Fortunately things have picked up a little since then, and so today we look at one of the more recent additions to the line – Tiger Claw!
NB: I’m yet to watch the episodes in which Tiger Claw appears, so I’m purely basing my review here on his appearance, rather than the character.
SCULPT AND ARTICULATION
Tiger Claw is some kind of half-man, half-tiger hybrid – a deadly assassin feared throughout Asia. Heavy stuff for a kid’s cartoon, but TMNT has never been afraid to shy away from the big issues.
His tail seems to have been docked – I’m not sure if this is a character trait or if a full tail just didn’t cost out for Playmates. Also, the image on the back of the card portrays him as having two eyes, but the toy has one eye and an eyepatch. Maybe this is something to do with the episodes he appears in – starts off with two and loses one to the turtles (edit: A review of the TMNT 2012 wiki suggests it’s never explained. However, the tail is a plot point and not a costing thing.
The design of the character is much better than the actual execution, though this is more the fault of the paint than the sculpt. Most of the important details seem to have made it through to the sculpt -- such as his backpack and the ammo belt across his chest. Overall it looks great -- but as we'll see in the paint section, there's a lot left to be desired.
Articulation is as follows:
Not bad in comparison to some of the other figures in the range, but there is a lot of room for improvement. Truth be told, I would have picked up Tiger Claw the very first time I saw him if he had elbow joints. There are certainly other joints that would have been nice to have too – swivel wrists, ball-jointed neck, just to name a couple, but it’s a $15 kid’s line so we can’t expect miracles. It's acceptable, but in no way it win articulation of the year.
Every time I talk about TMNT, I talk about how the paint apps are crap. Tiger Claw is no exception. They’re certainly more numerous than many other of the figures in the line, but they’re on the sloppy side – his scarf in particular shows signs of chipping. The string on the back of his head for his eyepatch isn’t painted either…it brings to mind shades of Casey Jones and his “no back paint”. Perhaps worst of all is the huge difference in colour between the feet and the rest of his body.
All of this wouldn’t be so annoying if we didn’t know that Playmates can do better, and has done better in the past. Look at the paint on the 2003 figures – for the most part, pretty clean and well-executed. Go back further to the 1980s series and you’ll see the same thing. But now half the figures in the line look like bootlegs because they’re not enough spent on apps or QC. I appreciate that toy manufacturing costs have risen significantly since the golden days of the 1980s/1990s – but I think we can safely say that Playmates is still making a mint on these bad boys, and some of that capital should be invested in the line.
Accessories-wise, he comes with two guns, both cast in a very soft plastic. They can be stored in his holsters (though the way they’re in the package is on the opposite sides to the holsters they fit in).
There are two versions of Tiger Claw – the regular one reviewed here today (he does seems to be available on two different cardbacks, though) and the “Mutations” version, which allows you to pop off his limbs and swap them around with other Mutations characters. The sculpt looks to have been built from the same base, but it is slightly larger than this one.
Tiger Claw has some definite shortcomings, but I think his design is really cool, and it's made up for some of the shortcomings with the figure itself. He’s a great sculpt and worth the price of entry for that alone – it’s just a shame about the paint. I’ve only really found him on a “one in store” basis, but check him carefully if you have more than one to pick from.