They say that America is in the midst of an obesity crisis. But fortunately, being the heroic sorts that
they are, the TMNT are here to fight the flab as the Ripped Up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. OK, I actually
have no idea how Playmates came up with the bright idea of weight lifting Turtles, but they're here. So
strap on your weight belt, down some creatine and get ready to pump some iron...err plastic.
Packaging - 5/10If you've been in the action figure aisle in the last two years, you've undoubtedly seen the TMNT figure packaging. And if you've read any of my previous reviews, you definitely have. And there is no real change here. The figures are on the same die cut, blister cards with the individual Turtle's head at the top that have been used throughout the line. The figures themselves are posed in the center of the blister holding their weight lifting equipment with their other accessories around them. A small TMNT logo insert is included at the top of the bubble as well as an insert at the bottom for the "Ripped Up" logo and character's name. The back of the card shows the figure in greater detail as well as the other three figures. There is also the traditional profile card at the bottom. The packaging for the basic figures remains serviceable, but not outstanding. Though I've come to accept it, I still dislike the color scheme which seems to favor being ostentatious over being appealing. There are many action figure cards that seem like small works of art (comic book art, but art none the less) and are worth hanging on a wall. A wall full of these cards would just leave me nauseous. The other notable change is the static poses of the figures. After the slightly more creative poses for the Deep Divin' and Space Hoppin' turtles, a series that is back to standing, facing straight out is rather dull. I thought that this might be simply due to a timing issue since these came out just shortly after the Deep Divin' figures. (It's only after I opened the figures that realize the true reason.) But what ever the reason, these feel like a step back from the previous figures.
Of course they just wouldn't be Ninja Turtle figures with out a packaging variation, or in this case two. The first variation is quite obvious. The Ripped Up Turtles first hit stores as a part of the second pair of figure assortments to be packaged with a bonus DVD. Michelangelo and Leonardo were part of the assortment that came with the "Evil Encounters" DVD. Raphael and Donatello were part of the "Secrets Behind the Shells" assortment. The second variation is less noticeable as it is just a rearranging of the weapons. The first shipments of the Ripped Up figures (both with and without the DVD's) had the weight belt accessory for each figure hidden behind the sticker showing off each figure's action feature. Later shipments had the belts moved elsewhere in the package so that they would be visible on the shelf.
Sculpting - Don & Raph 4/10, Leo & Mike 3/10When I first saw photos of the Ripped Up turtles, I was expecting the series one turtle figures with a new set of gloved hands. Playmates did put a little more effort into these than that, but I actually wish they hadn't. Each figure uses the legs and head of their series one counterpart, except Donatello who seems to have a different head sculpt. Playmates then created two new torsos and new arms for each figure. The end result for both Donatello and Raphael are figures that look almost identical to their series one counterpart but wearing gloves and with a button sticking out of their backs. But both Michelangelo and Leonardo now have two large screws visible in each of their upper arms. The screws were needed due to the action features which require the arms to be hollow rather than the usual solid plastic. The gloved hands for each figure are all unique at least, if slightly uninspired. Some weathering would have been nice on the glove or better still, cloth wrap instead of gloves would have been far more appropriate for the characters.
Paint - 4/10The paint work on these figures is sparse, so you would think they would have paid extra attention to the paint applications that are there. No such luck. The gloves on each figure in particular are a disappointment. They are the only area where multiple paint applications have been applied to one spot and the lines between the various colors of paint are not very clean. It is nothing that can be seen too easily so it doesn't hurt the score too much. There is a second issue I have with the gloves though. They look too clean. There is no sign of wear on them at all. The turtles do live in a sewer after all. You would expect their gloves to be fairly soiled not pristine like they just came out off the sales floor. A paint wash like what Playmates has been using on some of the other TMNT figures would have been a big improvement.
Articulation - Don & Raph 4/10 Leo & Mike 2/10Both Raphael and Donatello have just thirteen points of articulation:
Accessories - Mike 5/10, others 7/10 (Add a point for the DVD's)Each of the Ripped Up figures comes with their standard weapon, a barbell of some sort and a weight lifting belt. For Leonardo, the barbell is a length of pipe with two manhole covers on each end. Raph comes with two hand weights made from small tire rims. Donatello has a bo staff with a concrete cinderblock on either end. Michelangelo has two hand weights that are supposed to be bowling balls in old fashion cloth bags, tied to the end of a short length of pipe. Mike's weights are a real disappointment compared to the others. Donatello's and Leonardo's in particular are notable as they can actually be disassembled. The ends come off the bars and the individual man hole covers on Leo's weights or cinderblocks on Don's can be removed. (To be honest, the one bright spot to this entire set of figures for me is the possibility to make an old fashion cinderblock coffee table for the lair using the cinderblocks and a piece of plastic cut from one of the blisters.) The belts do give these figures the distinction of being the first figures in the new line to have removable belts like the original vintage figures.
As you would imagine, the bonus DVDs that came packaged with some of these figures don't contain any real ground breaking content. Unlike the first bonus DVD's, these don't even include an actual episode form the cartoon. Instead, each disk has a single episode length introduction to the characters of the cartoon created using existing animation. The "Secrets Behind the Shells" disk has the back story to the Turtles and Splinter, introductions of the Turtles' individual personalities, the story of Hamato Yoshi and intro to both Casey Jones and April. The "Evil Encounters" disk introduces some of the villains from the first season including Baxter & the mousers, Nano, the Quarry and the underground creatures, Garbageman, and of course Shredder. Each introduction is also accompanied by a short set of clips from the DVD/video releases complete with subtitles informing you which release contains the scene. If you have already bought the DVD releases of the cartoon, these DVD's don't offer anything new. But as a freebie they're pretty cool and a nice intro for parents/grandparents who may not know anything about the show.
Action Feature - Don & Raph 6/10, Leo & Mike 2/10I look for four things in an action feature. First, does it work and how well? Second, does it negatively affect the figure? Third, how much do I actually want this figure to do this? Is it something that makes sense for the figure to do especially in multiple situations or is it a one trick pony? Finally, I consider if the feature was necessary in the first place or could a regular figure do the same action just as well? Raphael and Donatello score well on the first three items but fall short on the fourth. Sadly, Michelangelo and Leonardo are almost complete failures across the board.
Donatello's feature is that pushing down on the lever sticking out of his back causes both arms to swing up in front of him. It works quite well and makes sense both for weight lifting and action poses with the bo staff. The fact that the arms can be moved independently of the feature means its impact on the figure is minimal. The only shortcoming is that one could just as easily move the arms of a figure without the feature up and down in the same way.
Raph's feature is very similar to Don's except that his arms move in opposite directions. When the lever on his back is raised, the left arm goes up and the right goes down. And of course when the lever is lowered, the opposite is true. As with Donatello, the feature works well and makes sense. But you could do the same thing with almost any action figure.
Leonardo's feature is to press a barbell above his head when the lever on his back is pressed. The feature works, but the amount of movement is minimal. And the sacrifices required to the rest of the figure, especially the floppy arms are considerable. In the end, the figure can only do the one thing, press and object over his head. The only thing that saves Leo from scoring a zero here is the added range of motion that was given to the arms for the action feature.
Michelangelo mirrors Leonardo's feature much the same way as Raph mirrors Don's. He too presses his weights above his head when the lever on his back is moved. But rather than moving together, his arms alternate going up and down. But that change isn't enough to improve his score. Michelangelo suffers from all the same problems as Leonardo.
Value - Leo & Mike 2/10, Don & Raph 4/10I wasn't sure why Playmates came up with the idea for these figures when they first announced them. And after opening them and checking them out I'm even less sure. Mike and Leo come very close to scoring a one or even a zero here. Their main saving graces are their accessories and the below average cost of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures in general. But even at $5 or less, these two are best left for completists and Turtle fans with a glove fetish. Don and Raph are a bit better, but still don't offer anything over previous versions of the turtles save for their accessories. If you really want work out equipment for your turtles, track down some accessories form the various WWF/WWE action figure lines instead. (See the last three pictures.)
Happy Hunting:This is one of the things I love most about the TMNT line; there is almost no hunting required. The basic Turtle figures are available from just about any store that carries toys. The Ripped Up figures are not shipping any more. But if you look around you should still be able to put together a set if you really want to. If you still want to try to pick up the figures with the DVD's, there may even still be hope for that. While Walmart was the first to carry the figures with bonus DVD's, I have since seen them at Toys R Us stores and even at a Kmart store. They are also available from Amazon.com