Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtle-Comm Review

Turtle-comm front Turtle-comm rear

When it comes to Ninja Turtle merchandise, I've found that I've had to limit the scope of my collecting. There are so many Ninja Turtle products hitting the market or that have come and gone over its various incarnations, that without some limits you could get burried under it all. (There's more than a slight risk of that even with self imposed limits.) So I have generally ignored the role playing items. But with the new incarnation, Playmates has created a new version of the Turtle-comm. So I decided to ignore my normal limits and check it out.

Packaging - 5/10

The Turtle-comm comes on a blister card similar in size and style to the cards for the basic figures. The bubble is actually a bit larger, covering almost the entire card. The toy is packaged in the middle of the blister with a number of inserts all around it for the logo, "try me" feature and identifing the toy. There is another insert shaped like one of the Turtle's hand packaged behind the Turtle-comm as though it is holding it. The individual inserts look nice. But with all of them together, they overwhelm the toy itself. The insert for the logo is also quite small. If they had printed it on the top of the card and made the bubble smaller, it would have looked better. The back of the card shows the front of the toy and images of the four Turtles and their functions. The photo used is decent. But it really doesn't add anything that can't be seen by looking at the actual toy on the front. In that regard, it is kind of a waste of space. In the end, that describes the packaging in general, not particularly attractive or ugly. It's just sort of there.

Sculpting/Design - 5/10

The sculpting of the Turtle-comm is very close to the design of the T-phones in the show. But what they get wrong makes it very wrong. When they are shown in the show, the back of the phones slope naturally to a thin edge. The Turtle-comm tapers down a bit, but then has thick blunt sides. The toy has a slight, rough texture where the T-phones in the show don't. Playmates got the pattern right. They included the two black plates in the center. But the missteps on the shape and texture means that even knowing that it is suppose to be the T-phone, I don't recognize it from any number of turtle shell shaped toys that Playmates has produced in the last 25 years when I look at it. Then there is the front. In the show, the T-phones appear to have smart phone style, flat glass screens. Understandably, a glass screen is not an option for a toy in this price range. But the black plastic screen area with four buttons is not a great alternative. And it ends up being another major feature of the Tphone to which the toy is just not able to compare.

Paint - 6/10

There are only a handful of paint applications on the Turtle-comm. And fortunately, they are all on areas that are raised and separate from the surrounding areas. Thus they should be very easy to paint. And the paint work did come out very well. There are also a handfull of stickers for the images of the four Turtles and the TMNT logo at the bottom. As I said, everything is neat and well done, but the limited effort put into the paint work results in an overall underwhelming final product.

Features - 4/10

The Turtle-comm has four functions, one for each of the Turtles. By pressing Leonardo's button, Leo will narrate a brief adventure including directions for how to fight the enemy. (Kick left, punch right etc...) Pressing Mikey's button will result in a joke. Donnie will ask a trivia question which can be answered either by pressing Leo's button for yes or Mikey for no or selecting one of the four Turtles. Selecting Raphael will result in instructions to perform certain exercises. Some are basic such as doing five push ups or jumping jacks. But they will also recycle some of the Leonardo lines and instruct you to perform certain attacks instead. All together, that is a pretty ambitious design for a toy. And if Playmates was able to pull it off, the Turtle-comm would have been a pretty cool toy. Unfortunately it falls quite short. To start with, they did not use the actual voice actors for the Turtles. For a toy whose point is to allow kids to hear from their favorite Turtle, not using the correct voice actors is unacceptable. The Turtle-comm also has a fairly limited number of phrases. They attempted to pad that out by reusing phrases for multiple purposes. But the user is required to confirm that they want to continue repeatedly in the process making the entire thing quite repetitive. It may keep an extremely young child amused for a while, but it is going to quickly get on most people's nerves.

Value - 4/10

The Turtle-comm runs between $13 and $15 depending upon where you find it. It had a lot of promise. And if it had been able to deliver on that promise in a few areas, that would have been a pretty good price. But for a role playing item that doesn't really look like it is suppose to and is annoying after more than a few minutes of play, that money could be much better spent elsewhere.

Happy Hunting:

The Turtle-com has been shipping to stores for a few months now. All of the usual stores for TMNT toys are carrying it. And I have not seen too many instances where it was sold out. So finding it should be fairly easy. It is also available online from Target and Toys R Us's web sites for those who prefer that option.

Box Front

Box back

belt clip

turtle-comm side view

2012 and 2003 Turtle-comms 2012 and 2003 Turtle Coms (open) screen