Bebop and Rocksteady. The mutant henchmen of The Shredder are such icons of the 80s– so instantly identifiable to so many of us– it’s easy to forget they’ve actually been largely absent from TMNT continuity for the past 20+ years. But keeping in the “ultimate universe” style of Nickelodeon’s current Ninja Turtles cartoon, this classic pair of bad guys is ready for their comeback.
And Playmates Toys is wasting no time giving these mutants their due dilligence in the modern TMNT toy line, with a pair of cool action figures that bridge the gap between fun nostalgia and sleek, stylized new designs. Yes, the origins of these one-time NYC street punks have been updated for the new series, but the characters themselves certainly still ring true in Playmates’ great new sculpts.
Bebop and Rocksteady each stand about 5″ tall, giving both of them just a little height over their Turtle enemies. Both figures incorporate some very striking silhouettes– Rocksteady is solid and stocky, with thick arms and legs and a bulky torso that make him feel bigger than he actually is. Bebop, on the other hand, gets a much slimmer frame, with spindly arms and legs which offer an interesting contrast to his pig-like head and slightly hunched back.
In this new continuity, the warthog is now Anton Zeck, a master thief, and in keeping with this character Bebop’s new outfit is all black, a sort of high tech stealth suit complete with purple trim, a functional wall-roller wheel on his backpack, and a clever spin on Bebop’s classic 80s shades, which have now become x-ray glasses. Bebop is probably the more divergent of this pair, but he’s still instantly recognizable thanks to his purple mohawk, visor, pig snout and tusks. It’s a great update, and this figure is amply articulated, with hinged shoulders and hips, hinged knees and a swivel at the neck and waist.
Rocksteady– now a Soviet villain named Steranko– taps into the same sort of paramilitary vibe of his 80s counterpart, and his new figure looks awesome– this sculpt is absolutely loaded with detail, from the folds of his combat pants to his rough leathery grey skin. The Russian vibe of the character is actually pretty fun, manifesting in the rhino’s new weapons of choice, a hammer and a sickle, and the overall effect leaves this Rocksteady feeling a little more like a brawler than an oafish hoodlum.
I love the face on Rocksteady– his craggy scowl makes him look like one dude you do NOT want to mess with, and his exposed gold tooth ties in nicely with his gold trimmed battle armor. Unfortunately, this villain doesn’t get nearly as much articulation as his partner… Rocksteady only features cut joints, and gets them at the neck, waist, shoulders, wrists and hips. It’s not terrible, but after seeing the benefits of increased articulation on the Turtles and Bebop, Rocksteady’s articulation definitely limits what you can do with him.
Of course, when it comes to Bebop and Rocksteady, you can’t really have one without the other, and I’m happy that as cool as these two figures are on their own, they’re even better as a pair. Yes, their costuming and overall design are a little more varied in this new style, but Bebop and Rocksteady still look great together, sharing a good sense of scale and some great face sculpts packed with menacing personality. The fact that this dynamic duo has returned to the TMNT universe after all this time may seem like a trip down memory lane, but their new leaner, meaner, more dynamic designs make me think Bebop and Rocksteady are going to give the Turtles a real run for their money, this time around.
Thanks to Playmates Toys for giving us the chance to run this first look at the all-new Bebop and Rocksteady! Both figures will join the TMNT toy line as Wal-Mart exclusives later this month, and will be available at retailers everywhere in early 2015.