Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Sadly, I’ve been reading that the recent Bandai Thundercats toyline based on the new cartoon series is dead in the water. They had a few more figures in the pipeline (including some awesome looking 6” figures), but it looks as if they may have canned them. I guess interest in these old 80’s properties among kids just isn’t as big as the big wigs think they are.

But I’m hoping that I’m wrong.

Why? Because come August, Playmates will be re-launching Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with a new toy line to coincide with the upcoming CGI animated series on Nickolodeon. I really want this one to hit the ground running. That way we’ll continue to see product being pumped out from Playmates, who have been making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures since as long as I can remember (though I only have the Mousers left over from the older lines).

There are a ton of figures already announced, and some are already available for pre-order on www.BigBadToyStore.com. They’re divided in to a 4” Modern line with play sets and vehicles in that scale, a second line of slightly bigger toys that are targeted at kids featuring action-triggered sounds called the Deluxe Power Sound FX figures, a 6” collector line with figures that are closer to the 80’s cartoon aesthetic with increased articulation, and lastly a few role play toys.

If I had to choose one toy line to follow this year, it would be Transformers (because *points to self* Transformers geek). But after that, it would be both the 4” and 6” Turtles. The advanced solicitation photos that were released back in February during the New York Toy Fair are just stunning.

The 4” line looks to be the clear winner for world builders. The core group looks awesome and there isn’t any re-use of bodies (which would have been far too easy for Playmates to do). The design of the characters looks very unique and distinct, but they look like a uniform team. Their accessories look sweet as well (real chains on Mike’s nunchucks!).

Articulation looks serviceable. From what I can see, there are ball joints at the neck, shoulders, and hips, with swivels at the wrists and double hinges at the elbows and knees. It doesn’t look as if the range is all that spectacular, but as these are geared towards kids, we can let it slide.

I’m hoping the bros have loops at the back of their belts to hold their gear, but looking at Michelangelo’s chains, I don’t think I’d ever take those weapons out of his hands.

Over all, the 4” line looks to be pretty fun, with a nice design theme, functional articulation, and nice looking weapons. What makes it even sweeter, though, is the vehicles coming out.

The big draw is the new Turtle Van, the Shellraiser.

I’m sold just hearing that name. The Shellraiser. F*cking awesome. Looking at it gives me a hard-on. It is stupid how much I want this thing. I’m pretty sure that this thing would completely take over my desk for a good month. I’d be interested to see if someone could mod it to make it serviceable for G.I. Joes. Although it looks cartoonish at first blush, I’m sure a coat of paint and some decals, plus a few judicious accessories will work wonders.

There’s also a motorcycle (the Rippin’ Rider), a three-wheeler with an opening cockpit and helmeted Raph (the Ninja Stealth Bike), and the Foot Clan’s Dragon Bike.

To complete the 4” line, Playmates is also fielding play sets. There’s a small one called the Sewer Spinnin’ Skateboard that fits any of the 4” Turtles and does various tricks. SCIENCE! You got to love it!

And don’t forget the Lair!

There will be a huge play set that gives the 4”ers a permanent home. Look at all that space! I love the details like the street lamp, dumpster and fire escape. And check out the photo again and you’ll get a glimpse of figures in the next waves: April O’Neil, Shredder, Splinter, a Foot ninja, what looks to be a Kang robot, and I think that’s Baxter Stockman in the dumpster (I could be wrong).

Along with the 4” line, there will also be the Deluxe Power Sound FX figures, which are larger toys that are slightly less detailed with fewer joints. It looks like these are targeted to an even younger audience and it appears they’re meant to be tough figures that can take a beating.

Another reason for the lack of sophistication for this sub-line is the inclusion of an action-activated sound feature. I’m assuming you squeeze their legs together and they might swing an arm up and shout, “Cowabunga!” as loud as a miniature voice chip can.  You swing a hand back and he might say, “Dude”.

It’s too bad that they didn’t include a slice of pizza that you could insert into their mouth to activate a phrase having to do with pizza. But then they’d have had to sacrifice those awesome expressions.

For the really young kids, Playmates has these in store: Role play toys.

While these are normally bought by 5-year olds, I’ve known adult collectors to buy similar items (Mjölnir you will be mine!). Case in point: my Optimus Prime Voice Changer Helmet. I wouldn’t mind having these things decorating a corner of my home. If they’d had these when I was 5-years old, I’d have had them on in a flash and would have painted my backpack green and climbing trees in the back yard in minutes.

Last but definitely not least, we’ve got the 6” collectors line, with the 4 team members done up in their classic cartoon looks. Looking at the photos that Playmates released, these look to be challenging the NECA TMNT Turtles as the best in show. The NECA Turtles were awesome in every respect, but they were based on Eastman & Laird’s original comic designs, which were blocky and graphic.

The new Playmates designs are much rounder and friendlier looking, and sport the Turtle’s individual colors (an affectation added to the show to help kids tell them apart – they all wore red in the comic). However, articulation doesn’t seem to have suffered for that as it looks as if Playmates has included even more points of functional articulation than NECA gave us.

There’s a neck joint, which may be a ball and socket from the looks of it. The hips may also be ball jointed, but the torso crunch is definitely set on a nice looking ball joint. Double swivel-hinge shoulders and double-hinged elbows give the figures good upper arm movement. There also seems to be a wrist swivel and individually articulated fingers!  Down below looks equally nice, with thigh swivels (YES!), double-hinged knees, ankle hinges with rockers, and articulated toes.

Currently, it looks as if these things will be costing almost $30.00 each when they arrive (according to the pre-order currently up at BBTS). Not entirely sure that it will be worth it since that’s before shipping and we’re already talking about Php 1,350.00 per figure, more than even the recently released Walmart Exclusive Marvel Legends Avengers figures. At $10.00 each (Php 450-500), the 4” figures might be more tempting for me. Get a set of 4, and that awesome van for $35.00 and yeah…


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