Over the past two seasons, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has rolled in a considerable number of new and reimagined characters, and Playmates remains committed to capturing them all in plastic. In the latest wave, we see two new villains, both new adaptations of vintage era characters, as well as an all new ally for our amphibious heroes. And Slash, Rahzar and Newtralizer all make for fun new figures in this ever growing collection.
I’ll start with our “reboot” characters. Slash was introduced as an action figure in the late 90s, and rolled into the classic cartoon series and Archie comic book after his toy debut. For me, this means the Slash of my 9-year-old imagination will always take precedence over whatever his media tie-ins suggest, and that includes the very stylized new spin on the character in the modern continuity. This Slash certainly doesn’t look like his fellow mutated turtles; his new design ups the visual origin of Slash as a snapping turtle, with his toothy jaw and jagged edged shell giving him a very distinct look. Slash sports colors very similar to his vintage figure, with a teal green skin, black bandana and pink highlights. His all new sculpt is very well done, matching his cartoon appearance perfectly in style, although like many supporting Ninja Turtles characters, Slash lacks his on screen scale, standing shorter than the heroes on the half shell, as opposed to towering over them.
Slash does have a decent amount of articulation, including half-ball elbows and hips, but the lack of knee and wrist movement does leave him more limited than his ninja background would suggest. Overall, despite the limited articulation, short stature and somewhat pre-posed legs, Slash looks cool and he’s a fun figure, especially for a fan of the character.
Rahzar gets a much more liberal translation in the new Nick TMNT universe. Instead of a dog mutated into a child-like monster, Rahzar is now the secondary mutation of villain Dogpound into a nightmarish beast. It’s one of the most extreme designs we’ve seen in the Turtles’ wheelhouse– a brand known for some gross and nasty looking characters– and Rahzar’s black fur and exposed skeleton certainly look creepy. The spindly creature manages to gain more height than many of the Turtle villains, and he features a fair amount of articulation, but the pre-posed sculpt of his arms, legs and hunched torso leave him kind of limited regardless. He’s cool and creepy looking, for sure, with a well detailed sculpt, but Rahzar is the latest TMNT figure to suffer from too little poseability and too much of a pre-conceived pose in the sculpt to really feel dynamic.
The last new character in this lineup is Newtralizer, the lizard warrior from Dimension X who befriends our heroes. I love the look of this guy, with his somewhat realistic newt-like face, eye catching brown and red markings and cool sci-fi body armor. It makes for a great character design, one that fits quite seamlessly into the vintage TMNT aesthetic while also feeling very modern.
Newtralizer is also fairly poseable, and his sculpt leans far closer to neutral in pose than some of his fellow figures. The figure includes a knife which fits on his belt, as well as a disc weapon that totally feels like a nod to the Predator.
The newest TMNT figures all look great, and provide fun takes on these cool characters. That being said, they all suffer from the same drawbacks we have seen from this line in the past. I understand Playmates’ limitations when it comes to scale– I’d love to see Slash or Newtralizer in their proper, more massive scale, but costing that out for the impressive under $9 price tag would likely be impossible. And I’m aware that I’m not the target demo for this line. While I would happily pay more money for an in-scale series of hulking deluxe characters, I doubt it would be worth Playmates’ time and effort when it comes to younger kids and especially their parents.
Aside from the scale, we’re still seeing another even more frustrating issue– a lack of paint apps. Slash and Newtralizer are both missing a number of should-be painted parts, and they range from small details like Slash’s finger and toe claws, to more critical things like Newtralizer’s half-unpainted body armor. If the trend we’ve seen continues, we will likely see better, more fully painted versions of these characters in future refresh waves (see Mutagen Man, Casey Jones and Cockroach Terminator for evidence)… but that also means having to hold off on supporting the line by picking up new figures as they come out. If they stop moving, the refresh would have no place to go.
It’s not the end of the world– the figures are simple enough that anyone can paint these forgotten details themselves– but it feels disappointing that Playmates’ design team would put so much effort into these great figures, only to have this one detail consistently overlooked.
I still love this toy line, with its solid character selection, tendency to refresh with tough to find figures from the past, and great sculpts that are both imaginative, fun and on-model to the cartoon designs. The TMNT toy line is easy to find and the figures are a lot of fun, making this series a total joy to collect. While I wish those chronic design issues in this series could be addressed, I find the toys cool enough to overlook them, and can’t wait to see what Playmates has in store for us next!