We live in a wonderful age. Kids today have access to toys and things that were nearly inconcievable when I was a child. (Darn spoiled brats!)
But sometimes the simplest things can still be the best. And there are few joys more pure than a kid playing in the tub with his or her favorite
bath toys. But there hasn't been many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys designed for that purpose. But with the Half-Shell Heroes line, Playmates
Toys has a perfect opportunity to rectify that oversight. They have released a new assortment of vehicles which includes two boats designed to
played with in the water. They have also added a third vehicle to the medium vehicle assortment (the one that includes the Shred Tread and Stealth
Bike), a hovercraft. While it isn't designed to actually float, it's close enough in theme that I'm going to toss it in with the other two. Just
don't blame me if yours ends up in Davey Jones' Locker.
Packaging - 8/10The packaging for the boat assortment isn't much different than all of the previous vehicles in the Half-Shell Heroes line. They are packaged a bit higher and have a raised bottom with water splash graphics to make it look like the boats are floating. It's a cute touch. The hovercraft is a bit bigger and too wide to be packaged sitting flat on the bottom. So it rests at an angle with one edge along the back and one along the bottom. I like the design and the fact that it is consistent over the entire HSH line. And it seems to hold up better to wear and tear than I would have expected for having so many exposed edges.
Sculpting - Fire Boat 3/10, Dive Boat 5/10, Hovercraft 7/10The sculpting for the boats is quite underwhelming. The Fire Boat has very little detail at all. And the cabin area in the center which takes up most of the space is just a shell with nothing inside. That would be fine if it was closed up. But the area that is most lacking in detail is the spot where the figure stands. And other than the cabin, the only other major feature on deck is the water cannon on the front. And I'm pretty sure whoever designed it has never seen an actual water cannon used for fighting fires, so they went with a regular looking cannon with a narrow nossel on the end. The Dive Boat is better. There's more details designed into it. But certain parts such as the control console and the purple material along the edge of the boat don't have very sharp details. I'm assuming that is a limitation of the vinyl material used for those pieces. But overall, it at least seems like they completed the entire deck rather than just a shell as with the fire boat. Finally there is the hovercraft. Since it isn't intended to actually float, the entire vehicle is made of the harder plastic that we are used to. So the detail is sharper. The engine and fans on the back look good. And I love how they designed the front to look like Leonardo's face. Unfortunately they did not use the space available very well. They put in positions for four figures to stand, with each having a set of handles to hold. But none of those positions seems to actually be the driver's. There's also a decent size area in the front that can be accessed via the action feature, but it is just empty.
The three figures included are new and reasonably well done. Diver Donnie ends up being slightly underwhelming as the only difference between this version and the Donnie with luge version are small patches on the front and back of the belt and small pads on the shoulders. But I suppose if you put a Turtle in a wet suit, you still end up with a Turtle shape. Raph and Leo are much more obviously new figures. Both sport new headgear and lifevests, safety first! The minor variations of each Turtle are not the most exciting, but I can't argue that they aren't well sculpted.
Paint - Fire Boat 3/10, Dive Boat 4/10, Hovercraft 5/10The paint work on all three of these vehicles is sparse at best. The hovercraft has the top of the mask/bow and the propellers in the fans painted. Beyond that the different colored plastic provides all of the color. Similarly, the paint work on the Dive Boat is limited to the vertical support and horn just behind the captain's chair. The Fire Boat has the most painted surface area. But most of that is the white portions of the boat's deck. Beyond that, it's the cannon support, windows and a couple of details on the cabin exterior that are painted. The quality of the painting is fine, both on the Fire Boat and the others. There's just no significant effort to do detail work, especially on the Fire Boat. As for the figures, Leonardo is fully painted. He actually the best looking part of the three sets. Diver Donnie is mostly purple with just his hands, face and belt breaking up the monotony. Captain Raph sports a nice bright red life vest. But they didn't paint the small portion of his shell that is visible below his belt or his shell. He's certainly better than Diver Donnie. But Sea Rescue Leo is much nicer looking than either of them.
Play Value - Fire Boat 3/10, Dive Boat 4/10, Hovercraft 6/10Both the Fire Boat and Dive Boat will float in water. But all three also have wheels built in so they can be used without water as well. The Fire Boat and Dive Boat even have the wheels mounted off center so that as they roll along, the boats will rock back and forth as though it is being tossed on the waves. But without water, that is the extent of the Fire Boat's features. In the water, there is a button on the rear which will pump water through the boat and spray it out of the cannon. The spray isn't that strong, but it gets decent distance. The Dive Boat has two features, a large claw at the front and a hook mounted on the side that can be lowered and then pulled back up by pulling on the life preserver on the back. The claw can be rotated and angled from stright forward to about fifteen degrees past straight up. But that isn't far enough to be able to actually reach anything to grab. And the claw is too small to really hold anything anyways. The retractable line is good idea. It can even be hooked onto Diver Donnie's helmet to pull him up from the depths of the ocean, as long as those depths don't exceed six inches. The Hovercraft has just one feature, by pressing down on the air intake above the engine the bow of the hovercraft opens up like a mouth. This way you can capture enemy figures or rescue friends. Or I suppose it could be used to turn the hovercraft into a military style landing craft. It's not the most exciting feature, but it is one that can be used anywhere and is generic enough that a young child should be able to find multiple creative uses for it.
Value - Fire Boat 3/10, Dive Boat 5/10, Hovercraft 6/10The Fire Boat and Dive Boat comprise a new assortment of vehicles and sell for $17 in most stores. The hovercraft is part of the medium vehicle assortment along with the Stealth Bike and Shred Tread and sells for $20. The Fire Boat is pretty disappointing. Outside of the water, it just doesn't have much to offer other than looking like a boat. And it doesn't even really look like a very good boat. The Dive Boat is better, both in terms of its appearance and features. But better doesn't mean great. And its claw and tow rope features are pretty limited. The hovercraft is the best looking of the three, seats more figures and its play feature should be a lot of fun for a young kid. So even at a slightly higher price, it is still a better value.
Happy Hunting:The Fire Boat and Dive Boat are shipping together as their own assortment. They have been shipping since earlier this summer. At this point they are available at most of the stores that stock the Half-Shell Heroes toy line. Finding the Hovercraft on the otherhand could prove more difficult. It is part of the same assortment as the Stealth Bike and Shred Tread. But that assortment seems to getting dropped by most stores so very few have been receiving new stock. I ended up ordering mine from Walmart.com since none of the stores near me ever received them. Of course, a week after I received my order the Walmart closest to me had two in stock. I guess a watched pot really doesn't ever boil.