Playmates continues to take advantage of the TMNT cash cow. Retailers are hungry for anything Ninja Turtle related after the lines strong performance over the Christmas season and Playmates is ready to give them what they want. Their latest offering of deluxe figures are the Air Ninjas. The line of six figures features the green teens, Shredder and a Foot Soldier each with a host of airborne accessories.
Packaging - 8/10The Air Ninja figures come on larger cards similar to the Turbo Bashers and Mutatin' figures. The Turtle's heads grace the tops of all of the cards, but this time they are wearing helmets. Each figure is packaged in the middle of the large bubble with all of the accessories around them. Two inserts, one on the right side and one on the bottom show off the three action features for each figure as well as supplying the TMNT logo. The ugly orange background is still present, this time with a splash of blue along the bottom. But between the two large inserts and all of the accessories, the background is almost completely covered for all of the figures. The back of each card shows off the three spring loaded features on the left side as well as more detailed photos of the figure and accessories. There are also small images of the other figures. This is probably the best packaging so far in the entire modern TMNT line.
Sculpting - Turtles & Shredder 4/10, Foot Soldier 3/10The sculpts of these figures isn't going to wow anyone. And they aren't likely to become anyone's favorite, but they aren't all bad. The four Turtles all share the same body mold of course. It is just as off model as the previous versions, but this time has a parachute harness permanently sculpted on. The biggest drawback is the arms. They are sculpted completely straight which is a very odd look, plus they are so lacking in detail that you can't really tell the front from the back. (Even the elbow pad is sculpted without the usual pad on the outside.) The arms also have a significant problem with obstructing the shoulder movement for the action feature if they aren't turned to the proper position. Shredder is similar to the turtles with an adequate though, overly cartoony look and arms that are locked in a straight pose. His arms are slightly better in that the armor on the upper arms and sculpted detail for the elbows which at least define the front and back of the arms. The Foot Soldier is the worst of the series despite the fact that the parachute harness actually integrates the best into the design of its costume. But Playmates dropped the ball when they integrated the action feature for the shoulders. They set the shoulders further apart, out past the edge of the tunic. But all the added width comes without the proportional added thickness. The end result is a very unnatural looking body. And of course the problems with the arms are no better for the Foot Soldier than Shredder.
Paint - Foot Soldier 2/10, others 4/10Watch out for the paint work on these figures, it seems much sloppier than usual. The four turtles seem to be okay; but I did find one large brown paint blotch on Michelangelo's arm. Shredder's paint is fairly rough along the seams on the sides. It is the Foot Soldiers a mess by comparison. The seams are a mess, and they missed one of the ankle joints completely. As a result they painted the joint and left an unpainted stripe on the leg. But the most obvious example of the lack of quality is the top of the tunic over the shoulders. To allow the spring loaded arms, there is a hinged panel across the top of each shoulder. But the odd thing is that they painted this panel silver instead of trying to match the gray of the tunic or the black of the harness straps. Playmates is just a hair above a bootleg with this figure.
Articulation - 3/10There are two things I consider regarding the articulation for a figure, the amount of articulation and the range of motion it affords the figure. The Air Ninja figures have a fairly basic amount of articulation that allows pitiful range of motion. Shredder and the Foot Soldier have fifteen points of articulation while the green guys sport seventeen:
Accessories - Michaelangelo & Donatello 4/10, Raphael, Leonardo & Foot Soldier 5/10, Shredder 6/10Each of the Air Ninja figures comes with the same basic set of accessories. Each has the same hover platform with a retracting winch rope, a pair of fins to clip to the figure's shins, a helmet, two weapons, a string with hooks on both ends, a large backpack and missiles. Some credit needs to be given to these figures for the sheer number of accessories, but the quality of the accessories is inconsistent, and none of them exceptional.
There are two accessories shared by all of the figures, the hover platform and the long string with hooks. The hover platform looks nice but has a serious design oversight, it can't sit level. The top is largely a big flat platform on which the figures can stand with two pegs to hold the figure in place. There are two turbines that come up through the top, one on each side. The front comes to a point with the string for the winch coming out underneath. Fully extended, there is about twelve inches of string on the end of which is a hook apparatus that can swivel around as needed. The long string with hooks is used to make a zip line for each figure. The string is about thirty inches long with the same swiveling hook as the hover platform winch and a loop with two small hooks on the sides. By securing the ends across a span, any of the backpacks can be hooked to them and allow a figure to slide down or across.
Michelangelo's clip on fins have a squared off design with small rockets mounted on the back of each one. He comes with the same nunchukus as the Battle Nexus Michelangelo, complete with the real string connecting them. His backpack has an extremely boxy look. There are clips to hold the chuks and the two missiles fit in the top. When a button in the middle is pressed, two small fins pop up on the back and two more pop out of the bottom. But there is nothing that even resembles either wings or thrusters, so basically Mikey is wearing a great big brick. Finally there is the helmet. I cannot believe that someone gave final approval on these helmets. All of the helmets for the Turtles are way too big. Mikey looks like he is wearing a punch bowl on his head. With all of the helmets Playmates has made in the past, I know they can do much better than this.
Donatello has clip on fins similar to Mikey's, but not quite as squared off. Also, the thrusters on his are mounted tot he edge of the fins, not underneath. His backpack is a slight improvement as well. It still has the two missiles on the top and clips for both of his bos. But overall it is not quite as boxy and has more traditional wings which pop out on each side. It also has a tail section, but it must be extended manually. His helmet is just as bad as Michelangelo's but its oblong shape means he's wearing a zeppelin instead of a punchbowl.
Raphael has the best backpack and clip on fins. The fins are a very traditional triangular shape. The backpack has wings that flip around from the back and a tail section that can be pulled out. One of the nicest touches though is the missile launchers that are shaped like thrusters. Of course there are also clips on the wings for Raph's sais. His helmet is so bad that it is simply a topic best left untouched. Just toss it into the trash with the rest of the packaging.
Leonardo has the most original design for his accessories. They are supposed to be bat like in design with cloth over a metal frame. The clip-on fins have small wings coming off of small rockets. The backpack has a tail section that folds down and small wings on the sides that pop out when the button is pressed. Leo is the only figure in the series without spring loaded missiles. Instead there are two small blue bombs which fit into holes at the bottom of the backpack. Pressing on the fins forces them through the holes allowing them to drop on unsuspecting Foot Soldiers. It also has the clips to hold Leos katanas. The katanas are actually a new mold, with a very thin curved blade. His helmet has a retro design to match his wings. It is actually two parts with a helmet and separate goggles. But the sizing is no better than it was for his brothers which is just sad.
The Foot Soldier has some larger clip-on fins and two swords (new mold with slightly wider blades). His backpack has a slight triangular shape with a tail section that can be extended. There are pop out wings, but they actually make the backpack look more square. He has the best helmet of the six, which really isn't tough. It actually fits and has a flip down visor.
Finally there is Shred Head himself. His fins are jagged to match Shredder's blades. He has two "Tengu-like" swords which can be hooked together at the handles and store on the backpack. His back pack is the only one of the series that isn't ridiculously huge. It has small wings that flip out as well as spikes that come out on both sides. But due to its smaller size, there is only one missile. Thankfully Playmates didn't try to make a second helmet to go over his regular helmet. Instead he has a small visor that clips onto his helmet and can be removed if you so wish.
Action Feature - Not RatedEach figure has four action features, three of which are plastered all over the packaging. The one which is not shown on the card is the zip line. there are two small clips on each backpack which can slip over the string and then slide down it. The other three features are all spring loaded. First is the spring loaded wings for the backpacks. When a button is pressed, the wings flip or pop out. The second feature is the winch in the hover platform. When the button on the side is pressed, the string retracts. So you can attach a figure to the hook and pull them up. The final action feature is the one built into the figures themselves. When the button on the chest is pressed, the arms flip up into a superman style pose.
Value - 2/10With a retail price between $9 and $12, you are paying a heavy price for these figures. But there isn't much here to justify the price. The figures are one trick ponies due to the pop up arms, and it is a pretty silly trick. The accessories may be numerous, but they aren't very well designed. Rpahael's and Leonardo's are the only two that might hold any interest for me ordinarily. Even the Foot Soldier even make a decent army builder since the regular carded Foot Soldier is better and half the price. Clearance is inevitable for these. If you are like me and just have to have them, wait for a better price.
Happy Hunting:If you haven't been paying attention to this review and still want to buy these figures then at least they won't be hard to find. Wal-mart, Target and Toys R Us all carry the Air Ninjas. Amazon.com also has them available but the price is a bit high.