It came, it finally came!... the big one!
Yes a Toy Story quote IS appropriate for a Ninja Turtle review because there’s actually a bit of story to this toy – see what I did there? I am a fucking whiz at this writing lark. Mondo previewed these 1:6 scale TMNT figures in 2015, apparently making 1:6 scale figures is the perfect way to make toys of things that someone else already has the master licence too because everyone’s doing it, in fact there are multiple 1:6 Scale and bigger TMNT coming out/already out in 2016 & 2017, Mondo have the rights to make figures accurate to the Mirage comic series. Buyers could choose between a regular edition of the figure or a deluxe edition of the figure – which is the same but with an extra accessory – but if you subscribed (to receive all four Turtles) you got the deluxe edition at the price of the regular edition, which is nice because the deluxe editions are a bit of a rip off, certainly for Leonardo. Leonardo was due out 1st Quarter 2016 and each Turtle would ship in a subsequent quarter (so Donatello in Quarter 2 and so on), this figure turned up on the 10th of January 2017, making him a year late. Mondo had an issue with completing the whole ‘buying from them’ thing in 2016, mostly they have an issue with the ‘sending you what you ordered’ bit. Some of it due to them being a bit eager to put the items up for order (possibly a side effect of needing to have the order to have them made? They are a pretty small company) and some of it might just be standard delays that happen sometimes, especially when you’re jumping from vinyl figures to a full collectors' figure line but I honestly have no idea why exactly Leonardo is so late. Mondo claim to have sent me updates on these figures but I can’t find them in my inbox, perhaps they’re lost amongst all the emails they sent me telling me about all the other great stuff I could buy from them despite the fact I had no reason to believe they would actually deliver the fucking things. Which is good advice Mondo: don’t advertise spin-offs to things you have not yet shipped (in this case: Mousers) and as far as at least this buyer knew, may never ship.
But all of that shit is irrelevant now Leonardo is out there I guess, in a years’ time when you stumble across this review and try to buy him on eBay his lateness won’t matter at all. So Leonardo is the first of Mondo’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1:6 Scale Collectible Figures (name taken from AWESOME box) based on the artwork of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird from the first 11 issues of Mirage Studios’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comic book series. He was due for release in Quarter 1 2016 but ended up shipping in the last days of Quarter 4. Do I really have to tell you who Leonardo is? Ok for the sake of format: Leonardo is one of four baby turtles that were dropped down a sewer by a boy named Chet and exposed to waste products known as Mutagen from the company TCRI, really a front for stranded aliens called the Utom, a TCRI van was involved in a traffic incident that directly led to the Turtles being lost. The animals were found by an unusually intelligent rat from Japan called Splinter, who too was exposed Mutagen and named after artist from an old Renaissance art book Splinter found in a storm drain. Splinter trained his four ‘sons’ in the art of Ninjitsu to avenge his master Hamato Yoshi by killing The Shredder. Leonardo became the ‘leader’ of the four Turtles, the best student and the boring one, seriously if you find someone who grew up with the TMNT before Nickelodeon bought them and Leonardo was their favourite Turtle, don’t vote for them, they just want to be leader and can’t be trusted.
Can I talk about the figure now? Good because it’s fucking amazing! There that is the whole review. OK, ok, I’ll stop playing with him and type stuff. I’m sure if you’re a collector of this scale, if you’re always pre-ordering from Hot Toys and the like, Leo might not seem quite so special but I hope that even if that’s the case he still looks pretty damn good. I do not regularly buy this scale, because it’s expensive and large and money and space are two things I’m always a bit short on, it has to be something REALLY important and the only thing more important than the TMNT in my world is, well, sex I suppose, notice that breathing and food are not mentioned. He’s big, heavy, detailed and feels and looks expensive (which is good, because he was). The TMNT are a good choice for action figures and especially for a company’s first/early action figure, as well as having a large fan base their designs allow for heavy part reuse and for easy integration of articulation points – basically they make you look good while saving you money. Mondo have utilised the ‘parts reuse bonus’ well, as far as I know all four Turtles will have the same bodies but with different belts, heads and the odd unique hand. I’d complain about this but what else is necessary? It’s not like these are the NickToon Turtles, in the comic they were all roughly the same build and looked roughly identical from the neck down. Plus the body is really nicely done with nice little things like sculpted nicks in the breast plate to replicate how Eastman & Laird used to draw/shade them and tons of nice texturing and detail on the shells, breastplates and arm and knee bands, they’ve even bothered to sculpt the hands with the fingers just slightly wider apart than would seem necessary for Leonardo so that the eventual Raphael figure can hold his sais between his fingers – Mondo has utilized their TMNT Parts Reuse Bonus well. Their TMNT Integrated Articulation Bonus not quite so much, the figure is articulated to fuck, he has ball joints at his shoulders, elbows & neck, swivel & hinge joints at the wrist, a combination of ball joint and swivel joint at the hips, swivel joints at the biceps, two hinge joints at the knees and a delightful combo articulation point at the ankles that mean you can move and tilt the feet just about any way you’d ever want, quite essential for duck footed characters like these who need that tilt to, y’know, stand up. On further inspection his tail isn’t articulated but his bandanna is, I cannot stress how much I appreciate an articulated bandanna even though mine’s a little loose on the blue masked head. Perhaps most importantly he doesn’t have an ab crunch, yes it helps achieve deep poses or whatever but Turtles can’t bend like that – that’s not how fucking shells work. So yes he’s articulated to buggery and they’re all pretty good…except the elbow joints, they have great range but they look fucking unsightly, making the arms look, well, just wrong, like Mondo fail at anatomy. There’s no need for a ball joint there either when he has the bicep swivel, so why not just use a set of two hinges and hide ‘em up the elbow pads like they did with the knees? It’s not a deal breaker of anything it’s just illogical. Oh and because of course I checked this, the figure really IS in 1:6 scale, being 10 inches rather than 12 (making him roughly five foot, the correct height for a Ninja Turtle).
This is probably going to be the only Quick Crappy Review I do where the accessories part is longer than the actual figure’s part – mostly because I review a lot of Mattel and Playmates stuff – Mondo’s Turtles are fucking laden down with accessories, they have so many accessories they necessitated an additional plastic tray in the box to hold them all. Just listing them will make this paragraph long, he comes with: an alternate head, three alternate hands, a grappling hook, his two katanna, a Utrom blaster (I came), four shuriken, an unmutated Splinter, his own unmutated form and as this is the ‘deluxe’ version the ruined gauntlet of The Shredder from issue 1 of the comic *takes deep breath*. As far as I remember the shuriken, grappling hook, climbing claw hands and blaster will be coming with all four Turtles. So let’s work through the list. The grappling hook is nice but seems a little unnecessary for anyone but Michaelangelo, it can’t be worn on the belts and just seems like it’s there to be another accessory and make the figure feel more elite, the shuriken are also pretty pointless, they’re lovely but Leonardo can’t really hold them in any meaningful way, they only fit in the palm of his hand, which looks pointy and painful, they were also a fucking bastard to get out of the packaging. Being a massive mark for the Triceratons and all things linked to them I think the blaster is gorgeous, and as the TMNT used them in the Turtles in Space arc they’re appropriate too, mine is sadly the only case of bad paint apps on the whole set though, the black for inside the barrel has splodged out all over the front of it, making it look like it was painted with a massive brush by a child - sculpt wise it’s beautiful though, like it was ripped from the comic by that crystal Kirby had. The Katannas are perfect, they slot into his belt delightfully and have red handles, I have this weird thing about Leonardo’s swords having red handles, don’t ask. Being a fan of those first 11 issues and the micro series I’m incredibly glad to have the ruined Shredder gauntlet, I wouldn’t say it’s iconic or anything but it’s something from those issues that’s never been realised in plastic before and it’s really nice and really accurate but it doesn’t justify the extra price for me, sure I didn’t pay the extra price so maybe I should shut up but nah, it’s not enough, too small, too unimportant.
A second paragraph for accessories? Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick… what does the H in Jesus H. Christ stand for? Holy? Probably. ANYway if all those weapons weren’t enough, Leo comes with swappable parts and mini-figures (‘mini’ figures, they’re nearly as tall as most Micronauts) as well. Leo’s head is one of the few things that’s unique to him, so it’s a good job it’s gorgeous, I think I may just slightly prefer the NECA head, it’s a little pointier, a little closer to the in-comic artwork, but this head still screams Leonardo (despite what you might think, the Mirage TMNT do look different in the facial region, I don’t think I could describe it and I’m not 100% it was intentional at first, but I can certainly tell which Turtle is which without colours or weapons). It’s good the head’s so nice, cos we get two of them. I am behind this choice of swappable part so hard, giving fans the option of having the comic accurate red bandanna or the more iconic unique coloured bandanna should just be something that comes as standard for TMNT collector’s figures and it benefits the company behind the toy as much as the fans: you get an extra head with no extra tooling costs, fans get to settle the debate themselves rather than on your forums, all fans feel catered to and your sales are not negatively affected. Once I managed to unstick my head (the joint was super stiff, I used one of those grippy things old ladies have to open jam jars) swapping the heads is easy and frankly feels really nice to do. The hands are a little more precarious, or feel more precarious, I don’t suppose they will break but they feel like they might when you pop them out, nothing can be done about it it’s a side effect of the type of articulation used and ball or swivel-hinge joints at the wrists are essential for weapon users. The climbing claw hands are nice, I marked out when I saw them offered because they’re just from a scene in the comic I find really memorable so I’m glad I have them but I can’t see many displaying the figures with them over their signature weapons, personally I’d’ve preferred closed fists but don’t’ take my baseless speculation as a sign the pieces are bad, they’re not, they’re really good and really spikey, the things you can do without Mattel’s worrying. Each Turtle is coming with a unique hand and Leo’s is THE POINTING HAND OF LEADERSHIP – it’s a great idea, it’s awesomely named and it’s nice to give them something else unique as so much is going to be reused from figure to figure - it helps with making the figure feel worth what I paid for it. I’m actually going to use this hand on my shelf because it’s just so Leonardo but I do have a complaint and that’s that it can’t hold a sword, I can’t imagine why they didn’t do this, Leo does it all the fucking time caring not that he could have someone’s eye out, and it would have improved my display endlessly to have him holding both swords AND pointing, and no I’m not joking.
Then there’s the mini-figures, each Turtle is coming with their unmutated form – which looks to be the same sculpt for all four - plus an additional mini-figure and because he’s a fucking daddy’s boy, Leo gets Splinter. Love this idea, love it lots. Let me explain: back in the days of yore when Playmates were producing the original TMNT action figure line they did two things: they included ‘Sidekicks’ with certain characters (most notably Muckman and Wingnut) and theyincluded unmuated forms of the Turtles and Splinter in each tub of Retromtuagen Ooze. Any call-back, intentional or not, to the vintage Playmates line will get my support. Now Playmates unmutated forms did glow in the dark and their Turtles had little bandannas on – which makes no sense but it was charming – but Mondo’s ones are fully painted and roughly the size of R2-D2, that almost makes up not being glow in the dark (I kid!). The unmutated turtle form is about as accurate as you’re going to get, it’s based on the only full body shot of one from issue 1 and it does a good job of replicating it, though the edge of its shell resembles a string of pearls a little more than the artwork does, it’s also mega cute and has the most adorable little face, I want it to be real and talk to me, it’ll just say ‘radical, radical, radical’ over and over. Splinter is just fucking magnificent, he’s also based on a panel from issue 1 and even though he’s not that accurate (his head, tail and body shape are different) he’s close enough for that to feel like a nitpick, and more important for me, looks quite a lot like the puppet used in the first TMNT movie AND like his original unmuated ooze figure. Complete accuracy or not he’s lovingly sculpted with oodles of fur detailing and more so fur detailing that actually follows the shape of him rather than just being put on willy-nilly with a Play-Doh accessory. He’s also painted roughly equal to your average Schleich animal and those things cost about £10 each. He’s a good pack-in what I’m saying. Have I finished? Have I run out of accessories? I have? Thank god, I think I’m gonna have to cross out the ‘Quick’ from my title image.
So, was he worth the wait? *Sigh* yes he was. That doesn’t excuse releasing a figure so late or make it ok to fulfil an order a year after you were supposed to but the toy is undeniably fantastic, yes the elbow joints need to fuck right off and his exclusive accessory didn’t feel of equal value to the price the exclusive version cost but they’re somewhat insignificant when you have something that’s this nice (and this big) in every other department.