Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Quick Crappy Review: Mondo Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1:6 Scale Donatello (Mondo Exclusive version)

I’ve not been so good of late - you can tell when I’m not so good because my blog content either dries up or becomes really indulgent (well EVEN MORE really indulgent), depression and panic attacks have turned me into an unproductive slug filled with despair and pain. You know what I need? A huge Ninja Turtle to turn up in the post, that’d cheer me up a bit – well whaddya know!? Also: feel bad for me!

Donatello is the second of Mondo’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1:6 Scale Collectable Figures, 10-inch deluxe action figures based (mostly) on the TMNT comic books of old. The first was Leonardo and if you haven’t read my utterly spectacular Quick Crappy Review of that figure you can read it here, it’s probably best to give it a look over, not just because it’s utterly spectacular like all may amazing content (so much bullshit, so little time) but because this review’ll be referring to it a fair amount. Anyway Donatello was scheduled for release in Quarter 2 2016 and has arrived in Quarter 3 2017 so yeah, he’s a bit late – for whatever reasons Mondo have taken a year to ship these figures, things happen but it’s not a great start to their move into the world of 1:6 scale action figures and has severely damaged my trust in them (though they did get their Madballs out pretty fast). Anyway two versions of Donatello were available, a regular version and a deluxe version that came with an additional accessory but if you subscribed (so you got all four Turtles) you got the deluxe version for the price of the regular version, this is what I did.

For the sake of my Quick Crappy Review format: Donatello 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. Donatello is the intelligent one of the group with a particular affinity for machinery and technology though he gets used for anything from plumbing to bio chemistry if the plot or his demanding siblings require it. I’d argue that prior to the Nicktoon series he was roughly as popular as Michaelangelo and Raphael, perhaps a little less so, since then he seems to have sunk to bottom of the popularity poll thanks to a one-two punch of Leonardo becoming far more likeable and Donatello’s sometimes disturbing crush on April O’Neil taking up so much of the characters’ screen time.

From the neck down the figure is identical to Leonardo – because it uses the exact same pieces from the exact same moulds just cast in different colours and I still have no problem with that, it’s accurate to the source material, it adds a unified feeling to the toys and I get this weird kick out of seeing the same thing cast in different colours. Likewise my opinions haven’t changed on the pieces, I still think the elbow joints are unsightly and illogical (thanks to how the elbow pads could be used to hide joints) but otherwise think everything is great with a really satisfying chunky feeling in both the pieces themselves and the using of the joints. The only new piece on the figure out of the box is his head – it’s defiantly Donatello (and almost identical to the head NECA gave him way back when, I have no issue with this just pointing out an observation) and actually pretty expressive for such a neutral expression: put it at some angles and Donnie will look pissed as all hell but with a light tweak and he’ll look deep in thought, a pretty essential look for him, I’m growing to like it more and more with every little fiddle I have of it (leave it…). Now let’s enthuse about the colour scheme shall we? I am being deadly serious when I say that the colour scheme Mondo chose for Donatello was what convinced me to buy these figures, you may have noticed that Donatello is not very green (he is green tinted if you look close) in fact he’s more brown and THATISSOIMPORTANTTOME. Donatello was brown for every action figure throughout the vintage Playmates TMNT toyline bar those based on the movies and that toyline is one of my favourite parts of the TMNT franchise, in fact they were the gateway into the whole thing (my dad bought be Break Fightin’ Raphael back from a holiday in Austria) and having been in love with the toys since I was four, for me no Donatello action figure is perfect if it’s not brown because conditioning as made my brain say ‘that’s the way Donatello should be when he’s a figure’. Thus this is the perfect Donatello figure for me personally: a brown skinned Donatello that’s otherwise based on his Eastman & Laird’s art1. I am so happy to own this toy, it’s the first collector’s figure to use this colour scheme AND the first time we’ve ever had a red bandanna wearing Donatello with brown skin, which leads me into my accessories paragraph all nice and neat like I was actually good at this shit.

These figures are fucking loaded down with accessories, last time it took me three paragraphs to get through them all but this time we should get done in less words because most of the accessories are the same as Leonardo’s or the same but in a different colour and all with the same pros and cons, the only exception being that the barrel on Don’s Utrom Blaster is much better painted this time around, Leo’s had a lot of black paint slopping over onto the rim of the barrel while Donnie’s is virtually perfect in this regard. So the list of accessories are: an alternate head, three alternate hands, a grappling hook, his bo staff, a Utrom blaster (I came again), four shuriken, an Utrom, his own unmutated form and as this is the ‘deluxe’ version also the Gravity Equalizer from Donatello issue one, art of the original TMNT Micro Series from Mirage Comics *takes oxygen*. That last one’s the important one, that’s the accessory I was looking forward to having, like leo’s Shredder gauntlet this is the first time it’s been made but unlike that gauntlet it plays a prominent role in an issue and again when that issue was adapted into the 4Kids cartoon series and…I’m kinda disappointed with it. It’s executed well enough, soft rubber with a sliding bar to allow for easier putting on (it’s still a bit tight mind but it is brand new) but it’s proportions are all wrong, the design is technically accurate in most places but everything’s the wrong size and wrong size in relation to each other, leaving it looking ‘wrong’ and more importantly looking very un-Kirby-like. to explain: the Equalizer appears in an issue that’s was straight up tribute to Jack Kirby, starring a character called Kirby who draws stuff and they come to life via a magic crystal and who makes this gauntlet for Donatello to use. Everything Kirby the character draws is in the style of Kirby the man, this (thanks to the shift in proportions of everything) looks like it could have been designed by any artist of any nationality for any sci-fi anything, it’s also the wrong colours (at least for the original cover of the comic), it’s a disappointment – of course I’m still gonna display him with it but I wish it’d been better sculpted is all.

Ok two paragraphs is better than three, other than the Equalizer and the alternate head (which is the same as his regular head just with the bandanna painted red to be comic-accurate) Donatello has three unique accessories; his bo, his third alternate hand and his Utrom pack-in figure. The thumbs-up hand or The Vertical Thumb of Affirmation, which is its official title – a title not quite as cool as Leonardo’s THE POINTING HAND OF LEADERSHIP but it’s up there, I do wish it could use could hold the bo while giving the thumsb up but it’s fine and delightfully appropriate for Donatello. The bo’s ok, it feels a little thin and I personally have a preference for Don’s bow having lighter bandages than the wood around it but neither are more or less accurate and I wouldn’t bring it up if these things weren’t so expensive and elite and I thus look at everything a little harder. The Utrom mini-figure however is fucking perfect. The comic version of the Utrom (what you might know as Krang or The Kraang) had a fairly…fluid design (to be generous) they were always blobs with tentacles but with proportions and details alternating with issues and artists. This figurine is (according to Mondo) based on the final splash page of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles issue 3; it’s not a perfect match but it is VERY close and no Utom was a perfect match from one panel to the next anyway so I’m not gonna care. It is simply wonderful, their sculpting replicating Eastman & Laird’s way of drawing the little brains to the crack and the paint wash is used delightfully to match up with colourised issues featuring the Utroms (especially in TMNT Volume 3 if you’re interested), it really does look like it slithered off the page. Raphael is going to come with an Utrom too, I’m not 100% it’s the same sculpt being reused (I assume it is, to balance out him having a unique second head) but if it is I am so OK with this. I want a pack of these.   

And I’m done, if this reads a little unfocussed and not very funny then I’d like to point out again that I’m suffering from heavy depression and brain scrambling long-ass panic attacks and you should feel sorry for me and excuse all of my actions because of this. In conclusion this figure is late but great (see what I did there? Next: rap battles), for me and my personal tastes it’s perfect but for those who aren’t me it’s still damn good, the deluxe accessory was a let down again but this time for execution reasons and is certainly a lot closer to being worth the extra money than Leo’s wrecked gauntlet. Mondo could and probably should have offered the figure in either brown or green for those who aren’t as into the old figures as me though but I’d like to reiterate: I’m so pleased to have this toy! I’ll leave you with a scan of the awesome box art for this series:  

1 yes you ARE right, the first 4Kids-based Donatello was pretty much this, with brown armbands but also brown skin but the key phrase there is ‘pretty much’ it was still based on the 4Kids design using their art style, proportions, belt and face, at the time it was pretty damn good, though I felt still not quite as good for fulfilling my Donatello Toy fantasy as the Ninja Action Donatello from the vintage line which was pretty much Eastman & Laird’s Donatello but with a Playmates paint-job (but also bigger feet and two bo staffs for balancing issues) regardless this figure kicks both their arses for accuracy, articulation, customization and sheer size.