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NEWTRALIZER (2014)

TMNT-Newt fullTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

Playmates new line of Ninja Turtle figures are a real mixed bag when it comes to quality. The initial 4 turtle figures were great but some of the incidental characters from wave 1 were less so. In each subsequent wave I’ve  continued to find the figures of the supporting cast to be largely underwhelming. Not only are they lacking in articulation but some of the designs are downright awful. But every time I think I’m done collecting this line I stumble across another pretty cool toy.

I was browsing around Toys R Us the other day when I found a lone Newtralizer figure amongst a sea of turtles and crappy villains. I had never seen this figure before nor had I even heard of the character it so it caught be by surprise. I snagged him from his peg just to be on the safe side; the non-turtle figures TMNT can still be pretty tough to find in my area. If I didn’t grab him then and there god knows when I’d see him in the wild again.TMNT-Newt back

Most of the modern TMNT toys I’ve bought are new versions of old characters I liked when I was a kid, like Leatherhead, Metalhead, or Mutagen Man. I don’t usually care much for the new characters like Fish Face or Dogpound. The one new character figure I did pick up, Cockroach Terminator, turned out to be a real dud. But unlike the other new characters Newtralizer had a few things going for him that appealed to me.

First off he’s a newt. I’ve always loved salamanders. I use to go into the woods across the street from my house and collect salamanders from under the rocks. I would build little habitats for them in my fish tanks. I’ve always been fascinated by lizards and up here in Atlantic Canada you don’t come across lizards very often, if ever. Catching salamanders was as close as I came to owning a pet lizard when I was a kid. Newtralizer is painted in a color pattern very reminiscent of the salamanders I hoarded back in the day with his dark body and speckled orange belly.  Another neat thing about the paint job is the obvious nod to the Punisher’s skull on Newtralizer’s belly.

TMNT-Newt face

Secondly, his design is simple. He’s a relatively realistic looking newt with a belt and some shoulder pads. Many of the other new characters are overly stylized and really lean. Newtralizer is a good solid figure.

Thirdly, he’s a good guy, sort of. I was quite surprised to see him on the good guy side of the figure checklist when I looked the back of the package. He sure looked like a bad guy.  When  got home I read his brief bio on wikipedia and it turns out that he’s an assassin and criminal who’s an enemy of both the turtles and Kraang. I always think it’s cool when you throw a few lone wolves or new factions into a well established conflict like Destro and the Iron Grenadiers in G.I. Joe or the Evil Horde in Master’s of the Universe.TMNT-Newt art

Lastly, his name is Newtralizer and he’s a newt. You can’t beat that.

I really like the look of this character but the figure wasn’t executed as well as it could have been. It’s lacking in articulation which I’ve come to expect that with this line but I really wish Playmates would step up their game for future releases. Neutralizer swivels at the neck and he has ball joints at the hips and shoulders.  I’m not a fan of the way the legs attach to the body; its like they’re just tacked on.  Also, his legs are sculpted with bent knees and it appears that if the legs could be straightened out they wouldn’t be the same length.

TMNT-Newt sideNewtralizer comes with 2 weapons; a knife and a round bladed disc. They’re pretty plain accessories sculpted in solid gray plastic with no paint apps. With a name like Newtralizer and a nod to the Punisher in his design I would think this guy should be much more heavily armed with loads of guns and weapons.  Apparently he does all his neutralizing with a jackknife. weak.

This figure isn’t great but it’s pretty good. If I owned this toy when I was a kid Newtralizer could have lived in a swamp (my aquarium) where he’d rule over a legion of salamander warriors. It would’ve been fun. 6 out of 10.

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MUTAGEN MAN (2014)

TMNT-Mutagen man fullTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

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.

TMNT-Mutagen man back

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.

80s Mutagen Man

80s Mutagen Man

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. TMNT-Mutagen man attack

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? TMNT-Mutagen Man side 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.

If you see one of these bad boys you might as well pick him up, he’s kinda cool.  7 out of 10.TMNT-Mutagen Man drawing

COCKROACH TERMINATOR (2013)

TMNT-Cock fullTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

I’m a Ninja Turtles fan but not to the extent that I’m a G.I. Joe or Transformers fan.  The TMNT came along a bit later in my childhood so I didn’t get as attached to them.  I had a handful of the toys as a kid but I only held on to a couple of my favorites.  But when Playmates unveiled their really cool new turtle figures in 2012, based on the new Nickelodeon cartoon, I was stoked about getting updated versions of the heroes in a half shell.  I don’t think Leonardo and the gang have ever looked better.  However I had no intention of collecting the modern TMNT toy line. I passed on Shredder, Krang, April, the Foot Soldier and Splinter from that first wave of toys; I was content with my 4 turtles.  But then Metalhead came out and he was really cool looking so I got him.  And then Leatherhead came out and he was cool too so I bought him.  It seemed a small collection was taking shape.TMNT-cock face

All of the stores in my area are completely bogged down with multiple variations of the 4 turtles.  You can get them with Battle Shells, Power Sounds, or Stealth Tech.  There are pegs and pegs full of Donnie, Mikie, Leo and Raph. Most of the other characters have proven quite difficult to find: at least at first.  Metalhead and Letherhead are both plentiful now but back when I first got them they were a hot commodity.

My nephew Alex (Doug’s kid) is collecting the entire Ninja Turtle line.  Doug has asked me on a few occasions to keep my eyes peeled for the latest figures since they tend to be so elusive initially.  For months he had me looking for Rat King, which I eventually found for him at Giant Robot Comics.  The next one he had me hunting for was Cockroach Terminator.TMNT-Cock back

I had no idea who Cockroach Terminator was so I wasn’t sure what I was looking for.  I looked him up and discovered that he’s a giant cyborg bug; I suppose I could’ve guessed that from the name.  Cockroach Terminator is a brand new creation of the Nickelodeon series.  He did not appear in the old comics or cartoons so I have no nostalgic attachment to the character whats-so-ever.

Just before the holidays I was in Walmart and I spotted ol’ CT on the pegs.  I looked him over and wasn’t overly impressed.  They only had two of him in stock.  If they had had a dozen of them I would’ve grabbed one for Alex and been done with it but because there were only 2 and I was aware of how hard he was to find I decided that I’d better get one for myself too.  I’d hate to have passed him up only to regret in later if I suddenly decided I wanted him.  That has happened to me before. I find you don’t regret the things you do buy, only the things you don’t.

So I got him home and opened him up and…meh.  Still not impressed.  He’s a good size, taller than any of the other TMNT figures in the line, so he has that going for him.  I wish Playmates had made the Leatherhead figure larger as he’s quite imposing in the animated series but kinda shrimpy in toy form. TMNT-Cock arms

Other than the size of him I find there’s very little to get excited about.  He’s relatively plain looking.  This guy is a cyborg so he has a few cybernetic enhancements, most noticeably the eye, but other than that there are few signs of robotic modification.  He’s got a metal antennae on his head, some exposed wires in his armpits, and a couple of other minor metal protrusions.  I think they could’ve done a lot more with the concept.

The articulation on the turtle figures from this line was great but it’s been sorely lacking on the supporting cast.  This figure is articulated at the neck, shoulders, elbows, and upper legs.  The leg joints just plain suck.  They look like they’re ball jointed but they’re very limited with only side-to-side movement.  He also has a dinky little extra arm on his right side that can be moved a bit but it’s pretty pointless.  There’s a gaping hole in his chest for some reason I don’t understand.   He came with a buzz saw on a stick which fits through the hole but it doesn’t snap into place or anything; it just kind of sits there.  I don’t see the point of it but i assume it’s a weapon he had in the cartoon.  I immediately chucked the useless accessory into my parts bin where it will likley never see the light of day again.  I couldn’t be bother to dig it out for this review. I’m pretty luke warm on this guy.  I probably should’ve left him on the peg.  At least Alex seemed to like him.  3 out of 10.

METALHEAD

TMNT-Metalhead fullTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

As you may be aware it was my birthday last Thursday.  Vanessa came through in true stellar girlfriend fashion by getting me a ton of cool stuff including the recently reviewed Annihilator figure.  We celebrated my birthday quietly with a dinner out and then a night in together.  It was very nice.  However I’m the type who likes to milk his birthday for all that it’s worth.  I’m not fishing for presents or anything I just like having an excuse to party with my friends and what better excuse is there than my creation.  Part 3 of my birthday will be transpiring this coming Sunday.  That celebration will be with family only.  You see my brother Doug’s birthday is on February first so my family tends to do a dinner get together somewhere in between out two actual birthdays.  Part 2 of my birthday went down this past Saturday.  We reserved the lower floor of a sweet local bar called Maxwell’s Plum.  It’s actually in the same building as my comic store, Strange Adventures.  On a sad side note the building is set to be demolished and so both business will have to move in the near future.TMNT-Metalhead head2

Anyhoo, the party on Saturday was a great success with a number of  friends showing up to have a drink or two with me.  All I wanted was to enjoy their company but a few of my closest friends bought me some gifts.  Miguel got me the Jurassic Park blu-ray trilogy along with a $30 gift card to Strange Adventures and a cheese slice (don’t ask).  My buddy Andrew bought me a really nifty action figure customizing set (stay tuned for a home made action figure review) and he bought me this guy: Metalhead.TMNT-Metal head back

The first Metalhead toy was released back in 1989 during the first generation of TMNT mania.  I was already  11 when that figure came out and I was already losing interest in the line.  Doug and I had the entire first wave of figures but only 1 or 2 beyond that.  My little brother Brian began collecting turtle toys after we lost interest but even he never had Metalhead.  I remember thinking the vintage toy was pretty cool at the time, just not cool enough for me to buy for myself.TMNT-Metalhead vintage

The ninja turtles have died off in popularity and been revived a couple of times since then and I never paid much attention to them.  I liked the classic look of the 80s cartoon/Archie comics and didn’t care for the constant re-imaginings.  I’m not sure what it was about the 2012 designs that spoke to me but as soon as I saw the turtles most recent make over I loved it.  I think the turtles look better now than they ever have before.   I’ve tried watching the new cartoon but can’t get into it but that won’t stop me from buying some of the toys.  I bought up all 4 turtles from the first wave but passed on Shredder, April, Krang and the others.  For whatever reason none of the other character’s new looks appealed to me; only that of the turtles like Leonardo and MichelangeloTMNT-Metalhead pose

I really didn’t plan on buying to many more figures from this new series, perhaps only favorites from my youth like Be-Bop, Mondo Gecko and Baxter Stockman.  Metalhead was not on my radar at all.  He never even occurred to me as a character I would want in this new style.  However, like the 4 turtles, as soon as I saw pictures of the new Metalhead online I absolutely loved it.

I think this design is light years better than the ’89 original.  This toy looks totally badass.  His articulation is pretty limited which is disappointing but you can still get him into some dynamic poses.  The missile launching hand gimmick does little for me but the figure doesn’t look bad when the missile is loaded into his arm.  The manhole cover as a shell is awesome and I like his kneepads which kinda resemble the Punisher’s skull logo for some reason.  If this is a sign of things to come I fear I may be spending more dough on this line than I had originally planned. 9 out of 10. Thanks Andy.TMNT-Metalhead attack

MICHELANGELO

TMNT-Mikie fullTEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES

To achieve my goal of 365 toy reviews in my first year I am currently 9 reviews away and I have 5 days to get them done.  Normally this wouldn’t be a problem but due to recent changes at work I’m not able to write them there so I’m forced to write them on my free time believe it or not.  I had every intention of writing a few reviews tonight as soon as I got home but when I arrived home I was greeted by my superintendent in the lobby.  She reminded me that the property manager was hosting a Christmas party in the common lounge on the top floor of the building tonight from 7 until 9. I accidentally missed this event last year and felt compelled to attend this time.  It would have completely slipped my mind again without the reminder despite the fact that the invitation has been hanging on my fridge for weeks.  So we went up at 7 figuring we’d be out of there by 7:30.  However they had a nice food spread and were serving free wine so we actually stayed until the bitter end, got drunk and made some new friends in the building.  All of which is great accept for the fact that now that I’m all buzzed up on wine I have no desire to write toy reviews.TMNT-Mikie nunchucks

And yet with this looming deadline I know I must so here I sit ready to present you with another action figure review.  The wine got the best of Vanessa and she’s passed out on the sofa so I don’t feel to bad about hiding away in my man cave for a while.  Tonight I’ve opted to talk about the latest Michelangelo figure from Playmates.  The ninja turtles have recently been revived with a new toy line and cartoon.   I’m glad they’re back and actually cool again because I’ve been Christmas shopping for my nephews recently and I much prefer to buy them things that I’m into like Ninja Turtles or Transformers as opposed to Digimon or Bakugan or whatever other crap they thought was cool a couple of years ago.  I have yet to watch the new computer animated TMNT nickelodeon cartoon but my nephews tell me that it’s pretty cool.  I picked up all 4 of the turtles based on the new cartoon when they first hit shelves a few months ago.  I previously reviewed Leonardo.  I think that these new figures are awesome.  Dare I say better than the ones that existed when I was a kid.TMNT-Mikie animated

I always found the ninja turtle figures released in the late 80s to be lacking in personality, they all kinda looked the same.  Each of them had either a full or half sneer on their face and they looked pissed off.  The pissed off sneer especially didn’t work for Michelangelo who was billed as the “party dude”.  It always seemed to me that Mikie should have had a smile on his face.  I don’t know if you can call the expression on this version of Michelangelo’s face a smile necessarily but I think it definitely qualifies as a smirk.  And even though the eyes are pupiless and could be considered blank and cold, I see some personality there, even in the way the eyes are shaped.  This Michelangelo does not look as serious as his 80s predecessor.  on the plus side he doesn’t look like a total goof ball either.  I seem to recall my little brother owning later versions of the character from the original toy line where his tongue was out and he looked like he was having far too much fun.  The Turtles were originally pretty gritty so I don’t like them to be too silly. I think this current Playmates line balances the light-hearted fun aspects of the 80s cartoon perfectly with the grittier edgier look of the original comic book turtles.TMNT-Mikie retro head

This Michelangelo looks fantastic sculpted in a light swampy colored green plastic.  He’s got the lightest and brightest complexion  of all the turtles in the line.  He’s also the shortest by a considerable margin.  I really appreciate the fact that Playmates didn’t just paint different colored bandanas on the same toy and attempt to pass them off as different characters.  They put a lot of effort into differentiating the turtles.  I love the look of this figure from top to bottom.  From the bandages to the textured skin to the smirking face, it’s all good. TMNT-Mikie weapons

For accessories Michelangelo came with his signature nunchucksof course as well as a tree of miscellaneous weapons.  When prototypes of this figure first appeared online they showed him as having actual links of chain in his nunchucks which would have been awesome but understandably more costly.  I’m content with the sculpted nunchucks he came with especially considering the reasonable $10 price tag on these figures.  A great toy. If you’ve got nephews I suggest you buy a few of these bad boys this Christmas. 8 out of 10.TMNT-Mikie headstand