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Vault Review: Nickelodeon Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles Leo & Raph

My most anticipated toyline of the year has to be the Nickelodeon relaunch of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  And judging by the response of our toy-reviewing colleagues, I think it’s safe to say that I’m not alone.  So here’s my review of the Nickelodeon Leonardo and Raphael.

Unlike 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 cartoon, read the comics, and bought the toys.  In fact, during this time period, I don’t remember buying anything but TMNT and those lines that fit in with them (I.E. Toxic Crusaders, Earthworm Jim, Bucky O’Hare).  So when Playmates announced this new line, it was like they dropped a nostalgia bomb directly on my head.

I found my first few figures at our local Toys R Us.  That first endcap display was a bit sparse with only one case of figures and a couple of the cheaper vehicles.  Donatello is my favorite, so of course I grabbed him first.  Unfortunately his bandanna was painted a bit shoddy, so I decided to go with Leonardo and Raphael instead.

One thing that amazes me about this new toy line is how inexpensive it is to buy.  TRU is always one of the pricier stores, but even here the figures were only $8.99 each.  I could pick up a figure that’s taller than three inches, has a great sculpt, and has multiple articulation for under ten bucks.  It felt like the early 90’s again.

Even though the figures aren’t expensive, that doesn’t mean they are cheaply made.  The sculpt for each figure has some really amazing detail.  First off, each turtle has their own unique body, which is always a bonus when you’re dealing with the four main characters.  The four brothers have character specific skin texturing and pock marks/cracks in their shells.  They also each have sculpted elbow/knee pads, and cloth wrapped around their hands and feet.  Speaking of feet, I know not everyone cares for the new three toed look.  It really doesn’t bother me at all, and I kind of like that they have their own unique design.

Their heads are also original, and their expressions are even a bit reminiscent of the classic figures’ design.  Leo has this interesting half annoyed/half intense smile, with the left side of his mouth opening a bit wider like the original figure.  Raphael on the other hand is baring his teeth like a wild animal about to attack.  Again, similar to the original figure but way more extreme.

The one area on these figures that you definitely need to watch out for is the paint jobs.  For the most part their body pieces are molded the color the need to be.  But you should check out areas like their wrappings and shoulder/knee pads.  The biggest issue was the bandanas.  Like I said, I was able to find Raph and Leo without any issues, but all the Dons had slop that either was on his face or just not enough on the bandana.  Continue to page 2…

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72 comments to Vault Review: Nickelodeon Teenage
Mutant Ninja Turtles Leo & Raph

  • Clay

    I wasn’t anywhere near as interested in these as the classics until this review – they look (and appear to move) great! I actually wasn’t sure if these had elbow and knee articulation at first, it seems quite well hidden by the pads.

    Oh, and Bucky O’Hare! Surely that’s due for a cool new reboot!

    • I would be 1000% on board with a Bucky O Hare revival

    • imo these figures are better than the “classics”

      • 3B

        I second that! They are really nicely done and have more of a live-action movie feel, which is very much welcomed. I snagged the four turtles from BBTS. They’re selling them as a set for $35!

      • I bought both Leos and I don’t know if I could pick a favorite between them.* They’re both great Leos to have on my shelves. The articulation is excellent on Classics and still really good on the Nickelodeon versions. The new ones have the edge in accessories and there is something neat about their more stylized look, I will admit.

        * – I say that, but I’ve since bought all the Classics and no more of the Nickeldeons.

    • Yeah, the pads do a great job of hiding the articulation from the front. You should get one and check it out personally. 😉

      Also, I’d be interested in seeing Bucky revisited.

  • Best Turtle revival in years. I have high hopes for this line. A Bucky revival would also rock.

  • rikdom

    SOLD!

    You’ve convinced me. I’ll have to pick these guys up. Obviously for the fact that they are cool Turtles figures, but I almost think it’s worth buying them just out of principle; to reward a toy manufacturer that puts out a detailed, articulated, unique sculpt for under ten bucks in this day and age.

    • Glad I could help, Rik!

    • clark

      Neca gets a lot of my money due to the principle you just described. I have all four of these turtles so far, and will probably get a Kraang, although he does not have the same articulation he looks cool.
      Can’t wait for Metalhead, and hopefully we’ll get a Casey Jones and Fugitoid soon.

    • These really do pack the biggest bang for your buck.

  • Joe

    YES!! I plan on getting all four of these turtles now. I was kinda iffy at first and was only going to spring for the classic ones, but after this review, I’m setting aside another $40 for these guys. Individual sculpt on all four of them?! that’s something you don’t see every day. I’ve always liked Playmates, they seem to take more risks that have potential for greatness than Hasbro and Mattel who are content with mediocrity most of the time.

    • JamesLynch

      I take it you’re not a Terminator Salvation or Star Trek 11 fan.

    • Playmates was my favorite company back in the day of the original Turtles and Star Trek. I’m hoping this new line is a taste of them going back to that model.

      • To be fair those are both tough lines — I mean, theres only so much you can really do with Trek — but they still seemed to fumble the ball with what should have been an easy game — The Salvation toys seemed like a step backwards, not forwards.

        • Dispite that, I still feel the Terminators were the best 1:18th scale terminators we are ever likely to get. Granted that is a very short list but the previous attempt was horrible. These at least looked like terminators mostly dispite many flaws.

          Trek was and is difficult to deal with as it was the new movie (but still could have been beter, although old spock is still a fav dispite this), I was hopeing for a better crafted line of classics but that will probably never be.

      • JamesLynch

        I loved the old TMNT and Star Trek lines, but, looking back on it, they really were behind the times. They were MOTU-quality figures in the early 90s (seriously, how did us Trekkies accept the squat proportions and goofy accessories of that Star Trek line? Mostly because we didn’t know any better and were just desperate for some Star Trek toys, which, admittedly, we got in spades. I can remember Trek getting 4-to-8 feet of space in the toy aisle all to itself for many years running).

        Playmates has shown to be consistently about a decade behind other toy companies. The Star Trek 11 and Terminator toys were 90s quality at best. Even the new Turtles line, cool as it (partly) is, is only about on par with Spider-Man Classics, and that’s being a little generous.

  • Jon

    I’m definitely going to have to get these guys over the ‘classics’ version. These look a lot better scaled with 6″ to 7″ figures. Plus I like the more simple design and white eyes.

  • TC

    WOW, these look fantastic! Thanks for the great review! i like that they look more like the comic version and less like the animated TMNT. I’m gonna look for these this weekend. Keep up the great work!

    • TC

      saw these at Target for $8.99, fyi. After paying upwards of $15-$20 for DCUC, these are a welcome break for my wallet.

      • Thanks TC, glad I could help.

        I love the price point on these guys. It’s like they’re actual toys and not “collectors” items.

  • I was shocked to find Kraang (yes, spelled with two a’s in this case) on the pegs at TRU and bought him immediately. While it’s a nice figure, I was disappointed by the lack of elbow and knee articulation, and the reveal on the bio that the figure was meant to represent the entire Kraang species (renamed from Utrom, apparently) instead of the character Krang.

    • I haven’t gotten Kraang yet, but I am disappointed in his articulation already. I’m kind of tempted to go back and get the original Krang and make a hodgepodge of all may favorite elements from all the different lines.

  • Lay Ze-Man

    I really like these, but I’m gonna hold out to see if they don’t release these same figures with more detailed redecos on the figures and weapons.

    The exclusive Leo showed they’re willing, and you can see how much more awesome these could look with a bit more attention to detail.

    • Joe

      the problem with that is, if everyone does this, they most certainly won’t. because redecos and re-releases are usually contingent on how the toys fare the first time around. if everyone waits for redecos and doesn’t buy the first release, then Playmates will think that they’re not popular enough to redo.

      • yeah, what you said — plus, like all the reviews say, they’re awesome!

      • Lay Ze-Man

        I’m not worried, as this is clearly a kiddie line. Collector purchases will have little impact on the overall success here, and Playmates would be dumb to follow any other kind of thinking.

        • Well, true, but I bet thats what Bandai thought about Thundercats. A year ago they were the hottest new property — now they’re warming pegs and on clearance for deep discounts.

          • Lay Ze-Man

            It’s a good point, but IMO however they did it Thundercats was always gonna be a far riskier relaunch of a long “dormant” franchise, whereas TMNT has never gone away, and has always moved a good amount of product to kids.

            But not for nothing, I didn’t buy a single Bandai TC item. I did get the excellent Icon Heroes Mumm-Ra, and kinda bummed we haven’t heard anything on Jackalman or Jaga lately, both of which looked great.

    • Cade

      That exclusive leo is also terrible. It had better paint but they cut out almost all the articulation…So I don’t trust them.

  • Great Job Vault! Donny is mt fav too!!

  • Cade

    You know it makes sense that a turtle if he has three fingers he should have three toes.

    • AmericanHyena

      It TOTALLY does.

      My mind, she is blown.

    • JamesLynch

      It makes sense, yes, but it’s not the way these character have been portrayed for 25+ years, so it doesn’t look right that they now suddenly have a different number of digits.

      • Do you have them in-hand yet? It’s considerably less bothersome on the toys themselves.

        • JamesLynch

          I do, and they’re great figures from the ankles up, but the feet still bother me, and likely always will.

          • Lay Ze-Man

            LOL

            Yer nuts, dude. 😀

            It’s not like they’re alien toes or anything. 😉

            • JamesLynch

              No, worse, they’re people toes (granted, the person would have to be missing a couple little piggies, but they’re in the same style as people toes). As I said, it’s just odd looking in that 1) they lack symmetry and 2) they’re a pointless change from what has been a nearly thirty-year-old established design. It would be like having Nightcrawler show up with three toes, or Wolverine show up with 5 claws. Could you rationalize why it might be “logical?” Sure. But does it make any sense to change a decades-old established and beloved design? No. Not at all.

  • Nicholai

    I like the turtles, but I find every other figure in this series to be unappealing. I’m not sure I want turtles when the Shredder looks soo bad.

    • Beedo Sookcool

      I agree, Nicholai. I hate that “Teen-Titans-Animated” style of this line so very much, I’m no longer even bitter that they won’t allow these things to ship outside the USA.

      Great accessories, great idea to have each turtle unique, great incorporation of weapons in both belts and hands. I even like the three toes choice. But I detest the fugly style and limited (or lack of) articulation. You guys can keep ’em.

      Great review, by the way, Vault. Full of enthusiasm & beautifully staged, action-packed pics. Still don’t want any o’ these things, though. };D

    • I think thats a selling point — the Turtles look fantastic, and everything else is craptastic, that way you will not be tempted by anything else!

      April fared the worst, Splinter is no better. I don’t think Shredder and the Foot are that bad. I really can’t make up my mind about Kraang.

  • Great pics and nice comprehensive review as usual.

    BTW, the “hook-like” weapons Raph comes with look like a pair of shuang gou (Chinese hook swords) to me. And the “sais with a single prong” are actually jutte (or jitte, depending on one’s pronunciation), which are truncheons specially designed for defending against swords. Really digging all the personalized extra gear.

    Looking forward to your review of Don and Mike.

  • JamesLynch

    Unfortunately, secondary characters in TMNT getting limited articulation is not new. The same trend was seen in the CGI-movie toyline, and even to some extent the 2002 cartoon series (the original releases of the Turtles in that line weren’t any more articulated than the 80s line, but there were subsequent figures with more articulation).

    • Hmm, well hopefully they’ll start adding in more articulation with the other figures if the line sells well enough.

      I’d definitely love to see Metal Head with all the turtle’s joints.

  • Reyna

    Thanks for putting this review up! The toes completely caught my attention, but after a few minutes of looking through all of the photos several times, I think I like them. I never had any of my own TMNT toys, but I did get to play with my brother’s toys quite a bit. I didn’t even know that a new cartoon series was out until one of my co-workers at Dish mentioned that it would be on Nickelodeon. Until then I almost forgot how much I loved TMNT from when I was a little girl. Actually, they were my first concert as a kid! Thanks for the walk down memory lane; I’m going to add all the movies to my Blockbuster @Home queue. I’ll probably keep them awhile so it’s a good thing I don’t have to pay late fees with them. Thanks again!

  • Leon

    These look adorable but doubt I will be getting them coz I have already purchased the new 6″ TMNT. It’s either that or this for me. Are there many who will get both lines?

    • Hmm, I’m sure the hard core Turtle’s fans will be getting both. But I think I’m going to stick with the Nick line. The new playset is just too awesome!

  • mori

    these guys are so awesome, i really don’t know how anyone can see them in the aisle and pass them up. heck, you can get all four turtles for the price of one of some company”s action figures. if the no paint on mikey”s nunchuck chains bothers anyone, i found a silver metallic marker fixes the problem easily. as for the 3 toe thing, i find that i don’t even notice this anymore. i’ve been waiting for these guys since the first previes, and they were definitely worth the wait.

    • I agree. I’m really happy how they turned out.

      I haven’t gotten Mikey yet, but I may just take your advice and paint the nunchucks.

      • JamesLynch

        I’ve seen some collectors modify the nunchuks with small metal chains instead of the plastic ones they come with, similar to what the NECA Michelangelo came with. They look way cooler and will likely hold up better. I learned long ago to not even try to get the plastic-chained ‘chuks into Mikey’s belt loops, as the connecting rope/chain will eventually snap. It’d be nice if Playmets could learn the same lesson. I’d rather the Turtles all had solid weapons that would hold up than to have them come with the extra weapons sprues that will mostly just get tossed aside.

        The plastic on the weapons doesn’t seem all that great, anyway. Leo’s swords got major stress marks just from me working them out of the tray, and I was being pretty damn careful. I still have bad memories of my Leo’s swords snapping where the hilt met the blade as a kid. I think between the four Leo’s I had as a kid, there’s probably two intact swords among them.

  • These are easily some of the best toys I’ve bought in a long time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Classic Collection too, but these versions remind me more of the new IDW comics (especially the Leo Micro-Series).

  • Prof. Tacitus

    I hadn’t any plan to buy these until I saw them in a local Target for the same price. I picked up Don. I wanted to get the others, but, as you pointed out, the bandanna paint slop is pretty bad. I think that these are great figures, even with the chunky, oversized feet. Shredder, however, was a let down. While they are based on the new TV show, their style is in line with the current TMNT character designs in the recent IDW comic book reboot. They are very solid and sturdy, making me wonder why other toys at higher price points can’t be made as well.

    • Yeah, I’m hoping we’ll get a more articulated Shredder as the line continues. I also really love the toy feel these figures give off, without really skimping on the rest of the paint/accessories/sculpt. I wish there were more figures out there like this.

      • JamesLynch

        I didn’t buy Shredder, but he looked to be just as articulated as the Turtles (unlike Splinter, who seems to just have swivel elbows. (Checking out a video review online, it looks like the only thing he’s missing is knees. Which blows, but above the knees he’s better articulated than the Turtles)

        What bothered me about Shredder is his size, or lack thereof. I don’t mind the Turtles being on the smaller side, but Shredder should be closer to a full-sized figure. I matched the figures up against one another in-package, and he’s maybe a half inch taller than the Turtles. The Turtles themselves look decent enough next to five or six inch figures, Shredder does not.

        I must be the only person not having any paint problems with these things. I just grabbed the first one on the pegs of each of the four Turtles, and about the only thing wrong with any of them is that Leo has a little paint rubbed off on one of the white strips of cloth on his knuckles. But, since it’s across his knuckles, it’s easy for me to just imagine that he’s been punching people so hard that it ripped a little. No biggie.

  • clark

    Surprisingly, I did not pick up any of the classics figures when I finally saw them in the store. I had fully intended on getting at least one, but they just did not look as much fun as the basic turtle figures.
    Also, I’ve never been a huge fan of the original animated style, and always appreciated that the figures in the 80s seemed to take more influence from the comics than the show.

  • I am so confused on scales for this latest line of turtles, but thanks for the comparison shots.

    So are there three scales or just the two, I have heard a lot of conflicting info on this.

    • Prof. Tacitus

      I think that there are four scales: The size reviewed here; a 6 inch scale with voice effects; a 6 inch (?) collector’s version with lots of articulation, like a DCUC figure; and I think there is even a TRU exclusive large scale (12 inches?) of the four turtles with shells that can be used to store the weapons.

  • Thaal

    I picked up Raph and Don today since they seemed scarcer and I wanted to see for myself. They are TOTALLY worth it.

    Since I missed out on the NECA comic accurate versions, these will do. Just nicely!

    I read another review that said Don’s bo was with another figure (April?) but mine had one in his hands. Oh well!

    • Yeah, that was form my review over on MTV Geek. I got a bum Don from Playmates as everyone I’ve seen in stores, plus the extra I bought all have the bo in hand. I didn’t find out until after the review was posted. 🙁