OK, so I have another Ninja Turtle toy to talk about.

Recently Nickelodeon, a subsidiary of Viacom, bought the rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. Not the licensing rights, the entire franchise. This lead to a new cartoon and of course a new toyline. Rather than go with a new company, Nickelodeon stuck with long time Ninja Turtles toy makers Playmates. While I have no intention of getting the entire series or even all four Turtles, my curiosity as to whether they’ve improved since the previous toyline got the better of me (mostly because of my reviews) and I snagged me a Donatello.

Right in the package I can tell they toned down the “egghead” look the cartoon hasgiven him. (Yes, he’s a genius and “egghead” is the nickname, sometimes insulting, given to geniuses. We get it.) Otherwise, I don’t have a lot to say about the front of the package. A quick look at the back, and then it’s time to open this baby up.

Bug your parents, kids.

The back of the package features the usual co-sells, which in this case is the Turtles (oddly, Donatello is left in), Splinter, the new teenaged April O’Neil, and two of the villains. The main draw for me, though, is that Playmates still uses the removable bio card. I wish Transformers still had those.

Favorite movie: Hackers

The bio card mentions one of the vehicles (sold separately) and Metalhead, a character from the original cartoon series that I guess they’re planning to bring back in the new one. It says the weapon he comes with is a blade-tipped bo staff. Now I’ve only seen one episode (review in the “related articles” list) but I don’t recall any blades and the bo we see in the package has no blades. Maybe it’s on the accessory tree that Playmates is still using? Only one way to find out, and that’s by grabbing my own blade and opening this thing up.

Comes with everything you see here. Some dis-assembly required.

Sure enough, the weapons tree does include a blade-tipped bo. It also has two rather large throwing stars (compare to the proper scaled ones of the other two lines) and a three-sectioned staff. It also comes with a booklet featuring all the other toys in this first wave. We don’t care about them, though. How does our new Donnie look?

“Are you sure you’re getting my good side?” “Doesn’t matter, the lighting is still bad.”

Quite good. His front shell is a soft, rubbery plastic as is his harness and mask, both of which are not removable without cutting them off. His back shell is a harder plastic but that’s fine. I can’t show you his skin but there’s some good texture to it. Donatello is dressed for battle and while his brothers’ toys had scowls showing off their teeth, he only has a grimace that looks less silly. The bigger feet may offer some stability but otherwise I don’t really care for them. However, this is a curse from the show model so I can’t blame Playmates.

Now all this is well and good, but the earlier toys also looked good. However, they lacked some major articulation and posability. So has Playmates finally learned their lesson?

The toy lacks a waist, and that may never change. I’m not even sure how you’d pull that off on a Turtle, or if the Turtles themselves have waists. Mutation only goes so far, I would imagine, and they still have those hard shells. I would also like to see some ankle joints. On the other hand….

He has knees and isn’t stuck in a partial pose! YES! FINALLY!

My biggest complaint with the earlier lines, even the early 2000s line, is finally addressed! While his wrists are slightly bent, possibly to assist with weapon holding, everything else is neutral, like an action figure should be. This allows for more action than the “slightly articulated statues” of the previous line. And it took them long enough. This allows for a wider variety of poses not just for display but for play. Granted, most kids don’t bother with the posing while slamming their action figures together and calling it fighting but it’s still a major improvement.

Other articulation includes multiple arm points (shoulders, elbows, and the usual wrist swivel, plus an extra swivel at the elbow) and a head that not only turns but has minor up and down. Very minor, since he can’t look up or down but he can nod. I’ll take what I can get at this point. The hips are a bit lose on mine, but once you put him on the ground he stays in position. And he can hold his weapons, which could use some paint application since they’re all brown. The previous serious at least colored the handgrips on the weapons and I hope Leo and Raph have silver blade. Here Don is holding:

  • his trusty bo: Like all the weapons it is made of a soft plastic, but stiff enough that it might hold its shape longer.
  • the Naginata: As the toy package says, it’s the bo staff with a blade. Not sure if it is supposed to be a different bo or the same bo with either an attachment or a hidden blade extended.
  • three-section staff: When I first saw this on the tree I thought it was a set of nunchucks, but it’s a bo staff split in three sections connected by a chain. Yes, this is an actual ninja weapon. This one probably suffers the worst from the lack of paint. I know it’s probably cheaper to put them out on the mold and call it a day, but it is a bit disappointing.
  • big throwing blades: Unlike the easy to lose little throwing stars of his predecessors, these things can actually be held by today’s Donatello.¬† He can’t pose them in a convincing way that he’s going to throw them unless I just haven’t had enough time to mess around with it.

The cloning experiments continue…..

I’m not really drawn to getting any more from the series. I don’t have the room. I can say that this is an improvement over the other Donatello figures I’ve been able to pick up and if you like the show this is a good homage to that version as well as a decent play/display piece. I know there’s one more Turtle line out there before anyone asks, but I haven’t come across the “Classic” Turtles just yet. If I do get that version of Donatello, I’ll review that here as well.