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Vault Review: Nickelodeon
TMNT Leatherhead

My favorite toy line of last year was Nickelodeon’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reboot.  It was extremely fun and appealed to my collector side and the kid inside me who still likes to play.  But the line wasn’t perfect, and those issues still persist in its second year.

Leatherhead was one of my favorite figures as a kid.  There’s just something about a Cajun crocodile that wields a shotgun and bear traps that’s hard to say no to.  So I was really looking forward to his reboot figure, especially after getting a peak at those fantastic sketches Toy Fair.  Unfortunately he was a bit disappointing when I finally found him on the peg last week.  But I still bought him, hoping he’d be more fun out of the box.

I’ll start off with Leatherhead’s sculpt, which is definitely this figure’s best feature.  The toy looks like it popped right off the sketch pages for his character design.  He stands slumped forward with large spines running down his back and all the way to the end of his tail.  His arms and legs are covered in diamond shaped scales, while his shoulders have a large plated armor look.  His webbed claws are outstretched like he’s about to grab an enemy, while his face has a menacing smile.

All these great sculpted details are regrettably brought to us in the wrong scale.  In the new Nick series, Leatherhead is a massive mutant croc.  With his slouching body, Leatherhead’s shoulders sit highest at about eight feet.  This means he should dwarf all the turtle brothers, who are only about five feet tall.  Some reduction is size would have been fine and entirely understandable, especially with how bulky the character is.  Unfortunately Playmates gave us a figure that is about Mikey’s height.

Leatherhead’s loss in size wasn’t made up for in articulation either.  His shoulders and hips are swivel/hinges, while his head and tail are swivel joints.  That’s it.  Like a lot of the secondary figures, hinged elbows and knees would have been great here.  Without them he’s really stuck doing one or two good looking poses, none of which are very action-y.  But the real crime is not giving him a hinged jaw.  Like the original, it would have given the new figure loads more personality.  Continue to page 2…

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27 comments to Vault Review: Nickelodeon
TMNT Leatherhead

  • it is a shame the Turtles were so well articulated and most of the other figures sadly are not. Bring on Casey Jones already!

  • Brainlock

    he’s got better sculpting than the current animated Batman line, but those teeth seem like an afterthought.
    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-AhmPxUQ5cL8/T3BhQ9nJASI/AAAAAAAATPs/07ZARTT-d1A/s1600/new-mattel-batman-killer-croc-action-figure.jpg

  • Sunny

    Its a shame! This TMNT reboot has everything going for it – great designs, awesome toon, toys flying off the shelves – but Playmates are ruining it with poorly executed secondary figures. Leatherhead should definetely be larger and taller. Figures like Dogpound need to be bigger and have all their paint apps intact and have good articulation. Why is this such a problem? If its difficult to do all that within the 9.99 cost, release them in a deluxe sku and charge a bit more?

    • Do you mean releasing the larger characters, i.e. Dongpound, Leatherhead, etc. as larger SKUs?

      I think the best thing going for this line is the <$10 range for these figures. I think if they started charging $12-$14 each for these guys and you lose a lot of interest.

      I'm willing to sacrafice a little articulation or paint here & there if they can keep it under $10. The scale/size is the biggest disappointment to me though.

  • Great review and pics. Shame about the size and lack of articulation. I’ll still get this guy, if I ever find him.

  • Bigbot

    This guy should have been done in a deluxe box set with one of the Turtles, or maybe they could have made him a BAF.

    • Black Arbor

      Or, instead of making those “deluxe” oversized turtles (I think they’re 5 or 6 inches) that have the sounds and action feature, they could’ve put Leatherhead in there. Boom! He’s in scale, everyone’s happy.

      • Bigbot

        Pretty much. Anything is a better idea than what Playmates did. They could have given this guy a squirting water gimmick that gives him a hinged jaw.

  • Paul

    Man, that really is too bad. I really liked this line, and it looked like they were keeping up their streak of awesomeness. He really should be a bigger figure, though. You’re absolutely right. It’s a very similar complaint that everyone is having with Transformer figures. “Why was xxxx made in deluxe size? He should totally have been a Voyager class figure. he would have been so much better as a Voyager.”

    • I think what could potentially kill this line is the fact that they seem to be pouring more R&D into all these other products with cheap gimmicks while what should be the bread and butter of the line, action figures, are suffering greatly.

      I think they should concentrate on getting good product out there before getting into “Pizza Disc Tossing Donnie”, or “Street Luge Mikey”.

      Does anyone know if Playmates still has the license for Star Trek? I’m surprised they aren’t doing Trek flavored Turtles! 😉 I haven’t seen or heard much about licensing for the Trek flick, but maybe thats just as well.

      • Playmates no longer has the license for Star Trek. Which is no surprise, given how crappy their figure line was for Star Trek XI. I believe Hasbro has the license now, but they’re only doing Kre-O sets for the new film, not an actual action figure line.

        And see, this brings me around to my rant about how big companies, like my dog, cannot learn the right lessons from anything. If my dog barks his head off at 6 in the morning, and I show any signs that I’m paying attention, he learns that he can bark his head off at 6 in the morning and it gets him the attention he wants. If he sits there barking his head off and I ignore him, then he’s learned the lesson that I’m mean and won’t pay him attention. It will take him forever to learn to not bark at 6 in the morning.

        The last mass market Star Trek line sold for crap, because the quality was awful. What that teaches toy execs is that consumers don’t want Star Trek toys. They will never learn that if they put out high quality figures, the line will sell well.

        As a toy collector, I’ve seen this happen more times than I can count. Hasbro got the Marvel license, and immediately slashed the quality of the Marvel Legend figures while simultaneously jacking up the price. The line didn’t sell well. What lesson did they learn? “People don’t want 6 inch Marvel figures anymore.” It took years for the line to make a come back, and there was really only heat behind it after Hasbro showed, via their TRU exclusive 2-packs, that they could do 6″ figures well, something they really didn’t demonstrate in their first few waves.

        • Brainlock

          Hasbro has the Trek license now? huh. I was not aware of that.
          they should have remembered how the NG line went, from oversized heads and pre-molded stances to unique minor characters across four shows (and numerous movies) to…nice sculpts with limited articulation.

          The thing with Trek tho, is that the main cast literally used the same mold aside from the heads, save for three figures, and two of them merely had rubber overlay’s on the basic buck. Uhura was the only one to get a completely unique mold for that line for obvious reasons. The unique characters like Keenser (Scotty’s pal) and the skydive suits were held off until wave three, but it was cancelled. Too bad this movie looks to have some more toyetic looks (dive suits) than the previous movie, plus KLINGONS!*

          *(which look like Lou Gossett Jr in Enemy Mine. ugh.)

  • That’s exactly what I thought when I first saw him (and Dogpound)but my 5 year old doesn’t seem to mind any of the things I see as a problem and that tells me that hopefully the line will still be fine.

  • J. Lee

    Man that scale stinks. He was a giant next to the turtles and, how can he grab Donnie’s head a that scale?

    Larged woulda been nice indeed. Sculpt wise looks good, wish could pose more and jaw openning and closing. (Also eye changing woulda been a neat extra)

  • LV

    Stores do not want to carry $15 Deluxe nobodies, stores want to carry $15 Deluxe Turtles, because they know who the Turtles are, and they assume that’s what will move $15 toys.

    Whether that’s true or not, Playmates can’t produce a $15 Leatherhead if Walmart won’t buy any from them.

    • Bugger Wal-Mart, then. Bugger ’em with a rusty, revved-up chainsaw.

    • Black Arbor

      Personally, I don’t think Wal-Mart cares which figures are in the assortment, as long as the box says “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” I think they could sneak a deluxe Leatherhead or two in the “deluxe” assortment. Heck, if they were smart, they would’ve put two of the Turtles in the first wave, along with two villains. Then, when they make wave 2, they make the other Turtles and still have space for two more villains. We get properly sized villains, and they get longevity in their line. But of course, little Timmy/Sally just HAS to be able to get all the Turtles in one swoop, regardless of the fact that I can’t personally think of any parents that would shell out (pun intended) for all four Turtles at once.

      • LV

        The buyers for the big companies absolutely have some idea what’s in the assortments they’re carrying. That’s what Toy Fair was originally for. Target doesn’t want to blindly accept that ordering cases of $15 TMNT toys is going to get them product their customers want.

        Really, what could possibly be the alternative? That the people who work on Batman lines hate getting to design lots of varied characters and would prefer to just make Batman over and over again? Doesn’t it seem more reasonable that the companies are bound by other concerns than “what would I personally like to make as an oversized Turtle figure?”

        • I’ve been railing about this since Batman: The Animated Series. Villains one per case, amidst Laser Butterscotch Armour, Turbo Grappling Hook (with Dino-Buddy!), and Night-Glow Stealth Batman figures.

          “But Batman figures sell so well with kids!” claim the pundits.

          Yeah, because the ONE Batman figure in the whole like that looked like the Batman in the cartoon, was limited to the first year, and kids had to get SOME kind of Batman for their collection. Also because some people will buy absolutely ANYTHING Batman-flavoured.

          But from being a collector and hanging around the action figure sections of many, many stores, I heard a LOT of kids complain that they couldn’t find any villains for their Batmen to fight. Same went with Millennial MOTU. He-Men and Skeletors clogging the pegs, secondary characters and villains rare as hens’ teeth. Doesn’t make for a good play pattern, and therefore, doesn’t make for a good business model.

          It’s even worse here in Britain. We rarely get the chase figures at all, and I remember seeing one Hasbro catalogue in a toy shop where two-thirds of the Star Wars products IN A MOVIE YEAR (2005) were labelled as “Not available outside the USA.”

          Lies, damn lies, and statistics. All over again.

  • Mondo

    I think the toys are better-scaled than what the cartoon is offering. I don’t want my toy shelf to be filled with unnecessarily large mutants. I’d rather have an average-sized Dogpound, Leatherhead, and Snakeweed who pose a threat because they’re better, specialized fighters, not just because they have more cells.

  • zach

    The second wave of this line with all of the non-show Turtle variants are clogging the pegs around here. I can’t find anything non dressed up Turtle. This tiny Leatherhead is a bad sign.

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