There's one thing you have to give Playmates Toys credit for, in a market that has all but
completely abandoned vehicles and playsets for action figures, especially for those bigger than
four inches, they some how and for some reason keep putting out more vehicles and playsets. And
the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line has followed this philosophy since it's inception sixteen
years ago. After all of these years, very little has changed...literally! The recently release
Sewer Lid Launcher vehicle for the new TMNT line is more than a continuation of that tradition,
it is actually one of the vehicles from early on in the line, slightly retooled. So how well
does a fifteen year old accessory stand up to today's standards?
Packaging - 5/10The packaging for the Sewer Lid Launcher is the same as the previous TMNT vehicles. I wish I could say it has grown on me, but I still find the colors fairly atrocious. But I imagine it was designed to catch people's eyes which it does. There's little chance of it changing for the foreseeable future, so I guess we better get use to it. The box front does have a large image of the vehicle with a Michelangleo figure at the controls and several sewer lid disks shooting out. The TMNT logo is in the upper left corner and the vehicle name is in the lower right. The ends of the box have the same photo as the front as well as a short blurb about the vehicle. (Though I don't understand how a half-track motorized cannon is supposed to help the Turtles learn the ways of the ninja as the write up indicates?!?!) The top and bottom of the box are both fairly bland with the TMNT logo and vehicle name on the top and nothing but the UPC and copyright info on the bottom. The back of the box has another photo of the vehicle without a figure on it with the various "features" of the vehicle pointed out. Of course, since the only real feature of the vehicle is the lid launching action, most of what is pointed out are things like the existing of a seat and wheels. The seven other vehicles that have been released so far are pictured on the back as well as the TMNT logo once again and another paragraph about the Sewer Lid Launcher, this time it even makes some sense. Overall, the packaging like all of the vehicles in the line so far is simple and functional, but not very impressive or attractive.
Sculpting - 4/10Anyone who was around for the original TMNT line will likely recognize the Sewer Lid Launcher as a reuse of the Pizza Thrower. About half of the vehicle is new, but the main body of the thrower is a straight reuse of the 1989 mold. A new seat and controls were made as well as an extension for the tube to hold the lids. The pizza oven style door was left off as well though the pegs to attach it are still there. The lower portion is completely new and significantly different. Instead of the small free rolling base of the original, the Sewer Lid Launcher's base is more than double the length of the original and designed to resemble a reverse half-track with tank treads in the front and large wheels in the back. They also added a plow to the front between the tracks, running boards on either side and a platform on the back to carry additional figures. The seat, controls and tube extension all integrate with the thrower mold quite well. Sadly the same can't be said of the base. The original Pizza Thrower mold has a lot of sculpted on details. There were very few areas that were left plain. The same cannot be said for the new base. The front is dominated by the tracks and plow, but the center section is far too flat. The top is flat, the sides are almost flat and the running boards are flat bottoms with a flat lip going around each one. Even the rear section over the back wheels which has some ridges on it to give it texture and tie in to the ridges at the top of the ladders on the original sculpt seems plain compared to the launcher section. It isn't really a bad sculpt, but it did not come out as well as one would hope given the obvious effort that went into it.
Paint/Decals - 4/10I was tempted to actually grad the two halves of the Sewer Lid Launcher separately since the efforts that went into each half is radically different. The top looks great. The original stickers have been replaced with more sensible ones, all of which come pre applied. Strangely though, they only replaced the ones on one side of the launcher. The right side was left without decals. And on top of that Playmates went all out painting most of the sculpted details. They also applied a black wash on the front of the Launcher, presumably to residue from firing. The bottom is a different story. The body of the bottom section is cast in a light green plastic. The front and rear sections were then painted a darker green. The front was airbrushed giving it a sort of metallic flake look to the paint. The head lights are also painted. Meanwhile the rear section is painted with a flat green paint with two of the sections of ridges being painted purple. The big problem is the center section which was left in the light green color. It doesn't match any of the other areas which just furthers the overly plain and simplistic feel. There are decals applied to the sides, the bottom of the running boards and caution stripes along some surfaces. But the decals are just replacements for the texture and details that the sculpt lacks. For me, the decals merely illustrate the short comings of the sculpt; they don't manage to compensate for them.
Play Value - 8/10I'm almost surprised by the score I'm giving this toy. The only real feature to it is the ability to launch the sewer lids. But the feature works very well. When the motor is turned on, a wheel just in front of the pile of disks spins. By pressing the button on the side of the launcher, a single disk is forced forward into the spinning wheel and launched out of the barrel. Due to the spinning motion provided by the wheel, the disks launch a fair distance (about six feet) and are quite stable. The extension that allows the Sewer Lid Launcher to carry up to 30 lids at once also helps the play value since a child can launch tons of lids all over the place with out having to reload. Of course, for parents, that might not be an entirely good thing. The other thing I considered in the score was the appropriateness of a tank type vehicle for the Turtles. Ordinarily, a tank would seem like a foolish thing for them to posses, even more so than a tricked out Humvee vehicle. But with the current story line focusing on the Triceraton army rather than the Foot Ninjas, a military style weapon like this make at least a little more sense. Or at least that is what I'm trying to convince myself to believe.
Value - 4/10The Sewer Lid Launcher is a one trick pony to be sure. But it does do that trick well which is the only thing that salvages its final score from being even lower. And at a retail price of $25 plus the cost of two C size batteries to run the motor, this isn't a cheap pony either. This is one release that will probably go over well with young kids who will enjoy shooting disks all over the house. But for the average collector, this is one to pass on. If you are feeling nostalgic for the original, spend the $25 on Ebay to get the original.
Happy Hunting:The Sewer Lid Launcher is available at most stores including Toys R Us, Target, Kmart or Walmart. It is also available online through Amazon.com