This summer Playmates released a whole slew of new Half-Shell Heroes toys. In addition to the new basic figures which I already reviewed last week,
there is also several new boats and mutating vehicles. But for today I'll be checking out the two new additions to the basic vehicle assortment,
the Tread Cycle with Tank Commander Raph and the Dune Duster with Off-Road Mikey. As with the previous basic vehicles, each of these is actually
two vehicles in one. The Dune Duster is a small, two mutant dune buggy with a pull out mini-plane in the back. The Tread Cycle is a half-track
motorcycle that splits into a small tank like vehicle and a motorized scooter. I really like the idea of the dune buggy, or any vehicle that isn't
just another motorcycle. Of course, that also means I was skeptical of the Tread Cycle as being just another motorcycle. (Although to be fair,
it is the regular TMNT toy lines that have had all of the motorcycles, not the Half-Shell Heroes line.) So lets see how the new additions stack
Packaging - 8/10I've already covered the packaging design for the Half-Shell Heroes line repeatedly. So I won't waste time repeating myself here. But I like the design. And it is nice that the packaging for all of the Half-Shell Hero toys share a consistent look. I do wish that they would put in just a bit more effort and get rid of the generic text on the back of the packages that they have reused for almost all of the HSH toys. Even if the target demographic is too young to be able to actually read it, they have parents/guardians and possibly older siblings that can read it for them. It shouldn't be too much to ask for them to come up with a few sentences that actually describe the toy.
Sculpting - Tread Cycle 3/10, Dune Duster 8/10I liked the idea of the Dune Duster a lot more from the start. And when I actually got the toys opened up and out of the packaging, it turned out that my initial expectations were even more accurate than I would have expected. The Dune Duster is a little lacking in fine detail and the "roof" that is formed by the wings of the plane leave a gap between them. The ground clearance on the back half is minimal, so if a child does play with it in dirt or sand, it is going to drag through the dirt. But the combined form makes a pretty convincing looking dune buggy. And when the two parts are separated, neither looks incomplete. By contrast, the Tread Cycle is a bit of a mess in all forms. In its combined form it looks incredibly bulky for a motorcycle. And since there are no working wheels on the bottom of the treads, the entire back half has to be dragged around. When you separate them, what looked like it was going to be a chopper or touring style motorcycle turns out to be the front half of a motorcycle and a pair of exhaust pipes. It looks like Tank Commander Raph parked the back half of his motorcycle in a really bad neighborhood and this was all that was left by the time he got back. The rear, tank half of the Tread Cycle was evidentily parked in the same neighborhood, because in its separated form, it has the two large tracks with a driver's platform above them. But there are no controls for the driver. And the gap where the scooter was removed represents as much of the vehicle as the driver's platform. So from anything but a side view where the tracks hide that gap, it once again looks like a large portion of the vehicle is missing. Each vehicle comes with an exclusive Turtle figure as well. The Dune Duster has a version of Michelangelo wearing a racing suit and helmet. The Tread Cycle has Raphael dressed in a version of military fatigues as well as a helmet with ear protection and goggles. Both are new figures which actually surprised me since I originally assumed that they would reuse the Pilot Raph and Racer Raph figures (from the Drop Copter and Stealth Bike respectivly). I don't like the practice of having the Half-Shell Hero Turtles wear their clothes under their shells. But that seems to be a design decision that we are stuck with. But while I applaud the effort, they ended up looking so similar to the aforementioned figures that they may as well have reused those molds and put that effort into improving the vehicles.
Paint - Tread Cycle 4/10, Dune Duster 5/10The paint work on both vehicles is a little sparse. But in their combined forms the look decent. But when you separate the Tread Cycle and are left with the large, unpainted rear end of the scooter section and the driver's position on the tank portion which has minimal paint, then they start to look unfinished. That is true of the Dune Duster too, but to a much lesser extent. When the plane is removed, the rear is completely unpainted. But as the bed of a truck, there isn't anything there that should be painted a different color.
Play Value - Tread Cycle 2/10, Dune Duster 6/10The main feature of all of the basic assortment vehicles so far has been their ability to split into two vehicles. And the Dune Duster and Tread Cycle are no different. With the Tread Cycle, the packaging claims that it has a feature where pressing down on the exhaust pipes will make it pop a wheelie. Technically that is true. But that is more of result of the two parts not actually fitting together all that well than a real feature. So the only feature it acually has it the ability of the scooter half to roll, and that is only when separated. In short, a McDonalds Happy Meal toy has more play value. It's only redeeming quality is the fact that it comes with a figure. The Dune Duster is certainly better. When combined, the plane sits in the back and the wings form a roof for the dune buggy. There is still enough room for a second figure to sit in the rear, but they have to be hunched over. When the button on the top of the plane is pressed, the wings pop out and the plane can be popped up and out of the back of the dune buggy. It would be nice if the buggy had some sort of feature as well. but what is here is sufficient.
Value - Tread Cycle 2/10, Dune Duster 8/10The Tread Cycle was an unusual idea that had promise. But promise is all that it has. Even the included Tank Commander Raph figure isn't that different from Pilot Raph that came with the Drop Copter. The Dune Duster is a much better offering. It works well both in its combined form and as both of the separate vehicles. And a dune buggy seems like a novel enough choice of vehicle to be worth picking up even if you already have a few other vehicles.
Happy Hunting:The Dune Duster and Tread Cycle are part of the small vehicle assortment along with the Rippin' Rider, Drop Copter, Sewer Cruiser and Patrol Buggy. They have been a bit slow to arrive in some stores depending upon how quickly the old stock has sold through. But at this point they are becoming somewhat common in the stores from what I have seen.