Wednesday, 6 September 2017

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

So I decided when I ordered them, ooh a year and a half or so ago now, that I’d review all four of Mondo’s 1:6 Scale figures when they came, but they reuse parts and accessories between them pretty heavily so you’re best to check the reviews of Leo and Don if you read this and think ‘whaaat?’ at any point, those two should help. Anyway Donatello came when I was experiencing a heavy bout of depression and Mikey has turned up while I’m nursing bruised ribs, it’s like Mondo have decided that if they couldn’t get ‘em here on time, they’d make sure their Turtles turned up when they were most needed. Michaelangelo though is actually the least late of the three figures so far, he was due out Quarter 3 2016 and was released Quarter 3 2017 – and yes, a fucking year is an improvement. I bruised my ribs on a roller coaster called Stella’s Revenge at Clacton-on-Sea’s pier because the ride was a half-broken piece of shit manned by a fucking tool – I’m in constant pain: expect swearing.

As a quick catch-up, Michaelangelo is the third in Mondo’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1:6 Scale Collectable Figures line, the t-shirt company turned expensive merchandise peddler is putting out all four Turtles this year as deluxe 12-inch scale action figures. There is a regular version and a more expensive Mondo Exclusive version (which is a bit of a silly name as both versions were only available via Mondo’s online store) that came with an exclusive accessory but if you subscribed to the line (so you received all four Turtles) you got the Mondo Exclusive at the price of the regular version, which is what I did.

I know you probably know who arguably the most popular Ninja Turtle is but I have a format for these reviews and by god I’m going to follow it so: Michaelangelo 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 artists 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. Mikey is the quote-unquote ‘party dude’, the fun-loving, less mature, current hip lingo spouting one who likes surfing, pizza, comic books, skateboarding and anything else that adults think the kids are into these days. He does genuinely seem to be the most popular of four TMNT, probably because he’s perfect to amuse children and most people get into the franchise as kids but he also seems the most polarizing, even more so than Donny post-Nicktoon, he seems to be either your favourite Turtle or you think he’s an annoying prick who should just fuck off and shut the hell up. Continuing to be completely contrary I actually have no strong feelings on Mike, so to me this figure was just a delay in getting an awesome figure of Raphael, of course now it’s here I realise it’s fantastic and I was wrong to write it off, I like being wrong when being wrong gets me something awesome.

From the neck down I’ve reviewed this figure twice and nothing has changed: the elbow joints are still illogical and ugly, the sculpting is still beautiful, the joints are still chunky and feel really nice to use, part reuse is nice for giving a line consistency but it makes reviews short and dull sometimes. So Mikey has a new head, all these figures do, it’s a damn fine head and like Donatello’s is pretty damn expressive: it’s supposed to be flashing a happy grin which continues the line’s theme of having each figure’s unique head expressing a ‘signature emotion’ – Leo’s is serious, Don’s is thinking, Raph’s is pissed off and Mikey’s is happy and a bit goofy – I’m completely happy with that, but with a little tilt it can go from a grin saying ‘I just farted in Raph’s bed, and he was asleep in it, boo-yah!’ to ‘I’m going to break all your bones with my extensive ninja training’ which is pretty  fitting for Michaelangelo when you think about it, he is after all a trained assassin that’s also a 15 going on 3… he’s a bit scary really. I don’t quite see the need for having one eye more open than the other but its Mike: ‘goofy’ is an excuse for everything with him. Mikey’s colour scheme is based on his original Playmates action figure which a) excites me and b) means he is a lovely green, I don’t know if my photos will do it justice and he does have a paint wash to dull things and make them the colour seem more ‘realistic’ but he is a fucking lovely green, it’s the green I wish all garden furniture and gob stoppers were.

So accessories, Mikey’s got a lot of new stuff but let’s list it to fill space and to make sure we’re clear: alternate head, a pair of nunchuks, two mini-figures, a set of climbing claw hands, a third alternate hand with an awesome name, grappling hook, four shuriken in two different styles, Triceraton blaster and two slices of pizza *takes deep breath, holds ribs in pain*.  Now I have three sets doing nothing but taking up room in my parts and accessories box (which is shaped like a house, just so you know) I can safely say I’m getting a bit sick of the climbing claw hands, at first they were a nice but ultimately useless extra and made sense for at least Leonardo thanks to a fairly notably panel of him showing them off but I honestly can’t see how Mondo thought enough people would display their figures using them that they were a better choice than fists or completely open hands. Of course once they made them for one Turtle it made sense to include them for all four. Another common accessory that’s now become relevant is the grappling hook: during the original Turtlemania fad in the early 1990s it was illegal for anyone under the age of 18 to own Nunchaku in the UK so heavy editing was done to the Murakami-Wolf-Swenson TMNT cartoon (the first one) and the first movie, to get around this issue the cartoon just dropped Mikey’s signature weapon in later episodes and replaced with…a grappling hook. This isn’t the first time a Michaelangelo figure has come with a grappling hook but I just wanted to point out how cool it is. This hook is a fairly simple, traditional one missing the turtle motif of the one he used in the cartoon (which Mondo don’t have the rights to make figures from anyway) but has the bonus of feeling ‘retro-fitted’, like Mondo converted the grappling hook back to Mirage style for a Mirage style Mikey – that’s bullshit as it’s an accessory that’s being including with all four Turtles and is based on in-comic art (I think?) but it feels like it when included with the Turtle with the orange headband. 

Mikey’s exclusive hand (all figures are getting one) is the Splayed Fingers of Positive Vibes, which really feels like it should be in all caps. It’s nice, it’s appropriate but I have no use for it myself, I would have preferred an open hand for nunchuk posing but I wouldn’t have used that either because the Mondo Exclusive version comes with pizza and it is amazing. Mike has two slices, a half-eaten pepperoni slice and a yet-to-be-started-on Margarita slice and they’re just really, really good bits of sculpting and painting: somehow they’ve managed to make the cheese have that thin, greasy, lumpy look that American pizza, especially New York style pizza has, it’s a unique thing and not at all like, say, Pizza Hut or Dominos pizzas and it’s replicated magnificently (it’s also a lot tastier than it sounds) and these slices are BIG, New York BIG, given how big a deal New York is to the Turtles’ franchise this is just perfect and also gives it that retro-fitted feel to it: in the comics (I hate that phrase) the TMNT didn’t really go in for pizza in the big way they do everywhere else so it feels like Mondo have given the Ninjas signature dish a gritty, New York, Mirage style redesign. Speaking of signature things (shit segue! woo!) I’m not that impressed with Mikeys’ nunchuks, they use real chains, a lot of adult toy collectors love ‘em, insist upon ‘em but not me: I don’t like little chains (they make me feel sick, just go with it) but more so they allow for such a limited amount of poses, I’d much rather a sculpted chain with two joints that’d allow me to pose the nunchaku in mid-swing rather than just having them dangling all the time. Further this set of ‘chuks are just too thin, you should be able to see this in some of the photos but they don’t fill Mike’s hands – this could be a consequence of the needing to be able to get into the hands but they’re so soft (we’re talking chocolate-left-in-the-car-all-day-soft here) I can’t see how increasing their circumference a little would have hampered that.  

Then there’s this, and after Donatello’s skin colour this may be the most important thing this line has done – at least for me personally. This is a Lil’ Orphan Alien, a brand of toys that were the hot toy one Christmas in the TMNT comics by Mirage Publishing and the 4Kids TMNT cartoon. To the one person who’s reading this and going ‘it doesn’t look anything like one’ you’re right: this is based on the final page of the Michaelangelo special, the only time we see the toys out of their boxes in
that issue (which introduced the toys who were central to the plot and thus why a ‘mini’-figure of one has been packaged with a Mikey figure) but when Jim Lawson revisited the toys in Tales of the TMNT #53 he completely ignored everything about them except the shape of their packaging, and when they were used in the 4Kids episode ‘The Christmas Aliens’ they were redesigned to look like those elves The Simpsons obsess over. But as these figures draw inspiration almost entirely from the first 11 issues of TMNT volume 1 and the TMNT Micro-Series I would expect nothing less than a Lil’ Orphan Alien to look like it does here. The Michaelangelo one-shot (well technically it’s reprint as TMNT Christmas Special #1) was one of the very first Mirage comics I owned and being a Christmas nut and a toy nut I loved it, since then I’ve wanted a real Lil’ Orphan Alien and now I have one so even though the purple paint is a little thin I am utterly fucking delighted, I cannot stress this enough, this is brilliant buuuut I am reviewing this and so I have to be unbiased every so often and…it should have been Klunk. If Mirage Mikey is coming with any small figure of something it should have been his beloved pet cat, Klunk was a reoccurring character in the comics and the 4Kids cartoon for years, his death was a major part of an issue, he debuted in the same issue as the Lil’ Orphan Aliens and would certainly have cost less in paint applications than the extra-terrestrial Cabbage Patch Kids parody that was included and I’m so bloody happy over and I can’t for the life of me think why Mondo didn’t choose Klunk over him. I’m pleased they didn't because I finally get my Lil’ Orphan Alien but to anyone who holds the opinion ‘it should have been Klunk’: again, you’re absolutely right.

And there you go; I’m not reviewing the new blaster because I want to save something for Raph’s review so we’re done. In conclusion then? A couple of missteps but one of those missteps makes happy and fulfils a 20-something year want so I’m not complaining too loudly, the exclusive accessory was well worth the money (even though I didn’t pay it) by being both essential and being so well done and again, he really is a lovely colour.     

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