Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
5 Inch Scale
When it comes to Ninja Turtles, my favorite and least favorite are easy: Michelangelo and Raphael, respectively. However when you get into 2nd and 3rd place, it’s hard for me to decide. I suppose if Don Tortelli tied me down and tried to tickle it out of me, I’d probably say Donatello is my second favorite, with Leo closely behind. My favorite incarnations of Donatello is his portrayal in the first film and in the Mirage universe.
“I… Uhh… Got you some flowers, April.”
Nickelodeon will be doing a unique take on Donatello, giving him the most robust “overhaul” of all the Turtles. Now Don is taller, geekier and more of an awkward nerd. He’s supposedly smitten with April O’Neal and has a gap tooth to boot. He’s being voiced by Rob Paulsen and from what I can tell, he’s basically become a mix of the Fred Wolf Raphael (who Paulsen also voiced) and the Donatello we all know and love. This is probably a good thing when you consider that Paulsen’s Raph never really fit the character and Donatello could use a little extra wit.
As it relates to Playmates’ figure of Donatello, he’s really outstanding. In fact he might just be the best Donatello ever! Some could argue that he’s the best of these new Nick Turtles as well. He’s easily in the top Donatello figures of all time, with the NECA version being a bit of an outlier if we’re being fair. Let’s take a look at Donatello!
By now you probably know that I am a fan of the Nickelodeon Ninja Turtles packaging. It’s nowhere near as dynamic as the vintage packages, but the card pops with the various bursts of color. It will stand out in a toy aisle.
The back shows off the other figures in the series and has the bio writeup that talks about Don’s inventions, including Metalhead. It’s kind of interesting that this 2012 TMNT line has actually launched with FEWER characters that the original line started with.
Inside each of the Turtles packages is a small catalog with a checklist. This is a great throwback to old school toys and I love it. Of course, it’s not up to par with the old Kenner catalogs, but I appreciate that Playmates included it here.
Originally these Turtles figures were shown with a heavy black wash on them and lots of people thought that these retail releases would look naked without them. While I’ve seen some great customs with the black wash, the truth is, these guys look stunning just as well, straight out of the package.
What little bit of painting that was omitted to keep prices down, isn’t missed at all. Yes, you could amp this guy up with a few more paint applications here or there, but it’s not really necessary. That’s owed entirely to the fantastic sculpting work by the folks at Playmates.
Each of the TMNT all have a unique sculpt and although they are very similar in many ways, different things just seem to stand out on each one. Donatello in particular just has a certain sharpness about him overall that really works.
We’ve come a long way from the vintage designs and yet, these guys somehow feel retro in a good way.
Donatello’s purple bandanna is probably closest to his Next Mutation color.
Perhaps taking a page out of the NECA playbook, Donnie is given a very stoic face. Thankfully Playmates didn’t include his gap tooth, which no doubt would have made him look goofy in figure form.
The sculpt is rich in detail.
All of the little bumps and ridges that are all over him, really make this figure seem quite impressive. While some of the other characters are more flat and cartoon accurate, Playmates gave the TMNT themselves a little extra detailing that really works in a big way.
The paint work is tight with no real slop issues and at this price point, that’s pretty impressive. Again, the added paint that was seen in the prototype does look good, but I’m not even 100% sure I’d want it here. There’s something nice about the plainness of the figure’s paint work.
Donatello hasn’t always had the best figures in the past. I blame that on weak characterization in the cartoons for the most part. Here he looks like he could be in deep thought. The vibrancy of the purple bandanna just offsets things perfectly.
While there have been some hiccups on the auxiliary character’s articulation, Playmates never pulls any punches with the Green Machine themselves. That’s also the case here as they deliver some of their best articulated Turtles to date!
Originally there was some talk about these guys getting double hinge elbows and knees, but that never made it much past the early versions. For the most part the articulation is nearly perfect. You don’t really miss much in terms of the hinges at the elbows or knees and the swivel hinge functions more easily than most of the other articulation schemes out there.
If I could add one thing, it would be a swivel hinge ball at the ankle. As-is, there isn’t any ankle joint at all. It’s not really much of an issue, but you’d be able to get even better and deeper crouching and ninja stances with some ankle swivel hinges.
The joints are all nice and tight and work rather intuitively though. The rubbery arms and legs also allow you to get as close to full movement as you could probably want.
The articulation in a nutshell is simple, but very functional.
The Turtles figures have always been good about including lots of goodies and Donnie is not planning on bucking that trend.
Don comes with his patented bo staff (only one) and a weapons tree of an assortment of other goodies. The tree is sort of a nod to the old Ninja Turtles weapons rack trees… Or at least that’s what everyone is telling themselves.
The bo actually has a great sculpt but it’s unpainted, as are all the weapons. The bo in particular has taken some heat for being too small. It’s just barely smaller than the vintage bo staff, but considerably smaller than some other bo staffs that we’ve seen. Incredibly Playmates didn’t just reuse one of their 900 other bo staff molds.
Some folks like to give Don the bo staff that comes with April, but I think the sculpt is a bit plain.
Given that Don has a crush on April in the new cartoon, it sort of makes sense that they would be using the same weapon. That would add all the more to April’s appeal to Donnie, in my book.
His other weapons include some throwing stars or shuriken, that look more like saw blades. Don can hold them between his fingers, just barely or can grip them more traditionally.
He has a three section staff called a Sansetsukon. It’s similar to a pair of nunchuks, only with the extra piece.
He also has a nanigata, which is basically a spear or a bo with a blade on the end of it. It’s about the same size as his traditional bo and will be featured in the cartoon, supposedly.
His bo fits nice and snug in his sheath on his back.
And just in case you were wondering, yes he can hold all the old vintage weapons. In fact I think he looks best with one of Don’s vintage bos.
At $8.99 this guy is a phenomenal value. Remember when the vintage Turtles came out and they were a great value in comparison to what else was out at the time? That’s exactly how these feel again. Playmates has a knack for giving you lots of accessories, unique sculpts and decent articulation. These Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures are incredible.
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 10
Paint – 8
Articulation – 9
Accessories – Bo staff, Nanigata, 2 Shuriken, Sansetsukon
Value – 9
Overall – 9.5 out of 10
Donatello is just shy of being perfect in my eyes. He’s probably my favorite Donatello figure of all time. Donnie just hits on all cylinders for me. He’s a great addition to the line.
There’s just something so rich and vibrant with this figure. Not to mention that like all of the other guys in this line, he’s just inherently a blast to play with. There aren’t many toys out there that give me a feeling like this.
“All the good ones end in O!”
Do yourself a favor and make sure you pick these Turtles up. Heck, you may want to pick up a couple of sets. These are GREAT toys.