Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtle Sub review

Turtle Sub with Diver Donnie
The new year means new figures for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line and new vehicles as well. Among them is a new addition to the deluxe figure and vehicle packs: Diver Donnie with the Turtle Sub. Submarines have been a part of each of the incarnations of the Ninja Turtles. This latest version was introduced in the end of the first season of the cartoon and carried all four of the Turtles. It has been shrunk down to become a personal sized sub for the toy line and comes with an all new version of Don who is ready for aquatic action with his own wet suit. So lets dive in and check it out.

Packaging - 8/10

The Turtle Sub set shares the same packaging design as the previous AT-3, Ninja Stealth Bike and Dragon Chopper sets. It is a fairly wide window box that offers a decent view of the figure and accessories. The sub had to be turned to have the top of the vehicle facing out so that it would fit in the box. That's not the best view of it. But the back of the box provides a large photo of both the sub and Diver Donnie figure as well as photos of two of the features. There are also images of the previous three sets. They even used the bottom of the box to show off an assortment of the basic figures which is nice since the space is often left unused. The one downside to the design is that the edges of the box along the opening for the window are easily damaged.

Sculpting - 7/10

The Turtle Sub was large enough for all four Turtles to ride inside in the cartoon. Obviously this version is not going to be large enough for that. But once you get past the scale issue, it is a decent though not completely accurate interpretation. They did get one major detail wrong. The engines were mounted under the flippers/dive planes in the show's design. I suspect that they were moved on the toy just for the action feature. Things inside are not as impressive. The only interior detail is the small control panel and control sticks in the front. They could have at least included a set of pedals to "power" the sub as they did in the cartoon. The included Diver Donnie figure is better. Normally I think it is silly to have Ninja Turtles sculpted wearing a wet suit since the Turtles have always been perfectly happy to leap into the water at a moment's notice. But it makes a bit more sense here since Donnie has what appears to be a rebreather device on. The rebreather has a lot of great detail. It's too bad that it doesn't include a means for Donnie to actually put the mask on his face.

Paint - 6/10

The paint work on the Turtle Sub is minimal, particularly on the inside. But it is enough to make sure the sub doesn't look dull. But there is a lot of detail work that could have been painted to make it look better. At the very least, they could have painted the periscope so that it matched the rest of the sub. The same holds true for Diver Donnie. There is enough paint work so that the only real glaring omission is the wrappings on Donnie's hands. But there is a lot of detail for the rebreather that is lost due to the lack of paint work.

Play Value - 4/10

The Turtle Sub set looks pretty good. But when it comes to actually playing with it, it's a bit of a let down. The vehicle has two action features, a snapping jaw and a firing missile. And I do mean A firing missile. Despite having two engines/launchers, only the one on the left side actually fires. That just reeks of Playmates cutting corners to save a few pennies. It doesn't get better on the interior. There are two control sticks for Diver Donnie to hold, but there is so little room inside there's no way that a figure can be really posed inside. The flippers/dive planes which were used to paddle the sub in the cartoon can rotate. But they can't move in such a way to look like they are paddling.

The Diver Donnie figure is a bit better. He has a decent amount of articulation with seventeen points of articulation. And the ball joint for the neck allows enough range of motion for him to look forward in a fairly believable swimming pose. He also comes with two weapons, a diver's knife and bo staff with a long blade on the end. He can store both when not in use. The knife fits in a loop on his left shin. The bo staff can be stored on his back or clipped to the exterior of the sub when the figure is inside. My one complaint is that as I have already said, the figure can not actually put on the diving mask or rebreather mouthpiece.

Value - 5/10

The figure and vehicle packs generally sell for $20, though I have seen a few stores that have increased the price by a few Dollars. That's just a bit higher than the combined price of a basic figure ($9) and basic vehicle ($10). I would happily pay the basic vehicle price for this version of the Turtle Sub, though that is more for its resemblance to the vehicle in the show than on the other merits of the actual toy. Diver Donnie is a better toy. But as this outfit never showed up in the show, it isn't a version I would have felt compelled to buy or want to recommend if it wasn't bundled with the sub. (And, you know, if I didn't buy ALL the TMNT toys.) This is a case where I think Playmates would have been better off using the higher price point to just put more effort into the vehicle and not bother with a pack-in figure.

Happy Hunting:

The Turtle Sub and Diver Donnie set is shipping now along with the three previous deluxe sets. I picked up my set at Target. But I have since seen them at a number of Target stores, Toys R Us and Walmart in my area. It is also showing up online at a lot of their web stores.

box front

box back

Turtle sub head

Turtle Sub front view

Turtle Sub jaws open Turtle sub projectile launcher Turtle Sub rear view Turtle Sub weapon storage Turtle Sub interior Turtle Sub controls Turtle Sub with Donnie lying down Turtle Sub with Donnie holding controls accessories Diver Donnie front and back Diver Donnie close up Diver Donnie leg holster Diver Donnie with knife in holster Diver Donnie with bo on back Deluxe vehicles