Eight years ago, NECA released their Four Horsemen-designed Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, including all four heroes on the half shell based on their appearances in the original Mirage comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird. To this day, those figures remain a benchmark, one of the all-time highlights among the best-designed and overall coolest action figures of all time. They were to be followed up by a second wave which would introduce Mirage-style figures of April O’Neil, Shredder, a Foot Clan Ninja, and Foot Elite Guard to the lineup… but corporate interference on behalf of Playmates– the global license owners for TMNT– shelved that would-be second wave.
NECA eventually managed to release April, packed with some great Mirage-style Mousers, as a San Diego Comic-Con exclusive… but it seemed their Foot Clan prototypes would be lost to the ages.
Fast forward to earlier this year, and a keen eye would identify the base sculpts of the excellent TMNT Arcade Game Foot Ninjas and Shredder as those very same prototypes, redeco’ed to match their Konami aesthetic. It was a brilliant way to finally release these figures… AND save on tooling money for the Arcade Game box sets… but that wasn’t enough for NECA.
Instead, they opted to release a second Foot Clan themed box set, this time as a New York Comic Con exclusive, only this set would eschew the pixelated aesthetic of the Arcade Game set, and instead finally release the long-sought-after Mirage iterations of the TMNT’s main foes.
Like the Arcade sets, this pack contains four figures, all in the ink-heavy style of Eastman and Laird’s original comics. Included in the set are The Shredder, a Foot Elite Guard, and two Foot Soldiers– one with, and one without, a bandana. The Foot warriors also include a great, all new Utrom sculpt– complete with articulated front tentacles– and a wide variety of ninja weaponry, from a spear to a sword, and a throwing star to a tonfa.
This, along with the variety of alternate closed-fist hands for each figure, offers a ton of variety in the display options for the already highly articulated figures. Said articulation includes a double jointed neck, ball shoulders, double-jointed elbows and knees, wrist and ankle articulation, and a waist swivel, all of which combines to form quite a range of motion.
Coupled with the excellent paint apps– which do a great job of conveying the cross-hatching and heavy inks of the original Mirage artwork– these figures are truly remarkable, as NECA has found the perfect bridge between stylization and practicality. I honestly never thought NECA would find a venue to release these figures, which have sat in limbo for nearly a decade, but here we are. And the toymakers have teased that this is only the beginning of their plans for the TMNT license, which leaves me anxiously awaiting what format of the long-running franchise they will tackle next.