First Look: Serpent Karai from TMNT

By bill - February 23, 2015

tmnt-karai-featKarai snakes her way in to Playmates’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles collection.

Playmates’ TMNT toy line is going strong, and the next wave coming up will finally offer the toy treatment to some important supporting characters from the Nickelodeon series.  Baxter Stockman and Karai are both major players in the world of the Ninja Turtles, and now both of them are joining Playmates’ toy line, in their mutant forms.

Today we’ll take a look at Karai, Shredder’s daughter and right-hand woman, who was mutated into a giant snake-like creature on the show.  Karai’s mutation was kind of bizarre, in that she retained an ability to morph back and forth between human and snake form… and the way Playmates represented this with her action figure makes for a wonderfully bizarre toy.

In short, Karai features her mutated snake body… and her human head.  She can go full mutant, too, thanks to a second snake head which fits over her human one like a mask.  This is a remarkably simple, yet effective feature, and leaves us with two very distinct looks for the conflicted Foot ninja.  I like both mutated looks for Karai, but there’s something truly weird and Medusa-like about her human head and snake body that I just love.

And it doesn’t hurt that Karai’s human portrait is not only very nicely sculpted to match her animated look, but quite well painted, as well.  Karai’s face includes paint work on her red lips, her stylized pink eye shadow, and eyeliner, and each feature is very clean and tight in its application.  That’s a huge step up from the company of three years ago, who opted to leave the Turtles’ eyes solid white to avoid off balanced pupils.  Likewise the snake head looks great, with her dark green eyes and large red mouth appearing quite striking against the grey and purple of her skin.

TMNT Karai 013The snake body, however, doesn’t get quite the same attention to quality as Karai’s heads.  It’s a nice sculpt in the scales and plating of what used to be Karai’s armor.  And while they don’t make a ton of sense, her snake arms look pretty cool, each featuring a (unpainted) snake head instead of a hand.  But the body is missing some key paint apps, especially on the arms.  Aside from the previously mentioned snake hands being unpainted, Karai’s purple forearms were also skipped, leaving her arms all grey and kind of imbalanced compared to her TV show look.

I know articulation kind of varies in terms of this toy line, but Karai is a strange example of this, too.  On the one hand, she gets a GREAT ball jointed head, and the range of motion she gets from her neck does wonders for both her human and snake looks.  But aside from this excellent joint, all she gets are shoulder cuts and a waist swivel.  I actually really like the pre-posed, coiled lower body, so I’m okay with leaving that as-is… but ball shoulders or bendy wire snake arms would have really made this figure come to life.

Still, while Karai isn’t perfect, she’s an very important character, and her mutated form makes for a fun toy all the same.  I’d love to have seen more articulation and paint detail, but the detailed work on both her human and monster faces proves that Playmates is starting to step up their game in terms of paint work.  I’m still hopeful we will see a human Karai down the road in this line, but for now the serpent version certainly earns a spot as part of this totally fun, collector and kid-approved toy line.

Thanks to Playmates for giving us this early look at TMNT Karai!  Look for her in the next assortment of TMNT basic action figures, which should start hitting shelves in the next few weeks.

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