honestly freaked me out a little because he was so gross looking and downright creepy. And for awhile, he was just one of those villains that never appeared in the show and it was a bit of a surprise when he finally did since I had just assumed the show passed him over for some reason.

Have two hideous monsters ever looked more beautiful?

Since these characters were so closely aligned with the vintage toy, much is the same with the NECA version. I almost feel bad for Super7 since they have yet to get to doing these characters as some (like me) may now pass on their version because these turned out fantastic. Let’s just get it out of the way right now: this might be the best two-pack yet. It’s between this one, Bebop and Rocksteady, and Groundchuck and Dirtbag. I think what will ultimately separate all of those sets from each other is just nostalgia for the product. Those who never had the Playmates toys might not care that much about these guys because they were, after all, only in one episode. However, I do think one look at this set from anyone with even a hint of affection for this toyline might be enough to get them to pull the trigger because these bugs are just that cool to look at.

That axe suggests he’s hacked off his fair share of heads.

We might as well go in alphabetic order and start with Antrax. This is one big ant. He’s Krang’s executioner from Dimension X, if memory serves (come on NECA, lets put character bios on these boxes!), and he looks the part. He’s a big, black, ant with red veins on his body, a brown carapace, and a purple executioner’s hood. Maybe the purple is odd, but the red and black is not. And even though he’s a bug, he’s a big fella coming in at a tick under 7 inches to the top of his head. The antennae make him push past that if you want to factor them in. Basically, he’s not looking up to many guys in this line as I have him just a touch taller than characters like Zarax and Metalhead, and shorter than only Krang’s Android Body, the pizza monster, and Chrome Dome. And what stood out to me when I first picked up that rather large box these bugs come in was just the size of his head. This dude’s got one big dome and the really cartoony sculpt (Jon Matthews) is an attention grabber.

He’s a big ant, but he still has to look up to Chrome Dome.

The other thing that probably jumps out is the amount of limbs on this guy. He’s an ant, so he’s got to have six limbs which take the form of four arms and two legs. The designers of the old toys really loved going against symmetry as he and Scumbug both have a different design for their left foot and right. He’s got a purple boot on his right foot, and exposed toes and claws on the left. The arms are almost all the same though as they’re black with red veins and orange elbow pads. The upper right arm has the remnants of some handcuffs on the wrist while the other three just have orange-yellow bracelets that match the elbow and knee pads. He has shoulders for each arm too which is most noticeable from the rear of the figure which is kind of interesting. It’s like NECA took a standard figure, and in place of a head inserted another upper torso. There’s a shoulder strap that’s home to a knife sheath on the back of the figure and a belt around the waist that’s got a non-functioning pouch on it. Skulls are a theme with this guy as one shows up on his belt and more will feature into the accessories. He’s a really fun design and the paintwork is excellent. Since he’s mostly black, we don’t get much of that half-and-half shading, though it is present on the hood and boots, but he’s got some shading on the front of his carapace and the other paint accents are cleanly applied.

Double the arms means double the fun!

The articulation on this guy is both familiar and unique. We only have one, true, four-armed character in the line (I don’t count Baxter) in the form of Screwloose, but this guy has four, fully-articulated, arms to pulverize turtles with. Screwloose, if you recall, had single elbow joints and he’s a bit of a little guy for the line. Antrax has four legit arms and each one is connected to his body via a shoulder ball and hinge. He has double-jointed elbows with elbow pads thus proving that we should be able to get the same on the actual turtles. It works great too as he can bend past 90 degrees at each one. There’s a biceps swivel on each arm, but all four were stuck on mine and I still can’t get the upper right arm to work. There’s just too much play in the shoulder to get enough leverage even after heating it up. The wrists all swivel and hinge, but they all have horizontal hinges which is a real bummer. I don’t know why NECA did that, but all four should be vertical since he’s got a bunch of melee weapons. Or at least it should have been two and two.

I love me some weapon storage.

At the head, Antrax features what I think is just a single ball peg. It’s wicked smooth, if I may bust out some northeast slang, and it’s oddly satisfying to manipulate. He can’t look down much at all, but he can look all the way up and tilt his head. The antennae on top and the two pincers or whatever those things are on the snout can rotate. In the torso, he has a joint in the middle that lets him rotate and slide to the left or right. It’s kind of funky as you can basically purposefully miss-align the shoulders, if you wish, which looks odd. He can’t really crunch forward and back though, but not many figures in this line can. There doesn’t appear to be a waist twist, but past that he’s pretty conventional with ball-jointed hips, double-jointed knees, and ankles that hinge and rock side-to-side. His thorax, tail, whatever it’s called is connected via a ball-peg and can rotate all about on the figure’s rear. Aside from the biceps, I’ve had no issues with joints being stuck. Some of the wrists are more loose than I’d like, but otherwise everything else is great.

I love the weapon storage, but I also love the dagger. How can I keep it hidden behind the figure?!

As for accessories, an executioner needs tools for execution and Antrax comes pretty well loaded. I will say for starters, he has no extra parts, just four gripping hands. There’s a lot of unique tooling going on here so I’m not surprised by the lack of extras, but I do wish he had a couple of hands. I already said I wish he had vertical hinges, but just something to have instead of a gripping pose for any hands that aren’t holding a weapon because it looks awkward to have an empty gripping hand. He does at least have enough weapons to occupy each hand. Up first, is a dagger with a red handle and skull pommel. This one can slot into the sheath on his back or be held like a dagger normally is. He’s also got a much larger sword with a wicked spiked, handguard, suitable for hacking some bone. There’s a big, spiked, club with a red taped handle that’s quite pointy and also quite heavy. This one gives the figure the most trouble with the looseness of some of the hands since it possesses so much weight. The top is flat though if you just want to stand it beside the figure. Lastly, what would an executioner be without an axe? Antrax has a massive double-sided axe with a bunch of notches taken out of it and another skull for good measure. It looks terrific and it’s between this or the little dagger as for what my favorite is. I will say, getting the weapons into his hands is tough as they’re pretty firm and the handles are also pretty thick. Not wanting to risk getting red paint on the hands of my figure, I just went ahead and dipped them in hot water first. Even then, getting the axe in-hand is tricky because it’s so thick at the base.

Get a load of this maniac!

Antrax is pretty awesome, and he seems to be the preferred figure from this two-pack for many, but for me that honor is going to Scumbug. His sculpt and my nostalgic affection for the figure is what’s primarily winning him over for me. He stands much shorter than Antrax at approximately five and a half inches, six and a quarter to the top of his antennae, but he commands just as much attention. I owe that mostly to these wild eyes he possesses. They’re yellow and bloodshot with a purple iris and a black inner pupil. He pares that gaze with this big, maniacal, smile and I can’t help but smile back when I look at him. He’s another character with an exposed brain on top and his yellow antennae appear to be taped together like a topknot or something. I think he’s supposed to be a mutated exterminator and he’s sporting the tattered remains of a blue dress shirt and tie and gray slacks. His body though is in varying stages of mutation. Both arms feature spikes poking through the flesh, while the left hand has discarded his human flesh in favor of purple. His gut is also hanging out and it too is purple and lumpy while his left foot has apparently torn through his boot and the right is just starting to do the same. On the rear of the figure is his carapace and a backpack that contains who knows what. It connects to the figure’s chest via non-removable tubes and a third tube that connects to a handgun that looks like an exterminator’s sprayer.

Guns n’ bugs, baby!

This sculpt for Scumbug is just wild. A lot of that harkens back to the old toy, which I no longer have. It’s an insanely detailed and complicated character for animation, especially a somewhat cheaply produced cartoon like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. And the paint application is phenomenal. We get the same style of shading on much of the figure as we’re accustomed to save for the head, which I think is wise since there’s enough going on there. There’s a lot of black lining on this guy around the various spikes, warts, and whatever that’s all applied very clean. There are so many places where things could have gone wrong, like the fleshy parts poking through the thighs of his pants, but it didn’t. It’s terrific and I’m in love with this hideous monster of a bug.

The backpack is non-removable and does unbalance the figure a bit, but that’s pretty much my only nitpick here.

Scumbug, being this kind of short and pudgy figure, looks like something that would not articulate well, but of course that’s not the case. He’s one of those characters who is hunched over a bit so his head more sticks out than up from the body. This means he can’t look up, but he can look down and side-to-side and the range on the side-to-side is great. There’s so much personality to it and it’s similar to the Super7 Muckman in terms of functionality. He also has an articulated jaw which just adds to the crazy when it’s opened and everything inside his mouth is well-painted and detailed. The shoulders are ball-hinged and his biceps swivel where the arm pegs into the sleeves. He has double-jointed elbows which bend past 90 and wrists that swivel and hinge horizontally. In the torso, he’s got a ball joint where the shirt meets the lower body that lets him rotate and tilt a bit and he also has a waist twist below that. The hips are the standard ball-joints and his knees are double-jointed with hinges and rockers at the ankle. It’s all surprisingly functional and really the only thing holding him back is that pack that happens to be on his back which throws off his balance. You’ll have to manage that while posing him, or use a stand, but I’ve been able to get him into some decent poses without the aid of such.

NECA won’t be content until every character in the line has a tracking device to hold onto.

Like Antrax, Scumbug does not come with extra hands or an alternate head. He definitely doesn’t need another head, but some style posed hands would have been nice in the event you don’t want him gripping something. His right hand, the more human-looking one, is in a trigger finger pose which is odd as he comes setup to wield his gun with his right hand. That one, the clawed one, is a gripping hand and if you don’t want him to hold the gun with that hand you simply unpeg the hose from the backpack and switch it to the other side. Whatever hand isn’t holding the gun can wield this little insect-shaped device which threw out some funky electric net in the cartoon. He also comes with a big, chunky, purple, handheld device that’s from a different episode, but NECA loves shoving these random tracking devices into sets. Lastly, there are three unmutated cockroaches to scatter across your display. They’re actually pretty well-painted with brown on top and yellow on the bottom.

The accessory count is plenty good as Scumbug has all that he needs. About the only thing I’m missing with this guy is somewhere to store the gun should I not want him holding it. I suppose I could just unhook it from the backpack, but I wish there was a holster somewhere for it. It’s not a big deal for me as I plan to display him always with gun in-hand.

I barely remember this thing, but it’s cool to have. Like the gun though, I do wish there was a place to store it when not being held.

This insect-themed two-pack is one of NECA’s best. Antrax and Scumbug both are fantastic sculpts with an exceptional paint job and a great batch of accessories. We’ve come a long way in that regard as thinking back to Bebop and Rocksteady those figures featured a lot of the same tooling, had duplicate hands and weapons, and not much that made the set unique. Here we have a ton of new tooling for both the figures and weapons and it’s all tooling that really won’t be of much (any?) benefit going forward. It does come at an added cost as this set was $65 instead of the now usual $55. It’s worth every penny though as these guys are awesome and I hope collectors don’t sleep on this set just because these characters weren’t in a dozen episodes.

Now comes the hard part: making room.

NECA made this set available for preorder back in April of 2021. It was the last of three new releases for the toon line that month and if you didn’t order it then you should get another shot when it hits Target. As of this writing, we have no idea when that might be. It seems NECA is just about done shipping all of those orders so it could be that we may see them ship to Target soon. Or, NECA pre-sold the entire order and collectors will have to wait for a second run at a later date. I don’t think so, but I suppose it’s possible. I think it’s more likely the company is just prioritizing the customers who already paid for their sets, since I had no problem exchanging my broken pizza monster for another leading me to believe they’re sitting on a bunch of inventory just waiting to be released. If you’re in the market, keep an eye out. They’ll probably hang around for a bit due to the price and the characters being unfamiliar to casual collectors, but then again, they are exceptional action figures so maybe they come and go pretty fast. If you are collecting this line though and have been on the fence with these guys, I say get off of it, because you’re missing out on two of NECA’s finest.

NECA TMNT Cartoon Ace Duck and Mutagen Man

Now there’s an odd couple if I ever did see one.

It was back in April of 2021 that NECA did a month of preorders. Each week, a new item (and some restocking older items) was added to NECA’s webstore and they would stay up for about 10 days and anyone who wanted one could order one to be delivered later in the year. The first one that went up was the Ultimate Pizza Monster and I eagerly jumped on it not realizing the format. The following week, Ace Duck and Mutagen Man were added and the Pizza Monster was still up. Frugal shoppers noted that you could order both in a single order and save on shipping (15 bucks an order, not an insignificant sum) so when that set went up I held off. It worked out, because next week Antrax and Scumbug were put up so I bundled the two-packs together, hit submit, and returned to my life not realizing that by doing so I would delay getting the Ace/Mutagen Man pack by a good six weeks while waiting for the bugs to come in stock.

Was it worth it to save 15 bucks? Realistically, yeah, but while other collectors were getting their toys I was definitely feeling left out and a little jealous. The wait is over though as my order with both two-packs has arrived and now we can talk about the duck and…guy? Both of these characters originated in the Playmates toyline. In some ways, Ace was like the original toy creation as he wasn’t from the comics and he wasn’t created for the show. I think his design even originates with Varner Studios, but I could be mistaken. At any rate, most know him from the old toy because his appearance in the toon was a very brief cameo. In that universe, Ace Duck is a movie star. I get the impression he’s an Indiana Jones type and I assume he’s played by an actor in a costume and isn’t an actual mutant, but I suppose it also doesn’t matter. He shows up for all five seconds and then never again, a real blink and you miss it moment. As for Mutagen Man, he too started off as a toy that was then brought into the cartoon for his own episode. He followed a similar arc to other characters as he’s tragically mutated and then taken advantage of by Shredder making him a villain at first, before the turtles set him straight.

Maybe not the most fearsome dudes on your shelf, but they try.

In terms of toys, one of these is quite conventional and one very much is not. Ace Duck is a humanoid character who just so happens to be a duck. He’s got sculpted feathers, large wings on his back, and a duck bill on his face. When I look at him I can’t help but think of the Howard the Duck movie from the 1980s. His engineering though is fairly familiar. I think a lot of what’s here is present on Vernon with the most obvious part being the hips and legs. As such, he’s basically right around the normal human height in the line at 6.5 inches. Ace is apparently a pilot with pale yellow feathers and a bomber jacket. The jacket is an overlay with the arms being fully sculpted. His default expression is in-line with the Playmates figure as it’s a bit neutral with exposed teeth on the sides. The hat is removable and just rests on his head as opposed to keying in to a slot. His belt is a separate piece that hangs loosely while his wings peg into his back in a manner similar to Baxter Stockman. They are removable, if that’s your preference, but he’ll obviously be left with a pair of holes in his back if you do so. Surprisingly, he doesn’t have a tail of any kind instead presenting a normal, human, butt.

Ready for action!

Ace basically looks as one would envision and he features a lot of the trademarks of this line. NECA uses lighter shades of paint on the front of the figure and darker ones on the back. They did not opt for any shading on the yellow portions of the figure so nothing on the wings or head. The wings do feature some black linework which helps them to pop, while the feathers on the chest and neck area do not. Basically every inch of this guy is painted so you will encounter some flaking and stuck parts. The only flaking I’m not a fan of is at the ankles where the orange feet were apparently sculpted in either a pale color or clear. Basically, I’m trying not to move them a ton and preserve as much of the paint as possible There is some nice linework on the belt and I like the bomb illustration on the back of the jacket. A series of feathers beneath it appears to represent Ace’s kill count. As mentioned before, the hat just sort of sits there, but it looks fine. It’s fully painted and really the only blemish on my figure is some paint slop just above the bill of the hat. The belt hangs a bit looser than I would like, but otherwise looks fine. It is removable with the tab being hidden by the ammo box. There are two loops on the back for Ace’s grenades and a holster on the right hip that best fits his revolver. There’s even a tabbed flap that can be secured over it. Wouldn’t want it to fall out during flight!

This is a duck that’s killed before.

Ace comes with a pretty loaded batch of accessories. There’s the previously mentioned revolver as well as a 9mm handgun. Both are grey with some black lining and look just fine. I definitely prefer the classic look of the revolver, but I also like having it holstered. It’s a conundrum. Ace also has a movie reel and a VHS tape perhaps simply owing to his nature in the toon as opposed to being direct callbacks to anything. I don’t know what I’ll do with either, but they definitely look terrific. Ace also has a pair of white grenades that kind of resemble the egg ones the vintage toy came with. They slot nicely into the belt or can be handled by the figure. There’s also another Ace Duck movie poster included like the ones that came with the street scene diorama. This is a new picture and it’s printed on a thicker cardstock so it should be more durable, but might be harder to adhere to the diorama as a result. I have a second diorama on order so I’m going reserve this for when that one arrives.

He’s got a fowl attitude.
Or maybe not?

Out of the box, Ace comes with a neutral expression and he has a second head with angry eyes and a yelling beak. The beaks actually can be removed and swapped so you really get 4 expressions out of this guy, which is pretty cool. It’s basically the same idea as the Boss Fight Studios Dead-Eye Duck from a few years back. Ace also comes with 8 different hands he can use. In the box, he has a trigger finger left hand with a vertical hinge and an open right hand with horizontal hinge. The extra hands include a right gripping hand with vertical hinge, set of fists, a set of “finger bang” hands, and a left thumb’s up hand. Only the gripping/trigger hands have the vertical hinge, which is acceptable. The right gripping hand has a slight trigger finger pose, but it’s not as severe as the left hand. He has enough to dual wield, if you like, while also having a fair amount of expressive options.

When a gun just won’t do.
Finger bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!

Ace is similar to Vernon in terms of some of the sculpt, but also when it comes to articulation. He’s basically the same concept as he has the ball-jointed head and independently articulated neck. The shoulders are ball-hinged and the elbows feature those odd looking NECA double-joints that seem to only look passable on figures with sleeves. The hands swivel and hinge, while the torso features a ball-joint at the waist. This allows him to rotate and tilt, but the overlay prevents any real forward and back. And like many figures in this line, he might have a joint in the diaphragm, but it’s functionally useless. The hips are the now standard ball-joints and they’re a little loose, but not unacceptably so as we’ve seen with some other figures. The thighs do swivel a bit and the knees are double-jointed. The ankles feature hinges and rockers and they work fine, just watch out for the paint. Lastly, he has the wings on his back which are just like Baxter’s as they can swivel and hinge.

“Hi, I’m Mutagen Man…”

Which brings us to Mutagen Man. He’s certainly the more interesting of the two because his design is just so unique. And what do you do with a unique design? You make a unique figure. Mutagen Man is essentially a tank with arms and legs. He’s a bit stubby, as a result, making him shorter than a lot of the line at roughly 5.5 inches. The tank has a purple frame to hold it in place and is translucent from the front. Inside is poor Seymour Guts who is basically just a brain and a spinal column and a collection of stomach acid or something. He doesn’t appear to be too pleased with his mutation as he sports a concerned look out of the box. His limbs are at least intact, though they’re spotted with purple splotches here and there and something horrible happened to his feet. One is encased in a steel boot while the other is framed-up for support and features three, clawed, toes. He’s definitely a bizarre one, though the animated take on this character is far less grotesque than the original toy. It is, however, more emotive and thus more sympathetic.

This whole contraption lifts off rather effortlessly, allowing one to pull out the transparent tank plastic to access the head.

Even with this guy being less detailed than the old figure, he’s still an attention grabber simply by virtue of how weird his design is. NECA did a great job of visualizing this guy as a toy, so my hat is off to the duo of Tony Cipriano and Josh Sutton, the credited sculptors for the set. The whole housing for this figure can come off. The hoses that peg into the front of the tank pop out and the shoulder harness is hinged and comes right off. This allows the user to pop off the front of the tank to manipulate, or swap out, the head inside. The green goop is all sculpted and the spinal column pegs into it and the head pegs into the back of the tank to hold it in place. You can move it a bit so that Seymour is looking left or right and the jaw can be manipulated too. You can also pull the whole thing out and swap it for an angry expression. It’s a little tricky to do the first time, but not scary. I will say, NECA probably should have included some instructions though as some might be left feeling confused about the whole setup (same with Ace’s swappable beaks). The only downside to this system is the left hose on my figure does not want to stay in the hole in the tank. The top hose and right one are fine, but the left constantly pops out and I don’t know if there’s anything I can do about it since glue is not an option.

Definitely a creative setup.

The torso is pretty unique, but the limbs are also a bit funky too. Both arms feature these bands at the elbows, and the left arm has some weird handle just sticking out of it. It’s part of the character’s design, but I kind of hate the thing because I’m afraid it’s going to snap. The same can be said with the unusual mechanism on the figure’s left ankle. He basically has a brace, and in order for the articulation to work, the sides of that brace needs to be able to move and slide around. They’re kind of like pistons, but it’s just another thing that looks like it could be prone to breaking. He’s also got this funky left knee that looks like a chin. I wonder if he was supposed to have exposed bone in the cartoon, but the animators decided not to paint it as such? He also has these purple spots here and there on his arms and legs, and part of me feels like NECA missed an opportunity by not casting the pegs in purple plastic to make them appear to be part of the figure’s aesthetic, but then that probably wouldn’t have been consistent with the show.

And now he can be angry! Note how the hose on the figure’s left refuses to stay in place. It’s already driving me nuts.

Since Mutagen Man is so bizarre a design, he definitely doesn’t have the most articulation in the line. The head can turn a little and the jaw opens a bit, but aside from that, you get nothing in the torso and head/neck. The shoulders rotate and are hinged and he does have a biceps swivel, which was super tight on my figure. I had to heat up the right biceps to get it to budge. The elbows are technically double-jointed, but those bands he wears will limit the range to about 90 degrees. The hands rotate and swivel and all of his hands feature a horizontal hinge. My one, consistent, complaint with this line is the lack of vertical hinges. Ace Duck is proof that NECA is aware that a vertical hinge works best for basically any weapon, but they often go with a horizontal hinge anyway. Mutagen Man’s legs are likely on a ball and socket system, but they sit pretty far into the crotch so the range is very limited. The knees are double-jointed, but again, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than 90 there. That’s partly due to the bulky right boot, and the delicate left ankle brace. You do get your hinge and rocker, but be careful and go easy on that left one.

This ankle scares the crap out of me.
This gun is rather wacky, in a good way.

The actual points of articulation are okay on Mutagen Man, but functionally he’s more of a neutral pose character. That doesn’t mean NECA still didn’t include some accessories for this guy to play with. I already mentioned the other head, but he also has some hands he can swap. He comes with fisted hands in the box, but he also has a set of wide, C-grip, style hands, a right trigger finger hand, left open palm hand, and left standard gripping hand. The wide gripping hands are here for his tank accessory which in the show contained a solution that would basically keep him alive. The tank is nicely painted and snaps right into those hands rather effortlessly. The trigger hand is for this wild looking gun that is sort of intended for the figure, but as we saw with Muckman, this weapon is actually from a different episode. In that episode, Baxter wields it after I think he steals it from a fireman or something. It’s basically two tanks strapped together and it looks like it would either blast water or some kind of gas. The very D.I.Y. look of this weapon actually pairs well with Mutagen Man so I think I’ll display him with it. It is designed to be gripped with two hands though, and Mutagen Man just doesn’t have that kind of clearance in his arms to pull that off.

They seem to scale just fine with the rest of the line.

Ace Duck and Mutagen Man certainly are an unlikely duo, but they make for solid action figures. Ace is a testament to the consistency of the line. It knows what it wants to do and there’s an aesthetic this line is going for which Ace captures. The articulation is solid, the accessories numerous, and the overall package is quite good. It’s really the design of the character and the impact it had in the cartoon that holds it back from standing out more than it could. Mutagen Man does not suffer the same as his design is quite out there. It’s really fun seeing how NECA managed to work around the character’s design and create a figure worthy of the “action” description. It’s not a character that’s as fun to handle as some of the others in this line, or even Ace for that matter, but it’s certainly one that demands attention. The way in which the character’s expression can swap is ingenious, though I feel kind of bad because I’m unlikely to ever swap from that concerned look he comes packaged with. I would be surprised if either Ace Duck or Mutagen Man end up being anyone’s favorite in this line, but they’re hardly lacking and those who did purchase this set are probably pretty happy.

“Hey man, wanna swap beaks?”

NECA offered this two-pack up on its website in April of 2021 as a pre-order item. That opportunity has obviously come and gone at this point, but the set should still hit Target at some point so if you missed out you’re not out of luck just yet. When they will ship though is anyone’s guess. I haven’t heard of any sightings of this or any of the other preorders showing up at retail so it’s possible the presale was so successful that nothing was left. Possible, but maybe not likely. Keep your eyes open though as once it does hit I don’t think it will fly off of shelves just going by the recent side character releases and should be rather attainable. It’s definitely a worthwhile set for those who are all-in on the toon line or have a nostalgic attachment to the old toys.

“Hey, little fella, where’s your wings?” “Where’s your butt?!”

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