Playmates dusted off some old designs last year to bring us new versions of the Ninja Action TMNT figures. While I don't think they were all
that popular, that hasn't stopped Playmates from creating three more figures for series two: Shredder, Splinter and a Foot Soldier. Obviously
these are completely new figures, but they use the same designs as Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello. And much like the first series, the
action features are interesting and quite well done. But as action figures they are pretty dull.
Packaging - 4/10The ninja action figures come on slightly wider versions of the basic cards, just like the first series. The four Turtles' heads are at the top with the Ninja Action logo just below it. The figures are in fairly large bubbles. Although in Shredder's case, the extra room is necessary. A large sticker shows off the action feature. The display bases are stuck behind the figures are largely hidden. The back of the cards has the usual profile card and pictures of the rest of the figures in the line including the four Turtles. But where there would generally be a larger photo of the figure there are several pictures of the action feature in action. The packaging is pretty basic but it does have one drawback. It blends in too well with the basic figures, especially now that there are three or four lines of deluxe TMNT figures: the Ninja Actions, Mutations (for stores that still carry them), Air Ninjas, and Turbo Bashers. The different lines are always mixed together on store pegs despite having different prices.
Sculpting - Splinter 6/10, Foot Soldier 4/10, Shredder 3/10Splinter is easily the best of the three. The compromises needed for the action features, the squatting pose and slightly larger feet, work well for Splinter. The body is a bit too bulky for an old rat, a problem which is magnified by the use of a cloth kimono. The biggest drawback is the bo staff stuck to his back.
The Foot Soldier is pretty good as well. The body, arms and legs are all well proportioned. But his feet are huge. They need to be in order to have enough weight to make the action feature reliable. That worked with Michelangelo in the first series, but such huge clod hoppers on a human character really look out of place.
Finally there is Shredder who is apparently bulking up to start competing as a sumo. His body is huge, much too large for the rest of his limbs. And then to top it off, he has two of his large bladed spears/staffs permanently attached to his back.
Paint - 5/10The paint work on all three figures is executed perfectly. The lines are clean and as neat as one can expect from a mass market figure. There isn't any sloppiness either. The only thing I really don't like is that Playmates continues to paint a yellow line across each shoulder to be used as a visual reference for positioning the arms. But they are pointless since the arms 'lock' into the proper position any way. You can even use the lines on Splinter since the body is covered by the kimono. And there is still plenty of room for improvement in terms of how much painting was done. Much of the details of the figures were left unpainted, especially on the Foot Soldier.
Articulation - 1/10Being generous, these figures have four points of articulation; realistically, two. The arms rotate. But even that is limited since they lock into place where they are supposed to be for the action feature. The necks are technically rotating joints, but the range of motion is quite limited. The legs also offer an additional joint but it is locked into the action feature. So in the end, you have a one trick pony of a figure in the posability department that is stuck in just the one position.
Accessories - Foot Soldier 4/10, Splinter and Shredder 1/10Each of the figures comes with an undersized display base plus the Foot Soldier has two swords that are very similar to those of the regular Foot Soldier figure, but slightly smaller and with less elaborate paint work. Shredder and Splinter are left unarmed. The display bases are the same as those that came with the first series of Ninja Action figures. And they are just as ridiculously small compared to the figures as they were the first time. Shredder comes with the prison wall, this time cast in gold. Splinter comes with the tiny Foot temple entrance cast in a darker brown. Finally there is the Foot Soldier which has the brick house, this time in a light metallic blue and with a copper roof. They were poor accessories last time and they aren't any better this time.
Action Feature - Splinter and Shredder 7/10, Foot Soldier 6/10I'm obviously not a huge admirer of these figures, but I do have to give Playmates credit. They did a great job of designing the action features. Splinter uses the same feature as Ninja Action Leonardo. You bend him forward and he does a back flip. Shredder has Donatello's cart wheeling feature. The Foot Soldier has Ninja Action Michelangelo's flipping feature. The figure can be laid on its back and it will flip itself upright. (This is the reason his feet have to be weighted, to make the figure extremely bottom heavy.) All three features work extremely well, as long as the arms are locked into the correct position to insure the proper balance. I would say that they work at least 75% of the time which is pretty impressive for a flipping feature.
Value - 3/10Sadly, the Ninja Action figures just don't deliver much value for your dollar. Retail on these should run you anywhere from $7 to $9 depending on the store. But at $2 to $3 more than the basic figures, the value just isn't there. Visually, the figures aren't any improvement over the regular figures. The accessories are barely worth considering. Really, the action feature is the only thing these figures have to offer. They may be worth considering for the sheer novelty, particularly if they could be found for a lower price.
Happy Hunting:The first wave of Ninja Action figures hasn't exactly been flying off the pegs, so while the second wave has been shipping for a couple of months, they are still tough to find. It is a situation which is made worse by the fact that over half of the new cases are more of the regular Turtles. I found the figures at two different Target stores here in Madison, WI. But I've yet to see them any where else.