One of the things which has helped to make the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle cartoon a hit with many old school TMNT fans
is the incorporation of many stories and characters from the original Mirage comics. The Return of Savanti Romero story
line came directly from the Tales of the TMNT comic #7. And now, hot on the Paleo Patrol figures, we have several more
Mirage inspired characters receiving action figure treatment: Rat King and Nobody. And shipping along with them is one of
the key villains of the new cartoon, Agent Bishop and a figure that fans have been waiting for since 2003, Quarry. Thus far
it seems that these four are the only figures in the series to ship. But if they are out, there is a good chance that the
others are not far behind.
Packaging - 6/10With the end of the Paleo Patrol toys, the new packaging design returns once more. The new graphics at the top with either an enemies or allies icon, the TMNT logo and images of several of either the enemies or allies are attractive. The use of a city skyline for the insert at the bottom of the bubble helps to bring in a taste of the animation style. The bubbles themselves are slightly stylized with the top two thirds rounded into the shape and texture of a turtle shell. The bright background colors of yellow and orange remains. And I still find them overly garish. Sadly, the backs of the cards have done away with the profile cards which have been a hallmark of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures since the launch of the line in the eighties. The extra room does allow for more space to be dedicated to the actual figure and larger photos of the other figures in the series. The card backs do have several short comings. The first is the waste of space promoting vehicles which are no longer shipping. All three cards have the Combat Cruisers, Mutant Copter and Shell Striker vehicles displayed at the bottom. None of those items have been shipping since the start of this year. And while they do have photos of four other figures in the series on the back of each card, that means that there are two figures missing from each card. And nowhere does it point out that several of these figures are not even shipping at this point. I feel sorry for the parent that spends hours searching for one of these figures because their child saw it on the back of the package when they haven't even been released yet.
Sculpting - Rat King 2/10, Agent Bishop & Nobody 4/10, Quarry 6/10The Rat King figure is a real disappointment. Given Playmates' track record, it should be no surprise that the Rat King figure isn't accurate to The Rat King's appearance in the cartoon episode "I, Monster." But the extent to which it is off is remarkable. The first thing is the amount of the figure that is not wrapped up. Most of the figure's chest, forearms and thighs are exposed. And the exposed areas reveal a figure that is mostly robotic where the character was largely flesh in the cartoon. They didn't even give the figure five fingers on each hand! The only thing that the figure has in common with the character of the Rat King is that they are both wrapped in rags.
Both Bishop and Nobody turn out better, though not great. Nobody has an incredibly simple character design to begin with. Other than the basic body shape, the only detail is the edges of the cuffs of the gloves and boots. I do like the way the cape is sculpted. It hangs over the right shoulder covering most of it while the left shoulder is uncovered. That asymmetry adds a very simple but nice touch on the figure.
Bishop is another figure that I would have expected to be rather dull, after all it's just a guy in a suit. But it turned out really well. The long suit coat in particular is impressive when you realize that it is a separate piece. The shoulders match up to the arms very well. The taper to the waist and slight billowing of the tails works very well. But I don't care for the head sculpt. The scowl seems out of character. I would have preferred an emotionless face or evil smile. I also don't care for the glasses hiding his eyes. I'd be far more impressed with the figure if they had sculpted the entire face and attach translucent glasses. The biggest drawback to the sculpt though is the right hand. For reasons I have yet to understand, it is sculpted with a technological glove covering the hand and most of the forearm. As an accessory that would be fine. But as it is, there is no way to have just a normal Bishop.
Considering that we have had to wait almost 3 years for the Quarry figure to be released, I think we have every right to expect them to get this figure right. And for the most part they did just that. Quarry is remarkably on model, particularly for a TMNT figure. The scale issues which were such a problem for Razor Fist and Stone Biter are more or less resolved with Quarry. Standing five and a half inches tall to the top of her head, she is taller than the Turtle figures, though not quite tall enough. Of course, this just means that Quarry is now horribly out of scale with Razor Fist and Stone Biter. As they say, you can't win them all. While on model, the sculpt doesn't really match the style of the animation well. It lacks the sharpness of the details. Some of the changes may have been due to safety issues such as making the antennae on her head thicker and the spikes and claws smaller. But thee are still some changes that shouldn't have been made. The antennae are too close together on the head rather than being above the outside corners of the eyes. The sculpt has the jaws tightly closed. Usually I would prefer that, but in this instance you lose the monserious, inhuman quality that the somewhat Predatoresque jaw structure can give the figure. Finally there are the legs. They should have a canine style structure with two "knee" joints, the upper one bending back and the lower bending forward. On the figure the segment of the leg between these two joints has been shortened almost out of existence. Like the jaw, just that minor change does a lot make Quarry look more human than monster.
Paint - Agent Bishop 3/10, Nobody & Quarry 5/10, Rat King 6/10None of the paint work on the figures is very impressive. Rat King has the best paint applications of the three. Most of the paint work on the body is simple but clean. The exposed areas of the face that are painted look pretty good for such a small area. (Although I should note that they did paint one of the bandages in flesh tone paint.) Nobody has just a handful of paint applications: the hands, feet and eyes. It is extremely simple but true to the character and all of the edges are neat. Quarry has a few more paint applications than Nobody with all of the claws and spikes being painted. But the edges are not as clean as they were on Nobody. Agent Bishop has some noticeable paint problems. There is white paint from the shirt which has rubbed off onto the top of the pants. The paint on the left hand has chipped off in one spot revealing red colored plastic underneath. The black paint on the face is pretty sloppy too. There are stray marks on the ears, the back of the neck and the temples. Simple paint schemes are fine when appropriate to the character, but if you are only going to do a few paint apps on a figure, you had better get them right.
Articulation - Rat King & Quarry 2/10, Nobody 3/10, Agent Bishop 4/10The articulation on these figures is pretty weak. Agent Bishop is almost passable at eight points of articulation. They are all rotating cut joints and located at the hips, waist, shoulders, right forearm, left wrist and neck. While that is pretty low by modern standards, it does allow all four limbs to be posed and the figure to stand easily. Nobody also has eight rotating joints. The lower score is because instead of the T crotch that Bishop has, Nobody's legs rotate on the leg just under the crotch. As a result, the legs are limited to a simple standing pose. Rat King takes another step in the wrong direction by keeping the limiting design of the leg joints and doing away with the waist joint. The result is a figure that is completely unposeable below the shoulders. Further hampering his score is the fact that the figure isn't even capable of standing very well. Quarry is no better with just four points of articulation: rotating joints at the shoulders and hips. Like Nobody, Quarry's hips have a V shaped cut that doesn't really allow for any natural looking pose other than standing stright up. This is just pitiful.
Accessories - Quarry 2/10, Agent Bishop 3/10, Rat King 4/10, Nobody 6/10Bishop and Quarry are the stinkers in this category. Agent Bishop's only accessories are the weapon rack and eight assorted guns recycled from the General Blanque figure. Only now they are black. They weren't that great of accessories the first time. They haven't gotten any better with the second use. Quarry has two accessories, a shield and a staff. The shield's sculpt seems to have nothing to do with the character. It also doesn't fit well. It has a clip to attach to the figure's wrist, but it only fits right in one position on the right hand and not at all on the left. While that may seem to be pretty limited, it is better than the staff which the figure can't really hold in any natural looking pose. At best, it can be jammed between the claws of eith hand. Rat King comes with three PVC rats and a cinderblock club. I guess they felt compelled to give the figure a weapon and the club is creative. Although I would think that a cinderblock on the end of a bunch of wire would make a mace/morningstar rather than a club. That would have also helped overcome the limited articulation of the figure. The three rats are all in unique poses: one standing on its hind legs, one walking and one looking up. The rats are a nice idea, but the sculpting isn't very impressive. They used fur texturing to hide a lack of details such as the mouths. And in the end, There just aren't enough rats. A king needs an army. They should have skipped the club and just included more rats. Nobody is the only figure with a decent showing in the accessory department. He comes with two billy clubs and a flexible grappling hook and chain. You could also count the cape as an accessory since it is removable. Nobody's accessories aren't the most exciting, but they work and they do offer several display options.
Action Feature - Nobody 4/10, others NAPlaymates is one of the few companies that still makes a serious effort to put action features into their action figures. While I know a lot of toy fans and collectors prefer figures that have such features, the reality is that Playmates track record with them has been less than stellar. Of these three figures, only Nobody has an action feature built in and it isn't improving Playmates' record. Nobody has a small grappling hook attached to a string on his right forearm. The grappling hook can be pulled out and will automatically retract when released. I'm hoping that mine is simply a production error and the spring is just wound too tight. The string is incredibly hard to pull out. And its length is a laughable two inches. Factor in that it comes out of the arm about an inch up from the hand and you have a grappling hook with an effective range of zero. There is one major saving grace to the feature. It doesn't adversely affect the figure in terms of its sculpt or articulation. If you really don't like it, you can always just cut the knot off of the string and let it retract into the arm completely. But lets face it, when the best feature of an action feature is that it can be ignored completely, it's time to go back to the drawing board.
Value - Rat King 2/10, Agent Bishop 3/10, Nobody & Quarry 5/10The price remains one of the biggest selling points of this line. $4.50 to $6 per figure is a price that is hard to beat. But to be honest, I would rather pay a few dollars more for better articulated, better looking figures. For the price, Nobody is actually a fair deal, especially for such a minor character. Quarry is a bit of a mixed bag. After waiting so long for the figure to be released, I'm elated just to have it. But since her roll in the show has long since past and the figure doesn't really fit in well with her two previously released companion monsters, my excitement is greatly tempered. For one of the major villains, Agent Bishop seems like a pretty half hearted offering. Rat King is barely worth mentioning other than for the sake of being a completist.
Happy Hunting:The basic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures are quite widely available. They are carried by all the major toy retailers. In fact, the only store I know of with a toy department that doesn't stock them seems to be Shopko stores. (a local discount store chain) I found Rat King, Bishop and Nobody at Toys R Us here in Madison, WI. But I have also read many reports of them being found in Walmarts. They have been shipping now for over a month, but depending on how quickly your local stores have been selling through their existing stock, it may take a while before they can be found in greater numbers. If you don't want to wait, KB Kids.com has Rat King, Agent Bishop and Nobody in stock now. Quarry on the other hand has just started to ship. I found her at Walmart. From what I found on the pegs, Quarry is shipping with the new Shellastic TMNT figures and a mix of other figures including Rat King and Karai.