Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ninja Control Leonardo Review

Ninja Control Leonardo with controller
Clearly I am a fan of the Ninja Turtles and Ninja Turtle toys. And as often as I've been accused of being a Playmates fanboy, even I have my limits. And Ninja Control Leonardo seemed like just the sort of toy that would test those limits. A well executed RC toy can be a great deal of fun. But when companies that don't specialize in RC toys try to integrate it into their toys, the results are almost always disappointing to me. So when Playmates Toys decided to release this thirteen inch tall RC Leonardo, I wasn't terribly excited. I even put off writing this review for over a week due to my lack of interest. But it's time to see if Playmates will be able to prove me wrong with Ninja Control Leonardo.

Packaging - 5/10

Ninja Control Leonardo is packaged in a box that is a bit of a hybrid between the usual packaging Playmates has been using for their large figures and a more traditional box. It is still open in the front. But unlike the giant figures, the box wraps around the top, both sides and even across part of the left side on the front. It would do a better job of protecting the figure if that was any real concern. (Leo seems plenty sturdy on his own.) And this design creates a lot of edges around the opening in the front where the thin, single layer material can be easily bent or damaged. The large box gives them plenty of space on the back to show off Ninja Control Leonardo's features. But when the best they have to show off is that NC Leo can go forward, back, turn left or right and spin and his "non-stop katana-crashing action" it doesn't sell me on the idea that this is that great of a toy.

Sculpting - 4/10

Ninja Control Leonardo is a large figure, larger than even the giant figures by a couple of inches. So there is plenty of opportunity to make this an impressive looking figure. It's too bad that they didn't. NC Leonardo isn't bad looking. But there's no real detail work or texture. And the sculpt has to be compromised in a few places for the sake of the mechanicals. There are slits cut in the plastron for the speaker. There is an obvious receiver on his belt and visible hinges at the elbows. None of that is a real deal breaker. But it certainly doesn't help to add it to an already lackluster sculpt.

Paint - 5/10

The paint work on Ninja Control Leonardo is pretty much the same as the sculpting, serviceable and that is about it. There's nothing really missing. All the wrappings and pads are painted. But on a figure this large, the lack of any detail work leaves the figure looking quite plain.

Articulation - 2/10

Ninja Control Leonardo has rotating joints at the neck, shoulders and wrists as well as hinged elbows. But the wrist joints are the only ones that are not connected to the Ninja Control feature. With little control of the shoulders or elbows, the wrist joints don't have much of a point. You can rotate the wrists to adjust the position of his swords and that's about it.

Accessories - 6/10

Ninja Control Leonardo comes with a pair of swords and the controller. I'll cover the controller under the features section, which just leaves the swords. Fortunately they are nicely executed. He has a proper matched pair with a longer and shorter sword. And the handles are painted, including the gold cap on the end. Other than lacking a metallic finish on the blades, I really can't complain about them. I suppose there is also the lack of a sheath to store them which is an unfortunate omission.

Features - 3/10

Ninja Control Leonardo's main feature is obviously the Ninja Control function. A small controller is included with NC Leonardo which has two bidirectional sticks and three action buttons. The sticks control wheels in the corresponding feet much like tank treads. And when you move either feet, his arms will swing, his head will turn and he'll speak. The controller also has three buttons which are suppose to activate specific patterns of movement. All that sounds reasonable. And if it all worked smoothly, it could be a fun toy. But as is so often the case when companies that don't usually produce radio control toys dip their toes into that field, the results aren't very impressive. The first issue is that it isn't radio control. It seems to use infrared for the controller. So if the controller can't point at Leo, you're out of luck. It also doesn't appear to be constant control. Rather it seems like the controller sends a single signal which Ninja Control Leonardo must complete before starting the next one. So you can't make small adjustments or movements and any movement becomes awkward. There is one bright point. They included a receiver on his belt so that he can react to the Interactive Talking Turtles. He doesn't seem to have a transmitter to speak back to them though. Still, it was a nice little bonus function to include with Ninja Control Leonardo.

Value - 2/10

Ninja Control Leonardo was an ambitious concept. And that is reflected in his price of $70. If Ninja Control Leonardo delivered on the potential that the concept promised, that wouldn't have been an unreasonable price. But as I feared, the controls don't work well. And not getting that aspect right makes this entire figure an easy pass.

Happy Hunting:

Ninja Control Leonardo was released for the second half of 2015. And it was carried in most of the stores that carried the Ninja Turtle toy line including Toys R Us, Walmart, Target and more. But he didn't seem to sell well through the holiday season and so a lot of the stores dropped it from store shelves moving into 2016. They are still available in some stores. Toys R Us still seems to have plenty of them in stock in my local store and it is still on their web store as well.

Ninja Control Leonardo MIB front

Ninja Control Leonardo MIB back

size comparison: Ninja Control Leo, Battle Shell Michelangelo and large Battle Shell Michelangelo

Ninja Control Leonardo front and back Ninja Control Leonardo close up Ninja Control Leonardo speaker Ninja Control Leonardo rear receiver Ninja Control Leonardo accessories