Thus far the sophomore offerings for the Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles lines have failed to impress me. The Ooze Throwing
Turtles recycle a single gimmick across four, poorly painted figures with limited articulation. The deluxe Flinger Turtles have a
couple of features that actually work reasonably well, but which come at the expense of nearly every other aspect of the figures.
So I was not too optimistic about the second series of basic vehicles. Comprised of the Sewer Cruiser (a jet ski type vehicle) and
the Drop Copter (a personal helicopter), the second series of basic vehicles is centered around the use of mutagen ooze and dumping it
on unsuspecting enemies. Carpets of the world, watch out!
Packaging - 7/10The packaging for the Drop Copter and Sewer Cruiser is not much different than that of the first series. Each has an image of the vehicle with one of the Turtles in it. The art style is interesting. It is more realistic than the art used on the vehicles from the vintage line, but still has a similar feel to it. The back of the boxes have large photos of the vehicles as well as photos of the ooze dumping features and the other basic vehicles. There is one big change though, the packaging does not seem to be as prone to damage as the first two basic vehicles were. The box itself is still made of fairly thin material, but within each is a normal corrugated cardboard liner. Combined, they provide enough structural support that I have yet to see any significant damage on the sets that I have seen in stores.
Sculpting - Drop Copter 5/10, Sewer Cruiser 6/10The Drop Copter is technically the better of the two sculpts. I was fully expecting it to be the Pogo Copter from the 80's line recycled once again. But it is a completely new sculpt. It is more detailed than the old pogo copter, but by TMNT standards it is fairly plain. Other than the two drums mounted off of the tail, it looks like a fairly normal, albeit small, helicopter. And it is small, small enough that Donatello won't even really fit properly in the cockpit due to the loop for his bo staff on his back. The sewer Cruiser has more of the TMNT aesthetic that I have come to expect. It truly looks like something that was cobbled together from scraps. It also looks like it could be incredibly fun to ride, or would be if it wasn't both fictional and lacking any actual means of propulsion. That is not to say there aren't issues. The surf board that serves as the base of the vehicle has unused holes and lacks an underside. The engine and main body have a great deal of detail, but there is very limited depth to the sculpt. But in the end, a vehicle with a realistic cooler stuck to the back and what appears to be part of a lawn chair for the seat back is just such classic TMNT style that it would be hard not to like it.
Paint - 4/10The paint work on both the Drop Copter and Sewer Cruiser is well done, but too sparse. The Drop Copter has just a few paint applications for the exhaust pipes and the shell textured panels on the tail. But other than the red ooze drums and grappling hook, there is very little color to the Drop Copter. The Sewer Cruiser is more colorful as I would expect from a vehicle in the Ninja Turtle line. But it doesn't really have a color scheme. It is simply a collection of random colors thrown together that fail to make a single, cohesive look for the vehicle.
Play Value - Drop Copter 3/10, Sewer Cruiser 5/10The Drop Copter has two major play features. There is a winch mounted on the front with a large hook on a string connected to it. The hook has a foot peg on it so that a second figure can get a lift. As a nice additional touch, they designed a ratcheting feature into the winch so that it will hold a position rather than dropping the figure back down as soon as you take your finger off the winch. But it is so stiff that I am always worried that I am going to bend or even break the winch handle. When not in use, the hook attaches to the bottom of the body of the copter, out of the way. Its ooze dropping feature is a pair of mini industrial drums mounted off of the tail. The drums can be filled with ooze and then, with the flick of a thumb, they tilt forward, allowing the ooze to flow out. If you don't want to dump slime all over, they also included two plastic 'ooze' blobs to use instead. The Sewer Cruiser also has an ooze dumping feature in the form of cooler mounted on the back. It can be tipped back to leave a trail of ooze in the Sewer Cruiser's wake. The Sewer Cruiser's other prominent feature is that it really does float. The oil drum pontoons are sealed to provide sufficient buoyancy to float both the vehicle and a figure. They are mounted a bit too high, resulting in the Sewer Cruiser floating too low with the surfboard completely underwater. Finally, the Sewer Cruiser's front wheel is mounted off center so that as it rolls along, the vehicle will bob up and down as though it is riding the waves. That's a neat touch. But if you are going to put a wheel in the front, they should have included wheels in the back. Without them, the vehicle feels incomplete.
Value - Drop Copter 4/10, Sewer Cruiser 6/10The price for the basic vehicles is $10 in most stores. It is impressive that a decade later, the price for a basic TMNT vehicle hasn't changed. Unfortunately, it is fairly clear why. The vehicles are far less complex with less paint work and limited features. While I appreciate what Playmates is doing, I think that I would rather see the price creep up $3 to $5 and maintain the higher standards of the vintage and 2003 lines. As it stands, the Drop Copter and especially the Sewer Cruiser are decent toys, but I can't help but see a lot of missed potential as well.
Happy Hunting:The second series of basic vehicles has been shipping for a few months now and should be widely available at most stores. I have seen them at Target, Walmart and Toys R Us. But just about any store that carries the TMNT line should have them.