Sorry if my thoughts seem a bit unfocused in this. I’m either suffering from an allergy resurgence or a cold. Either way I’m a bit fuzz-brained today.

"Uh, Don...?" "I've been sick."

So last week we looked at the original Ninja Turtles toys from Playmates, or at least Donatello. This week we look at the remakes figures. In the early 2000’s 4Kids Entertainment teamed with Mirage Studios on a modern update to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. This was closer to the original comic book, although with even more of a science fiction bend to it. Personally I prefer it to the original. It was more serious in tone, and the animation was a higher quality (even with the occasionally obvious computer assist).

Playmates continued to hold the figure license and produced updated versions of the Turtles figures. So how much did they learn between lines? Sadly, not enough.

Leonardo is my second favorite Turtle because he's the best ninja of the group.

The big problem is that they still insist on molding the character’s limbs into certain positions. They’re a bit easier to work with, but you still don’t get the dynamic action of many figures that came out even back then. There’s an extra shoulder hinge that allows for a raised arm, but the elbows and knees are still locked in a pose. The swivel at the elbow is there, moved above the elbow pad rather than below, but there’s no real difference compared to the original figure.

Donnie makes the coolest things and has my favorite ninja weapon.

The weapons are also made of a soft plastic, which means they can bend if not stored properly. I’m not sure why they thought this was a good idea (although I supposed the sword and sais being softer makes them safer to play with), but I only have the Donatellos and their bo staffs seems to be a lot sturdier. It’s the blades weapons that really suffer, though. Leonardo’s swords are horribly bent because I had holding on to his weapons so as not to lose them, but putting them back in the sheathes for long enough can straighten them out. As you may see in the next photo, Raphael’s sais are not so lucky, since the way they store in the belt also gets in the way of arms.

Leo is the greatest fighter, but Raphael is the greatest brawler.

The new Turtles are a bit buffer than the first line, which makes them look cooler (and is in keeping with the cartoons if you’ve seen Turtles Forever, a teaming of the two cartoon universes) but also makes it harder to put them “at rest”. Visual improvement only works if it doesn’t mess up function. Granted, the intended function is kids smashing them into each other and calling it a fight, so it’s not like I was expecting a major display piece. However, there are some play features lost as well, and Raph here stands the worst of his brothers.

Michelangelo is too much like a bad geek stereotype in this series, but he's goofy enough to be fun to watch.

You may think my thoughts are all negative, but if that were the case I would have just bought Donatello and called it good. As I said, they are a visual improvement over the original figures. They look like they can kick a lot more shell, their facial expressions are less goofy than my Donatellos, and they’re just more pleasing to look at. Plus, they are fun to fiddle around with, unless you’re trying an action pose beyond the limits of the figure. There is some more care at least to how the limbs are molded (except for Raphael’s left leg), but it’s still not as much improvement as I would have liked.

Decision: Stays…temporarily

Nickelodeon now owns all rights to the characters and I’m hoping that, whether Playmates retains the license or they go with a new toy company, the posing issue is dealt with and the Turtles get awesome new toys. If that’s the case, I’ll only keep Donatello because he’s my favorite (although selling all four in a set might be worth more, I still like Donnie) and sell off the other three in favor of improved toys. If they’re not improved then I may stick with the four I’ve got. They’re still good display pieces and fun to mess with, but they could have been so much better.

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