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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Classic Leonardo Review

While he does share nearly the exact same sculpt as his bros, it’s well done. The body is a great blend of the old action figures and the cartoon. The sculpt was done with the articulation in mind, making sure not to bunch up or block itself at key joints. The sculpt just jumped out at me from the peg. If I wasn’t trying to save money for SDCC swag and a Glyos drop, I could’ve easily caved and spent $80 on the set right there. I still want to…

Leo’s primary unique piece is his head sculpt. It’s a determined face that harkens back to his original with the teeth exposed in a left side grimace. I do like, but it’s odd to photograph. Depending on the angle you get really different expressions out of him. That could be a plus or minus depending on how you look at it. It’s also odd because while these are hybrids from multiple sources, they’re very cartoonesque, but possess none of the joy that the cartoon versions exhibited. Heck, even Mikey’s ready to kick your asss.

Posing this guy is a ton of fun. If you can’t tell I’ve gotten really enamored with this figure the last few days. The only place that the articulation bugs me is the neck – it’s the one-piece ball-joint where the head can be removed with little issue. Those usually bug me for limited range, but this figure is better than average, although the neck blocks a fair amount of down movement. From the neck down though, there’s almost too much (like old ML figures that never could stand up straight!) We’ve got ball-joints at the shoulders, wrists, thumbs, hips, and ankles, swivels at the bicep and thighs, double-hinged elbows and knees, single-hinged fingers and toes, and the ab crunch. 34 points in all and it shows. Did I mention he can reach back and grab his katana out of the sheath?

There are some balance issues because he’s very back heavy, but there’s enough articulation in the ankles to get him balanced in most poses. I am worried about the effect the weight will have on those joints over time, but for now, he’s impressive. I do have to say that I’m not usually a fan articulated fingers, but it the swords stay in his hands pretty well. It helps if you place them into the fingers first and then close the hand, but if the joints loosen up at all, it might get ugly.

The paint on the figure is minimal, he appears to be mostly molded in the right colors and assembled. What paint here is a mix. The paint on the shell is great with a dull finish to help realize the figure’s look, but the eyes are questionable. A lot of the figures at the LCS, particularly Donatello, have googly eyes. Leo here isn’t so bad, but he does look a bit off in certain pictures. Personally, I appreciate this cartoon/figure amalgamation, but I like the no pupils look of the old toys better. The white paint might be coming out rather soon…

Leo includes a manhole stand bearing his name and his classic weapons, a pair of katanas. They’re simple sculpts but they get the job done. Mine came out a little warped, but they’ve straightened out okay and I don’t think the soft, rubbery sheaths will deform them over time, so I think I’m good to go on that front. I would like to see more accessories like the originals at some point.

Since this is a new line, let me take a minute to mention the packaging. It’s largely calling back to the original packaging with the figure ‘bursting’ through a brick wall, very retro. Gone is the unique packaging though, each figure features the same group art and info on the back. That’s fine with me – it’s just neat trash at the end of the day. I don’t need to see Playmates waste a lot of money on packaging. There are some cool touches textured into the bubble though including a manhole cover for the top of the bubble and some indented “ooze” running down the front.

Overall, this is a great amalgamation of the classic cartoon and classic figure. I haven’t been clamoring for these as long as some folks, but when a toy is done this well, I have to sit up and take notice. The fact that it’s my favorite Ninja Turtle is just icing on the cake. I got some flak, as expected, from my wife and friends for picking up Leonardo first, but I don’t care. He’s awesome. He has convinced me to get the rest – though I’ll try and be good and hold out until they’re $15 somewhere, but we’ll see…

And then there’s the little matter of if this line continues on or not. Will Playmates expand beyond the fab four? I know it’s probably too much to hope that line expands as beautifully as MOTU Classics has over the last few years. There’s little chance of Chrome Dome or Mecha-Turtle, but I hope we’ll see Shredder, Splinter, Casey, and I can’t help but think how cool a Rocksteady done this will would be. And the best part? They’ll all be completely mine! (Buy your own, Lil’ bro!)

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49 comments to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Classic Leonardo Review

  • Sandman

    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.

    • 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.

    • JamesLynch

      I will never, NEVER give up hope of a Ninjara figure being made.

  • Snowglare

    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.

    • 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.

  • Logan

    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.

    • 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.

    • Brainlock

      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. 🙁

  • I love love love these guys, I got my Leo Review going up on fri…wanted to get Spikor out of the way first. Great review

  • oh I have been thinkg exactly the same thing about Rocksteady

  • dayraven

    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!

    • He-Mullet

      and no subs, or Brand Managers who want to shove themselves into the mythos…

      • 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. 😀

        • dayraven

          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.

          • dayraven

            he’s 17 bones and change on amazon.

            • And lord knows that the eyes will look like. 😉

              This reversal is kinda fun.

              • He-Mullet

                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.

                • JamesLynch

                  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.

                  • Lay Ze-Man

                    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.

    • your kids would love these DR.

    • Bigbot

      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.

    • 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.

  • Rodimus

    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.

  • Lay Ze-Man

    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 😀

  • Beedo Sookcool

    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!

  • 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!

  • jayger10

    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?!

  • Demonicfirefly

    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!!!

  • JamesLynch

    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).

    • Snowglare

      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.

    • 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.

      • 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.

  • […] pretty good. I would have preferred if the eyes had been all white like one of the pics from the IAT review, but what can ya do really? The belt buckle is also nice and clean . My Leo does have a small rub […]

  • […] pretty good. I would have preferred if the eyes had been all white like one of the pics from the IAT review, but what can ya do really? The belt buckle is also nice and clean . My Leo does have a small rub […]

  • Hurricane

    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.

  • 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.

  • […] Noisy, who was forced to share his toys, I remained a single and spoiled child.  One of my favorite lines was TMNT.  I watched the […]

  • Joe

    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.

    • 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.

  • Leonardo is one fo my favourite.

  • The Ghost

    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!

  • […] want to be refreshed on the particulars including basic articulation and scale, head back to the Leonardo review. This time around, I’m just going to cover a few things unique to Mikey and then let […]

  • polo23

    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.