As I mentioned in my review of the Classic Collection Leonardo, I’ve covered my history with the Turtles before here and here. To my surprise I was left a bit underwhelmed by Classic Collection, but the photos of the basic line for 2012 (based on the new cartoon) seemed intriguing enough to merit picking up at least one figure.
I’m interested to watch the show, which debuts on Nickelodeon on September 29. The animation and style seems like a cross between Cars and Teen Titans. The humor seems great.
Packaging: I don’t usually care much for packaging either way, but the original toy line featured some great packaging and the new line doesn’t disappoint either. The bright purple-and-green scheme is eye-catching in a way the bland yellow of the 2003 series never was – it practically leaps off the toy shelf and into your retinas. It’s appealing and highlights the figure well. But these figures are made to be opened.
The line also brings back the bios, though they don’t have any of the puns or “Vital Turtletistics”-type language. That may or may not be a bad thing, depending on your point of view.
Design & Sculpt: I’m not sure how much I can debate the character design, as the figure is based on the cartoon design. The distinctive aspects of these new Turtles are the anime-style oversized hands and feet, the bandages, and the three toes (instead of two). I initially disliked the Popeye-esque hands and feet, but they’ve grown on me. The toes still seem a bit odd but again, I’ve gotten used to them. Overall the design seems to borrow more from the original Mirage era, though as with every kid-oriented TMNT line, the design eschews the tail seen on the Mirage Turtles, no doubt because pre-adolescent boys (and overprotective parents) would never see it as anything other than a penis.
The figure stands about 4½” tall, which looks and feels like the perfect height for a Ninja Turtles figure (as opposed to the giant CC figures).
Just as the 1980s Turtles toys were more detailed than the cartoon (featuring veins on the bulging muscles and folds on the elbow and knee pads), the basic figures of 2012 are possibly the most detailed Turtles we’ve seen aside from NECA, of course, although in some ways these figures may be even more detailed than NECA. There’s a very appealing rough texture to the skin of the limbs, and even the bandages are textured like gauze. The plastron is covered in dents, nicks and scratches, while the carapace is much flatter than the bulbous one seen on the CC Leo.
It’s nice to see some variety in head sculpts, too. Leo’s battle-ready grin is a nice change from the side-mouthed smirk we’ve so often gotten on Turtles figures.
Plastic & Paint: Phil Reed of Battlegrip hit the nail on the head in his review of this same figure when he discussed how the figure feels more like a kid’s toy in that the plastic is durable and has give, unlike most collector’s toys. That’s very true, and I think it’s part of what makes the figure so appealing.
The legs and arms are made from soft plastic, but not soft in the “DCUC reground plastic from the floor of the factory” sense – just the “kids can slam this against the wall all day” sense. It’s difficult to explain, but it’s really appealing to hold this figure in your hand. The plastron is made of an even more durable plastic, which gives it a really cool, almost “realistic” feel, while the shell is a bit harder.
The paint isn’t quite as nice as the plastic. It’s thick, and there’s some slop here and there; and for some reason the bandages on Leo’s hands are of a brighter white than the bandages on his wrists and feet. [UPDATE: As Poester xswamijayx pointed out in the comments, in the above cartoon clip it appears the hand bandages are indeed lighter – and in fact, the wrist/foot bandages are much darker.]
I think it was smart of Playmates to forego the pupils on the eyes, despite the characters having pupils on the cartoon. It’s the same thing they did in the 1980s, and it makes the figure seems much more badass.
Articulation: You’re not going to get super-articulation with a kids’ line, but the figure does have an impressive amount: ball joints and the neck, shoulders, elbows, hips, and knees, and swivels at the wrists. The only joint I might have liked to see is an upper thigh swivel of some sort to facilitate kicking poses, but it’s a minor point.
Accessories: In some ways – scale, the lack of pupils, the vehicles – these basic Turtles figures are more true to the spirit of the 1980s line than the Classic Collection. For example, while Leonardo does come with two swords in the package, he also comes with a unique set of weapons on a sprue that you have to pry out, just as kids did twenty-five years ago. Leo comes with an additional sword, two throwing stars, three kunai, and a…knife, I guess? He can hold all of them just fine, and you can even fit the shuriken between his fingers for a more authentic-looking grip.
The two main ninjatō fit in a rubber scabbard in his back, which plugs into a hole in his carapace. He’s got the Mirage-style scabbards where both swords are angled in the same direction, as opposed to the criss-crossed scabbards of the vintage figure and cartoon.
The weapons are molded solely in silver, which is a bit disappointing but not surprising given that this is a kid’s line.
Quality Control: No problems.
Overall: This is the rare action figure that functions both as a great kid’s toy and a great adult collectible. You’ve really got to hold one yourself to see how appealing it is. Best of all, you can find them for nearly half the price of the Classic Collection.
No, he doesn’t overtake the NECA figures in my estimation, but he does jump right into the #2 spot. I may just cave in and get the other three Turtles, plus maybe the Shellraiser.
Where to Buy: