With the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line once again dominating toy shelves, many children of the 1980's are
being treated to a wave of nostalgia as they watch their children play with the same characters that filled their
own imaginations and toy boxes so many years ago. And now there is a quintessential part of the 80's which has returned
to the store shelves along with them, ooze. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy line was not the first to incorporate
ooze. The Masters of the Universe line had the Horde Slime Pit years earlier. And the Real Ghostbusters toy line had
Ectoplasm available in several colors. But When the Ninja Turtles toy line came along the slime that had been so
common throughout the decade became synonymous with the mutagen ooze of the Ninja Turtle universe. Since then, green
mutagen ooze returned briefly in the 2003 line in the form of small canisters packaged with the mutating figures. But
it has not had it's own place on store shelves in the US for two decades. (They did sell small canisters of ooze
separately in other countries during the 2003 line.) But with the Kraang ooze featuring prominently in the new cartoon,
Playmates has seized the opportunity to introduce a whole new generation of kids to playing with ooze with the release
of individual canisters of Mutagen Ooze.
Packaging - 5/10The Mutagen Ooze comes packaged in a small, kid-sized canister modeled after the ones in the cartoon. That canister is then wrapped around four sides in cardboard. There is very little space on that cardboard. By the time that they fit the basics such as the TMNT logo, product name and an image of the four turtles, there is only enough room left for a choking hazard warning and a brief mention of the inclusion of the mini turtle figurines. The back of the package is dominated by the care and clean up instructions for the ooze. So the packaging isn't very impressive visually. But it doesn't really have to be. Instead it is designed to be as unobtrusive as possible and let the product sell itself. It also isn't very rugged. The cardboard material is quite thin both in its thickness and width in several spots. So it is easily damaged. There is also a small lip on the top of the front panel formed by gluing two layers of cardboard together. If that glue does not hold, or if the exceedingly small piece of tape that is used to tape the two ends of the packaging together, the canister can easily fall out entirely. The packaging isn't so bad that it detracts from the mutagen ooze overall. But it also does very little to help sell it.
Container - 9/10The canisters are about a third of the size that they are usually shown as in the cartoon, but they do include the hexagonal caps on either end. The caps also have the Kraang logo of a circle of hexagon indentation around a central hexagon. To open the canisters, the cap on one end pulls off revealing a plug in the end of the clear tube. Once the plug is pulled out, the ooze can be poured out into the waiting hands of any TMNT fans, or onto the heads of unsuspecting TMNT figures. The canisters look great. But they have two small issues. The first is that removing the caps is not that easy. To begin with, only one end can be opened with that cap being labeled with a small sticker. Once the decorative cap is removed, there is another cap which plugs into the clear portion of the canister. The inner plug has two small indentations along the lip to make its removal easier, but only once you notice that they are there. The second issue comes when you want to put the ooze back into the canister. The canister is so narrow that they viscous ooze doesn't want to flow back into it, especially when a bubble of air gets trapped in the bottom. The canisters are a very attractive design, but not the most functional.
Ooze - 8/10The formula for creating ooze seems to be pretty much the same today as it was twenty years ago. It is quite viscous, far more so than how the mutagen is portrayed in the cartoon. That is both good and bad. It makes it easier to clean up since the ooze will stick to itself far more readily than anything else. But as mentioned earlier, it does make getting the ooze back into its canister a bit challenging. The ooze does a good job of staying together, but it will leave a slight residue of ooze. So getting it on fabrics or carpet is a bad idea. But it does clean up relatively easily with just a bit of soap and water. (The instructions suggest cleaning with laundry detergent.) I have heard a number of people complain about the smell of the ooze to the point of making it unbearable. And the smell can linger on your hands even after repeated washings. I have not noticed the smell, but my sense of smell is so hampered by numerous allergies as to be nearly non-existent. The final thing to note about the ooze is the color. While previous TMNT oozes were either a pale green or purple for the vintage retro-mutagen ooze. The new mutagen ooze is a aqua color with a slight pearllized finish. It looks very cool and far more interesting than the traditional colors. But of course it still can't really accurately reproduce the multicolored ooze from the current cartoon.
Bonus Figures - 6/10The return of mutagen ooze should be enough to make most TMNT fans at least a bit excited. But what will truly set off a wave of nerd-gasms is the inclusion of unmutated turtles as bonus figures. They are a great nod to the mini figures that were included with the Mutagen Ooze in the 1980's. But where as the vintage line had generic turtle figures, the new ooze comes with a unique mini figure for each of the four turtles. Each has their signature weapons strapped to their shell and is molded in the skin color of each turtle. They are even sculpted with a slight size difference just like the figures. The mini figures are really cute. They would look even better with a little paint work. There is a part of me that wishes that they had gone with just regular turtles instead of giving them weapons and masks so they would actually look like the Turtles before they were exposed to the ooze. But that is just me suffering from a case of always wanting something I can't have. I guess the ooze may not be green, but the grass on the other side still is.
For those interested in a specific mini figure, they are packaged as blind box figures with the mini figures submerged in the ooze within the canisters. You may be able to get a slight view of the figure inside. But I've yet to see a canister where the mini figure was recognizable from the exterior. However, as is the case with many blind box packages, there is a code provided that will identify which figure is in each canister. Near the bottom of each canister is a seven digit code painted onto the canister itself. The last digit of the code will indicate which figure is inside:
Value - 7/10The retail price of the Mutagen Ooze is $7 to $8 depending upon where you buy it. That isn't a bad price for the ooze, canister and mini figure. Of course, if the smell is too much and you can't use the ooze, or you just don't trust your kids to not get it on the carpets, then you are losing out on most of the value.
Happy Hunting:The Mutagen Ooze is available in stores now. Target, Walmart and Toys R Us all sell it as do many other stores no doubt. If you are having an issue finding it in stock locally, it is also available from Toys R Us' web site.