It's been a busy year for Playmates Toys and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line. Without the distraction of the movie tie-in figures, they
were able to put out almost thirty new basic assortment figures this year including four new sets of the Turtles themselves. While series 12
gave us the Turtles in their Mystic Turtles costumes from the show, Playmates went back to a classic concept for the Turtles with series 13:
head dropping Turtles. A good ninja uses every advantage they have. So when the green teens get into trouble in a fight, they are not above
using their turtle anatomy to their advantage, whether that means shielding themselves with their shells or saving their own necks by retracting
them into their bodies. In the classic line, the Head Droppin' Turtles were one of the earliest special action feature variations of the Turtles
that was produced. And now, twenty four years later they are back for the current generation of fans to enjoy. And of course, they included a few
additional figures to fill out the line with Michelangelo in his Turflytle outfit, Baxter Stockman in his mutated fly form and Karai in her mutated
Packaging - 8/10This is just the second series to come out since the introduction of the new packaging design. I like the new cards. The larger size and more traditional proportions allows them to fit in better with other figures and previous TMNT lines. The brighter colors make the figures stand out on the store pegs well too. The unique character art on the cards for each Turtle and group image for the none Turtle characters makes searching for figures on store pegs. The back of the cards still have the character bio and photos of other figures that are available in the basic assortment. So graphically I like the change. But unfortunately they also reduced the thickness of the blister material. Now they are quite easy to dent or bend. And I have seen a lot of figures where the packaging has been completely crushed which certainly doesn't make them more attractive to potential buyers.
Sculpting - Head Droppin' Turtles 5/10 Karai & Turflytle 7/10, Stockman Fly 8/10The foru Head Droppin' Turtles all share a single body and limbs. So the only distinguishing features are the unique heads and belts. Of course, since the Nickelodeon version of the Turtles all have different body types. So they were forced to come up with a compromise that doesn't really fit any one of the Turtles. They also had to shrink down the heads to make them able to fit within the bodies. So in the end you have a set of fairly bland Turtles. If you want a better Turtle, Mikey as the Turflytle is a good choice. Essentially he is identical to Battle Shell Michelangelo but without the opening shell and with the back half of the belt replaced to add the four fake arms. It would have been nice if the entire outfit was removable. But it is a nice figure even with the arms permanently attached. Serpent Karai turned out quite well also. Her head sculpt is excellent. Hopefully they can take advantage of it and make a Karai figure in her human form soon. The rest of her serpent form is well executed and matches the show. I do wish that they had made the little amount of detail for her outfit a bit more pronounced given how little there is in the design. The transition where her tail section attaches to the rest of her body has a fairly large gap as well. Finally there is Baxter Stockman in his mutant fly form. He's certainly my favorite of the series. His fly head is recreated in all of it's rather creepy detail. The one issue he does have is his scale which is always a concern with Playmates' figures. But where as they normally make figures too small, Baxter is quite a bit larger than he should be.
Paint - HD Turtles & Turflytle 4/10, Karai 5/10, Stockman Fly 6/10Once again, the paint work is one of the weakest aspects of the Ninja Turtle figures. Fortunately these figures do not have major paint applications missing. The Head Droppin' Turtles are missing paint on the ankle wrappings and the finger wrappings. Mikey Turflytle is missing the paint applications on his finger wrappings as well as any paint work for the back portion of his belt or the four fake arms. Serpent Karai has a fully painted head. But the small snake heads that serve as her hands are unpainted. She could also use some paint on her tail to bring out the detail of the scales. Stockman Fly has his pants, shirt and enough of his face painted to be the best looking figure of the series. There is still a lot of detail that could be painted on his head and face and the little spikes that stick through his clothing should have been p[ainted as well. Stockman Fly is also the only figure in the series with a paint variant this time around. When first released, Stockman Fly was available with either light blue or dark blue pants.
Articulation - HD Turtles & Karai 4/10, Stockman Fly 7/10, Turflytle 8/10The articulation for Mikey Turflytle is the same as the Battle Shell Turtles, nineteen points of articulation. That gives him a great range of motion. And there are no issues with stuck or loose joints. Stockman Fly is a bit more limited with joints at the hips, shoulders, base of the wings, neck and waist. That allows him most of the range of motion that you would want from the arms and legs. Where he falls just a bit short is with a lack of small adjustments due to the lack of elbow or knee joints. It would also have been nice if his right claw was moveable. Karai Serpent has rotating joints at the base of her tail, her waist and her shoulders as well as a ball jointed neck. Her snake arms should really have been flexible, wire-frame bendible material. (Her tail might be just a bit too large for that.) Instead you have a figure with very limited range of motion. The Head Droppin' Turtles have just ten points of articulation: ball jointed hips, rotating shoulders and wrists and rotating and hinged elbows. I understand limiting the hips for the sake of the action feature. But that doesn't account for the shoulders with just a single rotating joint which is quite limiting.
Accessories - HD Turtles 3/10, Turflytle & Stockman Fly 5/10, & Karai 6/10This series of figures is not packing much for accessories. Each of the Head Droppin' Turtles has unpainted versions of their signature weapon(s). That's pretty much the limit for how little they could get away with including for these figures. Mikey Turflytle comes with removable wings and head gear. The wings are quite colorful and bright. But it would be nice if they moved. The head gear stays on surprisingly well, though I still wouldn't trust it to stay on while a child is playing with the figure. Karai has her serpent head mask that fits over her human head. It fits just right, snug enough to stay in place but not too loose. Stockman Fly has an unpainted, partially unwrapped chocolate bar. I'd rather see a mutagen container or some other more useful items include with him. But it's nice to see that they gave him something.
Features - HD Turtles 4/10, Turflytle, Stockman Fly & Karai 0/10If you haven't caught on by now based on their name, or the multiple times I've mentioned it already, the Head Droppin' Turtles do have a built-in action feature. You can press down on their heads to puch them down into the torso and they will lock into place with just their eyes and the top of their heads sticking out. By squeezing their legs together, the mechanism holding the head down will release and they will pop back up just like the vintage figures. It isn't the most exciting feature. But it works well other than when the mechanism occassionally doesn't want to release. And it is extremely well suited for the Turtles.
Value - HD Turtles 5/10, Karai 6/10, Turflytle & Stockman Fly 8/10Retail price for the basic assortment figures is still under $10. It's pretty impressive that they hyave kept the price that low for all of these years even though its popularity means that they could certainly get away with charging more. Of course, the price is also the reason for a lot of the compromises we see on these figures such as limited paint work and fewer accessories. For the price, Karai, Turflytle and Baxter are all quite solid offerings and great additions to the line. The Head Droppin Turtles don't really offer as much as previous versions of the Turtles have, so unless you really love the head dropping feature, you'd probably be better off buying the Battle Shell Turtles.
Happy Hunting:The basic Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures are sold by pretty much every store that carries action fiugres, and a few that don't. So I probably don't have to tell you where to find them. This series was a bit more difficult than most to find and not all of the figures were released at the same time. HD Don and Leonardo were showing up in assortments along with Turflytle and Baxter for quite some time before HD Raphael and Michelangelo and Karai began to surface. And even when they did start to ship, Karai Serpent tended to sell out very quickly. But with time and a few newer releases for collectors and speculators to chase after, they are all becoming steadily more common finally.