Playmates has come up with some pretty strange Ninja Turtle figures over the years. But I think this time they've
managed to take the cake. Introducing the Mutant Extreme Sewer Sport figures, a.k.a. M.E.S.S. Just what are the
M.E.S.S. figures? Start with some mutant turtles. Dress them up in sports gear. Add some armor. And substitute some
monsters in place of regular equipment. I have no idea what the people at Playmates were high on when they came up with
this idea. Nor do I have any idea where they found enough of said substance to get the idea put into production. But
somehow they have found their way to store shelves.
Packaging - 6/10We get to see the new packaging design once again. It's not my favorite design for an action figure's packaging, but it is a considerable improvement over the old style. The cards are still unique to each turtle, with a large image of the character in the upper left corner with a unique quote. The sculpted bubble shaped like a turtle shell and the city sky line insert with the figure's name add quite a bit of visual interest. The back of the cards have a large photo of the figure and accessories as well as photos of the three other M.E.S.S. figures and several recent vehicles. There's certainly room for improvement. I still don't care for the color choices for the background, but I will concede that that is simply personal preference. But including photos of several vehicles which are no longer shipping rather than current or upcoming product seems like a rather silly choice.
Sculpting - Leonardo 3/10, others 6/10I wasn't expecting much from these figures when I bought or opened them. I was expecting them to be mostly reused molds like many of the other turtle variants. The heads are reused. But otherwise these appear to be completely new sculpts. I'm not too wild about the head sculpts. The beaks come to a more pronounced point than the earlier heads which makes the heads look too sharp. And the bandanas look like they are about 6 sizes too small and are squeezing the heads. The sculptors did a nice job of including a lot of fine details into the clothes and padding on the bodies of the figures. Although they still seem to forget that Raphael can't tuck his pants in under his shell. But the exposed areas of their bodies lack detail and have a slightly amorphous look. Well, I said the sculptress did a nice job on the bodies. I really should have said they did a nice job on Donatello, Raphael and Michelangelo's bodies, because Leonardo is a bit of a mess. The first thing I noticed was that the catcher's mitt which is sculpted onto Leonardo's left hand looks more like an oven mitt. A catcher's mitt should be thicker around the palm in order to adsorb the force of a pitch, but Leo's is just bulky all over. They sculpted a chest protector onto Leo's chest, but it looks more like they surgically replaced the plastron of his shell with it because there is no added thickness or distinction between the padding and his shell. But the funniest part is his pants. His thighs are sculpted with some cloth texturing so he is supposed to be wearing pants. But like Raphael, they have texture of his shell showing as if the pants were under the shell. But despite that, they sculpted belt loops onto the shell! Some one was really confused when they sculpted this. And now I'm really confused because of them.
Paint - Michelangelo 3/10, others 1/10I'm often amazed at just how important a good paint job is on an action figure. It can literally make or break the final look. Even the dullest of sculpts, if properly painted can look amazing. But the M.E.S.S. turtles are a prime example of how a bad paint job can ruin a figure. The reality is Playmates got either lazy or cheap with these figures and it really shows. In general the lines are not a clean as they have been on most of the TMNT figures in the past and the limited number of colors used doesn't do justice to the sculpts. But the worst thing is that they paid almost no attention to the sculpts to begin with in painting the figures. They painted the bottom of Raph's shell silver as if it were his pants which is odd. But they also just painted over the straps on his back to match whatever color they were using. They painted Donatello's feet and hands black since he has gloves and boots on. But they didn't paint the cuffs of the gloves or boots to match. Like Raphael, they painted the bottom of Leonardo's shell to match his pants. and they didn't even touch the straps at the top of his chest protector or the patches on his sleeves. But the worst oversight is that Leonardo is sculpted wearing a leather glove over his right hand, but it was left in flesh tone. Michelangelo somehow manages to avoid any serious problems in this area. But even on him you can see where they ignored the sculpt and painted the bottom of his shirt just above the belt in back. I honestly don't understand how someone could give the okay to put the figures into production looking like this.
Articulation - 4/10Raphael and Michelangelo both have twenty five points of articulation.
Accessories - Mike & Raph 2/10, Leo & Don 3/10The accessories for the M.E.S.S. turtles are a real let down. The ideas behind the accessories are pretty interesting, but the execution is really sub par on all but the helmets. Leonardo comes with a batting helmet with horns and a face mask added, a fat baseball bat, a shin guard and two mutated baseballs. The sculpting of the balls is cute, but largely lost due to the lack of paint. The bat is supposed to have an action feature where three spikes come out of either side when a lever is slide up the bat. But they only come out a fraction of an inch so they are hardly impressive. The helmet is bulky. But it fits well and is fully painted. Donatello has a pair of skates, a hockey stick, a pair of shin guards two mutated pucks and a helmet. The helmet is the only one of his accessories to receive any paint. And the pucks and skates are seriously lacking in detail. Michelangelo comes with a helmet, a mutated basketball and a cannon that fires another mutated basketball. The helmet is just silly looking. Actually, it makes him look like the Great Gazoo from the Flintstones. And why do you need a helmet to play basketball any ways? The cannon is very bulky and lacking in color. They did at least make the net barrel a different color. But for some reason they choose orange for the net instead of white. Its only other feature is some targeting cross hairs that flips out on the left side. His mutant basketball is fully sculpted with a serious set of fangs. They even included indentations on the back for the fingers of the figure to allow it to hold the ball. Raphael has a spiked football helmet, a pair of spiked shin guards, two mutated footballs and a football with flip out blades. Unfortunately his shin guards and mutated footballs were left unpainted. The bladed football is painted. But the design is sort of awkward. I guess Raph must be a punter rather than a quarterback because the curved blades in the ball stick out from either end which would only work if the ball was traveling end over end and not in a spiral as when passed. The awkward bladed ball highlights a shortcoming for all of the M.E.S.S. figures, the lack of a traditional weapon. The signature weapons, the swords, staffs, sais and nunchukas are missing. Don and Leo can make do with their hockey stick and bat. But Mike and Raph seem to be pretty poorly equipped.
Value - Leo 2/10, Others 3/10The only thing the M.E.S.S. figures really have going for them is their price. The basic TMNT figures retail for between $4.50 and $6.00. Most of the larger discount chains sell them for around $5.00 a piece. That is a nice change of pace since the price tags on most action figures have crept up to $7 or $8 or even more. But the figures have little to offer in terms of appearance or features.
Happy Hunting:The M.E.S.S. turtles are currently shipping along with the Paleo Patrol themed figures. You should be able to find them at most brick and mortar stores such as Target, Toys R Us, Kmart or Walmart. I picked up mine here in Madison at both Target and Toys R Us. Unfortunately there are not many options for buying TMNT figures online. Amazon.com is the only site I'm aware of that has much of a selection of TMNT figures. Thus far the M.E.S.S. figures are not available there. But it is quite likely that they will show up eventually.