Some of the coolest items that Playmates produced in the classic toy line in my opinion were the Mini-Mutants and some of their playsets. Among those
items were the Turtle-in-a-Turtle playsets. These larger, articulated Turtle figures opened up to reveal cool, multi-level themed playsets inside.
They were a cool idea and well executed. But if you were a fan of the full sized figures, you could only dream of such a playset scaled to fit the
full regular figures. I don't know if that was the inspiration, but two decades later, the next generation got just that last year in the form of the
Mutations Giant Leonardo Playset. This two foot tall, articulated version of Leonardo opens up to reveal multiple play areas for your figures to
inhabit. It may have taken a couple of decades to become a reality, but the early indications are that this set was worth the wait.
Packaging - 7/10The Mutations Giant Leonardo playset comes in a large rectangular box similar to the one for the Secret Sewer Lair. The box itself is approximately fifteen by twenty seven inches and slightly deeper at nine inches. And as with the sewer lair, the box is designed to be displayed horizontally on one side and vertically on the other. That is useful design trait for stores, but it also means that if you are a MIB collector you have more options for displaying it as well. Since it is technically part of the Mutations sub line, the graphics on the box match the other Mutations products as well. But as impressive as the packaging is due to its sheer size, the photos used on it are a bit underwhelming. The problem is that one side of the box has a large photo of the set in it's figure form. But that photo has a filter applied to it so it isn't obvious that it is an actual photo of the toy. And the other side of the box has a large drawing of the opened playset with various characters interacting with it. The drawn image is slightly reminescent of the art on the original toys, but to me, both images suffer from being in the mushy middle. The photo isn't allowed to look like an actual photo and the drawn art work is not nearly as over the top or interesting as the old school artwork. None of that is to say the packaging is unattractive, it just doesn't have the impact or wow factor that it should and could have. On the positive side, the box does seem to be fairly sturdy and holds up to shelf wear well.
Sculpting - 5/10My first impression of the Giant Leonardo Playset was that it is quite impressive. But as I spent the time applying all of the stickers, I realized that the design is ambitious, but the actual sculpting work is far less ambitious. The high point is certainly his Turtle form. It is fully sculpted. Though it does have a lot of extra joints and seams present due to the transformation. And Leo himself is a bit odd looking. His feet are huge while his legs and head are tiny. He actually reminds me a lot of the Turtle Trolls from the end of the classic toy line. He just needs a head of wild blue hair. When you open him up into a play set though, it's not nearly as impressive. The packaging claims there are 8 play areas included. But most of them are not well fleshed out. The best are the two areas in the feet. They are small, but they do have sculpted panels to form the back walls and fill in much of that space. By contrast, the "skate park" and "computer lab" are just the insides of the shell and plastron repectively. They have only the absolute minimum amount of sculpted/molded parts. The remaining four areas which are formed by the central tower and two side platforms are only marginally better.
Paint/Decals - 6/10In his Turtle form, Leonardo is fully painted. And he looks great in that form. When you open him up, there is almost no paint work. They make up for that with two large sheets full of decals that need to be applied. Once they are applied, they do add a lot of visual interest to the playset. But even with out them, there are so many different parts, most molded in different colors, that the playset doesn't look dull.
Play Value - 8/10The Mutations Giant Leonardo Playset is an impressive set. While his giant Turtle form is sort of annomilous in that it doesn't really fit in size or style with any other TMNT toys. It is still a cool display piece and a great way to store the playset when not in use. And in its playset form, it is the type of playset I really like, it serves mostly as an environment in which and with which the figures can interact. But it does have a couple of notable drawbacks. The biggest is the lack of a real floor in the computer lab or skate park areas which makes it very difficult for figures to stand in either. I also wish that they had gone the extra mile and designed a way for the set to connect to the existing Secret Sewer Lair playset. That may seem like asking a lot. But Playmates sold a lot of those sets and continues to try to sell it again in the Out of the Shadows movie line. So planning ahead and using this playset to expand the old one could have made it feel like they were breathing new life into the set instead of trying to replace it. Those drawbacks aside, the set does have some interesting features built in. The computer lab has a manhole cover trap door. The central tower has a trick panel to send figures flying and a traffic light pole that figures can hang from and use to flip down for a surprise attack. Each leg serves as a secret passage down to the environments in the feet. There is also a fold out ramp off of the skate park and a ladder off of the computer lab in the front. And of course a skate park wouldn't be much use without a board, so they even included a skateboard accessory that locks in place for storage so it won't get lost, or at least in theory it won't.
Value - 8/10As a kid who grew up with toy lines that all had large playsets, opening, assembling and putting all of the stickers on this set gave me such a sense of nostalgia that it would have almost have been worth the $100 price tag for that alone. But even if you aren't a child of the eighties whose head is filled with memories of Greyskull, Snake Mountain, Boulder Hill and more, the Giant Leonardo Playset is still a great playset with lots of areas and opportunities to interact with figures. And even when not in use, you have a cute dwarf Leonardo figure to display. I really like the way Playmates has designed the playsets for this line, creating robust environments with well incorporated features that don't dominate the playset.
Happy Hunting:The Mutations Giant Leonardo Playset was released back in 2015 and was widely available from most stores that carried the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line through the holiday season. Presently, with the set now almost a year old and it is now competing for space with the second movie toy line on toy shelves. So a lot of stores have stopped stocking it. But even so, I do still see it quite frequently at both Toys R Us and Target stores. And of course it is available online as well from both companies' websites as well.