When Playmates Toys announced their line up of basic figures for the year at Toy Fair and it included almost twenty new figures, that seemed
ambitious. But as the year comes to a close, not only did they manage to produce all but one of those announced figures, they have
even snuck in an extra set of turtles at the end with the newly released Battle Shell Turtles. Capitalizing on the success of the
large Battle Shell Turtles from last year, Playmates applied the same feature into a set of basic sized figures while at the same time
using the opportunity to give us updated, versions of the Turtles without any crazy costumes that are more accurate to the current
Packaging - 8/10The Battle Shell Turtles are part of the basic figure assortment and for the most part, have the normal packaging that we have seen with all of the previous basic figures. But Playmates did make one creative alteration just for these figures, a small plastic window in the card itself to allow you to look through the card and see the back of the figure. I have to give them credit for creativity and for the fact that the window works really well. You can see the open shell clearly without the figures having to be packaged in a weird position. And the only thing that was sacrificed to create it was the character bio on the back of the cards. But you shouldn't really need background information on the four Turtles at this point. Even parents should be fairly familiar with them since half of them grew up with the Turtles already. There is still an issue with the packages being quite susceptible to damage. When my figures arrived after ordering them online, half of the cards had moderate to significant damage.
Sculpting - 7/10The Turtles that were included with the first series of basic figures were well sculpted, but not entirely accurate to the show. The Battle Shell versions of the Turtles improves on those issues, but seems to over correct. The head sculpts no longer look like a combination of the new and past designs. They are also slightly smaller which works well with the body proportions. The shape of the feet has been corrected as well. Where the first series Turtles had quite a bit of texture sculpted into the figures, the Battle Shell Turtles have a much cleaner look. It is probably closer to the show's design, and if they were fully painted, the new sculpts would be terrific. But with just the bare plastic, they end up looking quite plain. They also redesigned the knee and elbow pads, making the pads themselves more pronounced. But now they seem to stick out too much. They barely look like they are part of the band that wraps around the limbs. The Battle Shell Turtles are certainly better than the first series figures. But there are still facets of the originals that I prefer.
Paint - 5/10The paint work on the Battle Shell Turtles is fairly limited. The pads and wrappings on the arms and legs are painted as are the teeth and eyes. Interestingly, the bandannas seem to be separate pieces of plastic which are then glued into place. The paint work is very clean and well executed. It's just a shame that there wasn't more effort put into detail work.
Articulation - 8/10The Battle Shell Turtles have nineteen points of articulation, twenty if you count the hinge for the rear shell. That includes:
Accessories - Don 5/10, Mike 7/10, Leo & Raph 6/10Each of the Battle Shell Turtles comes with their signature weapon which can be stored on their belt, a pair of throwing stars and an additional weapon. Leonardo has two throwing knives. Raphael has two half sais. Donatello has a three segment staff. And Michelangelo has a sickle and chain. The sickle and chain is a nice addition for Michelangelo since he uses that weapon often in the show. The extras for Raphael and Leonardo are nice, but a bit redundant. The three piece staff that comes with Donatello is rendered all but worthless since the lack of flexibility of the chains means that it is permanently stuck in its folded position. Actually it is worse than worthless since it blocks access to the throwing stars.
Value - 7/10The Battle Shell feature doesn't really add much to these figures. It gives you a place to store a couple of extra weapons, but they could have done that just by altering the belts. But the opening shells also doesn't take anything way from them either. And even without the feature, the Battle Shell Turtles are still a significant improvement over the original Turtles in terms of show accuracy. I don't know if it would be worth the $9 or $10 price tag to replace them if you already have the first series figures. But if you have held off on buying the originals for any reason, the Battle Shell Turtles offer a superior alternative.
Happy Hunting:The Battle Shell Turtles are shipping now. I have seen them in limited quantities at Target stores here in Madison, WI. I received my figures from Toys R Us's web store. They are still listed there now, though at the moment they are not available to order. But given a little time, I'm certain that the Battle Shell Turtles will be readily available from any store that carries the Ninja Turtles toy line. Whether that will happen yet before Christmas will depend on how quickly the existing stock of basic figures sells through in your area.