Playmates made a strong showing with their introduction of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle license into the preschool
market with the Half-Shell Heroes toy line. But as they have shown in the regular TMNT line, if there is anything that
Playmates Toys likes better than a successful toy line is multiple toy lines in various scales. And they applied the
same logic with the Half-Shell Heroes line. In addition to the regular two and a half inch main line, they also introduced
an assortment of figures with electronic sound effects and a super sized, Mega Mutant Leo that stands an impressive
twelve inches tall and also features electronic sounds and phrases. So let's see how the Half-Shell Heroes' bigger brothers
Packaging - 8/10Both the Talking Turtles and Mega Mutant Leo both use a very similar package design as most of the rest of the series with just a small section at the bottom wrapping around to form a box at the bottom. The box then extends up in the back to form the card back. The packaging is attractive. But with these larger figures, their weight can be too much for the cardboard material for the card back without the additional support of corners. So while they are fairly attractive, they are far more prone to damage than they should be.
Sculpting - Talking Turtles & Mega Mutant Leo 7/10, Talking Shredder 8/10The four Talking Turtles share the same legs, body and upper arms. Then each one gets unique belts, head and hands with their signature weapons permanently sculpted in their hands. There is a fairly large lever that sticks out of the back of each of the Talking figures. I wish it was better integrated into the figure. But since these figures are designed to be played with by young children, I can understand why they need to be fairly prominant. The figures are cute. But it would be nice if there was more to make each Turtle distinct. Talking Shredder is a vast improvement over the smaller Half-Shell Heroes Shredder. The armor isn't excessively large. And they gave his face some shape rather than just following the contours of the mask and helmet. (The shape is wrong. But it is still an improvement.) Mega Mutant Leo is the largest Half-Shell Heroes figure. But they didn't do much with that extra size. The only significant change over the smaller figures is that Mega Mutant Leo's eyes can move from side to side which is a neat feature. But in order to simplify the eye mechanism, they used spherical eyes. But that means Leo does not have the correct shape to his eyes. I'm not going to hold that against him though as I think the round, slightly bug eyed look makes him look even cutier. He also has a large handle sticking out of his back which I could do without.
Paint - 5/10The paint work for all of the Talking Turtles and Mega Mutant Leo is fairly simple. But it is also well executed with no significant qulity control issues. There is a minor issue with Shredder's face. The paint doesn't go all of the way up to the helmet. Fortunately since the edge is neat and consistent, the issue isn't that noticable.
Articulation - Talking Figures 4/10 Mega Mutant Leo 6/10The Talking Turtles and Talking Shredder have nine points of articulation:
Mega Mutant Leo has hinged and rotation shoulders and elbows, a ball jointed neck, rotating eyes and hinged hips. As with the Talking Turtles, the shoulders are linked together so that moving one causes the other to move in the opposite direction. Just as with the Talking figures, Mega Mutant Leo isn't going to be called super-posable. But there is enough range of motion there for a child to have quite a bit of fun.
Accessories - Mega Mutant Leo 6/10, others 0/10Mega Mutant Leo is the only figure in the Half-Shell Heroes line with removable weapons, presumably for safety reasons. They pop in and out of Leo's hands easily and seem to be quite secure once snapped into place. The only real down side is that there is nothing to do with them or any place to store them if Leo isn't holding them.
Features - Talking Figures 5/10, Mega Mutant Leo 7/10The Talking Half-Shell Heroes figures each have a lever on their back with both a lower and upper position. Each time the lever is moved either up or down, the arms will swing roughly ninty degrees and the figure will play one phrase. Each has a unique voice, though none of them seems to be taken from the actual show. That doesn't bother me though since I wouldn't expect the voices for these character designs to match the grown up Turtles. Mega Mutant Leo has almost the same feature, but it is more elaborate due to a couple of features. The first improvement is that there are three ways to trigger the feature. There is a trigger on the handle on the back that will make the arms move and play a phrase. There is even a swith that allows you to select whether Leo has his katanas or is empty handed and the sound effects will change to match. (You can also turn Leo off this way too.) You can also tilt Leo to the right and his left leg will come up to perform a side kick as a phrase plays. Finally, you can just press the Turtlecom shaped button on his belt to activate a phrase. I'm not much of a fan of toys that play random phrases or sound effects. It always seems like the features take you out of the situation you are trying to create when they spout a random phrase that is completely inappropriate for the situation. But I have to give Playmates credit. By creating multiple ways of triggering the sounds, you have a lot more control than normal. It should also be noted though, that the sounds and phrases can be triggered fairly easily. I've had the figure randomly start talking so many times, even when no one else was even in the room, that I pulled the batteries out. (I hadn't yet removed the figure from the packaging, so I didn't know there was a simple off switch on his back that I could have used instead.)
Value - 6/10The six inch talking figures sell for $12 to $13 each while Mega Mutant Leo sells for $40. The Talking Turtles and Shredder are cute figures. And they should be a lot of fun for younger fans. But given the size and level of articulation, these feel like they should be selling for about the same price as a basic assortment figure from the regular toy line. While the sounds and phrases are cute, I don't think that they justify the extra couple of Dollars. The same applies for Mega Mutant Leo. He's fairly comperable to one of the eleven inch giant figures aside from the electronic sounds. But he sells for twice the price of one of those figures.
Happy Hunting:The Talking Figures and Mega Mutant Leo have all been available on store shelves for almost a year now. They are available from all of the usually stores including Target, Walmart and Toys R Us. They are also available online from most of their online counterparts as well.