The introduction of the Mutations label to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line meant that we were going to be seeing more transforming/
mutating figures. So it was no surprise to see new versions of the Turtles who mutated into pet turtles. But Playmates Toys is also introducing
some completely new ideas with versions of three of the brothers that transform into their own weapons. Well, it isn't exactly a new idea.
Toy Biz was doing it, often with hysterical results. But this is the first time we've seen the Green Teens attempt this trick. And it is
quite the trick for the Turtles since they don't just transform into one of their weapons. NO! Raphael, Leonardo and Michelangelo all split
in half and transform to form a pair of weapons. It's an ambitious concept. And frankly, even if they pull it off, it's not likely to get much
respect from collectors who generally ignore TMNT role playing toys. But for now, it's time to give them their fifteen minutes of fame.
Packaging - 6/10Playmates Toys went all out for the packaging for the Ninja Turtle into Weapon figures, and in the end probably went overboard with it. The figures are packaged in a relatively large box for a figure of this size. The full figure is displayed in the window on the right with the logos and character name at the bottom. The left side has a flap with a photo of a child playing with the weapon form. By flipping the flap up, you can see the entire transformation process. The back of the box is fairly standard with photos of the toy in both forms and small photos of the other two figures at the bottom. It is an interesting design, but it seems like it is trying far too hard to sell you on the transformation gimmick. (Is it really necessary to show the entire transformation process?) It really becomes clear when you open the boxes and see that two thirds is just wasted empty space. If they really wanted to make use of that space, they should have packaged each figure split in half with half in the weapon form and half in Ninja Turtle form and then use the flap to let you see one or the other.
Sculpting - 4/10I didn't have great hopes for these figures. I've seen other companies try to tackle the same concept in the past and the results have generally been pretty laughable. (Let me Google that for you.) Fortunately these figures are not quite that bad. But Playmates still fell into the same trap with these as most attempts, the best they are able to accomplish is a facade of the character that still doesn't look good. It's humanoid in shape and has a Turtle head. But they are boxy and have a noticable crack going down the middle. And that is the best angle. From the side or back, they are obviously just a collection of random parts that are holding a humanoid shape. Only Raph even has any indication of a shell and that is just a rough shape and tiny amount of texture along one edge. That would be okay if the weapon forms were impressive. They are not. They have all the same problems, just in reverse. They have the basic shape of the weapons, but from most angles Turtle parts are clearly visible. Really, the only reason I'm being as generous with the score as I am here is that Playmates hasn't really done any worse than other companies who have tackled this sort of figure.
Paint - 4/10The paint work is a bit sparse, but well executed. With all of the parts needed for the transformation, they were able to get most of the appropriate colors from the color of the plastic. So they didn't really need much paint. Even so, there are still a number of details that were skipped such as the wrappings on the fingers and feet and the loops on Leonardo's shoulder straps. They also left the recessed areas for the handle portions unpainted. But that may have been intentional since it allows those area to blend in better with the areas sculpted to look like the Turtles' legs in both forms.
Articulation - 2/10Each Turtle has six points of articulation, all in their arms. Raphael and Michelangelo have ball jointed shoulders, hinged elbows and rotating wrists. Leonardo has rotating and hinged shoulders and a hinge just under the elbow. The rest of the figures are immobile bricks. While it is nice that they tried to add the articulation for the arms, they are akward and not very useful. There is one minor bright point in that they made Raphael's hands from a pliable material so it is much easier to slide his weapons in and out of his hands.
Accessories - Leonardo 3/10, Raphael & Michelangelo 4/10Each Ninja Turtle into Weapon figures comes with a pair of their signature weapons to use in their Ninja Turtle form. Leonardo's swords are quite generic and unpainted. Michelangelo's nunchuk are notable for being the first set made of soft, pliable material. So they can be bent and positioned however you want without causing stress lines in the material and risk of breakage. Raphael is the only one of the three to get a "transforming" weapon. His sais have a retractable center prong that can be pushed back into the handle. I suppose the extra effort is nice. But the result of retracting the center prong is a weird looking blend of a monsterous tuning fork and a cattle prod. If they had made the center prong spring loaded it could have at least worked like a prop knife. Now he's just ready to serve a large bowl of salad.
Action Feature - Leonardo 7/10, Michelangelo 8/10, Raphael 9/10Obviously the main feature of the Ninja Turtle into Weapon figures is their ability to transform from Turtles to weapons. And in this one aspect, they aren't bad. The transformations are short enough and don't require any particularly tedious steps. So it is something a younger child should be able to do on their own pretty quickly. Raphael even makes a relatively decent looking pair of sais. Michelangelo suffers a bit since they didn't include any additional links of chain to connect his nunchuk parts together. Even just including a length of string to connect them would have been better than just attaching the loops on the end of each handle directly together. Leonardo is the least impressive of the three. To start with, he has the disadvantage that you aren't going to be able to recreate a pair of two foot long swords out of a single six inch figure. so what you end up with are more like a pair of daggers. I could live with that. But then they got exceptionally lazy with Leonardo's arms in the conversion to his weapon form. They just sort of hand off of the front of the blade and wrap around each side to take the place of a guard for the hilt. But none of it locks into the proper position. So you have a pair of Turtle arms just flopping around off of the front of each blade. I also have a figure with a slightly loose joint in one hip which forms the connection between the blade and handle in his sword form. It's something I might be able to correct by tighting a few of the screws. But out of the packaging, Leonardo turns into a rather floppy dagger rather than a mighty katana.
Value - 2/10These are not great action figures. But Playmates did a decent job of tackling a very difficult concept. And with a retail price of $15, they aren't a bad price either. Unfortunately these figures have one simple factor working against them: Playmates already offers toys that are better than these in every way and cheaper. They have much better versions of the Turtles as action figures in the basic assortment. And they have several options for role playing weapons that are better than this. (I'm particularly fond of the foam Dojo weapons.) So outside of a child that desperately wants both to play with a Turtle figure and as a Ninja Turtle but may only have one toy, there just isn't anything that these figures offer that couldn't be gotten in a better form and for less money just a few pegs away on store shelves.
Happy Hunting:The Ninja Turtles into Weapons figures have been out on store shelves for most of 2015 and are carried by all of the major toy retailers. So finding them should not be tough. And if you are on the fence about them, there is a good chance that they may be going on clearance in the new year if Playmates decides not to continue producing them.