Since relaunching the toy line along with the new cartoon in 2003, Playmates has consistently found a way to keep a series of
'deluxe' figures on shelves, even going so far as the resurrect the Mutating figures from the original toy line at one point.
And now they are going back to that well once again by giving the Mutating Turtles another overhaul to make them match the CGI
movie designs better. Do the changes warrant buying these figures yet again? Read on.
Packaging - 6/10The newest iteration of the Mutations come on larger version of the TMNT movie cards with the Mutations logo added under the TMNT logo. The bubbles have been increased in size to fit the card which gives them plenty of room for additional graphics. But they go a little overboard to the point where the graphics overwhelm the figures. The back of the cards show all four Mutations figures in both forms as well as including a small comic showing how four pet shop turtles came to be mutant ninjas. Fans of the vintage line will recognize this a a nod to the card backs of the earliest TMNT figures in 1987. Overall, the packaging design is nice, but I can't entirely get past the fact that there is so much unnecessary space on these cards.
Sculpting - 3/10When I first found out that Playmates was going to release yet another version of mutating figures, I was prepared to see them reuse the old sculpts again. To their credit, these figures are completely new. That is the good news. The bad news is that they are worse than the previous versions in almost every way. The biggest issue is the bulky body. This has been a problem on the previous mutating figures. But in making these figures larger to be closer in scale to the rest of the movie figures, the bodies had to be made even larger. It is made even worse by giving them heads that are smaller than the other movie figures. The pet turtle heads are a much more realistic style this time. But their size is no better than the mutated ones. Add in the fact that these figures have no necks and you get a combination that results in their chests sticking out almost a quarter of an inch past the front of their faces. The integration of the elbow joints to the sculpt is less than impressive as well. The break for th joint is right under the elbow pad which looks fine when the arm is straight. But once the arm is bent, the pad is left sticking straight out from the upper arm and the straps look completely out of place. There is one final, unexpected change on the new figures. There is a second set of toes sculpted onto the bottom of the regular toes. When you transform the figures into their unmutated form, the toes are flipped over to expose the more realistic claws and texture. It is a nice idea. But in practice what you end up with are feet that still have the obvious shape of the two toed, post-mutation feet and the texturing means that they no longer match the rest of the foot/leg. That pretty well sums up these figure though. Playmates obviously went to some effort to create all new versions of the mutating figure concept. But the final results are far from impressive.
Paint - 5/10The paint work on these figures is pretty basic. The front and back shells are painted as are the belts and pads and their teeth. Quality control isn't perfect. Leonardo has a couple of stray marks. But overall, the figures are about what you would expect on a mass market figure.
Articulation - 8/10Finally we get to the one area where the latest Mutating figures out preform the originals. Where the first figures had just nine points of articulation, the new versions sport seventeen points of articulation in their mutated form:
Accessories - Leo 4/10, others 6/10Each of the TMNT movie Mutating figures come a mini canister of ooze that matches their bandanna color. More ooze is always fun for the kids and a great way to make mothers very nervous. But the more important accessories are the weapons. What would the green teens be without their sais, chuks swords and bo? Each comes with their trademark weapon. But in a nice extra touch, all of the weapons are designed to be stored inside their shell when transformed to their pet turtle form. That means that their weapons had to be shrunk down a bit. For Raph and Mike it isn't a big change. The size change isn't too bad for Donatello's bo either. But they also designed it to fold up on either side of the grip tape to allow it to fit into the shell. I appreciate that they went to the trouble. But making a staff that could have snapped together at those two points instead of folding up would have been just as effective and looked better. Finally you have Leonardo and his two katana. As with all of the Mutating figures, his swords had to be shrunk down. But that still wasn't enough. So like Donatello's bo, his katanas have been hinged at the hilts. The end result are swords that look less like swords and more like over sized switchblades.
Value - 3/10As with most of the deluxe figures that Playmates has offered in the TMNT lines, you can expect to pay between $10 and $11 for the newest incarnation of the Mutating figures. Are they worth it? I suppose if you never had any of the previous versions you might consider them. But for long term fans, these new versions have very little to offer and some very notable drawbacks.
Happy Hunting:The TMNT movie Mutating figures were released at the end of 2007 and were fairly widely distributed at the time. They are still readily available at both Target and Toys R Us from what I have seen. You can also find them on-line from both KB Toys.com and Toys R Us.com.