Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Classic Leonardo Review

Turtle fever sure is going around in the collecting community of late. Vault was sucked in when he found the new Nickelodeon figures at TRU. I held out until I saw the Classic Turtles at my LCS and… well, I didn’t buy any… the first day. I went back the next!

While I do enjoy me some Ninja Turtles, I don’t have as fond memories for TMNT as I do a lot of other childhood lines. I assume that it’s because it came (a little) later in my youth. It’s not that I was just already starting that jaded “hates new things” collector silliness. It’s just that by the time Turtles were around, I wasn’t an only child anymore. All of a sudden, “sharing” had come in to my life…

As an adult, my brother is one of my best friends, but if you have siblings, I’m sure you’ve got a story or two about how that wasn’t always the case, especially if you’re the oldest. All of a sudden you’re sharing your parents, sharing your room, and, while my old toys were adamantly my own, sharing new toys. By the time my bro was old enough to enjoy an action figure, I’d long been spoiled rotten with Super Powers, Joes, Transformers, all sorts of stuff. But, see, TMNT wasn’t ever “my” toy line. Not like those were.

I hated it back then, but looking back I have to give our parents some credit. I had been an only child for a long time, I didn’t really like kids my own age or younger (let alone my little brother). I preferred to play alone or with my parents or Uncles; Transformers lived and died at my whim, Joes could turn heel if I so chose, my favorite Super Powers always triumphed. Not so with TMNT.

If a “storyline” called for Genghis Frog or Ace Duck, I would require “assistance”. There was no playing with my “bro’s toys” unless I played with him. Ugh! Again, I tease here a bit because this is likely a strategy I will employ against my own kids some day. The fond memories of TMNT I do have almost entirely revolve around playing with my brother. Y’know, antagonizing each other, arguing, fighting all the good brotherly stuff!

So TMNT was maybe something we shared moreso than something I loved dearly. And, as I’ve gotten older though, I have gotten away from TMNT. I wanted to snag the NECA Turtles, but never got around to it, for example. I didn’t realize how I much I’d left it behind until these last few weeks when I started seeing these massive “It’s Comparison Time™” pics (wait, do I have to pay Pixel Dan like a nickel for every time I say that? Maybe I’ll just buy a shirt and he’ll call it even…). Some folks can line up these impressive displays, even for just one character. The old ones I know – Chief Leo, Lifeguard Leo, but there were a lot that passed me by like the Next Mutation figures, the ’07 Movie figures, etc.. I guess I was off just not paying attention for a few years there. Musta been girls or something. Whatev, I’m back now.

Anyway, my point being that I’d let Turtles go. I missed a lot. I didn’t make the NECA figures a priority. I’d moved on. And then I’m standing in this LCS starting at Ninja Turtles that are $20 a pop and finding myself halfheartedly trying to talk myself out of it while the inner part of my brain is screaming “want”.

The rational part of my brain says, “These have to be everywhere, right? And they’ll be $15 or something. Wait.” Well, that mostly works until you get to Leonardo. Leo’s my man. He and I have been through a lot together because all my friends like Raph, Mikey, or Don and express confusion when I’d tell them Leo was the turtle for me. I don’t care what they say, or even if he is the least popular Turtle. Leo’s cool. Turns out he’s $5 extra cool too cause I went back the next day and snagged him.

And now here we are. Yes, I bought him with some nostalgia in mind. Yes, I bought him because he’s my favorite. But, really, I bought him because he looked like a damn good action figure. We get too wrapped up in nostalgia or just wanting a totem of something else we like. I do it myself, and those factors are at play here, but once you dig into Leo. He’s a great toy. Heck, he’d be a great toy even if he were… uh, an alien from another planet. He’s that cool.

The major part of that is the sculpt. The first thing you notice about the sculpt when you see him in person is the scale. They’re HUGE! Well, I mean kinda. They’re not much more than 6” tall, but they are considerably bigger than previous turtle figures and their width & depth is much more accurate to their media portrayal. They’re pretty big, so much so, that my turtle-loving wife almost felt they were too big. I pointed out Thundercats though… and case dismissed. Continue to Page 2…

49 thoughts on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Classic Leonardo Review

  1. Great review!

    TMNT never came into play as a toyline for me. By the time the Turtles hit in ’87 I had already left action figures behind (forever, as I thought then) with my last line being Real Ghostbusters just a little before TMNT. What I did do, however, was watch the cartoon and enjoy the Archie comic (I was unaware of the Mirage origins of the turtles until much later).

    As such, I’m not really a diehard fan the way those born a few years later are, but I still enjoy them. A “classic” line is always a huge gamble at retail, but I think the core TMNT characters have enough mass market appeal to make it.

    Even more interesting, in an interview last year one of the folks at Playmates said that should the first sets of “Classics” do well, they are totally open to exploring lesser-known characters from the original cartoon, toys and the Archie comic. This intrigues me a lot.

    While I know we can never get a Ninjara figure there’s still a lot of comics-original characters that have never had a toy and would look pretty sweet given the “Classics” treatment.

    Back to the figure at hand, the only widespread complaints I’ve seen so far are that the finger articulation is kinda pointless and sometimes too floppy to allow the turtles to hold stuff, and that the paint apps for the pupils is a gamble. You don’t seem to have done too terribly on either of these, but it’s something Playmates should consider going forward.

    Of course, don’t spend insane amounts of money on these guys now unless you’re desperate to own them IMMEDIATELY. They will re-ship these in greater quantities and I predict they will eventually be easy to find for everyone who wants one.

    Once again, good review and great pics as usual.

    1. Thanks!

      I think Ghostbusters & COPS were my last big two. I teased about my bro a lot, but he surely kept me engaged with TMNT longer.

      It’d be great to see the line flourish. They do need to work on the eyes and maybe trim some of the artic. These are kinda like MLs where the artic is a puzzle when you want them to stand up straight.

      I’m trying to be good. The Raph at the LCS has a messed up face, the Donnie bad eyes (but I want to repaint em anyways), but the Mikey keeps reminding me he’s good to go.

  2. Leo’s my favorite, too. I’m not too worried about the price on these, I’m just holding out for good eyes. Of course, I have to see one in person before I can really say I’m waiting…

    This is one of the few licenses that could get me to sign up for a MOTUC-style subscription. I’m close enough to wanting everything (particularly from the original cartoon, toys and Archie comics) that I could justify an all-in deal if need be. Make them all roughly 1:10/7″ scale or start over with smaller Turtles and you’re golden.

    If it weren’t for the eyes, these would be practically perfect. Leo is drop dead gorgeous from behind. The bandana, the sheathes, the everything! The sculpting’s great from the front, too. Love the initialed belts.

    I still love my original Turtles, but it’s mostly nostalgia. Everything great about them is present here, magnified to the utmost. I might have to get two sets so I can go full-on-kid-again and wear these right out. Just messing with the weapons will provide hours of fun.

    1. The eyes! I almost caved on Donnie, but he’s super-googly. I looked around at the other reviews today and he seems to be consistently messed up. 🙁

      I don’t know if I could go all-in, but it’d be a fantastic line for sure. Leo here has been a ton of fun, I love that he can grab his sheathed katanas.

  3. Have they said where these are going to be found? Will it be all major retailers or just LCS? I would like to score all 4 but I would like to not have to drive over 50 miles to my closest LCS to find these.

    1. Playmates didn’t intend any exclusivity, so hopefully all the big chains bought in. It’s killing me to not go snag the rest, but I’m sure they won’t be difficult to go.

    2. I’ve seen these at TRU, so far, which the two closest are about 35m away in two differnt directions. Not sure my LCS will carry them, which is now 60m away. 🙁

  4. so, this is a buck line, from a popular kid’s show, that features better articulation and sculpt detail than the original line? and they took this to retail? and the price point seems reasonable? WHA-WHA-WHA-WHAT!!!!!??????

    personally, i’m still just fine w/ my NECA B&W turtles, so i’m not interested in these for me… but my boys have been clamoring for turtles of their own… these might make great halloween or saturnalia presents!

      1. And right now you can only find them in specialty shops for a 33% markup, folks are driving around looking for them wasting time & gas, and the odds that the retail line will go five years and be over 100 figures deep at retail prolly aren’t exactly worth betting on yet. 😉

        The turtles are greener though, that’s true. 😀

        1. fair ’nuff… people chose to spend their gas, and the figs will be in regular stores any day now (already read several “i found ’em” reports for the other stuff… just cuz you lack willpower sir doesn’t mean that’s the “going price” ;)) and given TMNT’s history… i’ll take odds they make it over 100 characters. but i suspect it’ll take a lot less than 5 years to do that.

              1. But it’s a bit of a refreshing sight than Matty’s subpocalypse…
                “for 16 cents a day you can buy a MOTUC figure”* I’m NOT TG’s biggest fan, but that 16 cents a day comment made me want to punch him in the face.

                Now back to TMNT: I don’t see this line going beyond 4 turtles, Shredder, April, Splinter, Foot Soldiers (Krang, Rocksteady and Bebop if we’re lucky)

                *Figure may have backward pieces done on purpose to make the figure POP!,Piss poor materials that may break if it’s clear or translucent, or rot if it’s a softer plastic with bendy wires inside, not to mention the weak ankles, hyper gummy weapons, etc.

                1. I’m also unsure as to what he meant by the “16 cents a day” comment. A MOTUC subscription will cost you at least $25 a month plus shipping, plus 4 quarterly variants, plus 4 oversized figures/two-packs. Even if it’s a month when they only release one figure, that’s still $25 (again, not including shipping, which is, what, $8?) for a 30 day period, which is roughly 84 cents a day, not 16. Maybe he meant 16 cents a day per figure for the total cost of the sub, which is actually 16 figures plus oversized figures, which means if we’re averaging (that is, assuming the total cost of the sub divided by the number of items, regardless if those items are single figures, three packs, beasts, etc.), that would be $3.20 a day every day for a year.

                  1. The 16 cents a day is only in reference to the increase of $5 per figure.

                    It’s just idiotic sales-pitchy nonsense.

                    In reality, the whole sub is gonna cost on average of $60/month (with shipping and everything) which is pretty much doubling what the line started as, which was about $28/month.

                    Granted, there’s a lot more product for that extra money, but it’s still a considerable amount to demand from your customers.

    1. Of all the 80’s lines though, TMNT is probably the second most popular behind Transformers. I wouldn’t think it’d be hard to get these in stores as much as He-Man. Not trying to say Mattel couldn’t do it, I bet they could if they tried.

    2. They should get a kick out of these for sure. They fell like good, solid kid toys. The only thing I’d worry about is the strength of the artic. Newton, Wesitron, & Pixel Dan talked about it too in the reviews I checked today. It’s weird, the figure is fine now, but you get a feeling they’re going to loosen up quickly. I’m curious to read Poe’s take.

  5. O.o I saw these over the weekend myself, but I’m pretty sure it was in a complete both, not a cardback, is there another set of TMNT Classics? I thought they were also bigger. Now I’m really wishing I’d picked one up just so I could be sure.

    BTW my vote is Raphael. I liked the sarcastic streak in the original cartoon, and his angry/Violent streak in the source material and cartoons since then.

  6. Awesome review and pics! And thanks for the heads up on the eye paint issues. Will keep that in mind!
    But hilarious that these can be “toy accurate” by simply whiting out the eyes. 🙂

    TMNT was towards the end of my major toy buying as a kid (some of the last figures I actively would ask for gifts, etc) but I definitely had my fair share. They were just fun as heck. A big NOT coincidence that Mark Taylor (one of the main creators of the vintage MotU line) also worked on TMNT? 😉

    I’ve gone through different phases, liking each of the 4 Turtles at different points. So no shame in Leo being your preference, not sure why anyone would give you crap about that.

    I do really like the look of these figures, and definitely appreciate the blend, especially the emphatically non-goofy heads. Strange when people treat an adult collector geared figure as such, no?

    Would definitely love to see this expanded, so as not to repeat another NECA line travesty (did we ever find out who to blame for that one?) and I’d likely be onboard with just about anyone. For whatever reason, I’ve always enjoyed the insane design that was the cartoon Krang, and loved fighting his boss fights in the TMNT video games (another reason to love TMNT in the early 90’s).

    P.S. Now if we could only get the return of the Turtle Pies!!!! You guys know the ones I mean! LOL 😀

  7. Excellent review, great pics, and it looks like an outstanding toy, altogether. (Although I still think a waist joint on a chelonian is a pointless frippery.)

    But I’ve got to say, I’m incensed that once again, a toy manufacturer has banned online e-tailers from selling these to people outside the USA. If they’re that willing to piss off so many potential customers, they obviously don’t need my money, and can go straight to blazes. The last time this happened, with the revamped Thundercats, the toys were eventually brought to Britain, but with greatly reduced releases. Never saw the one figure I wanted (Ssslithe), but by that point, I was embittered by the whole deal, didn’t like the new style very much anyway, and wouldn’t have bought him even if I’d found him.

    I never got really into TMNT collecting when I was younger and never had any of the turtles or main characters themselves; I bought a few of the wilder supporting characters (especially if they were reptile-, insect-, or internal-organ-based). So I doubt this line will ever get into the characters I owned as a youngster. But if they manage to bring out a Leatherhead in this line, I may have to suspend my righteous crusade against jingoistic toy companies just long enough to snag one somehow. ‘Cause as both a herpetological-centric biologist by training and ardent Cajunophile, there is no way I can pass up an alligator that knows how to make and appreciate a good jambalaya. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

  8. These classic Turtles are my favorites out of the new line. I would love to see Chrome Dome get this treatment, in chrome paint of course!

  9. Great review, I agree that these are outstanding figures! I nabbed all 4 on amazon.com right after SDCC. Raph was $14.99 and the other 3 were $17.xx. I like how they all have the same facial expressions as the originals.My Donny has the cross-eyes though as well (he looks a little bit like Shawn Michaels in that regard!); I may wait to open so I can see try find a better one and return the googily-eyed one.

    Turtles have always been my favorite. I have a ton of the figures from the 2K3 show, the 2007 movie, the NECA figures (still want Shredder and Foot), and of course many classics. Any recommendations on the new cartoon 4″ figures?

    Any tips/hints/tricks for either whiting out the pupils, or repainting better pupils?!

  10. Great Review, cant wait to see the rest. I almost jumped on them at a comic shop but they were 22.99 there. Im hoping to find them cheaper. I hope they expand to at least foot sodiers, Shredder, and an Android Krang in this line. Also Wingut!!!

  11. TMNT was right in the sweet spot of my toy buying days. I’m not sure how old anyone else here is, but I turn 30 next week (shudder), so I was about 5 when the cartoon came out, and was obsessed with the Turtles for the better part of five years. If I had to label one thing as my “last” toyline before “growing out” of buying toys (at least, my parents really tried to force me to grow out of it), it would be Power Rangers. That show came out when I was 11, so it was the last big thing I got into, and the last thing I can really attach any kind of nostalgia to.

    And why would you ever cite Leo as the least popular? Most people I knew loved Leo, with Mikey a close second. Raphael wasn’t as beloved amongst my circle of friends, probably because his personality was so watered down in the cartoon, and he came across as kind of an ass in the movies (though, as an adult, I’m much more appreciative of his hotheaded personality. He’s not necessarily an ass, he’s just a passionate individual who doesn’t always know how to keep his emotions in check the way he should).

    1. You’re a couple weeks younger than me, if it makes you feel any better. I watched Power Rangers for a while, right from the start, but I never got any of the toys. Came too late for me; reluctant as I was to grow up, I drifted away from a lot of stuff around 11. I think that’s when I figured out how not to automatically like most of what happened to pass before my eyes. In other words, I got cynical.

      Got rid of most of my Transformers and G.I. Joes, got into sports cards and videogames more than toys. What pulled me back in was the one area I largely let be. Seems backwards in retrospect, since the others were better toys, but nothing gave me collectamania like TMNT. I see that logo today and I still feel giddy. Used to buy anything from gummi candies to postcards if the Turtles were so much as implied to be involved. Never completely stopped.

    2. I just turned 30 in June — hard to believe I’ve been in my thirties for nearly two months now!

      Like yourself, TMNT was the “sweet spot” of my childhood — I’m not sure how long TMNT was out before I knew about it, but I’m fairly certain my first exposure was the Baxter Stockman figure I received as a Christmas present most likely in ’88 or ’89. I know for a fact I was well into them by my 8th birthday when I received Raph (he last Turtle I needed to complete the Fab Four). I know I was into TMNT well into the mid-’90s, I recall going to see Indian In the Cubboard with my brother and then going to Child World and picking up Mutagen Man.

      I “started” to get into Power Rangers — I mostly wanted the Megazords (my friend had them all and I was jealous) but my mom refused, and by that point I was embarassed to ask for it anyways.

      1. I’ll be 32 tomorrow. I think I’m just a hair too old to care about Power Rangers. That said, Vault’s older than me and loves ’em.

  12. Just a heads up guys, I nabbed a set of all 4 classic turtles at TRU this morning for $16.99 each. I was there right about opening time and in a sharp contrast to earlier this week, they had an endcap loaded with the new Nickelodeon turtles (complete series btw), and the classic turtles were by the thundercats and the Ben10 toys.

    I don’t regret buying these guys,and they had enough there to compare paint jobs. I am probably going to paint the eyes white, I might even paint the arm bands and knee pads brown too.

  13. Great review! Leo’s also my favorite and I hear the same exclamations of disbelief every time I tell someone that. I’ve always been a sucker for the “leader” figures, like He-man, Lion-O, Cyclops, Duke, etc.

    I’ve been thinking of painting the eyes white on mine, especially since Don looks insane, and after seeing your photoshopped pic I think I’m gonna do it this weekend.

  14. the one thing that bothers me is that he seems to be cross-eyed. I hope that’s just either a trick of the camera or a paint issue and they’re all not like that.

    1. from what i have seen they are all a bit “derpy” — especially don — but i think a large part is the angle you’re looking at them from.

  15. Thanks for the review. I placed an order for the set (as well as the new cartoon ones… again, thanks to your review) on Amazon for an amazingly unbelieavable price (sadly, us Aussies get a bunch of crap in stores here… sigh). Can’t wait to get these!

  16. I just my Leo up and WOW–why we could’ve had these designed with this articulation back in the 80’s. Excellent addition that there in classics now.

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