It's been a while since I've written any of these reviews. But with the eighth incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to hit television
screens and with it comes a new generation of toys from Playmates Toys. We have seen previews of the Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon
throughout the summer and the cartoon itself premiered earlier this fall. But the toys did not hit store shelves until the beginning of October.
But now that the street date has past, there is a flood of new toys hitting store shelves including three scales of figures, vehicles, role playing
weapons and a new sewer lair playset. But for this review I'll be concentrating on the basics, the basic figure assortment that is. The initial
assortment brings us the four Turtles, April, Splinter and three villains.
Packaging - 8/10Rise of the TMNT brings with it a major change in art style from the 2012 line. But the packaging for the toys essentially just received a graphical update. As a long term Ninja Turtle toy collector, I appreciate that. But even if you are a new Turtles fan, the design, while a bit basic, does cover all the major bases. The figures are well showcased in the blister along with some of their weapons. Each of the four Turtles get a unique card back with their image at the top. The other figures all share common card art with all four Turtles at the top. That is a small touch, but it has already paid off for me when trying to find certain figures on the pegs in a store. Ideally we would get unique art for every figure. But this is a reasonable compromise. The back of the card has a brief description of the new show's premise, a character bio and photos of the entire series of figures at the bottom. There is also a packaging variation already for those concerned about such things. Some store have been receiving figures with a sticker on the blister promoting the return of the Pizza Points program. But all of the figures are available without the figures if you plan on keeping your figures in their plastic prison and like a cleaner look. I do have a couple of minor complaints about the new design. The primary issue being that the materials used for both the card and the plastic for the blisters are thin. This leaves the packaging open to being damaged on store shelves more easily. Being as all of these figures are fresh to store shelves, none of mine show much shelf wear. But it is going to be more of an issue over the long term than it should be. Other than the shelf wear issues, I would also just like to see a bit more effort and creativity put into the packaging. What's here is fine. But it's not going to knock anyone's socks off.
Sculpting - Baron Draxus & Splinter 5/10, Raphael & Meat Sweats 6/10, Others 7/10Playmates hasn't had a great track record with the first series of figures in a new generation of Ninja Turtle toys, presumably because the toy design process takes longer than the show production process. But the first series of Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures have turned out very well. They do suffer from scale issues which is not surprising. Playmates has always tried to maintain a fairly uniform size of figures which makes it much easier for vehicles and playsets to accommodate the figures. But the character designs for the show have the characters varying in size quite a bit. They did get the relative scale for most of the figures right. But the more extreme characters like Splinter who should be quite small, and Raph and Meat Sweats who should be much larger is a bit of an issue. The other issue which seems to be a consistent problem across all of the figures is the way the articulation was incorporated into the sculpting. There are some fairly large gaps left around shoulder, elbows and knees. All that being said, the only real complaint I had in terms of the sculpting is with Baron Draxus. His head sculpt is a bit off, extending too low and I'm disappointed that the little creatures are not removable from his shoulders.
Paint - Raphael, Splinter & Oragami Ninja 7/10, others 6/10Playmates seems to have been working hard to keep the price point for basic assortment figures in this line as low as possible. And they have had to make compromises to accomplish that. That compromise seems to be with the paint work. Fortunately they did very well in picking what to omit so that the ommissions don't become too glaringly obvious. For the Turtles, Leo, Mikey and Donatello all have markings on their skin which are omited. So that makes Raphael the best looking of the four brothers simply since he doesn't have those markings to be missing. That also holds true for Splinter and the Oragami Ninja who don't have any obvious paint apps missing from what I can see. April is missing the yellow stripes on the sleeves of her jacket. Baron Draxus is missing the gold around the cuffs of his "gloves" and some of the detailing on his head and face. Meat Sweats' entire back is unpainted. The missing paint is annoying. But at least there don't seem to be any quality control issue with all the paint apps that were done. And in the end, I can live without the missing paint apps and not be to bothered by it.
Articulation - Turtles 7/10, Meat Sweats 4/10, Splinter 2/10, others 6/10With the Rise of the TMNT figures, Playmates Toys seems to have decided to go all in with swivel hinge joints. The Turtles have ten of these joints at the ankles, knees, hips, elbows and shoulders as well as rotating wrists or forearms and a ball jointed neck. That gives each of the Turtles twelve joints and twenty three total points of articulation. That's fairly impressive. I wish that the neck joints offered a better range of motion and they could benefit from double hinged joints for the elbows and knees. But if this is the standard for the line going forward, we would be in good shape. Unfortunately it just goes downhill from the Turtles. The Origami Ninja lacks knee or ankle joints. Baron Draxus lacks ankles or wrists and his neck joint is rendered useless by the sculpted hair. April lacks wrist joints or ankle joints. Given the slender nature of these three characters at each of the locations of the missing articulation, their ommission makes sense. But it is also a worrying trend. Meat Sweats lacks knee or ankle articulation which I understand given the size of his little legs. But it is very limited range of motion for the arms and simple rotating joint for the neck that hold the big pink piggie back in the articulation department. Finally we come to Splinter and I think Playmates just didn't even bother to try with the ninja rat. He has a mere nine total points of articulation with rotating joints at the neck, waist and hips and swivel hinges for the shoulders. And then the range of motion for the neck and hips are reduced to almost nothing. That leaves you with just the shoulder joints and little else. And unlike most of the other characters, there is more than enough material her to allow elbow joints, rotating wrists and a movable tail.
Accessories - Leo, Mikey & April 8/10, Splinter 5/10, Meat Sweats & Origami Ninja 3/10, others 6/10Each of the Turtles come with regular and powered up versions of their weapon or weapons and a few throwing stars. Leo and Michelangelo also come with skateboards with rolling wheels and Donatello comes with his S.H.E.L.L.D.O.N. drone and a backpack that it can clip to for storage. The S.H.E.L.L.D.O.N. is rather underwhelming as it doesn't move or do anything. (The skateboards have rolling wheels. Why not give the drone turning props?) April also comes with a regular and powered up version of her prefered weapon, a bat. But she also comes with a nicely painted, unarticulated version of Mayhem the cat. Splinter comes with a cane sword and throwing stars. The cane sword is my favorite accessory in the series. But Splinter can't really do anything with it. Baron Draxus has two oozesquitoes and two of his little minion creatures. That's great. But I still want the ones on his shoulders to be removable. The Origami Ninja has a sickle weapon and what I think are suppose to be three origami throwing stars.If you only buy one ninja, that's probably fine. But if you get a couple or want to build a small army to take on the Turtles, it would be nice to have more variety for them. Finally we come to Meat Sweats who has two versions. The version of the figure sold in the United States comes with a tenderizer mallet and an ungloved hand. Outside of the US, the figure is suppose to come with an extended tendril. I suppose it is to be expected that such a large figure would come with fewer accessories. But seeing all of the accessories that the Turtles come packaged with, it's hard to look at Meat Sweats' two little, unpainted accessories and not think that he got short changed.
On other thing to note here, though I didn't count it towards the scores, each figure is once again coming packaged with "pizza points" which can be redeemed Through Playmates for certain bonus items. That program hasn't offically started yet. But from what is shown on the Playmates site so far, the items you can get by redeeming points are actually fairly interesting. And the number of points needed to get anything is pretty reasonable.
Value - Turtles 9/10, April 8/10, others 6/10For better or worse, Playmates has launched this new incarnation of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line with a $9 to $10 price tag for the basic figures. As I've already alluded to several times, such a low price does put some real constrants on just how much Playmates can deliver and stay at that price point. But the obvious up side is that the figures are remarkably affordable. And considering the price point, the four Turtles and April are all excellent figures. The remaining figures aren't bad. Splinter and Meat Sweats are both very nice looking figures for display, but have significant limits in terms of play value. `With their extra accessories and articulation, Baron Draxus and the Origami Ninja won't look as interesting on display in my collection. But they should be more fun for an actual child to play with.
Happy Hunting:The Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys offically hit store shelves at the start of October. And I have seen them already in most of the local Target and Walmart stores. And as time goes by and stores have more time to reset shelves to make room for the new line, they should be popping up just about everywhere that sells toys.