Today I have yet another TMNT review that I've been putting off for far too long: the Giant Fighting Gear figures. The giant figures have
never been a very high profile part of the Ninja Turtle lines, more of a niche product. But Playmates has persisted in producing them. And
now the eighth, and likely the last series of giant figures for the foreseeable future are on shelves. Unfortunately, I think we would have
been just as well off had they stopped at seven.
Packaging - 6/10The packaging for the Fighting Gear figures is basically the same as that for the previous giant figures, a large box with an equally large window. The little room that there is on the front of the box is dominated by the Fighting Gear logo which is joined by a smaller TMNT logo. The same goes for the side panels which are taken up for the most part by a plastic window but has the TMNT logo at the top and Fighting Gear logo at the bottom. The back of the box is very similar to the backs of the cards for the regular figures. There's a large photo of the figure along with smaller photos of the other three at the bottom. The information that would have been on the file card is also included on the left side. Sadly this is not a case of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. The overall look of the back just does nothing to make me want the product inside. Plus there is a lot of that ugly orange background showing.
Sculpting - 4/10Except for the heads, the figures appear to be all new sculpts. Most of the armor on the legs and arms is sculpted as part of the limbs. Michealangelo's safety cone shin guard and both of Raphael's shin guards are separate pieces which are glued in place. Like the shin guards, the chest armor for each turtle are separate pieces that are glued in place. Each figure has a new belt as well. The helmets are the only piece of armor that is removable. Unfortunately the sculpts are not that great. There is no more detail on these sculpts than on their five inch counterparts which results in a fairly plain look. This is worsened by the fact that the detail that is here isn't very crisp. The edges, especially between the armor and body parts, has a soft look to it, as if two separate parts softened and melted together. The over all result is that the figures have a decidedly preschool look to them. I'm also quite disappointed by the way the hands and wrists are sculpted. The hands are molded in a gripping pose in order to be able to hold their weapons, but whether they can hold them securely is hit or miss. Each figure is also molded with their wrist turned outward. As a result, you either have to pose the figures with the wrists turned out or turn the elbows out to get the hands into a more natural position. Part of the problem could be attributed to the difficulty in getting the level of detail into a rotocast mold that is possible with a traditional injected plastic mold. But speaking as someone who has Playmates' past giant figures, I know they are capable of better. And some of the other rotocast figures that have hit the market in the last few years, especially from Toy Biz, really put these to shame.
Paint - 4/10The paint applications on these figures is pretty basic. There are no elaborate paint schemes or washes. A lite black wash might have helped add some depth to the sculpt, especially for the arms and legs. But there are some short comings and problems even with the paint work that is here. They cut corners when painting the glued on armor pieces by not painting the edges or bottoms. For Leo and Mike, it's not a problem. But Donatello's and Raphael's chest armor stick up enough around the shoulders that the undersides are easily visible, as is the lack of paint. But all of the figures have a generally sloppy paint job for a figure of such a large scale. Leo is easily the worst of my figures. While Raph manages to mostly avoid the problem since most of his armor is glued on.
Articulation - 3/10Each of the giant Fighting Gear figures has just nine points of articulation, the same as the previous series. All of the joints are rotating cut joints and they are located at the neck, shoulders, just above the elbow pads, the hips and just below the knee pads. This is the same articulation that Playmates has been putting in their giant figures since 1989. It worked well enough for the previous figures, but due to the way the limbs are sculpted for the Fighting Gear figures it is inadequate. The problem is worsened by the fact that the shoulder armor restricts the movement of the shoulder joints quite a bit. The leg joints are capable adjusting the legs to allow the figures to stand flat footed at best, and they don't really do that well. Rotocast figures generally have limited articulation, but a better use of the articulation that is here plus the addition of wrist joints would have made a huge difference here.
Accessories - Michealangelo 3/10, others 6/10Each of the figures has a removable helmet and their fighting gear weapons or weapon in Donatello's case. The helmets all turned out quite well. Each has a plastic clip glued inside that keeps the helmet in place on the figure's head. Michealangelo comes with his two nunchakus. Unfortunately this are simply scaled up versions of the regular figures weapons. Since they are sculpted at roughly a ninety and hundred and forty degree angles, it is impossible to store them in the belt or pose them in a neutral pose. Leo comes with both of his swords. They can be held fairly securely but there is no means of storing them. Raph has his two large sais. They can be held easily, but at this scale the extremely blunted tips adds to the preschool feel of the sculpt. FG Raph still has the loops on the sides of his belt to hold his sais. Due to their large size, the sais cannot be stuck into the loops normally, but they can hooked to the loops using the smaller points and still look okay. Donatello has his single, metal studded bo staff. It is the only weapon of the bunch that can be easily stored on the figure's belt. And while it looks okay, it seems just a hair too small in proportion to the figure.
Value - 4/10The retail price on the giant figures is around $20. And you are not likely to find this for much less than that unless you're luck enough to find them on clearance. While they might make a nice alternative to the basic carded figures for younger fans, as a stand alone series of figures they are rather lackluster. You basically have four figures that don't really fit in with any other product than the previous giant figures and offer limited possibilities as far as poses. If they were more in line with the pricing of other similar rotocast product, around $10, this would definitely score much better. But as it stands, most people will only want to pick up their favorite Turtle if even that.
Happy Hunting:The giant figures seem to have dried up at most brick and mortar stores. Locally, only Toys R Us stores still carry the line anymore. But there are a few more online options. Amazon has all four available for $20 each. Wal-Mart.com also has three of them available. And they are even marked down to $9 a piece.