With the introduction of the Mutations sub-line for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures, Playmates created a perfect opportunity to introduce
transforming Ninja Turtle figures into the modern line for the first time. And it is an opportunity that they did not pass up. So this
incarnation of the Ninja Turtles is now home of the third interation of mutating Ninja Turtle figures that change from their original pet turtle
form into the mutated teens we know and love. The original Mutating Turtles were one of my favorite versions of the Turtles in the original toy line,
not so much for the mutating feature but for all the extra articulation. So it was a nice bit of nostalgia when they were resurrected the first
time for the 2003 line. And I'm hoping that this third generation proves
to be an improvement over their predecessors.
Packaging - 8/10The mutating Turtles are part of the Mutations sub-line and share much of their graphics with the Mix & Match figures. The cards are larger, or at least taller. And the bubbles are huge, eight and a half inches high and taking up the full width of the card. And about a third of all that space is wasted. It just sits empty behind the large insert which shows off the transformation feature. The small amount of card that is exposed at the top has an image of the appropriate Turtle from the cartoon and the current TMNT logo in front of a minimal amount of exposed background. The back of the card takes a few queues from the vintage toy line, bringing back the short comic strip version of the current origin story as well as photos of all four figures and a trio of photos showing Leonardo going through the transformation process. The overall packaging design looks good. And it doesn't seem to suffer from any of the fragility of most of Playmates' offerings from this year. But feels like these figures have a lot of extra packaging and don't really put it to much use.
Sculpting - 2/10I'm just going to be completely upfront here. The sculpt for these figures is bad. I can't think of anything Playmates has produced in the TMNT line that are this bad. The interesting thing with these figures is that there isn't any one particular aspect that is the problem. Instead, there are different issues with just about every part of the sculpt and none of the sections matches the others properly. Starting at the top, the heads match the Nickelodeon designs well. But they are lacking any fine detail and the details that are there are lacking in sharpness. They also left the tails for all of the masks except for Michelangelo's rather long. And none of them are molded to drape naturally or in a way that would make it easier to fit into the body when in their pet turtle form. Raphael's mask is the worst as his sticks straight up in the back! These heads are then mounted on a small neck section that isn't sculpted to flow into the rest of the contours of the shoulders properly, leaving a flat drop off on both sides. The neck section also has just enough texture and detail to stand out from both the heads and the bodies. The bodies are quite large. But that is to be expected. It's a necessary compromise to accomodate the parts that need to fit inside. But like the heads, the bodies lack any texture details or real depth. So the belts almost look like they were just painted on rather than looking like separate pieces. The arms have a fairly traditional, round shape for the shoulders and biceps and then move to the opposite extreme with a much more angular shape below the elbow, going even further than the show designs. It's a little sad that they couldn't match the style even across the same limb. Then there is the fingers. They are insanely long, almost twice as long as they should be. There even appears to be an extra joint in each finger. The legs suddenly have skin texture on them so the only other part that they match is the neck. And then there are the feet. In addition to missing the wrappings that they should have, they are huge! The Nickelodeon Turtles have big feet, but these are twice the size of their heads! And even with all of that space, they have zero detail on them. The issues don't stop with their mutated forms either. In their pet turtle forms the turtle heads are a bit too small. The front feet are still much too large and plain. The Nickelodeon style toes don't match the back feet either. And the back feet are attached to the shells with strips of material that are so thin that the rear legs look more like mud flaps than limbs. After all of that, I'd really love to be able to say that these figures aren't that bad and talk about their redeeming features. But the only thing I can come up with is that they aren't worse. The issues with any given part isn't that bad, but when the issues extend to every part of the figure, there just isn't much left to be positive about.
Paint - 4/10The paint work on the Mutation Turtles is quite simple. There are a few details missing as well such as the buckles on Leonardo and Donatello's shoulder straps and the wrappings on each figures' thumb. And the color and finish of the neck sections don't match the bodies of the figures properly. Those issues aren't all that serious. But it would be nice if they had put more effort into the paint work.
Articulation - 7/10One of the main reasons why I liked the Mutating Turtles in the original toy line was the additional articulation that they had. And this incarnation of mutating Turtles steps up the level of articulation over the normal figures. Each figure has nineteen points of articulation in their mutated form:
Accessories - 5/10Each of the Turtles comes with their signature weapon(s). They even put in the effort to paint the wrappings on each weapon which is a nice touch. This is also the first Michelangelo figure I can recall whose nunchuks are not molded in a V or U shape which is sort of interesting. On the negative side, the figures don't have a means of storing their weapons. And the handles on Leonardo's katanas are too thin, so he cannot hold them securely. The weapons are decent, but they don't feel like they are enough for a deluxe figure. They could have tossed in a canister of mutagen or some extras.
Action Feature - 4/10As the name indicates, the Pet Turtles to Ninja Figures transform from unmutated turtles into their full Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle forms. The process is the same as the vintage and 2003 versions. The shells are hinged at the bottom. You open them up and flip the pet turtle rear legs out. You then rotate the heads around to store the regular head and reveal the unmutated version before rotating the arms back to store them in the shell. There is also a small tail that can be rotated out to reveal it. Once the shell is closed up, the rear legs fold up along the body to form the front legs of the pet turtle form. Being as this is the third time they have used this design, they should know how to do it right by now. So the giant feet that end up looking out of place in both forms are really annoying as is the thin material for the pet form back legs. Making changes that make the figures worse is unacceptable.
Value - 5/10The Pet Turtle to Ninja Turtle figures are sold as deluxe figures and sell for $10 to $13 depending upon the store. That puts them at almost the same price as the 2003 versions when they were released. That's impressive, until you remember that the 2003 versions came with a canister of ooze. Even with these being the least impressive version of mutating Turtles so far, the gimmick is such a classic part of the TMNT line that I'm glad to see that they brought it back for the kids of this generation to enjoy as well.
Happy Hunting:The pet turtles to Ninja Turtles figures were released early in 2015 and have been shipping to stores for quite some time now. So they should be easy to find. All of the major toy retailers carry them. And they are also available online from Toys R Us, Target and Walmart's web sites as well.