Playmates Toys has been a significant player in the action figure market ever since they first produced the original
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy line in the 80's. But despite an almost thirty year history of producing TMNT toys,
they have never had much of a collector focus. In particular, they have rarely had much of a presence at any fan
conventions or bothered with collector focused exclusives which have become fairly common in other lines... until now.
2012 not only heralded in an new version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, it was also the debut of Playmates'
first convention exclusive figure: Night Shadow Leonardo. Similar to the vac-metal Leonardo statue that they produced in
the vintage line, Night Shadow Leonardo is a repaint of the regular figure, in a fixed position. So calling it an
action figure is perhaps a stretch, but as a first attempt at a collector market exclusive, it is a pretty cool idea.
Packaging - 4/10Night Shadow Leonardo comes packaged in a windowless box. The box has the new Nick TMNT logo and "2012 Limited Edition" on a background designed to look like the metal cross hatching on a manhole cover. That pattern is also carried over to the sides, top and bottom panels. The design is attractive and fits the property well. But the lack of any indication of what the figure inside actually is, not even a name! That is fine if it is suppose to be a surprise or secret, but by the time this figure was released, the design was already well known. Given that this is a product that was being sold exclusively to collectors, more than a few of which were bound to prefer to keep their items in their packages, I would consider this design to be a horrible, short sighted failure. Once you do open the box, you will find the figure stored in a black plastic tray with the display base behind it. The figure is actually fairly neatly displayed in the tray, which just makes the lack of a window to allow you to see it even more disappointing.
Sculpting - 7/10Night Shadow Leonardo seems to be based on the same original sculpture as the basic Leonardo figure except for the feet. Night Shadow Leonardo has the more show accurate feet with the three toes forming a round front to the foot. While they are based on the same original sculpt, the limbs are from a new production mold as the legs and arm are each a single piece. The head is unchanged and just glued in place on the neck. (A small amount of the glue is still visible on my figure.) Just changing the feet is probably not quite worth an extra two points compared to the regular Leonardo figure. But I give Playmates a bit of extra credit for going the extra mile to make new molds for the arms and legs and avoiding the breaks in the sculpt that the articulation requires on the regular figure.
Paint - 1/10The idea behind Night Shadow Leonardo was suppose to be to represent Leonardo partially obscured in shadow, or at least I thought it was. But what ever the intention was, the end result is a haphazard mess of green and black. There is little to no consistency to what is painted black as though it is concealed in shadow and what isn't. But what really hurts the score is that Playmates got lazy painting the parts that weren't coated in black "shadows." His pads, belts, shell, and even his swords are all painted green. In fact, the only things not either black or green are the mask, eyes and teeth. And then they didn't even pick the right shade of green. It is actually a brighter shade of green than the regular Leonardo figure which makes little sense to me if it is suppose to represent Leo in a low light situation. It's a shame because if the idea was properly executed this could have been a very cool, visually striking figure. A Leonardo figure that looked like he was just peaking out of the shadows with a glint of silver coming off of his swords could have been an amazing display piece. Instead it looks like a grade school child's art project. And that kid is about to fail art.
Articulation - 0/10Night Shadow Leonardo has no articulation. Even the joints that are there are glued in place. It makes calling it an "action figure" a bit questionable, but I don't mind it as much as I normally would since the pose looks good and brings a bit of drama to the statue.
Accessories - 5/10Night Shadow Leonardo has only one accessory, a display base designed to look like a large manhole cover. (The swords are permanently glued in place in his hands.) The base isn't really needed to get the figure to stand. But it does make it more stable. And the combination of black, green highlights along the edges and white lettering for the name looks great. It's a shame the figure didn't look as good. In a perfect world, I would love to see the base include a street light positioned to make it seem like Leo is stepping into its light would have been truly impressive.
Value - 4/10 (at the original price)Night Shadow Leonardo originally sold for around $20 at the 2012 San Diego Comic Convention and then at the Playmates Toys web store. That is a decent price for a convention exclusive, even if it isn't the most impressive exclusive I've seen. Unfortunately if you want to buy it now you will probably need to spend around $50. At that price, I would not feel bad for passing up Night Shadow Leonardo.
Happy Hunting:Night Shadow Leonardo was originally sold at the San Diego Comic Convention and then on Playmates' web site. But it has long since sold out there. So at this point your only option is to find on on the secondary market. They aren't rare though. A quick search of eBay turned up plenty of auctions for Night Shadow Leo. The only real challenge is finding one for a good price.