It has been quite a while since I had any new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures to review that weren't turtle varients.
But I finally managed to track down the elusive Gennosuke. I guess rhinos really are becoming an endangered species,
because finding Gen was no easy task. But with him, the lastest series of four non-turtle figures is complete. This
series includes Gen, Feudal Shredder, Hamato Yoshi and General Blanque. It is a little late for these figures since they
are mostly season two characters. But I guess it's as they say, better late than never.
Packaging - Gen 5/10, others 7/10Gen is the last figure to come packaged on the old style cards with the TMNT logo at the bottom of the blister and the four turtles' busts at the top of the card. The back of the card still has a large photo of the figure and his features. There are also photos of the previous wave of figures (Traximus, Drako, Ultimate Ninja etc...) since Gen was originally planned as part of that wave. And of course there is the traditional bio card at the bottom. It is a shame that the background colors used for the old packaging was so ugly, because otherwise the design is pretty nice. But out with the old and in with the new. The new packaging still has a bit of that silly background, but in a brighter yellow color and it is limited to the area behind the figures. The bottom and top of the card now have a much darker look with different graphics for the good guy and bad guy figures. Even the blister itself and the insert have been redesigned. The bubbles are now partially shaped like a turtle shell before taking a more square shape near the card. The insert has been redesigned to look like a city skyline with the character's name at the bottom and it special feature on a billboard. The back of the cards add photos of some of the recent vehicles as well as more room for the photos of the figure and its features, but it comes at the expense of the character bio card. Actually it isn't that much of a lose. The character write-up is still there, it is just moved to the top of the card to replace the generic blurbs that were included on the old cards.
I know some fans have expressed concern about it being harder to find figures on the pegs since the new cards do away with the individual character on top of the cards for the turtles or all four turtles for secondary characters. But I don't think it will be an issue. The cards for each turtle are still color coded and have that turtle's image at the top. If anything, the new cards should help to make finding a certain character easier since the non-turtle figures are now broken up into enemy and allies. The only real downside to the new designs that I see are the lose of the character statistics.
Sculpting - Feudal Shredder & Hamato Yoshi 7/10, Gen 5/10, General Blanque 2/10I wasn't very excited when I saw the photos of the prototype for General Blanque and the actual figure is no better. The basic character design for Blanque doesn't lend itself very well to an action figure to begin with since it is rather plain. But the figure manages to be even more bland. Other than a little bit of texturing, there is very little detail to the body or legs. The head sculpt is quite bad as well. The jaw is far too tapered and the entire head is far too small.
Gen turned out much better than I expected. The body sculpt is a bit too thick, likely to accomodate the action feature. It also lacks sufficent detailing to keep it from looking dull. But most of that is in keeping with the character design. The head sculpt is what keeps the figure from being anything beyond mediocre. It is too squat and wide. It makes Gennosuke's face appear to be too fat.
Hamato Yoshi turned out quite well. The sculpt follows the design from the show very closely. Unlike General Blanque or Gen, there is plenty of detail in the clothing. The only real draw back to the sculpt is the fact that the hat is permanently attached.
Feudal Shredder is the best figure of the four. It manages to translate the design from the cartoon almost perfectly. The skirt armor seems a bit large, but beyond that all of the other details come through well. But there is the question of scale. Shredder should stand considerablly taller than the Turtles, but the figure is just barely taller than the turtle figures, and most of that is because the turtles all have their knees bent. The head is also out of scale with the rest of the figure inorder to be small enough to keep the helmet in scale with the body.
Paint - General Blanque 3/10, others 5/10Gen, Hamato Yoshi and Feudal Shredder all have simple, clean paint applications. They are sufficent, but don't do much to bring out or enhance the detail of the sculpting. General Blanque's paint work is too simple. Playmates didn't bother to paint the sides of his coat a darker shade of green as it appears in the cartoon or do anything else to add interest to an already dull design.
Articulation - General Blanque & Hamato Yoshi 3/10 F. Shredder & Gen 5/10The articulation of the TMNT figures has been less than impressive, and General Blanque and Hamato Yoshi represent a new low. Hamato Yoshi has six rotating cut joints: neck, waist, hips and shoulders. But only the shoulders can be moved freely. The head can turn easily, but since it is sculpted with a second face on the back, if it is turned, it looks very strange. Finally you have both hips and the waist movement which are all severly limited by the bottom of his shirt. Hopefully you like how the figure looks just standing in place, because that is all it is capable of doing. General Blanque has rotating joints at the hips, wrists, shoulders and neck. Once again the sculpt almost completely eliminates any movement in the legs. Both Gen and Feudal Shredder have ten cut joints: neck, shoulders, elbows or wrists, waist, hips and shins or ankles. That's not very impressive in terms of number. But since the "crumble in defeat" feature allows more play in the rotating joints than a traditional cut joint would have, both figures actually have a decent range of motion. Of course, they still can't hold a pose that way.
Accessories - Gen 4/10, General Blanque & Feudal Shredder 5/10, Hamato Yoshi 7/10Gen comes with a pair of swords, one short and one long sword. Each has a matching sheath in which they fit and which can in turn fit into a loop on the belt. The swords are okay. And Playmates did at least paint the blades. But they are a little too fat, which gives them a stubby look. Feudal Shredder comes with a helmet, shoulder pads and forearm guards which are all removable as well as a battle staff. The removable armor is a nice touch, but it doesn't attach as securely as it should. And when they are removed it throws off the proportions of the figure. The battle staff makes an acceptable weapon, but its bulk combined with the unusal nature of the joints makes it rather unruly. A new, more accurate version of the sword of Tengu would have been a better choice. General Blanque comes with a small arsenal plus a hat. The hat fits the head well, but the way it is designed to hang down in the back makes it look like a winter cap with the ear flaps down. Blanques arsenal includes eight guns, rangeing from hand guns to large rifles. But not one of them is accurate to the show and all of them are completely unpainted. But the General does come with a rack to store most of his cheesy looking guns. Hamato Yoshi has just two accessories, but they are good ones. The first is a little figure of Splinter in his original rat form. The second is a small cage in which Splinter can be placed to carry him around.
Action Feature - General Blanque NA, Gen and Feudal Shredder 3/10, Hamato Yoshi 4/10General Blanque has no action features at all. Actually the packaging lists his action feature as being the weapons rack. But even being generous, that is hardly an action feature. Hamato Yoshi has two features. The first is a magnet embedded in his left shoulder which allows the Splinter figure to sit on his shoulder. Had they left the figure with just that one feature it would have been great. But unfortunately they also decided to include the option of a "ghost face." By turning the head around 180 degrees, a second face, cast in translucent plastic is revealed. It is a rather pointless feature. First of all, Hamato never really appears as a ghost that I recall. And even if it did make sense, only the face is translucent, the chest and hands are still painted in flesh tones. Finally we come to the infamous crumble in defeat feature figures, Gen and Feudal Shredder. The head, arms and legs of the figure are connected via strings to the torso. When a button on the chest is pressed, the tension on the strings is released. The figure becomes a rag doll and colapses. By turning a knob on the back, the tension can be restored and the figure will stand once more. Thus far I have not had problems with getting the figures to stand or hold a pose because of the feature, but I am concerned with the possibility of the stings breaking in the future. It is also worth noting that it takes quite a bit of tension on the knob inorder to hold the limbs tightly. I'm probably one of the few people that don't hate the idea of this feature. I just wish that Playmates would learn to use it more appropriately. Thus far there have been three figures with the feature: Gen, Feudal Shredder and Traximus. But it doesn't make sense for any of those characters to have such a feature. If Playmates wants to make some grunt figures like a generic Triceraton or perhaps one of new mousers from season three where it would make sense for them to crumble in defeat it could be a nice feature.
Value - General Blanque 3/10, Hamato Yoshi 6/10, others 5/10The regular Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures run between $5 and $6 in most stores which makes them cheaper than most action figures on the market. The lower price helps since none of these figures are really that outstanding. Gen and Hamato Yoshi both also have the added inticement of being the first time either character has gotten an action figure, assuming you don't count the Mutating Splinter figure from the original TMNT line. But in the end, General Blanque is a rather dull figure of a character that didn't really play that large a role in the cartoon and isn't likely to show up again. That sounds like a perfect recipe for clearance fodder.
Happy Hunting:All four of these figures have been available in at least limited quantities since July. But they are just starting to show up in greater numbers now. Toys R Us, Target, Walmart, Kmart, even Walgreens carry TMNT figures. So finding them locally shouldn't prove too difficult in most areas of the US. But if you prefer to do your shopping via the net, Amazon.com or Walmart.com are your best bets for online stores.