Mazes & Mutants is one of the best episodes of the most recent Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon series. In it, the four turtles decide to play the eponymous game and eventually to cosplay their chosen characters, turning it into a Live Action Role Play or LARP.
Things get hairy when another young mutant, Sir Malachi, decides to turn the role play part into reality with his hallucinatory powers. They have to defeat the dragon, save the girl, and win the day.
With the help of Mikey's +1 Ring of Awesome.
I bought these off of Amazon.com a couple of months back and picked them up recently from a friend (Thanks, man!). They are worth the wait, and since I paid a little less than local retail for the whole load (I bought several other TMNT figures with these) I didn't really lose too much on shipping. If you like them however, I've heard they should be out locally around the end of the month.
Keep your eyes peeled though. If the recent release of the Battleshell Turtles is any indication, these won't be on shelves for more than a couple of days, if that.
The packaging is very eye-catching with the uncommonly dominant purple and green color palette and weirdly shaped card. They're hard to store, but they look great on the shelf next to the boring Big Hero 6 boxes and cards, or the oddly minimalist Transformers: Age of Extinction toys. They've got a collection of the "also available" figures in this and previous waves of the toy line, as well as a nice little blurb about each of the figures themselves.
Leonardo the Knight:
Leo creates the perfect costume and becomes the ferocious "Leo the Knight!" With his fierce medieval sward, garbage can lid shield, metal breastplate and a pizza sauce can helmet, he is ready to take on his LARP adventures! Little did he know his little game would send the turtles on a challenging mission to save April.
Knight Leonardo is probably my second favorite of the four figures. He's got the most accessories for one thing, with a cape, a helmet, a sword, and a trashcan lid he uses as a shield. Surprisingly, he's still got some decent articulation despite all the accouterments. His lower legs are unhampered, while his arms are only hindered from being placed by his sides by his huge belt.
The look of Knight Leo is appropriately DIY. The trashcan lid acts as his shield, his helmet looks like a paint can, his gauntlets look like tin, his pauldrons are old football shoulder pads.and his cape looks like a towel complete with a rubber duckie embroidered into the fabric. Even his sword looks like one of his katanas with some extra parts glued to the guard.
If there's any problem, it's not with the sculpting.
Next up is Donatello the Wizard:
With a pointed bed sheet hat, robe decorated with stars, neck medallion and a glowing ornament on his bo staff, Donnie is "The Magnificent Wizard", ready to cast spells in the Turtles' imaginary game. But Donnie is shocked to find out all the Turtles have been transported by an evil wizard to complete his maze. After discovering the princess that needs rescuing is April, Donnie is motivated more than ever to defeat the maze and rescue her.Donatello really is the crappiest of the toys, due to the fact that he's wearing an old bathrobe as his wizard cloak. His torso and the robe are a single, hollow piece that drops over his hips. His mop beard and hat are another rubbery accessory that fits right over his head.
Sculpting is again good, but here the articulation is awful. The cloak drops over his hips and completely stops him from having any real range of movement from his lower limbs. His arms are free to move around, however they're also single hollow pieces like his torso, with hands mounted on a swivel post at the end. There are no elbow joints to speak of, and the shoulder joints are limited by the cloak.
Michelangelo the Elf fares much better:
Mikey joins his brothers in creating his very own LARP costume. Putting together a cap, table cloth cape and pointed ears, he grabs a bow and arrows and becomes "The Great Elven Thief!" But to his surprise, he's sucked into a maze by an evil wizard. Now with real danger in his midst, Mikey works with his brothers to finish a maze and free the princess, April.Again, he's got some fair articulation with a good range of motion in his knees, hips, shoulders, and elbows with good omni-directional joints. He's also got a ball-jointed head and swivel wrists, and some very nice accessories.
His little hat looks to be made from a pigeon feather, a little sailor cap, some string, and some rubber Vulcan ears. Both it and his elfin bow are both made from a very soft plastic. I kind of wish they'd have used a tougher material for the bow because it's really limp and the "string" doesn't hold it's shape. It also would have been awesome if there was a suction cup arrow attached to it or something. He does have a quiver on his back, so still awesome. The one omission that is unforgivable is that he doesn't have his +1 Ring of Awesome on his hand.
Come on, Playmates! What the hell!
Last is Raphael the Barbarian:
Carrying a big axe and wearing a horned helmet and fur tunic, which is nothing more than a spaghetti strainer and a shaggy rug, Raph transforms himself into "Raph the Dwarf Barbarian!" After getting sucked into an evil wizards maze, Raph finds himself fighting by his brothers' sides to finish the quest and free April.
Raph is my favorite of the bunch, with his spaghetti strainer helmet and his shag rug and old leather belt armor. It just looks fantastic. You'd think that his articulation would be limited, but each of his knees and elbows have recesses carved into them so that he can get some decent range. He comes with the aforementioned helmet and his axe.
Again, the material of the axe is very soft and it bends under it's own weight. Like Mikey's bow, I really wish that it was made of a slightly harder plastic, but I understand why they did it. These are toys made to be played with by young kids, so it's important they don't take their own eye out with one of these things.
So that's the four of them. My preference in order of best to worst is Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Donatello. The superior design of the first two really bring up their score, and Mikey's lack of the ring, and Donnie's awful hollow body really affect their's.
What really killed my excitement for these though are the lack of paint applications. If you've seen the prototype shots of these figures their paint is really great, which is standard for display samples. The mass production figures skip a lot of that however. Things like their hand wraps, teeth, and little details aren't painted at all. And what there is painted is sometimes off.
Looking at Raph's back, there's a portion of his shell painted and a portion that are not. The part that is painted is misaligned so that there's a sliver near the fur that is not covered. The details on his helmet are also unpainted so the skull that should be white is just the dull gray. The aforementioned hand wraps are also left as naked green plastic.
Donnie probably fares the worst (again). His hand wraps are painted, but his wrists wraps are not. His teeth are still green without the white paint application. The globe on the top of his staff is painted white, which is kind of washed out and obviously just carry over from the white rags that are wrapped around it. The worst part is that the white stars and the cloth pouches that are sculpted into his robes are not painted at all and just left untouched.
It makes him look like a knock off.
These are great toys, but it looks as if Playmates had to cut a lot of corners once they went into production. A good customizer can probably work miracles with these, but the lack of paint apps really does taint my enjoyment of these figures.
I'd still say they're worth the purchase, but I really prefer the Battleshell set.