I'm still trying to get caught up with all of the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys that Playmates has released this fall.
Say what you will about Playmates, they certainly can produce plenty of product when there is a market for it. When I saw
the chart they showed early this year listing almost twenty new basic figures to be released throughout this year, I was
skeptical. But with this sixth series, we have gotten 18 of those 19 figures they promised. Only the Newtralizer figure
has yet to be released. But what has been released is Spider Bytez, a new version of Shredder with a removable helmet, new
versions of the Turtles in their pre-teen forms and a 7 pack of Mousers. It's a nice selection of characters. You get one of the
earliest 'mutants of the week.' The young Turtles were a fan favorite when they were produced for the 2003 line. And of course
you finally have the means of easily and cheaply building an army of Mousers. It seems like a recipe for a very popular series
Packaging - 7/10The packaging for the new figures is the same has it has been for all of the previous basic figures. It looks good, provides information about the figure/character on the back, and shows off all of the various figures that are available. It's nice to have a consistent design since it means your entire collection looks great together. The only downsides to the design is ease with which the cards can be damaged and the fact that the small size means you can't get very large figures into the basic line. But I don't think that Playmates would be making larger scale figures any way.
Sculpting - Turtles in Training 4/10, Shredder 5/10, Spider Bytez 6/10, Mousers 9/10The sculpting for these figures is hit or miss. The sculpt for Shredder is the same as the one used for the Comic Con exclusive figure, so I won't bother rehashing all of my comments about it here. It is a nice sculpt, but they made a few odd decisions about the pose. The Turtles in Training figures are cute, but not very detailed. And like Shredder, they are sculpted in action poses. But unlike Shredder's pose, the ones used for the Turtles in Training are even more extreme. The figures can't even stand up straight. Spider Bytez is a mixed bag. The figure is quite accurate to the show design and includes a fair amount of detail. The limbs that come out of the top of the figure should be a bit thicker and the body could use some texture to make it look like hair. But of course the real issue is with the size. The figure is about half the size that it should be. In the show, Spider Bytez was as tall as the Turtles at the top of his body. His figure only comes up to Donatello's waist. It's annoying, but certainly not surprising. The sad thing is that there is no real reason for the figure to be this small. With the top limbs removed, there was plenty of space for a larger figure in the package. And given that the body and legs are a hollow shell, making it larger should not have been that difficult or significantly more expensive. Finally there are the mousers. I was expecting Playmates to just reuse the mousers from the 2003 line. But these are a brand new sculpt. They are slightly shorter and much thinner. The design is much closer to the how they appeared in the original Mirage comics as well.
Paint - Turtles in Training 3/10, Spider Bytez 4/10, Mousers 5/10, Shredder 6/10The paint work on the Mousers and Turtles in Training is quite limited. For the Mousers, only the sensor panel on the forehead is painted. But the paint applications on all of the mousers is well done. On the other hand, there is more paint work on the Turtles in Training, but it is sloppy. The paint work on Spider Bytez is more intricate and well executed. But for all of the paint work that was done, there is still a great deal of paint work missing.Things such as the trim around the mouth, the rings on the spider limbs and the rings around the legs are all unpainted. As it is now, the figure looks decent. Had they fully painted it with the same level of quality, it would have been far more impressive. Finally there is Shredder. The paint work on him is not as elaborate as the SDCC version of course. But for the most part, what is missing is not a huge loss. The exception is the scar on his face which now looks more like a giant birthmark.
Articulation - Turtles in Training 3/10, others 6/10Shredder is relatively well articulated. He could really use some elbow joints though. (Check out the review for the SDCC version for more detailed thoughts.) Spider Bytez has rotating and hinged shoulders, ball joints for each of the four limbs on top and a single hinge joint in each one as well. I don't mind the lack of articulation for his legs as it means that they provide a very stable base of support for the figure. But he could really use at least one additional hinge joint on each of the spider legs so that the ends could be adjusted. The mousers have rotating hip joints, a ball jointed neck and the top of their heads opens on a hinge. For their size, that is all of the articulation that I was expecting. And it allows them to replicate most of what you see them doing in the cartoon. The one limitation is that they can only stand on flat surfaces as the lack of ankle joints means that they can't adjust for rough surfaces or adjust their weight to stand on one foot. The Turtles in Training have rotating waists and necks and rotating and hinged shoulders. The limited articulation can't make up for the awkward positioning of the arms. The waist joints don't serve much purpose and looks very strange since it splits the shells.
Accessories - Mousers & Spider Bytez 0/10, Shredder 7/10, Turtles in Training 5/10Neither Spider Bytez nor the Mousers come with any accessories. That's fine as neither need any. Shredder comes with a removable helmet and cape, the same ones that were included with the SDCC version. The Turtles in Training each have a new version of their signature weapon, sculpted to look like they are made out of wood and string. They are cute but bend easily.
Value - Turtles in Training 3/10, Spider Bytez 4/10, Shredder & Mousers 7/10As usual, the retail price for the basic TMNT figures is $9 to $10. Though there seem to be quite a few sales going on for the holiday season. The Turtles in Training are cute, but they are not great figures and unlike the 2003 series that gave you all four Toddler Turtles in one package, here you have to buy two. Spider Bytez is much like Leatherhead, a decent figure in its own right. But the scale issue means that he doesn't work well with the other figures in the line. Shredder and the mousers are the highlights of this series. The new Shredder is a significant improvement over the first Shredder. And a means of quickly amassing an army of Mousers has been something Turtle fans have been waiting for for twenty five years.
Happy Hunting:All five figures are now showing up in stores in decent quantities. Oddly, this series did not start shipping at the same time. The Leonardo and Donatello turtles in training pack began to show up in stores almost immediately after the previous series, followed shortly thereafter by the Raphael and Michelangelo set. But the last three didn't start showing up until weeks later. Ordinarily that would be very annoying and making finding Shredder, Spider Bytez and the mousers difficult. But Playmates Toys has a track record of keeping figures in production for a while, even after they rotate in other, newer figures. So if you have a bit of patience, you should have no trouble finding all five figures at the store of your choice.