Vehicles have always been a big part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy lines. But the first two basic sized
vehicles released for the Nickelodeon TMNT toy line were not very impressive. But those are not the only vehicles
that Playmates has produced for the toy line. There are also two vehicle/figure packs: Raphael with the Ninja
Stealth Bike and a Dragon Fang Foot Soldier with the Dragon Chopper. From the looks of things, more effort went into
these toys than the basic vehicles. So hopefully they turned out much better.
Packaging - 8/10The deluxe vehicle and figure sets are packaged in a nice large box with a big window that covers most of the front and a good portion of the top and right side panels. The window gives you a clear view of the vehicle and the figure. What space is left around the window is taken up by the TMNT logo, an illustration of the Turtles and a photo of each vehicle's play feature. The back of the box has several photos that show the features of the vehicles and the other vehicle in the assortment. The photos look great and give you a good sense of what it is that you are buying. Though I would suggest to Playmates that if they are going to put text on a green background, don't use red text. There are a lot of people who have trouble distinguishing those two colors.
Sculpting - Dragon Chopper 8/10, Stealth Bike 5/10Both of these are new sculpts for the vehicles. The Ninja Stealth Bike is interesting, and the individual components are nicely done. But they don't tie together well around the cockpit area. When the shell is open, it looks like the seat is missing. When it is closed, it looks like there is a giant turtle shell covering up the fact that the center section is incomplete. The Ninja Stealth Bike comes with a helmeted version of Raphael. Other than the new head, it is the same as the regular figure. They should have gone the extra mile and created a different set of hands with gloves instead of just painting the existing hands black. The Dragon Chopper sculpt packs a great deal of detail on to every area except the bottom. The huge, seat back sticking up into the wind is probably a very impractical design. Fortunately it is removable if you prefer, besides it is just a toy. It does have a big draw back though, the ridiculous looking rod that goes from the front of the bike to back to the rider is not removable. It also requires a post sticking out of the side of the ball in the dragon's mouth which is there to stop the figure's flipping at the proper spot. The Dragon Chopper would look a lot nicer if those items could be removed when you didn't want them. You might be able to disassemble the bike to remove them. But that is more work than it should require. The Dragon Fang Foot Soldier is the same sculpt as the basic Foot Soldier figure.
Paint - Stealth Bike 3/10, Dragon Chopper 4/10The paint work on both the Ninja Stealth Bike and Dragon Chopper is very minimal. They added some color to the Ninja Stealth Bike with decals in the cockpit area and on the engine in the rear. The decals don't fit very well though. And a couple of them on my Ninja Stealth Bike were almost falling off. The paint work on the Dragon Chopper is just as sparse, and there are no decals on it. I am alright with the limited color here as it seems appropriate for a ninja's vehicle. That said, I would like to see them do another version with a brighter paint scheme. The paint work on the two figures is simple and clean. The color scheme for the Dragon Fang Foot Ninja is very nice. It is muted enough to not seem out of place on a ninja but brings out the details of the sculpt much better than the regular Foot Soldier.
Play Value - Stealth Bike 5/10, Dragon Chopper 6/10The Ninja Stealth Bike has only one action feature to it. Once you have the figure loaded into the vehicle, the side panels can be flipped up and the top panel will come down over the top of the driver. All three panels then connect to the front windscreen to form a turtle shell shield. It is a simple feature but works well and looks better than I thought it would. The downside is that it looks a bit silly with the top panel up. Another nice touch is that the stirrups are adjustable so any of the Turtles should be able to fit despite being different heights. The Dragon Chopper has a flipping mechanism. It comes with a special harness for whichever figure will be riding the bike. That harness attaches to the rod attached to the side of the bike allowing the figure to sit on the bike's seat. Pressing a button behind the seat back then launches the rider up. The rod directs the figure forward and causes it to flip a hundred and eighty degrees and come to a stop in front of the bike. It is a unique idea, and it can work both as a way for the Foot Ninjas to make an impressive entrance or to launch them off of the the cycle during a fight. But they could have just put in the ejector seat mechanism and skipped the mechanism and harness to make the figure flip and it would have been just as much fun if not more. The Dragon Bike also does a bit better in this category thanks to the accessories included with the figures. Stealth Raph has a helmet permanently molded on his head with a flip up visor and two sais. He can store the sais in his belt just like the regular figure and still fits in the Ninja Stealth Bike even with the weapons in his belt. The Dragon Fang Foot Ninja comes with the two swords and scabbards that the regular Foot Ninja does as well as a helmet. While it is a bit tight, the Dragon Fang Foot Ninja can were the harness for the action feature even while wearing his scabbards. The removable helmet is a nice touch and the fact that you can actually see through its visor is cool. But it doesn't fit well. If you look, the figures eyes barely appear in the bottom of the visor.
Value - 6/10The vehicle and figure sets sell for $20 in most stores. When you figure that a basic TMNT figure sells for $9, these should be a good deal. The Ninja Stealth Bike is a nice vehicle, nicer than the Dragon Chopper. But the draw back with it is the helmeted Raph figure. This isn't a replacement for the basic Raphael figure, and if you already have the basic one, you really don't need this one. The Dragon Chopper could have been a nice vehicle if it weren't completely dominated by the action feature. But on the plus side, it comes with an almost complete Foot Ninja figure to add a bit of variety to the ranks of the bad guys.
Happy Hunting:Like most of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toy line, the figure/vehicle packs have been available from most stores that sell toys. And like most of the line, they have been disappearing quickly throughout the Christmas season. Hopefully they will be easier to find soon. But there are also new toys in the pipeline for the TMNT line as well. So it's hard to say how long these will be around.