Poe’s Review > Leonardo (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2012, Playmates)

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.


The packaging RULES.

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.

What the hell IS this?

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.

[raven 4.5]

Where to Buy:

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Sightings > Santa Claus Pirate Ship



    I love everything about the Nick TMNT figures. I can't stop playing around with them. I'm bringing them everywhere (work, hiking, family picnics). The figures are definitely capturing that feeling I got when I first started collecting TMNT figures as a child. Just wish the secondary characters were up to the same calibur as the Turtle boys themselves.

  2. Great sculpt, great articulation, good accessories, and tons of playability — all for under ten bucks? Who would have thunk it?

    When this basic line was first announced I wasn't too impressed — I was more interested in the Classics line. Now that I've seen them both the basic line is the winner.

  3. I have to agree — these blow the G1 and G2 Turtles out of the water.

  4. Where's MisterBigBo to tell me what the knife-thing is?

  5. xswamijayx

    Great review–and the toon looks fantastic!

    Just one comment: you'll notice in the very same clip that you posted, Leo's hand wraps are a lighter shade than the rest. So the toy is toon accurate that way. And it's a great toy, well worth the 4.5 stars. Get Donatello next.

  6. I bought all nine figures the minute I saw them and they're fantastic. They're such a great value for the price compared to nearly every other action figure line out right now.

  7. morey

    these guys are awesome! they also follow the IDW comic model pretty close)except for the toes) i don't think they have tails in those books i'll have to go back and look.

    • I bought the Change Is Constant graphic novel to see what the series is like, really looking forward to reading it.

  8. I am loving this toy line; I haven't been this excited for a toy line in years. Even the figures that lack in articulation are fun "TOYS". The new turtle van is really fun, and at this point, all of the single card figures store well inside it.

  9. Excellent review Poe. I really can't wait to get these in the UK.

    • Will they be Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles over there?

    • I doubt it, the 2003 series and the movie etc was called Ninja. I hope the new TV series is on free channels here like the original and 2003 series.

  10. Brad Rader

    I meant to say you were right on with the playability of these guys. They were meant to be held! I've had two sets of the necas and both have had some breaking issues. That's why I no longer have them. I'm super careful with toys but feel like they should be touched even if they are for older collectors. These suckers could be thrown at a brick wall and keep on ticking.

    • Bigbot

      I have a set of the NECA turtles, and I always thought they were well constructed. Then I grabbed Leo recently and the peg holding his leg to his torso broke. I've had Kratos' hands and feet break, and Ryu Hayabusa had both of his feet break. Not to mention also a T-1000, GOW1 Marcus and Hoffman break at the feet. The plastic NECA uses for its pegs and sockets really sucks. I love NECA, but sometimes they can really piss me off.

    • Yeah, I've been careful using my NECA Turtles recently too. NECA figures do have a tendency to become brittle as they age.

      Don't think that will be a problem with these figures, though…

    • 2 of the NECA Turtles I had broke upon opening and my Street Fighter Ryu's shoulder broke on opening also.

  11. Brad Rader

    I have found these to be my favorite turtles of all time. I love the Neca figs but these are just amazing to me. You wouldn't know this unless you had them all but every single piece on every figure is separately tooled and is a unique piece. Mike is a bit shorter, don is a bit taller and Ralph is a bit stockier. Every shell front and back is unique to every fig. The other non turtle figures seem to not have the same amount of detail and care that the turtles themselves have but I really like the design of Kraang. His articulation is kinda disappointing but at least his design is nice. You hit the nail on the head with the mirage comment. I would take it a bit further though. Neca and the four horsemen seemed to nail down the look of early issues, say 1 through 10 ish. But these seem to have the look of the grittier around issue 20 style. The return to new York stuff that was my favorite. Cartoon turtles have never been my thing. I was closing in on my teens then. These seem to be a perfect balance of cartoon colors nd mirage comics. I really would love to see an interview with the sculptors of these and see if that's what they were going for. It wouldn't surprise me if it was. Great review Poe!

  12. Mecha-Shiva

    Great review ,Poe.Had to buy them all 4 since I never completed them in any version except a grab bag of the 2k movie ones with missing accessories.I think the extra knife is a hidden blade pulled from Leo's sword handles.

  13. Thanks for the link, Poe! I'll have another Turtle review up this week. I'm surprised at just how nice these are.

  14. I absolutely love this line – probably because the Turtles were the first line I really collected.

    But what is really amazing is that all four Turtles are unique sculpts – Don is taller than the rest, Mikey is shorter, while Raph is Leo's height but bulkier. It's remarkable that Playmates didn't just reuse the molds.

  15. bleep

    These suckers are excellent! I hope we get some super-painted-up versions similar to the prototype. I'd even buy another set just go get nicely painted weapons like the versions given out at Toy Faiir.

    I would also re-buy a set that matches the skin color of the cartoon better. Raph isn't that dark (color wise) on the show.

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