There's one last round of Ninja Turtles movie merchandise to review to close out the year. I've gone through all of the Playmates
toys, but Lego also produced a few sets for the Ninja Turtles movie this year, three of them in fact. But for now we'll start
small with the Turtle Van Takedown set which includes the Turtle Van, a Sacks Industry road block and an examination table for
captured Turtles. I must confess that this assemblage of parts has me very curious if there was actually a scene in an earlier
version of the movie where the Turtle Van had a greater role. But source material aside, it's time to check out Lego's take on
the movie Turtles.
Packaging - 7/10The package design for the Ninja Turtle movie sets is very similar to that of the cartoon inspired Lego sets, just the graphics have been changed. Otherwise, there is still a large photo of the set on the front along with a banner along the top with the movie logo, and images of the four Turtles. The back of the box has multiple photos of the completed set and its features in action. The design is almost identical to the toon based sets. But here, everything is darker. The backgrounds are dark, the colors for the banner is dark. And unfortunately it all just blends together.
Sculpting/Design - 6/10The Turtle Van Takedown set has three components. There is an examination table which can hold one of the Turtles with four claws. The table can stand upright or recline to a horizontal position. It's simple, but a neat little feature. I would rather have a more accurate, "glass" cage as was used in the final movie though. And that wouldn't be that hard to accomplish in Lego. The second part of the set is a Sachs Industry security checkpoint. It has a small tower with a camera and searchlight, a road barrier and a small platform for the guard. Again, I really have no idea where this came from. It is a cute design, but since the set doesn't come with an actual guard figure, and it really doesn't make sense to have a Foot Soldier, essentially a terrorist in the movie, manning a security guard post. So that leaves the Turtle Van. They got the general look of the van right, sloped front and back, big tires, etc... But at this scale, there is a limited amount of detail possible without resorting to custom bricks. I wish they had gone with the correct door design for the side doors. But that isn't a big issue. It's when you get to the interior that the Turtle Van starts to fall short. The interior is sparse to say the least. The van is not quite wide enough for two mini figures to sit side by side, so the driver's station is in the middle at the front. (And I purposely did not say driver's seat as there isn't even a seat.) The only other addition to the interior is a computer work station in the rear. To their credit, there is nothing missing from the interior that should be there. But having the interior be so empty seems like a wasted opportunity.
Paint/Color choice - 5/10The color choices for the Turtle Van Takedown set seem a bit off. The examination table is fine. A metallic color would be better, but I understand that that is not a color that Lego uses. The guard station is little further off. To me, the road barrier should be primarily yellow. But instead it is mostly gray with just two yellow pieces along the front face. There are also a few random pieces in key places that don't match the surrounding pieces such as the gray blocks at the top of the tower. If you switched those few pieces to black, the entire assembly would have a consistent appearance. The Turtle Van itself is a bit lighter in color than it should be in general. And the movie design has the sides painted even darker with the shell pattern. There are two decals on each side to replicate a bit of the pattern, but they match the color rather than bringing in darker tones. And of course, the decals don't cover the entire side as they ideally would. The interior is a lot of gray. That is dull. But since there is very little inside anyway I guess it doesn't matter.
Features - 6/10This set has a lot of small features built into it. But it feels like it is missing a big, show stopper feature. As I mentioned before, the examination table have four moving restraints and can lowered back to a horizontal position. The guard station has the working road barrier, movable searchlight and camera on top of the tower, and a feature to make the tower pop off the base when a small lever on the back is pushed. It works well for how simple it is. But is does seem strange to have the tower explode while leaving the rest of the station untouched. The Turtle van is where it really feels like there should be more features. It has a winch on the front, a turning radar dish on the roof and four finger flick projectiles. There are two on the roof and one each on the insides of each of the side doors. I can't say that there is anything missing. But as the centerpiece of the set, it feels like the van should have a feature to match.
Accessories - 5/10The set comes with four mini figures: Raphael, Michelangelo, Vern and a Foot Soldier. Both Turtles come with their weapons. Vern has a cell phone and the Foot Soldier has a gun. It would have made a lot more sense for Vern to come with a camera. (He is a cameraman, after all.) I would also like to see a few extra touches, a pizza box, a vial of mutagen, something, anything beyond just the basics. But this set doesn't have any of that.
Value - 5/10The Turtle Van Takedown set carries a price tag of $40. For a set with four mini figures and a decent size vehicle, that is not a bad price. I wish that the guard station and examination table were a bit more elaborate as the van itself does not seem like enough to justify the price on its own. It's also worth noting that this is the cheapest of the three sets released for the Ninja Turtles movie by Lego. Whereas with the cartoon line there are key chain versions of the Turtles for those just interested in the mini figures and small sets starting at under $10, nothing like that exists for the movie and it should.
Happy Hunting:The Ninja Turtle movie sets were released last summer. They will likely be available on store shelves for at least a few more months until Lego starts releasing their new sets for 2015. I have seen the sets at all the major toy retailers: Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and more. And of course, you can also order them directly from Lego's website as well.