The latest round of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures are starting to hit stores now. As usual, there are an assortment
of new secondary characters and a new set of Turtle variants. Since I haven't found all of the secondary characters yet,
today I focus just on the Turtles. Playmates Toys latest concept for the green teens is Robo Hunters. Each of the four
Turtles are decked out in high tech armor with weapons to match.
Packaging - 7/10The Robo Hunter figures mark the first figures to sport the newly overhauled package design. It is about time! In case you've missed the last eighteen months worth of reviews I've done, I really didn't like the original packaging design that Playmates came up with for the new TMNT line, particularly the orange backgrounds. Well the new packaging is almost a complete overhaul. The most obvious change comes in the form of the cards themselves. The unique card shape with a head shot of each Turtle for the top of the cards are gone. The new cards are identical in shape, but still unique to each Turtle. There is an image of the character along with a quote in a shell styled circle on the left side. The right side has the figure's name and the TMNT logo. The entire top of the card is color coordinated to the character. (Leo: blue, Don: purple, Raph: red and Mike: orange) I like the new look. It emulates the animation style from the cartoon when they do quick action cuts and still makes it fairly easy to spot a particular character on a crowded peg hook. The rest of the card's front remains fairly similar to the original design, with the same geometric shaped lined on a yellow background that darkens to orange and then black at the bottom while a yellowish white burst pattern in the center helps to highlight the figure. The bubble has also gotten a facelift. The old, square top bubble with the TMNT logo or insert at the bottom has been turned on its head. The new bubbles have a squared off bottom with an insert that has the Robo Hunter logo against a city skyline backdrop color coordinated to the figure. The figure's action feature is even pointed out on a billboard along the top of the insert. The figures themselves are nicely displayed in the center of the bubbles with their weapons and accessories around them. The bubbles are contoured into a circle around the figure before expanding to a more traditional rectangular shape where it attaches to the card. The backs of the cards have also received a new look. The colored streaking pattern across the top have been carried over from the front. There is the usual photo of the figure with the features pointed out. The stock write up for the figure has been replaced with a description that is unique to the character. Of course it doesn't actually explain how the Robo Hunter concept fits into the cartoon continuity or even if it is going to. The other Robo Hunter figures are of course pictured, as well as a few of the recent, and in the case of the Turtle Tunneler and Battle Shell, not so recent vehicles. Some people will probably lament the loss of the character profile cards. And since they have been a part of the TMNT line for over fifteen years, I can understand that. However, I also can understand how their demise makes sense. Since so many of the figures are of the same four characters, how many file cards do we need that remind us of their statistics. Since Playmates has preserved the unique write up that the file cards used to have elsewhere, I can live with the lose. I am really happy with the new look to the packaging. I hope that it is the start of even better things for this line.
Sculpting - Leonardo 6/10, others 5/10All four figures are new sculpts. The bodies have a slightly slimmer look, similar to the Battle Nexus figures. It is not a large difference, but when comparing the Robo Hunter figures and BN figures to the original and Fighting Gear figures it is noticeable. The head sculpts have also become quite a bit thinner. It means that the figures are getting even further off model though. Each figure also has cybernetic armor sculpted on. For Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael, the armor is basically a techno version of the usual belts and straps plus a backpack that is sculpted to the rear shell. Don and Raph also have shoulder pads that are hinged near the neck to avoid restricting the movement of the arms. Leonardo goes the extra mile with a backpack that wraps around to form football pad style armor. All of the figures also have various forms of shin guards. Rapheal and Leonardo also have forearm guards. Playmates really should have give Donatello a forearm guard too, since he has a cable coming off of his backpack that is then jammed into his forearm. Finally, since none of the figures have the usual loops to store their weapons on their belt, Playmates added storage to the backpacks. Don, Mike and Raph just have simple clips to hold their weapons. Leonardo has a more elaborate sheath for his two katanas.
I'm sure many older fans are going to be rather ambiguous towards the Robo Hunter figures or even just pass them up entirely, but they aren't bad sculpts. Still, Playmates has a way to go towards matching the new animation style. The shoulders are too narrow. Much of the problem is the result of the shoulder joint, but that could be compensated for by extending the body out at the shoulders. They also have yet to get the shape of the heads right. The new, slimmer designs are actually a step backwards. The heads should be largely trapezoidal in shape: flat on top, sides sloping out to around the bottom of the beak. The slimmer heads have the flat top and taper out, but then get much wider at the top of the beak. They look like the headbands are seven sizes too small and are squeezing their heads.
Paint - 4/10The paint on all four figures is very simple but well done. The lines are all clean and consistent with no serious problem areas. But the simplicity of the paint apps means that the details of the sculpting don't come out as well as they should. Leonardo is the only one whose armor isn't monochromatic.
Articulation - 6/10The Robo Hunter Turtles have nineteen points of articulation.
Accessories - Leonardo & Raphael 3/10, Michelangelo 4/10, Donatello 5/10Each of the Robo Hunter Turtles comes with several accessories: A high tech version of their signature weapon, a weapon with a special feature, an extra weapon or two and a piece of robot. The weapons are pretty sub par across the board. To start with, Playmates has reverted to their old bad habits and all of the accessories are completely unpainted. The upgraded signature weapons are all right, but their only true improvement is being made of stiffer plastic so they won't warp. The special feature weapons are particularly weak. None of them really make any sense for finding or destroying robots. And random robot parts aren't going to save the score either. Had the parts been capable of being assembled into a complete robot, it would have been a different story.
Leonardo comes with two katanas, a wrist guard, a spring loaded 'brass knuckle' and a robot head with the spinal cord attached. The swords are new sculpts and made of stiffer plastic than the previous versions. (no drooping!) The wrist guard in fairly plain and doesn't attach very securely. The brass knuckles are suppose to be his action feature, but they are a joke. It is extremely bulky and only extends about 1/4 of an inch. I'm sure it is quite effective for hunting robots, as long as they are directly in front of Leo and no more than six inches away. Finally there is the robot skull with wires hanging out like a spinal cord. It is a nice sculpt, but without paint it isn't as impressive as it should be. An in the end, there just isn't a point to it.
Donatello fairs much better. He has a bo of course, but also comes with a projectile firing cannon / ax, a grappling hook, a computer that straps to his arm, a headset and a robotic hand. The bo is all right, but in the end it is still just a pipe with grip tape on it. His projectile launcher / ax is the second best of all the special weapons (after Michelangelo) since at least a gun/cannon makes sense when fighting robots. But the ax half comes off as a bit silly looking without paint, particularly since the sculpt seems to have a traditional acte blade behind an arc of electrical current. But since the electricity si the same silver color as the rest of the piece, it looks more like a scrunchii hair band is caught on it. The projectile firing function is particularly weak as well. You can only shoot it about a foot; eighteen inches tops if the angle is right. Donatello has the best extra weapons of the group. First there is a grappling hook, complete with real string and a handle on the other end for the figure to hold onto. The arm-top computer is a nice touch and actually appropriate both for the character and the Robo Hunter theme. But once again, the lack of paint or at least a decal for the screen is disappointing. The headset clips over his bandana around the back of his head with a microphone near his mouth. Finally there is the random robot part. This time it is a hand and forearm which again serves no purpose.
Michelangelo has the least number of accessories. But as is often the case, it is quality not quantity that counts. Michelangelo comes with two nunchakus, a really big gun and a saw blade arm from a robot. The nunchakus are nothing special. And of course the robot part is as pointless as it is for the other figures. But it is Michelangelo's special weapon that is his one saving grace. It is a large gun that fires one of the three included projectiles. It's not that impressive as an accessory, but it is easily the most appropriate of all four action feature weapons.
Finally there is Raphael who comes with a robot leg, a pair of sais, an eyepiece and a big hammer. Yes I said a big hammer. Raph Henry is a steel driving man, or turtle as the case may be. Rather than a gun or a bigger blade, Rapheal has a really big hammer. But not just a hammer, a hammer with a spring loaded spike in the head. Pressing the "no robots" logo on the side causes the spike to pop out. I guess Raph isn't very good at hunting robots so they just send him off to do subway track maintenance. His only other weapons are a pair of unpainted sais. He does have a headpiece similar to Donatello's, but with an eyepiece instead of a microphone. Finally there is his robot piece, an unarticulated PVC leg.
Value - Donatello 5/10, others 4/10These are basic figures and will run between $5 and $6 at most stores. That is a pretty good price when you compare it to most figures on the pegs these days. But these figures don't offer much to justify adding yet another version of the Turtles to your collection, especially a set themed around hunting robots in a line with only three or four robots to begin with. It is quite possible that like the Ninja Knights, the Robo Hunters may yet show up in the cartoon and gain some credibility. But for now, unless you are desperate for a fix of new TMNT figures, you may want to pass on these.
Happy Hunting:The Robo Hunter figures are shipping now in two different assortments, one with Feudal Shredder and the RH Turtles in a refresher case with some of the older figures and another with Gen, General Blanque and Hamato Yoshi. Right now it seems that Walmart stores have been receiving the cases with Feudal Shredder while Target stores seem to be getting the others. I'm sure though that it is only a matter of time before the Robo Hunter figures will be widely available elsewhere as well.