Mega Construx Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics might be the best TMNT toy line on the market.
For 2017, Mega Bloks is getting a rebranding. Focusing on the building aspect of the blocks made ubiquitous by Lego, we will now come to know Mattel’s collectible, block-based construction sets as Mega Construx. Name aside, the fun and nostalgia-tugging nature of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classic series maintains the same charm as last year’s offerings. So far, 4 new single figures and 1 of the 2 battle packs have just popped up at retail locally, and one hopes this is a harbinger of things to come.
The basic figures are in a “Mutagen Canister” Collector Series. Raphael, Michelangelo, Rocksteady, and Baxter Stockman each come with dual display options, while the mutagen canister acts as a display base. While I was hoping for new mutant blind packs (I still do Mattel!), this is a brilliant strategy. First of all, being a collector, of course my goal will be to own 2 for dual display purposes. Secondly, it builds on the sewer pipe display of last year’s collection brilliantly. Lastly, they are each packed 1 to a case, so there should be little difficulties finding a full set. While I do lament they lack additional parts as well as the Playmates accessories (Baxter’s fly swatter weapon and purple hands for his fly form), the selection we have is right on the nose, while looking and moving better than anything Playmates gave us before.
The immediate standouts are Dr. Baxter Stockman and Rocksteady pre-mutation. As a child, I dreamed of owning these versions of those characters. The building aspect of these figures is handled brilliantly. Baxter transforms seamlessly into his fly persona…mutanta? As previously stated, I do wish he had an additional set of purple hands, as he did have those when transformed. Rocksteady needed some minor adjustments, (like having a full yellow torso versus his trademark tank top) to remove any trace of the rhinoceros gray hide. Given he still appears sleeveless when transformed, it’s a very forgivable compromise. Additionally, a more visually-accurate version exists already, and the focus was correctly placed on the human configuration. Employing this same strategy, Bebop cannot be far behind.
Not to be outdone, Raphael and Michelangelo have also been outfitted with 2 of their street disguises for when they need to blend in topside. Raphael has the cartoon’s most recognizable trenchcoat and bald head disguise. Whether one needs to buy 4 of these sets for the disguises alone remains to be seen. Mattel went in a different direction with Michelangelo, opting for his breakdancing gear seen early on in the classic TV series. This was a brilliant choice, as I feel it perfectly captures his character better than the trenchcoat. Those particular street outfits were curiously never produced by the variant-happy Playmates, but ones I have always wanted. This is another set of disguises I hope gets completed with the other Turtles.
Lastly, we come to the Samurai Leonardo Battle Pack. Like the name suggests, Leonardo the ninja has become a samurai for this set. Unlike the cartoon-heavy influence from the rest of the collection, here he takes a look largely inspired by the original action figure. Whether or not Mattel can step on Playmates’ toes design-wise, the look doesn’t take direct cues, but the execution feels more complete while maintaining the palette of the original. Also included in the set are 4 Mousers for Leonardo to slice and dice. Mattel’s instant army-building with these Mouser robots (and the foot soldiers from last year) really show me that they understand my needs as a collector. That is both appreciated and applauded.
As a collector, I hope that I could buy one vast toy execution of TMNT for my ideal display. Dreams seem shattered with Playmates, as they currently lack both vision and initiative. NECA and Bandai Japan have some stellar offerings, but the scale and price point may prevent a substantial collection beyond the nuclear group. Mattel’s Mega Bloks (now Mega Construx) already gave fans the main group, villains, allies, the party wagon, and the gargantuan Technodrome. And that was all in 2016. We have much to be excited about for the coming year. Whether we’ll see a sewer playset, the blimp, a pizza thrower, or a transport module, the brand appears to be in great hands. They certainly have my money!