As usual, Playmates had a whole new slate of toys ready to hit shelves in the new year. While it has taken a
bit of time for all of the new items to hit stores. But all of the new items are finally showing up in greater
numbers now and among them is the latest series of basic figures. Series eight includes four new figures: Casey Jones,
Kirby Bat, Mutagen Man and the Squirrelanoid. There is also a variant to Mutagen Man that appears to be a running
change. There are a number of differences between the two versions, but the most obvious one is that the newer version
has painted eyes. I guess it's for some season two, mutant action.
Packaging - 7/10There are no significant changes for the seventh series of basic figures, so I won't waste time with a detailed description. As with the previous releases, I like the design. The card back shows off the basic figures that are out there. Though with twenty five figures pictured, they are going to need to start scaling back on that soon or there won't be any room left for the character bios. As I've mentioned in past reviews, the biggest drawback to this design in my opinion is that the cards are easily bent.
Sculpting - Kirby & Casey 8/10, Mutagen Man & Squirrelanoid 6/10Overall, the sculpting for all four figures in this series is quite good. Kirby Bat is probably the best. The proportions of the face to the rest of the head may be a bit off, but that could also have been an issue with the scene of the cartoon to which I was comparing it. I also think that his toes should be a bit fuller and more human like where as th figure's toes look more like claws. Casey Jones is quite detailed and very close to the final look in the cartoon. The shoulder pad is too small and of course the spikes on the pad on his left arm are too think and not as pointy. They also had to create a new design for the weapon holders on his back. And the details on the skates and parts of the pant legs are not as sharp as the details elsewhere which is both a bit odd and disappointing. The Squirrelanoid suffers a bit compared to Casey and Kirby in that the issues are mostly on the head sculpt. But that was the only part of the Squirrelanoids that was clearly visible through most of their episode. So even though the errors may be minor, they stick out. There are three green masses on the top of the Squirrelanoids head. In the show, these masses extended from above the eyes all the way back to the back of the skull. But on the figure, they only extend back to just behind the ears. The show also had a portion of skin that stretched between the two sections of the lower jaws. The figure has a similar design, but the skin is much further back. Again, this are minor issues, but since the head is the only part of the creatures you saw clearly though most of the episode, it is more noticeable. Finally there is Mutagen Man. First of all, there is a slight difference between the two versions of Mutagen Man. They are essentially the same sculpt, but the details on the newer version with the painted eyes are much sharper, particularly on the internal organs. Beyond that, the figure has a couple of issues. The first is just a practical compromise. In the show, the Pulverizer's organs were floating in fluid. So there could be more separation between the organs. That is less practical on a toy, particularly when they wanted to make that part of the toy accessible to children. But the amorphous mass of organs is not nearly as impressive as it could have been. While I could accept that, the design of the container in the show is not that complex to begin with. But the figure leaves off a number of the details particularly around the spouts for the legs. When the design is this simple, even small details are important.
Paint - Casey Jones 6/10, Mutagen Man 5/10, Kirby 4/10, Squirrelanoid 3/10The paint work on all five of my figures (counting the two versions of Mutagen Man) is well done with no real quality control issues. So the differences in the scores is just a matter of how much paint work was put into each figure. Casey Jones is the best of the series, particularly for the work that went into the face and mask. But with all of the detail in this sculpt, there is a lot of opportunity to make this figure shine if more of the details were painted. Kirby Bat turned out nearly as well except for the wings. In the show, the wings were translucent and appeared to be purple in color. But the figure's wings are just unpainted, brownish red. The figure with the biggest issues is the Squirrelanoid which is just completely off model from how they appeared in the show. In the cartoon, the Squirrelanoids were darker in color, purple with darker highlights and the eyes and orbs on their heads were bright green. The figure is red with orange highlights. And the eyes and head orbs are more of an aqua-green color. The figure's color scheme isn't bad, but the color scheme from the show was much better.
The Mutagen Man variation is mostly a difference in the paint work. The obvious change is that they started painting the eyes on the mass of organs inside. The painted eye version also has a slightly lighter color speaker on the front. And the color of the tank is different as well. The original version's tank is darker and more blue. The painted eyes version is a bit lighter and has more of a green tint. Overall, I prefer the painted eye version. But the difference is not so great that I would worry about which version I was getting such as when ordering online. With either version, the fact that the mass of organs is not painted is a major missed opportunity.
After I had already finished writing the rest of this review, a new variant of Casey Jones began showing up. The newer version has a much lighter color for the hoodie that Casey wears as well as a lighter shade of grey for the knee pads. Personally, I prefer the original version. The darker colored hoodie provides more contrast which makes the figure more visually interesting overall. By using lighter shades of grey on the new version, the entire figure starts to look like a grey, monochrome mass.
Articulation - Casey Jones & Squirrelanoid 7/10, Kirby Bat & Mutagen Man 3/10Casey Jones has eighteen points of articulation and the Squirrelanoid has fourteen. Casey could really use rotating joints for his thighs and biceps. But he is pretty flexible. The Squirrelanoid has a lot fewer joints in total, but since many of them are ball joints, they provide better than average range of motion. That being said, not having knees or elbow joints does put serious limits on his range of motion. Kirby Bat has just nine points of articulation: rotating and hinged joints at the hips and left shoulder and ball joints for each wing and the neck. I don't mind the limited articulation for his arm and legs. They are short enough that more articulation wouldn't make that much of a difference. But not articulating the right shoulder seems like nothing but a crass means of cutting costs. The ball joints for the neck and wings are nice, but the neck doesn't have enough range of motion to allow the figure to look forward in a flight pose. And while the ball joints for the wings work well, the wings themselves could use more articulation so they could be straightened for a flight pose and serve as a more practical set of arms. Finally there is Mutagen Man who has ten points of articulation: rotating and hinged joints where each limb attaches to the jar and rotating joints for the wrists. But the orientation of the joints and lack of elbow joints make almost all of that articulation borderline useless.
Accessories - Casey Jones & Kirby Bat 5/10, others 0/10Casey comes with a hockey stick, a bat and a hockey mask The mask is painted to match how it appears in the cartoon. But the hockey stick and bat are unpainted white plastic. Painted weapons would have been nice. An alternate head without face paint would have been terrific. But oddly the issue I'm most disappointed in is that his skates are part of his feet instead of being removable accessories. Kirby comes with an unpainted bat. It is a nice addition. But a single bat makes for an fairly underwhelming flock. Neither Mutagen Man nor the Squirrelanoid have any accessories. But neither really need any. Although, I wouldn't have minded getting an ooze container that was in scale with the figures to go with Mutagen Man.
Value - Casey Jones 8/10, Others 6/10The going price for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle basic figures seems to be $9 to $10, which is fairly low for an action figure these days. Of the four, Casey's figure turned out the best overall which is excellent news since his character looks like it will be fairly prominent in the cartoon going forward. Squirrelanoid and Kirby Bat are both decent figures even if they are forgettable as characters. Mutagen Man is a cool character design, but the figure has enough minor short comings to keep it from being as great as it could.
Happy Hunting:These figures are shipping now as a part of the basic assortment of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures. I bought most of my figures from Target. But they are also showing up at all the major toy retailers. They are starting to show up on some web stores as well. There appears to be just one of each series seven figure in the current cases. So they have been selling quickly. But with the exception of the version of Mutagen Man without painted eyes, Playmates will likely continue to include them in future shipments for quite a while.