For those that grew up in the 80's, die-cast metal is remembered as one of the clear signs that toys from way back then were "clearly"
superior to those that have come since. And while the use of die cast metal never really disappeared fully from Japanese import figures,
it seemed to be all but extinct in the US toy market. But Jada Toys is looking to change that with their line of die-cast action figures
which includes characters from a wide variety of licenses, including the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While licensing issues mean that
their Ninja Turtle figures have been harder to find, they have found their way into their two inch key chain figure line as well as both
the four inch and six inch lines of regular action figures. Now that I've finally tracked down all of the Turtles from the three lines, it
seems like a good time to see how they turned out.
Packaging - 2 Inch Key Chains 4/10, 4 Inch and 6 inch figures 7/10Metal is the underlying gimmick for all of the Jada Toys figures. And they managed to work that into the packaging design as well. All of the packages are shaped like old fashion metal training weights. And graphically they use metal patterns and rivets for much of the background graphics. But they also dress it up with license specific colors for highlights around the edges and images of the character as well. It's a nice design, especially considering how well it can be used across all of the various licenses Jada Toys is including in their lines. It gives all of their products a consistent appearance while still distinguishing the characters from individual licenses. I also like that they used some fairly thick materials for the four inch and six inch lines. It was a good choice given how heavy these figures are. The thick material means that the packaging holds up well against shelf wear. And by contrast, the materials used are the major weakness in the packaging for the two inch key chain figures. Their packages are made of folded transparent plastic that is sealed with simple tape. But the tape is not strong enough. Several of my figures' packages are popping open where the tape did not hold. That is a bit annoying if you were planning to keep the figures in their packaging.
Sculpting - 6/10All of the Turtles share the same basic sculpt for their bodies and arms. They did vary up the heads a bit by giving them four different expressions for the mouths. And in what I consider a really cool little touch, they matched the mouths up to the expressions of the very first Playmates Ninja Turtle figures from 1988. So Leonardo has his teeth showing on the left side of his mouth. Raphael has teeth showing on both sides. They didn't get it right for Donatello who has the right side of his mouth open, or Michelangelo who has his mouth open and his tongue showing. (The original figures had Michelangelo showing his teeth on the right side of his mouth and Donatello shared the same expression as Raphael.) The design of the figures is cute. Their exaggerated, oversized heads and limbs compared to the relatively small bodies are similar to Japanese super deformed character designs. But they are not quite that extreme. The fact that each of the Turtles is so similar to each other also means that once you have one, there's far less reason to get the other three.
Paint - 6/10The paint work for all three sizes of figures is simple, but well done. It would be nice if there was some more variation between the figures. But the paint work that is here works well enough.
Articulation - Key Chains 1/10, others 3/10The articulation on these figures is pretty limited. The key chain figures only have ball jointed necks. And the movement of their heads is limited by the key chains coming out of the top of their shells. The other figures also have ball jointed necks. But they also add rotating shoulder joints. It also looks like they should have rotating wrist joints, but none of the joints on my figures move and I don't want to force them.
Accessories - Key Chains 0/10, 4 Inch Turtles 6/10, Samurai Leo 8/10The key chain figures don't have any accessories. Their weapons are permanently attached to their backs. That was a bit disappointing since their hands are sculpted to hold a weapon. But since they are meant to be key chains, it is probably for the best since any accessories would be quickly lost. Plus their arms don't move anyways. The four inch and six inch figures all come with removable weapons which are fully painted. They look nice and they can be stored on each character's back which is a nice touch. The six inch Samurai Leonardo also comes with four pieces of clip on armor and a helmet. The armor clips on fairly securely. But it isn't very thick. So if you aren't careful, you could break the clips off fairly easily. And for the more OCD prone collectors, it is worth mentioning that you only get armor for one of the shoulders which was a bit disappointing.
Value - 5/10The key chain figures sell for $5. The four inch figures sell for $10 to $13. And the large Samurai Leonardo figure sells for around $20. That's not cheap for such basic figures. But given the novelty of them being mostly solid die-cast metal, the price is also not surprising.
Happy Hunting:Jada Toys has had impressive response from retailers. Unfortunately it seems like Playmates' restrictions on the TMNT license means that these figures were not available at the major toy retailers. So while both Target and Walmart carry Jada Toys' figures, they don't have the TMNT figures. I ordered all of the four inch figures and the six inch Samurai Leonardo from various resellers on Amazon. Since then I have also found some of them at a regional discount retailer and online at Kmart's online store. So if you have any smaller or regional chains in your area, they may be worth checking out. The two inch, key chain figures started to show up at Walgreens stores as part of a larger assortment of figures along with a variety of DC characters. From what I saw, no one store ever tended to get a full case of the figures though. So to find all four Turtles required visiting multiple Walgreens stores and a bit of random luck.