As a toy collector, I have done some strange things and bought some unusual items. And every so often, Playmates' creativity and my compulsion to
own every Ninja Turtle figure results in purchases that even I think are wierd. And Playmates added another pair of figures to that list
this year with the Squeeze 'Ems Turtles. Replacing the Stretch & Shout Turtles from last year as the entry level option for very young TMNT fans,
the Squeeze 'Ems Turtles combine humerous, electronic sounds, a cute design and an eye bulging, tongue wagging action feature. As a result,
the Squeeze 'Em Turtles are not likely to attract much interest from collectors.
Packaging - 5/10The Squeeze 'Em Turtles are packaged in open boxes similar to the giant Ninja Turtle figures and it seems like the priority with its design seems to be to put the figures front and center. The box is more like a platform on which the figure is mounted and a backer. There is one photo on the front showing off the action feature which along with a banner on card inviting you to try out the action feature. The back of the card is the same for both Squeeze 'Em Turtles showing the action feature being used and a few banners describing the action feature. But the most distinguishing feature is that there is a large hole in the middle of the backer, ostenibly to make it easier to hear the speaker embedded in the shell of the figure. But given how open the packaging is already, it seems quite unneccessary. The packaging does do a good job of focusing the attention on the actual figure. But if aren't distracted by the cute look of the figure you realize that the figures don't have a lot to offer beyond the one action feature.
Sculpting - 3/10The Squeeze 'EM Turtles are a very wierd mix. The body and legs look like they are meant to follow the usual super deformed style. The body is made smaller but otherwise kept undistorted. The legs have been made much shorter and the feet enlarged to give the figures a very stable stance. But the arms seem like they retain their normal length and the hands don't seem any larger than normal. So the arms end up being extremely long compared to the rest of the figure. Finally there is the head which has been made much larger, larger than even the body. But the heads are extremely plain. Leonardo and Michelangelo do get different head sculpts with slightly different masks and head shapes. But such large heads with no other details such as individual teeth or Mikey's freckles, combined with the very unnatural looking, bulbing eyes make these fairly underwhelming. They just don't have enough unique character/style to make up for the lackluster execution.
Paint - 5/10The paint work on these figures is very basic but well executed. There's zero fine detail work. And they once again failed to paint the finger wrappings. The loops on Leonardo's shoulder straps are not painted either. So you end up with figures that don't really look bad, but they aren't very impressive looking either.
Articulation - 2/10The Squeeze 'Em Turtles have a mere four points of articulation. The figures have rotating shoulders and wrists. Technically there are rotating joints are the knees as well, but they have a range of motion of about one degree, so they don't really do much. So you have basic articulation for the arms and nothing else.
Accessories - 4/10Both Squeeze 'Em Leonardo and Squeeze 'Em Michelangelo have a pair of weapons: swords for Leo and nunchuku for Michelangleo. Leonardo's swords have been made a bit wider and lack much of a point at the end for safety sake. Michelangelo's nunchukus are molded in non-pliable material and the handles are hollowed out on one side. So the weapons are compromised a bit for safety. But the compromises are not so extreme that they ruin them completely.
Action Feature - Squeeze 'Em Leo 2/10, Squeeeze 'Em Mike 4/10The Squeeze 'Em Turtles have a fairly cute and creative action feature. The plastron on the front of each Turtle is made of soft material which concels the trigger for the feature. When you squeeze the torso the eyes bulge out, the tongue extends and a sound effect is played. When you release the torso, the eyes and tongue are suppose to retract and the sound effect will finish playing. But as long as you continue to squeeze in on the chest, the sound effect will extend and continue to play. This causes a problem with my Squeeze 'Em Leonardo as the friction stops his eyes and tongue from fully retracting without some assistance, so the sound clips just keep playing until you push his eyes back in. The squeeze 'em feature has another major issue if you are a parent, there's no off switch. You can remove the batteries which requires a small screwdriver, but you can't just turn it off after your kid has been running around driving you nuts with it all day.
Value - 4/10The Squeeze 'Em Turtles sell for $20 each at retail. Looking at these as the next step beyond the Half-Shell Heroes Talking figures and it is hard to see where the additional cost is justified. The Squeeze 'Em Turtle figures are a bit taller, but their action feature doesn't work as well and they are more limited in terms of articulation and detail.
Happy Hunting:The Squeeze 'Em Turtles are a new product for 2016 and started showing up at the beginning of the year. I purchased mine at Target. But they have also shown up at Toys R Us stores and were recently added to their web store as well. They should eventually be available from Walmart stores as well.