When Playmates introduced the Mini Mutant concept into the TMNT line in the ninties, it largely marked the end of the original toy line. So for a long time its reintroduction into the modern toy line has left a poor taste in my mouth. But the Mini Mutant line is here to stay once again. And it appears that Playmates is trying to make it a true success the second time around. The first series of figures has been out for a while and seems to have sold well. The second series of two packs is finally starting to show up in stores now and includes the four Turtles in their Paleo Patrol outfits as well as four creatures for them to fight.
Packaging - 6/10The second series of figures reuses the same packaging design as the first. While it worked well for the first series, I was really expecting some form of update to the graphics similar to what they did with the Paleo Patrol toys in the regular line. An explaination for where these strange creatures they are fighting came from wouldn't have been such a bad idea either. Still, the packaging does show off the figures reasonably well and leaves enough space for the figures to be posed in a slight action pose.
Sculpting - Turtles & winged Dino 6/10, scorpion 4/10, others 7/10The second series brings us eight brand new figures. That is kind of impressive in its own right. I expected them to try to reuse the first series sculpts a few more times before they bothered sculpting new versions. All in all, they did a nice job of translating the details of the full size Paleo Patrol Turtles down to a meer two and a half inches. Of course, at that size the details are not as neat as they would be on a larger figure. The figures also still have the slightly deformed proportions of the previous wave which is amplified on the legs thanks to the bulky knee guards. And then you come to the creatures. Of the four, Stego the one which comes with Don is my favorite simply for being the most dinosaur like. Although he really doesn't look like any particular species of dinosaur. The chomper bug which comes with Michelangelo is another nice creature. I like that its design allows it to be posed either upright or on all of its legs. The winged dino is an interesting design. But it looks too much like a frilled lizard with the frills on its back instead of its neck. Lastly there is th creature that they call a scorpion. I say the creature that they call a scorpion because whoever sculpted this has probably never seen a scorpion. That would be fine ecept that I think a more realistic looking scorpion design would have been better and more dangerous looking. Instead we get to settle for just being really ugly.
Paint - Stego 7/10, don, Raph & Chomper 6/10, Mike & Scorpion 5/10, Leo & winged dino 4/10The paint work on the Paleo Patrol Turtles is surprisingly well done given their size. Donatello and Raphael in particular turned out well with almost all of their costume details being painted. Michelangelo suffers a bit from sloppiness on the paint around his collar. Leonardo is the worst of the four due simply to the fat that they didn't bother to paint his armored shoulder pads which is a pretty obvious oversight. Painting on the creatures is generally better than on the Turtles themselves. Stego has the best paint applications in that they are the most consistent across the entire figure. The chomper bug looks very good as well except for where the two pairs of lower legs attach to the body which doesn't match up to the rest of the body. They have the same issue on the scorpion where they skipped painting the lower portion of the figure entirely. Finally there is the winged dino. It actually doesn't look too bad. But leaving the wings in one color is a bit dull even if that color is black. They also got lazy with the spikes running down his back. The ones on his head are painted black to match the wings. But then they suddenly stopped just behind the skull. continuing the black paint all the way down to the tail would have looked much better.
Articulation - Turtles 7/10, Stego & winged dino 6/10, others 3/10The four Turtles have seven rotating joints each: neck, shoulders, wrists and hips. That's not a lot. But for figures of this size, there isn't a lot more that you could fit onto such small frames. The winged dino lacks the wrist joints. But otherwise he has the same articulation as the Turtles. Stego has all four of its legs attached with ball joints at the shoulders. Of course, due to the mass of his body, the range of motion is fairly limited. The chomper bug has three rotating joints located at the nck and the shoulders of his pincher arms. The shoulder articulation is pointless though since the arms cannot be positioned in any way that would make them useful. Finally there is the scorpion who has four points of articulation, all of them useless. The head rotates at the neck, but always faces forward. His top three pairs of "legs" are hinged. But the jaws block almost all of their movement. Finally there is a rotating joint at the base of its tail. That's nice, but there's still no way to position the tail into a striking position.
Accessories - Leonardo 6/10, others 4/10the only accessories that come with any of the sets are the Turtles' weapons. Of those, Leonardo has the best ones with a pair of bone katanas plus the sheaths to store them in. Raphael has two different sais. Michelangelo has two three segmented sets of chuks, both of which are sculpted is such a way to pose far more danger to Michelangelo than anyone else. Finally there is Donatello who has a single spear. It would be nice to have gotten something to go with the creatures as well. But they really don't need any accessories.
Value - 5/10The Mini Mutant two packs will cost between $6 and $7 depending upon which store you buy them. Assuming the $6 price tag they aren't a bad deal. You don't find too many lines where you can buy an action figure for $3 anymore after all. Of course, for those of use who were fortunate enough to be able to find the TMNT mini figures back before the launch of the Mini Mutant line, the addition of a few points of articulation and removable accessories doesn't really justify triple the price. And of course you also have the drawback of having to buy them in two packs. So if you are only interested in one of the figures such as amassing a Triceration army, they become very expensive. That was less of an issue for the last series where all of the figures were established characters from the show, but here half of what you are buying is a random monster.
Happy Hunting:The new Mini Mutant figures are shipping to stores now, but in rather limited numbers. I found mine at Target which is the only store in which I've seen them thus far. There is a good chance that that will change shortly as stores begin to reset their toy departments for the fall season. If you prefer online options, your best bets will be either Toys R Us' web site or Wal-mart's. But neither have them available online so far.