RAPHAEL & MICHELANGELO
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (NECA…ish)
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.
THE FIGURES THEMSELVES
These 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, encapsulating 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.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
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.