Alright, I'm way behind in doing this review, about seven months behind! But hey, better late than never. So up today are the Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles Battle Bikes. In case you haven't seen them, the Battle Bikes are repaints of the Sewer Cycle with a new cowl, a
repaint of one of the extreme sports figures and a wall full of weapons. The fact that this set consists almost entirely of repaints as
resulted in it sliding in under the radars of most collectors, which is a potential shame since these sets have their good points.
Packaging - 6/10These are the first vehicles to be packaged in a window box, a change that seems to be expanded with future releases. It is a nice change. You are now able to see what is in the box rather than just a photo of the product; something that I'm sure increases the appeal for kids. It certainly is a bonus for collectors who choose to leave their items in the packaging. The front still has a small photo of the figure and bike. (On a side note, it appears that Playmates reversed the images on the front on all of the boxes, what appears to be the left side of the figure is just a mirror image of the right side, odd.) The sides have the same photo, this time printed correctly. The back of the box follows the same basic pattern as the past vehicles. There is the same photo, printed much larger this time and with the features of the cycle and figure pointed out. There is also a small photo of the rack of weapons, a photo of the missile firing feature and images of several of the other vehicles from the line. All in all, it is pretty standard fair, though the addition of the window is a nice improvement.
Sculpting - Don 4/10, Mike & Raph 5/10, Leo 6/10Chances are very good that you've already seen these sculpts before. The figures are the extreme sports figures with no changes. The bikes are all the same Sewer Cycle mold with a new, unique cowling/windscreen for each designed to hold their signature weapon. The combination works much better for some of the figures than it does for the others. I do like the variation that the simple addition of a different windscreen gives to each of the bikes,
Leo is the winner of the four. His tank top and shorts attire makes a convincing biker and the pads don't seem to be too distracting. The new windscreen is one of the best of the four as well. It has a much more streamlined look without going too far. All of the new parts are designed to be able to store the corresponding Turtle's weapons. For Leo, there are small slits on the each side of the visor into which the swords can be slid. It works but the only way to secure them is to slide them in so far that they bend slightly. By doing so, they look less like they are being stored and more like Leo is planning on running someone through! Given that there are sheaths sculpted onto each side of the front wheel's fork, it is a shame that Playmates didn't go the extra mile and incorporate them. However, since the sheaths on the figure's back are perfectly useable even while on the bike, there is a simple and acceptable solution.
Raphael's extreme sports figure works almost as well as Leo's for a biker, but the large, tire-rubber pads look pretty silly, like he is an amateur who is afraid of falling off of his bike. The new windscreen has a sleeker look than Leonardo's, which is appropriate for Raph. Once again, there are slits on each side in which the sais can be stored. Thanks in part to their shorter length and the longer design of the windscreen, Raph's sais can be stored without making the vehicle look like something out of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.
Michaelangelo's sculpt works fairly well as a biker once again. The spandex body suit and helmet make a fairly believable biker. The windscreen for the bike looks okay, but I would have preferred a little more streamlined look similar to Donatello's or Raphael's to match the aerodynamic look of the figure. But what really disappoints me is the holders built in for Mikey's nunchuks. There are two loops on the left side of the windscreen. At first I assumed that you put one pair into both holes. They look great that way. But then I realized that there were no holes on the other side for the second pair. Only when I checked the instructions did I realize that it was intended to have both pair of nunchuks on the one side with half of them hanging down by the tire which now just looks silly by comparison. If this had been an existing sculpt, I could understand not adding the loops to the other side. But since they created this sculpt just for this, there was no reason not to put them on both sides.
And finally, bringing up the rear is Donatello. It is strange, considering that Biker Donatello was a bike rider. But the combination of the bulkier gloves, large knee pads and shin guards just look out of place with the skin tight bodysuit. And then there is the helmet. I realize that this is a reuse of the Biker Don mold, but why on Earth did they keep the mouth guard? They didn't even need to remove the pegs; they should have just ship the figure without the mouth guard. The windscreen is another extremely streamlined design like Raphael's. But the weapon storage ruins the streamlined look. Granted, there really aren't too many ways attach a big stick to the front of a motorcycle and not have it look silly. But Playmates' solution of just clipping them to one side was a less than inspiring attempt.
Paint - Mike 2/10, Don 4/10, Raph 5/10, Leo 7/10If there has ever been an example of a paint scheme making or breaking a figure, the Battle Bike figures are it. The bikes themselves all turned out fairly well, well maybe not Michelangelo. Each turtle's cycle has the seat, rims and frame painted in their signature color and the visor for their windscreen is made of the matching color of translucent plastic. Leo's blue and Raph's red both look good and Don's purple is passable. But Mikey's orange color doesn't work nearly as well. I do think that they probably should have left the silver/chrome color for the rims for all of the figures though. But it is on the figures themselves that the paints really make or break the scores. Raphael has a decent paint scheme, a realistic grey shirt with blue shorts. But as with Skatin' Raph, a lot of the details are left completely unpainted. The blue of the shorts should have been a bit darker if they were supposed to look like denim. Leo, Don and Mike are the mutant version of the good, the bad and the ugly. Leo was painted in a very simple and realistic white t-shirt and black shorts. Donatello's paint design of a black bodysuit with an alien head logo is a nice idea, but they went overboard on the black; black bodysuit, black gloves, black shin guards, black boots and black face mask, it's just too dark! And finally there is Mike who looks like he was wrapped in aluminum foil. There are some colors that shouldn't be used in excess and should be used only as an accent. And for the second time, Playmates has decided to cover Mike in these colors. On the plus side, the quality control seems to be pretty good on all four figures and their bikes with only the minorest of problems.
Accessories - 8/10Each set comes with a total of eighteen weapons. Each Turtle has two of his signature weapons, fully painted. But on top of that, each set comes with a rack of sixteen additional weapons. There's nothing surprising here; they are all weapons that we have already gotten with other figures including Fighting Gear Turtle's weapons, three of the Elite Guard weapons, Shredder's staff/blade and several throwing stars. All of the additional weapons are unpainted with Leonardo's cast in silver plastic and the others' cast in bronze. What makes the weapons note worthy though is the fact that they come still attached to the plastic rack, something Playmates hasn't done in years. But this wasn't done without reason. The rack can be used as a storage rack for the weapons, with a place for each one to clip into place. It is a neat idea and nice addition to the Battle packs, but not without problems. Once the weapons have been cut free, there are all of the connection points left over that need to be trimmed off. And then there is the fact that all four turtles have the exact same rack of weapons, a little variety would have gone a long way here.
Play Value - 3/10As vehicles go, the Battle Bikes are not the most exciting. They have just one action feature, a spring loaded soda can projectile. Playmates did at least go beyond the normal push-button-and-watch-projectile-fly feature by making a cover for the launcher that is also spring loaded. There is also a working kick stand which makes it easy to pose the bikes even with a figure on it. But there is so much more that they could have done.
Value - 5/10The retail price for the Battle Bikes is between $15 and $17. For that price you are getting a ten dollar vehicle, a five dollar figure, and the rack of weapons. It's not a bad deal, but there really isn't much here to justify purchasing them if you already have the extreme sports turtles and the Sewer Cycle.
Happy Hunting:The Battle Bikes have been out for a while and are readily available just about anywhere Ninja Turtle toys are sold. They are also available online from both Walmart.com and Amazon.com