T-Machines, Half-Shell Heroes, Revoltech & third party Ninja Turtle toys. The market has been bringing us a lot of new and interesting Ninja Turtle
toys in the last few years. It's almost enough that one might forget about the actual action figure line. While I haven't forgotten about all of the
figures that Playmates Toys has been producing, I have been really bad about keeping up with my reviews of them. So it's time to start rectifying that.
And first up are the figures that have been sitting in my "to review pile" for almost a year, series twelve of the basic figure assortment which
includes the four Turtles in their Mystic fighting gear and the Foot's new hench-mutants Bebop and Rocksteady.
Packaging - Purple cards 7/10, New Design 8/10Series twelve brings with it a new packaging design which was implemented for almost all Ninja Turtle merchandise this year. Both Bebop and Rocksteady were available on both packaging styles since they shipped earlier than the Mystic Turtles as a limited term exclusive. I've talked about the old card design enough. So I won't waste much time rehashing my thoughts about them. The new card design is a complete graphical overhaul with brighter colors and a larger card. Each card now has either the corresponding Turtle or all four Turtles on the top right corner of the card. That combined with background colors matching each character on the bubble inserts makes it much easier to look for figures on crowded store pegs. And when you are looking at a wall full of the new cards, the brighter colors make a huge difference. The back of the cards is much the same as before. There is a character bio on the top half and photos of other figures available on the bottom. Unfortunately the new design does have one significant problem, it isn't very durable. The card material itself is thin enough that creases and dings are quite common. And the material for the plastic blisters is easily crushed. Throughout this year I have seen figure after figure, sometimes what seems like entire cases of figures with considerable damage. Usually the damage is minor and the plastic can be popped back into shape with minimal lasting damage. But if you are a MOC collector who wants prestine cards, it can be a real headache.
Sculpting - Mystic Raphael & Michelangelo 6/10, others 8/10The sculpting work for all six of these figures turned out quite well. Bebop and Rocksteady are particularly well done. Both are loaded with detail and are pretty accurate to the final show designs. Rocksteady suffers the same issue that plagues all of Playmates figures, the scale is way off. He should be much larger than any of the Turtles or Bebop. But at this point that is to be expected. Bebop turned out much better than I was expecting from my first impressions. His waist is a bit too wide and the details of his snout are not as pronounced as they should be. It would be nice if they sculpted his jacket not to be skin tight. For the Mystic Turtles they put in a considerable amount of work as well. These aren't just the Battle Shell figures with a few new parts. Each Mystic Turtles has a new head sculpt, arms, legs and armor pieces. And they ended up coming out very close to the final production models for the show. Of the four, Mystic Raphael seems to have the most issues, though none of them is all that bad. He is missing the straps that went from his belt to the gas canisters on his back that were shown in the show. His elbow pads are slightly off model as well. But what I dislike the most is that his hood barely covers his face instead of hanging over as it should. Mystic Michelangelo is very close to the final show design. But they were not able to get the sharp detail needes to make the armor pieces look like wood/bark. But since those bits make up most of his outfit, not getting them right is a significant issue. Mystic Leonardo and Mystic Donatello both match the show designs very well. I have just two minor quibbles about them. The camoflage areas on Mystic Donatello's legs are raised far more than they should be. And Mystic Leonardo's primary weapon is his bow, but his hand is not sculpted to hold his bow properly with a gap between the fingers for the arrow to rest. That is a minor detail, but it's the minor details that really makes the difference between being good and being great.
Paint - Mystic Turtles 3/10, Bebop 5/10, Rocksteady 6/10The paint work on Playmates' TMNT figures has become a real issue over this year. I'm guessing that they are cutting back on the paint applications in an effort to keep the cost of the figures from increasing. But on the Mystic Turtles, they have gone so far that there is only one or two paint applications, usually on the faces. They did a bit more painting on Mystic Michelangelo, painting the wood armor on his arms. But they are only painted in a single color. Real wood is not monochrome. So even with the paint, is still looks fake. The lack of paint work is disappointing, there's no doubt about that. I will say though, that if they had to cut costs, I would rather see them do so with the paint work than any of the other aspects. So long as the sculpted details are there, imagination can fill in much of the missing colors. There's also the option of adding paint yourself if you are really that disappointed with it.
Bebop and Rocksteady are not nearly as limited in paint work as the Turtles. Rocksteady has a fair amount of paint work for his outfit, teeth and horn. There are still a lot of items on him not painted though like the jewelry on the back of his hands or his toes. Bebop has some of the pink lines on his chest and hands painted as well as his glasses and teeth. But there is still a lot of the pink stripes in his outfit that aren't painted. And his outfit could use some highlights on the black areas as well. Both Rocksteady and Bebop also had paint variations produced when they were first released. For Rocksteady, he was released without the camoflage on his pants painted. Bebop was originally released with a much darker skin tone.
Articulation - Rocksteady 2/10, Mystic Turtles 6/10, Bebop 7/10The articulation for the Mystic Turtles is the same as the Original Comic Book Turtles at seventeen points of articulation. That includes a ball jointed neck and rotating and hinged joints at the shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. Mystic Leonardo also has rotating wrists as well. That gives them a decent amount of articulation. But the design and range of motion for the articulation varies quite a bit. The knee joints in particular are quite limited in range. And speaking of limited movement, even with eight points of articulation, Rockstealy may as well be a brick with arms. Those eight POA are rotating joints at the neck, shoulders, wrists, hips and waist. The hip articulation is particularly worthless since there is only a very small range for the articulation which will still allow the figure to stand. So you have a figure that can lift his arms and turn his head. That's it. And at first glance, it looked like Bebop was going to be the same way. But even with just the dozen points of articulation that he has, he can still replicate a fairly wide range of motions. He could still use an elbow joint, wrist articulation and a moving jaw. But he can still dance around the battlefield quite well with what he's got.
Accessories - Mystic Leo & Bebop 3/10, Mystic Raph & Don 4/10, Rocksteady 5/10, Mystic Mike 6/10The whole idea behind the Mystic Turtles is that in order to advance their ninja training the Turtles fashioned new weapons and gear as they prepared to go on a spiritual journey. So if you are going to make figures of them, the accessories are as important as the figures themselves. But the results are very hit or miss. Mystic Leonardo comes with his bow and arrow as well as his swords. But they forgot his quiver. The bow is too small. While the sheathes for his swords are so large that they make it almost impossible for him to wear them on his belt as designed. Mystic Raphael has a single, double bladed hand knife as seen in the cartoon, a spiked mace and a flame thrower. The mace and flame thrower are nice extras. But they don't make up for him not having both hand knives or his sais. Mystic Donatello has a long handled axe, a sledge hammer and a bundle of rope. Well, actually he has a lump of plastic shaped like a bundle of rope. (I guess an actual bundle of string would be too expensive.) Both the sledge hammer and axe are taken right from the show. But for some reason, they made the head of the axe comically oversized. Mystic Michelangelo has a pair of his sickle like kama as well as a spiked club. I'd rather trade in the club for his nunchukus. But I will give Mystic Mikey points for being the only one that really got his new weapons right both in design and in including two of them. As for the bad guys, Bebop has a grenade and a small, puck-like mine. Rocksteady has a hammer and a sickle. While I appreciate the inclusion of the accessories as extras, but they are definitely destined for the spare parts box. And unfortunately the lack of paint work isn't limited to the figures. None of the accessories have any paint work on them at all which is disappointing, especially for Leonardo's swords.
Value - Mystic Turtles 5/10, Bebop & Rocksteady 8/10The retail price for the basic assortment of Ninja Turtle figures is $9 to $10. That price is both the saving grace and biggest hinderance of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line. A lot of the short comings of the figures such as the limited paint work and missing accessories are understandable given they are some of the least expensive figures on the market these days. Of course the flip side is that the price is also most likely the reason why all the compromises needed to be made in the first place. That being said, it may be time for Playmates to increase the price rather than continuing to compromise their figures.
Happy Hunting:Both Bebop and Rocksteady were originally released for the 2014 Holiday season as exclusives to Wal-mart. But starting in 2015 they became a regular part of the basic assortment of figures available from any store that carries the TMNT line. And one of the things the TMNT line doesn't get enough credit for is the fact that Playmates Toys does an admirable job of keeping characters in the basic figure assortment for as long as there appears to be a demand. So despite the fact that they were released almost a year ago, all six figures are still readily available at retail.