Black Friday

Black Friday Ninja Turtles Toys

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and that means Black Friday is upon us. As stores gear up for their biggest sale day of the year, it’s time for us to take a trip down the lanes of toy merchandise and see where things are at. Let’s take a peek into the land of holiday shopping as it’s time for… TALES FROM THE TOY AISLE PRE-BLACK FRIDAY EDITION!

In the run up to Black Friday, I headed out today and visited two Toys R Us locations, a K-Mart and a Walmart. Each store was gearing up for their big sale day. There were already some deals to be had, but what was the #1 trend I noticed?

Ninja Turtles is the hottest toy line on the planet! Yes, it’s true… The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back and sales are totally gangbusters. One Toys R Us location was completely wiped out. This TRU was previously stocked with every single peg full of Turtles’ toys.

But now? Nothing was left but a few roleplay toys and a backpack. Remember those $120 Sewer Lair playsets that nobody said would sell? Yeah, they were all gone too. But perhaps this is just a freak occurrence at one particular Toys R Us?

Each and every store I went to, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were kings of the aisle.

Another Toys R Us tried to pretend that the Ninja Tutles didn’t even exist. Their whole section had been wiped out, just as the other TRU, but instead of leaving the shelves as a barren wasteland, they “flexed” Power Rangers into that spot. I have to admit, I take a bit of pride in seeing that the Power Rangers are warming shelves while the TMNT are selling like hotcakes, because it was the Rangers who more or less ended the Turtles’ toy aisle dominance in the 90’s.

It’s not just Geoffrey the Giraffe who can’t keep Ninja Turtles in stock. K-Mart was sold out too. And they had quite a bit of peg space. More than K-Mart usually allows. I suspect K-Mart’s nice $7.99 pricetag is part of the reason, but even their roleplay weapons and lame Power Sound FX figures were sold out. Turtle Power!

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As I mentioned in my Black Friday post, you have to be pretty hardcore as a fan of toys to go out on Black Friday to make your “usual rounds”. The thing is, if you don’t go out on Black Friday, you won’t be able to go out for a few days because of the impact of Black Friday. If there are any good toys on the shelves come Black Friday, they won’t be there by Saturday.

I didn’t pick up much this year, but one of my local Targets had restocked the JLU 3 Packs. Mattel is running a sale right now dropping the price down to $11.99 which is good since $15.99 is very steep to pay for Justice League. Unfortunately for me I already bought all the other packs at the higher price point, but I was able to snag the Wonder Woman, Blackhawk and Superman pack for the $11.99 price.

Chances are if you see any of the new 3 packs on the shelves, it’ll be this one. See this is a “fan collection pack” so it’s featuring highly requested figures. These are new figures or rare re-releases, such as Superman and Wonder Woman who have only been released in this deco 3,000 times. So technically this is a release of ONE new figure. Like I said, if any of the new packs become a shelf warmer, this one is it. So how does this pack stack up?

The JLU packaging hasn’t changed in a long time. DC has one unique set of packages across all of the Mattel lines in hopes of creating some brand awareness and unity. It’s not a terrible idea but it does look a little drab. I still preferred the blue card JLU packs with all of the characters featured on it, but this isn’t a terrible package.

The figures are clearly on display inside and Blackhawk who is the star of this package is prominently placed in the center. That’s all well and good but we’ve seen this package enough to be pretty bored with it by now.

The back features some cartoon artwork of all the characters from a episode of JLU. This is important, especially now that JLU is once again airing in repeats on Cartoon Network. It’d be nice if Mattel could tell kids to watch it on Cartoon Network, as if it was a new cartoon, but I won’t slight them for not being able to get that on the package. Also featured on the back of the package is the rest of the figures in the series. Oddly enough it shows off two very old packs as opposed to the other new packs that are shipping. Either Mattel is repacking those old packs into cases (God I hope not) or they thought advertising them might boost the sales of those packs that have been collecting dust.

Inside I noticed something new. A little paper insert advertising! Not a bad idea and something I suggested a long time ago. It’s a good way to boost sales for the MattyCollector lines. This is especially good for JLU since those figures always seem to be available on Matty.

Justice League Unlimited follows the model set fourth by Kenner in the 1990’s for Batman the Animated Series. Each figure has 5 points of articulation with few exceptions. Everyone in this pack has a cut neck, cut shoulders and cut legs.

Most fans prefer this limited articulation because of the design aesthetic involved. Given Mattel’s track record, this is probably a safe bet. DC Infinite Heroes has horrible articulation and I think it’s pretty clear that Mattel doesn’t quite know what they’re doing with articulation on the DC lines. Although DCUC has pretty good artic.

Let’s be honest with ourselves here for a moment. If you’re reading this review you probably already own Superman and Wonder Woman from JLU. If by some odd chance you don’t own them, they’re pretty good figures. However, if you’re a JLU collector you probably have dozens of these guys already so I’m not going to waste any time talking about them. Aside from Superman slowly turning a Chinese caricature with more squinted eyes than ever, it’s all the same as it’s always been.

Blackhawk is the only reason you’d buy this pack. A relatively obscure character from the long forgotten days of World War II lore. Bart Hawk is the leader of the Blackhawk Squadron and is the most famous of the characters. Interestingly Blackhawk is a Will Eisner character, which adds to his prestige a bit. He was fairly well portrayed in the JLU cartoon and battled Vandal Savage, which was mentioned in detail on the back of the package. For the record, we still don’t have a JLU Vandal Savage figure. He’s what I’d call a highly requested fan figure and someone who would have went perfect in this package and made it sell like gangbusters… But I digress.

The sculpt here is very solid and if the pack wasn’t $12 a pop I’d love to pick up a few more of these Blackhawk figures to make custom other members of the Squadron. As is I’ll have to settle for this one. He’s made from various other parts but appears to have a new head, new arms and a new chest with molded skirt. I think this body could be reused for a nice Gordon figure. This sculpt could also be reused almost entirely for a Bibbo Bibbowski figure. That’s two great suggestions from me Mattel, on the house.

There really isn’t much else to say. The paint work is sharp, there is only minor slop on the gloves. The chest logo looks great the sculpt is otherwise flawless. Because he uses the improved Mirror Master legs, he stands perfectly. The only thing to watch out for is the eventual whitening of his rubbery parts.

JLU figures rarely come with anything. In this instance there is one stand included, presumably for Wonder Woman. All the figures now have holes in their feet, so they could all use this stand if need be.

Ugh, $11.99 on sale is hardly a value for this pack. This regularly retails for $15.99 which is why I didn’t buy it until it was on sale and I suspect it’ll turn into another eternal peg warmer as a result. Seriously, think about this for a minute. You’re getting ONE new figure in this pack for $12-$16! That’s way more than GI Joe, DCUC, Marvel Universe… Heck that’s more expensive than almost any other figure on the market. Sure Blackhawk is a nice figure, but he’s not even a $7 figure much less twice that. At regular retail price for this pack I could have gotten 3 brand new GI Joes, which feature more articulation, tons of accessories and better sculpting.

JLU is a fun collection to build on though.

You might be thinking to yourself, but “hey, you’re also getting Superman and Wonder Woman, that’s a value right?” No. Superman and Wonder Woman are not army builders. Do you know how many Superman JLU figures I have? I don’t, but I can tell you it’s in the double digits. These figures are useless. Maybe that helps move the packs to little kids, but please Mattel at least redeco these figures. Otherwise these guys are as useful to me as more packaging.

Score Recap:
Packaging – 6
Sculpting – 9
Articulation – 7
Accessories – Stand
Value – 1
Overall – 5.75 out of 10

JLU is a fun line to collect because it’s the largest DC line ever made. There have been more characters made for JLU (and the other animated DC lines from Hasbro) than any other toyline representing the DC Universe ever. That’s why fans love this line. The Bruce Timm look for the characters is excellent and the toys despite tons of flaws are really great collectibles.

Only a handful of my massive animated DC Universe.

The problem with the JLU line is the price versus value. Having to buy another Superman and another Wonder Woman to get one new figure is a real pain in the neck. It sucked having to do that back when JLU cost only $9.99 but it’s pretty much unacceptable at the $15.99 pricetag. Had this not went on sale for $11.99 I probably would have never added Blackhawk to my collection and even at that price I’m feeling a lot of buyers remorse.

Never let it be said that I’m not a true fan. Last year on Black Friday I braved the long lines and chaos at Target to simply look for GI Joes. Yes, while everyone else was after big screen TVs and discount video games, I was looking for Joes. Yet Hasbro still doesn’t send me samples? Blasphemy! In 2008 my Black Friday trip produced a single GI Joe 25th B.A.T. and I was overjoyed. At the time BATs were very hard to come by. I ended up with two BATs that day.

This year I went back out into the madness to see what I could score. I was looking for the DCUC Wave 10, but I know better than to go to Walmart when they open. I mean, I’m crazy and I’m a fan but I don’t want to get stabbed. So I headed out to Target again this year, hoping to maybe score something good. Here’s what the line looked like:

So what did I come away with? Well before the day was over I had quite a few deals, but at this Target I managed to get only one thing of importance, a single JLU 3 Pack. I already bought the other new JLU 3 Packs, but I hadn’t bought the Blackhawk pack and since it was on sale for $11.99 I had to get it. Huzzah for Black Friday! Worth it?