The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have found success repeatedly in a variety of forms over the years including multiple comic book runs and three
different television series. (Yes I know there were four series, but Next Mutation was never that popular.) But very few versions of the
Turtles has had as large of an impact as their big screen debut in 1990. To many fans, even a quarter century later this is still the greatest
version of the Turtles ever. And fortunately for fans of the toy lines, there have been multiple sets of figures based on the movie and they are
considered some of the best figures produced in the original toy line. And new products based on the original 1990 movie are still eagerly awaited
by adults who still remember the film fondly. Meanwhile NECA has produced some of the best Ninja Turtle action figures. So when NECA annouced
that they would be producing large scale figures based on the Jim Henson movie designs, saying fans were excited would be a major understatement.
And now that I have the first two of those figures in hand, it's time to see if NECA has been able raise the bar even further with the first three
of the quartet: Donatello, Raphael and the just released Leonardo.
Packaging - 7/10The packaging design for these large scale figures is pretty simple. Each figure is in a large window box that shows off the figures well, or at least from the waist up. The narrow window does make it difficult to see all of the accessories that were included. And they aren't really highlighted anywhere else on the packaging either. Graphically NECA made an interesting choice. Rather than designing appropriate looking graphics for the movie license, they just reused the promotional images from the movie itself. The front of the box is just the movie poster with the logo moved down to the bottom to make room for the window. The back of the boxes has a few photos of the figure and a quick description. But ' almost the entire lower third is taken up by another promotional image directly from the movie. And it's not a very good quality image at that. It's interesting. I like the look of the packaging. But I don't think it really does a great job of showing off the figure or selling you on it. I suspect that most fans will never see this packaging in person until they have already shelled out the money for the figure and it has been delivered to their doorstep. So maybe that doesn't matter. But even if I were to judge it just by how it will look sitting on a shelf in my collection, I still think it does more to hide the greatness of these figures than it does to enhance their appeal.
Sculpting - 10/10NECA really knocked it out of the park with these figures. I could go on and on about them and still not do them justice. But if you've seen any of the photos that other fans have taken with them, it becomes hard to tell which are photos of the toys and which are photos of the actual movie props. The sculpts are not not quite perfect. But NECA did a commendable job of making the short comings of the toys mirror the short comings that the original movie suits had. They did have to include some additional breaks for the articulation which the movie costumes were able to hide behind flexible materials. NECA did use actual cloth for the tails of the masks. It works remarkably well. The material used matchs the sculpted masks remarkably well. And at this scale, they actually drape over the back of the figures well. In the end, the one, minor complaint (and I do mean MINOR) is that the belts for Leonardo and Donatello ride quite high across the figures. Raphael's belt sits down where I would expect it, right over the gap between the middle and bottom sections of the plastron. But Leonardo's and Donatello's belts sit noticably higher. In going back and rewatching the movie, the belts for Don and Leo often did ride up like that. But it still makes the two look like they are ready to retire to Florida. It is especially bad on Donatello since his belt sits right under the gap between the upper and middle section of the plastron. Leonardo's belt sits just a bit lower, but the tiny extra amount of the plastron that is visible on Leonardo makes a world of difference to me.
Paint - 10/10NECA created some amazing sculpts for these figures. And the effort they put into the paint matches that well. There is an amazing amount of detailed paint work that does a tremendous job of bringing out the details of the sculpting. There are a couple of very small specks of paint that are out of place on Raphael. But they are extremely tiny. The only really noticeable issues with the paint are a couple of stray smears of black paint on Donatello's bo staff.
Articulation - 5/10With articulation for action figures there is always a balance that needs to be struck between adding points of articulation/greater range of motion and maintaining the sculpt. And it appears that NECA decided to favor the sculpting. That's not to say that the Turtles are lacking in articulation. Each one has over thirty points of articulation with double joints at the neck, shoulders, wrists, knees and ankles. The hips actually have three different planes of movement built into them and the elbows have rotating and hinged joints just above and below the elbows. And they even incorporated a ball joint into the torso. All of that sounds quite impressive. But the range of motion for many of the joints is extrememly limited either by the knee and elbow pads or just by the design so as to limit how visible the articulation is. For example, the Turtles can't even raise their arms straight out to the side. They can barely raise them beyond forty five degrees. And even with the pair of hinge joints at each elbow, they still can only bend their arms to about ninty degrees. Clearly NECA prioritized making these great display pieces over the articulation. While I generally prefer greater articulation, I can't really say that was a bad choice in this case.
Accessories - Donatello 7/10, Raphael 6/10, Leonardo 5/10Each of the Turtles come with their signature weapon or weapons, an assortment of hands and at least one extra accessory. Of the three, Donatello has the best assortment of accessories. To begin with, aside from a couple of stray paint marks that I mentioned earlier, his bo staff is the best weapon of the three. That is mainly because it is the only one that is properly sized to match the figures. His extra accessories are a slice of pizza and a mutagen canister with crack in it. For extra hands he has a pair of hands giving the thumbs up, a left hand sculpted to hold the canister, a right hand to hold the pizza and another right hand in a fully open pose.
Raphael comes with a pair of sais, the same slice of pizza as Donatello and six extra hands. His extra hands include one for holding the pizza, one for holding a mutagen canister which he did not come with, a fully open right hand, a pointing left hand and an additional pair of grasping hands. The extra grasping hands seem like a waste since they are barely different from his default hands. And of course he doesn't have anything to hold with the hand design to hold the mutagen canister. Including so many pointless extra hands is disappointing since they didn't include hands to allow him to use his sais in some of the more unique sai fighting stances. His weapons also have an issue in that they are slightly too large compared to how they appeared in the film. It's not a huge issue for Raphael since he is occasionally show as having longer sais and they don't look too out of place.
Leonardo comes with his two swords, the same slice of pizza yet again, a mutagen canister and the same assortment of hands as Raphael. So, the one bright point here is that I like that they put in the effort to give Leo a slightly different mutagen canister than what was included with Donatello. But seeing that all of his other accessories are recycled is quite disappointing. Of course that's only if you have the other figures. The bigger issue with Leonardo is that once again his weapons are too large. His swords are a full twelve inches long. They should be considerably shorter than that. They are long enough to look out of place even when he is holding them. But when they are stored in the scabbards they stick out way to far due to the extra long handles. You should also be cautious about inserting and removing the swords too often as they due rub on the scabbards and repeated use will likely result in some damage to the paint on the blades. I'm glad to see that NECA is putting a fair amount of accessories in with each figure. But seeing how many of them are recycled, especially since I opened all three figures at almost the same time. I know NECA is planning on releasing additional accessory packs. But it would have been nice if they gave Leonardo something else new or unique.
Value - 6/10These are amazing figures. And for anyone who is a fan of the Jim Henson movie suit designs, they are going to be hard to pass up. But they also carry a hefty price tag. Depending upon the store, you can expect to pay $90 to $110 each. And then, just to make it a bit worse, due to the size and weight of these figures, you can expect to pay a bit more for shipping from most online stores as well. And that is assuming that you can get them for retail prices. All three of them have been showing up on the secondary market almost immediately after their release at a significant mark up.
Happy Hunting:Up until recently, these have only been available through specialty stores and online shops such as Big Bad Toy Store, Entertaninment Earth and the like. A few weeks ago, Toys R Us began to carry them on their website and now carry them in at least some of their actual stores. They aren't the cheapest option for buying them. But if you want to see them first hand before shelling out $100 for a single figure, that may be your best option. On a positive note, Donatello has already received a second production run after the initial shipments sold out almost immediately. So there is some hope that NECA will continue to produce more of these for as long as the sales justify rather than setting an artifical limit on the production numbers. So they may be costly, but it looks like every fan that wants these figures should have a reasonable chance to get them.