I know that a lot of Ninja Turtle fans are not satisfied with Playmates' toy line. We have gotten a taste of what a collector focused line could
be with NECA years ago and Revoltech. Fans want more. And now there is a company that is stepping up and giving them what they have been waiting for,
but it comes in a form that is a little different than fans were probably expecting, Minimates. The first three series of figures have already
provided us with a decent sized cast of characters from the Nickelodeon cartoon. And now they are back with a third series and ten new figures.
This time around we get the four Turtles in their vision quest gear from the third season of the show along with a Vision Quest version of Splinter,
a new version of Shredder, Slash, Bebop and Rocksteady in their mutated forms and Rocksteady's human form, Ivan Steranko.
Packaging - Blind Bags 5/10, Carded 2 packs 7/10Series Three follows the same pattern as the previous two. Eight of the characters are available via two packs, including the exclusive Battle-Ready Shredder. There are also blind bag versions which are available which includes Ivan Steranko and Vision Quest Splinter. The two package designs have changed very little since series two. There is a new background for the back of the cards of the two packs and a new image of the four Turtles for the front of the blind bags. I'm not normally a fan of blind bags and not knowing what figure you are actually buying. Unfortunately the Minimates blind bags do not include any codes or tricks to easily detirmine which figure is in each bag. So you will either have to trust in luck or try to identify the figures by feel. Of course, that is not an issue with the two packs. The figures and most of the accessories are clearly visible. They even include a brief description of both figures on the back of the card. It's just a shame that you can't get the entire series this way.
Sculpting - Vision Quest Turtles & Bebop 7/10, Others 9/10As with all the Minimates figures, the TMNT figures are all based on the same generic body. But they have done quite a bit to add detail. The Vision Quest Turtles all have cloaks and masks to cover the default head shape. They aren't exact representations of how they look in the show, but they interpret that look well. It works quite well with the other figures as well. Vision Quest Splinter is a straight reuse of the Series 2 Splinter. Steranko and Shredder both remain fairly normal looking. But Shredder has the appropriate armor and blades. Rocksteady and Slash both have additional pieces to add bulk to the arms and legs. Bebop has similar parts for his forearms. But since he has normal upper arms, he ends up looking a bit like a mutant Popeye.
Paint - Shredder & Splinter 5/10, Steranko, Bebop & Rocksteady 9/10, others 7/10The paint work on all of these figures except for Vision Quest Splinter is pretty impressive considering how small they are. Splinter is cast in translucent blue plastic and the only paint work is the flowers printed on his kimono. Of the remaining figures, Battle-Ready Shreddder suffers a bit because the paint for his armor and blades is a bit too think causing it to clump slightly. Both Rocksteady and his human form, Ivan Steranko, turned out very well. Both have all the important details painted and don't suffer from any quality cotrol issues. Slash and Bebop both look good. But slash has large areas for his shell that are just a single bright color which is a bit boring.
Articulation - Vision Quest Turtles 6/10, Others 7/10All of the figures use the standard Minimate body which has twelve points of articulation:
Accessories - VQ Mikey, VQ Leo & VQ Raph 8/10, VQ Splinter, VQ Donatello, BR Shredder & Slash 5/10, Others 4/10All of the TMNT Minimates figures come with a round display base to help keep the figures standing upright. And for Bebop, Rocksteady and Ivan Steranko, that is all they come with. That is a bit of a disappointment. But given how many new parts were needed for Bebop and Rocksteady and that they don't really have any signaure weapons, I can understand the lack of extras. And it doesn't feel like anything is really missing. Vision Quest Splinter, Vision Quest Donatello, Slash and Battle-Ready Shredder all come with a single accessory. VQ Splinter has a blue flame base that can be used in place of the regular stand. Slash has his mace. Shredder has a spare helmet, giving you the option of displaying him either with or without the faceplate. Vision Quest Donatello has an axe on a long staff and and spare head representing his stone mask. The Vision Quest Turtles also have unique grey bases with a symbol printed on it. And speaking of the other VQ Turtles, they are all better equipped. Vision Quest Leonardo has his swords, a bow and two arrows And the arrows can be stored in the quiver on his back. Vision Quest Michelangelo has his nunchuks and a pair of kama. His mask is also removable to reveal a more traditional looking mask and face underneath. Vision Quest Raphael has his sais, his new wolverine style blades, two fire blasts that can clip onto his hands and a removable hood.
Value - Blind Bags 4/10, Two Packs 9/10Diamond Select's Minimates continue to put out some really cool Ninja Turtle toys. And if you are buying the two packs which give you two figures and all of the accessories for $7.50, they are a great value. The blind bag versions give you the same figure and accessories. But unless you have the opportunity to physically inspect each bag and feel which figure is inside, you won't know which one you are getting. And at $5 to $7 each, you're paying a premium price without knowing what you are getting. And since both Vision Quest Splinter and Ivan Steranko are only available in the blind bags, if you want a complete set, you have little choice.
Happy Hunting:The Ninja Turtle Minimate two-packs are available from Toys R Us and through their web site. The blind bags are sold to specialty retailors such as comic shops. I have had very little luck finding them locally. So I have had to order them a case at a time instead. Diamond Select does sell them directly from their site. But you should be able to save a little money by shoppping around.