Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (NECA)

Originally posted at slangards.multiply.com on Oct 13, 2008

NECA offerings have been getting better and better lately. Their Player Select line went from mini-statue types with the useless NECA-joint, to toys that balanced sculpt and articulation to create really beautiful toys. The first one I saw was the Kratos figures; nice, textured with functional articulation and chock-filled with accessories. Then came the Altair figure that shared the great sculpting (though not the accessories and limited articulation). The Raziel figure 1-upped both by keeping the great sculpting and adding even cleaner joints and unbelievable paint apps.

Now with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line, NECA seems to be cementing their place in the toy manufacturer's pantheon as the team to beat when it comes to high quality action figures. The new line is years ahead of the old turtle line; the one based on the cartoon with cheesy gimmicks and standard 5-point articulation. These babies are instead based on the original Eastman & Laird comics, so the uninitiated might have trouble telling our heroes apart. The original comics were in black and white, but on the covers all 4 of the turtles had the same color masks; red.

Still, with the great sculpting, you can tell them apart with little effort. Leonardo looks determined and focused, Donatello is the serious one, Michealangelo is the goofy party animal, and Rafael looks like a mean bastard. If you can't get that down, try remembering the cartoon lyrics. "Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines. Rafael is cool but crude (gimme a break!). Michelangelo is a party dude!"

Aside from differentiating the guys with unique head molds, NECA and The Four Horsemen really did a job on the rest of their bodies as well. The turtles' skin isn't just smooth plastic; it's got a nice, rough texture to it. Every wrinkle is sculpted into the bodies, with comic-like pointillism to add dimension. Even the knots on their masks are present and the ends are sculpted like they are moving in wind.

Another great thing that distinguishes these toys from the mass market counterparts made by Hasbro or Mattel is the construction. You'd think that they would make the torso and shell in one mold as a piece, but no! Their torsos are all made of three pieces, the body, the chest plate, and the shell, all held together by their belts. Don't worry, it's all sturdily put together and glued in place, but there's enough space between the pieces to appreciate the effort. You can see the wrinkles under their arms going back into the shell!

That brings us to paint apps, which are quite frankly, perfect. These are pretty high end action figures, so you'd expect them to be well done, but like the Raziel figures, NECA's gone above and beyond. Each wrinkle and cross-hatch is filled with a cut line that makes it feel as if these figures have stepped right out of the page. There is no slop between colors, even in the mask and eye areas. Colors are nice, considering there's no variation in them. Skin looks like skin, shell like shell, and leather like leather. Plus the chosen paints aren't cheap glossy ones. They're all in a matte finish that photographs great!

Articulation wise, this series gets another 5 out of 5 stars. Here's a list: Ball joint at base of skull, ball joint at base of neck, ball joint at shoulder, peg joint on upper arm, pin at elbow, peg/pin at wrist, cut joint at waist, ball at hip, peg on thigh, double pin knee joint (oh yeah!), and finally, a pin and hinge joint at the ankle. Whew! That's about 25 points of articulation if I'm not mistaken. Not the most we've seen, but all of it is FUNCTIONAL. These turtles can get into a many great ninja positions, including high kicks, without falling over.

Last up is accessories, and again, NECA comes out swinging. All the turtles come with their signature weapons; swords, sais, nunchaku, and bo staff. You won't believe the work that went into these things. Don's staff breaks into two so that you can slide the slim part into his hands instead of trying to cram the big ends into the gap. Mike's nunchucks have actual, tiny aluminum chains and not crappy plastic or ropes. Raph's sai will fit in several different ways, with extra space between his fingers for to spin it round. Leo's swords are kinda boring in comparison, but they're well designed and he's got nice detailed scabbards on his back to make up for them. You need to be careful with Leo's swords though; the plastic used can break if you push it in the wrong direction while trying to pose him (don't ask). The weapons also fit into the turtles' belts:

Raph and Mikey also come with 3 throwing daggers and shuriken respectively (they're really small; I've already lost one of the shuriken), and Don has a canister of ooze (the can is probably the only place I saw sloppy painting the whole kit and caboodle). In addition to that, each of them comes with an extra set of hands with ninja crampons tied to the palms that can be switched with their gripping hands. And in addition to that, they all come with a turtle version of themselves before the mutation! How cool is that?

And if you're lucky enough to find the single packs or the exclusive SDCC box set, you'll also find that each figure has it's own little stand that's molded to look like part of a street scene. Donny and Mikey have the street parts, with molded manhole and dirt and wood bits. Raph has a sidewalk piece that includes a street lamp, and Leo has one with a gray fire hydrant. All of these piece together, so if you have a good background painting, you got yourself a great little diorama. Even better, if they finally come out with wave 2 with the Foot clan baddies, they'll also have street pieces that you can link up for. Fight scene anyone?

There is also a variant set available that is in pure black and white, just like the comics. While purists might like these versions, I find them kind of bland. Turtles are green, doi.

The only problems I found may just be bad luck. On Raph's extra hand, the crampons were already coming off out of the box. Easily fixed and not really noticeable. The peg joints in Raph's and Leo's left arms and their right legs are paint-locked. Again easily fixed. There's also the easily broken material of the weapons, but if you're careful, it shouldn't be a problem.

If you can still find this set, don't hesitate. Raph and Donatello are short packed and are extremely hard to find, going for something like P2500.00 on eBay. Leo and Mike have disappeared from Toy Kingdom shelves as well. I got mine on the secondary market from a collector at a pretty good price, considering. All in all, the quality of these figures is worth the premium you pay!

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