In 2015 Playmates added the Mutations sub-line to the Ninja Turtles toy line with very little fanfare. On the figure side of things, the Mutations
subline brought us the Mix and Match figures and a number of mutating Turtles. But they didn't limit the Mutations line to just figures.
In addition to a couple of smaller mutating vehicles in the figure/vehicle assortment, they also produced a larger Mutations vehicle. The Turtle
Turbo-Charger converts from an open-top, single seat street car to an extended frame, well armed battle mode. Somehow I must have missed that
scene in the cartoon. Still, even if it isn't based on anything from the show, that doesn't mean it couldn't be a fun toy. So I suppose it is
time to check it out.
Packaging - 5/10The packaging for the Turbo-Charger is radically different than the packaging for any of the other vehicles in the TMNT toy line. It is completely open much like the eleven inch figures to encourage kids to be able to get their hands on the toy. But the design has two drawbacks to it. The first is that the vehicle is shipped with a white band around the vehicle itself to keep everything in place while in transit. It is suppose to be removed when the item is placed on the store shelf. But more often than not, when I see them in stores the band hasn't been removed. And with it still in place, the whole "try me" design of the packaging is negated. And if the band is removed, you have new issue. The transformation gimmick is meant to be very simple and quick. So there is no mechanism to lock the side panels in place when it is in the regular vehicle mode. So when it is sitting on the shelf, the panels are free to flop around which makes it look poorly constructed.
Sculpting - 4/10The Turbo-Charger is a rather unimpressive entry to the Ninja Turtle vehicle fleet. In the default, car mode, it is a fairly unremarkable car. In terms of sculpting, the only thing that identifies it as a Ninja Turtle vehicle is the shell pattern texture used in a few places. But it lacks even a fraction of the personality of the Pizza Thrower that is sits next to on most store shelves. And they left a large gap behind the driver's seat which just reeks of a lack of effort. When you transform it, it doesn't get better. The front wheels extend out on some plain looking struts and leaving a large gaping opening between them. The side panels hang out to the side with a poor excuse for a gun mounted on each one. The driver is enclosed in a full roll cage and netting. But that is only to hide some inconvenient problems with the transformation gimmick that I'll get to later. If you told me that this was an early mock-up or prototype of a Ninja Turtle vehicle, I'd have no problem believing it and would say that it showed some promise. But as a final production vehicle, it just looks unfinished.
Paint/Decals - 3/10The poor design and overall unfinished look of the sculpt is matched by the paint and decals. There's less than a handful of actual paint applications on the vehicle's two forms (roll cages, wheel rims, the top mounted launchers and front wheel struts) So that leaves large chunks of monochrome plastic, particularly in the battle mode. They did add quite a few stickers to dress it up. But the graphic design for the stickers is not well thought out. In Battle mode there are what looks like control panels on the outside on the side "wings." In the normal car or "speed" mode, they added some flame designs on the sides that look like they would be more at home on a heavy metal album cover than a TMNT vehicle. There's racing stripes and lettering that remind me of a stock car. Finally there is a sticker for the engine in the back, just ahead of the spoiler. But it looks like it has the engine mounted wrong from what I can tell. But I'm no expert on engines.
Play Value - 3/10One of the first toy lines I was ever into was M.A.S.K., a toy line that was all about cars and vehicles that transformed into fighting machines. So this should be right up my alley. But despite several decades of advancements in toy designs since then, the Turtle Turbo-Charger is a pale immitation of those toys. The transformation feature is simple. The front half of the body and the cockpit flip up and rotate one hundred and eighty degrees and revealing the projectile launchers. The feature sounds good. But in practice, the driver is also flipped and has to hang upside down in the roll cage in the battle mode. (That's why the roll cage has to have the netting to hide the driver hanging inside.) And as mentioned, the side panels flop out to the side to form wings. The fact that they don't lock into place is really disappointing. There are also a pair of projectile launchers mounted just behind the roll cage in the battle mode. They aren't particularly powerful. But sadly, they are the best that the Turtle Turbo-Charger has to offer.
Value - 4/10The Turtle Turbo-Charger is not a terribly impressive vehicle. But fortunately it has a price tag to match, just $20. That makes it cheaper than the Party Wagon or Pizza Thrower. It's the same price as the smaller figure and vehicle sets. But while those sets have smaller vehicles, they also have a unique figure. So the Turbo-Charger is at a decent price. It's just a shame that it wasn't executed better.
Happy Hunting:The Turtle Turbo-Charger was released early in 2015. And they are still on shelves today. So finding one shouldn't be an issue. If you prefer, both Target and Walmart have it listed on their websites.