I'm still working my way through all of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures that Playmates has put out to go with
the new cartoon on Nickelodeon. But the resurgence of popularity for the green Teens doesn't just mean new toys. It has
also helped to clear out any old merchandise left over from the tail end of the line in 2009. The best example of this are
the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Batsu figures which have recently shown up. For those that missed them the first time
around, Batsu was NECA's answer to minimalist action figures done in the style of urban vinyl figures. Essentially you
take start with one generic body and paint it to create multiple different characters. For toy companies, this idea was
a potential gold mine. Entire lines could be made with just a single sculpt but the figures still sold for just as
much if not more than traditional action figures. The trend didn't last long, though Hasbro still has a few offerings under
their Mighty and Mini Muggs lines. By 2009, Playmates was drastically cutting back their TMNT offerings. But NECA took advantage
of their license to put out Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle versions as a part of their urban vinyl style Batsu line.
Unfortunately the limitations to their license meant that they couldn't be sold in mass market stores like Toys R Us which
carried NECA's other Batsu figures. But three years later, someone must have asked Playmates nicely (or found a loophole in
the license) because they are now showing up in Toys R Us Express and Toys R Us Outlet stores.
Packaging - 5/10The Batsu figures are packaged in small window boxes. Each has the figure is displayed in a window that wraps from the front panel up to the top panel. The boxes are then adorn with illustrations of that particular Ninja Turtle as well as a cartoon panel for the back of the box. The graphics used on the boxes are cute. And it is cool that they went to the trouble of matching the graphics to each figure. I also like the use of pseudo pointillism style used for everything but the Batsu logos as a nod to comic roots. But there are a number of issues. The worst is that the actual toys are not that well displayed. The figure is packaged too low in the box so that the bottom third is not visible while the top third of the window is just showing off empty box. The figure is further obscured by the illustration on the right side of the box. I like the illustrations. But I would rather see the actual toy. The color used further compounds the issue. And I do mean color, singular. You have a green toy on a green background with green symbols on it, viewed through a window in a box that is overwhelmingly green. The packaging doesn't hold up well either. The set I purchased in 2009 had some of the weapons come loose in the package. The set I bought recently has one of the windows coming loose. If these had actually been on a shelf for three years, that would be expected. But this doesn't appear to be long term shelf wear and I suspect that these figures spent most of those three years in a shipping carton in a warehouse. The last issue I have is admittedly a minor nit pick. The comic image used on the back of each box has dialog in it that would lead you to believe that it is part of a series. It isn't a big deal, I just find it annoying every time I see it because I feel like I'm missing something.
Sculpting - 3/10All four Batsu Turtles share the same sculpt as you would expect. Unfortunately the Batsu body is one of my least favorite design for one of these lines. The body is quite large. And when viewed from the side, it makes the figures look like they have a pot belly. The head shape is fine. But the fact that there is no neck and the connection between the head and body is at an angle that also makes the figure look either fat or musclebound. It might work better for beefier video game characters which seems to be what most of NECA's Batsu figures are based on. When you then add in the tiny legs and extra long arms and the Batsu figures seem like they are Super Deformed versions of the Sumo Turtles from the vintage line. On the positive side, the feet are positioned just right to make the figures quite stable. And that is important, because even though I keep comparing these to vinyl figures, they are not vinyl and don't appear to be hollow like vinyl figures. So they have quite a bit of weight. That works to their advantage when it comes time to hold their weapons without adversely changing the center of gravity and causing the figure to fall over.
Paint - 8/10With a line like this, the paint work is by far, the most important part of the figure. Without it you just have a generic, nondescript body. It looks great. The colors work well and the thick black outlines are enough to give a sense of depth where none exists. Each Turtle has a unique facial expression, though there is nothing that really sets any given turtle apart from his brothers. There are a few minor quality control issues such as lines that don't quite line up properly. But they are very minor to the point of only being noticeable when viewed in great detail.
Articulation - 2/10The Batsu figures have three rotating joints: the shoulders and the neck. I was expecting articulation for the legs. But given how well the legs are positioned to make the figures balanced, I don't mind the lack of leg articulation. I'm more annoyed by how the neck is attached at a 45 degree angle. The figures can sort of look to the side, but look very unnatural beyond just a few degrees.
Accessories - Raph 5, others 6/10Each figure comes with their signature weapons (or weapon in the case of Donatello who only has one bo staff) The weapons are actually one of the most impressive parts of the Batsu figures. Each is fully painted. And the detailing on Don's bo and Leo's katanas is impressive. Mike's nunchuks are a bit lacking in detail. But they do have a metal chain on each one which is a nice touch. I'm not as impressed with Raph's sais which are not as detailed as Leo and Don's weapons and the prongs are extremely thick so they don't look very dangerous.
Value - (original price) 2/10The original price for these figures was around $15 each. If you happen to be a fan of both the TMNT and vinyl style figures, that is a reasonable price for a retail figure. But I am not a big fan of vinyl figures. So to me you are paying almost twice what a regular TMNT figure was selling for at that time for figures that aren't that unique. That is probably the reason why this is about the only line of TMNT figures which I didn't bother to buy a set of figures to open initially. However, now that they are popping up at close out stores for just $5.99, their value is greatly improved. I still wouldn't consider them to be a must buy. But they are a neat oddity in the TMNT history.
Happy Hunting:The TMNT Batsu figures were originally only available from specialty retailers. And they are still available from many of them. But they have also begun to spring up at Toys R Us Express and Toys R Us Outlet stores. (They don't seem to be at any regular Toys R Us stores or their web site though.) So that is your best bet to find them at a reasonable price.