Thursday, 2 January 2014

Shredder 2 Review (TMNT)

A couple of days before putting this review online, I learned that James Avery, the original voice of Shredder on the 1980s TMNT series and Uncle Phil of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air had passed away, apparently as a result of complications during heart surgery. His distinctive voice and comic stylings will be much missed, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this difficult time.

Figure: Shredder (with removable mask and cape aka “Shredder 2”)
Year: 2013
Series: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Scale: 4"
Company: Playmates


It’s no secret that the new Turtles toyline has had some issues – this is why I hadn’t yet picked up a Shredder, who is the most necessary character after the four main turtles. The Turtles have a lot of villains over their various iterations, but my favourite is definitely Shredder.
Though the Shredder that was released in 2012 is not a bad figure, he just isn’t tall enough. People tend to forget that the turtles are actually quite short, and that Shredder is (generally) depicted as unusually tall for a Japanese man. Additionally, he looks a little too different from his depiction in the cartoon. The same charge could be levelled at the turtles themselves, of course, but I find that easier to let slide.

These are all relatively small nitpicks individually, but combined they left the figure missing that X-factor that would have justified the purchase. As such, I was quite pleased when I found out that there was going to be an updated version of Shredder that featured a removable mask, and a cape. First showing up at San Diego Comic-Con as an exclusive for 2013, this looked like the figure that the original Shredder should have been.

The mass-market version isn’t drastically different from the SDCC version. You don’t get the stand, the fancy box or the vac-metallized paint apps, but it’s otherwise identical, from what I can tell. I’ve already seen some of the special edition in stores, but he’s about twice the price of the regular version.

This packaging isn’t different to any of the others in the range – just the usual purple and green styles. The only notable difference is that the “original” Shredder figure is no longer depicted on the back, instead replaced by this new version. Whether the original will be discontinued completely remains to be seen – at time of writing, he still seems to be popping up around the place.

This version Shredder doesn’t seem to reuse a great deal from the original 2012 release. The only things that seem to have made the transition are the movable shoulder pads, and possibly the lower legs. The overall style is still quite similar, but now he looks much more like he does in the cartoon.

My favourite thing about this new figure is that he now looks in scale with the turtles. He towers over them, giving him an intimidating presence. I’ve heard some complaints about his thighs being a disproportionately long, but it doesn’t really bother me. The overall effect is what’s important, and he looks like much more of a serious threat to the turtles now.  
Though the sculpt looks great as a display piece, it’s definitely cut corners with articulation. Shredder should be just as articulated as the turtles, if not even more so. He’s a formidable martial artist, and he should be able to move as such. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case.  

For his head, he has a cut neck – it can turn from side to side, but that’s it. I’m a bit disappointed it wasn’t a balljoint, as this would have made it much easier for him to look like he’s gazing down on his enemies. The knees are hinged, but the enormous boots do get in the way of their movement, and they won’t turn quite as far as you might like.
But the main disappointment for me was that he doesn’t have moveable elbows. He’s got swivel-hinged shoulders and cut wrists, but no moveable elbows. This is especially irritating when you consider that the original version did have hinged elbows. I suppose this may be a cost-cutting measure to incorporate the large amount of new tooling, but it’s annoying nonetheless.

As a side note, one of my co-workers pointed out that Shredder doesn’t really look “Asian” – more “Russian.” I can definitely see what he means, though on closer inspection he makes me think of Yul Brynner made up as Two-Face. More disturbingly, although he clearly has a nose when viewed front on, when you turn his head to the side it almost looks like it’s disappeared.

There’s not a huge amount of paint on Shredder. The main area is his face, which has a serviceable, if not amazing paint job. I think an extra highlight or two in there would have made it pop a little more, though I can appreciate that having more realistic facial burns might be a little frightening for kids. However, I was impressed with the paint job on the eyes. There doesn’t appear to be any slop there, and they do look menacing, even with the helmet on.  

The only real area I think that could have used paint was on the helmet. It’s moulded in a silvery-grey plastic, and is quite plain. I think if the spikes on it had been picked out in a slightly different colour it would have stood out much more nicely.

Shredder comes with two accessories – his mask and his cape. The removable mask is a big selling point for the figure. Unfortunately, the mask’s faceplate is just slightly too small to completely cover the face properly. It’s not really noticeable when you look at it front-on, but once you start turning his head from side to side, you may have a few more issues.

People will debate the various merits of fabric vs rubber capes till the end of time, but rubber was the right call on this occasion. It fits the style of the toys more appropriately, and looks more accurate to the cartoon, and its torn and pre-posed look makes for some good action shots. The cape is held into Shredder’s back by a peg, which sticks into a hole in his back. It’s a clever solution that I haven’t encountered before, but of course leaves him with a big hole in his back when it’s off.
I’d originally thought that the arm claws would be removable, but closer inspection reveals that they attached via pins piercing through the arms themselves. This is a little disappointing – the claws can get in the way a little – but it’s not a dealbreaker.

The lack of other accessories is a bit disappointing. I think a katana of some sort would have been nice, given that his left hand is sculpted in a “holding” position. Leo came with a spare one on his sprue that I hadn’t found a use for, so Shredder subsequently acquired it for his own nefarious purposes.
The special edition version that was at SDCC also comes with a base shaped like a sewer lid. It’s a cool piece, but I couldn’t justify the premium price for it.  


In terms of sculpt and scale, this new version of Shredder is probably one of the best figures that the TMNT line has yet seen. In terms of articulation…well, this will be the big turn off for some. With this said, I’m still glad I bought this version. I can deal with less articulation on an action figure if it looks good, and I don’t think there’s any real question that this one looks a lot better than the original.
I picked Shredder up on sale for $10, and he usually retails for about $15. The special edition runs at about $30 – considering the only difference is some vac-metallized plastic and a base, I’d say that the “regular” version is a better investment overall.


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