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2012 TMNT Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael Basic Figures
Playmates Toys: Jay Cochran - 2012.07.19


Today we bring you a guest review of Playmate's new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, basic Turtles figures by John Harmon from Mint Condition Customs. You can check out hi-res images for the figure below in our GALLERY!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is back, thanks to the combined efforts of Playmates Toys and Nickelodeon. After Kevin Eastman sold off his rights to TMNT to Nickelodeon, they’ve been putting together a brand new CGI cartoon. It’s due out this fall, but the toys are just now trickling into stores. So the time is nearly upon us for full on TMNT excitement, and to help with that I’m reviewing all four of the turtles today from the basic line of figures.

PACKAGING- The new TMNT figures come in a stylish packaging that really gets your attention. All the greens and purples really make for some eye candy. The logo is prominently displayed at the top, with some artwork from the new cartoon on the side and back, along with a bio for each character. They make sure any kid knows exactly who they’re getting with these, and I really like the packaging. I’ll admit that a good colorful packaging will influence me to buy figures now just as it did when I was a little kid. TMNT especially has always had that effect on me.

SCULPT – These turtles, and every figure in the new line, are roughly on a 5 inch scale. The human characters set the scale though, which means the turtles are shorter than them. Every one of the four turtles is a different height, with Michelangelo being the shortest. I really love this, since it means every turtle has a 100% unique sculpt, which is amazing. I inspected every inch of every figure and noticed that in fact every figure is unique. From their shells, their arms, legs, even the toe prints are different. Some have intersecting lines, Donatello has swirls for toe prints, etc.

Donnie also has more bumps on his skin, whereas Raphael looks more rough (and even has a chunk of his front shell missing. Raphael has more scratches all over his body in general though. Michelangelo, being the shortest, also sports the smallest back shell. I looked at each figure and yes, even the shells are different. 4 different sizes and shapes. All four turtles also feature different facial expressions as well. Mikey has a big smirk on his face, Raph is of course angry, Donatello has a stoic look to him, and Leonardo just looks ready for action.

All the turtles have 3 toes now, instead of two. One large toe, and two smaller toes off to the side. This has never been done before with TMNT, and it has actually been causing quite the controversy, though I actually think it makes sense, since they have three fingers. I really can’t get over how cool it is to have each turtle be a 100% unique sculpt. I don’t think we’ve ever seen that before, though I’m always glad to be corrected if I’m wrong. I could go on and on about how great their sculpts are, but I think I’ll let the pictures do the talking from here about this.

PAINT - Now this is one area the figures fall short. There aren’t a whole lot of paint applications that really bring out the detail in these figures. They seem to have been mostly cast in the appropriate colors, meaning each turtle was mostly cast in whatever shade of green they are supposed to be. This is something I’ve always loved about the turtles; they’re different shades of green. Leonardo is true green, Donatello is olive green, Michelangelo is a light yellow green, and Raphael is a dark blue green. For that, I think Playmates did a great job. But still, some kind of paint wash or dry brushing would have really helped bring the sculpt out.

Still, I’m surprised at all the small detailing on the figures. All the wraps and pads are painted of course, and Leonardo and Donatello have extra detailing on their belts. They actually painted the buckles on Leo’s belt and the hoop ring on Donnie’s, which is nice. Playmates has always had this problem though. They usually have really detailed sculpts, especially in the vintage line, but with very few paint applications. I guess it’s a choice of either giving really good paint jobs to the figures, or keeping them inexpensive. It would be nice to find a middle ground though.

ARTICULATION – All 4 turtles share the same articulation model. A true ball jointed head, ball jointed shoulders, swivel-hinged elbows, cut wrists, ball jointed hips, and swivel-hinged knees. Every joint works just fine, and is nice and tight. I really love the giant ball jointed neck as well, since it allows the turtles to look up and down, as well as side-to-side. Leo and Donnie don’t look up as much as the others though, because their shells are larger and prohibit this some.

I’m actually quite pleased with the level of articulation we got with these. Easily the most articulated TMNT figures to date (from Playmates), and while there could have been MORE articulation, I think this works just fine. You can still get some good action poses out of them, and they stand quite easily. Large feet ensure this. Some will be happy with the articulation, some won’t. It all depends on your preference.

ACCESSORIES – Playmates has never skipped on the accessories for their TMNT figures, and that is true here as well. Every figure comes packaged with their signature weapons next to the figure, and a plastic tree of other figures that you’re meant to break free yourself, just like in the vintage days, which is either cool or frustrating depending on your viewpoint. Here’s a list of each turtle with their accessories:

Leonardo – Two katanas, extra sword, two ninja stars, small dagger, three kunai throwing knives

Michelangelo – Two sets of nunchaku (with real chains), kusarigama (with real chain), two small shuriken, two large shuriken

Donatello – Bo staff, naginata, two large bladed ninja throwing discs, trisected bo staff (with each segment connected with real chain)

Raphael – Two sais, two Juttes (half sais), two large shuriken, two Chinese Hook Swords

So yes, they come packed with accessories. They’re not without fault though. I remember seeing the prototypes for these figures, and not only were they fully detail painted, but so were their weapons. I get why Donnie’s weapons were cast in red brown, or why Mikey’s were cast in orange, but when the blade on the end of Donnie’s naginata is also brown, or the blade and chain of his kusarigama is orange, then to me there’s a problem.

The prototypes had fully painted weapons, and Michelangelo’s weapons had actual metal chains for his nunchucks and kusurigama. That’s what I was expecting to get with the figures, but instead we get more plastic static chain. It wouldn’t be difficult for a customizer to give them real chains (as well as on Donnie’s trisected bo staff), but I do wish the factory figures had come like that. I know that prototypes always look different from the actual product, but this seems too different to me. I suppose it’s another case of Playmates trying to keep them as inexpensive as possible.

FUN – They’re the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They are instant fun, no matter what versions of them you’re playing with. They’re anthropomorphized turtles who practice ninjutsu and use ninja weapons to stop Shredder and the Foot Clan from taking over New York. If you didn’t think any part of that last sentence was awesome, you’re dead inside. But seriously, these figures are loads of fun. The added articulation helps, as does the plethora of weapons. I don’t think the TMNT will ever stop being fun. They’re a million dollar idea that keep making more and more money, because newer generations of kids realize just how fun they are. I don’t think any fan or collector would be disappointed with the fun factor with these guys.

OVERALL – They’re really good figures. They’d be great with realistic looking weapons, and they’d be perfect with detailed paint jobs, but they’re still very nice figures. The sculpts are beautiful, with each turtle being 100% unique. The articulation was a big surprise as well, considering Playmates hardly ever puts good articulation on their figures. The accessories, while plentiful, are disappointing with their lack of paint and real chains. With all that being said, they’re still a ton of fun to play with, and I’d be lying if I said they didn’t make me feel like a kid again. TMNT is definitely back in a big way, and once all the toys launch in full in conjunction with the new cartoon, I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see TMNT fever again.

FINAL SCORE: 3 / 5
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