It seems that everywhere I go I find myself sucked back into properties that I feel I was escaping. Take for example, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. In the past week I’ve bought several Turtle toys after not buying a Turtle figure in a good year at least. I think it’s because I’m still desperate to get those NECA Wave 2 figures. Which last indication says may be showing up Oct-Nov of this year. Obviously the wait is killing me.
So today I’m checking in with a review of Playmates TMNT Mini Mutants Shredder Exoskeleton. This is the first Mini Mutants figure set I’ve bought. The Mini Mutants for those who aren’t in the know sort of follow the trend of those super deformed Super Hero Squad figures that have become so popular over at Hasbro. Although this isn’t the first time the turtles have gone mini.
In the original Ninja Turtles line in the 80’s and 90’s there were mini turtles as well, although at the time the turtles were practically microscopic and more along the lines of Mighty Max. And for those trivia buffs at home, Mighty Max’s voice was done by none other than Rob Paulson, who was also the voice of Raphael in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon. Not surprisingly much like the mini turtles of the 90’s were better than the toys they were imitating, the mini mutants of today are better than the Super Hero Squad figures as well. How so?
This is a pretty busy package. It’s got the TMNT movie line design with the word Mini Mutants on there. You can view the figures inside pretty well and it does explain what it is, but there are all sorts of logos on it. There’s a logo for Playmates, 4Kids, CW, a warning, etc, etc… It’s a little busy.
The back advertises all the other figures and even tells a little story about how Shredder created these exosuits and TMNT’s resident tech guru Donatello whipped up some for the boys in green so they could fight him. It’s convoluted but at least it’s an attempt to explain why the turtles are fighting in E-frames. I appreciate a package that tells me a bit about the toy and provides a little play scenario for me. Inside there is a veritable display of twist ties locking everything in place.
Theres actually too many twist ties and it’s those ones so twisted that it’d take you 20 minutes to untie them all if you even could. Thankfully they’re the thin type so just take a pair of scissors to them. The sides of the package actually advertise even more turtle toys, which is clever but unfortunately it’s those terrible “Ninja Action” turtles which hinder the articulation and force the turtles to do backflips. Much like the “mutation” turtles, it was an idea repeated from the 80’s then in 2003 and now here again… I should mention it’s those toys that have basically killed the TMNT line.
Playmates Ninja Turtles have been notorious for either having no good articulation or limited articulation. So imagine my surprise when these exoskeletons have quite good articulation. The arms have a ball style joint, but it’s not a true ball joint but it does allow you to move the arms in a variety of different ways than just a cut joint would give you. It has elbow hinges, swivel wrists, cut legs, hinge knees, hinge ankles as well. It doesn’t sound like a lot but for a robot like this it’s plenty and it’s way more than most TMNTs have.
The hatch opens in the front to put the figure in as well as the legs open for the legs of the figure to fit in. Shredder has a couple of handbars to hold and I assume drive the vehicle. For those that remember Exo-Squad or had some of the toys, this “exoskeleton” is clearly just an E-Frame which Exo-Squad pioneered. Playmates made the Exo-Squad toys and obviously they know how to engineer them to be good toys. The Exo-Squad toys were phenomenal and so is this.
Mini Mutant Shredder is his own separate figure and includes articulation of his own. Most of these style figures don’t have articulation, but Playmates Mini Mutants do. Shredder has cut arms, swivel waist and a cut neck. None too shabby, though cut legs would have made him a star.
As I said, Playmates made the Exo-Squad toys so I almost expected them to offer some reuse on those old awesome Exo-Squad toys. Instead this is an all new sculpt and while it’s obviously inspired by Exo-Squad it has tons of little traits that definitely make it TMNT.
Shredder’s exoskeleton has his trademark claws on the fists as well as a Shredder-esque helmet and shoulder blade design. Both hands can hold weapons or even the arm or leg of a captured foe. The helmet look also bares a resemblance to the 2K3 Foot Clan logo. Speaking of that logo, it’s worked into the knee and ankle joints and the red logo really pops.
<size=1>Foot pistons… See what I did there?
The paint work here is simple but effective with a dark copper color over most of the body and silver, blue and red highlighted pieces throughout. The Helmet-Foot crest at the top is cast in translucent red plastic and doesn’t look out of place in the least. The exosuit has little knobs on the back of the elbows so you can “spin” the wrists if you want, but it doesn’t interfere either way. Pistons similar to those on the Battlestar Galatica Cylon appear on both the front of the ankle and the back of the knee and really work. Impressive.
Sculpting and paint work on the Shredder are less as stellar, but the figure remains pretty true to the design. While these figures are slightly stylized, they aren’t completely super deformed either. Instead Shredder in a lot of ways looks like a shrunk down version of his bigger self. He even has a removable helmet! Although the head sculpt underneath is a bit creepy in this shrunken down form, so I suggest keeping it on him.
You’d think that a mini mutant figure and a exoskeleton would be enough, but not so. Playmates has always been great with giving their figures accessories and in this instance it truly blows them out of the park. Mini Mutant Shredder comes with a spear staff that is similar to some of the weapons his larger counterpart comes with.
The Exoskeleton gets it’s own weapons which seem to be inspired by the 2K3’s Shredder weapons. One is a large staff/spear that has a lot of details and doubles as a missile launcher. It’s really an impressive little toy and although it won’t fit in just any figures hand, you could fudge this into some other 6 inch scale toys. It’s painted pretty nicely too for mass market toys.
The exosuit also has a sword that looks a bit techy and ninja-esque as well. Possibly alien technology that Shredder has crafted into a sword. The paint work on it isn’t as good, but it is painted. Lastly some versions of this figure shipped with a TMNT game disc. I fully expected this to be some cheap demo game, but instead it’s the FULL TMNT movie game for the computer.
While the game itself kind of sucks, that’s still one helluva bonus. It’s a free video game. The full complete movie TMNT game.
I passed on this figure time and time again. I think the Mini Mutants line is cool, but I wasn’t sure it was for me. While the highlight here is obviously the exoskeleton, I might very well pick up some more Mini Mutants too. For those old Exo-Squad fans looking for a new E-Frame to their ranks, this one would be EXCELLENT!
I could see Phaeton or one of his generals cruising around in this. Not sure if it’ll fit the old Exo-Squad figures, but it looks like it will. The vehicle is around 6 inches tall and looks nice with or without the driver. You could use this guy as a robot drone if you wanted.
Originally this retailed for $14.99 which seems a bit stiff, but is honestly the perfect price point for an item like this. You get a Mini Mutant and a deluxe vehicle for $15. When you factor in the weapons, the nice sculpting and articulation plus the FREE video game, it’s a great deal at $15. However, I got this baby on a super sale clearance (I fear the TMNT toys are going away soon) for a grand total of $5.45…. At that price it’s the best toy I’ve bought six months if not more.
Packaging – 6
Sculpting – 7
Articulation – 8
Accessories – TMNT Games, Spear/Rocket Launcer, Mini Spear, Sword
Value – 10
Overall – 8.5 out of 10
This toy went from being something I passed on a few hundred times, to something I wasn’t sure about purchasing to the best toy value I’ve gotten in a long time. Funny how that works sometimes. Often you don’t appreciate what is right in front of you. I like this toy a lot and can think of five or six really good uses for it.
What’s even more impressive is that if I was a kid, this would easily be one of my favorite toys. It’s THAT good. It’s not fragile, it’s got a ton of play value, it looks good and is appealing to both kids and adults. With the added game accessory and the cheap price it made for a great deal. I’ll have some more of these Mini Mutant toy reviews in the future, especially at this price.