The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy lines have always had their fair share of Turtle variant figures. But for a lot of fans,
including myself, it's the secondary characters that are often the highlight. So when Playmates released the ninth series of
basic figures for the current Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line which includes a new version of Splinter in kendo training gear,
Slash, Rahzar and Newtralizer I was really looking forward to getting them. And then to add a slight cherry ontop of this sundae,
There is also a new repaint of the Cockroach Terminator figure. So now that life's not so little distractions
are out of the way, I finally have the chance to open them up and see if they were worth the wait. (I'm not going to bother
rehashing my thoughts on Cockroach Terminator other than in the paint section as that is the only thing that has changed on him.)
Packaging - 7/10Nine series in and there are no major changes to the packaging. So I won't waste much time going back over it. In general though, I find it relatively attractive but all of the corners to the card make them prone to damage.
Sculpting - Rahzar 5/10, Newtralizer 6/10, Others 7/10All four of these characters should be large. Splinter is probably the smallest of the four in the cartoon. But even he stands well above any of the Turtles. In reality both Splinter and Rahzar are slightly taller than any of the Battle Shell Turtles, but still much shorter than they should be. Newtralizer and Slash are even shorter. Newtralizer is just a hair shorter than Battle Shell Michelangelo and Slash is about an eighth of an inch shorter still. Scale issues aside, the sculpting on all four of the figures is fairly impressive. All four are packed with detail and are quite accurate to the show designs. (Well, except for Dojo Splinter who never actually appeared in the show.) There are a few minor issues. Splinter's neck seems to be too thin. Newtralizer and Rahzar both have heads that a just a bit smaller than they should be. Slash seems to be more or less spot on to the show, which makes the scale issues all the more annoying since this would be such a great figure otherwise. There is one issue that is unique to Rahzar though. The pose selected fr him is somewhat ackward. Most significantly, his left foot is permanently molded with the heel raised up so that just the toes make contact with the ground. That makes Rahzar far less stable than any of the other three figures.
Paint - Splinter 2/10, Newtralizer 4/10, Rahzar 6/10 Cockroach Terminator & Slash 7/10The paint work for Dojo Splinter , Rahzar and Newtralizer is sparse at best. Splinter's toes, hands and face are painted and that is it. His entire body is a monochrome block. I wouldn't expect such armor to be colorful, but painting a few of the details could have gone a long way to make them stand out. I am really disappointed by the paint work for the head though. It is a lot closer to the show design than the first Splinter figure. But it still isn't accurate. And the face markings is too important to be getting it wrong two years into the show, doublely so when it is the only thing on the figure that you bother to paint.
Newtralizer has similar problems. His markings on his chest are painted as are his eyes, teeth, wristbands and thigh straps. But they didn't continue the red markings up onto his throught. So the line where they stop really stands out as being out of place. They also skipped painting the straps on his left ankle, right bicep and the end of his tail. But to be honest, I could probably have accepted those issues and still have been satisfied with Newtralizer's figure. But then they also got the color wrong for all of his belts and harnesses. They should be almost white with just a bit of grey. Instead they are a dark grey that blends in with the other darks colors on the figure instead of contrasting so well like the correct color does.
Things get much better with Rhazar and Slash. But both have issues with the colors used. The grey color used on Rahzar is too dark. It should resemble bone, actually, I think it is his exposed bones. But that isn't what these look like. Slash has the most paint work of the four. And for the most part, he looks pretty good. That is until you look at this shell. In the figure's defense, Slash does have a two tone shell in the cartoon. The large spikes along the edges are a dark brown or black, but the rest of the shell is a mossy green, similar to Leonardo's skin tone. And it usually appears in shadow and looking slightly dirty. The figure has a bright green shell that is between neon green and lime green. With a nice paint wash and some shadowing effects, it could look okay. But it doesn't have any of that. It's just bright green, which compared to the rest of the figure, looks really out of place. It isn't as bad as Dogpound's unpainted insert on his figure's back, but it does look out of place. And that is a shame, because Slash looks great otherwise.
Finally there is the Cockroach Terminator repaint. The new version replaces the light brown color of the torso with a color that is a bit more orange. They then added some reddish brown along the bottom edge of each segment of the body. The additional paint work is nice. It adds a lot of extra visual interest to the front of the figure. It actually makes me wish that there was an option to buy Playmates figures with collector grade paint applications because these figures could look so amazing fully painted. But unfortunately that isn't an option. And the extra work on the front of the new version of the Cockroach Terminator comes at a price. This version doesn't have the bit of metal stuck to his back painted as the original one did. That sounds like a minor change, but just as the paint washes on the front had a major impact on the look of the figure overall, so does this. The one saving grace though is if you want the best of both worlds, painting the piece on his back silver would be much easier to accomplish and not mess up than adding the wash to the front sections.
Articulation - Splinter & Rahzar 3/10, Slash & Newtralizer 6/10The articulation for these four figures is really not great. I more or less expected that going in. The designs of characters like Slash and Rahzar make the normal style of articulation somewhat impractical. But oddly enough, Slash has the greatest range of motion despite only having thirteen points of articulation. His neck rotates and he has joints at the shoulders, elbows and hips that both swing on a hinge and rotate around the peg on one side of the hinge joint. Newtralizer also has thirteen points of articulation, but trades elbow joints for rotating joints at the wrists, waist and base of the tail. The addition of the wrist joints is nice, but double jointed elbow like on Slash would have been better. Rahzar technically has ten points of articulation: double joints at the hips and shoulders and rotating waist and neck. But of course the head can't actually move as it is sculpted to drape around the shoulders. What is disappointing though is after twenty six years, Playmates forced another figure to be stuck in almost the exact same pose as the original Shredder figure. Only Rahzar doesn't have the rotating forearm joints that that figure had, so he is even more limited. Finally there is Dojo Splinter who actually clocks in at eleven points of articulation. But the figure might as well be a brick. Dojo Splinter has rotating joints at the ankles, base of the tail, waist, wrists and neck and double joints at the shoulders. But with no hip articulation, he can't walk, sit or kick. He certainly won't be able to fit on/in many vehicles. He is permanently stuck standing, though you can choose which leg he leads with. His shoulder joints are even more disappointing. They are very poorly designed and as a result, Dojo Splinter can't even put his arms down at his sides. He's like the little boy from the movie A Christmas Story. Hopefully the Foot don't push him into any snow banks. So the question is then raised, which is worse, not trying or trying and doing so poorly that you might as well not have in the first place? Don't worry, because Dojo Splinter manages to do both simultaniously.
Accessories - Rahzar 4/10, Newtralizer 5/10, Others 6/10This series of figures does not come with a wealth of accessories. The worst is Rahzar, who in the show doesn't really use weapons anymore. So rather than giving him something interesting from the show, like a canister of mutagen, they included a bone hand that slides into his right arm like a projectile. Of course there is nothing to actually shoot it out or to keep it in place until you want to launch it. So it is a third hand mounted directly above one of his other hands which is also prone to falling off. That sounds useful. Newtralizer has a small knife and a circular blade weapon. There is a sheath on his right leg to hold the knife. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that he can hold the round blade using his fingertips. That's all well and good. But for a character like this to not come with at least one gun or high-tech rifle makes him seem incomplete. Dojo Splinter comes with a removable mask and a training sword. The mask is actually really nice and fits well. The sword could really use a little paint to highlight the details. Finally there is Slash who has a spiked mace. As his signature weapon, he would be out of place without it. And it looks nice and he can hold it well. But I wish they had stepped it up a bit and included an unmutated Spike along with Slash.
Value - Dojo Splinter 4/10, Slash 7/10, others 6/10With a retail price that is usually right around $9 each, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures are one of the cheapest line of action figures on the market right now. And despite the low price point, Playmates still managed to produce two very solid offerings with Slash and Newtralizer. Rahzar has a few issues with his pose and the limited articulation, but it is nothing that would make me want to pass up a figure of one of the most important villains in the current TMNT cartoon series. Dojo Splinter had the potential to be a decent figure, but it never really lived up to that potential. It isn't a horrible figure, just not great in any particular way. And a mediocre figure of a version of a character that we have never seen in the show is not much of a sales pitch on his behalf.
Happy Hunting:Series nine has been shipping for several months now. So they should not be terribly rare in most areas. However, since these figures have been shipping for a while, long enough that both series ten and even series eleven are beginning to show up, they may not be around for that long. There is a fairly strong chance that Playmates may cycle one or more of them out of the assortments to make room for newer figures, especially since both series ten and eleven include new variants of the Turtles. So if you do want these four, you should probably pick them up soon. They are part of the regular assortment of basic figures. So any store that stocks TMNT toys should potentially have them.