Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 35th Anniverary Figure Set // Review
As a franchise hits a large enough milestone, toy companies will work with the franchise holders to make something unique and fresh for adult collectors. Ghostbusters and Transformers got the Ectotron, which fused both works into one awesome toy. Terminator has released 8-inch realistic versions of the 1992 toy line. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are no stranger to adult collectibles and high-end releases, and their 35th-anniversary release as a Walmart exclusive is no different.
If only it weren’t so horrible.
To celebrate the 35th anniversary, Playmates has released a box set of the 4 turtles in a “comic styled” box and a comic-influenced art style. To top it off, Playmates also added in a new printing of the original TMNT #1 from 1984. This actually looks like a lovely collection from the outside.
The box is, frankly, incredible. The comic tear away effect on the sides really drills home that it’s been 35 years, and I love the impact it gives. The art on the back is also stock TMNT, but it makes the collection feel vintage and possibly worth your dollar.
Don’t get it.
The comic is actually a very nice reprint. Using high-quality gloss paper and high-resolution scans of the original art, IDW has basically used their collection copy for this issue. As a freebie with a toy, it is incredible. The only thing it feels like it’s missing is going that extra step and being a complete reproduction of the original 1984 comic. Still, I’ve seen worse for freebies, and it really raises the bar in that respect.
The real problem is the figures themselves. The molding is taken from a previous issuing of characters from the 2012 toy line. These figures were new creations at the time based on the art of the comic but released in standard colors at the time. These new figures are a retooling of that release, which means something has been changed while using the same general mold of the prior toy. In this case, something was removed or is completely lacking.
These toys cannot turn their wrists in any way, shape, or form. At least not without rotating the entire forearm, unfortunately. This leaves the figs in some remarkably awkward poses, and unable to hold their weapons in some cases. As the turtles all look alike, I had hoped to swap weapons at this point. However, their hands are all specifically molded to hold just the accessories of that turtle whenever possible. This honestly makes the figures feel like legal bootlegs and prevents the line from reaching their original potential.
I may be remembering the original release of the figures incorrectly, I admit. It doesn’t change the fact that the lack of wrist articulation kills the presentation.
The paint scheme is also rather suspect at this point. The shading on the bodies is nice and highlights a lot of the details on their shells. However, the lightest grey is used frequently in places where shading might not exist normally and leaves the figures looking shockingly grimy. The faces of the turtles also look horrifying once you notice their mouths are all black as well, despite having teeth.
Apparently, the Turtles had horrible dental hygiene in the old comics, something just now coming to light. Still, a better retcon than “wizards poop themselves.”
If your plans are just to buy this and keep it in the box as a display piece, go for it. $45 retail ($40 online) is not a bad price for a nice display piece like this. However, the paint job, removal of key joints, and general execution of the figures result in a remarkably lame core of what could have been an excellent set. There is, allegedly, a collector’s set with the original 1987 toy line being used instead. I might recommend waiting for that one, through it looks to be more bare-bones than this release. Playmates seem to have a knack for making horrible Collector’s items, and this does not buck the trend. I expected better.