Tag Archives: the secret of the ooze

NECA TMNT Secret of the Ooze Ultimate Shredder

“There is only one thing next…”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Shredder and his super form(s).

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

“Mama!”

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

Remember Shredder, stupid babies need the most attention.

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

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

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

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

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

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


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 Secret of the Ooze Tokka and Rahzar

They’re here!

Merry Boxing Day every one! I hope you enjoyed the Christmas content this year, but it’s time to go back to our usual programming. Which in 2020 means toys. And I just could not wait any longer to talk about what was probably my most anticipated release of 2020: NECA’s Tokka and Rahzar based on their appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.

One of the last, big, events of 2020 was New York Toy Fair. The show, occurring annually in February, is ostensibly a trade show, but over the years it has become much more. Like E3, coverage of the event has basically turned it into a full blown consumer event, only the general public is still largely kept away in the case of Toy Fair. The event was originally a time for producers to show their wares and solicit orders from retail partners and other vendors. Now, most of that stuff is handled throughout the year since communication is so much easier these days than it was 30 years ago and for the big toy producers the event is almost more like a chance to show off and get the consumer excited for what’s to come later in the year.

This is one big box!

For last year’s event, I was pretty excited to see what NECA had cooking in the oven when it came to its Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles license. I’ve definitely been more interested in the cartoon line, and I certainly was heading into Toy Fair 2020, but what ended up stealing the show for me was a two-pack from a movie I don’t even really care for. Tokka and Rahzar were the new mutants introduced for the sequel film The Secret of the Ooze in 1991. The movie is pretty hokey and kind of dumb, but the creature designs for Tokka and Rahzar (handled by the talented folks at Jim Henson’s Creature Shop) were off the charts. They’re imposing, and while NECA originally said it wasn’t that interested in producing toys based on the sequel, it basically had to give in to fan demands where these guys were concerned.

NECA’s Chris Raimo did a bang-up job on the packaging.

This year, NECA started distributing all movie-related product for TMNT at Walmart. It has not gone well. NECA had to endure a lot of fan backslash, some of it justified, some of it not, throughout the summer when product was scarce. Sort of as a mea culpa, the company decided to do something different with the planned Tokka and Rahzar two-pack. Rather than send it to Walmart like it did with the other figures, the company decided to do a manufacture-on-demand run via its website. For one week in July, anyone who wanted a set (or multiples) could place an order on NECA’s website and expect delivery later in the year. The only catch was you had to pay upfront, but you were guaranteed a set of figures in the fall. I don’t know if Walmart showed little interest in the set (it was more expensive than a standard two-pack, retailing for around $70) or if NECA just never offered it to the retailer, but either way, this method of delivery was a god-send. Sure, the wait was a long one given how much excitement I personally had invested in the set, but all-in-all, going from an ordering window to delivery in less than 4 months is a pretty short wait and it looks like the company pulled it off.

Sorry fellas, but your replacements have arrived.

My set arrived in mid-December, so I’ve had some time to enjoy these “babies” before making this post. First of all, the box for these guys is huge! It’s the standard window box we’re used to, only it had to be increased in size to accommodate these guys. This sucker is 5 1/2″ deep, 9 3/4″ tall, and nearly 14 1/4″ long. The box is decorated with numerous product shots and the image of the turtles huddling over a broken canister of ooze from the theatrical poster. If you’re a mint-in-box collector then you’ll have to clear some space to display this thing. It’s appreciated since NECA could have skimped on the presentation considering this isn’t going to appear on store shelves, but then again, this sort of distribution is fairly common these days and NECA knows that a lot of collectors were going to buy two sets: one to open and one to preserve.

Jason Frailey handled the sculpt-work on these figures and to sum up my reaction simply, it would be: holy shit!
Check out those gnarly spikes!
You think a dog’s breath is bad, imagine what Rahzar’s must smell like!

The figures themselves are a sight to behold. They’re depicted as they were later in the film when they do battle with the turtles at the junkyard. Tokka has little on his body aside from elbow and knee pads, while Rahzar is decked out in all kinds of stuff. As in the film, Tokka is the smaller of the two coming in at right around 7″ at the top of his head, with his shell protruding a bit higher. Rahzar stands a tick under 8″ and both figures have tremendous presence on a shelf. They’re very much in scale with each other, though some collectors may be a little disappointed that the scale isn’t perfect when it comes to the turtles. They are shorter, as you’ll see in pictures, but it’s not as drastic as it looked in the film. Granted, the film usually utilized a low angle when filming the two together. I think it’s good enough, but considering the scale on Super Shredder was basically perfect it might surprise people slightly that these two aren’t bigger.

They’re big boys, but the super version of their “Mama” is still able to stand taller.

The scale may very well be the last of any criticisms I have for these two. I certainly have little or no quibbles when it comes to the sculpt and overall look of these boys. Tokka is done in a slightly more olive skintone when compared with the turtles and it looks fantastic. He has a real dingy look to him, and it’s enhanced by the wash on his wrist tape which is quite dirty looking. His eyes are really expressive and I’m just waiting for him to bark at me that he wants a donut. What’s really going to impress though, are the various spikes on his shell. They have a springy quality to them, but don’t confuse that for me saying they aren’t sharp. You know when you’re holding this guy. Rahzar looks every bit as good as his box-mate. Well, I should say he doesn’t look quite as perfect as Tokka, but that’s only because he had fur in the film, but here it’s sculpted plastic. That said, it looks pretty damn good and I’m not suggesting NECA should have gone with faux fur as that might not have come out well. His eyes are super expressive as well and his mouth has that permanent grin he possessed in the film. The claws on his hands and feet look amazing with the amount of yellow and a dark, brown, wash to really bring them out. The texture on the black, rubber, armor pieces is also perfect and it’s great to get a good look at the detail on them since it’s hard to see in the actual film. I never even noticed before now that the pieces on his thigh appear to be torn from rubber tires with nails jutting through them. The grill on his abdomen is secured with actual chain links and swings around freely, not distractingly so. There’s a lot of soft plastic utilized for things like his loincloth or the little tassels on his shoulder and knee pads that not only look great, but seem to be durable enough. It’s hard to imagine someone else better nailing the aesthetics of these guys, even if done at a quarter scale, that’s how impressive they are.

The neck on this guy is impressive.
Angry Tokka.
Not angry Tokka.

Let’s talk articulation. These figures look good enough to be statues, but they aren’t and I’m glad for that. It’s also fun to talk about them because unlike a lot of NECA two-packs, these are two very different figures. And as far as I can tell, they don’t share parts with any other figures that NECA has done. Let’s talk about Tokka first. Unlike the good guy turtles, this guy has quite the neck on him. He can look up, down, and all around. The neck is jointed at the base which enhances his range of motion and it’s all quite impressive. On his head itself, the end of his beak can tilt in and out and his jaw can open very wide. He’s got some ugly teeth and a big, purple, tongue in there as well. Better yet, his eyebrows articulate! This is quite possibly the coolest feature of the set as it allows you to recreate basically any expression Tokka wore in the film. Want him to be angry? No problem. Confused? Check! It’s tremendous! At the shoulder we have the typicall ball and hinge that’s hindered a bit by the spikes on his shoulders. He can still raise and lower his arms and do what is largely expected of him. At the elbow he has a double joint plus a swivel above and below the elbow. The pad really hides everything too. His wrist rotates and he’s got a hinge as well. Inside the shell, there’s a ball-joint that allows for some pivot, but not much. At the legs he’s got ball-joints and hinges with an upper thigh swivel, pretty standard for NECA figure. He can kick back probably farther than you think given the giant shell on his back, and his legs can come out to the side. His knees are double-jointed and swivel above and below the knee, and like the elbows, the pad hides everything. His feet possess a hinge, though the hinge is either super tight or limited by the sculpt as it doesn’t move a whole lot. His feet can rock side-to-side and given how large they are you should have little issue getting him to stand safely on a shelf, even on one foot!

My what big eyes you have!
My, what big teeth you have!
My, what a big…stick you have!

Rahzar, being that he is not a turtle, is articulated quite differently though I’d say the range of motion is pretty similar. His head sits on a ball-joint, and even though he has no articulation in his neck, he’s able to look up and down pretty well and tilt his head side to side. There’s no facial articulation beyond the jaw, which works great. He can open real wide and close his mouth up pretty tight, possibly even better than the actual costume could considering all of the teeth and his extreme underbite. The shoulders are ball-jointed and hinged and the big shoulder pads definitely prevent some movement. He can still raise his arms up to the side, he just can’t raise them over his head real well. He has the same double-jointed elbows that swivel above and below the joint, and even though he doesn’t have elbow pads to hide the articulation, the sculpt is impeccable and does a great job even without such an aid. The wrists rotate and have hinges like basically all NECA figures. The abdomen features a ball-joint in the diaphragm that allows for full rotation (careful with the chains) as well as some tilt, though there’s no ab crunch. The legs are on ball pegs and sit a bit higher than Tokka’s. They can twist a bit above the thigh, but not all the way. The knees are single-jointed and the only other swivel is below the knee. The feet are hinged and can rock side-to-side. I’m a little surprised at the lack of double joints in the knees, but like Tokka, Rahzar can move around pretty well. He’s not a ninja, so he doesn’t really need a ton of articulation and what he has is probably more than enough for whatever pose you want to go for. He stands well, and I was even able to get him to stand on one foot as well even though his feet aren’t nearly as wide as Tokka’s.

Some extra hands, if you desire.
And stuff too!

NECA gave us two figures sculpted to perfection with a great deal of articulation, but you know they also had to throw in some accessories too. These two guys weren’t known for wielding weapons or anything, but there are certainly some items they’re associated with. First off, we have extra hands. Both figures come packaged with what I consider relaxed, open, hands. Both have two extra sets. Tokka has two fists, though the fingers aren’t fused together so they’re kind of like really, tight, gripping hands, but they’re not needed for any gripping. He also has a pair of dedicated gripping hands with his left hand being more relaxed. Rahzar has a really tight gripping, right hand that’s more of a fist. He also has a looser gripping, right hand. He also has two gripping left hands that are very similar, but one is definitely more open than the other. Rahzar’s claws, being what they are, basically makes his stock hands function as gripping hands as well so you’re choice of hands will likely depend more on aesthetics than use. Swapping them is rather painless, assuming you don’t accidentally grip Tokka’s shell, though I should point out the only paint issues with these figures reside with Tokka’s hands. It’s a problem that has plagued NECA’s other figures, but the hinge is painted black to match the tape around his palms and it will flake off almost immediately leaving behind the olive plastic. NECA really needs to cast the hinge in the dominant color of the hand to prevent this. At least with Tokka, the wraps on his wrist can hide the hinge better than most, but it’s the lone eyesore with this set.

He seems awfully angry at that pipe for some reason.
He thinks he’s a beaver.

In addition to hands, they’ve got some stuff to either hold or admire. Tokka comes with his big, lead, pipe which is bendy so he can demonstrate his strength, should you please. Rahzar can also hold it just fine, so it’s not just Tokka’s. There’s also a big chunk of a utility pole from when they wreak havoc on New York’s streets that can be wielded like a club. It’s textured really well and it can also fit in Tokka’s mouth. Rahzar also has his shield he wore on his forearm briefly in the film. The paintjob on it is terrific, and the straps just slide loosely over his forearm so there’s no fuss with it. There’s also a can of ooze, the same one that came with Super Shredder. There’s a fire extinguisher for when the turtles need to speed up the reverse mutation process. And speaking of which, in order to reverse their mutation you need a box of traditional, pre-fight, donuts! And we have one! By far, the best accessory is a little pink, cardboard, box that has the Simply Donuts graphic on it. There’s a stack of seven donuts molded together to fit into it, plus an eighth donut that has been smooshed exposing the mutagen cube inside. Your turtles can hold the box, and one of the baddies can hold the squished donut to recreate one of the better scenes from the film. You can also shove that donut in one of their mouths too, if you prefer your mutant babies be ignorant.

Is this the most quotable scene from the movie? If not, it’s close.
Scarf it down!
And to finish him off!

The accessories are appreciated, but honestly, these guys would be awesome if they arrived with nothing. NECA has positioned itself in “toy of the year” talk with these babies, as these are two incredible action figures. The only negative to add is that these guys are basically unattainable now at retail pricing. NECA set them up as made-to-order and it sounds like if you didn’t order a set you’re out of luck. NECA apparently didn’t even order extra for quality control as the only other downside is that I’ve talked to a few people who had issues, either a misassembled figure or missing accessory, and NECA couldn’t help them. NECA is also sensitive to the fact that they are a collector brand so they do not want to devalue their products, but they’re also a company out to make money so if there is tremendous demand for these figures after this release then maybe something will happen in the future. Never say never. They could do a limited box set release, a single card release, or maybe re-release them re-tooled with pixel art to mimic their appearance in Turtles in Time. That probably won’t satisfy people who want the screen accurate version, but I suppose it would be better than nothing. All I’m saying, is NECA has said stuff is one and done before only to re-release it later. If you missed out, you’re going to have to go to eBay for the time being or hope someone ordered two that was forward thinking and assumed a collector would have missed out. These guys are awesome and if I had missed the pre-order window I honestly don’t know how high I’d go in terms of price to get a set, but I know I would not want this set missing from my collection so I think I’d do whatever it took to fill that void.

Faces only a “Mama” could love!

Tokka and Rahzar all but complete my Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film collection. NECA is prepping an April from the first film that will be released in the same fashion as this set, made-to-order, and there’s a good chance I’ll grab that. Otherwise, I think I’m good. I don’t need Secret of the Ooze Shredder or turtles and I definitely don’t need a Keno. If they can ever get the likeness rights for Tatsu then maybe I’ll give that a whirl, but NECA has been unable to get ahold of him and even put out a plea to anyone who knows him to speak with him on their behalf. The only other announced products are a Secret of the Ooze Shredder (I should say teased, never shown) and a two-pack featuring Oroku Saki and Hamato Yoshi, and as tempting as a little Splinter in his cage is, I don’t feel like I need that set. If this is the final movie set for me though, then what a way to go out!

Remember, stupid babies need the most attention.

NECA TMNT Super Shredder

“The last vial of ooze!”

“He must have drank all of it!”

“It’s a Super Shredder!!!”

It’s a simple, obvious, and corny introduction for a character, but as a 7-year old it felt rather impactful. The introduction of Super Shredder in the waning moments of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze answered a question I had always asked myself as a young TMNT fan: what would happen if Shredder exposed himself to mutagen?

Super Shredder appeared in the film for less than two minutes, but he left a big impression on me. Despite the fact that his appearance was anti-climactic, and the whole sequence is frustratingly bad. A large, imposing, Shredder confronts the turtles beneath a dock. Since this is the sequel film and the goal was to reduce the violence on screen, the turtles try to reason with their foe in an attempt to avoid direct conflict by literally pleading with him to “listen to reason.” Super Shredder is apparently a thoughtless baffoon though, and rather than have the turtles do battle with this ultimate version of their foe, they make some dumb jokes before Leonardo reminds them that they’re turtles and they retreat to the nearby water while Shredder continues mauling the supports of the dock they’re under until it collapses on him, killing him. Basically anyone in the turtles’ position could have felled Super Shredder as being turtles wasn’t a requisite for using water, it would have been for anyone who could swim.

For the better part of 30 years, Super Shredder has largely been forced to hide in the shadows.

Despite the incompetence of Super Shredder, I still found the character fascinating. That was in part due to me missing out on TMNT II. For whatever reason, likely just a lack of desire to see the film, my parents never took me to see the sequel in theaters like they had the original. It’s not that surprising as we probably attended one or two movies a year as a family and I doubt my parents were looking forward to seeing that one. We were more of a rental family. As a result, I had to hear about Super Shredder secondhand for nearly a year and wonder what he even looked like. When Playmates released an action figure of Super Shredder, I heard about it from my cousin, who claimed his friend had one. He also claimed his friend got it at Bradlees in Woburn, Massachusetts. Bradlees was a department store not exactly known for toys, but they carried some. My cousin and I begged our mothers to take us, but they had no interest in doing so. When I told my friends at school about the existence of a Super Shredder toy, they didn’t believe me! Then one day while recess is wrapping up, a kid walks by us and drops a Super Shredder action figure on the ground. I can remember just pointing and shouting “Super Shredder!” while my friends looked on with their mouths agape in shock and surprise. The kid was a little freaked out, he was a grade or two below us, scooped up his toy and ran off.

Eventually I would see The Secret of the Ooze and even get my own version of Super Shredder, both things happening Christmas of 1991. And while I found Super Shredder’s big reveal and quick death a bit disappointing, I never once thought the character didn’t look cool. He was impressive, and any article written about the character is required to include the trivia that it was professional wrestler Kevin Nash under the helmet. Nash was billed as being six feet and ten inches tall. I don’t know how accurate that is to reality considering wrestling is never shy about boosting such numbers, but he’s a pretty big guy. And the film makes him look as big as possible in how it films him with the camera often being at a low angle or behind him. He’s never really in a full frame, and the only time another character is in frame with him it’s Leonardo and they film his feet kicking furiously above Shredder’s shins as he’s held up. He’s then shot face-to-face with his head above Shredder’s, but most of their bodies are out of frame so we don’t know where his feet were in that shot. It could be just some clever editing and positioning to make the character appear even larger, or maybe he really was just that much bigger than Leonardo.

Either way, it’s one reason why the brand new NECA action figure of Super Shredder is so much larger than what has come before. He is essentially the first deluxe figure from one of the films joining Metalhead from the cartoon line. He stands at about 9″ tall with the middle point of his crested helmet touching the 9″ mark on my tape measure. This is a far cry from the only other Super Shredder action figure based on his appearance in TMNT II, the Playmates one, which stood at a mere 5″ at his tallest part, basically making him the same size as the movie turtles from Playmates. Scale was never the strong point of the vintage line, and despite the inaccuracies I truly loved that figure as he replaced my main Shredder for me when I played. Even after I broke his left hand off, I simply replaced it with a brass hook and never looked back.

Now, I’m on record as not being much of a fan of the second TMNT movie. It’s a corn-fest full of bad jokes, limited fight choreography, and a rather uninteresting plot. However, it does contain some pretty gnarly costume designs and Super Shredder certainly qualifies. For awhile, NECA resisted calls to even look at this film since most of the folks who work there seem to share a similar opinion to mine. The line is selling too well though and there are only so many figures one can mine from that first film. Super Shredder was inevitable, but I’m happy to say NECA nailed this one.

For this release, Super Shredder comes in a package similar to NECA’s Ultimates line. The cover art is also a bit bold in that it doesn’t even feature the figure beneath. It’s the theatrical poster for the film which has the turtles looking down on a canister of ooze with the silhouettes of Tokka and Rahzar in the background. It does say “Super Shredder” at the bottom, but it is surprising to see. Though this is also in-line with most Ultimates from NECA from film as many are either a poster or VHS artwork. Plus, few people are impulse buying Super Shredder since they won’t hang out on Walmart shelves, where he’s presently exclusive to, long enough for that to happen. The sides and back do feature photography of the figure, and it’s the standard five-panel setup as the front panel is a flap and flipping it over reveals a nice, full body, shot of the figure on the left and the actual figure on the right.

Super Shredder is a behemoth, but he comes packed with a lot of the articulation one would expect of a NECA release. He features ball-joints at the head, shoulders, abdomen, waist, and thighs. He has good side-to-side motion at the head with limited up and down, but there is a joint in the neck that provides for better up and down. This is an important detail since a figure this size is probably going to have to look down a lot. There is no classic bicep swivel on Shredder, but he does have an interesting double-ball setup for his elbows. It reminds me of the cartoon April as the top joint basically serves the same purpose as a bicep swivel with the second ball placed at the top of the forearm in front of the gauntlet. This gives him double-jointed elbow range and allows his bicep to be cut-free. The knees are similar in that you get double-jointed motion without the traditional double-jointed look. The top knee joint is peg-less and swivels, replacing a more traditional boot-cut. NECA likely didn’t want the shin guards to overlap any of the joints thus why the swivel is above the knee. His hands and feet are on ball joints and can rotate, move up and down, and the feet can rock side-to-side quite a bit. His armor does hinder his articulation, but not as much as you may have expected. The shoulder pads sit nice and high so he has good rotation at the shoulders and the abdominal joint allows for a range of upper body motion I wasn’t necessarily expecting. There’s no articulation really missing, though if I have one complaint about the figure it’s that the waist joint is pretty loose. It doesn’t interfere with posing, but he will flop around a bit in your hands and you’ll have to take care when posing that everything is lined up the way you want it in regards to his chest and abs.

The sculpt-work is the real star of the show with this guy. The shape of the head looks perfect and the fact that we now have a screen accurate Super Shredder in action figure form makes it a lot easier to really take in all of the details since his lone scene in the film was so dark. He has this crazed look in his eyes which makes it seem like the ooze not only gave him a surge in strength, but also a rush of adrenaline. There’s a vented portion on his mask that I never even noticed until now as I mostly watched that film on VHS, only recently viewing it in HD. The vents are just grooves in the mask with a paint wash so you can’t see his mouth behind the visor. There’s some silver-gray accents on the helmet which really bring out the details and definitely remind me of the old toy. On his torso, there’s a lot of linework to bring out the muscles which is also in-line with the film. It looks like the costume in the film had muscles air-brushed on which is honestly a little silly, but it also works since it just makes me think of comic book heroes and villains. The purple of the costume is just the right shade and NECA added some white here and there which, again, I think is present on the film costume. It’s hard to tell because that scene is just so dark. He comes with his cape as well, something the Playmates figure omitted back in the day, and it looks nice. It’s a standard cape, like the first film figure, so if you were hoping for a wired cape you might be disappointed. Super Shredder never got the chance to have a dramatic cape in the film, so I think what we have here is perfectly fine and I prefer soft goods for capes to plastic.

Those spikes though, man are they intense! It’s Super Shredder’s defining feature and they look great. I always thought it was goofy how the ooze mutated his armor, but I never once argued with the results. The spikes on the shoulders resemble serrated knives and they’re pretty “pokey.” They do have plenty of give, but definitely don’t step on this guy with bare feet or you’ll be wishing you stepped on a Lego. The spikes on the forearms and calves also look great and are basically the same design, just a little shorter. The various blades are so fearsome that he really doesn’t need actual weapons, but NECA still saw fit to throw old Shell-head a bone.

Super Shredder in the movie is only around long enough to punch stuff, but NECA’s version does come packaged with a spear. True to the character, it’s a more intense version of pre-mutated Shredder’s spear from the first film. One end is pointed while the other has what almost looks like an axe head. The blade coming out of the center is wavy, similar to the axe from the first film, and the design has a familiar look to it. I don’t know if that’s just a credit to NECA coming up with a weapon that fits in with the style of the films, or if this was something present in the background of a scene, perhaps. It’s his signature accessory though and if you want your Super Shredder armed it definitely works.

Super Shredder comes packaged with fist hands, but he has five additional hands as well. Two are open palms while the other two are for gripping his spear. There’s also a looser gripping hand and that it’s intended to grip the canister of ooze. The canister isn’t just a re-release of what the turtles came with as this one is modeled after the TGRI canisters featured in TMNT II. It’s mostly steel and glass construction in the film so viewers could clearly see the green ooze inside of it. This all plastic one looks the same, though the top is non-removable this time around. It looks really nice though and it’s actually something I didn’t know I wanted until I had it. The hands themselves are interesting in that they have this really weathered look on account of a dark wash. They’re nice and pliable so there’s no difficulty in getting the spear or canister into his hands for posing. They’re tight enough too that he can hang onto everything just fine. The entire figure really moves well with no stuck joints or anything to speak of.

Pictured with the ultra rare Pirate Captain Super Shredder.

The Super Shredder action figure from NECA is an impressive piece of plastic and a great addition to the movie TMNT line. He’s an attention-grabber as part of any display and I’m happy these outlandish designs from the second TMNT film are receiving the action figure treatment. The sculpting, paint, and quality control are all pretty impeccable and I expect this to be on the short list for action figure of the year. And Super Shredder will only have to feel alone for a few months as NECA is set to release the Tokka and Rahzar two-pack this November for those who pre-ordered in August through the company’s online store. Tokka and Rahzar will be the first true made-to-order release for the company and if the promotional shots are any indication we’re in for something special. And if you prefer your Shredder un-super, a standard Secret of the Ooze iteration is confirmed for 2021, though the company has yet to unveil any promotional shots for him. I suspect he’ll be a re-paint of the existing movie Shredder with a new helmet. And I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s the only Secret of the Ooze release for 2021, the film’s 30th anniversary year, as you can probably bank on updated turtles and possibly Keno. Considering this year’s convention exclusive was a Coming Out of Their Shells themed release, would it shock anyone if next year’s was also musical? Point being, Super Shredder is another release in the movie line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but he’s far from the last.

If you really want him to look bigger than the turtles…

Super Shredder is currently being sold exclusively at Walmart stores. I got my figure from NECA directly as some were made available to order in early August. The company also recently closed a week-long window where fans could pre-order a Super Shredder to be produced and delivered at a later date. For international collectors, there are still a bunch of shops based in Canada and the UK accepting pre-orders, though NECA has recently clamped down on international retailers shipping TMNT product to US-based consumers. If you missed out on the pre-order window, your best bet now is to stalk your local Walmart in hopes he shows up. You can also keep an eye on NECA as I doubt very much that the factory order will be one-to-one for pre-orders. The company might sell some stock direct to consumers when they come in, or they’ll be sent out to Walmart and international retailers. Good luck!


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze

turtlesIICowabunga dudes, it’s the 30th anniversary of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie! On March 30, 1990, New Line Cinema together with Golden Harvest released a film to theaters that seemingly no one wanted to make. This isn’t that surprising considering when Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird first started soliciting offers for a toy-line based on their comic book property there were also few takers. Still, considering how successful the cartoon and toys had become, one would think studios would have learned a lesson from the likes of Mattel and Hasbro in not passing on the property, but the Turtles concept was so uniquely weird that many just weren’t able to accept it as a bonafide franchise.

The Turtles originated in the pages of Mirage comics, but it was the cartoon that really catapulted the franchise to the heights it eventually reached. Despite that, the original film was a nice olive branch to those who first fell in love with the property as a comic. That first film took very little from the cartoon, basically just the colored masks, April’s profession, and an affinity for pizza, and took far more from the comic. The basic plot was lifted almost directly from that source material with just a few changes. The end result was a tonally dark film as the Turtles dwelled in the murky sewers of New York City and did most of their fighting at night. It was also probably a practical choice to obscure the costumes and puppets (in the case of Splinter) a bit to maintain realism. Jim Henson’s Creature Shop was brought in to create those wonderful suits and the film holds up pretty well for what it is even today.

img_1161

Grab your pizza and pork rinds and celebrate – the first TMNT movie is turning 30!

The only problem I have with that first film is that I already reviewed it on this blog years ago. With no new media based on the film to talk about here, I’m forced to get a bit creative with my celebration of that film and instead turn to the 1991 sequel. Incredibly, New Line was able to fast track a sequel and have it land in theaters on March 22, 1991 –  just days before the first film turned 1! It’s basically another instance of the powers that be having misgivings about the franchise. Everyone assumed the property was a fad and would die out quickly. And while Turtle-mania did probably peak in 1990, it certainly wasn’t dead come 91 and the original cartoon series wouldn’t air its season finale until 1996. Part of the reason the sequel was fast-tracked is because of how few believed in the first film. Even Playmates, holder of the master toy license and party responsible for the creation of the cartoon, passed on creating toys for that film assuming it would bomb. There wasn’t a ton of marketing tie-ins for that film, and even TMNT branded Pork Rinds (as seen in the film) arrived well after the film premiered.

A sequel was basically a way to course-correct for those poor decisions leading up to that first film. The quick turn-around though meant some actors weren’t available for the sequel, and some didn’t return for other reasons. The Casey Jones character was not brought back, though he did return in the sequel to this one. Judith Hoag was also recast as April O’Neil with Paige Turco. It is alleged that Hoag had made a fuss on set of the first film in defense of the stunt actors and that was partly to blame. Since this film has a different director, it could just be he wanted to cast an actress that more resembled the character in the cartoon (something that will impact other areas of the film). Robbie Rist and Brian Tochi return as the voices of Michelangelo and Leonardo, respectively, while Raphael (Laurie Faso) and Donatello (Adam Carl) were recast. Ernie Reyes Jr, a stunt double for Donatello on the first film, impressed the producers enough to get a role in the sequel as a proper actor playing the pizza deliveryman Keno, who understandably crosses paths with the Turtles. Shredder was also recast, now played by Francois Chao and voiced by David McCharen. Kevin Clash is also back as the voice and puppeteer on Splinter.

aprilpaige

Paige Turco hopefully got a nice pay day for this thing.

Director Michael Pressman sought, either on his own or at the urging of other parties, to make this film resemble the cartoon more than the first film had. As a result, co-creators Eastman and Laird had little input on the film. They wanted to continue the story began in Mirage Comics and bring in the scientist Baxter Stockman and have the secret of the ooze match-up with the comic in being alien in origin. Pressman and others apparently disagreed and pretty much the only thing it appears Eastman and Laird got away with was keeping specific elements of the cartoon, such as Bebop and Rocksteady, out. The film downplayed the dark and grime and removed almost all of the violence in favor of slapstick. The Turtles basically never utilize their weapons outside of the opening fight scene, and even there they barely use them. Michelangelo would rather pop bad guys with a yo-yo and sausage links, swung around like nunchaku, and just generally act goofy. Most of the scenes are also brightly lit, and while there’s some conflict between brothers Leo and Raph, it’s hastily done and the stakes feel smaller as Raph no longer comes across as a troubled soul.

tokkamomma

Shredder is back and he’s got mutants of his own this time.

For the plot of the film, Pressman and writer Todd Langden take the picture to a pretty logical place. After being dispatched at the end of the first film, Shredder returns rising from a landfill where he was apparently dumped (the NYPD and Sanitation Commission apparently unknowingly dumped a body left in a garbage truck) and has setup shop in a junkyard. His motivation is now simply revenge, but he needs help. For that, he turns to TGRI, the company responsible for creating the ooze that turned four baby turtles and their caretaker rat into the beings we know and love today. He kidnaps TGRI scientist Professor Jordan Perry (David Warner) to enlist him in creating super mutants of his known, settling on a wolf and a snapping turtle he’ll name Rahzar and Tokka (both voiced by Frank Welker), respectively.

turtlesiicostumes

Donnie had some reconstructive beak surgery between films.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be forced to deal with Shredder and his new minions, as well as the remnants of the Foot Clan. Adding to the drama is their search for a new home, having been cooped up in April’s swanky new apartment since the events of the first film. It’s a straight-forward plot that does fine with its modest 88 minute running time. Fans likely expected Shredder to return, as he always does in the cartoon, and while they probably wanted to see Bebop and Rocksteady it wasn’t a surprise to see surrogates in their place. Tokka and Rahzar are surprisingly even dumber than the warthog and rhino as they’re barely intelligible, but balance that out with impressive strength. I know some fans to this day are disappointed the proper duo wasn’t realized here, it’s hard to argue with the end result though as Jim Henson’s Creature Shop did an amazing job with both characters.

Henson’s Creature Shop is actually the film’s greatest strength. The Turtles were all re-tooled between films and remain plenty convincing. Michelangelo is basically the only one of the four that looks almost identical to the costume in the first film, as he had expressive eyes in that film while the other three seemed to have their eyes obscured by their masks. Now all four have a more approachable appearance and there’s definitely less grit here. Donatello is the one that looks the most different as his head-shape is completely different. I don’t know why this is the case, but he also feels like the character changed the most in general from film-to-film, possibly to de-emphasize the performance of Corey Feldman or maybe just to nerd him up to bring him more in-line with the cartoon. Shredder’s costume also looks great, and the big surprise at the end (yeah, you probably know what that surprise is, but I’ll still retain some mystery for a 29 year-old film review) also looks pretty great.

mikeyoyo

The Turtles would rather fight with toys than weapons this time around. In the film’s defense though, I thought Mikey’s yo-yo routine was hilarious when I was 8.

Sadly, other than the costumes there isn’t much to like about this film. The script has been punched-up to be far more jokey and all-together less serious. Unfortunately, the script seems to think little of its audience and the jokes barely please 8-year-olds. The only true laugh in this film is one line by Mikey in the junkyard when they first spot the individual they’re looking for. Again, I’m not spoiling anything here. Otherwise, everything else is stupid and predictable. The fight choreography, apparently partly owing to the fact that the new masks had even worse visibility than the originals, is abysmal. The bad guys just stand around to get punched or kicked or hit with some jokey object and the Turtles basically never get hurt. Some complained the first film was too violent, but at least it showed the consequences of that violence. This film does not.

warnerooze

David Warner is one of the newcomers for the sequel.

This is also the type of film one watches and just feels bad for the actors involved. David Warner does his best with what he’s given, and he’s actually game for some of the corniness of the script. Turco unfortunately has less to work with while the April character is firmly placed in the backseat for this one. The Keno character feels like an audience surrogate. He’s a teen, but possesses enough child-like enthusiasm to potentially allow kids to relate to him. He’s given some of the worst lines in the film, but again, I can’t really fault the performance of Reyes Jr. for my dislike of Keno. To perhaps no surprise, Keno has never resurfaced in any other media based on this franchise.

icenmike

Yes, this really happened in 1991.

I liked Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II as a kid, and that’s the only audience the movie cared about. I liked seeing my favorite heroes back in a live-action setting, and seeing the new mutants was a trip. I even liked the “Ninja Rap” and I actually have some affection for that even to this day as it’s the moment the movie just says “Screw it, this is what this film is about,” as it embraces it’s corn-ball nature. And the costumes are great, but just about everything else is dumb. All of the things I liked and still enjoy in the original film aren’t here, aside from the costumes. None of the questions that film left open at its conclusion are even addressed here. We don’t know what happened between April and Casey, and we never really get a rematch between Turtles and Shredder. It’s a shame, as the costumed actors (Michelin Sisti, Mark Caso, Kenn Scott, Leif Tilden as the four turtles) are still asked to do some pretty impressive stuff considering all of the gear they’re wearing, but not in a visually interesting manner. As a result, I cannot recommend this movie unless you’ve watched the first film so many times that you’re just desperate to watch something different. Though I hope you will have sense enough to stop here and not go onto the third film.

pizzasokay

“You mean, you don’t like us anymore, dude?”

If you want to watch this film or its much better predecessor (and you should watch that if you’re reading this on the date of publication) you can find all of the original films on Netflix. They’re also available on DVD and Blu Ray and should be quite affordable.


The NECA TMNT Wish List

shredder vs raphThe early months of the calendar year are generally among my least favorite. They’re cold, dark, and dull where I reside. About the only good thing on the calendar is the annual New York Toy Fair in which vendors roll out previews of the toys to come for the next fiscal year and sometimes beyond. These last few years have been particularly exciting for fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as easing of the master toy license by Nickelodeon and Playmates has allowed other companies to enter the mix. The company that has most taken advantage of this new frontier is NECA which currently has three toy lines based on the property hitting shelves. It’s a crazy fun time to be a Turtle toy collector as a result as NECA has taken a nostalgic approach to its figures which is something Playmates rarely does. And this year figures (pun intended) to be an exciting one as lots of figures are set for reveal.

If you haven’t been involved with the lines up to now, here’s a refresher. NECA is currently hard at work packing Target with two-packs based on the 1987 cartoon. Figures released so far include all four turtles in both toon accurate colors and licensing material (i.e. bright green) colors, Shredder, Krang in his bubble walker, Bebop, Rocksteady, and the always serviceable Foot Soldier. Already unveiled and set for release this spring are figures of April O’Neil, Casey Jones, Leatherhead, Slash (in his cartoon outfit), and battle damaged Foot Soldiers. In addition to them, we’ve already seen previews for a Foot Alpha, Metalhead, Triceraton, Traag, Granitor, and Krang’s android body. That’s a lot to take in with much more likely in the can.

turtlesII

It’s a safe assumption we’ll soon be getting updated turtles to match their appearance in the famed sequel, as well as a few other choice figures.

At Gamestop, NECA is currently sending figures based on the 1990 film. They have thus far released the four turtles, Shredder, Foot, and Splinter. A special Loot Crate edition of Splinter is in production depicting him as a spirit from the camping sequence and with 2020 being the 30th anniversary of that film you know NECA has more on the way. We also know they intend to move onto The Secret of the Ooze so the movie line still has some legs.

At online and specialty shops, NECA is set to roll-out figures based on the popular arcade/SNES game Turtles in Time. The first of the four should be hitting retail soon and features Leonardo and Donatello complete with their weapons and surfboards from the Sewer Surfing level. There’s also a purple Foot Soldier who too packs a surfboard and Slash in his game-specific attire (which happens to match his comic look which the old Playmates toy was based on). All of the figures in this line feature a pixel-deco paintjob. Just revealed is wave two which includes Raph and Mikey as well as Shredder (the non Super version from the arcade) and Leatherhead. Considering a lot of the same players from the show were featured in that game, it stands to reason the cartoon and video game assortments will likely feature similar characters.

That’s a lot, and there’s already probably a lot more ready to be unveiled in a few weeks, but now feels like a good time to compile a wish list. I have collected all or parts of all three lines so far, but my main focus now is on the toon line. The 1990 film is my favorite anything related to TMNT, but there’s just not a lot left from that film NECA needs to touch. I have less fondness for the sequel, but wouldn’t mind some figures from it. The video game line is certainly cool, but not a huge priority right now. It may become one though if the Target two-packs continue to be extremely difficult to track down. Since the game figures are sold online and can even be pre-ordered, it makes acquiring them a lot easier. Plus they’re sold separately so there’s no danger of having to pay for a second, unwanted, figure in a two-pack (which so far hasn’t been an issue).

To sort of collect my thoughts in one place, I’ve decided to put together a little list of my most wanted from NECA. I suspect several of these will be unveiled at Toy Fair, but it would be a stretch to expect all of them. The cartoon actually featured far fewer characters than the old toyline, but many did make it into the show. NECA is thus far only doing characters that were in the cartoon, and if you’re nostalgia is just for the old Playmates line then maybe check out what Super7 is doing with its TMNT figures. Here is my list though, and I think number one is probably the same for many such lists:

  1. splinter teaSplinter (Cartoon) – We have the turtles, we have the main villains, and soon we’ll even have April and Casey, but what we don’t have yet is the beloved sensei to the turtles:  Master Splinter. Playmates never did do a proper toon version of the character, but it can be assumed that NECA will and it will be spectacular. He’ll assuredly come with his walking stick, and hopefully some fun accessories like a mug of tea or maybe some sushi. Afterall, he never was all that fond of pizza.
  2. stinky rat king

    There’s no way this guy smells pleasant. 

    The Rat King (Cartoon) – Possibly my favorite villain from the old show, speaking purely from a design standpoint. The turtles may have dwelled in the sewers, but the Rat King was really the only denizen that actually looked the part. If a cartoon character could have an odor, surely Rat King would have qualified. He would need to come with a few rats, though I’m blanking on additional accessories needed. It’s a long shot, but it would be rad if NECA could include a removable hat and duster to cover the redesign that came later in the toon’s life, but my guess is they’d rather hang onto that as a variant down the road.

  3. baxterfly

    I have an unexplainable fondness for this little guy.

    Baxter Stockman/Baxter the Fly (Cartoon, Game) – I’m cheating a little by including both at number three, but my dream is for Baxter to come in a two-pack with his mutated fly persona. Toss in some mousers, and that’s quite a set! Baxter the Fly is also a figure I’m prepared to double-dip on should he get a video game release as well (and you know he will) because it will likely come with that outrageous gun he wields. And in case you’re not familiar with the game, I speak of the gun that could shoot fists and hand slaps.

  4. killer pizzas

    Raph is probably about to make a joke about them being right behind him.

    Pizza/Sewer Monster (Cartoon) – The Xenomorph inspired Pizza Monsters seem like a solid option for NECA’s Ultimate figures based on the cartoon. The Ultimates are for deluxe figures that will be sold individually as opposed to in two-packs. We don’t know where they’ll be sold, but we do know the Foot Alpha, Metalhead, and Krang’s android body are ticketed for such a release. The Pizza Monster makes for a nice fit because it could feature a fully grown version as well as smaller ones representing the larval forms and such. It’s a classic and well-remembered episode, so much so that NECA even did a Sewer Alien based on the film franchise Alien as a convention exclusive designed to mimic the TMNT version.

  5. groundchuck and dirtbag

    Groundchuck (right) was pretty cool. Dirt Bag (left) I could take or leave.

    Groundchuck (Cartoon) – Groundchuck was one of my favorites of the Playmates toys. The bright red fur with blue attire and steel leg just looked cool to me at the time and I think it would look great as a NECA figure today. In the cartoon, he was paired with Dirt Bag whom I’m less enamored with, but it would certainly make sense to package the two together. He did not appear in Turtles in Time though so he might be a low priority figure since he doesn’t easily fit into that line (he did, however, appear in other games).

  6. tokkamomma

    I know some people are still mad we got these two instead of Bebop and Rocksteady, but it’s hard to deny they’d make awesome figures.

    Tokka and Rahzar (Film, Cartoon) – I’m not super into The Secret of the Ooze, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t think its featured dim-witted duo wouldn’t look great in plastic. Tokka especially would likely look awesome, while Rahzar would be a bit tricky given all of the fur. My guess is NECA would sculpt the fur in plastic as it did with Splinter, but who know? If they continued in their quarter-scale line maybe fur would be a feature there. Regardless, I think they would look awesome and I would also be interested in cartoon versions of the characters. It remains to be seen if NECA could create a sculpt that works for both mediums though as the cartoon versions basically looked like the Playmates figures. The two also appeared in the game so NECA could have possibly triple-dip here, though it might be safer for them to just make the film and cartoon/game versions separate.

  7. mondogecko

    Mondo Gecko was a character we were supposed to think is cool, and we all did.

    Mondo Gecko (Cartoon)- Seemingly everyone’s favorite non-turtle character was Mondo Gecko. He had a skateboard, bright colors, and was named Mondo – what’s there not to like? He’s likely a high priority figure as a result for NECA and it would surprise me a little if we don’t see him in a couple weeks. NECA will likely try to make him screen accurate which is a bit unfortunate because the figure was so much cooler. I still think he’ll turn out fine though.

  8. mightyhognrhinoman

    The heroes we truly need.

    Rhino Man and Mighty Hog (Cartoon) – Yeah, I’m cheating again with another two character entry, but what are ya gonna do? I’m mostly avoiding variants of already released figures for this list, but I do love Bebop and Rocksteady and those figures NECA did are so damn awesome that I want to see more of them from the company. While the robots Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady are quite tempting, I think I’d actually prefer the super hero versions of the characters:  Rhino Man and Mighty Hog. Even though this is the preferred variant for me, my guess is we actually get SNES versions of the two in pirate attire before anything else.

  9. super shredder

    It helps that NECA won’t need to make a licensing deal with Kevin Nash thanks to the giant helmet.

    Super Shredder (Film, Game) – Now you can’t have figures based on The Secret of the Ooze without including the big baddie from the end:  Super Shredder. Given how quickly he was dispatched, Super Shredder was certainly more bark than bite, but man was he intense looking. NECA would have some fun sculpting all of those spikes. This bad boy would have to be big too, unlike the puny version Playmates gave us many years ago. And unlike Tokka and Rahzar, it wouldn’t be too difficult to turn that film-based figure into a video game one as he basically looked the same. He’d just need to have cool fireball effects and maybe a little screaming turtle.

  10. darkturtle

    Cooler than Batman. There, I said it.

    Dark Turtle (Cartoon) – For my last entry, how about a deep cut? We’ll undoubtedly see figures of the Punk Frogs, Mukman, and maybe even Bug Man before we see a Dark Turtle, but he’s worth remembering. Dark Turtle, in case you forgot, was a one-episode appearance and is the alter-ego of Donatello. He basically looks like Batman, and what’s not to like about a turtle dressed as Batman? I’m not super interested in variants of the turtles, as I think I’m still fatigued by the many Playmates flooded the market with 30 years ago, but this one I’d go for.


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