In the twenty plus years that Playmates Toys has held the license they have made a lot of attempts to expand their offerings whenever possible. Some of
those ideas worked better than others. But they have never stopped trying to bring additional products to the market. One such item that they have put
out in the past has made yet another trip to store shelves is Parachuting turtle figures. They already did this just a few years ago as one of the
final offerings of for the pre-movie mini figure line. But where those figures where low cost figures meant largely for discount stores, the current
Aerial Assault figures are regular retail releases.
Packaging - 4/10The packaging for the Aerial Assault figures is one of the best I've seen since the introduction of the TMNT Movie design. The background is still a sewer, but it is much brighter. The bubble is still designed with 3D elements. But rather than the simple pipe shapes, the bubble is combined with a large insert to recreate an stone arch. The Aerial Assault Logo is printed on what is suppose to be a Subway sign. They even went so far as to add an image of the Turtle included with each set parachuting on the insert as well. It is a very cool looking design. But the figures end up looking very small in comparison. The back of the cards has all eight figures from the series. But much as with the front, the figures are sort of over shadowed by the sheer amount of space on the card. These could have fit on the standard Mini Mutant packaging with the chutes packaged behind them easily. So why redesign the packaging in such a way that it over shadows the product itself?
Sculpting - Shredder 3/10, Turtles 5/10, others 6/10Given the price of the Aerial Assault figures I was expecting completely new sculpts for these figures and for the most part, I wasn't disappointed. The Turtles themselves share the same torso and legs. But the heads and arms which are sculpted as one piece and fitted within the torso, are different for each Turtle. Of course, since they are all positioned with their arms up for a parachuting pose, the only real difference is the facial expression and the position of the bandanna. All of the villains have completely new sculpts. Unfortunately for the Shredder sculpt, throwing a figure covered in long spikes into the air wouldn't be the safest thing in the world. So his design had to be altered. The spikes are shorter and sculpted close to his body. The end result is far less intimidating than the version which came with the Dojo Play Set. Both Hun and the Foot Tech figures are quite similar to the previous Mini Mutant versions and look great. Fortunately they did not copy the style of the previous Elite Foot with the Aerial Assault version and instead designed it to more closely resemble the design from the 2003 cartoon. His head is too small, but otherwise the sculpt is decent. It's too bad that the parachute can't be removed to use this as a regular Mini Mutant figure. While the packaging proclaims that the Aerial Assault figures feature detachable parachutes. But that feature seems to have been dropped. Unless you want to cut the strings or break apart the torso of the figures, the parachutes are not removable.
Paint - Shredder 5/10, others 4/10The paint work on the Aerial Assault figures is a bit mediocre for the most part. Painting on figures that are this small, particularly when dealing with details such as the harness hardware, isn't going to be easy. Of the figures i bought, Shredder turned out the best with no significant issues. The other villain figures are close behind in terms of quality. The only reason I scored them lower is that the few issues that they do have tend to stick out more. For example, the dragon tattoo on Hun's arm is slightly blurred on the upper portion of his arm. It isn't a huge issue, but when it occurs on one of the defining traits of a figure, it is hard to overlook. The Turtles seem to be a bit sloppier overall than the other figures. Painting the hardware on their harnesses was an ambitious thing to do. But as long as they decided to try, it's only fair to hold them accountable for how they turned out.
Articulation - 0/10The articulation on the Aerial Assault figures ranges from zero to half a point of articulation per figure. The villain figures each have a single rotating joint at the waist which at best offer a couple of degrees of movement. The Turtles have no articulation at all.
Accessories - 6/10Technically the Aerial Assault figures have no accessories. None of the helmets are removable. None of the figures include any weapons. From the descriptions on the packaging, it seems that the original intention was for the parachutes themselves to be a removable accessory. While I am disappointed that they are not detachable, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the parachutes. In the past, parachuting figures like this have had simple plastic for the chutes and regular string to connect to the figure. But on the Aerial Assault figures they went all out. The chutes are made of nylon fabric and even have the edges hemmed. The strings connecting the chutes are also made of higher quality material. They even went so far as to bring the six lines from the chute together and sewed them together attaching them to the single lines coming from the backpacks. This not only make the figures look more realistic, it also means that the lines are far less prone to getting tangled than most similar figures. The only problem with the parachutes that I see is that they are not very big. They are far smaller than the chutes for the Airborne Assault figures from a few years ago. They still work, but they don't slow the figures down that much.
Value - 2/10The Aerial Assault packs sold for $10 each originally. If these were fully articulated Mini Mutant figures that also came with parachutes, that would seem like a reasonable price. But the Aerial Assault figures are only a marginal step up from the Airborne Assault figures that Playmates produced a few years ago that sold for a fraction of this price. I was fortunate enough to buy most of mine from a close out store for $6 per set. While that is more reasonable, it is still probably a bit more than they are worth.
Happy Hunting:The Aerial Assault figures were available at a number of stores including Toys R Us and Target. But as with most of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy lines, finding them is getting to be more difficult as time goes on. They are still available from the Toys R Us store here in Madison, as well as their web site. But if you are looking for a deal, try Marshalls or TJ Maxx stores. They have received some supplies of the Aerial Assault figures in recent months.