Last weekend I attended the Brass City Comic Convention in Waterbury, CT, where I got some interviews I’m trying to edit together for the other site. I also won a raffle where you went to the table and chose your own prize from whatever was left. It was the last drawing, so there was a comic collecting book that would probably tell me what I already know or didn’t care about, a teddy bear, and Storage Shell Donatello. Being a fan of the purple-garbed scientist Ninja Turtle I went with that, but I was actually questioning whether or not to open it. See, this is an original figure from the 1990’s, around the time the original cartoon was still riding the wave, although perhaps on the way down. Toy company Playmates had the license for the figures and was always trying to find new ways to keep the line fresh.

Standing outside the package is a reissue of the original Donatello. (That or Big Lots found a ton of the original figures when they remade the cartoon, which was closer to the tone of the original comics while still remaining kid-friendly and telling their own story, came out. The shell is stamped “1988” but that could be the mold.) Naturally, I picked it up because I’m a Donatello fan and I’ll be reviewing them both at the same time. This is also a good way to give my photo studio a bit of a workout.

Bug your parents for all these, too.

So we start with a look at the back of the package before we open it. You can see all of the figures that were available at the time. There is also the accessories. I’ll get more into them in a moment.

He's a Taurus, he likes walks in the park....

There is also something that I miss from most current toys, a character card you snip off the back of the package. You get a brief character profile and some toys (like Transformers) had battle statistics like speed and firepower. Now you may (if your lucky) get a blurb about the character or version of the character, but it’s not the same as a collectible card.

The sound you will now hear are the anguished screams of MISP (mint in sealed package) collectors crying out as if they’re limbs were being removed. Why?

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Because now we’re opening this baby up!

There goes the collector’s value, but as someone reminded me I collect for the fun of the toy or the comic story, not in the vain hopes of buying a mansion. It’s like buying a video or book and never reading it.

Donatello's cloning experiment didn't quite go as planned.

It’s not readily obvious in this photo, but Storage Donnie (right) has a lighter color scheme than Classic Donnie. The green is lighter and the purple of the bandana mask is also lighter. Not knowing how the previous owner stored this, however, I can’t say whether or not it was always that way. The belt is now purple instead of black, and there are no shoulder straps. (Remember, when the original toys came out they hadn’t seen the final character models, and I believe the comic version of Donatello does have shoulder straps to hold his bo staff in place while running. The cartoon didn’t bother with that, even on Leonardo.)

Besides the obvious body remolding (for the storage shell) there is also a new head sculpt. Storage Donnie’s eyes are slightly larger, but the big change is his expression. Classic Donnie has his teeth showing from the sides (and the “teeth” are just a bunch of lines) while Storage Donnie is showing not only all his individually sculpted teeth but his gumline as well. Maybe he’s at the dentist?

The biggest downside to this mold, which was oddly never fixed in all the years they made toys for this line, was the lack of decent posability. Both Dontatellos suffer the same lack of wrists and elbows, plus their knees are permanently locked in this awkward position. The biggest disappointment comes from the inability to set these ninjas into cool martial arts poses, although as an added fail the right foot is molded in a way that you have to play games with trying to get him to stay standing, which practically becomes a martial art itself.

There are some working joints; rotating shoulders, necks, and hips exist although the hips fight with the molded feet to make any kind of decent pose, and for some reason there’s a rotation point at the elbow rather than the wrist that at least allows for some upper level weapon positioning. There’s also a single peghole in the left foot that allows interaction with playsets and stuff.

"We could use the knife or axe to cut them loose...if they weren't attached."

All of the Turtles figures at the time had their weapons on these plastic “trees”, which certainly helped with shipping. Each Turtle came with a bunch of weapons (as ninjas will do) but you had to clip them off. Lucky for me I have a mini Swiss Army Knife (and a big one, but the small one will do) with both scissors and a file to get rid of any non-weapon plastic leftover.

Comes with all you see here.

So what weapons do we have? Apparently Don knows how to use all parts of the fish. Assuming he ate the rest, the head was used to make a small knife and the tail used to make an axe. Not sure how well that would actually work, but at least he’s into recycling. I wonder what he did with the other bones. Granted, I don’t want to know what he did with the innards.

Additionally he came with the standard throwing stars that none of them can actually hold, a “killer pizza” that seems a waste of food in light of the fish weapons (also the sticker was coming loose before I even opened the package) Don’s signature bo staff, and slingshot that is just there for posing. It doesn’t actually fire anything, a great relief to parents I’m sure.

"Doesn't it hurt when I pull your shell off?" "No, I'm good."

Keeping the line fresh meant new gimmicks. Often this meant just dressing the Turtles in new disguises although there were also gimmicks like special gear or in this case a removable shell. Here you can also see the inner workings of how the arms and legs work, but as the package says, “Donatello with Storage Shell” could store all his weapons except for the signature bo, which he traditionally wore ON his back instead of IN it. Ninjas could carry many weapons on their person (although they didn’t all dress in the traditional black garb of movies and TV, it was all about blending into their environment) and now so can Donatello. This would make it easier to not lose all the little accessories. For example, I don’t remember what I did with the non-bo weapons that came with Classic Donnie”.

"Let's kick some shell!"

Here our Heroes in a Half Shell TM are demonstrating all of Storage Shell Donnie’s weapons (except for the throwing stars nobody can hold). While Classic Donnie had two bos (he’s holding his own in the top picture), Storage Donnie only came with one, but one is all you need anyway. The elbow joints (why not wrist joints?) do allow to hold the staff in a blocking position, but doesn’t allow for any striking poses.

In the bottom picture you see his other weapons, the ones that can go in the shell. (Which by the way all store very well.) Again, neither can hold the weapons in any kind of action pose but they do fit well in his hands.

Decision: oh, who am I kidding?

I wouldn’t have opened the darn thing if I wasn’t planning to keep it. I probably wouldn’t have bought it on my own because there aren’t any major differences between the two outside of the shell and that’s not enough to get it. But it was 3 raffle tickets for $1 so why not take it? Either one is worth getting unless you want a highly posable figure for your shelf but you don’t really need both unless you’re a big Donatello fan like me.

And who’s the third Donatello in that picture, you may be wondering? That’s for next time.

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