This season marks yet another relauncher of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle brand. The Turtles and Splinter are being
tossed a hundred years into the future and the darker tone of the cartoon is being tossed aside. And of course the new
show has new toys to go along with it. While I seem to be one of the last TMNT fans to find them, I finally managed
to track down a set of the new Fast Forward basic figures. Unfortunately, despite the fresh start, the new line is falling
into the same patterns as the old.
Packaging - 6/10The cards for the Fast Forward figures have gotten an overhaul to their graphics but the basic design is the same. The figures are displayed in the center of the card with their accessories around them. The four turtles a bit nicer since they are positioned in action poses. The newer figures come with more accessories which are shoehorned in around the figure. It makes the packages look rather crowded. There is an insert on the right side of the bubble with the character's name and images of the turtles. They even went to the trouble of doing separate inserts for each of the turtles which only has the remaining three turtles on it. The cards have a bright yellow background with the TMNT:FF logo and character's name. There is also an image from the cartoon to help identify whether the toy is a particular turtle or one of the supporting characters while they are hanging on the pegs. The back of the card has a large photo of the toy along with a brief explanation of the Fast Forward story, a listing of the accessories and features and the return of the character profile cards. The lower 2/5 of the card is used to show off the other Fast Forward toys available. Unfortunately they also show off figures which haven't been released yet too.
Sculpting - Michelangelo, Zixx & Cody 5/10, other Turtles 6/10, others 7/10The sculpting for the fast forward figures is pretty good, at least for TMNT toys. The Turtles themselves have slimmer bodies that help to make them seem taller. The basic designs are close to the cartoon, but more detailed. Their biggest drawback is that they don't quite capture the sharp angles of the cartoon designs. It's most prevalent in the faces, but the shoulders should be more squared off as well. They also goofed on Michelangelo's belt. In the show, he stores his weapons at his sides under his arms. The toy stores them on the back. Cody is a decent figure but a really dull character design. Torbin Zixx is much more interesting visually. But he is puny. The profile on his card lists him as being 5'11", taller than everyone but Serling. But the figure is actually shorter than the Turtles or Cody. I guess Playmates isn't going to be incorporating accurate scale into the Fast Forward line. Scale is also the biggest drawback to both Serling and Splinter. This is the nicest sculpt for a Splinter figure that we have gotten so far. But he is too large. Still, at least he is shorter than the other figures as he should be. Serling is could use a little more detail, particularly on the underside of his body and should be taller. But it captures the look of the character reasonably well.
Paint - 5/10The paint work on all eight figures is pretty mediocre. The Turtles have fairly basic paint work: belts, bandanas, shells and armor. There are a few areas with multiple paint applications such as the chest armor. But the gauntlet computers were left completely in silver which is neither accurate to the cartoon nor very flattering to the sculpt. The armor is also a darker color than I would have picked but passable. Splinter is the best of the series or at least he should be. They painted almost all of the major details. They missed the hardware on the arms, leaving them grey instead. But my figure has several stray paint marks. And to make it worse, they are all on his back which makes them impossible to detect in the package. Both Cody and Serling have nice clean paint applications, but they are quite dull. Serling in particular has considerably more potential had they added a few more paint applications. Torbin Zixx doesn't even look like he belongs in the same toy line. There isn't anything wrong with the paint work. But where all of the other figures use colors that contrast nicely, the gold and maroon areas of Zixx's costume don't. Again, it's not a bad thing per say. It just doesn't match that well with the other figures.
Articulation - Turtles 6/10, Cody & Serling 2/10, Splinter & Zixx 3/10The Fast Forward Turtles feature nineteen points of articulation. That includes rotating and hinged ankles, hinged knees, rotating and hinged shoulders and hips, rotating elbows and wrists and a ball jointed neck. That's not bad. Hinged elbows and rotating biceps would be nice, but what we do get should be passable. I say should because Playmates is still getting the design of the hips wrong. As a result of poor use of the articulation, the figures can't stick their legs out either to the sides or in front of them in anything remotely resembling a realistic manner. The other figures are another matter. Cody has a dismal nine points of articulation, all rotating joints at the neck, shoulders, wrists, waist, and hips. Serling has rotating hips, shoulders and neck, hinged ankles and ball jointed elbows. But the range of motion on the elbows is minimal. They allow you to rotate the arm but not really bend them. Zixx has nine rotating joints: hips, waist, shoulders, wrists, neck and right elbow. The leg articulation is pretty worthless. And the arm articulation will allow you to adjust the position of the arms, but not change the overall pose. Splinter has rotating legs, wrists and neck and double jointed shoulders. The shoulders and wrist allow decent range of motion for the arms. But the rest of the figure is basically a brick.
Accessories - Serling 2/10, Turtles 4/10, Cody, Zixx & Splinter 3/10 (add a point for the figures with extra weapons)The Fast Forward figures originally shipped with just the basic weapons. Each Turtle had a pair of their new futuristic weapons except Donatello who had just one bo staff. The weapons are cast in translucent plastic and then partially painted silver. The weapons look nice, but paint rubs can be a problem. They can also be stored on the figures' belt. But you have to be careful. Unlike previous figures that had loops built into the belts, the weapon clips for Don, Mike and Raph all just clip onto the belts and can fall off. I'm also disappointed that the clip for Michelangelo's nunchukas don't fit under his arms. They attach to the belt on his back and don't hold the weapons very securely. Splinter came with a cane. Cody had a hoverboard and staff/scythe/hockey stick. Torbin Zixx comes with a lance, a bolo and his cloak is removable. These accessories are pretty basic, but serve their purpose. Unfortunately, the limited articulation on the figures keeps them from being more useful. Serling has a vacuum that transforms into a gun. Aside from the silly nature of a vacuum for an action figure, much less for a robot from 100 years in the future, its gun mode is completely worthless for Serling who lacks hands capable of holding it.
Apparently Playmates recognized that the figures were a little lite on value in terms of accessories as well. Because all of the figures except Serling are now shipping with extra weapons. (I suspect Serling was left out since he can't really hold any weapons even if they did include them.) But the extra weapons are not very impressive. They are mostly just recycled from the Fighting Gear figures. None of them are painted. And they certainly don't match up with the Fast Forward theme.
Value - Splinter 6/10, Cody, Zixx & Serling 4/10, Turtles 5/10Retail price for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward line is the same as the previous figures, approximately $6 each. Unfortunately big discounts such as what Walmart used to offer are far less common these days. The Turtles themselves are not a bad deal, but they don't really offer any advantage over getting the figure/basic vehicle packs instead. Despite it's limitations, the sculpt for Splinter is enough of an improvement to at least make it worth considering. Cody, Serling and Torbin Zixx are decent figures if you want to round out your cast. But they don't have a lot going for them to justify their purchase on their own.
Happy Hunting:The Fast Forward toys have been shipping for at least a month now and should be fairly easy to find locally. Walmart, Toys R Us, Target and Kmart are all carrying the line. Online options are not as easy to come by. The only site I've found thus far that has them in stock is KB Toys.com. And just like their stores, KB's site is a bit more expensive. But they have proven reasonably reliable in the past.