Another day, another review. This time it is the Paleo Patrol Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle figures. Tossing the TMNT into
prehistoric times may seem like a strange idea. But it certainly isn't unique. They have made trips to the distant past
in the original Mirage Comics.The visited dinosaurs in the original cartoon. The old toy line even had both cave-turtles
with partner dinosaurs and Turtle/dinosaur combinations. And based on the next episode previews, they are about to take
a trip to the land before time once again in the current cartoon. But while we will have to wait to see the show, the
figures have been hitting shelves since Christmas. How do these stack up in comparison? Read on.
Packaging - 8/10Playmates altered the new packaging design slightly for the Paleo Patrol figures. The basic elements and layout remains the same, but with new stone aged themed graphics. The back of the cards show the figures and their accessories as well as the various Paleo Patrol themed vehicles. The cards for the four Turtles also shows the other Turtles while Savanti and Splinter's cards have photos of each other and the three dinosaurs. The back of the cards for the three dinosaurs all use the same graphics showing all three in greater detail, but they do have a unique paragraph describing each one. The Paleo Patrol packaging changes aren't too drastic, but really set the figures apart. It looks great and is easy to pick out on the store pegs.
Sculpting - Savanti 3/10, Leo 6/10, Raph, Splinter & Mike 7/10 Don & dinos 8/10After opening the M.E.S.S. Turtles earlier this week, I was really worried about the Paleo Patrol figures. But by and large, Playmates' sculptors did a great job on these figures. I' start with the biggest disappointment, Savanti Romero. This figure has two major problems, it isn't even close to accurate to the cartoon and it is remarkably dull. The only thing that they got right on the figure is the long horns. Otherwise, the figure looks nothing like the character from the cartoon. Of course there is the possibility that Savanti will sport a new look in the cartoon, but that remains to be seen. But putting the design aside, it is just a very plain looking figure. Compare him to one of the better figures like Donatello and the lack of detail work becomes painfully obvious. Fortunately the rest of the figures turned out much better. Donatello turned out extremely well. The pads, wrist bands, straps and back pack/shell cover all have a lot of detail work. The other three turtles are similar to Donatello, but the level of detail is not entirely consistent. Leonardo in particular has a few areas where the quality slips. The shoulder pads are unrecognizable. More surprising is that there is no texturing sculpted into the exposed areas of the shell. Mike and Raph fall somewhere in between. The detail work is more consistent than on Leonardo, but there are some areas that I can't identify such as Michelangelo's shoulder pad which seems to be a hunk of pineapple rind. Splinter is a completely new mold. The head is smaller than the original Splinter figure which helps the figure to appear better scaled to the Turtles. The head is thinner than it should be though. The design of the tunic makes a nice way to translate a kimono to a prehistoric style. But the back and chest areas are dull compared to the rest of the figure. The only other comment I have about the figure is that it looks a little too young. Part of that probably comes from the paint work, but if the texturing for the fur was more pronounced I think it would have helped. All three of the dinosaurs look great. The only downside to them are the compromises that were made for the action features. All three have screw holes in there bodies. The triceratops and Pterodon at least hide them on the bottom. But the holes are along the side of the raptor's body. But the triceratops and pterodon also have a button or lever sticking out of their backs. They also could have disguised the ball joints on the pterodon better if they had continued the skin texturing onto the joint. Savanti turned out poorly, but the rest of the Paleo Patrol figures make nice additions to the line.
Paint - Savanti 2/10, Mike 4/10, pteradon 6/10, triceratops & raptor 8/10, others 7/10Savanti just can't seem to catch a break. Once again he is the clear loser of the bunch. There is NO detailed paint work on him which just makes an already dull sculpt look like a preschool toy. But then to make it worse, they got sloppy with the painting that they did bother to do. Compared to Savanti, Michelangelo looks terrific. Compared to the other Paleo Patrol figures... not so much. There is far more sloppiness on this figure than any of the others, perhaps more than all of the others combined. Michelangelo is also the only figure with a significant sculpted detail that is unpainted even if it is only a single band around one of the arms that was skipped. Finally, Paleo Patrol Mike suffers from poor color choice. The straps on the chest are far to close to the color of the plastron shell. It is painted, but a simple change to the color used would really make it stand out. The other three turtles all turned out well. This time Playmates didn't skimp and leave many of the details unpainted as they have on other figures. (M.E.S.S. Turtles, I'm looking your way.) The quality is much better than on Savanti or Mike, through there are a few stray marks. There is room for improvement, particularly if they were not limited to just a single color on any one area and painted some of the details in the areas that have a base coat of another color. As I mentioned earlier, the paint work on Splinter makes him look younger than he actually is because the light grey highlights are not as pronounced as they were on the first Splinter figure. In short, the grey rat needs more grey hair/fur. They also should have painted some of the details of the tunic to break up the large areas of the figure that are essentially monochrome. All three dinos turned out well. Of course there is the usual question of what color a dinosaur should be. I don't know if purple would have been my first guess. But all three have a two tone color scheme for their bodies with appropriate additional attention being paid details such as the horns, claws, teeth and eyes. The pterodon has two issues with its paint. The obvious one is the silver/lead color paint used for the tip of the beak. The sculpt doesn't seem to indicate that it is suppose to be a piece of armor, particularly since all of the armor is removable. But the color certainly gives that impression. The other issue is less obvious. The body is cast in a darker, brownish red color. The top of it is then painted in a slightly brighter color. But they did continue that paint onto the shoulder joints or the legs which creates a very abrupt color change where the areas meet.
Articulation - Raptor 1/10, Triceratops 2/10, Savanti 3/10, Splinter & Pteradon 4/10, others 5/10The Paleo Patrol Turtles all have the same nineteen points of articulation.
The two secondary characters are not nearly as articulated as the Turtle figures. Splinter clocks in at thirteen points of articulation: rotating and hinged hips, rotating and hinged shoulders, rotating wrists, rotating neck, the tail rotates at its base and finally the loop on his belt for his knife rotates. The way the legs are sculpted plus the hard plastic used for the tunic means the leg articulation is basically useless. The tunic also limits the range of motion of the neck. Savanti also has thirteen points of articulation: rotating and hinged hips and rotating shoulders, forearms, wrists, horns and neck. Once again poor design ruins the hips. Their effective range of motion is little better than V cut hips too often used on female figures. Having rotating joints at both ends of the forearms is simply redundant. Simply put, the original TMNT figures released in 1987 had better articulation than Savanti Romero.
The three dinosaurs are not as articulated as the figures, but dinosaur figures rarely have much articulation. The Raptor is the least articulated of the three dinos. In theory, the raptor has six points of articulation: rotating arms, hips and tail and a hinged jaw. But the hips, arms and jaw are all connected to the action feature and useless otherwise. The triceratops is a bit better. It has seven points of articulation: a hinged jaw, extending neck, rotating hips and rotating tail. The jaw and neck are part of the action feature just like the raptor. But the legs and tail do move freely even if a bit restricted by the sculpt. The pterodon has eight points of articulation: hinged shoulders, hinged head, and rotating joints where the wings attach to the shoulders, the hips and the waist. The pterodon also has the advantage of having only the shoulder hinges tied to the action feature. And they can be moved independently, but are spring loaded to return to their original position. The pterodon would benefit greatly from some additional articulation to allow the wings to be folded out of the way for non-flying poses.
Accessories - Raph & Mike 4/10, Savanti 5/10, Leo, raptor & pteradon 6/10, Don & triceratops 7/10, Splinter 9/10Paleo Patrol Raphael comes with two sais, two shuriken and a double bladed staff. The staff is his main weapon. The mold is of a wooden staff with stone sai-shaped blades on both ends. It is the only weapon which has any paint, but it is limited to the ends being painted white. They didn't even bother to paint the fabric wrapping around the middle of the staff. The sais are two different molds. One is formed from bones while the other is wooden. The details of the molds are nice, but sadly they are completely unpainted. The shuriken are two different molds. both are sculpted to look like they are made of stone. One has a square hole in the center with eight triangle shaped points of various sizes. The other is round in shape with alternating large and small curved points.
Paleo Patrol Leonardo has two long swords, a short sword, a double bladed staff and the two shurikens. The shuriken are identical to Raphael's. The staff is similar to Raphael's as well. But instead of the sai shaped blades, Leo's has a curved stone blade on each end. His short sword has a chipped stone blade. His long swords include a katana shaped sword with a stone blade and a serrated broadsword style blade which appears to be molded to look like a spine. It is nice that the handles are painted on all of the swords. But the best feature of Paleo Patrol Leo's swords is that they and Splinter's sword are the only accessories that can be stored on the figure. There are two sheaths on Leonardo's back for the long swords and a loop on his belt for the short sword.
Michelangelo comes with the same two shurikens, a pair of nunchakus, a set of three section nunchakus and a hammer. The three section nuchakus are sculpted to look like wood sticks tied together. But for some reason they cast them in white plastic and painted the handle wrapping brown instead of the other way around. The regular nunchakus are an unpainted pair of bones tied together. Unfortunately unlike many of the previous nunchakus, these are too stiff to be very posable. The hammer is the best looking of Michelangelo's accessories thanks to the painted handle. But I've yet to figure out what the two large round things that form the head are supposed to be. I guess that they are stones, but in that case they shouldn't be so perfectly formed.
Donatello has a large spear, a pair of rock tipped batons, a hammer and the same two shurikens as the other turtles. The spear has a long shaft with a very large stone tip. The tip is painted, but they skipped the wrapping. The batons/short staffs are a nice idea if only for their uniqueness. Plus Don is now ready for any prehistoric beauty pagents that he may want to enter. His final accessory is a small hammer with a stone head. It is a good choice for a gadget geek like Donatello, even if he'll have to wait 65 million years for the first nail.
Splinter has the best set of accessories of the entire series. He comes with a bow and arrow, a shield, a double bladed staff, a knife and a walking stick. The bow is the best one yet for this line. For once they made it at least close to in scale with the figures, though it is still a bit small. It also works well with Splinter who can hold the bow and draw back the arrow. Splinter's shield is shaped like the top half of an alligator skull. The clip on the back allows it to be snapped onto either of the arms. While an interesting idea, its small size and lack of paint make this an accessory I'll likely leave in the useless accessory bin. Splinter's bladed staff has two large semicircular blades. As with most of the accessories, it could use some more paint work, but it is the most imposing of all the weapons. The knife is another small stone blade. surprisingly, they didn't just reuse the mold for Leo's knife but created an entirely new one. Splinter's walking stick is a little longer than it needs to be, but it's great that one was even included.
Savanti Romero has four accessories: a pair of battle axes and a pair of Shredder style wrist spikes. The wrist spikes are okay, but with all of the Shredder figures we have already gotten they lack originality. The battle axes nice. But the way the handle curves back where the blade is attached makes the blade look smaller than it really is. It is also very difficult to get the handles into Savanti's hands. The lack of a time scepter is really a missed opportunity for Savanti.
The three dinosaurs all come with harnesses/armor and chains. For the triceratops the armor includes a body harness, a cover for the tail, two leg cuffs and a shield to go over its horns. All of its parts fit well, actually the horn cover fits a bit too well. Removing it is quite difficult. The raptor comes with a body harness and chain, tail cover, skull cover, and two ankle restraints. The harness, cuffs, and tail cover all fit well. But the skull cover is prone to popping off. The pterodon comes with two wing tip covers, a skull cap, a collar and chain, armor for its back, two tail clips and an ankle cuff and chain. The rest of the armor fits well, but the skull cap pops off easily. The armor for all three works well. Though it would be nice if the skull covers for the raptor and pterodon clipped into place better. But there is one accessory that is noticeably missing, a stand for the pterodon. I also think a slightly lighter color would have been a better choice to contrast with the figure more, particularly for the dark color of the triceratops.
Value - Savanti 3/10, Don 8/10, others 7/10Perhaps the best feature of the TMNT line continues to be the price. The basic figures sell for between $4.50 and $6 at most stores. Which puts them well below the price of most other figures on the market. Of course, many people will question the value of yet another set of turtle variants. But the figures are fairly well done and have some nice accessories. The dinosaurs in particular should be popular, not only with fans of the show but kids in general. The lone loser of the line is Savanti Romero. In truth, beyond the name and history of the character, the figure has very little going for it.
Happy Hunting:One of the best parts about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line is the availability, provided of course you live in the United States. The Paleo Patrol and M.E.S.S. Turtles both shipped in pretty heavy numbers starting around Christmas. By now, they have arrived at most stores. I have seen them at Toys R Us, Target and Walmart and heard reports of them at Kmart stores. Unfortunately, finding them online is not as easy. Surprisingly, the figures are not available from many websites. Your best bet online will be Amazon.com. But so far, even after two month of them being on store shelves, they haven't added them to the web site.