The action figure play set is fast becoming a lost art. Back in the eighties, almost every line that came out had a play set
to go with it. Castle Greyskull, Snake Mountain, the Terrordrome, The Hall of Justice, the Ghostbusters Fire House, Boulder
Hill and any number of different Bat Caves gave kids whole worlds in which their action figures to live, play and of course
fight. And they were a lot cooler than having their villains hiding out in Barbi's Dream House. But these days there are
not many companies that still bother with play sets. Playmates Toys is one of the few that does. While their Hover HQ play
set wasn't terribly impressive. They've made another attempt with the TMNT Movie line in the form of the Monster Action
Tower. While it may not be the full Max Winters Tower from the movie, it does appear to have considerable promise.
Packaging - 6/10The Monster Action Tower comes in a windowless box with large photos of the play set and it's features on the front. It gives a nice view of the toy, but the picture seems to have been distorted to fit on the box. The Max Winters figure looks like it would barely fit in the play set while it looks like there should be room for four or five figures on the first floor with Donatello. The distortion becomes more obvious when you see the undistorted version on the back of the box. The back aslo has a short description of the plot of the movie, though it is a bit distorted from the actual events of the movie. It would be nice if they had included more than one view of the tower to give a better idea of what to expect from it. But I suppose they have to do what they can with the limited space that they have.
Sculpting - 4/10The Monster Action Tower is very sparse on details on the inside. There is no attempt to add any sculpted detail to the interior other than the the floors. And they didn't even bother to include a full floor for the ground floor level. It is just a cardboard panel. On the plus side, the exterior is sculpted with architicural details which will make it a great background piece.
Paint - 4/10The paint work on the Tower is about like the paint, minimal. In the interior, the rug on the second floor is painted and that is it. There are several decals applied on the wall panels and in the elevator. They help. But they don't contrast much with color of walls. The exterior has some painted details. There aren't many, but you wouldn't expect the exterior of a skyscraper to be very colorful.
Accessories - 6/10There are only two accessories included with the play set. The first is a Jersey Devil figure. This is the same figure as was included in the Jersey Devil and Spider Aracknor two pack. The only difference is the its coloring is a few shades lighter. It's nice to have something included, but I would much rather have a different one of the thirteen monsters, one I didn't already have. The other accessory is the construction crane. This is a pretty cool addition. It can be mounted on any of the ramparts ontop of the roof, on top of the elevator or in the center of the roof with the help of an additional panel out of the second level's floor. The crane can rotate 360 degrees or more and then spins back into its original position or close to it. You can even get it to lock into place and be released by pressing a button on top of the crane. Of course you can pull out the string from the crane to lower the attached hook and then wind it back up using the crank on the side of the crane. The hook includes a peg to fit into the feet of figures. You are also supposed to be able to hook it onto the top of the elevator to raise and lower it. But the foot peg keeps the hook from attaching with more than just the end of the hook which is not strong enough to pull the elvator without bending.
Play Value - 7/10The Monster Action Tower has quite a few different avenues of play. On the rooftop level, you have the spinning crane. On the third floor you have the seal into which the thirteen monsters need to be sealed. The seal doesn't leave much room for anthing else on the floor though. But they did manage to squeeze in one more feature, a collapsing corner of the floor. Pressing a button on the edge releases the corner dropping the unsuspecting figure down through another, similar panel on the second floor and down to the ground. The second floor is suppose to be a dojo. There are a couple of weapon racks on the walls and a training dummy. You can also remove a section of the floor to create a path all the way from the roof to the bottom floor. The training dummy looks good, but it is tiny. It should be twice this size to be in scale with the figures. It can also be turned around using a knob under the floor. The ground floor has two more weapon holders. Finally there is the elevator that can travel between any of the three floors. While none of the action features are terribly impressive, taken together along with the display value makes for pretty good overall toy.
Value - 6/10Playmates scaled back this play set. The Monster Action Tower retails for just $35. That's good news, because had this been a $50 toy, I would have been quite disappointed. But at the lower price, the Monster Action Tower offers a decent range of features. And while the individual floors are not terribly large, all together there is a fair amount of space.
Happy Hunting:The Tower play set is available at Toys R Us which is where I bought mine. Depending on the size of the store, you may also still be able to find it at some Target or Walmart stores as well as KB Toy stores (if you still have them in your area.).