MUTAGEN MAN (2014)
The current TMNT toy line (2012-present) started off really strong (I loved the initial 4 turtle figures) but disappointment quickly set in for me. Subsequent figures have had much less articulation, desired figures are very hard to find in my area until months after their release, and Playmates is not producing the characters I want to see. We’re over 20 figures deep and we still don’t have a Bebop, Rocksteady, or any of the Frogs. I thought I’d be collecting this line but after getting a couple of disappointing figures I decided to call it quits.
The most recent wave of TMNT figures to hit local toy store shelves (about 6 months late) consists of Casey Jones, Squirrelanoid, Kirby Bat, and Mutagen Man. I stopped flicking through the turtle pegs a while ago for myself so I probably wouldn’t have even noticed these new figures had arrived if my pal Andrew hadn’t asked me to be on the lookout for Casey Jones. I came across a Casey in Walmart last week and texted Andrew to see if he still wanted it. Our friend Glen had apparently snagged one for him a few days earlier. I considered picking Casey up for myself for a bit and even carted him around the store but ultimately decided against it. The Kirby Bat and Squirrelanoid figures were just awful so there was nothing to even consider with them and they didn’t have any Mutagen Man so I went home figureless.
I was in Walmart again yesterday to pick up some groceries but as is the case with any man-child I had to quickly peruse the action figure aisle before I could get to the task at hand. They didn’t have any Marvel or Transformers figures that interested me so I decided to flick through the turtles again. I was curious to see if they maybe had a Mutagen Man in stock now. It turned out they had one.
I never owned the original 80s Mutagen Man figure but my little brother did, or maybe it was his friend Thomas who owned it, Thomas tended to leave his toys at our house. Regardless of who owned it, there was a Mutagen Man kicking around our house and I always thought he was cool. He consisted of a pile of guts, complete with a brain stem and attached eyeballs, in a clear “glass” jar. Attached to the jar-suit were a bunch of tubes and wires which I assume were keeping him alive somehow. His limbs were muscular monster arms with discolored flesh. All-in-all he was pretty gross. Mutagen Man appeared in the cartoon series for an episode or two but I can’t recall any of the details. I had to refresh my memory about him on a TMNT wiki site. Apparently the original Mutagen Man started out as a mailman named Seymour Gutz (groan-worthy foreshadowing). He fell into some mutagen and became the hideous Mutagen Man that we all know and love.
Due to my fond memories of the 80s toy I thought this new version was at least worth a look. The pictures I had seen online didn’t look all that promising but sometimes you need to see these things in the flesh, so to speak. Upon my in-store inspection I determined that the new Mutagen Man definitely wasn’t as gross/cool as the original was but there was still enough of a gross/cool factor to warrant me throwing him in my cart. Seeing as they only had one, and it was only $10, I figured it was better to be safe than sorry.
The pile of guts in the clear containment suit remains, but the suit looks more like a garbage can now. Most of the original’s cool details have been stripped down to a single microphone and hose on the front of the suit which I assume allows MM to speak. The groddy zombie limbs with the mechanical braces have been replaced with globby yellow translucent arms which are supposed to represent oozing mutagen. I don’t like this look as much but it probably makes more sense. And while I thought this figure was just barely good enough to purchase, once I got it home and opened up my views on it softened some. The lack of sculpted detail and articulation bug me, he’s got 6 points (at the hips, shoulders, and wrists) but oddly enough, the lack of sculpted detail also makes me like this figure. It’s kind of elegant in it’s simplicity; like a 60s robot. And as far as articulation goes, how much more do you really need out of a walking garbage can? It’s like complaining your R2D2 is too stiff.
The only reason the hands are articulated is so you can screw them off and fill his arms with water or TMNT brand ooze. The left hand has holes in it so that the ooze can seep out of it. I’m fine with not filling his arms but I couldn’t resist filling his containment suit. The top screws off and you can fill it with water or ooze or Kool-Aid or whatever. I opted for a torso half-full of water. The thick yellow ooze you can buy would hide all the cool details of the gut pile so I wouldn’t recommend using that but the water looks great and adds an element of realism. I may have to seek out a vintage one to display next to this new one but I must admit that I’ve been one over by this new Mutagen Man figure who, according to TMNT wiki by the way, is not Seymour Gutz but a stupid chubby teenager named Timothy who suffered a similar fate.