Thursday, August 16, 2012

Toy Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles The Turtles By Playmates

I did the best I could to stretch this out into four separate reviews, but despite the fact that each Turtle is his own mold I just couldn’t manage it. They’re too similar for me to crank out four different ways of saying essentially the same things. I got to the “Sculpt” portion on the second one – Michelangelo – and realized it wasn’t going to happen. There are only so many ways to say “great hand wrappings!” no matter how different they look.
So today I’m going to review all four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a group – Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael. They’re what sell the franchise and the quality of their individual figures is certainly going to make or break any new toy line.
With each new iteration of TMNT toys I’ve bought at least the four Turtles (except for the NECA line – still looking for those at a reasonable price).

And that was my intention when I first saw the endcap full of brand-new TMNT product at Toys R Us a couple of weeks ago. I was going to buy the four turtles – as I have for each iteration of the toys – and stop there, at least until I knew more about the forthcoming cartoon. But they were only $8.99 each – a frigging bargain for action figures nowadays – and you never know which character is short-packed or is going to end up being popular and hard to find. 
Judging from the numbers there I was looking at a couple of fresh cases. There were only two Aprils. Girl figures are sometimes peg warmers and sometimes very hard to find. This version of April looked pretty cool and had a bunch of weapons. I decided I should probably go ahead and grab one. I mean, she is a redhead, after all.
Then I looked at Shredder and Shredder looked pretty awesome. And you need a bad guy, right? 

But then there was the Foot Soldier. He looked cool too and sometimes the army builder guy ends up being tough to find. Then there was Kraang (I didn’t know at the time it was “a Kraang” and not “the Kraang”) that was in an awesome-looking Terminator-like robot body like he should be. I couldn’t pass that up.
The one I could pass up was Splinter. I don’t like how he looks at all. He’s too tall and his face looks like a badger, not a rat. It bothered me enough to pass on him that first time and again the other day. I showed him to the family and both my wife and son agreed that he just doesn’t look right. I get trying to add a little more character, but that paint job just doesn’t look good.
So I took my eight figure stack up to the register and checked out, remembering at the last minute I had a merchandise voucher of indeterminate value in my wallet. It turned out to be ten bucks, so that probably makes up for the Toys R Us overcharge – that place is more expensive than pretty much everybody else now, sometimes by up to 33% more. Of course, I have yet to see the Turtles anywhere else, so just this couple of weeks longer that I’ve owned them makes up for the buck or so more apiece I would have potentially paid.
First Glance: It’s always exciting to have a whole new batch of toys from a whole new line sitting in front of you. These Turtles looks so very good, and I didn’t even realize until I got home that each Turtle is a unique sculpt. I’m struck by how different each of these new Turtles looks. I know that all four have always had their own sculpts for the most part, but in this day and age I find myself expecting shared parts. Mattel and even Hasbro have made it standard practice. Pretty amazing considering the line’s price point and the fact that these are essentially 6” scale figures.
Sculpt: Each Turtle has ball joints at the head, shoulders, and hips. The elbows are single pivot joints, the wrists swivel, and the knees pivot with a swivel at the top. All of this articulation is tight and functional. Just the idea of stuck joints on any line not made by Mattel seems kind of absurd.
The brothers are made from a few different kinds of plastic. The head and most of the body isn’t soft, but it isn’t rigid, either. It has a good feel for this type of character. The front of the shell is a softer, rubbery plastic and the back is more firm.
The belts are rubber and each Turtle’s is unique. Don has his single across-the-shoulder strap with a loop connecting it. Raph and Mikey have loops for their respective weapons in the back. Leo has his double across-the-shoulder straps.
The actual sculpt is probably the most faithful that any of the mainstream toy lines have been to the Mirage comics. They each have a somewhat narrow neck, thighs, and forearms with thick hands and feet and a bulbous head. It’s a great look and their skin is detailed with muscles and veins. The kneepads are done in such a way that they conceal the points of articulation. It would be easy to miss the fact that these guys even are articulated at the knees and elbows. I really like the wrappings on the hands and feet. They add a lot of depth to what is already a cool design.
Speaking of feet, these Turtles have three toes on the front of their feet. The old ones had two in the front and a sort of weird thumb/heel thing.
Each turtle sports a different skin texture, as well as different shells. The front and the back sport varying degrees of damage – scratches and gouges and such. All of this adds so much to each Turtle having their own personality. Raph in particular stands out, as his skin appears to be very scarred and his shell is the most worked-over.
The faces are a good representation of each Turtle’s character. Leo looks determined and somber, Don has a bit of a thoughtful look, Raph looks like he’s headed into battle, and Mikey looks like a goofball.
Each Turtle is a slightly different size, which I believe is a first. Leo is average, Mikey is the shortest – he is described as the runt in his bio, Don is tall and seems lankier, and Raph seems bulkier.
This is going to seem like a small thing to some of you, but Playmates has managed to nail the Turtles’ masks this time. The hanging ends in the back are just the right length and each of the guys’ is different without being ridiculous – no sticking straight out to the side or anything.
The balance of these figures is pretty amazing. The thickness of the lower legs means you can get some pretty good kicks and stuff out of them.
Design: No pupils! I will always prefer my Turtles without pupils and irises. Now, they have them in the new cartoon, but I can kind of understand the need for that when you have four different characters that need to emote and express things. But the figures don’t have them and I’m happy about that.
All four Turtles are a different shade of green. I’m no interior designer so I can’t speak to which shade is appropriate for whom, but they all look good. There are no washes or anything, but the colors of the shell parts, the pads, and the wrappings make the figure look great. I also appreciate that the pads are not coordinated to the masks. Granted, that hasn’t been the style in a long time, but I’m glad it still isn’t.
It’s kind of funny that there are no washes on these guys, but the variation of colors and textures makes it look like there are. They have a very gritty feel.
The paint apps are all very clean. There’s no bleeding or color where it shouldn’t be. The only real issue is that the hand wrappings aren’t painted all the way around, but that really isn’t a big deal. I think most people won’t even notice.
Accessories: This is where the execution of the original figures returns in a big way. Not only does each Turtle come with his signature weapons, also included are a bunch of extras still attached to the (mold). The accessories are all made of a sturdy, rigid plastic.
I wish that the separate, signature weapons of each Turtle had paint apps. I’m glad that Leo and Raph’s bladed weapons are at least silver, but they do seem lacking being their solid colors.
Leo comes with two separate katana and a scabbard. His extras are a longer sword, two throwing stars, three throwing knives, and what sort of looks like a giant metal tooth or something.
The katana look cool and have a different shape to them than any past blades Leonardo has had. I almost feel like they’re too short, but if they were any longer his scabbard would either be unwieldy or they’d stick out of the end.
Mikey has two nunchaku and attached to the mold area bladed stick on a chain (sorry - I haven't looked at AD&D: Oriental Adventures in over twenty years), and four throwing stars of two different varieties.
I’m a little disappointed by the nunchaku. Each one is a solid piece and the chains are not really designed to bend – when you fold them for storage in Mikey’s belt they turn that stressed plastic white that we as toy collectors all fear. This is a rare instance where I wish an accessory was made of a softer plastic.
Raph is equipped with his traditional two sais, as well astwo throwing stars, two sai with a guard on one side, and two vicious-looking hook things.
The sais look great aside from the lack of detail. They are slim and loom much more menacing than any previous versions. I particularly like the alternates with the single guard. I cannot imagine Raph will be disemboweling Foot Soldiers with those hook things on Nickelodeon anytime soon.
Don ‘s separate weapon is his bo staff. Attached to the mold piece are a naginata, two bladed discs, and a three-piece nunchaku that almost certainly had a different name.
Like Leo’s katana, Donatello’s bo seems short. Unlike Leo’s katana, it could probably have been longer. And I have to say – I’m disappointed that Don didn’t come with some kind of gadgetry. A few little devices in a silver mold would have been great.
You can twist the extra weapons out of the molds just like you could the original figures’, but I recommend you use an X-Acto knife like I did. You don’t want those little, whitish nubs making your accessories look all ugly. But please – if you’re a child have an adult do the cutting. If you’re an idiot, have a competent person do it. I don’t need my blog post resulting in missing or damaged appendages. Or unsightly blood stains on the carpet.
Once out of the molds the extra weapons all look very cool. Each Turtle has unique stars and knives and whatnot, as opposed to all four sharing the same style of throwing stars. I thought this was a nice touch.
Packaging: The Turtles come in some fairly unique, die-cut blister cards. The shape and design of the card is eye-catching and the blister has some nice sculpting and textures. Each character has a bio on the back with a cartoon-style illustration.
Overall: These are very satisfying figures, well worth the money. 
They have a nice bulk, good textures, and tons of personality. 
These can be posed in more ways than any previous Turtles figures (except maybe the NECA ones – I’m not sure) and maintain a unique new style. 
I give the whole bunch a
4 out of 5
I get why the weapons aren’t painted, but it does bug me. Still, this set is a more than worthy entry into the ever-growing line of TMNT toys.
I’ve only seen them at Toys R Us and Target so far, but if you really have to have them BigBadToyStore has the entire line in stock for elevated prices. I recommend you just wait, though. I think these are going to be popular and plentiful. I hope so, anyway.
Also, if you’re curious about a kid’s point of view, Lil’ Troublemaker can’t get enough of these. Every time he’s hanging out downstairs he wants to play with them. He doesn’t even ask about my Batman figures anymore.
I have a ton more pictures over on my Photobucket page.


  1. These are good toys, and actually now that you have these first, the Neca ones might not seem as ground breaking.
    Speaking of Neca, did you get that email I sent you a couple of weeks ago?

    1. I don't believe so. I wonder if it got spammed. If you like, try resending to And I still want the NECA ones just to have 'em. It's funny - I had given the last ones that came out - the movie ones, maybe? - to my son and pulled them out for Monday's post. I can't believe how inferior they seem now. I thought they were so great at the time.