The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have had a home in the action figure aisle of toy stores throughout most of the last thirty years. And throughout
those years, Playmates Toys has taken multiple opportunities to try to expand the license beyond the action figure aisle. Most recently the
T-Machines line brought the Turtles back into the die-cast aisle. And Mega Bloks is making all new Ninja Turtle building block sets. But in a
surprise move, Playmates has decided to take the Ninja Turtles into the nerf gun market with a new line of TMNT themed dart guns and ammo. Playmates
has started with three different assortments of dart guns. The basic assortment includes either pistols or a crossbow, all with two barrels.
The mid-range assortment has revolver style guns that can fire four darts. Finally there are the machine gun style, talking guns that use clips
of ammo with up to six darts. While I am not normally much of a foam dart gun aficionado, I had to check these out to see if every great ninja
arsenal should include some extra firepower.
Packaging - 7/10All three style of T-Blast dart guns come in open front boxes similar to the eleven inch figures with the guns strapped to the back of the box but largely in the open. So you can see the entire gun quite clearly. You can't quite grip the handle properly since they are secured to the packaging on the back of each grip. With the toy so clearly visible, there isn't alot more for the packaging to do. The back shows off the gun again as well as a photo of a kid firing wielding it and examples of each size of T-Blast gun at the bottom.
Sculpting - Talking Shell Cannon 5/10, others 7/10These are not air soft guns. They aren't realistic replicas of actual guns or even close to it. But given the safety concerns involved with running around wielding a realistic looking gun, that is probably for the best. Instead we get weapons shaped to look like stylized versions of the Turtles' heads. They are pretty cool looking and suitably aggressive for a gun. Their size could be an issue. The handles are fairly small to fit in small hands. They are just barely large enough for an adult to hold. My pinkie finger tends to naturally slide down around the bottom of the grip instead. That's fine when paired with a normal sized weapon on the Double-Barrel and Crossbow weapons. But as you move up to the Quad-Blasters and Talking Shell Cannons, you have a massive weapon hanging out over the front of a small grip. It is solely an aesthetic issue though, as all of the T-Blasts require you to hold and pull back on the handle coming off of the back to actually fire them. That helps balance the weight quite well. And on the Double-Barrel and Quad-Blasters, the handle is designed to look like the tail of the Turtles' masks. So they don't look out of place. But on the Talking Shell Cannons, the handles are attached well below the bottom of the sculpted mask. The other major issue I have with the Shell Cannons is that the six dart clip which pops into the front of the gun at the top. Because the darts are so much larger than a real bullet, the clip had to be made quite large and blocky. It's mostly a necessary evil if you want to hold half a dozen darts. But it would have been nice if they had designed the gun to hide more of it within the body of the gun which should have been possible if it mounted to the bottom of the gun instead of the top.
Paint - 4/10The T-Blasts guns don't have a lot of paint work. The masks, teeth, and wrappings around the grip are painted and that's it. But I think that is more or less sufficient. It would be nice if the TMNT logos on each gun were painted. But beyond that, I don't know that they would look any better if they were more colorful.
Play Value/Feature - Talking Shell Cannon 3/10 Double-Barrel Guns 6/10 Quad-Blasters 8/10As I said, I'm not a dart gun fans. I have one from when I was a kid somewhere, but that's it. I don't have a Nerf arsenal. I have never had a nerf war in the office. So I really don't know what most Nerf fans look for in a foam dart weapon or how Playmates' new designs stack up against others. But there seems to be three obvious criteria: range, accuracy and ammo capacity. The packaging for each of the T-Blast weapons claim a range of up to 40 feet. That's being generous. The Talking Shell Cannon seems to be the strongest and seems to have no trouble firing at least 20 feet before they will start to drop. So you could probably get 40 feet, but only by aiming up into the air at the proper angle to maximize the distance at the cost of any hope of accuracy. The Double-Barrel weapons and Quad-Blaster are slightly less powerful, but should still be able to reach targets at 20 feet. The ammo capacity is pretty clear cut. The Double Barrel weapons hold two darts. The Quad-blasters hold four and the Shell Cannon can hold six darts in its clip. But removing, reloading and reattaching the clip to the Shell Cannon takes two hands and many times longer than just popping two darts into the Double-Barrel weapons. Loading the Quad-Blasters is also made slightly more difficult since two of the chambers are inaccessible or obstructed by the barrel at any given time. But both designs allow you to reload on the fly fairly easily. Finally there is the issue of accuracy. All three designs actually fire the darts by pulling back the small loop on the back of the weapon and releasing it to fire the dart. The trigger doesn't actually fire anything. In fact on the Shell Cannon the trigger doesn't even move. On the Quad-Blasters, the trigger rotates the chambers. And on the Double-Barrel weapons pulling the trigger allows you to select which barrel to fire. But since you must pull back on the handle and then suddenly release it to fire a dart, it can be difficult to maintain accuracy. The Quad-Blaster seems to have the best balance between the weight of the weapon and the force needed to pull back the handle and thus maintain accuracy which makes it the best T-Blast weapon overall. Meanwhile the Talking Shell Cannon adds a lot of unnecessary complexity in its operation that add very little to its play value. To start with, the darts need to be loaded into the clip and the clip loaded into the gun. Removing the clip requires you to operate a release at the same time which is tough to do while holding the gun by the handle. And at that point it doesn't become a rapid fire weapon. You still need to operate the bolt action mechanism to load a single dart into the chamber, fire it and then manually load another dart with the bolt action. This is also where the talking mechanic comes in. When the bolt knob is pulled all the way back or pushed forward to the firing position, a sound clip will play. It isn't very loud and will be largely ignored in a foam dart fire fight. But at least it can be turned off and the gun still works even without batteries.
If you are itching to start a TMNT themed nerf war, you will probably want more ammo. The boxes show additional darts styled after other characters from the cartoon including Splinter, Shredder and a handful of his mutant henchmen. But as of the time of this review, they haven't shown up in stores or online. Fortunately there are other options. The T-Blast darts are almost identical to the Nerf N-Strike Mega Darts. And refill packs of the N-Strike darts are available.
Value - Talking Shell Cannon 2/10, Double-Barrel 5/10, Quad-Blaster 7/10The Double-Barrel weapons sell for $13 at Toys R Us while the Quad-Blasters and Talking Shell Cannons are $15 and $25 respectively. They may be a Dollar or two cheaper when they show up in other stores eventually. But at these prices, they seem fairly competitive with prices for comparable Nerf brand guns. But for the small difference in price the extra ammo capacity and cool design of the Quad-Blasters makes them a better deal.
Happy Hunting:The T-blast weapons are just starting to show up as of the second week of February. In fact, Playmates Toys hadn't even announced these toys and they are already arriving in stores. I bought mine from Toys R Us. A few people have sighted them at Target stores as well. If you are too eager to wait for them to arrive in your area, they are also available online from Toys R Us' website and Amazon.com.