#1039: Raphael & Michelangelo




Wait a second!  Didn’t I just say yesterday that I never found the other half of the NECA Ninja Turtles?  Fear not dear reader, this feeling indicates only that you are still sane.  No, I never did find those other two Turtles.  Well, not officially, anyway.  I’ve spoken once or twice about bootlegs, unlicensed action figures, usually produced by chinese factories as a way of making a quick buck.  They tend to be very cheaply made, and rarely can they be mistaken for any official product.  It does happen, though, especially if a factory producing figures for an American toy company decides to make use of some of the molds they have lying around to earn a little extra profit.  That’s what happened to NECA.  In 2013, it had been a fair while since NECA had lost the license to produce TMNT figures, and the main four had all shot up pretty far in price.  Slowly, more and more of these figures began showing on eBay, shipping from China, and selling at lower prices than usual.  As it turned out, these figures were clever forgeries of the real deal, created by one of NECA’s ex-factories.  While the initial bootleg Turtles were just straight recreations of the official NECA figures, the already unlicensed nature of the the figures quickly opened the door to variations of the NECA figures in the usual cartoon colors (which NECA had not legally been able to use).  Needless to say, I came into possession of the remaining two Turtles, which I’ll be looking at today.


RaphNECA2These two are one half of the set of bootleg Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures, patterned after the NECA releases.  As noted above, the bootlegs were available in both comic and cartoon color schemes (referring to the color of the bandanas).  These two are the cartoon color versions (though the two versions of Raph are the same).  As far as anyone can tell, the bootlegs are only available in the tube style packaging, likely due to them coming from the factory that produced that run of figures for NECA.  Both figures stand 5 ¼ inches tall and have the same 30 points of articulation as the official figures.  One thing I did notice is that these two have a tendency to pop apart at some of the joints, due to the slightly softer plastic that was used.  Like their official counterparts, Raph and Mike use the same body as Don and Leo.  There aren’t any sculptural changes that I can find, apart from some of the native texturing on the skin being a bit smoother.  The official Raph and Mike had unique heads, which is true here as well.  Raph sports one with a squinting, angry scowl, perfect for his more intense nature.  Mike, meanwhile, gets a much lighter expression, wide-eyed and smiling, RaphNECA2encapsulating his role as the team’s resident goofball.  Mike’s head is probably my favorite of the four, just for sheer expressiveness.  The changes between bootleg and official are most evident in the paintwork.  Obviously, Mike gets an orange bandana instead of the usual red.  It’s a minor change, but especially noticeable if you’re like me and the other three have red.  Raph’s bandana is more or less the same shade as the official figures, though it is a bit glossier in finish.  In fact, both figures as a whole are glossier than the originals, no doubt due to cheaper paint.  The greens of their skin are also a bit yellower than the official versions, and brown pads and belts are noticeably darker.  The black details have also been made a bit less striking, especially on the shells, and the accent work on the shading is a little more heavy handed.  As they are emulating the more bare-bones releases, Raph and Mike each get just their basic weapons: a pair of sai for Raph and nunchucks for Mike.   


When these bootlegs first started showing up, I was tempted to pick up some of them, since, as noted yesterday, my NECA Turtles were incomplete.  However, they tended to only be sold in sets of four, so I never got around to getting them.  Back in June, I was out with my brother, and we stopped by a local retro game store, who had just gotten in a set of the cartoon colored versions.  While I would have prefered the comic ones, just for the sake of matching the two I already have, I figured these two were close enough.  Perhaps one day I’ll paint Mike to match the rest.   but right now I’m happy to have all four, even if it is through questionable means.



#1038: Leonardo




Hey, remember how I reviewed one of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles yesterday? Well, guess what! I’m reviewing another one today! I know, it’s a total shocker, right? Okay, maybe not. Yesterday, I looked at Donatello, my favorite of the Turtles. Today, I’ll be looking at the Turtles’ leader Leonardo, who’s a definite fourth for me. But, I still bought the figure, so I guess that doesn’t really matter.


LeoNECA2Leonardo was also released in the first series of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line. Like Don, he was available in a clamshell, tubed, and in a boxed set with his three brothers. This figure is the clamshell release. Leonardo is 5 ¼ inches tall and has 30 points of articulation. As I noted in yesterday’s review, all four of the NECA Turtles shared the same body, so most of Leonardo is exactly the same as Donatello. Seeing as Donatello was a pretty impressively sculpted figure, that’s hardly an issue. Leo does have one minor change to the body; there is a pair of sheaths for his swords affixed to his back. These sheaths are just as nicely sculpted as the rest of the figure, and add a cool touch of individualism to Leo. Leo also gets a unique headsculpt, with gritted teeth and an overall determined looking demeanor. It’s a good expression for Leo, and makes him instantly distinctive from Donatello.  For the most part, Leo’s paint is more or less identical to Don’s. There are a few minor differences, but none that are intentional (barring the obvious inclusion of his teeth and the sheaths). Leo’s paint does seem just a bit sloppier than Don’s, but that’s the sort of thing that will vary from figure to figure. All three releases of Leo included a pair of katana, which are very impressively rendered. The bottom of each hilt can be removed to allow for an easier time getting Leo to grip them, and they fit great in his hands or the sheaths on his back. The clamshell release also added a pair of open palm hands, a pre-mutation Leo (same as the pre-mutation Don), and a stand that looks like a portion of sidewalk, complete with a fire hydrant. The stand can connect with the one included with Don (as well as those included with the other two Turtles) to form a neat little diorama.


Like Don, I found Leonardo at a nearby FYE (though not on the same trip). At the point I found him, I’d more or less given up on finishing the set, but was happy to find him regardless. Despite the fact that Leo isn’t my favorite Turtle, this is still a really fun figure, just as good as the Donatello figure. Leo was the last NECA Turtle I found, and the high cost of the other two on the aftermarket meant that for 9 years I’ve only had half of the Turtles on my shelf.

#1037: Donatello




For someone who never had a huge attachment to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I sure do seem to have a lot of figures from the franchise. What can I say? I’m a sucker for cool toys, and there are a lot of really cool Ninja Turtles toys out there. For most of their 25+ year run, the Turtles toys have been handled exclusively by Playmates, but in 2007, NECA put out a set of Turtles based on their original Mirage Comics appearances. Today, I’ll be looking at NECA’s take on my personal favorite of the Turtles, Donatello!


DonNECA2Donatello was released in the first series of NECA’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line, and he (like the other three Turtles) was available three different ways: single-packed (clamshell), single-packed (tubed), and in a boxed set with the rest of the team. The particular figure being looked at today is the clamshell version, which means he includes a few extras that the other releases didn’t have. The figure stands about 5 ¼ inches tall and he has 30 points of articulation. All of the Turtles from NECA were sculpted by the Four Horsemen, based on Eastman and Laird’s original depictions of the Turtles. The four figures shared most of their parts with each other, with the heads (mostly their expressions) being their only distinctive features. This is true to the early depictions of the characters, so it makes sense. The sculpt is definitely top notch, not only capturing the distinct look of the art, but also offering a lot of really great texture work (which is far better handled here than it is on the Playmates equivalents). If I had one complaint, it would be the length of the neck; it seems just a tad longer than it should be. Donatello’s head sculpt is calm and pensive, which is pretty a good choice for Don’s personality. On top an already awesome sculpt is a very impressive paintjob which, in combination with the sculpt, really helps to sell this as the comics design for the character. The colors are nice and bold, and the black accent lines are sharp, and place just right to make it look like an inked drawing. All of the releases of Don included the basic gripping hands and his signature Bo staff. The staff is a really nice piece, and it spits at the middle to make it easier to get it in his hands. The clamshell-ed Don also gets a spare set of open hands for wall-climbing, a container of T.C.R.I. ooze, a small pre-mutation Don, and a stand that looks like a section of street. All of these are just as well-sculpted as the main figure, and the stand in particular is a really fun piece.


Don was the first of the NECA Turtles I got. The single-packs were rather difficult to find at the time, so I was quite happy when I found this guy at my nearest FYE. This was actually my first real introduction to NECA, and it’s one heck of an introduction. This is a fantastic figure through and through, and there’s definitely a reason that these guys are so demanded after the fact.

#0822: Donatello




The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a trend that I seem to always juuuust miss, since the first cartoon and toyline were big right before I got into collecting, and the second cartoon was just after I was watching Saturday morning cartoons on a regular basis. The 2002 had quite a few fans, which included my younger brother. Since we were into a lot of the same stuff, I actually had a small handful of figures from that particular toyline. Today, I’ll be looking at my personal favorite member of the Turtles, Donatello.


Donatello2002bDonatello was part of the first series of the 2002 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line from Playmates. He’s the first version of the character released in this particular iteration, so he’s just a fairly standard version, before the onset of the wacky variants. The figure stands 5 ¾ inches tall and has 13 points of articulation. The articulation isn’t terrible, but he can’t really do much but stand in the one pose. Later figures added a bit more, but these early figures weren’t so lucky. The sculpt of this figure is pretty good. It’s specific to Donatello, but it really could be any of the four depending on the paint. It captures the look of the characters on the show fairly well. He’s definitely a bit more detailed and “toyetic” than a straight translation would be, but it’s clear which of the incarnations of the show this is based on. There’s some nice texture work on the shell and the sides of his torso, but it doesn’t really extend to the rest of the figure, which is a bit odd. The paintwork on Donatello is pretty nicely handled; the basic colors match up with Donatello’s from the show, and he’s got a decent amount of accent work. The figure included his signature Bo staff, a sword, axe, and two throwing blades. Mine has none of these, however.


So, I actually didn’t get this guy when he was new. I ended up finding him at the same place where I purchased the recently reviewed Secret Wars Wolverine. I don’t have any undying need to own the figures from this line, but he was $1.99, so I figured he was worth it. The 2002 figures actually weren’t that bad, and they hold up pretty well over a decade after release, which can’t really be said of most figures from 2002.

#0665: Casey Jones




So, my love of almost all things Minimates and my moderate interest in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles insured that I found myself a full set of the line’s first series. After the first series, my interest kind of waned a bit. Not the fault of the line or anything, I just got distracted by other stuff. I did manage to track down one of the Series 2’s figures, Karai, which I liked well enough. One of the more glaring omissions from Series 1 was long-time Turtle ally Casey Jones, who found his way into the second set.


CaseyJ2Casey Jones was released blind-bagged, as a part of the specialty assortment of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series 2. He’s also available packed with Michelangelo in the Toys R Us assortment, for those wanting to go the non-blind-bagged option. The figure stands about 2 ½ inches in height and has the usual 14 points of articulation. Like all the others in this line, he’s based on Casey’s appearance in the current cartoon. Casey features a fair number of sculpted add-ons for his mask/hood, straps/shoulder pad, elbow pads, belt, and his padded gloves. The elbow pads are re-used from the Ghostbusters Minimates line, but aside from that everything’s all-new to Casey. Everything is exquisitely sculpted, with tons of detail work, but not so much as to make him look out of place amongst the other Turtles Minimates. The padded gloves in particular look pretty amazing, with some great texture work on the stitching and padding. Paintwork is the downfall of most of the Turtles Minimates, but it seems to have turned out a fair bit better for good ol’ Casey here. For the most part, the base color work is pretty cleanly handled. There’s a little bit of bleed over here and there, but nothing too bad. There CaseyJ7are even a few areas with purposeful slop, which are very nicely handled and add a nice extra bit of character to the figure. The detail lines are all carefully placed, so as to capture the animated style in as few lines as possible. Under the mask, there’s a full Casey face, which is a little bit goofy looking for my taste, but captures the show look pretty well. Casey, like a lot of the Turtles Minimates, is no slouch in the accessories department, featuring an extra head, hairpiece, hands, a pulled down hood, two different hockey sticks, a baseball bat, and a clear display stand. The hair and hood allow for unmasked displays of the character, and the extra head gives us the skull-ish face paint he’s sported on the show. The various sports equipment is kinda key to the character, so it’s cool to see here, and well-sculpted to boot.


After playing the blind-bag game with Series 1 and then trying again with Series 2 and getting Karai, I decided to give up and just get an opened Casey from my favorite Minimates retailer, Luke’s Toy Store. Casey’s long been one of my favorite parts of the Turtles mythos, so I was happy to see him turn up in the Minimates line. The final figure is a little different from my preferred interpretation of the character, but he’s one of the better figures this line’s had to offer.


#0596: Karai




Not too long ago, I finally got around to getting the last main figure from the first series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates. I took my sweet time getting that set finished up. Not really sure why, but I just kept putting it off. What finally encouraged me to finish up the set was actually the fact that Series 2 had made its way to release. I haven’t taken the full plunge on the second set just yet, but I did manage to pick up one figure, Karai, daughter of the main baddie Shredder!


Karai2Karai was released blind-bagged, as part of the specialty assortment of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates Series 2. I’m not 100% sure, but I think she might be one of the two figures in this series that is specialty-exclusive. The figure is roughly 2 ½ inches tall and has 14 points of articulation. She is, obviously, based on Karai’s design from the latest TMNT cartoon. I haven’t really kept up with the cartoon, so I’ve not actually seen any of this incarnation’s appearances, but she seems to have kept at least a few key elements from prior incarnations of the character. She’s built on the standard Minimate body, with add-ons for her hair, gauntlets, and belt/sheath. The gauntlets first saw use on Marvel Minimates Series 36’s Silver Centurion Iron Man, and they seem like a decent enough match for what she has on the show. They could Karai3maybe stand to be a little more elegant, but they work in a pinch. The hair and belt pieces both look to be new to the figure, and both seem like pretty good matches to the show’s design. The hair in particular is a pretty spot on translation of her ‘do from the show. Karai’s paintwork is decent enough, though, like most of the TMNT Minimates, she’s not perfect. The detail lines are nice and sharp, and actually on the plentiful side, which you don’t always see with animated characters. The armor on her upper arms and thighs in particular are quite nicely handled, and the thigh armor even wraps around the sides. I also love the fully detailed sash, which even features detailing on the clips keeping it in place. However, some of the base paintwork is a little on the sloppy side, most noticeably on the gauntlets and the back of the hair. Karai comes packed with a short sword, an alternate masked head, and a clear display stand.


I got Karai as part of a large order from Luke’s Toy Store (the same one that got me my Aliens Minimates and my Age of Ultron singles). I actually wanted a Casey Jones, but Luke’s was out of those, so I ordered one Series 2 blind-bag at random. Big shocker: it ended up being Karai. Not quite what I wanted, but truth be told, I kind of wanted her too, so I wasn’t too bummed. Karai isn’t the most exciting Minimate ever, but she is a bit more exciting than April, and she certainly goes nicely with the other TMNT Minimates we’ve gotten so far.

#0582: April O’Neil




AprilOneilMM1A while back, I reviewed the majority of the first series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates. I picked up that set from K-Mart, so it didn’t include a few of the figures that showed up in other assortments. Of the three figures not represented there, two were “Mutagen” variants of the Turtles, so I didn’t feel an undying need to track them down. However, I was missing out on April O’Neil, who’s a rather important piece of the Turtles mythos. I finally got around to tracking her down, so let’s have a look at the figure, shall we?


AprilOneilMM2April is part of the first series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates. As I noted above, she wasn’t part of the K-Mart assortment, however, she was in both the Toys R Us and specialty assortments. At TRU, she was packed with Raphael, while she was packed alone in a blind bag for the specialty assortment. For posterity, it should be noted that my figure is from the specialty release, so she doesn’t have the TRU’s keychain piece. The figure stands roughly 2 ½ inches tall and features the usual 14 points of articulation. Just like the rest of the line, April is based on her appearance in the current Nickolodeon cartoon. She’s probably got one of the more unique looks from the show (what with having to keep her appearance “modern” and all), but it retains a lot of the character’s signature traits. April is built on the standard Minimate body, with an add-on piece for her hair. The hair is new to this figure, and it does a very nice job of translating April’s show appearance to the ‘mate form. It’s simple, but effective. The rest of the design is handled via paint, which is….mixed at best. The detail lines are generally pretty good. They’re sharp and relatively clean and do a good job of conveying what April’s supposed to look like. The real trouble, like with so many of the other figures in this series, lies with the base paint. The colors themselves are all fine, but the application is pretty bad. Most of the edges are seriously wavy and uneven, and many spots, such as the eyes and lips, don’t stay within the detail lines. The worst paint is definitely on the hair piece, where the head band is merely hovering in the general area of the sculpted piece, with incredibly uneven edges. It’s pretty bad. April includes a fan and a clear display stand. A sword or something would have been nice, but these are both acceptable pieces.


I ended up buying April loose from Luke’s Toy Store, while ordering a bunch of other figures. I’ve been meaning to get her for several months now, but kept putting it off. In my defense, she’s hardly the most exciting figure in the line. I’m glad I finally got her, as she’s a key piece of the collection, but I can’t say my less than excited opinion of the figure has really changed. She’s an okay figure, but she’s more heavily hit by the bad paint than others in the line due to her design already being a slightly boring one. At the very least, I think it’s worth noting that April’s design does work a little better in ‘mate form than it does in any other figure form, so the figure has that going for it.

#0463: Foot Soldier




You know what I haven’t reviewed enough of lately? Minimates! There have been a few Minimate reviews on the site recently, but they haven’t been from me, so I’ve kinda felt left out of the fun. But, never fear, I’m never too far from a Minimate to review!

A few months ago, I reviewed most of the figures in the K-Mart assortment of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates. The only figure I was unable to find was the basic Foot Soldier. Well, I found him, so here he is!


Footbot2The Foot Soldier was released in the first series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This particular figure is from the K-Mart assortment, but the Foot Soldier was available in all of the offered assortments. The Foot Soldier is about 2 ½ inches tall and features 14 points of articulation. Like the rest of the TMNT Minimates, the Foot Soldier is based on the design from the current Nickelodeon cartoon. The figure is built on the standard Minimate body, with non-standard upper arms and upper legs, both of which are shared with the Footbot, as well as a set of straps with a sheath for the sword attached (also shared with the Footbot) and a belt piece that holds a knife. Aside from the belt, these pieces are exactly the same as those on the Footbot. They were pretty great there, and they’re pretty great here. The belt is a rather basic piece, but it works, and it helps to differentiate the two figures. Like the sculpt, the paintwork on this figure is more or less identical to the Footbot. The Footbot exhibited some of the best work of the TMNT Minimates, so that’s hardly a bad thing. Everything is clean and the details are nice and bold. I still really love the way they handled the eyes; the detail is just fantastic. The biggest difference between this figure and the Footbot is the accessory selection. This figure includes a katana, a smaller blade, a switch blade, a clear display stand, and the Kmart/TRU exclusive keychain attachment.


After missing out on him in my initial purchase of the TMNT Minimates, I was able to track down the Foot Soldier at Super Awesome Girlfriend’s local Kmart. While it may not seem like the most exciting figure at first, especially since I already have the Footbot, I was pretty thrilled to get this figure. (Jess can attest to this; I may or may not have been sitting in the front seat of the car yelling “Foot Ninja” when I got this.)

#0439: Donatello




We continue on with the post-Christmas gift reviews today, with #2. While the vast majority of the gifts I received were either Doctor Who or Alien related, there were a few outliers. Today’s review comes from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, that cultural phenomenon that I keep missing but still have an oddly placed affection for.

This review is also the first time that I’ll be delving into the Funko Pop! line. Pop! is a line of stylized vinyl figures based on a wide gamut of properties (Funko has the rights to virtually every property in existence). There are well over a hundred figures in the line and there are a few different sub-headings (31 to be exact). Today’s figure, Donatello, hails from the Pop! Television line.


DonatelloPop2Donatello is figure #60 in the Funko Pop! Television line. Numerically, he’s the first of the four turtle brothers. The figure is roughly 3 inches tall and features a whole one point of articulation. The articulation is limited, but it’s par for the line, and vinyl figures in general. Donatello is based on the character’s appearance in the 1987 cartoon, with the usual Pop! style applied. This means he has the solid circle eyes, the squared-off head, and the exaggerated, smaller lower body all native to the Pop! line. The figure features a completely unique sculpt. It’s pretty good for what we’ve come to expect from the line. The proportions are decent, from an internal stand-point, and it has cleanly sculpted details. It isn’t completely without issue, though. The biggest issue is very definitely the Bo Staff, which has been sculpted as part of the body. It seems the hands weren’t quite sculpted in the right positioning for the staff to fit them, and rather than fix them, the sculptor just sorta bent the staff a bit. It’s really obvious and it makes the figure look rather sloppy. Funko may be really good at getting every license under the sun, but they have yet to figure out the secret to a consistent paint job. Donatello’s isn’t horribly off the mark, to be fair. The colors are nice and vibrant, and they really reflect the color palette of the cartoon version of the character well. That said, they seem to be placed only in the general vicinity of where they should be, leading to a lot of bleed over. There is also a lot of fuzzy line work around the edges. Donatello includes no accessories, which is fairly standard for a Pop! figure.


Donatello here was a Christmas gift from my brother Christian. I’ve mentioned before that my fandom of TMNT is shared with Christian, so this gift has much more meaning coming from him than it would anyone else. Plus, it’s my favorite turtle to boot! Funko Pop! isn’t a line I follow religiously, but the style works pretty well for certain characters. The Turtles definitely fit the style well. Donatello is a fun little figure, even with his small assortment of issues.

#0411: Mutagen Michelangelo




Okay, here we are. Last Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates review! Coincidentally, I’m wrapping things up with Michelangelo again. But, didn’t I already review Michelangelo? Yes, but something that is quite common with toylines, especially those based on the TMNT, is the tendency to release the main characters in wacky variant form. So, without further ado, he’s Mutagen Michelangelo!


MikeyMutagen2Mutagen Mikey is the other of the two figures exclusively available in the K-Mart assortment of Series 1 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates. Originally, this figure was slated to be the exclusive in the specialty assortment, but a mix up led to him and Mutagen Raph swapping places. Mikey is roughly 2 ½ inches tall and has 12 points of articulation. He’s sort of based on the current cartoon look, but I don’t think that Mikey’s ever been transparent green on the show, so I’d say some liberties were taken. Sculpturally, he’s exactly the same as the regular Mikey. For a breakdown of that, head over to that review. It’s interesting to see what different coloring and a lack of paint can do for a sculpt. Looking at this figure, especially the shell, it seems that any issues with “soft” details on the regular Turtles have to do with thick paint, not actual sculpt problems. Paint on this figure is much more simplified compared to the others. He’s molded in clear green, with paint on his mask, as well as detail lines for the eyes mouth, and freckles. The detail lines are quite clean, which is pretty much business as usual for Minimates. While the figure has less paint overall, it results in an overall cleaner look, which really helps the figure. Mikey includes a pair of nunchucks in clear green, a keychain attachment, and a manhole cover display stand.


Mutagen Mikey is the last of the 11 blind bagged figures I got from K-Mart. I have to admit, I’m a sucker for clear green plastic, so this guy just really appeals to me. It’s also really great to see the turtle sculpt without the iffy paint apps. All in all, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Minimates are a fun addition to the Minimates brand. There’s definitely some room for improvement, and I wouldn’t mind a move to something other than blind bags (there’s already some good news there; seems TRU will be getting two-packs), but these Minimates have been a lot of fun.