The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line has suddenly gotten a lot smaller with the introduction of a new, full Mini Mutants line. And since hailing a cab in New York when you are under three inches tall and green, the mini TMNT are going to need a ride. And Playmates Toys is ready for them with a new version of the Battle Shell. But this is no mere vehicle. It also opens up to reveal a small play set as well. It may be a small toy, but it promises big fun. Now to see if it can deliver on that promise.
Packaging - 4/10The Battle Shell comes in a window box that is meant to show off the opened toy well. There are nice big windows on the front and top to let in plenty of light. But even those windows are not adequate as all of the dark surfaces suck up the light. The toy is packaged with the back end opened up to allow you to see inside. But then they stuck a cardboard insert of the four Turtles inside which blocks your view of most of the interior. That insert also becomes an issue when it comes loose inside the box which I have seen quite a few times in stores. The box uses CGI backgrounds of a sewer and then adds several photos to show off the various features and images of the four turtles. The result is a packaging design that is very busy and quite dark. The back of the box is better with a large image of the Battle Shell open as well as several smaller photos. But none of those provide a very clear view of the interior. Ultimately, sometimes less is more. And it appears that this would have been one of those cases.
Sculpting - 9/10The Battle Shell is quite impressive, both as a vehicle and as a play set. When folded up into vehicle mode, it is a fully detailed Battle Shell. While there is some room for improvement such as sculpted headlights, it is at least as detailed as the original, full sized version if not better. It also works better with the figures in terms of scale. They didn't take any short cuts with the interior either. Once opened, the Battle Shell forms a complete, multi-tiered play set. Almost every surface has some form of control panel, ladder or something for the figures to "interact" with. There are also two large captain's chairs in which the figures can be clipped into place. They look impressive, but I was a little disappointed that there wasn't seating for all four figures or at least room to seat two figures in the front. It is also worth mentioning that Leonardo cannot sit in the chairs properly because of his swords. Minor quibbles aside, this is a very nice looking play set/vehicle.
Paint - 7/10The Battle Shell doesn't have a lot of paint applications on it, particularly on the inside. The outside does have more paint work which is also complimented with the occasional sticker such as on the lights. They did forget to paint the rims, but the rest looks good. The interior relies mostly on stickers for decoration. And given the confined spaces, I guess that is justifiable. But they aren't all applied as straight as they should be. And as usual, you have to be concerned with the long term durability with stickers.
Play Value - 8/10The Battle Shell packs a lot of features into a fairly small package. It would have been easy enough for Playmates to create a Mini Mutant scaled Battle Shell as nothing more than a vehicle. And even if you only want to use it as a vehicle, it works well. You can fit four figures inside. (barely) And it has two missile launchers mounted on the roof. But if that is not enough, then press the button on the passenger side running board and the play set will flip open. Once opened there is a set of stairs leading inside. The front chair can be slid back and turned around to face the back. There is a ladder leading up to a platform off of the driver's side and another platform up at the top of the roof panel. There is also a winch and crane mounted to the roof. It doesn't have much range though. There are other things they could have added: a working winch on the front bumper or firing missiles and movable pods along the sides.
Value - 8/10The Mini Mutants Battle Shell sells for $15 to $16. If it was only a vehicle, that would be a bit over priced. But when you throw in the play set features, it becomes quite a nice toy and well worth the price.
Happy Hunting:The Battle Shell play set has been out since the beginning of the year and is fairly common at this point. Every local store that carries the TMNT line is stocking it. That includes Toys R Us, Walmart and Target. So finding it should be no problem for most fans. But if brick and mortar stores are not your style or the weather just has you holed up and waiting for spring, Toys R Us.com has it available on line as does Walmart.com. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and fight the Foot in 1:24 scale.