History of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles featuring Leonardo box set

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Playmates Toys has been making Ninja Turtle toys since 1988. That's more than a quarter century of TMNT figures and a lot of history to draw upon to please long term fans. But they seem surprisingly reluctant to do so. If not for Toys R Us exclusives, it seems like Playmates may completely forget any TMNT product that isn't currently on shelves. So this fall in addition to of a new round of Classic Collection reissues of vintage figures in the form of Bebop and Rocksteady, Toys R Us also brought us an exclusive box set seemingly containing eight different versions of Leonardo from that twenty seven year history. We got a taste of that idea with the Target exclusive Leonardo Three Pack last year. But now they are covering almost every major incarnation of the Turtles except the 2007 CGI movie. So before it disappears from shelves forever, I thought it was high time to check out this set.

Packaging - 9/10

The History of TMNT set has all eight incarnations of Leonardo lined up in a row on some nifty looking display bases in a long window box. The box itself has a very simple graphical style with a subdued blue background with just the name of the name of the box set and a small Nickelodeon logo for other graphics. They even incorporated the TMNT logo into the name of the set rather than repeat the extra text. All this means all the focus is put on the contents of the box instead. Inside the figures and display bases are nicely accented with appropriate backgrounds and flooring graphics. Each figure also has the corresponding version of the TMNT logo behind them on the background. It's not overly elaborate and all serves to highlight and enhance the figures and display bases. If you flip the box over to the back, you are treated to head shots of each version of the Green Team's leader as well as a description of each version's place in the history of the Ninja Turtles. So in short, there is a lot to like about this packaging design. In truth, there seems to be only one significant issue with the box in my opinion, it is quite unweildly do to it's size and shape. The box is over thirty two inches wide and surprisingly deep at six and a half inches deep. Most of that girth is neccessary just to fit all eight figures and display bases. But it is still going to be hard to find a home for it if you are a MIB collector. It would have been nice if they had packaged them with the figures in two lines of four figures instead if only to give it more traditional proportions.

Sculpting - 8/10

Despite how it appears in the box, the History of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set is not really a box set of figures. As it is straight out of the box, it is a single, very large, display piece. Of course it contains the eight Leonardo figures. And each of those figures still retains their articulation and they even include some of the accessories which are removable. But all of the figures are permanently attached to the display base with screws. And while each section of the display base can be separated, that is only possible by removing the cardboard background which is attached. And even then it takes enough force that there is a good chance of damaging the bases if you attempt to separate them. So the History of the TMNT set is less a follow-up to the Target Leonardo 3 Pack from 2014 than it is a spiritual successor to the 5th Anniversary Leonardo statue that Playmates produced way back in 1992. This new incarnation has more elaborate bases. Each figure is still mounted to a manhole cover, but they added a curved back wall as part of the base and attached a cardboard backdrop across all eight bases. Interestingly, they have three different styles of manhole cover patterns. Though which figure uses which pattern seems random. As for the figures themselves, There are a few notable changes to the original versions of the figures. The first is that both the Movie Star Leo and The Next Mutation Leonardo are both made of more traditional, ridgid plastic instead of the bendable material of the originals. Each figure has also been modified to add mounting points in the feet so that they can be screwed down to the bases. The license information had to be altered on the four figures which hadn't been produced since the sale of the TMNT to Viacom in 2009. Finally there is the obvious issue of Movie Star Leo missing his belt. I have no idea why it wasn't included. My assumption would be that there was some issue with the mold which prevented it from being included either for monetary or time restrictions. That is a real shame because it is the one serious shortcoming that the set has.

Paint - 7/10

Going into this, I'm not entirely sure what the best/most important criteria upon which to judge this set would be. The figures are not perfect reproductions of the orignal figures. Some of the changes are minor. 2003 Leonardo's belt is black instead of the brown with a dark paint wash of the original. The Next Mutation version is missing the initial on the badge on his shoulder strap. And of course the obvious and the ommission most commented on by fans, the lack of the bright colored spots on Movie Star Leo. Personally, I never liked those. So I have no problem with them not being there. So if being faithful to the original figures is extremely important to you, go buy the originals. There are enough differences here that you will not be satisfied. But since I've already come to terms with this being a single display piece that includes parts from previous figures rather than a set of reproduction figures, the changes don't bother me. The figures look good. If the set has a short coming for the paint work, it's the base(s) which is completely unpainted. They would also look more realistic if they had made the manhole covers the slightly metallic grey color that was used for the rest of the base and painted the rest or at least used a different color. And the stickers used for the labels are pretty bland compared to everything else on the set.

Articulation - 6/10

All of the figures on the History of the TMNT set retain their original articulation. But all of the figures are now permanently attached to the bases which renders all of the articulation in the legs pretty worthless. Worse than worthless, it serves no practical purpose and for half of the figures, it carries the risk of the figures being able to tip over backwards due to the knee joints. (None of the figures on my set actually have a problem with floppy joints thankfully.) Personally, since the figures are screwed to the bases, I would have been fine with them gluing all of the joints in place as they did with the 5th Anniversary Leonardo statue. On the positive side, by not rendering the articulation immobile the set could be used to demonstrate the evolution of TMNT action figures over the years. But looking to it in that regard is deceptive since the "first" figure in the set (the Original Comic Book Leo which is labeled as 1984) is actually the most recent figure to actually be produced. And both the Movie Star and Next Mutation versions were able to partially make up for their lack of articulation with their flexible limbs. But the Movie Star and Next Mutation figures in the History of TMNT set lack that flexibility. So in the end, you just have eight figures that can't use half the articulation that they do have.

Accessories - 3/10

Each of the Leonardo figures except the Next Mutation version comes with a pair of swords. The Next Mutation Leonardo comes with only one sword. All of the swords are removable and can be stored in the included sheaths. But once you remove the clear rubber bands that hold them tightly in the figures' hands, you run the risk of losing them. So much like the articulation, we might have been better off if they were just glued into the figures' hands. And of course there is still the issue of Movie Star Leonardo's missing belt which is a very important accessory to omit. And Fast Forward Leonardo's swords are not translucent as the originals' were which is another rather important detail to get wrong.

Features - 0/10

The History of TMNT set has no real features. Each manhole cover base does swivel, but only a few degrees. It's not enough to make it a very useful feature. If you could actually turn the figures 360 degrees, that could have been useful.

Value - 4/10

The History of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set was suppose to carry a price tag of $99. Though it was selling for $90 at the local Toys R Us. And they were offering a variety of sales on it as well. But assuming that you paid the full price for the set, you are spending more than the price of nine basic figures to get this set which includes only eight figures, each with hobbled articulation and limited accessories. You do have the display base which is nice and fairly impressive. But the base also requires that you have an unusually large, open space to display it. So at full price, it isn't a great deal. But now that Christmas has past, we are already seeing the price for the set start to drop. It is currently selling for $70 online and at the local TRU location. And if you have the space neccessary to display it, as the price continues to drop while they try to clear out the remaining stock, this is going to be a pretty impressive piece in anyone's TMNT collection.

Happy Hunting:

The History of TMNT set is exclusive to Toys R Us in the United States. (I'm not sure if it will be made available outside of the US.) It has been available in Toys R Us stores for the last couple of months. If you don't have a TRU store nearby, it is also available at toysrus.com. But if you are planning on leaving the set in the box be warned, Toy R Us doesn't have a great track record of packaging items well. If you are interested in the set, don't wait. Chances are good that they won't have it around too long into the new year.

box front

box back

Original Comic Book and cartoon figures

Movie Star and Next Mutation figures

2003 and Fast Forward figures

2012 and 2014 movie figures

Next Mutation Leo's feet

empty stand display base top view display base left side display base right side display base bottom manhole cover 1 manhole cover 2 manhole cover 3 Original Comic Book Leo Original TV Leo Movie Star Leo Next Mutation Leo 2003 re-launch Leo Fast Forward Leo 2012 Re-launch Leo 2014 Movie Leo Fast Foward Leo's sheath Fast Forward Leo fallen over accessories