TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE MOVIE (NECA)
Despite being a licensed property, rather than an in-house brand, the main license for Ninja Turtles has been held by Playmates Toys since the franchise arrived on the scene in the ‘80s, meaning that other companies have had rather little chance to give the characters their own stab. Perhaps the only exception to this rule would be NECA, who first got into the TMNT-thing with a set of comics-based figures back in 2007, while the franchise was between re-boots. Since the brand was bought by Nickelodeon in 2011, Playmates has had more of a strangle-hold on the main figure scales, but NECA again got their foot in the door by offering up some 1/4-scale figures based on the 1990 film. Those were a rousing success, and through some loop-holer-y, NECA was able to parlay that success into a line of more conventionally scaled figures. I’ll be looking at my personal favorite Turtle, Donatello, today.
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Donatello is the first of the four GameStop-exclusive Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie figures, which started arriving at stores in the late-January/early-February time frame. Based on his appearance in the first (and second, since they were the same suits) TMNT movie from 1990, the figure stands 6 inches tall and has 21 points of articulation. All of the figures in this set are scaled-down versions of the 1/4-scale figure. This means that the sculpt on Donnie has a ton of detail work, since he was originally 12 inches taller. It’s a very sharp sculpt, and quite nicely recreates the suit from the movie, albeit in a slightly idealized fashion (because, let’s be honest, nobody really wants a straight re-creation; it would look pretty darn terrible). The majority of the body is shared with Donnie’s brothers, but he has a few parts to keep him unique. Obviously, he’s got his own unique head sculpt, which follows the more reserved and calm take on the character that we usually see, and works nicely for a number of poses. The other unique piece is his belt/shoulder strap. I’m admittedly not a huge piece, for two reasons. The first isn’t really NECA’s fault, but I just don’t like how high on his chest the belt sits. This is accurate to the movie, but it’s a design element that’s always bugged me. Still, it’s accurate, so that one I can’t hold against NECA. The second issue’s more on them, though. See, the design of the back of the strap, where the Bo is meant to be stowed, isn’t so great. They’ve just used cloth straps, which are tied in place. The trouble is that they came untied almost immediately after I took him out of the box, they aren’t very easy to re-tie, and even when you do re-tie them, they don’t hold for very long. Getting them to stay in place for the photos was no small feat. I don’t foresee myself leaving the Bo on his back much anyway, but it’s a little frustrating not really being able to use this facet of the figure. Donatello’s paintwork is a pretty solid offering. There’s a lot going on, with tons of small subtle detail work all throughout, again mimicking the suit from the film very well. Donatello’s accessory complement isn’t quite as extensive as his larger counterpart, but he’s still pretty well-packed. He has his Bo, plus two sets of hands (in gripping and open gesture poses, two styles of ties for his mask (relaxed and dynamic), and a slice of pizza. Not a bad assortment.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
There have been some definite horror stories from collectors trying to track down a full set of these figures, stemming largely from the problems inherent to giving a highly demanded item as an exclusive item to a retail chain that’s not had a particularly great history with this sort of product. Fortunately for me, I have someone on the inside: Super Awesome Fiancee. She was able to be assertive enough with her co-workers to net me a complete set, meaning I had no real troubles! Donatello has some slight flaws, but is generally a very strong figure, living up the standards NECA has set for themselves.