Once more Playmates has found a way to recycle products from the original TMNT line into
the new one, this time with the mutating figures. For those who may not remember, or be
too young to have been around for the original line, The mutating figures came out first in
1992 as an extension to the original toy line. So how does a twelve year old toy hold up
to today's toy lines? The answer may surprise you.
Packaging - 5/10The new Mutating figures come packaged on an oversized card with the four turtle's heads at the top. The area behind the figure has the terrapin shell texture design like the other new TMNT products. I'm not a fan of the design but is isn't very visible due to the oversized bubble. The figure and accessories are prominently displayed on the bubble while two card inserts help fill out the space. The back of the card shows the figure in both forms and images of the complete line. There is also a small blurb near the top of the card, but it is not individuallized. There is one for the four turtles and one for Shredder and the Foot Soldier. It does a good job of maintaining a sense of consistency with the regular carded figures. It isn't very unique except for the larger size, and I don't care much for the larger size since most of the extra space is ultimately wasted.
Varient hunteres may also want to make note that there are three different versions of the packaging so far. The first version had the alternate form of the figure on the lower card insert and a green sticker over the ooze canister. The second version added a sticker on the ooze canister behind the sticker on the card. The latest version eliminates the sticker on the card and changes the picture on the lower card insert to one with the alternate form and an image of the figure mid-transformation.
Sculpting - Foot Soldier 2/10 others 5/10Playmates managed to put a remarkable amount of effort into what turned out some truely unremarkable products. The four turtles first appear to be straight reuses of the old molds from the original Mutatin' figures from 1992 but they actually are mostly new sculpts. The arms and legs are reused from the original figures but the feet, body, mutant heads and the rear legs for the baby turtle form are all new sculpts. The new sculpt for the bodies is a welcome improvement as it adds quite a bit of texture detail to the rear shell, a better belt and an updated design for the front shell to match the design from the new show. The head sculpts are a nice in the mutated form as they are more in proportion with the bodies, but longer bandanas make it far more difficult to fit everything inside in the baby turtle form. Oh, and they lost the tails from the originals. The Shredder also got an updated look. As Oroku Saki he is just a original Mutatin' Shredder figure with an Armorized Shredder head. But in his shredder attire there are substantial changes. All of the spike panels have been replaced with larger, fatter spikes, probably for safety standards. The chest plate has been resculpted with the new Shredder's armor design and he has an all new helmet. Like the Turtles' heads the helmet and the new spikes are too large to store well in the alternate mode and they do not turn well form the transformation. I suspect that after a few transformations they will tend to tear off. The Foot Tech/Foot Soldier is biggest disappointment. He is almost a complete reuse of the original, with only new arm and leg pads and a new alternate head. The sculpt wasn't great the first time and it is just completely off from the new series. The one saving grace could have been the Foot Tech head, but they managed to botch that too. The head is sculpted to match the slumping pose of the original figure and is off model. The four lensed eyepiece should be mounted off-center as if it were over the right eye. On the figure it is mounted in the middle of his face.
Paint - Foot Soldier 2/10 others 6/10The Turtles and Shredder score reasonably well here. Their paint applications aren't outstanding, but reasonably clean and consistent. They also have a light paint wash to create a sense of shadow. It worked well on all but Michelangelo whose apps were a little too heavy, creating the image of a fugus infection on his front shell. Similarly, the Shredder has a clean paint job with a nice paint wash to highlight the details on the chest plate. Once again the Foot Soldier is a horrible disappointment. The paint job in his Foot Soldier form is fine, but the Foot Tech form is horribly lacking. The circuits in the arms, legs and chest have all been left completely unpainted. The head also looks very plain. Granted a pale bald head isn't going to have a lot of visual appeal, but continueing the paint wash to the head would have helped to bring out what little detail there is in the sculpt.
Articulation - Shredder & Foot Soldier 3/10, Turtles 6/10The Foot Soldier and Shredder both have fairly basic articulation for a figure these days. Shredder has ball jointed hips, rotating shoulders and a rotating neck. But the legs are so limited in their range of motion that they may as well not be articulated at all and the head can turn more than a few degrees when the helmet is on. The Foot Soldier has rotating hips, ball jointed shoulders, rotating wrists and a rotating neck. The legs only really support the figure in one position so the only useful articulation is the shoulders and neck. The turtles fair much better. They have hinged ankles, ball jointed hips, ball jointed shoulders, rotating forearms and a rotating neck. The range of motion is better than most of the TMNT figures in the new line so far. The are really hindered most by the girth of their own bodies.
Accessories 8/10All of the figures come with their signature weapons. Leo has two katanas. Don has a bo. Mike has two chuks and Raph has his sais. The Foot Soldier has two swords and Shredder has his large glave (blade on a staff). All of the weapons are neatly painted. But the accessory that most people are going to be interested in is the mutating ooze. Each figure comes with a large canister of ooze. Better still is that the canister is a minature version of the TGRI canister with a clear drum in the center and two grey plastic caps on either end. To open the ooze, you remove one of the plastic ends. There is also a small plastic cap inside so hopefuly the ooze will be less likely to dry out.
Value - 4/10The Mutatin' Turtle figures have actually held up well over the years. With the new head sculpts the bodies don't seem so out of proportion and they are as poseable as the first figures from the new line. Mutatin Shredder does make a decent Oroku Saki but we already have the armorized Shredder. And then there is the Foot Soldier whose only redeeming quality is that this may be the only chance we will get to have a Foot Tech figure, even if it is a horribly off model one. At the basic figure price, these would be a good deal. But at $10 to $11, they may not be for everyone but the still get an extra point for including the cool canister of ooze.
Happy Hunting:The Mutating figures have shown up just about everywhere that carries the TMNT line by now. If you are hunting for the packing variations, most stores I have seen locally still have the second packaging: the original insert with stickers on both the bubble and the ooze canister. I have thus far only seen the newer packaging at WalMarts but that may change as other stores start to sell through their older stock.