As a long time fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line(s), I have always been a big
fan of the many vehicles that they have produced. The latest offerings in the series
are the Shell Sub and a reissue of the Pogo Copter from the original line. After getting
these open and checking them out I can't believe how radically different these turned
out, but you'll just have to read on to find out.
Packaging - 5/10Like the Shell Cycle and Sewer Slider, these are both packaged in a windowless box with images of the vehicle and TMNT logo on the front and sides on the same orange background as the figures. The bottom is mostly blank save for the legal fine print. The top has the TMNT logo and vehicle name. The back shows the vehicle with it's features as well as the entire line of Fighting Gear figures. To be quite honest, I don't care for the background being used for this line. I suppose the bright colors are meant to attract the attention of children but I just find them to be distracting.
Sculpting - Shell Sub: 8/10 Pogo Copter 5/10The bad news first, the Pogo Copter is not only a reissue from the original line, but what changes have been made have been primarily for the worse. The main body and landing feet come directly from the original toy. The roll cage on the front is also from the original but now has pegs with throwing stars on them. The stars are free spinning but cannot be removed without risk of damage. The missles on the sides have been replaced by spring loades missle launchers, the one improvement made to the old toy. The small machine guns under the main rotor have been replaced by weapon holders on the new version. This could have been a nice touch if they had managed to design it to work with all of the Turtle's weapons and perhaps included weapons with the vehicle. Instead only Leo's swords and Don's bo can really be stored and neither are included. Without those weapons there is just a dull spot there. The final change is the rotor blades themselves. I understand that the roadkill turtle style doesn't exactly fit on one of the turtle's vehicles. But the replacement choosen was twin capital T's based on the line's new logo design. I think a normal blade or perhapse a throwing star design would have worked better. As it is, I am reminded of one of the Simpsons' episodes where Milhouse is dressed in a cheesey Radioactive Man Halloween costume and Lisa comments that she doubts the real Radioactive Man wears a picture of himself on his chest. It's a shame that Playmates went to the effort of modifing the original toy since the modifications just don't work.
But for every yin there is a yang. And for all the problems that plague the Pogo Copter, the Shell Sub simply shines that much brighter. When I first saw the images of the sub, I though it looked like a reused mold from Playmates' Toxic Crusaders line. But it appears that it is actually a completely new toy. The body has a nice sleek appearance but still has quite a bit of detail such as the panels and raised numbers. The propeler assembly on the back has a free spinning propeler and the entire assembly moves to function as a set of dive planes. The cockpit is molded in translucent plastic so the figure can been seen and see out. There are even sculpted controls inside. The sub also has a set of landing skids with wheels attached. The only place that Playmates could really improve this sculpt would be to add interior detail within the sub where the figure goes.
Paint - Pogo Copter: 0/10 Shell Sub: 7/10Here is another area where the sub shines. This certainly isn't the most elaborate paint scheme but it looks great. There is just enough paint used to show off the detail of the sculpt without compromising the clean look of the animated style. There are even four decals applied to the control panels. But once again, the Pogo Copter is a let down in comparison. It as only two paint applications: the white of the searchlights and a light white wash on the body. Inadditon, Playmates didn't include any stickers unlike the original release. As a result, there are large areas of the toy that are just big flat blanks.
Play Value - Pogo Copter: 5/10 Shell Sub: 8/10Finally, an area where the new Pogo Copter improves on the old one. Vehicles tend to have a fair amount of play value just from their interaction with the figures. Plus this version adds the firing missles on the sides. But once again it is upstaged by the Shell Sub. The sub has two firing missles like the copter that are neatly intergrated into the body on either side of the canopy. The searchlights on the nose and periscope both rotate. The rudder can be moved from side to side. The propeler section can be moved and the propeler spins. The landing skids allow it to be rolled across flat surfaces. And to top it all off, the two manipulator arms are articulated. The arms rotate at the body and have a hinge at the elbow. Plus the claws are spring loaded so they can actually grasp things, though not very well. I think the best way to illustrate the length Playmates went to with this vehicle is to look at the latch mechanism for the canopy. They could easily just put a tab on the canopy to hold it shut but instead they designed a spring loaded tab into the body of the sub just under the control panel so the canopy can be opened and closed without risk of damage. It is a small but great touch.
Value - Pogo Copter: 6/10 Shell Sub: 9/10These were $10.99 at Toys R Us. That's probably about a dollar more than they will be elsewhere such as Target or Walmart. I've probably been a bit hard on the Pogo Copter due to the fact that I already have the original. But even when considered strickly on it's own merits, it's a mediocure vehicle at best. The low price does give it a boost since there just aren't that many lines with vehicles, much less ones for the price. The Shell Sub however would be a must have at twice the price.
Happy Hunting:I found these at Toys R Us in Madison, WI. They should be showing up with the post holiday toy restocks in most chains over the next few weeks. You should be able to pick these up online shortly from sites such as Amazon or KB toys.