Playmates Toys made a big push last year to launch the Half-Shell Heroes line of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle preschool toys. They managed
to produce a fairly large line up of figures and vehicles with their initial offerings last year. And as summer came around yet again, we
have been treated to another large batch of releases including new basic figures and vehicles. For today, I'm going to focus on the new
figures that have been released. There are two new sets of Ninja Turtle variants. The first are Half-Shell Heroes versions of the Turtles
in their Dojo training gear. The second set has the four Turtles dressed in first responder gear including a police officer, construction
worker, firefighter and an EMT. Shredder's forces also get some reinforcements in the form of Bebop and Rocksteady. Dojo Donatello, EMT
Mike and Fireman Raph are not actually shipping yet. But I'm sure they will surface before too long.
Packaging - 7/10The packaging hasn't changed from the first two series of figures. Each Turtle or pair of bad guys is attached to a clear plastic tray that is open on the front and attached to the card on the back. At the bottom, the card forms an open top box around the plastic tray to allow the packaging to stand upright freely. Graphically the packaging is fairly simple and the name of each set is printed on the front and side of each on a color coded background that makes searching for particular figures on a crowded peg fairly easy. The dojo Turtles and first responder Turtles get separate card backs featuring just those four Turtles while Bebop and Rocksteady as well as Police man Leo and Road Rescue Donnie all show up on the back of the shared card back used for Bebop and Rocksteady. Each card back also recycles the same image of the complete HSH line and written description as the first two series of figures. Recycling the same write-up for every set of figures is getting repetitive. I'd consider it to be a much bigger issue if not for the fact that the target audience for this line is children who are too young to actually read. Even still, it still seems like a waste of space at this point.
Sculpting - Dojo Raph 3/10, Dojo Mikey & Road Rescue Donnie 4/10, Bebop 5/10, Policeman & Dojo Leo 6/10, Rocksteady 7/10The sculpting work is all over the board with these figures. The good news for collectors is that the figures most collectors are going to care about the most, Bebop and Rocksteady, both turned out well. Rocksteady is the best looking sculpt. The details for his costume are fairly sharp. The arms lack detail where there could easily have been some skin texture added there. Bebop is the most detailed figure in the series. He could have been the best figure in the series if not for the face and head which is extremely wide. It makes Bebop look like he is having a serious allergic reaction compared to the character design in the cartoon. All of the Turtles suffer from a common problem where the belts stick out too much while the area below their belts is recessed slightly. So all of them look a bit like their legs have been replaced with those of a slightly smaller figure. It also leaves a large gap above the legs. I also have a minor issue with Road Rescue Donnie and Policeman Leo. Both are sculpted as though they are wearing their clothes under their shells. That isn't exactly a problem. But I certainly prefer the Dojo Turtles who are sculpted with their gear over their shells. Both Dojo Leo and Policeman Leo lack much detail on their legs, but look good otherwise. Road Rescue Donnie and Dojo Mikey also lack detail on their legs. But they don't have the level of detail on the rest of the them that the two Leonardo figures have. Donnie also has some excess material around the center of the lug wrench. It is not a lot of material, but it is enough be noticeable. Dojo Mikey has similar material connecting the two halves of his nunchuks and the "chain" so no small parts break off. It's actually worse, or at least a lot more material than on Donnie's wrench. But it isn't quite as visible from most angles. Dojo Raph manages to take all of the faults of the other Turtles and make all of them worse. As with the Raph with Motorbike figure from the first series, there is webbing material connecting the prongs of his sai together which is hard to ignore. And there is barely any armor or detail on his legs and what is there certainly doesn't tie into the rest of the figure. It's unfortunate. I could forgive the webbing as a necessary safety precaution. But there's no excuse for the sloppy design of the legs, especially when the rest of the figure looks pretty good.
Paint - Dojo Raph & Road Rescue Donnie 3/10 & Dojo Leo & Mikey 4/10 Policeman Leo & Bebop 5/10, Rocksteady 6/10,The paint work for the Turtles leaves a lot to be desired. There's very little thought put into what should be painted or what color it should be. And there isn't much effort put into painting any small details. And all three of the Dojo Turtles have their pupils painted in such a way that they all seem to be rolling their eyes. I will at least give them credit that the paint work isn't sloppy. Dojo Raph is a bit of a mess design-wise. There is an unpainted green ring around the edge of his shell and belt on the back. And they left his crotch green. Even if they meant for it not to have armor, it should still be painted to look like his shell. As it is, it looks like Raph is not only mostly naked from the waist down, but has had a large part of his shell removed. Road Rescue Donnie just looks like they forgot to paint most of the figure. His shell, clothes and even exposed skin on his body are all just unpainted yellow. They also neglected to paint the portion of the lug wrench which sticks out from the bottom of his hand. Things improve a bit as you get to Dojo Mikey. There's nothing overlooked completely as with Dojo Raph or Road Rescue Donnie. But there is no sense of continuity between the torso and legs. There are also small, unpainted areas along most of the edges of paint applications. Dojo Leo is the best of the Dojo Turtles and looks decent at first. He is still painted with his eyes rolling up, but it isn't as bad as on Dojo Mikey and Raph. They should have painted the inside of his open mouth but didn't. His outfit is consistent, with no unpainted gaps. But it lacks detail work. They also goofed up on his sword and stopped painting it at the base of the blade, but missed the guard along the top of his hand or the bit of handle sticking out from the bottom of his fist. Policeman Leo lacks any real detail work, which is a shame since there is a lot of potential there if they where to paint the badges and other details. But at least the only major area left unpainted are the insides of his thighs which aren't very visible. As with the sculpting, Bebop and Rocksteady end up being the best looking figures of all the new releases. Bebop suffers a bit since they didn't paint the purple lines running throughout his outfit, so there is a lot of plain black space. His chest, head and backpack are fully painted. The skin tone is a bit light in my opinion and his teeth should be painted. But otherwise he looks pretty good. Rocksteady is the best figure in terms of paintwork. They failed to match the crotch to the rest of his pants. and there are a few details like the hammer and sickle symbols on his fists and toes that should have been painted. But what is done is still decent.
Articulation - Rocksteady 4/10, others 5/10All of the figures have rotating joints at the hips and neck and combination rotating and hinged joints at the shoulders. I'd certainly love to see more. But given the size of the figures and the safety risk involved with a preschool toy should any parts break off, I'm content to settle for what we got. I will say that Bebop and Rocksteady seem like their arms are thick enough that a wrist joint should have been possible with out risking breakage. It is worth noting that the shoulder joints are at a different angle than any of the other figures. As a result, his arms do not swing up to the sides but instead swing forward in a motion similar to a right or left hook in boxing. It's a little strange, but the punching motion works well for his character.
Accessories - Policeman Leo & Road Rescue Donnie 5/10, Dojo Turtles 6/10 Bebop & Rocksteady 0/10As with the previous Half-Shell Heroes two packs, Bebop and Rocksteady have no accessories. Road Rescue Donnie has a giant version of the jaws of life mounted on base plate. When the large handle at the back is pressed in, the jaws separate. Policeman Leo comes with a segway-like scooter that has two small "lights" that move up and down as the wheels of the scooter turn. Making them actually light up would have been more interesting. The scooter doesn't actually balance of course. But it has so little ground clearance that small protrusions on the front and back edge are able to keep it from tipping over on most surfaces. Both the jaws of life and scooter are almost comically oversized, but for a preschool toy, that shouldn't be a big issue. The Dojo Turtles each come with a piece of training equipment. Dojo Mikey has a heavy punching bag and rack to hold it. Dojo Leo and Raph have training dummies shaped like a Foot Soldier and Shredder. The training dummies each rotate on their base and have movable arms. Dojo Mikey's punching bag is actually mounted on the rack by a string so it actually swings when hit. The training equipment makes nice accessories. Even when it isn't being use as training equipment, it still makes a nice display piece. It's just a shame that they did not put a bit more effort into the paint work.
Value - Dojo Leo 5/10, Policeman Leo 6/10, Bebop & Rocksteady 8/10, others 4/10The basic assortment Half-Shell Heroes figures sell for $8. For Bebop and Rocksteady who are both included for that price, it would be hard to pass up this pair for anyone interested in the HSH figures. Policeman Leo is a decent figure as well, but the scooter is no substitute for a second figure. As an adult, I'm not all that interested in Turtles in police uniforms or dressed as a road construction worker. But I suspect young children might find them more interesting. They may even like Road Rescue Donnie, but I can't get past the fact that it just isn't as well made as Policeman Leo. The Dojo Turtles make more sense as a concept. But their derpy eyes and poorly executed armor means that they fail to live up to their full sized counterparts from the regular toy line.
Happy Hunting:The new Half-Shell Heroes figures began showing up in stores starting in August. I purchased most of my figures from Toys R Us. But I have also seen them at Walmarts and Target stores. They should be showing up in all stores that carry the Half-Shell Heroes toys as they replenish their stock with new shipments. Toys R Us also has some of them listed on their website already if you prefer to shop online. There is also a Dojo Donnie shown on the back of the packaging for the other Dojo Turtles, but he has not shown up in stores yet. Similarly, a version of Michelangelo as an EMT and Raphael as a firefighter are shown on some of the packages as well, but marked as "coming soon," so it could be quite a while before they show up in stores.