The return of the Turtles to the big screen it's only fair that we get another line of big action figures to go with the
movie. And Playmates has answered with the Big Mouth Talkin' Turtles. They're eleven inch, fully articulated versions of
the Turtles with their new animated design and complete with electronic voice chips to repeat several movie phrases each
and moving jaws.
The movie was a hit, so will the Big Mouth Talkin' figures live up to expectations or bite off more than they can chew?
Packaging - 7/10The Big Mouth Talkin' Turtles come in boxes very similar to those used for the Turtle vs General two packs. Each box is just large enough to accommodate the figure which is clearly visible through the large window on the front and top. They also reused the brick wall background, but so little of it is visible behind the figure that they could have skipped it entirely and few would notice. There isn't much room left around the window for additional graphics. They do shoehorn in the same four images of the turtles at the bottom that they have used on all of the movie toys and then ran the TMNT logo across the top. I like the way they affixed the logo over the window and along a pipe. It gives the packaging a much better, three dimensional appearance. Both sides are used to show off the other movie toys leaving the back to show off just the Big Mouth Talkin' figures. For the most part, the packaging is attractive and shows off the figures well. But it also shows off their potential weak point too. In looking at the back of the package, you would expect to see the figures in action or with other figures. But of course, there are no other compatible figures for the figures to interact with.
Sculpting - 3/10I hate to say it, but either the sculptor or Playmates themselves put as little effort into these figures as possible. All four figures share the same body with a different head. Given that it is used for all four figures, I would have expected them to have put quite a bit of effort into the body and limbs. If they did, it doesn't show. The pads, belt and shell are nicely detailed. And I appreciate how they attempted to disguise the speaker opening by using the creases in the belt. (Though I think it might have looked better if they had they put the opening on the back.) Of course, since all of the figures have the same belt, it means that it is only accurate for one of them, Michelangelo. It isn't a big problem for Raphael. It just means he has to store his sais on his back instead of at his sides. And they did at least think to only give Donatello one loop for his weapon (the other spot has a plug in it) But his bo doesn't really fit well. Of course for Leonardo, the lack of a shoulder strap and no sheathes for his swords is a significant shortcoming. The swords can be stored in the belt loops, but it doesn't look right. (Or safe!) The lack of detail on the arms and legs is quite noticeable and doesn't represent the look of the movie well. But what annoys me most is the large seam running around the top of each foot. The pieces don't fit together properly leaving a gap large enough that at first glance, you would expect it to have a point of articulation there.
The heads for the Big Mouth Talkin' Turtles are different than any of the previous giant figures. There is a hard plastic form for the basic skull structure. That is covered with a soft rubber mask to form the finished sculpt while still allowing the action feature to work. The head sculpts for Don, Leo and Raph are nothing special, but they look good. But Michelangelo's combination of wide open eyes and toothy grin makes him look a bit psychotic! It should also be noted that the use of the soft rubber masks creates two additional problems. The first is that the masks have to be tucked into the neck at the body. This means that the portion of the neck attached to the body is wider than the portion attached to the head and there is a ledge formed where they meet. The other problem is questionable longevity. Other toy manufacturers have made figures with similar features. And the rubber has a tendency to chemically break down and become brittle over time. The Morbius figure that I have from Toy Biz's 6" became so brittle that his jaw just cracked to pieces. Toy Biz also tried the same feature for the Cave Troll figure in their Lord of the Rings line. Those figures often had the faces cracking before they even made it out of the stores. There's no way to know for sure how these will hold up in the long run, but there is already a slight tackiness to the material that could be indicative of the chemicals breaking down already.
Paint - 4/10The paint work on the Big Mouth Talkin' Turtles is very minimal. The pads, belts and shells are painted. But there is no attempt to add any shadowing or additional detailing. On the plus side, while simple the paint applications are clean with little to no sloppiness. Unfortunately the same is not true of the heads. It may just be that painting the soft surface of the rubber heads is quite a bit more difficult, but the edges are not nearly as neat as they are on the rest of the bodies. The problem areas aren't that bad. But since the paint work is so simple on the figures, even small issues become noticeable.
Articulation - 6/10The Big Mouth Talkin' Turtles have seventeen points of articulation.
Accessories - 5/10Each of the Big Mouth Talkin' figures comes with that turtle's signature weapon: a bo for Don, sais for Raph, katanas for Leo and nunchuks for Mike. The weapons are not simply larger versions of the ones that have come with the basic movie figures. The details on them seem cleaner and more well defined. The only paint work on them is the painted grip tape. The weapons are nice, but not terribly impressive.
Action Feature - 3/10If you hadn't guessed by the name "Big Mouth Talkin' Turtles," these figures are able to talk as their action feature. The top portion of the front shell is a button which when pressed, opens the figure's mouth and causes it to say a phrase from the movie. Each figure has eight different clips, and while it is hard to tell due to the low quality of the speakers, they seem to be taken right from the movie rather than being rerecorded by another voice actor. The sound clips are nice, but the moving mouths are less impressive. When the button is pressed, the mouth opens and stays open until the button is released. Talking while your mouth is sitting wide open is just as odd looking as talking without opening your mouth at all, so there isn't much point in making the mouth open at all. I suppose that if you really wanted, you could try to rapidly press the button to try to come close to having the figure mouth the words. In the end, I would have rather had the figures without the moving mouths rather than having a figure whose head will likely disintegrate in a few years.
Value - 4/10The retail price for the Big Mouth Talkin' Turtles is between $20 and $22. If you are lucky and patient, you may be able to get them cheaper during one of Toys R Us' "buy two get one free" sales. That is basically the price that all of the Giant TMNT figures have been and it isn't a bad deal. While these aren't quite as nice as some of the past larger scale figures, they do have the added bonus of the voice chips. But it is also hard to recommend them at that price knowing that they have a questionable life span due to the material used for the faces.
Happy Hunting:Since I'm horribly behind in writing this review and most stores have already scaled back their stock of TMNT movie toys, finding the Big Mouth Talkin' Turtles could be difficult. Toys R Us still carries them both in store and on their website. KB Toys has two of them listed on their web site as well. You may also be able to find them at Kmart stores as well.