The TMNT movie gave us a new look for our favorite green teens, and some very powerful new enemies in the form of the four
stone generals. And never being the type to pass up on a chance to produce more figures (and money) Playmates has of course
provided us with figures of these animal themed warriors of old. But rather than including them as part of the regular
figure line, Playmates decided to bundle them each with one of the Movie Turtle figures and release them as two packs similar
to the Leo vs. T-Rex and Raph vs. Yeti sets. (Like I said, Playmates Toys is not the type of company to pass up a chance to
make an extra buck, even if it is by getting people to rebuy figures they may already have.) But that isn't an entirely
bad thing since it means that the figures of the four generals wouldn't be limited in size or by the price of a basic figure.
But it remains to be seen if the final product can live up to that potential.
Packaging - Raph vs Gen. Aguila 6/10, others 7/10The two packs share their packaging design with the previous Verses packs, a fairly large box with windows on both the top and front panels. The figures are packaged in action poses inside with the various accessories around them. For most of the packs, the effect is nicely executed. It really looks like the two figures are mid-battle. The one exception is the Raph vs. General Aguila pack. With Raph leaning away from the General and the General not even facing Raph, they look more like someone suddenly turned off the gravity than if they were actually fighting. The packaging uses the new movie graphics of course. It is a nice change. The back has photos of not only the two figures, but of all of the two packs including the as of yet unreleased Splinter vs. Bigfoot set. The inclusion of the photo of Splinter is annoying since it lead to a lot of people needlessly search for a set that wasn't released yet. It is also a bit disappointing that the packaging doesn't do anything to explain who the Generals actually are or their role in the movie. I'm sure this was done to avoid spoilers before the movie was actually released. But they could have provided some information, particularly since the Generals are introduced within a few minutes of the beginning of the movie.
Sculpting - Gen Aguila & Mono sets 9/10, others 7/10All four sets reuse the same bodies for the Turtles, but with new heads. This is particularly good news for those who may not have liked the goofy grin on the regular Michelangelo figure. Unfortunately the new sculpts don't seem to fit well on the existing molds for the neck. There is a noticable gap at the joint and the fit is generally loose. I also had problems with the elbow joint on the Michelangelo figure not being fully connected. But a little pressure snapped that into place.
The General figures are quite impressive. There is a lot of texture detail on their armor that does a decent job of recreating the look of stone. There is room for improvement though. The crystals in their chests are hit or miss. Gen. Mono and Gen Serpiente look decent though not spectacular. But Gen. Aguila's looks like it was buffed with a jackhammer. And given its size, prominent location and the attention it gets since it lights up, it isn't a good area for the sculpting to fall short. It's hard to gauge the scale of the figures since I haven't found a good reference photo. But my first impresssion is that General Mono ought to be slightly larger. The male General figures (Mono, Aguila and Gato) have one other drawback, the exposed "skin." In the movie, these areas were stone as well. But the lack of texture and the ultra smooth finish don't give that impression, it just looks like grey skin. On Mono and Aguila the exposed area is limited so it isn't a big problem. But for General Gato it is more of an issue. General Serpiente is the worst of the four. She has the most exposed "skin" which doesn't add much visual interest. Even the clothed areas are left rather plain. The forearms and knees have the same stone texturing as the other generals, but the skirt, shoulder pads and hair are all more or less devoid of detail beyond their shape.
Paint - 6/10The paint work on the Generals is sparse. But it also very well done. It is so well done that I still can't be sure if it is the skin tones or the darker grey of the armor that is painted on. (I beleive it is the skin tones that are painted on most of the figures.) The only place where there is a bit of sloppiness is on the crystals on their chests. While minor, contrasted with the extremely clean look of the rest of the figures, it becomes very noticable. Overall though, I think there are two things they could have done to really step up the paint work on these figures. The first would be to take the sheen off of the armor portions. Highly polished stone can have that type of glossy sheen, but these are supposed to be living, ancient statues. They should be worn and have a very flat finish. The other change would be to add a very, and I mean VERY, light wash on the "skin". Stone is not a very consistent material. It always has variations in color. Without that same variation in the skin tones, it just doesn't look much like stone.
Articulation - Serpiente 2/10, Gato 4/10, Mono 5/10, Aguila 6/10, Turtles 8/10I won't waste much time talking about the articulation on the Turtles themselves. Check out the review of the movie good guy figures for that. But I will say that Playmates continues to evolve the artiuclation on their Turtle figures and these are the best yet. Unfortunately the Generals don't even come close to their level. The worst is General Serpiente with a paultry six cut joints at the hips, waist shoulders and neck. And most of those have very limited range of motion or are generally useless for offering additional poses (the legs). General Gato as well as the rest lose the neck articulation. But Gato does have better arm artiulation starting with double jointed shoulders and the addition of rotating cut joints at the elbows. The elbows don't add much since the arms are still stuck in a straight position. The shoulders are an improvement, but the large shoulder pads restricts their range of motion as well. Mono has eleven joints. There are cut joints at the hips waist, wrists and elbows and double joints (rotating and hinged) at the shoulders. He is a very stocky figure, the type on which adding articulation without disrupting the sculpt is always challenging. Playmates did a decent job of adding articulation while still obviously favoring the sculpt. General Aguila has the most articulation of the four Generals as well as the best exected. He has cut joints at the shoulders, above the elbows, and at the wrists, waist and hips as well as rotating and hinged joints for the ankles. Why they bothered with the extra joints at the ankles is sort of a mystery since all of the other articulation is so simple. But I'm all in favor of more articulation over less. Playmates isn't going to be getting a lot of credit for their articulation when the figures are less posable than the original Turtle figures produced back in 1987. But I will give them credit for keeping the articulation almost completely hidden.
Accessories - Leo/Gato 3/10, Don/Mono 4/10, others 6/10Each of the two packs comes with the signature weapons as well as chest armor and a mask for the Turtle and an assortment of weapons for the General. Sadly, some of the accessories did not turn out as well as others. And oddly enough, they got the weapons for two of the Generals wrong!
The Leonardo vs. General Gato set is the weakest of the four. Gato has the two double bladed swords that should have been included with General Aguila. And he wields with all of the dexterity and control of a red neck using chop sticks for the first time. He also has an additional piece of stone armor that can clip onto his left arm. But it further restricts what little articulation there is in the arm. Leo's armor and swords are nice. I particularly like that they cut out a notice over his right shoulder for his shoulder strap to fit. It's a small detail but it makes a difference. But his mask needs work. It lacks the paint work of the armor, doesn't fit as intuitively as the others and only covers the face from the front.
The Michelangelo vs. General Serpiente set comes with the usual goodies for Mike. But General Serpiente has two sets of weapons in addition to a forearm shield. The first is a pair of long curved swords with a serrated edge which should have been included with General Gato. The other is a pair of large, curved hand blades similar to a rocking pizza cutter. Neither set is particularly detailed. And the hand blades seem like they are awfully large for her. Of course, since in the moive she mostly just uses the blades on her forearms, the accessories are not really neccessary any way. Michelangelo fairs better than Leo in terms of his mask. It isn't painted either. But it matches his armor better even without paint. It also covers more of his head.
The Donatello vs. General Mono set comes with the least number of accessories. General Mono has his battle hammer and an oversized throwing star similar to the one seen in the movie. He doesn't have, and really doesn't need any additional armor. The throwing star is nice, but I really want one that can be stuck into Raphael's back. If they had pulled that off, I would have been very impressed. Donatello has a single bo staff and an armor/mask combination that is very similar in design to Leonardo's. Like Leo's, the mask doesn't fit very well. But it does at least have some paint on the mask. Of course, in turn they didn't paint his armor but asethically that doesn't bother me as much as Leo's mask.
The final set, Raphael vs. General Aguila includes a set of swords for the general as well as forearm armor and sais, armor and a mask for Raph. Raphael's mask is very similar to, but not the same as Michelangelo's. The mask looks good and fits well. But the bronze color used for both doesn't compliment Raph's darker skin tone very well. General Aguila's swords are almost as large as the monsterous one that came with Max Winters. But they work well due to the larger size of the General. He and Mono are also the only Generals that can really wield their weapons somewhat believably. He also has an extra piece of armor for his shoulder. It looks nice and doesn't restrict movement. The set doesn't have any standout accessories, but everything that is included makes for a strong offering.
Action Feature - 2/10Each General figure comes with a light up feature. There is a button on each one near their head that will light up an LED in their chest and one in their head. While I'll give them points for including it, it isn't much of a selling point. The LED's in their chests are too bright and shine through most of the plastic in their chests further ruining the illusion that they are made of stone. They also required the elimination of the neck articulation in three of the four figures. Add to all of that the risk of eventual battery leakage and the features are probably more trouble than they are worth. Had they gone the extra mile and made the bodies out of non-translucent plastic and then installed a seperate piece to allow the light out, I would have been happier. If they would have found a way to make the activation crystals removeable and have them light up the figures automatically, I would have been impressed. With what they did do, I just don't care.
Value - Raph/Aguila & Don/Mono sets 4/10, others 2/10 (Add two points if you don't have the Turtles already.)Priced at right around $15, the two packs aren't a bad deal considering you are getting a basic figure worth $8 and a General for that price. In fact, if you don't have the basic carded versions of the Turtles, this is a great deal. The problem is that I already do have the carded versions of the Turtles. And with the exception of the better facial expression for Michelangelo, these sets don't offer anything that the carded versions didn't. Ideally, I would have liked to see Playmates offer the Generals as deluxe figures instead of the Street Grinding figures.
Happy Hunting:The two packs had been fairly common when the TMNT movie was first released. At that time, the most difficult part seemed to be that all four sets were not shipping together so you would have to visit multiple stores to find all four. That is less of an issue now. But there are fewer stores devoting as much space to the TMNT line due to the sheer number of summer movie tie-in lines that have been released this year. Some stores have dropped the two packs entirely so a little extra foot work may be required.