The last year has seen quite an explosion of third party Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys, including a number of vinyl figures
from multiple companies. A late entry into that catagory is Loyal Subjects who released a line of articulated vinyl figures
based on the original Mirage Comics at the end of the year. Unlike most vinyl figures, Loyal Subjects "action vinyls" sport
more articulation and accessories making them more like a traditional action figure than a vinyl figure. Being as I just opened
the Ninja Turtle vinyls from both Kidrobot and Funko, I am skeptical about what Loyal Subject's line can bring to the table.
But there is also a lack of product based on the Mirage Comics. So I'm hoping that these figures can exceed my expectations.
Packaging - Keychains 4/10, Window Boxes 7/10, Blind Boxes 8/10The first series of Ninja Turtle action vinyls is available in three different forms, each with their own unique packaging. The most common version are packaged in traditional vinyl figure fashion, blind boxes. There's a large image of Raphael along with various logos on the front. There are images and packing ratios for the available figures on either side and info about the chase figures on the back. The background consists of a variety of comic images colored a spectrum of purple, red and blue. Sadly there are no external markings as to which figure is inside. And even if you could peek inside, the figures are sealed in a foil bag as well. Game Stop has a line of exclusive variants which have a similar packaging design, but the boxes are slightly larger and have a window in the front showing off which figure is inside. The design is a bit strange in that they waste most of the back panel with the legal wording and UPC while the logo and line ups are relagated to the side panels. Finally there is the keychain versions which are packaged in small plastic clamshell packages. But for some reason, they didn't bother with a plastic panel on the back. It is just a tag board backer which can just slide out of place. A design that allows the figures to fall out while they are still on the store shelves has a serious problem.
Sculpting - Splinter 10/10, Turtles 9/10, others 8/10Loyal Subjects deserves a lot of credit for the work they put into the sculpts for these figures. The four Turtles share a single mold for their bodies, legs and arms. But otherwise, the other five figures are completely unique. And the sculpts look great. They have a lot of detail for such small figures. And they capture the look of the Mirage Comics well. I wish they had done unique sculpts for the Turtles, even if it was just non-functional loops on their belts for their weapons. But that is a minor complaint. But I don't think they style they used for these figures works as well for the human figures. The arms and legs are just a bit larger than the bodies. But the heads are huge. The result is that the figures don't quite look like the usual Super Deformed style. Instead they remind me of the body proportions of an infant. While it may have worked for the Muppet Babies, I never felt any desire for a Mutant Babies toy line. And I still don't.
Paint - Cartoon Turtles & Splinter 4/10, Regular Turtles 7/10, others 9/10The paint work on all of the Loyal Subjects action vinyls is good, though not quite perfect. But any imperfections are minor. And they certainly did not cut corners on the amount of paint work of the figures. Even the accessories are well painted. So the only issue left to discuss is the color choices. The colors used for the regular versions of the figures are spot on. Though it is a little odd that these figures are suppose to be based on the Mirage Comics, yet they gave each of the Turtles their individually colored masks. But the color choices for the cartoon versions of the Turtles and Splinter are completely wrong. The skin tone used for the comic version of Leonardo would have been a much better match for the Toon Turtles. And while this version of Splinter isn't as bad as the orange Ooze Action vinyl from Kidrobot, it doesn't look like the cartoon version. Fortunately the Toon Shredder is the exception and his colors look great.
Articulation - 7/10The Action Vinyl figures have thirteen points of articulation. They have ball joints at the neck and ankles, rotating wrists, and duel ball joints at the shoulders and hips. The shoulder and hip joints are a bit unusual. They seem to have a small connector piece between the body and the limb with spheres on both ends that plugs into the sockets in the limbs and body. The result is that you get a bit of additional lateral movement beyond what just a single ball joint could provide. But the difference is pretty minor and it means that there is a risk of that thin connector breaking. But I did not have any breakage on any of the figures I bought and all of the joints are nice and tight too.
Accessories - Donatello 5/10, Shredder 6/10, Raph & Mike 9/10, others 10/10While they be marketed as vinyls, they come equipped as well as the best action figure. Karai comes with a bow, arrows, quiver, sword and sheath. Either the quiver or sheath can be attached to her back. The Foot Ninja has a pair of hand daggers and a pair of kama. Shredder has a pair of throwing stars and a naginata (staff with blade). Casey comes with a bat, a hockey stick, a golf club and a bag to hold them all. Splinter has a different bow, arrows and quiver and his walking stick. Leonardo has his swords, sheaths and two throwing stars. Donatello has his bo staff and a wrench. Raphael has two sais and two kamas. Michelangelo has two pairs of nunchuks and a pizza pie with a removeable slice. That is a very impressive assortment of accessories. What is even more impressive is that they are all unique and fully painted. Even the kama and bow/arrow/quivers that come with the Foot Ninja/Raphael and Splinter/Karai were not repeated. The only complaint that I have is that when you compare the accessories that Shredder and Donatello come with with all of the others, it seems like both of them should have more. It's worth noting that the Toon versions come with the same accessories as the blind box versions, though with a different paint job. But the keychain versions do not have any accessories.
Value - Toon Shredder 9/10, others 7/10The Loyal Subjects figures sell for $13 to $14 each. That includes all three versions: the blind box, the Toon repaints and the keychain versions. While the blind box versions of the figures are my favorite, they have the disadvantage of being blind boxed so you can't pick the figures you want without wasting money buying duplicates. The keychain versions and toon repaints allow you to buy only the figure or figures that you want, but you have to give up either the accessories or the superior paint colors. Toon Shredder is the one figure that offers the best of both worlds.
Happy Hunting:The blind box versions of the Action Vinyls are sold mostly through specialty stores. You can purchase them either individually or in cases of 16 figures. Each of the eight regular figures is suppose to be packed roughly 2 per case. There are also three chase figures which are only available in the blind box packaging. The Foot Ninja that I got is suppose to be packed roughly one per every case and a half. April is packed one in every three cases. And the black Foot Ninja is one in every six cases. The toon repaints are exclusive to Gamestop stores. They were also available through their website. The keychain versions are showing up at Toys R Us stores now, though they don't seem to actually be exclusive to Toys R Us.