This fall the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will be returning to the small screen in a new computer animated series. And like any cartoon that’s worth a damn a new set of action figures is being released to coincide with the airing of the show. Well the new figures hit retail shelves today and I picked up the four heroes in a half shell while on my regular Wednesday comic book run to Strange Adventures. Besides the turtles the line also features Splinter, April o’Neil, Shredder, Krang, and a Foot Soldier with more figures to come.
I passed on all of those other characters. The re-designs really didn’t do anything for me. The turtles on the other hand look fantastic. I think these are the best looking turtle figures to date. And it’s not like there haven’t been good TMNT figures released in the past. I still have my original Leonardo and Donatello figures and they still hold up pretty well. Those figures were released to coincide with the first Turtles TV series which aired in 1987. Then there were the figures based on the 2003 animated series. I never had any of these nor did I ever get into the show. For some reason that show didn’t “feel’ like my turtles or maybe I just wasn’t ready to revisit the property at that time. regardless the manga styled designs were pretty sleek and made for some cool figures. Then there was a set of figures released to comic shops a few years ago which were based on the art of Kevin Eastman who co-created the turtles. These figures captured his style perfectly and were much grittier looking than past releases. Very recently Playmates released a set of the turtles based on the how they appeared in the 80s comics and cartoon. These were great figures which for the first time captured the bubbly animated look of the cartoons. I’ve stolen a pic of those last two sets of turtles I mentioned from my pal Andrew. He’s a much bigger turtle fan than I and currently has 4 alternate versions of the pizza love’n quartet displayed on his desk.
So now that I’ve taken you on a trip down turtle toy memory lane I think there’s a good chance that you may back me up on my claim. there have been lots of great TMNT toys in the past but these new ones are the best. First off they’re all different shades of green which is cool but it’s been done before. What hasn’t been done before is giving them the degree of individualism they get in this series. The turtles are different heights and each one uses individual parts. Their shells are different, their bandages are different, their head shapes are different. Playmates did not take the cheap and easy route here which they easily could have.
Leonardo has always been my favorite turtle followed by Donatello. My brother Doug owned the other two when we were kids so I don’t have as much of a connection to them, besides they both seemed kinda douchey. “..Cool but rude and a party dude”..whatever. My turtles were the smart and mature ones. Luckily the Leo and Donnie figures are the best two of this bunch and I don’t think I’m being biased. Michaelangelo isn’t far behind but Raphael is the weak link. So what makes Leo superior to the others as a toy? Well he’s the best shade of green. Mike’s too bright and Raph’s too dark and Donnie is kinda pukey. Leo is just right. His head sculpt is the best with just the right amount of sneer. Raph’s full toothy mouth is too much. All of the turtles are able to store their weapons in their belts but Leo’s belt is coolest with the over the shoulder strap and double sheaths on the back for his swords. Swords are a kick ass weapon by the way. As a cool throw back to the 1980s toys these figures come with a “weapons tree” of alternate weapons like throwing stars and daggers. Add all these factors together and Leo just comes together perfectly.
I’m glad these turtles turned out as well as they did because honestly the look of the new cartoon doesn’t thrill me. I think these figure designs are superior to the animated designs that they’re based on. It makes me wonder how much influence the current TMNT comic being published by IDW had on the design team. Some of the elements seen here look like they came straight out of the comic.
One final point, the articulation is awesome on these figures. Past figures have been overly articulated or not articulated enough. These ones have plenty of movement yet the joints are well hidden by natural seams in the shell or gear. I was able to pull off all kinds of cool poses as I fiddled with these guys this afternoon. Go getcha some. 10 out of 10.