Friday, 24 October 2014

Raph the Barbarian (LARP TMNT)

Series: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Company: Playmates
Year: 2014

I love Dungeons and Dragons, and a number of other associated pen-and-paper roleplaying games. So earlier this year when I found out that the Playmates TMNT line was going to do a “Raph the Barbarian” figure and other, similarly-themed Turtles, I was over the moon. My love of Dungeons and Dragons, combined with my love of fiction of Robert E. Howard and the Turtles meant that Playmates were onto a guaranteed winner.

Except in Donnie’s case, the result was less than stellar. Mikey was not all that hard for me to skip – though he’s growing on me – and I haven’t come across Leo in the wild as yet. But Raph was always going to be an essential purchase. I was thrilled to find him, but definitely had some trepidation as I picked him up. How did he compare?   

This figure is apparently based on an episode of the current series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, in which they play a game called “Mazes & Mutants” – however, the game rapidly becomes real and our reptilian heroes need to don some LARP gear to battle evil. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m keen to, particularly after the awesome DnD-themed episodes of Community that have seen release in the last couple of years.

(Fun fact: the TMNT themselves used to have a pen-and-paper RPG too!)
As with Donnie, I initially expected Raph the Barbarian to essentially be a Raphael figure with some soft plastic overlays – the tunic, the furry shinpads and the furry gauntlets, specifically. But as with Donnie, the main body actually is the furry tunic, and the forearms and lower legs are all new pieces (possibly retooled), so any thoughts of getting a two-in-one figure quickly went out the window. But that doesn’t matter, because he looks fantastic!

Looking at him side by side the original figure Playmates did in 2012, it’s clear that Raph is now a little taller, and they have made a number of other changes to make him look much more like his animation model. His face is sculpted with a barbarian-appropriate snarl, though it also would have worked for pretty much any Raphael figure ever. The fur is well-detailed, and there’s lots of little details like chains and spikes dotted about the place (though some are a bit obscured by the paint; more on that later).
Here’s the articulation breakdown:   

*swivel neck

*swivel-hinged elbows
*swivel-hinged elbows
*swivel wrists
*swivel-hinged hips

*swivel-hinged knees

Though it would have been nice to get a ball-jointed neck, I’m glad to trade it for the elbows. This was a cut they shouldn’t have made on Donnie, and Raph is all the better for having them. The hip joints are a little looser than they should be, but aside from that everything works very well.

Raph comes with two accessories – a battle-axe and a barbarian helmet. It’s not a lot, but it’s all he needs. The helmet stays in place really well, and with a little careful manoeuvring you can get him to hold the axe with both hands, which makes for a much better barbarian pose.

Paint is not great, but it’s still one of the better paint jobs in the line. Less apps have been cut between the prototype and the finished product, and those that have gone aren’t especially noticeable. Some of the details are a little obscured by being painted straight black, such as the spikes and chains, but the most irritating thing is that of the two exposed sections of his shell, one has been left completely unpainted. Casey Jones had similar problems, and though I can appreciate cost vs profit margins, it does look a little lazy.  

Basically, he needs to be fixed in a few areas – but if I don’t get around it, it won’t bother me as much as it will with Donnie.  

Much to my relief, Raph turned out much better than Donnie. As tributes to Conan go, it’s a fun one – and the back of the packaging specifically describes him as a “Dwarf Barbarian”, so it’s a fun tribute to Gilius Thunderhead of Golden Axe fame too. After being prepared to be disappointed, I’m pleased to say that Raph is one of the best figures in the line. Highly recommended to Turtles and Conan fans alike.  

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