Playmates' love for motorcycles and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line continues unabated. Following up on the Battle
Bike figures from 2004 come the Combat Cruisers. Like their predecessors, the Combat Cruiser figures are a combination of
a Turtle figure with a motorcycle, or in this case a motor trike. But where the Battle Bikes relied extensively on reused
parts, the Combat Cruisers are all new. But does all new mean better?
Packaging - 7/10The Combat Cruisers come packaged in the usual window box. Each figure is positioned on their bike popping a wheelie inside of the box. A rack of weapons covers the back of the box obscuring the background. That is a shame since these are some of the first vehicles to use the cartoon style backgrounds. The background is a nighttime back alley scene. The boxes themselves follow the new style with the motion blur stripes along the top and bottom and the yellow shell pattern background. The fronts of the boxes have the usual graphics: the TMNT logo, vehicle name, photo of the action feature and a cartoon style image of the respective turtle. It would be nice if the image of the turtle featured them dressed like the figure. The backs of the boxes have a photo of the toy with all the "features" pointed out. There are also photos of the Shell Striker vehicles and Sewer Spewer. The packaging isn't exceptional, but reasonably attractive. Its only real drawback is the large number of twist ties used to secure the toys. You better have a wire cutter handy or plan on spending quite a while just opening one of the Combat Cruisers.
Sculpting - Leo 8/10, Raph 7/10, Mike 5/10, Don 3/10All four Combat Cruisers are new sculpts for both the figure and vehicle. The results are certainly a mixed bag. My second favorite of group is Leonardo who is sculpted in classic biker style: leather jacket and jeans. The sculpt strikes a nice balance between detail and the animated style. The scabbards for the swords look great but tend to warp the swords rather than protecting them. Leonardo is also the figure that shows the least symptoms of McFarlanitis which seems to plague the Combat Cruisers. (For those of you who don't know what McFarlanitis is; it is a rare condition found in certain action figures. The most common symptom of McFarlanitis is a swelling of the extremities and a compulsion to hide said swelling within giant boots.) Leonardo also has the best looking cycle. It follows the style of an old fashion chopper pretty closely with the extended front forks, big fast gas tank and a low long seat. The missile launchers are integrated into the sculpt better than any of the other cycles, though they still look tacked on.
Raphael has another great sculpt with leather biker pants and an asian style shirt. The detailing is excellent, particularly the shirt which has a dragon sculpted around the shoulders. The only real drawback is the gigantic feet which are almost a third wider than Leonardo's. It is too bad that his cycle doesn't measure up as well. There are the oversized missile launchers which are literally are just stuck onto the sides of the windscreen cowling. Beyond that the detailing is pretty good, but the design is not very fitting. The wide windscreen, front fender that wraps along the sides of the tire and less pronounced gas tank seem to be inspired by touring style motorcycles like the Honda Goldwing. There's nothing wrong with Goldwings, but it doesn't seem like the kind of bike Raphael would be riding. They even stuck Raphael with the dullest rims of the four Combat Cruisers. Nice figure, but he needs a new ride.
Michelangelo is sculpted in a full body suit with gloves and another pair of oversized boots. While the level of detailing is on par with any of the other figures, including the oversized boots. But I can't help but feel that the full body suit just looks silly. Michelangelo is also the only one of the four figures that can't store his weapons properly. The loops for the nunchuks are included on his belt, but only one end of the new chuks will fit at one time. The belt also has a tendency to slide down on my figure. Fortunately, no turtle crack is visible as a result. His cycle helps to improve his score. Like Leonardo's cycle, Michelangelo's has a fairly traditional chopper design for the most part. Unfortunately it does suffer from the missile launchers simply being tacked onto the front fork. The six exhaust pipes put me off slightly, in part from the unusual number of pipes but mostly from their puny size. But it is the seat that really puts me off. The high back look of the design leaves too much empty space behind the seat. It would have been nice if they had used the space for a passenger seat. And if they really wanted, they could always include a sissy bar on the back.
The final addition to the line is Donatello. The new sculpt for Donatello is the same full body suit style as Michelangelo and looks just as silly. Actually Donatello's sculpt is a bit worse since it seriously inhibits the range of motion for the shoulder joints. They did at least get the loop for his bo staff positioned so that he can store it even while on the bike. His cycle is almost a complete write off. The rims and exhaust are about the only things on the bike I like. The missile launchers are tacked onto the fork once again. The windscreen is undersized for the body which is too bulky and overly blunt in the front. It also has the high seat design like Michelangelo's again. They did at least put something behind it rather than leaving the space blank. But it just makes it look that much less like a cycle.
Paint - Raphael 4/10, others 3/10The paint work on the TMNT toys has generally been simple, but well executed. Unfortunately the Combat Cruisers one out of two isn't that great, particularly since it is the quality that is lacking. Raphael is the only one of the four without a noticeable problem. The paint on both Leonardo and Raphael is about on par with most of the TMNT figures. But when you look closely and see how much small detail there is in the sculpt that is lost due to lack of paint their short comings become more obvious. Donatello and Michelangelo have even simpler paint schemes. And in Michelangelo's case, it is a rather unattractive combination of orange and gold. The cycles all have two tone paint schemes using the corresponding turtle's signature color. The cycles use a higher gloss paint than usual which adds to the visual appeal, but is also more prone to chipping than usual. None of the sets has serious problems. It is mostly a question of paint smudges or stray paint marks. I should warn you to take a close look before buying one of these sets. But with less than half of the figure and bike visible in the packaging, you really won't know of there are problems until you open the toy.
Accessories - Leonardo 7/10, Raphael & Donatello 5/10, Michelangelo 3/10Each of the Combat Cruiser figures comes with a removable helmet, two to four missiles, a variation on their signature weapon, a set of rim covers for the rear wheels and a rack of misc. weapons. For reasons I have yet to comprehend, Michelangelo also has four gears included. They are not mentioned on his instruction sheet. They don't seem to go anywhere. And they don't seem to be meant to do anything. So why they were included in the first place is a mystery. The generic weapons and rack are the same for all four figures. Unlike the Battle Bikes, they didn't even bother with offering them in multiple colors. The weapons include several different swords, spears/bos, a couple of nunchuku alternatives, a large sai and sai like weapon and two pairs of throwing stars. Of course all these can be stored on the rack when not in use.
Leonardo manages to get all the best of the unique weapons. His swords are a bit small and thin, but they are a new sculpt and fully painted. He has by far the best helmet, a skull cap style one that fits well enough that at first I didn't realize it was removable. The wheel covers are more or less pointless and really just hide the rims that add needed contrasting color to the rear of the cycle. But that is more or less true for all of the wheel covers. He also comes with four missiles for the launchers on his cycle.
Raphael does ok in the accessory department. His signature weapons are a pair of large bladed sais. And I do mean large. They are longer than Leonardo's katanas. His helmet is a full helmet that covers his entire head. But Playmates did a horrible job of fitting the helmet to his head. It is about as snug as a fishbowl. I know Playmates is capable of better. Of course he has a pair of rather nondescript rim covers, the extra weapons/rack and four missiles for his cycle.
Donatello's accessories are fairly bland. His bo is a new sculpt but nothing special. His helmet is a fishbowl just like Raphael's. Of course the extra weapons are the same as the others. Donatello's most redeeming accessory is the rim covers. Unlike the others, the saw blade design of his make sense. They even went the extra mile and made two different covers for the right and left wheel. Finally there are the three missiles for the cycle.
Last, and to some extent, least there is Michelangelo. As with Don and Raph, his helmet is an ill fitting bucket. His chuks which are sculpted to look like a pair of wrenches chained together, are two stiff to bend well, too thin to keep the wrench ends from warping and can't even fit in his belt right. But the final straw was printing "TMNT" in large letter on the wrenches. While it is unique, it is equally silly. He has a pair of wheel covers of course. But their nondescript design and ugly color make them a poor alternative to the rim design. His cycle has just two missiles. But their barbed design at least makes them distinctive. And of course there are the four gears. But until someone can send me an e-mail to enlighten me as to their purpose I'm dumbfounded as to why Playmates even bothered.
Articulation - 3/10All four of the Combat Cruisers have just thirteen points of articulation. The hips are the usual rotating and hinged design that we have seen on all of the turtles in the new line as are the shoulders. The elbows and wrists rotate. Finally the necks are a ball joint. That is pretty minimal articulation even in a best case scenario. But when you factor in the restrictions in the range of motion due to the sculpt, you get some figures with quite limited poseability.
Play Value - 4/10The Combat Cruisers don't really offer that much in terms of play value, and certainly nothing unique. Sure you have the missile launchers on the cycles themselves. But they are pitifully weak. None of them have a range of more than a foot to eighteen inches. A few of them barely manage to get the projectile out of the launcher. Beyond the missiles and a few moveable parts like the foot rests on all four cycles and the handlebars on Raph and Leo's cycles, they are just four more entries into the long list of motorcycles Playmates has produced for the various TMNT lines.
Value - Raph & Leo 6/10, Don & Mike 4/10The retail price for the Combat Cruiser sets is around $15 in most stores. That is right in line with the cost of a basic vehicle and figure for this line if they were purchased separately. But where the Combat Cruiser versions of Leonardo and Raphael are interesting figures and may be worth buying just for novelty's sake, the same doesn't really hold true for Donatello and Michelangelo.
Happy Hunting:The Combat Cruiser figures have been shipping for some time now. Since they are being stocked as a replacement for the Battle Bikes, their availability is going to depend on how well the older toys sold. But now that the holidays have come and gone they should be easier to find. But as of right now, I don't know of any online sites that offer them.