Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
5 Inch Scale
$16.99 (Per Figure)
Ugh. Although I never actually reviewed them here, the NECA TMNT figures are some of my favorite figures in recent years. All you have to do is look around at places like Fwoosh, Poe Ghostal and MWCToys to see the consensus is, that the NECA TMNT figures are great toys, if not some of the best ever. So the fact that NECA never got Wave 2 out and have basically abandoned the line has left a extremely sour taste in my mouth.
For whatever reason, NECA has decided to try some other stuff with the TMNT franchise including these ill-fated Batsus. I first spotted them at the beginning of the year (profanity laced tirade ahead), and mentioned how this was a poor use of the TMNT license and NECA’s funds. These figures, I said, were doomed to fail whereas NECA’s Wave 2 might cost more to make, but would reap infinitely more profits.
So why if these products are so terrible, am I now reviewing them? Well, they were on clearance for $2.50 and I managed to pick up the whole set for less than the price of ONE under the original value. How do I feel about these toys now that I have them in hand and paid so little for them? One word: COWA-WTF?
NECA isn’t really known for nice packaging. They aren’t one of those little companies that do neat packages. More often than not, NECA goes for simple clamshells. When doing “designer vinyl” though, they followed the trend and did window boxes. Actually, pretty neat ones.
The boxes are colorful, with the turtle clearly viewable inside. They also have a nice graphic of the same turtle on the outside. These are all custom to the figure. Even though they’re all wearing red masks, the facial expressions are different.
The back of the package is sweet. It’s got a little mini comic panel, of the Turtles tracking someone (Baxter?) through the sewers and defeating a few mousers. It also shows off the rest of the figures in the series and does so with an inspired comic theme.
The side shows off the turtle’s faces and tells about their weapons. The Batsu logo is ever present as well. What does Batsu mean? It’s a Japanese word for the symbol (not letter) “x” and is generally considered a slang word for WRONG. Like getting Xed on a TV show or something. So Batsus are wrong? Wow, you can’t make this stuff up!
So the package is fantastic, the name is stupid but how about the sculpting? I’m no vinyl expert, but I’ve bought a few Mighty Muggs and similar items before like Destro, Darth Vader, and Mr. Waverly. I have a few other vinyls I haven’t reviewed as well, so suffice to say even with limited experience, I can tell the good from the bad.
Sadly, Batsu is all bad. The expressions are one of the only decent parts of these figures and they seem to mimic the expressions for the awesome regular NECA figures. That’s an inspired idea I guess, but much like the better figures, only the weapons really set them apart.
Aside from Mikey, these guys are all in a state of grimace of some sort. This means, you could use any figure as Leo or any one as Don. It doesn’t really make a difference. Aside from the horrible design of these figures, NECA was in a tough spot anyway because the Turtles NEED to have colored bandannas. Anyone who says otherwise is a dork. They may not need colored bandannas in a black and white comic book, but they need them in EVERY other form of media. It’s just a fact. People saw these on shelves and thought it was a bunch of Raphaels in the wrong package.
Anyway, so I said the design sucked, right? Well look at his back. They all share the same sculpt and it’s awkward. They have long flat, almost square backs. Mighty Muggs have crisp, clean designs but this just looks misshapen. The original NECA TMNT figures were sculpted by the Four Horsemen, whereas I believe these Batsus were sculpted by four horses and one of them may have Botulism.
In addition to looking bad, it’s got poor function. The arms are elongated and in a strange position, while they have tiny little feet that are placed at an odd angle. These figures can pretty much only stand and they can’t even do that well! They fell over a lot when I was trying to take pictures of them. There’s no artsy design here. There isn’t a clear vision. It’s just a hunk of crap painted up like a turtle.
Here’s something interesting I found, they’re stamped Mirage 2008, but their plastic NECA logo stamp says 2009. Of course they didn’t hit shelves until 2010! What the hell is going on over there at NECA that they couldn’t get these out two years ago? If it took two years to get these little turds out, maybe NECA TMNT Wave 2 will be here by 2015!
I did a quick mock-up in Photoshop and made the Green Machine have their colors and they instantly look a million times better. I guess I can’t fault NECA for not having the rights to do the colored masks (though we’ve never heard officially one way or the other) but I’m going to lob it in here too.
Another issue I have is that every shell and belt is painted the same. When they did that in the original NECA figures, I excused it because they were sculpting and saving money. Here though, it’s ONLY PAINT, so it just seems awful lazy to paint every figure identical. Why not at least give them different belt knots or something? Just because it made sense to cheap out somewhere else, doesn’t mean it makes sense here.
So even though these are copying Mighty Muggs and Dunnies, at least they’re going to try and add some extra articulation to give them a leg up, right? WRONG! Or should I say, BATSU!
These guys have cuts at the neck, which is angled in a strange direction but does give it a little character.
Both arms are also cut. No wrist cuts, no elbow cuts, no leg cuts, just arms and head. The arms are out like a monkey, so the poses are limited. Nothing NINJA about these Turtles.
For the most part, the accessories are good.
Leonardo gets his two swords. The Katana have a nice design. They got a little warped in the package, but at least they aren’t as fragile as the regular NECA TMNTs.
Michelangelo gets two nunchuks with real chains.
Donatello gets only a single bo staff. I always liked it when Playmates gave us two.
Finally we get Raphael. What can I say, all the good ones end in O.
The weapons all have good detail and a couple of paint aps per weapon. These are definitely nicer than a lot of Mighty Mugg weapons.
I got these guys at the heavily reduced price of $2.50 and I don’t love them even at that price. In fact, I almost didn’t buy them. Once I got them out of the package I wasn’t “more impressed” with them. I felt about the same. The sad part is that even at $2.50 I was the only one buying these things.
Batsu might mean “wrong” in Japan, but in America it translates to “FAIL”. I don’t feel too torn up paying $10 for the 4 of them because they make decent little desk trinkets to throw at the dog. If I paid $16.99 for one of these for a total of nearly $70 for the foursome, I would have committed Seppuku with a spoon.
Packaging – 8
Sculpting – 1
Articulation – 3
Accessories – Swords, Chucks, Bo, Sais
Value – -50 (original value) 2 (reduced value)
Overall – 2 out of 10
WHEN THE EVIL SHREDDER ATTACKS… THESE TURTLE BOYS SUCK AS FIGURES!
I’ll finish where I started, ugh. It’s not so much that I hate these guys, as I hate what they stand for. A poor attempt to cash in on the Ninja Turtle/Mighty Mugg craze, with no effort or love resulting in overpriced junk. It’s not like NECA is some little company making bootlegs. NECA is a quality company that has made quality toys. I’m just baffled that NECA can on one hand make the best Ninja Turtle figures in the history of the license and then on the flip side turn around and make figures that look like I made them out of clay in 3rd grade.
Strong recommendation to avoid these at all costs. If you find them for dirt cheap clearance like I did and honestly can’t find something better to spend $10 on, I guess you can pick them up. In a year or two when TMNT relaunches with a new cartoon and feature film, I think NECA is going to look back realize how poorly they dropped the ball on this license.