The Half-Shell Heroes line has run a bit hot and cold when it comes to the vehicles that they have designed for this line. Playmates has produced some
really creative vehicles for the small vehicle line with so many of them actually splitting into two different vehicles. But they have also produced
some vehicles which were far less ambitious such as the large dinosaurs that came out with the Blast From the Past story line. But when Playmates
introduced the construction theme to the Half-Shell Heroes line I was quite excited about the opportunities it presented. After all, the world of
construction equipment is filled with all kinds of machines that kids love to play with. And Playmates has come up with three construction themed
vehicles, two in the small vehicle assortments and one medium sized vehicle. Since these appear to be some of the last vehicles that will be released
for the Half-Shell Heroes line, I'm hoping that they will represent a high point on which the line can go out.
Packaging - 9/10The packaging designs for the Mutant Loader in the medium vehicle assortment and the Demolition Drill and Shelldozer in the small vehicle assortment remain largely unchanged from previous releases. The packaging has the vehicles attached to an open backer card that allows them to be very accessible while they are on store shelves. The back of the packaging shows off all of the figures and vehicles that are part of the construction theme as well as providing a story line to explain the construction theme by tying it into the construction of the new Half-Shell Heroes Headquarters playset. The only complaints I have with the packaging is that the design still leaves it more susceptible to damage than a more traditional design.
Sculpting - Shelldozer & Loader 6/10, Drill 10/10The Shelldozer combines a bulldozer and dump truck into a single vehicle which is an interesting concept. And if that wasn't enough already, as with most of the early small vehicles, the two small construction vehicles see the return of the two-in-one play gimmick of earlier HSH toys. So the driver's section of the Shelldozer can be pulled off of the rest of the vehicle to create a small flying vehicle for the operator that looks like it stole most of it's design from the early Fantastic Four Fantasticar with its bathtub-like appearance. So the Shelldozer has an interesting concept for its design. But the execution is quite plain and chunky. So it looks like a child's toy and not like something that could exist in the real world. Conversely, the Mutant Loader goes to the opposite extreme. At first glance despite looking like the love child of a go-cart and a fork lift, you could believe that it is something that exists in the real world. But then you realize that the area that looks like the cockpit with a roll cage around it isn't where the driver sits. The operator sits in a little bucket mounted on the right side of the vehicle. (So it not only looks strange, it's also British apparently.) And then you get to the operation. Unlike a fork lift which lifts loads straight up, the mutant loader operates more like a garbage truck, flipping loads 180 degrees into the cargo area in the back and then forming a cage around it. It may be useful for capturing bad guys, but I can't think of too many other things that would react well to being flipped and slammed into a cargo area like that. By contrast, the Demolition Drill is based on equipment that actually exists in the real world. And with the exception of the two large fans on the back which seem like a really bad idea if you are going to be creating a lot of dust by say, drilling, you could almost believe that it could actually exist.
The figures included are about what I was expecting. The Mikey figure that is included with the Mutant Loader is identical to the Mikey that came with a small bulldozer in the basic assortment. They did create a new body mold for Leo and Raph, but used the same sculpt for both figures. Though they did get different heads. All three figures are cute. But I've seen enough of the Half-Shell Heroes Turtle design in various costumes that there is little reason to get excited by more of the same.
Paint - Shelldozer 5/10, Mutant Loader & Demolition Drill 6/10The paint work for the Shelldozer and Raphael is quite minimal. There is enough paint work for them to be passable. But there are large areas on both the figure and vehicle that are unpainted. The Mutant Loader is better. But the cargo area was left unpainted. So when the forks are positioned to the front, it exposes a large bland area right in the center of the vehicle. But when the forks are flipped back, it looks much better. The included Mikey figure is similar. It has a significant lack of paint on the torso. It isn't enough to ruin the look of the figure, but the room for improvement is quite obvious. The Demolition Drill and Leo have a similar amount of paint work to the other two vehicles, but the use of that paint is balanced better on this set than the other two. It's obvious that there isn't a lot of paint there. But with the possible exception of body of the flight harness which is only visible when it is separated from the rest of the vehicle.
Play Value - Shelldozer 3/10, Mutant Loader 5/10, Demolition Drill 8/10I understand that the Half-Shell Heroes line is aimed at preschool kids. So a lot of their value comes from the amount of fun they can provide for that audience. With the Mutant Loader, there is only one action feature. There is a knob on the side of the vehicle opposite the driver which will rotate the forks back and forth. It's a very simple feature and probably has no place on a construction site. But it works well and should be a lot of fun for young fans. The Shelldozer has a movable blade on the front, a working dump container on the back, and a removable cockpit which separates to form a small flying pod. That sounds like a lot of play value. But the front blade has very little travel distance. It can't even reach all the way down to the ground. The dump container works well. But the flight pod is so hard to remove that I, a rather large adult, have a hard time doing so. I doubt too many kids are going to be able to remove it at all. So the Shelldozer really ends up being a weird looking dump truck with a plow blade on the front. That's not nearly as creative as advertised. The Demolition Drill has three play features as well. The drill on the front is movable and con be positioned to either drill directly in front of the vehicle or to drill straight ahead like a drill tank. The drill can spin of course. But rather than just allowing it to spin, Playmates actually included a gear mechanism so that when the blue knob on the back of the drill is turned, the drill will spin much faster. And as with the Shelldozer, the Demolition Drill's operator's position can be removed to form a flight pack. The turbines for the flight pack face the wrong way, so it would never be able to actually get off the ground. But at least it is instantly recognizable as a flight pack. And it can be removed from the drill with a reasonable amount of force. So the Demolition Drill may not have any more features than the Shelldozer. But all of its features work well.
Value - Demolition Drill 8/10, others 5/10The Shelldozer and Demolition Drill are both part of the small vehicle assortment and should sell for $13 to $15. The Mutant Loader is part of the larger vehicle assortment and carries a slightly higher price at $20. But considering each of these vehicles comes with a vehicle and a figure, none of them is a bad value. But I like the design of the Demolition Drill a lot more than the other two and its features work better. The other two vehicles may be worth picking up if you kid really loves the construction theme. Otherwise, there are better offerings even within the Half-Shell Heroes line to spend your money on.
Happy Hunting:It's presently the middle of December 2017 as I write this. And the Half-Shell Heroes line doesn't seem to be enjoying a lot of support from retailers. Both Toys R Us and Walmart still carry the line, though the extent of their support will vary from store to store. I have actually had an easier time finding these at less common toy sellers who may be carrying them just for the holiday shopping season. I have seen them at several of the more traditional department stores such as JC Penny and Kohl's and even an agricultural supply store called Farm & Fleet. So if you are interested in them, you may want to look around. After the end of the year as stores start to reset toy aisles for another year, there is a good chance that the HSH line could be gone entirely.