Wednesday, July 19, 2017

30 Years in the Half Shell... Turtle Power!

One of the most unexplainable fads of the late 80's were the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. A "serious" parody of the dark and gritty vigilante comics popular at the time. A popular comic book, it's fame skyrocketed when the titular terrapins took to the airwaves in their Saturday morning sugary cartoon. Gone were the murders, swearing, and bloodshed; replaced by sarcasm, pizza, and silly antics. It was a winner, spawning years of action figures, video games, movies, "cowabunga" t-shirts, and a disgustingly catchy Vanilla Ice song.

Fast forward 30 years, and for the anniversary of the cartoon and the folks attending San Diego Comic Con, the wizards of NECA have achieved that which has eluded Playmates and SH Figuarts: cartoon faithful 80's Turtles that look like they've stepped out of a cartoon! To be fair, the other companies have also released cartoon Turtles, but NECA's attempt includes animation-like shading, the more olive skin tone of the cartoon compared to the garish green of the Figuarts or toy colors of the Playmates. Also included in the set is the dreaded Shredder and his henchmen Krang and the Foot.

This set is FULL of cartoony accessories! Pizza, Turtlecoms, various fists, guns, swords, ooze, and more. For the most part, everything has a killer paint job, and the looks is perfect. The biggest flaw is all 7 humanoid figures have incredibly unreliable articulation. Arms just don't want to move at all, and the waists move too freely, making poses unnatural and potentially dangerous. I've had NECA toys in the past, and the soft plastic is prone to shearing off if pressure is applied, and with the rarity of the set, I'm leery to start tugging. Please forgive the lack of insane extreme ninja-type poses.

Without further ado, here's a breakdown of the figures, my thoughts, and a comparison to the commonplace KO Turtles found just about everywhere these days, as well as the unofficial Robot Krang toy by First Gokin.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:

With fixed head for Leo

The worst of my set's paint jobs, Leo has a crazy googling eye that looks atrocious. He comes with a scabbard for his swords, two scimitar-like katana blades. **UPDATE** Several months later, I got a new head from NECA to fix the atrocious head, and after an hour of fighting with the neck and several severely blistered and bruised fingers, I was able to swap heads. Leo looks awesome with his brothers, now, instead of the Teenage Mutant Black-Eyed Turtle.

Fixed head.

Fixed head. 

Good paint, his sai forks like to sneak out of his hands, but there is a cool feature with the included ninja pizza slice: it slides onto the sai so as to vanish quickly, without a trace.

Tech genius Donnie easily wins "Best of Set". Colors are great, the bo staff looks incredible, and his mouth isn't asymmetrical or weird. The bo pops into two pieces for easy posing.

The party dude has the best accessories: one of his classic nunchucks has a removable chain and you can pop on a spinning wheel to replicate the cartoon spinning effect. Looks great in motion. For our "Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles" brethren in the U.K., Mikey has his Turtle Hook grappling line. I really wish Mike would have had a second face option, as his smile is sorely missed.

Foot Clan-

As a repaint of the Mirage and Arcade set Shredder, I wasn't expecting to be wowed by this, but I was wrong. The toon shading really brings a vibrancy to the toy. The added cape, ray guns, and sword help Shredder set the table for a nice bowl of Turtle soup.

A new mold, Krang includes his signature tripod, ooze canister, and walker. I don't think he's quite at the right scale, but he does look pretty good with his teammates. His pseudopods pop off to attach to the walker. Unfortunately he's not really interchangeable with the third party option.

Foot Soldiers:
Robotic minions, these silent-but-deadly automatons can use every included weapon in this set and look amazing doing so. The shading really pops on these guys! Hopefully in the future NECA will have packs available for army building like they did with the mousers of old.

In closing, if you are lucky enough to snag a set, I think overall you'll be pleased. I know I certainly am. These do the Heroes in a Half Shell justice and look good among other 1:12 scale figures. Now all fans need is a Master Splinter and a yellow jumpsuit April and the core set is complete thanks to several companies.

The extra machine gun looks great with the Playmates Classics Rocksteady, for recreating the Arcade game.

The League of 80's Cartoon Evil core members.

Whoa, are you guys f-ugly! Coming from me, that says something! 

I'll take 'mousers' over Sentinels any day, bub! 

" So then, I reversed the polarity of the portal by reversing its ion stabilizer, and the whole thing got sucked to Dimension X" 
"Not bad... I just flew a nuke into space, detonating it, and saved the entire Galaxy"

"Uh, it's getting a little crowded on the rooftops, guys. Don't you have, like, exotic sports cars or a sewer raft you could take?" 

"Peace, Fellow lean green mean fighting machine!"

"Erm, did I say I was going to behead you? No no no... I said, "I shall befriend you in one swipe!" Yes! Ancient Japanese proverb! You find it in all the best Hallmarks in Tokyo! "

NECA, you did a good job. Take a break and have some pizza! COWABUNGA!


  • Perfect cartoon accuracy. Colors match, faces match. Cowabunga!
  • Articulation is standard fare. Can achieve some ninja poses.
  • TONS of accessories.
  • Scales well with non-NECA TMNT and super hero figures.


  • Face paint is sometimes poorly applied.
  • No alternate faces. Mikey's grin is missed.

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