I've finally managed to catch up with all of the figures that Playmates has released to start out the newest incarnation
of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line. But this being Playmates, you can bet that they won't be willing to settle
with just the action figures. They are a company that loves their vehicles and accessories. So it's no surprise that they
wasted no time in putting out some new rides for the Green Teens. First up is the initial series of basic vehicles which
includes the Rippin' Rider, a chopper style motorcycle, and the Sewer Spinnin' Skateboard & Stunt Ramp.
Packaging - 5/10The new packaging for the basic vehicles is surprisingly small, just nine and a half inches by seven and a half inches tall and only two and a half inches thick. It's actually kind of hard to believe they could even fit a motorcycle in the box for the Rippin' Rider. There are no windows on the boxes to allow you to see the actual toy, so instead they used large illustrations of the toys which should please fans of the vintage toys. On the back there is a photo of the toy, the features and the other basic vehicle in the assortment. The packaging looks nice even if it isn't impressive. But it does have one other significant draw back, the boxes are easily damaged. I saw a number of damaged boxes while trying to find the two sets I ended up buying. Some were torn wide open. Considering how quickly these toys were flying off the shelves, it's safe to assume that that damage wasn't from prolonged shelf wear.
Sculpting - Rippin' Rider 6/10, Sewer Skateboard 1/10The Rippin' Rider cycle is almost the same body as the Sewer Cycle and the Battle Bikes from the 2003 line, with a new front fork. The Sewer Skateboard is an all new sculpt. Unfortunately there was almost no effort put into the Sewer Skateboard's sculpting at all. It is ridiculously oversized and horribly dull to look at. There are so many companies producing great looking, accurate skateboards that are in scale with the TMNT figures that Playmates should be embarrassed to put a product like this on store shelves. The Rippin' Rider is a bit better since it was based on a previous vehicle. They did change the gas tank, switching it to a smooth tank though they did leave the shell like rim around the edge. I'm surprised that they went through the effort and I'm not really sure it is an improvement. The new front fork is a nice, chopper style design. It is a bit too small. But not so bad that most people would notice.
Paint - Rippin' Rider 2/10, Skateboard 3/10The paint work on the Rippin' Rider is somewhat limited, and the color palette is even more limited. the result is that with the exception of a couple of spots where the oil tank is painted bight green to match the front fender and headlight, the rest of the body almost looks unpainted.
The Sewer Skateboard has only one paint application, the platform that holds the figure. It tries to make up for it with several decals for the deck and the sidewalls of the tires. The deck is decent. But decals for the sidewalls don't match the color of the tires and I have serious doubts about their durability in that location.
Play Value - Rippin' Rider 2/10, Sewer Skateboard 5/10The Rippin' Rider has two small projectiles in a mount on the side of the front fork. They don't actually fire, but you can flick the back of the projectile to "fire" it, which never works very well. The Sewer Skateboard has an interesting feature. The rear wheels are connected to a friction powered motor. Roll the skateboard along a surface a few times , set it down and let it run. But what makes it unique is that there is a switch on the underside that allows you to choose to power one or both rear wheels. By switching the power off to one wheel and adjusting the position of the figure on top, you can make the skateboard perform some very basic tricks. I will give them credit for doing something different. But in the end, it really only does two things: go forward when powered by both wheels or turn if only powered by one. The instructions claim that it does eleven tricks. But eight of those eleven are just variations of turning around, either on its own, after hitting a wall, hitting multiple walls or going up the ramp. The other three are all release the skateboard and let it go forward. The only saving grace to the skateboard is that they included a ramp with it. The ramp is actually of more interest to me than the skateboard. But once again, there are so many really cool skate park accessories available in recent years. By comparison, this is very simplistic.
Value - Sewer Skateboard 2/10, Rippin' Rider 4/10The first two basic vehicles for the Nickelodeon TMNT line are setting the bar low, REALLY low even at the retail price of just $10. The Rippin' Rider is a decent base vehicle. But the Rippin' Rider is such a stripped down version of a mold that has been used numerous times and will probably show up again. But for the price, it might be worth it just to have as a toy as it is easier to find than tracking down some of the older versions. The Sewer Skateboard is a comically oversized skateboard with a pretty basic play feature. A TMNT scaled skateboard ramp is something I've been interested in for quite a while. But there are much better ramp sets available starting for around the same price as this set. And I have no doubt that Playmates Toys will put out other, better skateboards in the TMNT line in the near future. Even if they don't, I think a kid would have more fun playing with a Tech Deck board and ramps.
Happy Hunting:The basic vehicles are carried in most stores that carry the TMNT toy line. I have seen them in Toys R Us, Target, Walmart and Kmart. They are also carried by most of those stores' web sites. Finding them in stock has been tough leading up to Christmas. Hopefully they will start showing up in greater numbers once again after the holidays.