Friday, 8 November 2013

Ninjas in Training – Leonardo and Donatello (Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)

Ninjas in Training - Leonardo and Donatello

Series: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Company: Playmates
RRP: $15

Right before I was going to publish this review, I picked up Raphael and Michelangelo as well. They won’t get a review on their own, as everything I have said (good and bad) about Donnie and Leo below applies more or less equally across all four turtles. Just substitute the words “Raph” or “Mikey” at the appropriate juncture. The main difference for myself was that Raph and Mikey are my favourite turtles, and their weapons (sais and nunchaku) are smaller, so they're less likely to warp. If you’ve got any specific questions about them, please feel free to comment below.

The Background
I had many, many toys as a kid, but the first toyline I really “collected” was the 2003 Playmates TMNT series, when I was finishing up high school. I didn’t buy every figure, but there were only a handful from the first few waves that I didn’t get – one of which was the “Toddler Turtles” 4-pack. I think it was just too difficult to find, or by the time I did come across it, I either didn’t have the money or had simply moved on in my interests.

Flash forward to earlier this year, and I discovered that there was a new TMNT series (released late 2012), as well an accompanying toyline. What I’ve since watched of the new TV series is excellent, with my main criticism being that it’s a little too “monster-of-the-week” heavy.
The new TMNT toyline, on the other hand, is a bit of a mixed bag. The turtles themselves are excellent, but the supporting cast have been all over the place, with questionable scale being a particular issue. It’s been some time since I’ve gone back and looked at the ’03 figures closely, but these ones feel a little “cheaper” overall, in quality of plastic and paint.

I can’t speak for the rest of the world, but availability is also a problem over here in Australia, which adds to the difficulty of collecting. The turtles and Shredder (original) are easy to find, but there are some – like Cockroach Terminator – that I’ve never seen in the wild and a number of others that I’ve encountered only once or twice. But the line does have a lot of potential, and I hope that its various issues do get resolved eventually. 
But I recently came across word that “Ninjas in training” 2-packs were beginning to hit the stores in America. Never having been able to get the Toddler Turtles 4-pack, I was definitely keen to add these new versions to my small collection of TMNT figures. The next day, a search of my local Kmart uncovered a solitary Donnie and Leo, but no sign of Raph and Mikey.

The Packaging

Keeping in style with previous releases, the backing card is purple and green. I’ve got mixed feelings about this colour scheme, but it’s certainly eye-catching. As always with blister packs, the box is not collector friendly and will need to be chucked if you open it. MOC collectors shouldn’t have any complaints – the figures are nicely displayed, and you can see all of their accessories.

The Figures Themselves

It would have been pretty easy for Playmates to use the exact same mould for all four turtles, simply painting their bandannas a different colour. Fortunately, they haven’t taken this approach – each turtle is unique, even if their poses are quite similar. Looking closely, you’ll notice that all their chest shell pieces are unique too, just as they are on their older counterparts. It’s a subtle touch, but a nice one. 
Articulation is very minimal – the shoulders are swivel hinges, and the neck is cut. The legs on both figures are in locked poses. It’s somewhat reminiscent of the Marvel Superhero Squad figurines that were doing the rounds a few years ago, though these are cast in a harder plastic. There’s a cut across their bellies, but this seems to be the result of the figure being produced in a few different pieces and then stuck together. It’s not an ideal spot for the cut to be placed, but at least it’s in line with their shell plating.

Paint apps are very minimal – the turtle’s bandannas are actually moulded from separate plastic, not just painted on, as far as I can tell. Only their shells and eyes seem to really be painted, and these counts they’re both fine. A couple of highlights on the skin might have been nice, but I think Playmates is probably keeping the costs pretty low on this one.   

Donatello comes with a miniature version of his bo staff, and Leonardo comes with two toy swords, all of which are cast in beige plastic to look like wood. Some paint on the bandaged areas would have been nice, but it may have looked out of place -- I don't think any other characters in the range have paint apps on their weapons.


The weapons aren’t cast in super-soft plastic, but don’t be surprised if one or both of Leo’s swords are a little warped. I don’t think Donnie’s staff should give you any problems – it’s rounded and a little thicker, so it shouldn’t “wilt” in the same way.
I can see a lot of broken arms happening on these toys, as they’re quite thin and fragile. Be careful about who you give these to. And maybe have a replacement handy.

My last issue is a small one – a very small one, in fact. Donnie’s mouth is partially open, and you can see his distinctive gap tooth. However, they’ve decided not to put paint on it, which is slightly disappointing. Of course, if they had painted it I’d probably be complaining about paint slop… perhaps a closed mouth would have been preferable.   

These figures are okay. They’ve got a cute design, and they do look spiffy on your desk. They also look cool when paired up with their teenage counterparts. I was able to pick Leo and Donnie up for $10 (Edit: and as mentioned above, Raph and Mikey too) rather than the usual $15, and I was satisfied with them for that price – but $15 seems a little overpriced for these figures, even if there are two of them in the box. Put all four together (as Playmates previously did) and I think we would have had a more acceptable package, if not a total winner.  


No comments:

Post a Comment