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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990 Movie)

NECA
by yo go re

A reminder: for a few years, the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was the highest-grossing independent movie of all time, until it was surpassed by Pulp Fiction. And that only beat it by $12 million.

Now you can catch America's favorite green teens in their first live-action blockbuster film! After wading in a puddle of radioactive waste, these radical reptiles are transformed into New York City's greatest crime-fighting quartet. This film will captivate adults and kids alike with it blend of humor, camaraderie and martial arts action. Don't miss this blockbuster movie. You'll have one shell of a good time!

Since these figures are based on the movie, the packaging is designed to recall the VHS Box (thus explaining the point of the marketing-speak up above). The graphics are identical, right down to the FHE logo font being used in place of NECA's usual. Other than the shot on the back that sees the boys all peeking out of a manhole cover, all the pictures from the VHS box have been re-created using the toys, and there's even fake shelf-wear on the corners. This is so much fun!




Like all NECA's other Ninja Turtles toys (be they comicbook, cartoon or videogame-based), these four all use the same basic body. That's fine, there will still be plenty to help differentiate them. In the comics, the boys stood about four feet tall; but since this was a live-action movie with human actors inside prosthetic suits, they needed to be bigger. These figures are about 6½" tall, putting them a full head above the other NECA Turtles (and slightly bigger than Playmates' Classic Collection figures). Not that they'd blend in stylistically, anyway.

The Turtle suits were developed by Jim Henson, who was no fan of the movie (too violent and pointless for his tastes), but was proud of the advancements made in animatronics. Considering that these had to interact with real human beings on real sets, they needed to look believable. And yeah, they do. You can believe that if there really were 5½' tall turtles wandering the streets of New York, this is what they'd look like. The musculature isn't exactly human, because it's been stylized, but you can accept it as something real, something natural.

In addition to having the same chest, arms, and legs, all four boys wear the same pads on their knees and elbows and the same ties around their wrists. Where they differentiate, though, are the belts: Michaelangelo and Raphael wear theirs around their waist, while Donatello and Leonardo have their hiked up inder their armpits (which must have something to do with the fact that they both have straps rnning over their right shoulder - one big one for Donnie, two thin ones for Leo). Their shells are different, too: R&D have 10 scutes, while L&M get 13; plus, because Raph is always the hot-headed brawler of the brothers, his shell has lots of nicks and slashes the other three don't get.

While the bodies may have been the same, the heads were all unique - not just the paint and expressions, but the actual structure of their faces. For instance, Leonardo has a bit of a frowwn and a look of grim determination, because heavy is the head that wears the blue bandana, but he still has very wide cheeks and his snout is short with a prominent curve.

Compare that to Donatello, whose snout is longer, flatter, and hangs over the lower jaw so much that it would almost qualify as an overbite. If Master Splinter's not careful, these teens are going to need braces. ["Dental plan." --ed.] Turtles need braces. ["Dental plan." --ed.] Turtles need braces. ["Dental pla-] Now cut that out! I'm trying to review, here!

Raphael continues his unbroken streak of being an unhappy, surly jerkass; while the previous two both had frowns to one exten or another, Raph opens his mouth to show his teeth and growl. Honestly, the expression is pretty neutral - we're just reading in intent based on our knowledge of the character. Paint his mask a different color, and we'd be explaining the look as something else.

Michaelangelo is definitely Michaelangelo, though! He's happy, with a nice smile on his face, and his cheeks bulge out at the corners of his mouth. He's got his eyebrows up, making the eyeholes in his mask larger, and his snout is short and thin, with almost no curve as it reaches the head. Honestly, if you knew these four turtles well enough, you'd be able to pick them out based on silhouettes alone.

The articulation is plentiful and good. The figures have swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees with a swivel right above that, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a balljointed torso, swivel/hinge wrists, double swivel/hinged elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. On some of NECA's toys, this style of double-elbows doesn't look very good, but the Turtles wear pads there, so it's not even an issue. Having the chest joint be hidden down inside the shell is a clever move, because it keeps the outside seamless while not sacrificing any motion. And to keep the illusion alive, the back of the torso is sculpted with a sort of rubbery gasket design to make it look like the body is still connected to the shell inside. As we've noted on other "scaled-down" NECA figures, the articulation isn't the same on these figures as it is on the big versions. Ever wonder why that is? It's because what works at one scale may not be physically possible at another. Blame the square-cube law.

The hands each turtle is wearing in the package are identical, shaped to hold their weapons. There are also four pairs of alternate hands that any of them can use: two flat, two pointing, two loosely gripping, and two giving a thumbs-up.

Everybody has his weapon of choice. Leo's swords have only a slight curve, and the handguards are octangular. They can store in scabbards on his back. Donatello, like always, has a plain stick, though nowhere to store it: there are tiny notches on the back of his shoulder strap that seem like they would serve some purpose in stowing the weapon, but there's nothing there. Raph gets loops on his belt to hold his sais, but Mikey gets nothing - if you double check the movie, he just kind of tucks his chucks in between his belt and his shell. The fact that the two halves of his nunchucks are joined by a pair of strings may seem odd, but it's accurate: the real props had two leather cords, not just a single linkage.

We're not done with accessories, though! We'll begin with the inexplicable: alternate bandana knots. Yeah! Woo! "Accessory of the Year" material right there! On the original movie suits, the boys' masks were glued to their faces, not actually worn; so the back of the masks, the free-flowing ties, were separate pieces attached to the foam latex heads. These toys unintentionally reference that, thanks to their removable ties. Why bother making those? Well, it gives you your choice of whether you want the ends to fall over the turtle's right shoulder or his left. Sure, that seems like the most needless thing ever, but... I don't really have an end for that sentence. If you'd want to change the side the bandana flops to, you'll dig this feature, and if you don't care, well, no one says you have to.

Okay, on to the good stuff. We get a canister of ooze, matching the one seen in the film. One side has the TCRI logo (changed to TGRI for the second movie, because there was apparently a real lab in California called TCRI), while the other has a "Radioactive Material" label and a big sculpted crack. The cracked side is all that's ever seen in the film - the TCRI label comes from an early version of the prop, which had the company name on both sides. So this accessory is sort of a blending of the two versions. The cap on one end can be removed, too. No mutagen inside, though.

We also get four slices of pizza the turtles can enjoy - that's what the "loose" holding hands are for. All the slices are the same mold (it appears to be green pepper and black olive? Ew.), but you've got to have pizza if you have Turtles.

When the movie came out, there was actually a bidding war between Pizza Hut and Domino's to see who would get to partner with the TMNT - weirdly, while Pizza Hut had a marketing campaign with the movie, it was Domino's that actually appeared in the movie. Maybe because Pizza Hut didn't deliver? In honor of that, taped to the underside of the tray is a papercraft box from "Tile Game Pizza," complete with slogans, various labels, a separate coupon stuck to the lid, and - in a supreme level of attention to detail - grease stains on the inside! Holy crap! We get four more loose slices in there, too, meaning this set includes a full pizza.

Again and again, NECA comes up with amazing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures that blow everything else away, but they can only release them in weird, untenable scales, or as limited convention exclusives. They do at least make their SDCC exclusives available online for those of us who can't attend, but even that isn't an easy process - I lucked out and got my order in on the second of three sales days this year, but on that day, the figures experienced a 30-second sellout. Thirty seconds. The entire allotment was claimed in half a minute. People want these toys, but Playmates continually prevents NECA from selling them the way they could. And that's a damn shame, because this set is awesome. It's righteous! It's... bossa nova?

-- 08/18/18


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