This post marks number 800 for this blog! Now, when I hit a nice, round, number like that I usually try to find a special topic of some kind, but also one representative of the content on this blog. Well, we certainly look at a lot of toys on this space, and there have definitely been a lot of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles posts, and I do consider myself a metalhead so why not do a figure review of Super7’s TMNT Ultimates! Wave 3 Metalhead? Now, I’m taking a bit of a gamble in making such a milestone post a figure review. This thing could suck for all I know, but I’ve handled enough figures from this line that I’m reasonably confident that it won’t. Plus, it’s Metalhead, one of my favorite figures from the original Playmates line and one I wish I had held onto (sorry, no comparison shot).
When it comes to this line, it’s interesting to see the choices Super7 makes in regards to how faithful they want to be to the vintage toy and what they want to change. With Bebop, we saw they elected to pump him up quite a bit so that he towers over the turtles. Metalhead is a robot turtle, and across other mediums he tends to be on the larger side. Super7 though, saw him as a robotic duplicate of the turtles akin to the fifth turtle, so they decided to make him the same size. He’s not the same sculpt as his body is loaded with tiny, technical, bits, but he is the same height, width, and obeys the same proportions. This puts Metalhead at about six inches which means that, despite this being a 7″ scale line, he’s actually shorter than NECA’s cartoon version of the character by nearly an inch. Obviously, these two are not meant to be exactly the same as they’re the same character from two different sources, but it is an interesting comparison.
Metalhead was one of the more detailed sculpts released by Playmates in the original toy line, and the same is true for this version as well. His entire body is covered with grooves, buttons, vents, wires, and rivets. It’s an impressive mold and it also means Super7 had to use a lot more paint than they usually do. The base color for the figure is gray, so every bit of red, black, yellow, silver, and green is painted on. And a lot of the details are quite familiar to me as I look this guy over, especially the little lightning bolts on the forearms and shins. Those were sculpted on the original toy, but unpainted and it’s nice to see them brought to life here. The head still features the light piping which is to say that his eyes and brain are cast in a red, transparent, plastic and the rest of the head is molded around it. Shine a light into the top of his brain and it should filter through the eyes. If you don’t care for this though, Metalhead’s alternate head is exactly the same, but with that feature removed in favor of red paint. Super7 seems to have taken some small liberties with the figure’s legs as there are now tubes connecting the back of the knee to the thigh. I don’t recall how these looked on the old figure, I’m guessing they were there, but part of the sculpt. Here it looks cool, but is a little concerning when it comes to articulation, but we’ll get to that in due time.
Of course, the elephant in the room concerns Metalhead’s torso. The original figure was vac metal, a process by which a layer of reflective, metallic, paint is placed over a hard plastic to create a finish akin to chrome. The vac metal is less a paint, and more like a heavy, duty, coating. The problem is, it only adheres to harder plastics like ABS (most toys are a type of PVC) and it’s prone to chipping as it does not possess any sort of give. Super7 opted not to do the chest or shell in vac metal for these reasons. I think, with a little creativity, they could have made it happen if they had really wanted to. The front of the figure’s “shell” is a separate piece so they could have made that removable and given people a vac metal plate to put over it if they so desired. Instead, they just went with a super, metallic, paint job for the torso that’s a very lustrous gold. I am personally not that into vac metal, so I don’t really care. I think this paint job is pretty flashy and I quite like it. Something about how the light rolls across the rear of the shell is very pleasing. It’s so pleasing that I kind of don’t want to put the backpack on him.
If there’s anything to nitpick about the figure’s appearance, beyond the size (I get it, but I do think of Metalhead as being bigger than the turtles), is mainly in just some of the finer details. So much of the character’s sculpt has been painted and brought to life, but the belt is just three colors and most of that is black. The oil can, funnel, and bolts affixed to the belt are unpainted while the grenades are just green. It would have been cool to see some added embellishment there. There’s also the unsightly holes in this figure, one on the rear and two on the chest. They’re to accommodate his backpack accessory, but when that’s not in use you get the holes. Some plugs would have been cool to fill them, or they could have used magnets to hold the pack on. It’s not the end of the world, and I suspect most will use the pack anyway, but it’s just neat when companies go that extra mile.
In terms of articulation, Metalhead is basically the same as his organic allies, though the execution is not. Metalhead has a head that sits on the same ball joint and he can pivot up, down, and to the side. The range isn’t spectacular since he has a sculpted neck with no lower neck articulation, but it works all right. At the shoulders, we have ball hinges, but the shape of the shoulder means he really can’t lift his arms out to the side much. He won’t be serving as a “T” for any cheer squads. The elbows are single-hinged, and like the other turtles, the elbow pad won’t let him achieve a 90 degree bend. The wrists rotate and have horizontal hinges. At the hips, he can pivot a bit, but the shell won’t let him spin all the way around or anything. The legs connect via these small, skinny, pegs and below them should be a thigh swivel, but my figure is totally stuck on both legs. I’ve tried heating it, then freezing, to see if that will get it moving, but to no avail. It really stinks because the left leg is rotated inwards a little so his knee isn’t facing forward. He has a swivel at the knee, but you have to be mindful of those hoses on the back because they link the upper and lower leg which really isn’t a smart design. I wish the thigh cut had been repositioned to just above the yellow knee indicator as there is a natural place for it in the sculpt. The other swivel is just too close to the hip and it’s hard to get any real torque without putting pressure on the peg connecting the hip. Below the knee is the standard ankle rocker which works well.
Metalhead ends up not being the best articulated figure, but he’d have enough if it just worked better. To make up for it though, he has stuff. Like every figure in this line, Metalhead comes with extra hands. He has gripping hands in the package plus a pair of fists and wide gripping hands. I’m not really sure what the wide hands are needed for, but he has them. He also has another right hand which features a tentacle like extension popping out of his index finger. It’s pretty cool looking and something the original toy did not feature. He also has some mechanical nunchuks that clip into his wrist in place of a hand (like the original figure, which I think was the first figure I ever had with swap-able hands). The actual ‘chuks portion can rotate, but not freely like a propeller so it’s more for positioning. Swapping parts is easy, and if anything too easy as they sometimes pop off when just positioning the figure. He also has his pizza oven backpack, since this guy is a party robot. It snaps into his back and the straps plug into the chest. There’s a mini satellite dish that plugs into the top, or you can use the second nunchuk attachment which makes it function like a helicopter. I think this resulted in someone on staff at Super7 saying they mistook the nunchuk that came with the original Playmates toy for a propeller as a kid and wanted to give anyone else who did the same that option with the new toy. Lastly, we have a pair of grenades that Metalhead can toss at his foes. They look just like the ones molded into his belt, so that’s a nice touch, but I wish they could affix to the belt in some way. Or if the backpack could open, now that would have been cool!
The accessory assortment is solid, though I wish Super7 took more time in painting them. The vintage line was all uniform, so I get that they want to match it, but they provide an unpainted weapons rack with every figure, Metalhead included. Why not add more paint to the rest? The backpack especially could use a little flair on the rear as could the innards of the nunchuk. The grenades don’t even have silver on the handles or pin. They provide these nice, painted, weapons for the turtles, but it seems Super7 shorts every other figure in the line in this area. There’s also the issue of the backpack being quite heavy. Metalhead’s hips aren’t flimsy like Raph’s, but they’re also not strong. His torso might also weigh more than the other turtles because he’s prone to falling backward. Add the backpack and the problem is exacerbated. This is one you’ll need to keep an eye on and you shouldn’t get too ambitious with the posing. It would be a shame if that shell were to scuff or worse. I’m not sure why they didn’t make the backpack hollow, and therefore lighter, but I have a conundrum where I want to display the figure with it on, but it would be a great deal more stable to go without.
These issues with the figure may seem like a classic case of nitpicking, but they all add up to be more problematic than expected. Getting Metalhead to stand is more challenging then it should be, add the backpack and it really becomes an issue. Then when you take away something like a thigh swivel, you’re forced to rely on the other joints to create a strong base. And when you find yourself constantly tinkering with the figure to get him to stand, you end up grabbing the lower leg and forgetting there are hoses behind it and that’s how you end up with a broken toy. Yup, those hoses I pointed out as a potential problem turned out to be just that. The right leg ended up breaking on me, and not from twisting the lower leg too far, but just by my finger wrapping around the leg in just the right (wrong) way, apparently. It’s a very thin, soft, plastic and it won’t take much to break. I have a feeling in ten years when we’re looking back on this line that Metalhead’s tubes will be akin to the old Playmates Krang and the antenna on top of the head that always broke. I ordered this figure through Big Bad Toy Store so I reached out to them (because Super7 asked me to do that first with my Michelangelo issue) to see about an exchange. The stuck thighs already had me frustrated and contemplating an exchange, and the broken coil became the tipping point.
Metalhead ended up being a more frustrating experience than I expected. He had become the one I was looking forward to the most from Wave 3 of Super7’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line of Ultimates!, and now he’s my most disappointing. It has not been a great start to this wave as I had the ankle issue with Michelangelo so hopefully the last figure I look at (Rocksteady) won’t be more of the same. This follows really no issues with waves 1 and 2 for me beyond stiff or loose joints, and it’s not causing me to rethink all of the open preorders I have with Super7, but it has taken some of the wind out of my sails.
In the end, maybe Metalhead wasn’t the best choice for my 800th post, but it’s a decision I’ll have to live with. I’ll come back and update this post if I have any success on getting a better Metalhead. Right now, the figure is available in a few places to order, but he won’t last forever since Super7’s model is made-to-order. They’ve relaxed their one and done strategy for this line for both of the first waves, but I wouldn’t count on that going forward. Especially as factory availability remains challenging and shipping from Asia continues to be a problem. I can’t give my full endorsement to this figure as-is, but if you like the look and are okay with the limitations, then you should have enough information to make an informed decision that works for you. I do like the look of this one, and no matter how my interactions with customer service goes, I’m not about to toss him in the trash or anything, but he definitely feels like a “set it and forget it” action figure which is a shame since he has enough stuff that a variety of display options are present. His base just won’t cooperate though, so he gets to be a shiny, golden, idol instead.
UPDATE: I reached out to Big Bad Toy Store, where I bought my Metalhead, about the issues I had with it and they replaced it at no cost to me and without any additional questions. They also let me keep the first one. My new Metalhead arrived a few days later and he’s much better in some ways, and not in others. First of all, all of the joints are free and usable and obviously the wire/hose/coil behind the knee is fine. On the negative side, the hips on the new one seem even more loose than my first one so he’s still no fun to stand. I’m guessing that’s just going to be the reality of this figure where some are tighter than others. There was also some yellow paint slop on the black portion of the knee which was unfortunate. At any rate, he at least looks better because his knee isn’t constantly twisted and I went over the paint slop with a black marker. Because of the performance issues though, I do think Rocksteady is the superior figure in this third wave and I’m still a little disappointed in Metalhead, but I feel better about this one at least. And hats off to Big Bad, I’ll definitely continue to turn to them for my action figure needs.