The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles may have been born and raised (or is that mutated and raised?) in the sewers of New York here in the United
States, but their popularity certainly hasn't been limited to the borders of the US. And while most of the merchandise that has been produced
over the years has also originated in the US, Japan has also come up with a few unique ideas and items over the years. One of those ideas was
to combine Ninja Turtle action figures with another toy that was popular there: model kits. While the US missed out on the Ninja Turtle
model kits during the vintage line, Bandai has decided to bring some of the modern versions to US toy shelves as a part of their Sprukits line.
So since my recent attempt at building my own Ninja Turtle toys was not all that impressive, I decided it was a good time to break these out
and see if Bandai could do better.
Packaging - 4/10The Sprukits are packaged in boxes which are closer in design to traditional model kit packaging than any action figure. They use the new standard graphics for TMNT products with green streaked backgrounds and there is a photo of the completed figure kit on the front. But there is also multiple photos showing the assembly process and graphics showing the difficulty level for the kits and showing that the set doesn't require tools, paint or even glue to complete. The back is even worse. Two thirds of the space is used for logos and info graphics that don't really tell you anything if you don't have experience building model kits. And if you do, then you'll be able to figure out 90% of the information just by seeing that the sets are comprised of just thirty to thirty-one pieces. I could understand designing the packaging to focus on the completed kits. I could understand wanting to emphasize the process of building the kits with photos of someone actually doing that. But these boxes seem to be designed by someone who thought the best part of these sets was reading the instruction sheet.
Sculpting - 7/10All four Turtles share the same torso and arms and very similar legs. But they did include unique heads, belts and shells. They are able to get a fair amount of unique details for each Turtle this way. But there is still an overall feeling of them being the same. They were able to give Donatello a bit more height for example, but he still has the same build as Raphael, meaning Donnie comes off as too bulky and Raphael seems a bit too thin.
Paint - 5/10 with decalsThe TMNT Sprukits have their parts molded in five different colors. So there is one color for the skin tone, one for the belts and weapons, one for the front shell, one for the rear shell and one for the masks. On paper, that sounds pretty good. But once you assemble them, the legs and arms end up be extremely large areas of just a single color since the wrappings around the fingers, wrists and ankles aren't painted. They recognized this issue though and each kit comes with decals for wrappings and the front of the mask which provides the white for the eyes. The decals do give you enough color to look decent. But since they need to be applied over the uneven, sculpted surface, so they are always going to look a bit sloppy no matter how carefully you apply them. There is a third option of course. The sets are labeled as not needing paint, but if you are willing to invest the time and money for some paint, you can paint them. And I would suggest doing so. Even if you lack any real talent like myself, they still look better with actual paint on the wrappings.
Articulation - 2/10The articulation for the Sprukit Turtles is fairly disappointing. They have rotating joints at the hips, shoulders and wrists, hinged elbows and a ball jointed neck. The shoulder joints are rather strange though. Each arm has a square protrusion at the shoulder that fits into the torso. So to move the shoulder joints, the arms need to be pulled out slightly at which point they can be rotated 90 degrees and popped back in. So each shoulder has only three positions! There's just no excuse for this. The arms are light enough that they should be able to hold their own weight without much trouble. And even if they couldn't, Bandai has been using parts molded in softer material to create tight joints in their Gundam kits for ages. They could have included two polycaps and greatly increased the range of motion for the figures.
Accessories - 5/10Each of the Turtles comes with a display base and their signature weapon(s). The weapons are molded in a single color, the same as the belts and pads. So they are a bit bland unless you take the time to paint them as well. Each figure also includes a display base which are very plain as well. But the Turtles' feet are large enough that they really don't need the support of a display base.
AssemblyThese are model kits. When you open the boxes you'll find six runners of parts, the decal sheet and instructions. Each part has to be removed from the runners and assembled. Of course, they are not very complex kits, only 31 or 32 pieces each. The entire kit can be assembled in about ten minutes with no extra tools. And to their credit, the parts come off the parts trees without much effort and with minimal additional material left on the parts. So you could just pop the parts off and assemble them. But it will turn out better if you take a little time to trim off the excess. So they make decent entry level kits. And if you take a bit of time to paint them, you do end up with a decent looking figure that has your personal touch.
Value - 4/10As entry level kits, the Ninja Turtles sets sell for $11 each. That's fairly cheap. But after all is said and done and the kits are assembled, you have a model that doesn't have the play value of the cheaper Playmates figures and with the standard decals, aren't that nice as a display piece. It's only if you take the time and invest the effort to paint them yourself that they start to be worth it.
Happy Hunting:Bandai's Sprukit line hasn't gotten a lot of retailer support. Toys R Us carries the line. Kmart also seems to carry them, but I no longer have any Kmart stores nearby. Most stores didn't stock them though. I ordered my sets from Kmart's web site. And they are no longer available there. Hopefully they will surface elsewhere in the new year.