I've been reviewing the Mega Bloks sets for the modern Ninja Turtle line based on the current Nickelodeon cartoon, but thus far I have
just been covering the small sets and the individual blind bag figures. While those were nice, the real fun is when you start to get
into the bigger sets. And that's just what I'll be doing today. There were three larger sets released for the line in 2016, the Paarty
Wagon with Raphael and Shredder, the Sewer Lair with Leonardo, Tiger Claw and a Foot Soldier and the Transforming Turtle Mech with
Michelangelo and two Kraangdroids. While I would normally do seperate reviews for each, after assembling them I found that my opinions on
all three are quite similar. So in the interest of brevity, I'll ccombine the reviews for all three.
Packaging - 8/10I get the distinct impression that the packaging design for this line was designed with these larger sets in mind and then had to be altered to work for the smaller sets. But here with the larger sized boxes, the design works quite well. You get large images of the set on both the front and back while still having room to show off the included figures on the front and the action features shown on the back. There is still a photo of all the sets in the line on the back. And it is still awfully small. There isn't even room on it to include the proper names for each set, only the product code. But the product code is worthless to most customers. The construction of the boxes is worth noting as well. The material is a nice, stiff card board. That is great in that the boxes hold up well. But they are a pain to open. There is a perferated semicircle on the bottom that is supposed to be used to open the box. But it's pointless since all of the panels are glued together. I opened my sets by running a pocket knife along each seam to cut through the glue. But I imagine most people will have to destroy the boxes just to get them open.
Sculpting/Design - Party Wagon 7/10, Sewer Lair 8/10, Turtle Mech 5/10The concepts behind all three of these sets are great. But the execution for the Turtle Mech creates some issues. And that is on top of a significant issue for all three sets: they are all too small. That is the only real issue I have with the Party Wagon. It is barely wide enough for a single figure. The Raphael figure included with the set can only fit in the driver's seat thanks to the extra space on the sides where the windows are. And it just looks wrong that the Turtle Racer is the same width as this van. I realize that making it wider would have required more pieces and therefore a higher price. But it shouldn't have been that that much more. Other than that, the Party Wagon is a great version of the design from the show. But it could really use some more interesting features.
The Sewer Lair is the best of the three. Mega Bloks was quite ambitious with the design given the relatively low piece count. The set has multiple levels and at least half a dozen seperate areas. And I really love the overall design. It really feels like this is a repurposed set of sewer pipes and juction points. Granted, it isn't accurate to the show at all. But based solely on design concept, this is my favorite construction brick sewer lair going all the way back to the 2003 Mega Bloks line. The design also means that you can place some of the smaller sets like the Pizza Fury and Dojo Combat sets next to the lair and they blend in well despite the fact that they aren't actually designed to connect together. It's just a shame then that the set is so small. There's really only room for a single figure in any of the different areas other than the couch. And even there, the couch is clearly designed to look like it would seat all four Turtles. But it will only actually fit two figures comfortablly.
And then we come to the Transforming Turtle Mech. To its credit, the Turtle Mech looks great. It's big and imposing as it stomps towards any enemy figures. And each of the individual sections have great little design details. I was thrilled with the Mech, right up until I put the Michelangelo figure into the chest and found out he didn't fit! There are four compartments in the chest to hold all of the Turtles. But while it looks like the figure should stand in the compartments, they actually have to sit in the compartments with the legs of any figure in the top two compartments dangling in the face of the ones down below. And even then, they tend to hit their heads on the top. But it was when I went to transform it that I really felt let down. It doesn't really transform. The "transformation" consists of ripping the arms and legs off, taking the four tires off of the sides of the feet and attaching them to where the limbs were previously. They made no attempt to use the arms or legs in the vehicle mode. You're just leaving almost half of the set behind, unused. That's really underwhelming. And it means I will likely never put it into vehicle mode again.
Paint - 8/10The Nickelodeon cartoon has a fairly dark look to it overall. So it's nice to see that they keep that look for these sets. There are a few bits of brighter colors to the sets. But overall, all three sets match the look of the show well. And they do have some special pieces with decorative printing on them, but only a couple per set. That's probably for the best. The sets could have been improved with more printed graphics to add more details. But making that many unique pieces that you would have to keep track of during assembly would have been annoying.
Accessories - 5/10Each of these three sets comes with weapons for all of the included figures but not much else. The Party Wagon does have a single bomb which is reminescent of the vintage Party Wagon toy. And it can be stored in the back and deployed by flipping down the rear tailgate. (Some one should point out to Mega Bloks that the Party Wagon shouldn't have a tailgate.) The Party Wagon also has a seemingly random extra tire included which I'll talk about later. The Sewer Lair has a few optional components such as a sparing dummy and the television. But it's hard to call them accessories. So the only real accessories included are a crate to use as a coffee table and a purple laptop. That's not all that impressive, but they are better than nothing, which is what you get with the Turtle Mech set. Granted, there isn't anything in particular that is missing from the sets. But it would be nice to have a few little extras included.
Features - Party Wagon 7/10 Sewer Lair 5/10, Turtle Mech 4/10The Party Wagon is the smallest of the three sets. But they managed to give it almost all of the interesting features. It has a flip-down, armored visor, an opening side door with a small ledge and handles so a figure can ride on the inside of the door, the bomb that can be dropped out of the rear and a neat action feature built into the spoile on the roof. The spoiler is spring loaded so if you press down on the back and release it, it will toss the extra tire as a projectile. In addition to all of that, each of the Turtles included with these sets has a built-in action feature. For Raphael the feature allows you to rotate both arms up and they will lock into place. Then pressing the button on Raph's shell will cause his arms to slam downward. Of course that also means that the arms can't be moved and positioned as freely as a normal figure. And of course it also has a ball hitch on the back to tow the Turtle Racer if you have both sets. That's quite a bit of features to pack in a set of this size. The only thing it lacks is the ability to carry all four Turtles at the same time.
The Sewer Lair also has a few built-in action features. Leonardo has an ascender pack built into his shell with a retractable string. It's nice. But it would be better if you could lock it in an extended position and activate it when you want to instead of it retracting as soon as you release it. There is an "exploding" platform at the bottom of the sewer pipe, a rope to swing from and a rotating weapon rack and training dummy. So it has enough features, but it is still primarily a play environment. But it's too small as a playset as it doesn't fit multiple figures in any one area comfortablely.
Finally there is the Turtle Mech. The Michelangelo figure which is included in the set will swing his left arm down and back up when the button on his shell is pressed and released. That's a fairly basic feature, but at least it doesn't get in the way of the regular arm movement very much. The Mech itself has an opening jaw, moveable claws on both hands and feet, a projectile launcher that is usable in both modes and it is actually well articulated with over thirty points of articulation. But the wheels kind of fall off metaphorically speaking when you come to the transformation. By removing the limbs you are getting rid of most of the articulation other than the neck and jaw. Otherwise its vehicle mode is just a fat, single seat car. And to make it worse, the wheels aren't quite large enough to keep it from rubbing on the ground. If they had just called this a Turtle Mech set and it happened to have the option of changing it into the vehicle mode as a bonus I probably would have been much less disappointed. But when you highlight the transformation as part of the title of the set, you had better get the transformation right. And they didn't.
Value - Party Wagon 9/10, Sewer Lair & Turtle Mech 7/10The Party Wagon originally sold for $20 while the Sewer Lair and Turtle Mech carried price tags of $40 and $50 respectively. Those are pretty resonable prices for these sets. I like these sets just as much as any of the sets put out by Lego a few years ago and these cost a fraction of the price of the Lego sets. And if you can pick them up on clearance now that they are rebranding Mega Bloks into Mega Construx, they can be an amazing value.
Happy Hunting:Mattel is rebranding Mega Bloks into Mega Construx starting in 2017. Because of that, many stores seem to be dropping the sets from the previous year. While it does mean that you can get some great deals on the sets, it also means that they are rapidly disappearing from retail shelves. So far Toys R Us seems to be keeping the older sets available for now. And the Party Wagon and Turtle Mech are available at Target's web site. But if you want them, I would not wait too much longer.