The last few years has been a very busy time for adult collectors of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. We have gone from one company that seemed
to have little interest in the collector market to now having company after company announcing new Ninja Turtle figures aimed squarely at collectors'
wallets. And just in case there weren't enough existing companies getting in on the action, a few new ones decided to throw their collective hats
into the ring as well. Enter Mondo, a company that previously was known primarily for limited edition collectible posters and art prints. But recently
they decided to branch out and get involved with other types of collectibles including designer vinyl figures such as their Lil' Mikey and First Turtle vinyl figures and
eventually, regular action figures. One of their first action figure projects announced were 1:6 scale (twelve inch) fully articulated figures of
the Ninja Turtles based on their Mirage Comics. Over the last year, all four Turtles have slowly made their way into fans' hands as well as a pair
of Mouser figures. And with the final of the four brothers finally arriving this week, it seems like as good a time as any to see how well the
new kids on the block did.
Packaging - Regular versions 6/10, Exclusive versions 4/10The four Turtles and Mousers each come packaged in a five panel box. The boxes don't have a lot going in the way of graphics. There is one image of the four Turtles leaping down off of a rooftop on the back panel. They then recycled the same image of each Turtle for the front of the box along with the TMNT logo. When you flip open the front flap, you get a decent view of figures while the accessories are packed around and behind the figure. The design works well enough to show off the figures. But it hides most of the accessories. I can live with that for the regular versions. But for each figure they also released an exclusive version which is the same figure, but with a unique bonus accessory. But the only difference between the regular and exclusive versions of each figure is a sticker on the front of the box marking it as an exclusive. There's no indication what makes the exclusive versions different from the regular ones, nor are the exclusive accessories shown or highlighted in any way. It's not a huge issue. The exclusive versions were only available in very limited numbers directly from Mondo's web site and they sold out very quickly each time. So they really didn't need to show the difference for marketing. But it would be nice for future fans who want to pick these up if they could tell what they were getting depending upon which version they buy.
Sculpting - Turtles 6/10, Mousers 9/10Mondo has done a decent job with the sculpting of the four Turtles. But after a year of build up, they aren't quite enough to exceed expectations. If these were six inch figures with this level of detail, they could rival NECA's original run of Mirage Turtles from 2008. But they are 1:6th scale. And at this size, the level of detail is good, but not great. The style they choose works well though. They match the classic Mirage Turtle style, more refined than the designs of NECA's Mirage figures or Mondo's own First Turtle vinyl figure both of which were based on much earlier designs. So if you want a classic looking Turtle based on the Mirage Comics, I can't think of any company that has done better. Of course, that doesn't mean they are perfect. All four Turtles share the same mold other than the heads and belts. It would have been nice to have some variety between the figures. And there are a few spots where the sculpts could use some refinement. The seam lines on Leonardo's head stand out more than they should. And all four have a noticeable seam right down the middle of their knee pads. And for some reason, they didn't include an option for either Raphael or Michelangelo to store their weapons on their belts. Yes these are seemingly minor complaints. But for figures like these, any defects are unacceptable.
The Mousers match the Turtles well in terms of the sculpting style. But unlike the Turtles, their simple, mechanical design means that there really isn't much more that you could do without going overboard. The only thing I can think of that could have been done to make them better would have been to include some interchangeable parts to make a damaged mouser. That would have at least been a nice option for the exclusive versions. But instead both the regular and exclusive versions of all five toys are identical in terms of the sculpting.
Paint - Raph & Mousers 9/10, Leo, Don & Mikey 8/10The paint work on these figures is really well done. There is a heavy use of black paint and paint washes to highlight the recesses of the figure. On most figures I would say they went too far and made the figures look dirty. But for the Turtles, and particularly for the Mirage Turtles, that dirty look works perfectly. Mondo did opt for giving each Turtle a different skin tone much like the very first Playmates Ninja Turtle toys had. That works for me well enough since I grew up primarily with the toys. But the cover art for the Mirage Comics generally gave all of them the same skin tone. And Raphael's skin tone is what I envision when it comes to the Mirage Turtles.
For the Mousers, they have painted the inside of their mouths, the sensor on the top of their heads and each of the panel lines, including around each of the joints in the feet. The paint work for the panel lines is a bit inconsistent in places and applied rather generously everywhere. As with the Turtles, what would seem sloppy for most figures is almost certainly an intentional homage to the look of the original Mirage artwork. And it works well in that regard. The Mousers really look like comic artwork that has stepped off of the page. Part of me does want to see what they would look like with a glossier or metallic finish. But the matte grey used here is more in keeping with the look from the comics.
Articulation - Turtles 7/10, Mousers 10/10The Turtles each have twenty nine points of articulation which includes hinged and swiveling ankles, double jointed knees, a rotating joint just under the hips and another just under the shoulder, rotating and hinged hips, wrists, elbows and shoulders and what is technically a ball joint for the neck. All of that articulation gives them good range of motion in their legs. But they could really use double jointed elbows since they can't bend their elbows past ninety degrees with just the single joint. But the neck joint is rather strange. It is technically a ball joint, but the ball at the top of the neck is just barely wider than the neck itself. On the plus side, it does mean that the heads can be swapped without much struggling. But it also means that the head can freely rotate 360 degrees around, but has very limited range of motion to look up or down. In terms of quality control, all four of my Turtles have reasonably tight joints. Due to the size of the figures and the corresponding weight of their limbs, they could probably have used a ratcheting mechanism so that they don't loosen up too much over time. But they seem to be alright for now. I did have a few joints that needed to be worked free, likely from paint seizing the joints. But that was easily done and with the thickness of the parts on these figures, I didn't have to worry about anything breaking.
The Mousers have hinge joints at each toe joint, the ankles and knees. Their hips rotate. They have a double ball jointed neck. (There is a small piece connecting the neck to the head which helps to extend the range of motion quite a bit. (Why couldn't they have used this for the Turtles as well?) And finally the mouth opens. With the possible exception of a bendable neck, I don't see where there is much more articulation that could be included on the Mousers. These things can even climb up a ladder. What more could you ask for?
Accessories - Mousers 0/10, Exclusive Mousers 4/10, regular Turtles 8/10, exclusive Turtles 9/10For some of their first offerings of action figures, Mondo's Ninja Turtle figures themselves have proven to be quite well done in every aspect thus far. But it is the accessories where Mondo really tried to go all out. (Which again causes me to wonder why they didn't design the packaging to actually show off the accessories.) The regular Mousers don't get any accessories. That's a little disappointing on principle, but there's not really anything that they should have come with. If the other figures hadn't included so many accessories, I wouldn't have even cared. The exclusive version of the Mousers do come with a bonus accessory, a three pack of rats for them to catch, each in a different pose. I can't say I really care about some PVC rats. But it's nice that they included something. With the Turtles, each Turtle has a small assortment of shared accessories which come with all four, one of two weapons that are include with two Turtles each and a handful of accessories that are unique to one Turtle which includes their signature weapon(s), a unique hand sculpt and one other unique item. And then each of the exclusive Turtles has a single, unique accessory that comes straight from the early Mirage Comics. Each Turtle includes:
As I wrote earlier, Mondo really put a lot of thought, effort and love into the accessories for the Turtles. And it shows. I suspect that if you only buy one of the Turtles, or even if I had at least opened each Turtle separately as they were released, I would have been even more impressed with them. But I opened all four Turtles at the same time. And as a result, all of the shared accessories lost a lot of their luster and immediately started to feel more like clutter. All of the accessories are well designed, sculpted and painted. I do have a few minor quibbles. It seems like it would have made more sense to include the pizza as Michelangelo's unique accessory and make the little orphan alien the exclusive accessory since it comes from a single issue like the Shredder's gauntlet and Don's gravity gun. It also seems odd that Raphael comes with an Utrom and the mutagen canister. It makes me wonder why Donatello only has a Utrom. And including Casey's mask as Raphael's exclusive accessory is okay. But he can't wear it and it doesn't really relate directly to Raphael the way the gauntlet, gravity gun and the little orphan alien accessories do. Given Raph didn't need a second head with a different colored mask, I would have loved for the exclusive to be a trench coat and give the spare head his hat. Of course, that then leave the regular version of Raphael with a spare head with his fedora and no coat.
It's also worth noting that there is one other accessory/bonus out there related to these figures. When the first of the four Turtles went up for sale, there was an option to purchase a subscription for the exclusive version of all four of the Turtles. Those that bought the subscription and got all four Turtles also received a poster sized print of the artwork from the back of the box.
Value - Turtles 3/10, Mousers 5/10And now we come to big issue with these figures, the price. The regular versions of the Mirage Turtles were $150 if you bought them through Mondo. The exclusive versions sold for $160. The Mousers sold for $50, $55 for the exclusives. That's a lot of money. Even worse, if you wanted the exclusive versions, you had to prepay in full and then wait more than a year for the figures to actually be produced and delivered. To their credit, Mondo did everything that they could to make these figures feel like they are worth every penny. But they are still a small company and these are being produced in very small numbers compared to something like a Marvel Legends or Playmates Ninja Turtles figure. With the Mousers, that doesn't seem like a bad price for two Mousers. But with the Turtles, it still feels like these would probably have sold for $50-$75 if they were produced by a bigger company and in greater numbers. But in the end, these are the best versions of the Mirage Turtles we have ever gotten. And if you didn't buy them originally, luck and market forces seem to be on your side. They seem to be selling on the secondary market for well UNDER the original retail price. (eBay currently lists the regular version of Leonardo as trending at $100 for example.) That really stinks for those of us that paid the full price upfront. But it does mean that everyone else can get some impressive figures for a much more reasonable price.
Happy Hunting:The exclusive versions of each Turtle and the Mousers were only available originally through Mondo's web site. The regular versions of all five were also available there, but have also been sold through other online stores such as Big Bad Toy Store, Entertainment Earth and others. But at present, the best option actually seems to be the secondary market. As I mentioned, prices on eBay seem to be running well under retail for most of the Turtles. It may take a while for prices for Raphael to drop as he has just shipped from Mondo and there are still resellers on eBay hoping to gouge impatient fans.