Remote control vehicles must have really been the big thing this past Christmas season. Walmart, Target, Toys R Us all
had a wide selection of RC's. And of course Playmates did their best to get in on the action with the Teenage Mutant
Ninja Turtle line. And thus was born the Sewer Spewer, a remote controlled, silly string shooting armored vehicle.
And parents across the nation experienced a collective shudder of fear.
Packaging - 8/10The box for the Sewer Spewer is a complete departure from any of the packaging designs from the modern line. It is in many ways a return to the designs of the vintage line. The change is very striking. To start with, this is the first toy in the new line that doesn't use actual product photos for the graphics on the front of the box. Even the inset showing the R/C feature is an illustration of a kid rather than a photo. I like the use the illustrations. They are much more imaginative than a simple photo while still providing a reasonable representation of the actual toy. The rear of the box is more traditional with actual photos of the toy, several brief bits of text about the Sewer Spewer and photos of the other Mutants & Monsters themed toys (the Mutant Copter and Monster Trapper figure). The design is a significant departure from the designs of most of what is out there. It is a change that I found doubly odd once I opened the box. I had assumed that at least part of the reason for not using a standard window box was that the vehicle would be in pieces requiring assembly. But the opposite is true. It is fully assembled and ready to go straight out of the box. There aren't even any twist ties to imprison it. Well there are two twist ties to hold the remote in place. But coming from the company that has twist tied, taped, glued and even screwed their products into the packages and often combining multiple methods at the same time, to open a toy up and have it ready to go in under a minute was a pleasant surprise. (It is also nice to see a toy that doesn't produce more trash than actual product.)
Sculpting - 4/10The Sewer Spewer suffers from two problems, a bland chassis and a poorly designed body that attaches to it. The bulk of the vehicle is the housing for the remote control mechanicals. But that entire section is little better than a brick. They did include some sculpted details on the bottom. But the sides and ends are limited to the bumpers and gas tank/cargo boxes stuck to the sides. But they are not enough to cover all that area. The body is better than the chassis but far from great. In general it lacks any great flair. The mufflers and shovels on the fenders were the two features I liked from the packaging, and they both came out looking incredibly fake. The cannon barrel is far too short and aside from sticking out of the turret, bears no other resemblance to a gun barrel. The worst aspect of the body though is that it is too small. It is a twelve inch body on a fourteen inch body. The rear end just has a platform upon which a figure can stand. Why they didn't use that space to create a gunner's seat is beyond me. They didn't even bother to sculpt any sort of control panel for the turret. The Sewer Spewer looks all right when viewed from the front or a 3/4 view. But when you see it from the side or the rear it is far less attractive.
Paint/Decals - 4/10The paint work on the Sewer Spewer is very minimal. But like most of the TMNT vehicles, it is at least clean and neat. There are also a little over a dozen decals that come applied from the factory. The decals do add some of the visual interest that the sculpt is lacking. But to me they just exemplify how lacking the sculpting is.
Accessories - 7/10The Sewer Spewer has three accessories. The first is nothing more than a clean out tool for the barrel nozzle. It is nothing special, just a round handle with a slim plastic protrusion sized to fit in the barrel's nozzle. The major accessory is the remote control. It is fully sculpted with hexagon 'shell' texturing on the grips. They even gave it a little 'control panel' with a decal and the LED for the power indicator. The knobs for the forward/reverse control and turning are a bit thin which allows for some extra play in the control and a slightly cheap feeling. But in general I wish the whole vehicle had gotten the care and attention that the controller did. The final accessory is a can of official TMNT "Sewer Spew." From what I can tell, the sewer spew is just silly string. But I have no intention of opening it and spraying it around my house to find out. (Feel free to let me know if I'm mistaken.)
Play Value - 5/10This has the potential to be a really fun toy as a RC vehicle. It is a fully functional RC with six way steering: forward, reverse and both left and right steering in both directions. That may seem obvious, but Playmates could have always gotten cheap and limited it to forward and reverse with the vehicle automatically turning while in reverse. It is pretty slow as RC cars go. And the turning radius is horrible. It is also pretty much limited to flat surfaces. There is very little clearance under the body. As a result you are going to be limited to using it inside or on paved surfaces. The real fun I'm sure is in being able to spray silly string everywhere via remote control. When a button under the left index finger is pressed on the remote, the silly string is supposed to spray out. Since I have no interest in using the silly string I haven't been able to test the feature. If everything is working, this should be a fun toy for kids and a leading cause of premature hair loss for parents after they pull it out by the roots.
But the Sewer Spewer has two significant short comings. First of all, without batteries it goes from being fun to being a brick in a hurry. Without them the vehicle has no working features, just a seat for one figure and a platform on the back. There is no manual trigger for the cannon. The only moving parts are the wheels, and they don't roll freely. On the plus side, the Sewer Spewer doesn't use a unique/expensive battery pack like most RC cars these days. The vehicle needs just six AA batteries and a 9 volt battery for the controller. The other major shortcoming is the need for refills for the silly string. I don't know how long a can would last. But based on its size I doubt it lasts very long. Unfortunately finding the refills looks like it will be a problem. It looks like it uses a standard diameter can and there is an adjustment for the nozzle height. Hopefully this means you can use silly string other than the official Sewer Spew.
Value - 5/10The Sewer Spewer sells for $30 in most stores. That makes it the most expensive single vehicle in the new TMNT line. But as a remote controlled vehicle, that is quite reasonable. Of course that price doesn't factor in the cost of batteries and refills of the Sewer Spew silly string. At $5 a can for the refills (if you can find them), this could get expensive in a hurry.
Happy Hunting:From the looks of things, the Sewer Spewer was suppose to be THE big ticket item from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line this Christmas. It was stocked heavily at most stores. And judging by the stacks of them I've seen since Christmas, sales were not what they were hoping for. As a result, finding the Sewer Spewer should be easy enough. In fact you should be able to find it on clearance in some stores. Finding the refills is another matter. Locally the only store that ever stocked them was Target. And even then they only showed up a few weeks before Christmas and have since been dropped.