I knew I was behind on a lot of my reviews of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle toys. And one of the lines I've neglected for the longest has been the
Half-Shell Heroes toys. But even I didn't realize just how far behind I was until I dug out the huge pile of releases that have been sitting in
my dining room waiting for me to find the time to get to them. Given that I am almost two full years behind on the releases for this line and that
the line itself doesn't seem to have much of a future going forward based on the limited retailer support it's getting currently, writing five separate
reviews for all of the sets of figures released in 2016 and 2017 is probably overkill. But as long as I'm already going to be opening and getting
additional photos of the sets, I wanted to at least include a few thoughts about Playmates line of Ninja Turtle toys for the preschool crowd.
Packaging - 7/10Over almost four years and close to a dozen series releases, Playmates has done a decent job of maintaining a fairly consistent look for this line. Of course that isn't actually all that surprising since they have continued to mix older and new releases throughout the entire run of the line. It only makes sense therefore to maintain a consistent look so that none of the sets looks old or out of place as newer series joined them in the assortments being shipped to stores. Overall the packaging design works well. It does have issues with the cards tending to curl over the long term. But I don't think there are many people holding onto these figures as collector's items. It's also worth noting that Playmates Toys has had an annoying habit with this line of including images of figure sets on the back of the packaging that haven't actually been released yet. That was largely a temporary annoyance with sets like Dojo Donnie and EMT Mikey who weren't released until well after they first appeared on card backs since they did eventually show up in stores. But Playmates still has half of the Sewer Safari sets and half of the Space Rescue Turtles which they have been promoting on the backs of some of the cards for a long time and those figures may never actually see retail shelves.
Sculpting - BFTP Bebop & Rocksteady and Dojo Donnie 3/10, Rahzar, Kirby Bat, Mutagen Man, Cockroach & Space Rescue Turtles 7/10, Others 5/10It's been quite a while since I had an opportunity to look over any of the Half-Shell Hero figures with a critical eye. I had forgotten how inconsistent the sculpting could be. Most of the figures, particularly for the Turtles in their various costumes are fine. The have a decent level of detail and look decent. But they are fairly un inspired. It's just Leo wearing overalls or a Steve Irwin style safari costume. The closest they come to adding any real personality to the figure is with construction version of Donnie who is wearing a tie. Blast From the Past Shredder and Splinter similarly have a decent amount of detail, but they just aren't that interesting. But they at least fare better than Bebop and Rocksteady who look like they were sculpted based on only a vague discription of what they should look like rather than a detailed character model. Dojo Donnie would be okay. But they carved off the front of his thighs, flattened them and then textured them to be part of his armor. I don;t know who thought that was a good idea. But it's not all negativity. The sculpt for the Space Rescue Turtles turned out well. And the four mutants that made it into the Half-Shell Heroes line are all adorable, even Kirby Bat who has no right to ever look this cute. Seeing how well they turned out and how much more interesting it was to see the sculpters translate the existing Nickelodeon mutants into the HSH style made me really sad that these were the last four characters that are likely to get that treatment.
Paint - Safari Leo 1/10, BFTB Bebop, Rocksteady & Splinter 3/10, Safarai Raph, Kirby, Rahzar, Cockroach & Mutagen Man 6/10, Others 5/10For most of the figures, Playmates gave the figures enough paint work to get by and not much else. For the four Nickelodeon Mutants, that's actually not much of an issue. Even with the limited paint work, what is painted helps make the sculpts look even cuter. Mutagen Man in particular would not look nearly as cute without the droopy eyes that they painted on him. But there are a few figures where they really skimped on the paint work a bit too much. BFTP Splinter has a fair amount of sculpted details to his outfit. But since very little of it was painted, it all just blends into a single mass. The Blast from the Past versions of Bebop and Rocksteady don't even have the advantage of Splinter's level of sculpted detail and they still couldn't bother to paint the figures fully. They barely look better than an unpainted prototype. But all three of them put Safari Leo to shame. Despite having a chest that is fully sculpted to look like a shirt with two bandoliers drapped across it, they sloppily painted the two bandoliers and left the shirt unpainted and GREEN! Safari Leo looks so bad that I just can't help but score Safari Raph higher than he probably deserves just because Raph looks like a masterpiece compared to Leo.
Articulation - Kirby Bat & Splinter 4/10, Mutagen Man 7/10, others 5/10The basic articulation for a Half-Shell Heroes figure is just six points of articulation: rotating neck, rotating hips with the legs connected together through the body and hinged and rotating shoulders. That's not a ton of articulation. But at this scale it is enough. But then Blast from the Past Splinter and Kirby Bat have even less articulation. For Splinter that is because he doesn't have sculpted legs. His feet just stick out of the bottom of his prehistoric kimono. Kirby Bat has no shoulder joint for his tiny right arm. And since they attached his wings to the base of his skull, he has a neck joint, but it has zero range of motion. Mutagen Man manages to be the standout in terms of articulation because his legs are not connected together and have the same rotating and hinged joints that were used for all of the shoulders.
Accessories - BFTP Splinter & Shredder and Nickelodeon Mutants 0/10, Dojo Donnie 2/10, EMT Mikey and Construction Leo & Mikey 6/10,
The Half-Shell Heroes figures are sold sets which either contain two figures and no accessories or a figure and an accessory. Blast from the Past
Splinter and Shredder as well as the four Nickelodeon mutants are all sold in two packs with no additional accessories. The worst of the accessories
is the training target included with Dojo Donnie which is quite simnplistic and doesn't really do much beyond letting you hit it. Knowing you gave up
an extra figure in favor of getting that accessory is down right annoying. Most of the accessories that come with the various Turtle variants are clunky
and they their action features are underwhelming at best. The little walk behind bulldozer that comes with construction Mikey and the power saw that comes with
construction Leo have slightly more interesting action features. And EMT Mikey's stretcher is just surprisingly well made compared to all of the other
accessories. Unfortunately it is designed specifically for a HSH Turtle figure with indents in the surface for their shells and the back of their heads.
So other figures don't really sit naturally on it. But by far the best accessories are the dinosaurs and animals included with Blast From the Past Bebop
and Rocksteady and the two Safari Turtles. They are cute enough that I don't mind only getting one actual figure in their sets.