Mondo made a big splash at San Diego Comic Con this year when they showed off their planned 12", fully articulated figures of the Ninja Turtles
based on their designs from the early Mirage comics. It was great to see a company put forth such impressive offerings considering they only
entered the toy business a year ago and very few people have even seen a finished product from them. Well that can finally change as their
first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figure has finally started to ship. Lil' Mikey is a vinyl figure based on art work by Mike Mitchell and depicts
a young Michelangelo holding one of the classic TMNT ice cream bars. It is an unusual choice for an inaugural offering, certainly not something that
is going to appeal to all TMNT fans. Though that may have been a good choice since it gives them a chance to get their feet wet in the toy
manufacturing business before tackling fan favorite designs like the Mirage Turtles shown at SDCC this year. In either case, their first actual
TMNT toy has finally shipped. So it's time to see if the long wait was worthwhile.
Packaging - 7/10The packaging for Lil' Mikey is pretty simple. It is a regular cardboard box with the image of Lil' Mikey's head layered across the top and all four sides. The UPC and the usual legal small print are all on the bottom panel. There is also a small strip of material wrapped around the box which identifies what is actually inside and who made it. For most products I would complain that the design doesn't show off the actual product well. But this is not an item that is going to be sold off of a store shelf. If you want one, you probably already know exactly what is inside. And the design is collector friendly so it could be opened and the toy displayed and then returned to the packaging later if you want without a problem. The one other detail that I am a bit put off by is the extensive use of what I assume are Japanese kanji. Mondo is a US based company. Lil' Mikey is based on a work by an American artist. And the TMNT, while present in Japan, is far more popular in the US. So it's hard to believe that the primary, target market for the Lil' Mikey vinyl figure isn't in the US as well. So it strikes me as more than a bit pretentious to label the toy in Japanese if it was just to make the toy look more like an imported toy.
Sculpting - 8/10Lil' Mikey is based on the art work of Mike Mitchell. The Lil' Mikey toy is at first glance, a very good translation of the image to a three dimensional form. But there are a couple of small issues. The Lil' Mikey image has Mikey looking up slightly, quite appropriate for a younger, smaller person who would usually have to look up to interact with a world that is designed for taller, full grown individuals. The toy lacks that slight upward gaze. It also seems like the toy's head is slightly smaller in proportion to the rest of Lil' Mikey's body than the original image. But that could be a visual illusion due to the perspective. The toy's head has no sculpted detail other than the mask. I don't know if it would actually look better, but I would like to see some sculpted detail for the mouth and cheek lines.
Paint - 7/10Most of the paint work on my Lil' Mikey figure turned out very well. The smile and various texture lines are perfect, as is his belt and shell. But they got a bit sloppy with the orange paint. It isn't horrible. On a normal six inch figure, I probably wouldn't even have noticed it. But the edge where Lil' Mikey's mask meets his face is just a bit sloppy. It is also a little sloppy where the orange "drips" down from the mask of the ice cream treat. Again, it would be a minor issue. But it is in such an important spot that it's very difficult to overlook. And on a higher end item such as this, you shouldn't have to overlook quality issues.
Articulation - 5/10Lil' Mikey has five points of articulation: neck, shoulders and just above the knee pads. All five are rotating joints. And all five are nice and tight. But ultimately, with the exception of the neck joint, the articulation doesn't really serve much purpose.
Accessories - 6/10Lil' Mikey has no actual accessories. The ice cream treat seems to be a separate piece. But I can not get it to come out of Lil' Mikey's hand without risking damage to the figure. But Mondo has been including a small promotional pin with each Lil' Mikey vinyl figure. The pins were initially given out at San Diego Comic Con in 2014. They are shaped like the ice cream treat and available in each of the four Turtle's colors. They aren't really part of the Lil' Mikey toy. But it was a nice little extra for Mondo to have included one.
Value - 5/10Lil' Mikey was originally offered for preorder for $105 with the shipping included. They later dropped the price to $85 but did not include the shipping. Needless to say, as a toy it is severely overpriced. But Lil' Mikey and other similar vinyl figures are not truly intended to be toys. They are art pieces. But even as a piece of art, Lil' Mikey as a concept is not going to appeal to all fans. And while the final product is pretty impressive for a first offering from Mondo, it is not without its issues. But if you are a TMNT fan and a fan of the Lil' Mikey artwork, and if you are fortunate enough to have an opportunity to purchase one, you'll regret passing it up.
Happy Hunting:Lil' Mikey was sold through Mondo's web site via preorder for the last few months of 2014. The preorders were closed in December of 2014 and those of us who did preorder it have been waiting for eight months to see the final results. They did have a limited number of additional stock that were available both through Mike Mitchell's web site as well as Mondo's web store as well. Though they seem to have sold out from both already. So at this point you will likely be forced to find one on the secondary market.