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Foot Soldier

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990)
by yo go re

Money cannot buy the honor which you have earned tonight. But it can sure buy toys!

"You are here because the outside world rejects you. This is your family. I am your father. I want you all to become full members of the Foot. There is a new enemy: freaks of nature who interfere with our business. You are my eyes and ears. Find them! Together we will punish these... creatures. These... turtles!"

In the comics, the Foot Clan were an organization of highly trained ninja warriors; in the cartoon, they were robots with bad posture and too-long heads; the live-action movie made them a bunch of runaway teens plied with candy and cigarettes, a bunch of stripmall-ninja Olivers Twist, with Shredder as their Fagin. Not that that's bad - it implies Shredder is just starting to build his forces in a new city, and is doing it in an appropriately subtle manner. It's just more of a literary bent than you'd expect from a movie functionally based on toy commercial.

The movie Foot ninjas were not visually interesting. They wore all black, like the stereotypical ninja look (the origins of which we've discussed before), something that by no means makes a great, memorable look for either a movie or a toy. Who was champing at the bit to get a guy in plain pajamas? Even Snake-Eyes knows you need to be a little flashier than that. The outfit is basically a vest over a long-sleeved shirt, with a belt and a knot tied in the front, then slightly loose black pants that disappear into wraps around the shins. The arm guards are separate pieces slipped onto the figure, and sculpted with the appropriate armored studs. The cloth parts of the costume have a fine vertical ribbed pattern, which is true to the material used to make the movie costumes. NECA's usual team, Jon Wardell and Geoffrey Trapp, did a great job with the paint, carefully using blue and brown to bring the black to life.

The mask is weird. It's probably an attempt to approximate the comic art, with strange little baskets over the eyes. Are those supposed to be the blank eyes or lenses or whatever in their masks? And what's with the 12 little circular vents over the mouth? His red bandana has a black logo on the forehead - instead of a footprint, their symbol was the a stylized rendition of the kanji for oni (鬼), which Shredder refers to as the "dragon dochi." Not sure what a "dochi" is, but, y'know, we're not going to argue with the guy dressed as a cheese grater.

[He's probably saying "dragon dogi," referring to the full uniform, but fans have misheard it and enshrined the incorrect spelling --ed.]

The articulation is very stiff. The Foot moves with swivel/hinge rocker ankles, hinged lower knees, swivel/hinge upper knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a balljointed waist, swivel/hinge wrists, double-swivel/​hinge elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, and balljoints at the top and bottom of the neck. Plus a swivel for the tie of his headband. The Foot costumes were reused for Secret of the Ooze, so this figure could honestly be from either movie - a handy thing, since one of the stuntmen in the sequel was Daniel Pesina, who's probably most famous for being the model for Johhny Cage (and Sub-Zero/Scorpion) in the early Mortal Kombat games. Make your Foot Soldier do a flying shadow kick!

The GameStop Foots come in two varieties, splitting up the accessories that came in the SDCC set: one with bladed weapons (katana, ax, two sais), and one with melee (a bo staff, a pair of tonfas, two different styles of nunchucks). Both come with two alternate sets of hands (either splayed or gripping) to replace his fists, and the same kind of swappable bandana strands the Turtles inexplicably came with. Again we must only ask "why?"

When the figures from last year's NECA Comic-Con set were offered individually, I was fine skipping the Foot Soldiers - the movie designs just don't "pop" the way other incarnations do. But when you find a GameStop that's going out of business and has 40% off all its figures, you're a bit more forgiving of such things. I certainly don't feel the need to army-build the Foot Soldiers, but if you do, we're glad you now have that option.

-- 03/28/20

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