Earlier this week I reviewed part of the latest wave of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle basic figures. Of course, if you have
been paying attention to this line, you'll know that new secondary characters means a new set of variants of the Turtles
can't be far behind. This time it is the Shell-astic Turtles. What is a shell-astic figure? Take a regular turtle figure
and replace the head and arms with limbs made of soft rubber that allows them to be stretched. So give four heroes in a
half shell elastic limbs and you have the Shell-astic Turtles.
Packaging - 6/10The redesigned packaging is back once again. The partially sculpted bubbles and cityscape insert are nice changes over the old style. But I still wish they would get rid of that background color. The Shell-astic Turtles' bubbles do have a new feature: a opening to test the figures' stretchiness and a sticker pointing it out. It's a good idea. But since only the hand can be reached through the opening, it encourages people to grab the figure by the fingers and pull. There is a small tab of rubber which connects the thumb and index finger of each hand. If it is stretched too far, it could tear and make it difficult for the figure to hold its weapons. The back of the cards have a brief write-up for each figure and photos of the figure, the other Shell-astic figures and several vehicles. It would be nice if they included photos of more recent vehicles. None of the three pictured are even shipping any more.
Sculpting - 4/10All four Shell-astic Turtles have the same sculpt except for their heads and belts. There's really nothing new in terms of style. The belts are back to the original style with loops to store their weapons. The fit isn't as good as it has been on previous figures. Raph's belt in particular seem prone to slipping down and revealing the large hole behind the knot in the front. The head sculpts are the usual mix of smiles/sneers. I am a bit put off by the large gap in Donatello's mouth between his teeth. It's not really a big deal, but the depth of the gap make it look like there should be something to fit in there like a piece of pizza or a cigarette.
Paint - 4/10The paint work on the Shell-astic figures is quite simple. Each turtle has his own unique skin tone and they did a nice job of keeping the skin tones consistent across both the hard plastic and rubbery parts. You should keep an eye out for stray paint on the faces. Two of my figures have spots of white paint on the skin. But I'm still trying to figure out why they would paint the knee, wrist and elbow pads/bands brown and then give the figures black belts.
Articulation - 1/10The Shell-astic figures have exactly two points of articulation. Each leg is attached to the body with a rotating joint. The way the hips are designed, they will allow the figures to stand flat footed and that is about it. Of course the stretchable arms and neck add some movement. But since they can not hold a pose, what you see in the package is it in terms of display options.
Accessories - 4/10Each figure comes with their signature weapons: a pair of katanas for Leonardo, two sais for Raph, two pairs of nunchakus for Mike and a bo staff for Donatello. That's it. With all of the weapon molds Playmates has, there is little excuse not to include some additional weapons.
Action Feature - 2/10The whole point of these figures is supposed to be the stretchable limbs. They are a let down. Why you ask? Well start with their limited use. Only the arms, the necks and bandanas can stretch. The heads are of course made of the same soft rubber. But they are too thick to really stretch. (They can be fun to squeeze and smoosh though. They are like little stress balls.) They really should have been able to make the legs if not the whole body out of the same material. Then there is the limit to how far they will stretch. At best, you can pull the arms or neck to twice the original length. Anything beyond that and you will run a serious risk of tearing the material. Finally there is the fact that the material won't hold a shape. I think a lot of people were hoping that these figures would be similar to the Stretch figures from the old line or the old Stretch Armstrong toys that could be stretched to greater lengths and would slowly return to their original shape. While that sort of construction does make it very difficult to add sculpted details, they are better at stretching.
Value - 2/10Here's the basic run down. The Shell-astic figures are almost unarticulated versions of figures we have already seen a dozen times with even fewer accessories and mismatched belts that have a single lack luster play feature. The one thing these figures have going for them is that at $5 a piece or less, they are a couple of bucks cheaper than almost any other figure on the market today. If you are curious, I would suggest you just pick up one of the Shell-astic figures to start. But the Shell-astic figures are an interesting idea that has been done better in the past. In fact, it has been done better twice before by Playmates in the old TMNT line with the Movie Star Turtles with their bendable limbs and the Stretch figures that actually could stretch to greater lengths.
Happy Hunting:The Shell-astic Turtles are just starting to ship. I found mine at Wal-mart in Madison, WI. They should be appearing widely over the next month or so as stores sell through their current inventory of figures. Online options are pretty limited. Amazon.com has been pretty good about stocking TMNT toys, but fairly slow to add them. Walmart.com offers some of the TMNT toys, but it is limited mostly to the various vehicles. KBKids.com as also started to add some of the figures to their site once again. Right now they have the first three of the latest wave of figures: Nobody, Rat King and Agent Bishop. Hopefully they will add more figures as the distribution improves.