Monday, 6 June 2016

Quick Crappy Review: Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows Technodrome*

It’s my birthday very soon (the 13th) and so today my mum gave me a special present, if your mind instantly went to incest and not Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles – you’re a dick. I’m 30 this year (and really not dealing with it) but because I’m a massive child my mum didn’t buy me a watch or a car or a season ticket to West Ham, she bought me the new Technodrome Playmates have put out in preparation for the launch of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; Out of the Shadows. This is perfect for me, I’m worried about being ‘too old’ so she gives me something to make me feel young and I was after presents that covered my life up to this point and the Technodrome is easily one of the best presents I’ve ever received in that life so it fits the theme lovely (I oversee the buying of most of my gifts, not my decision, luckily I have a terrible memory so I forget most of it and it still feels like a surprise unwrapping it. Seriously, I can remember the real names of all the Teen Titans but not something I bought three weeks ago and put in a cupboard apparently). It was a very nice surprise and my mum is great for doing it.

I built this in my front room because it made me feel like a seven
year old, I figured the lack of professional photos was a
necessary evil to being happy
The Technodrome was the base of operations for Krang, built with help from the Shredder, in the Murakami-Wolf-Swenson Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon; the one you think is from the 80’s but actually mostly aired in the 90’s. Krang incidentally was a warlord from Dimension X whose body had been taken from him as punishment for the same bastardry that got him exiled from said dimension, leaving him looking like a brain with a face and two stubby tentacles for arms; he was based on a race of (mostly) benevolent aliens from the Turtles comic called Utroms (oo-troms). The Technodrome spent most of its time stuck somewhere, usually only getting free to wreak havoc once a season if you were lucky, but it had presence, it had an air of monstrosity and it had an awesome playset from Playmates toys released in 1990 (with other variations released later on). After the end of the original cartoon, and Peter Laird buying out his fellow co-creator Kevin Eastman, the Utroms continued to appear but anything that wasn’t from the Mirage Comics, including Krang and the Technodrome, did not show up again until the anniversary special Turtles Forever, where the ‘drome was turned into a kind of pocket Death Star by the Shredder of the then-just-wrapped-up 4Kids cartoon (the one from the early 2000s you probably didn’t like for being too ‘different’ despite it actually being far more accurate to the source material). That Shredder, by the way, was pretty much a more badass version of Krang, he was a renegade Utom named Ch’rell. Following the sale of TMNT to Viacom creators were allowed to reference material from across the entire franchise again and the Utroms and Krang were merged for the new Nickleodeon cartoon (the current one, the CGI one where they have the wrong amount of toes) as The Kraang, a hive-mind ruled by Kraang Prime, who is just Krang from the old show but giant and even more camp, and The Kraang have Technodromes which are once again like mini-Death Stars, though the vehicle is closer to its classic design and function in the new IDW comics, where it’s the former base of operations for General Krang, a renegade Utrom, and now the Utroms living on Earth, which include Ch’rell. The new film is taking elements from both the original cartoon and the newer fiction, and amongst that is the Turtles Forever/Nicktoon Technodrome, keeping it as a flying sphere of murder for Kraang. Got all that? 

To review it though we have to discuss building it, because it comes in kit form:

It was more daunting than any Lego set I’ve ever put together, because for all Lego’s complexity and similar looking components you know the instructions are so simple a P.E. Teacher could understand them and you know, from personal stepping-on experience, that Lego bricks are durable as all fuck. This new Technodrome is made of very soft plastic and out of the box felt very weak and breakable, also it all looked the same and the instructions might as well have not been included. The worry was for nothing, while it is very soft, especially compared to the thoroughly rigid original it is not breakable, in fact the soft plastic may actually make it more resilient giving it a rubber like quality that really helped with the tab-style construction that pretty much force to you ‘bump’ each piece together with a bit of wiggling and a lot of success without any clue how you got that success. At no point did I feel like I was going to snap anything off (stop it), and that’s always a good thing. The side of the Technodrome that’s intact, the opening flap, comes in a ridiculous five pieces (though one, the hinged one, is already attached) and I have absolutely no idea why that would need to be so, however the platform that fits inside it – a nice call-back to the original toy  – strengthens it nicely, once you figure out how to attach the prick.

This was frustrating, the platform attaches via four ‘plugs’, two innies and two outies, a set of two plugs and a set of two frames that slip over plastic surrounding two of the screws that I assume are something to do with the part of the wall that flips down. But fresh out the box, the two frames are plugged with little facsimiles of the screw-surrounding plug and they have to be removed before you can slip the frames over the screw-surrounding plugs. But nowhere in the instructions (that I could see) does it tell you to remove these little plugs, and even if it does and I missed it in my confused frustration, nowhere does it show you actually HOW to attach the platform, with the picture on the instructions showing the top of the platform, not the underside where it attaches. And even if it did show you the underside and tell you to remove the little plugs actually removing the bastards is still exceptionally difficult and quite painful, you have to push them in and then push them through, but they’re small, far to sturdy to be properly pushed in and are squashed between the edge of the platform and the edge of the trap-door with very little room to get a finger, or anything, in to get hold of them, I ended up using the sharp knife I’d wielded to open the box (cellotape is no match for my kitchen utensils) to sort of dig them out, which thankfully did no damage to the part of the toy because all of this playset is made from rubber Adamantium (and I didn’t stab myself either, go me). There is no way a child could do this, there is no way most adults, especially most dads with their big hands and low patience, could do this, I’ve been doing this shit for around 25 years and I could barely do it – with kitchen utensils and another adult helping me.

The rest of the ‘drome assembled lovely though.

Put together it’s actually really impressive, it’s a lot more spherule than the original with a lot more platform surface area for your Turtles to stab brain-like aliens in (one of the biggest flaws of the original Technodrome for me was how little space there was inside to stand your figures), It does only have one side because Playmates of today are 1000 times cheaper bastards than the Playmates of 1990, this makes it feel a lot more like a playset which is odd because it’s clearly being marketed as the same playset-vehicle combo the old toy was and in fact as a vehicle it’s much more manoeuvrable than that toy; the original Technodrome used huge tank treads so the original toy moved like a tank but this new toy, being a flying spherule death bringer, moves more like a wasp and is glides neatly across even my lump (brown) carpet, it’s not quite 360˚ movement though. Like the outer shell the platforms feel bendy and flimsy but are surprisingly sturdy, here is the smallest and weakest platform, which is also on a hinge, holding up Faker without giving a millimetre:

While I haven’t used any Libra-like scales to test my theory, I’d wager than the larger, hard plastic Masters of the Universe figures are heavier than the cheaper, smaller current TMNT toys (except maybe Dark Beaver, he’s a hefty motherfucker) so I can’t see there being any problems holding Tiger Claw or Snakeweed or whoever (though some of the heavier Mutations could be an issue maybe? The ones that turn into weapons perhaps?). The opening side of the playset is very soft and squishy, feeling like a melty Easter egg (this is a good thing) it does mean that it doesn’t shut too easy and you may have to spend a minute popping in the odd clip that went over rather than under, it does make it inferior to the old toy but comparing the two as I have for this makes me wonder if maybe the change to soft plastic was actually motivated by something more than being tightwads, have you ever had the original Technodrome toy run into you at high speed? I have (I have cousins, they are sadists) – it really hurts, and this new version can go fast, I do wonder if the change was actually to save the shins of little sisters and unsuspecting dogs throughout the western world. I’m torn on the whole ‘open side’ choice though, it does feel like cheapening out but on the other hand it makes the toy look like the Palitoy Death Star and I think we can all agree that the Palitoy Death Star was the shit. On a slightly more serious note, the whole thing genuinely does look very good and the hole acts as the windshield the Technodrome never had, I like that I can see Kraang driving it as I move it around, and it acts as a nice way to have action going on inside while the set is closed up and things are going on outside (something not even the mighty Castle Grayskull can do) without it feeling like the Technodrome is stationary or half of it has been taken off,

Away from that, all the best playsets have action features and the Technodrome has a four, two of them are trap doors – two trap doors may seem a little redundant but that’s only if you’re boring, trap doors are fucking fun: one is on the prickish platform mentioned earlier and is just activated by pushing down too hard, it’s another area where the softer plastic comes into play, making it easier to activate and allowing it to swing both ways (stop it), allowing Bebop and Rocksteady to either fall down through it or burst up through it with the same amount of ease. The central trap door is button activated, dropping the driver of the ship down into a cell below, replicated the original Technodrome toy’s trap door and dungeon. This has made me very happy, ever figure I could find that would fit has been down that shoot, from Faker up there to a Superman figure I got in a giant Kinder Egg at Easter, and I’m still not bored with it. the other two aer guns with real firing missiles and they’re good, they go a nice distance at a nice pace and will upset a lot of cats this summer, it is especially gratifying for those of us familiar with the post-Battlestar Galactica incident toys of the ‘70s and ‘80s where all the missiles had big red bellends and flew about a centimetre with all the grace and speed of your least masculine fart. 

In conclusion I like this toy, and not just because it was a nice surprise for my birthday, it looks cool, it’s durable and fun, is it as good as the original? No (it really needs an eye), but that was a VERY good playset and one that I have a lot of nostalgia and affection for built up over 26 years and you undoubtedly do too (if you existed), is it a good playset though? Hell yes. Will I be using it my display? Hell yes, does it look like a giant War Planet and do I love War Planets and does that comparison, as well as the comparison to the Palitoy Death Star from Star Wars, make me like it even more? Hell Yes. I haven’t seen TMNT: Out of the Shadows yet, I don’t think it’s out over here yet? While I expect it to mostly suck, though mostly less than its predecessor, by giving us a new Technodrome and a new Krang’s Android Body figure it has at least done some good, though you can stop making them now Michael Bay. Please? Please stop? please? Or at least learn what a fucking Ninja is? And stop with the racial stereotypes and gangsta crap while you’re at it? And the explosions? And not go shit on Thundercats like you’ve said you want to? Please? Ta.

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