TMNT’s Pop-Up Pizza Playset Is The Coolest Diorama Toy Ever

By bill - February 21, 2013

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get a new playset that’s hands-down the most fun toy I’ve seen in years.

The Pop-Up Pizza Playset made its debut at Toy Fair just a few weeks ago, and the first set, Anchovy Alley, is already hitting retail.  This playset is scaled for the 4″ modern TMNT line, and packs in a crazy amount of cool, fun play value in one small, very affordable package.

One topic of discussion that comes up many times when I chat with fellow toy collectors is, what makes a toy appealing to us?  It’s a continuing discussion to explore, especially when so many companies continue divorcing their kid-based and collector-based products… only the best toys seem to masterfully bridge that gap to completely appeal to both markets.  Playmates’ TMNT line is absolutely one of them, with fantastic figures that echo hints of the classic Turtles with a modern animated series design, solid sculpting and articulation and a cool “fun” factor that is undeniable.

When TMNT relaunched last year, the most appealing thing about these figures to me was how they instantly transported me back to playing with my Turtles in the 80s.  Yes, these new figures were much more highly detailed and better articulated, but they had a vibe that felt exactly the same as the vintage toys.  That nostalgia made them a great toy line for collectors, while their fun playability also appealed directly to kids, and that same feeling is poured into the Pop-Up Pizza Playset.

This set is based on a simple and incredibly effective gimmick– the playset can fold up into a small, rectangular pizza box, and then fold out into a fully functional display. with multiple levels of play and fun action features throughout.  The collapsing feature is genius for kids AND collectors– the transformation is fun in and of itself, and offers a simple storage option when the set isn’t in use.  Rather than have to store a full 15″ display set, it all crunches down into a compact 9″ wide, flat box for each storage.  Deco-ing that rectangle into a pizza box makes perfect sense for the pie-loving heroes, and the TMNT stamp on the collapsed box makes even the collapsed version of the set a cool looking toy.

But this thing is made out be out and open– it’s really cool!  The playset features both an above-ground level, with the storefront of a pizza joint, as well as a sewer level. It’s big enough to easily accommodate multiple figures, and there’s tons of neat play features built in throughout– we get a pizza-shooter cannon, which can plug into multiple spots on the set, a spring-loaded light post (which allows a hero to roundhouse kick a villain through the doors of the pizza restaurant), a catapulting manhole cover and a breakaway sewer doorway.  Every piece of this set is fun, with cool sculpting, realistic use of colors and smart stickers that add to a surprisingly detailed design.  Despite the compact size and low price point, there’s a wonderful sense of scale between the set and the figures, making this not only super-fun to play with, but a remarkably cool display based for your TMNT figures as well.

The Pop-Up Pizza Playset is, more than anything, just a fun toy– it looks great and makes a great base for your Turtles, which will appeal to collectors, while the fun, fully functional action features will hook in kids for sure.  And the compact transforming feature is a cool gimmick AND a space-saver that will appeal to collectors, kids AND parents… so this is truly a win-win-win!

Anchovy Alley is available now, and it will be followed by a second Pop-Up set later this year, modeled after Shredder’s evil lair.  The prices for these sets are relatively low everywhere, but they are kind of all over the place– Toys R Us has this set for $30, Wal-Mart for $25, and Target is only charging $20, making them the clear winner.  If you’ve been digging the new TMNT series, and are looking for another toy with the same fun, cool nostalgic feel of the Turtle figures, this playset is for you.


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