Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Interactive Turtles

group photo
Playmates Toys loves their features. And they love trying new features. Some of them don't work out as well in plastic as they did on paper. At other times they turn out surprisingly well. But they are always worth a look. So when Playmates announced the Interactive Talking Turtles last year, my curiosity was piqued. The concept is simple, it's an electronic talking feature, but with an interesting twist. Each figure is supposed to be able to recognize the presence and identity of other interactive talking figures and react appropriately. That sounds like a tall order. But I'm really hoping that the Interactive Talking Turtles will be one of Playmates' hits rather than an unfortunate miss.

Packaging - 4/10

The Interactive Talking Turtles come in two varieties. Leonardo, Raphael and Michelangelo are all available as individual figures. All three are also available packaged with Donatello as a two pack. In either case, the IT Turtles come in open front packages similar to those of the previous giant figures. The front, sides and top are open and the figures exposed. The packaging is different in that the back is boxed in to surround the accessories which are displayed there. Both the single figures and two packs share the same four photos for the back of the package. I normally would be unhappy about the lack of individualized packages. But since the draw of these figures is suppose to be the interaction between the four figures, it makes sense. But there are two significant issues here. The first is that the packaging doesn't hold up well enough to wear and tear. I was late in buying my figures. And by the time I went to buy a set, I had a very hard time finding a set that didn't have some amount of damage. The other issue I have is that I don't feel like the photos do an adequate job of explaining the interactive talking feature, much less selling it. They show some of the phrases that the figures can say. But that is about it. For the price and the ambition of these figures, they deserve more.

Sculpting - 6/10

The sculpting for the Turtles themselves is pretty good. The head sculpts are the best of the 11" figures so far. It's when you get to the belts and accessories that things become a bit hit or miss. They look nice. There's plenty of detail. But for both Leonardo and Raphael I think they step over the line. It seems perfectly in character for Donatello to be carrying around a bunch of tech gadgets. And on Michelangelo, the gadgets are fairly limited: a tablet like device on his belt and a headset microphone. But when you start strapping a keyboard across Leonardo's chest or putting a head mounted display on Raphael and it feels more like the Fast Forward Turtles than the Nickelodeon versions. The final straw comes from the loops to hold the weapons for everyone but Leonardo. (He has separate sheaths for his swords.) Raphael has two loops on the back of his belt to hold his sais. They are a bit tight but will work. Michelangelo also has two loops on the back of his belt, though normally there should be four to fit each end of both pairs of nunchuks. They also appear to be far too small, but they are flexible enough to fit the weapons if you first pry them open. Donatello has the same problem, but it is even worse. It can work, but it won't fit around the center of the staff due to the thickness of the wrappings. And for both Leonardo and Donatello, when the weapons are clipped onto the belts, they completely block the on/off switch. In the end, the Interactive Talking Turtles' design just isn't as well thought out as it should be. It's not bad, it just needs more refinement.

Paint - 7/10

The paint work on these figures is basic. The general details on the figures such as the wrappings are all painted. The only thing that they did overlook is not painting Raphael's exposed tongue. There is still plenty of detail that could have been painted on the belts. But that is not essential.

Articulation - 5/10,

The Interactive Talking Turtles have fifteen points of articulation:
  • ball jointed neck
  • hinged and rotating shoulders
  • rotating wrists
  • hinged and rotating hips
  • hinged and rotating joint under the knees
The leg articulation is decent, though the shells restrict the forward movement more than I would like. The lack of an elbow joint is disappointing as well. On the positive side, the figures are made of lightweight material which helps to allow the joints to easily hold a position.

Accessories - 6/10

Each of the Interactive Talking Turtles comes with their signature weapons. The weapons are a little unnecessarily overdone with tech kibble, but they don't look bad. Leonardo also has a pair of sheaths to hold his swords. Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael all have a small keypad device that attaches to the back of their hand. Once you figure out how they fit on the figures, they are cute. Unfortunately there is nothing in the instructions about what they are or where they go. I only figured it out based on where they were in one of the pictures on the back of the package. I also don't quite understand why Donatello is the only Interactive Turtle to not get one.

Feature - 8/10

It's not hard to tell what the main feature of the Interactive Talking Turtles, it's right there in the name. When you press a button on the back of each figure, they say one of a great number of phrases. (It's worth noting that the buttons are very well incorporated though they can stick.) The interactive part starts only once you buy more than one figure. Each figure has a translucent sensor on the front of the belt. When the figures face each other and one figure is activated, the other figures will respond. The feature works well. There is a fairly large assortment of phrases for each figure, including a number of them designed specifically to respond to phrases programmed into other figures. I usually am not a big fan of talking features. But this may be the best executed one I have seen. It does have a few drawbacks though. Needing to have more than one figure is one. The fact that the phrases you hear when you activate the first figure is random is another problem. It would be nice if there were at least a few options. Perhaps separate buttons for action sounds, jokes and misc. phrases. The last, and biggest issue is that they did not use clips from the actual voice actors. There's no excuse for that other than cutting costs. And with the talking feature being the centerpiece of these figures, this is not the place to cut corners.

Value - 7/10

The Interactive Talking Turtles sell for $30 each and $60 for the two packs. That is a steep price for a single figure. But to put it into perspective, it is only $2 more than the 11" Battle Shell Turtles sold for originally and $10 more than the 11" figures are selling for now. The interactive talking feature is nice, almost nice enough to be worth that extra $10. But knowing that a third of the price went towards the talking feature makes the lack of the proper voices an even bigger sore point for me. I would also like to see a benefit to buying the two packs, especially since you have to buy at least one if you want Donatello. But I didn't actually take any points off since at least the two packs are not any more expensive per figure than the single figures. And the fact that you can have your choice of any of the other three figures in the two packs at least means that there is no drawback to buying the two packs.

Happy Hunting:

The single Interactive Talking Turtle figures were available in most stores before Christmas. I have yet to see any stores reset their shelves so I don't know if the line will be moving forward. The two packs are exclusive to Toys R Us. They have been available both in store and from their website. They are still available there as of this review. Though if you prefer to keep your toys in the package, you may want to track them down locally to avoid damaged packaging.

Interactive Talking Leonardo MIB Interactive Talking Michelangelo MIB

Interactive Talking Raphael MIB box back

Leo and Don two pack

Mike and Don two pack

Raph and Don two pack

two pack box back

Interactive Talking Leonardo front and back Leonardo close up Leonardo's accessories

Leonardo's wrist com Leonardo with swords

Battle Shell, Interactive Talking and Ninja in Training Leonardo

Michelangelo front and back Michelangelo close up Michelangelo's weapon storage Michelangelo communicator Michelangelo's accessories Battle Shell, Interactive Talking and Ninja in Training Michelangelo Interactive talking Raphael front and back Raphael close up Raphael's accessories Raphael with sais Raphael's weapon storage Raphael's wrist com Battle Shell, Interactive Talking and Ninja in Training Raphael Interactive Talking Donatello front and back Donatello close up Donatello's bo Donatello with bo night vision goggles Donatello's bo storage Battle Shell, Interactive Talking and Ninja in Training Donatello