After four seasons with the new Mirage Comics inspired cartoon, it seems that the powers that be have decided that it is
time for a reboot. The new series premieres later this month and apparently features the Turtles being flung 100 years into
the future. And of course the new series comes with new toys as well. While the full toy line may not make it to shelves
until the next round of seasonal resets, a few of them have already begun to pop up in web stores. The first is the Hyper
Tank, Fast Forward's answer to the Turtle Van and Battle Shell.
Packaging - 4/10It's been less than a year since Playmates introduced the new packaging design and it's already being replaced for the Fast Forward line. The changes are not much of an improvement. The orangish yellow background with a honeycomb pattern now covers the entire box. The honeycomb pattern has been updated with a more mechanical look. There is a large image of the vehicle on the front along with smaller photos of it opened up and connected to the Hover Base. The only other graphics are the TMNT: Fast Forward logo and what I hope are highly stylized images of the four Turtles above the vehicle name. (I say that I hope that the art work is stylized because otherwise we are in for a series featuring some real pin headed terrapins.) Those same photos are then recycled on both sides and the top panel. The back panel reuses all the photos once again along with some small photos of the other Fast Forward toys. There are two pieces of text explaining the story behind Fast Forward and the role of the Hyper Shell in the series. But the small, plain text is easily overwhelmed by all of the other garish colors. The graphics are certainly not my taste and the packaging does nothing to show off the interior. Its biggest saving grace in my eyes is how little packaging there is inside. A couple of pieces of tape and two or three twist ties and you are off and running.
Sculpting - 6/10The Hyper Shell is obviously a completely new sculpt. The geometric design to the body panels give the body a stealthy look. I must say that Playmates did a nice job of adding detail throughout the body and the interior. But the details really lack depth. That's fine for the main body as it plays well with the stealth design. But on the undercarriage and interior it looks rather generic. The return to solid plastic treads just adds to the effect. While solid plastic tank treads with small plastic wheels underneath are pretty much the standard in toys, but after the M.E.C.H. Wrekkers and Paleo Patrol Dino Bike both came with rolling, rubber treads I had high hopes that the Hyper Shell would get the same treatment. The vehicle has a gun turret that pops up from the center of the roof. As a stand alone feature with the rest of the vehicle closed, the turret looks great. But it is also designed to allow a figure to stand on the roof and aim the turret with two handles that can be folded out on top. I don't know how it will actually look with the Fast Forward figures since they are not out yet. But with the existing figures, either the turret sits down at thigh level or the hands are up level with the head. Neither option looks very natural. And the low flat design of the turret reminds me more of an elevated service platform than a gun turret. The size of the Hyper Shell is a mixed bag in general. It is supposed to be big. And at 14.5 inches long, 9 inches wide and about 6.5 inches tall (with turret down) it is large. But when you put a figure next to it, it just doesn't have the impressive girth that it should have. I would love to have seen the Hyper Tank produced about 50% larger, even if it meant having to ship it unassembled. I like the Hyper Shell, though I suspect the style is not going to appeal to many people. But it isn't as impressive as it should have been.
Paint - 7/10The Hyper Shell has a combination of paint application and decals. The painted details are used sparingly throughout the body and the under carriage. Where it is used, it looks great. There are a couple of small spots on one of the front treads that look like they were handled too soon after the paint was applied. The decals help to add some smaller details but they don't blend in with the color of the plastic or painted areas. In particular, there are two decals on top of the turret that are a much lighter shade of green than the rest of the vehicle. It's a small issue, but it should have been an easy one to catch and correct before they began mass production.
Accessories - 5/10The Hyper Shell has only two accessories, a pair of missiles. They don't have a very exciting design: a conical tip with four small fins and a long tail to feed into the launcher mechanism. I'm not sure what else would have been appropriate to include in addition to the missiles. But something else, like a set of weapons, would have been nice to give the Hyper Shell a sense of interacting with the figures rather than just carrying them around.
Play Value - 7/10The Hyper Shell has a few play features. It should go without saying that it rolls. There are small wheels under each of the tank treads. They work fine on hard surfaces. But they are too small to roll freely over carpeting. Then there are the firing missiles which I already mentioned in the accessories section. They aren't extremely strong. But the combination of the light weight projectiles and launcher that are angled up slightly does give them a decent range of at least a couple of feet. The fact that they are integrated into the body of the Hyper Shell means that you can't really aim them without lifting the entire vehicle, but they do look good this way. There is the turret of course. Pressing a button on the rear end of the roof causes it to spring up and the gun barrels to pop out. Once deployed, the turret can rotate 360 degrees and can tilt towards either the front or back. There is a peg on the roof to hold a figure while it operates the turret via the handles that fold up from the top of the turret. The body of the Hyper Shell can be opened up to view the interior. The front and side sections are hinged at the bottom and flip open. Then make it easy to reach the figures inside. But once opened, they just hang there without adding anything to the play value. The front windshield is armor plated and the armor can slide open to give a better view of the driver. The final play feature is the rear hatch which falls open with the touch of a button. It's a very simple feature, but it does a lot to add to the quasi-military/armored look of the Hyper Shell. It's also just a unique way to add real working door for the figures. There is one other feature of the Hyper Shell which I can't review yet. The Hyper Shell is designed to attach to the front of the Hover HQ play set that is due out soon. Of course, since it isn't out yet I can't say if the feature works well or if it really adds anything to the play value. The features that are built into the Hyper Shell are enough to make it a fun vehicle. But it lacks a real knock out feature to put its score over the top.
Value - 4/10I paid a premium to get the Hyper Shell right away. While the list price of $25 wasn't bad, after shipping and taxes the total was just shy of $35. That's getting pretty pricey. Once the Hyper Shell reaches retail shelves the price should be closer to $20 with no shipping. At that price it is going to be a much, much better deal, probably a 7/10. In either case, Playmates deserves some credit just for producing larger vehicles when most toy companies have abandoned them.
Happy Hunting:I ordered the Hyper Shell from Target.com. Right now they seem to be the first store, electronic or otherwise, to have the Fast Forward toys. But that won't last long. I have no doubt that the Hyper Shell will be available at most retail stores by the end of the summer.