Mega Bloks has really gone all out with their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle lines. Three reviews in and I'm only now getting to the first of the
traditional construction block sets. Consisting of four sets, one for each of the Turtles, these entry level sets include two of the patrol
buggies from the show (for Donnie and Mikey) and two small playsets for Leo and Raph. We've already seen that Mega Bloks can produce some pretty
cool looking figures with the blind bag series. Now it's time to see how they do with some playsets and vehicles.
Packaging - 7/10The packaging designs for these sets is essentially the same as what they used for the smaller, Training sets. But here, they have enough room for all the elements and to make the design work. The front has a cute artist's rendition of the Turtles and their playset or vehicle in action as well as a window to view the actual figure. The back has a computer generated image of the completed set and their primary action feature. There are also images of all of the sets in the modern line at the bottom. The boxes could benefit from some actual photos of the completed sets. And the images of the full line on the back of the boxes are still very small. But overall, the design starts to work much better at this size.
Sculpting/Design - Leo 5/10, Mikey 6/10, Raph 7/10 Donnie 8/10At around fifty pieces per set, we are finally getting into the size of sets where the designers can really start to show their creativity in the designs in spite of the limited piece count. Leonardo's playset is the least interesting to me. The storm sewer pipe entrance on the back wall with a grate cover that can be opened or closed is cool as a backdrop. And I would love it if it could hook up to the large sewer lair playset. But on its own, it's just a backdrop that doesn't really interact with the other components. Those other components are another spinner mechanism for the figure to stand on and a device to flick pieces, presumably at the figure on the spinner so he can practice attacking or dodging. It's not a horrible set, but the spinner and pizza flicker don't interest me much and without them the playset is just a backdrop. Raphael's set is the better of the two playsets. It has more space on the platform for multiple figures, a training dummy for Raphael to spar with and a barrel with misc green studs to serve as ooze. There are two things I really like about this design. The first is just that the training dummy is quite cute. But the second is that the removable grate on the platform gives you a chance for the figures to interact with the lower level. There's not much space down there, but it's a great place for an ambush. The two vehicles are clearly modeled after the patrol buggy toys from the regular toy line and the show, even if the packaging doesn't exactly say so. Of the two Mikey's buggy is the simpler design that doesn't have a lot of details to it. Without the pizza disc launcher mounted to the top of it, there would be almost nothing to indicate it was even a Ninja Turtle vehicle design. Donnie's buggy on the other hand has a lot of cool details such as the pipework front bumper/guard, a mechanism to cause the bo mounted on the left side to bounce up and down as the vehicle moves. But what really sets the buggies apart is a feature that the instructions and packaging don't even mention. As the do in the show, the two buggies can connect both to each other and with buggies for Leonardo and Raphael which haven't even been announced as sets yet. (Though they are starting to show up in some stores now as well.) It's great to see Mega Bloks planning ahead and designing for the future.
Paint - Mikey 3/10, others 5/10I was quite pleased with the Training sets to see that Mega Bloks wasn't going with a lot of overly bright colors for the sets or even just the overwhelming amount of green that they used in the sets for the 2003 series. And for the most part, that continues with these sets. Mikey's buggy is the one unfortunate standout with a bright orange frame and an engine composed mostly of red bricks. Donnie's buggy is more subdued with mostly brown and grey parts and a few purple accents. It does have bright orange parts for the seat. But that hardly seems out of place to me. The two playsets are both made primarily of down to earth colors as well. Raphael's set does have a few more colorful pieces such as the barrel. But they don't overwhelm the rest of the set. I am starting to get a bit tired of the random color schemes given to each Turtle and beginning to wonder if the line is going to include a complete set of normal looking Turtles with no colorful markings on the shells or plastrons. Some of the variants like Raphael with a black shell look cool, it would be nice if the series came with matching Turtles so that you would end up with a complete set.
Accessories - Donnie 4/10, others 6/10The small sets don't have a great deal of accessories included with them. Each set comes with a single Turtle figure of course, as well as their weapons, or weapon in Donatello's case. And Donnie is the set with the least accessories. His set comes with just a single bo staff and a pizza disc. Both can be clipped to the vehicle with the bo staff forming parts of the action features. But that leaves Donatello unarmed. It really seems like a second bo should have been included. The accessories included with the other sets aren't all that noteworthy. But each set has at least a few extra odds and ends which is nice.
Value - 9/10These entry level sets carry a price tag of $10, which is quite inexpensive for a construction brick set. And Mega Bloks did a great job of making use of every piece that went into these sets and the designs. Each set has enough variety that having one doesn't hurt the value of the others. In fact with the buggies, they increase each others value since the vehicles work together. The one thing missing is a theme for the pack-in figures. If they had a consistent theme for the Turtle figures so that buying all four sets gave you a complete set of Turtles, they would have been just a bit cooler.
Happy Hunting:These small sets seem to form their own little assortment and seem to be readily available at all of the stores that have a decent selection of the Mega Bloks TMNT sets. But a lot of the stores I have seen tend to have a fairly limited selection. Toys R Us seems to have the greatest selection. And that is where my sets came from. But you may also be able to find them at Target and Walmart stores as well as others. I mentioned that the other two patrol buggy sets are beginning to show up in stores. Presently I have heard reports of them at Dollar General stores. But I haven't been able to locate them myself.