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The Shredder (Battle Damaged)

by yo go re

He blue.

Oroku Saki has inherited the role of The Shredder from his fallen brother, Oroku Nagi. The bitter rivalry between the Oroku and Hamato clans rages on, and The Foot will stop at nothing until their former master is avenged.

Has he? I know the Mirage comics are different from every other incarnation of the franchise, because most of them streamline the story so Saki was the only one who ever mattered/existed, but I'm pretty sure even there Nagi was never "the Shredder" - that was an identity created by Saki himself, not something he inherited. He did inherit his older brother's blood-feud against the Hamato clan, which is why he killed Yoshi and Shen, and thus why Splinter trained the Turtles to take him on. Revenge is a sucker's game.

This is fundamentally the same Shredder sculpt NECA has had at the ready since 2008. Certainly, a lot of the pieces are new, because this is a battle-damaged version, but the fact remains that even the body that damage was applied to is for a figure that's now 15 years old. We'd say that hopefully the new TMNT four-pack would mean a new Shredder mold would be on its way, but they've kind of done all the potential variations on it quite recently, so there's nowhere left for them to go with it.

This look is based on the first issue of the TMNT comic, which we can confidently say since Shredder didn't survive past that issue. More specifically, it's based on page 33, where Leo has just used his katanas to slash Shredder twice across the chest. The injury on his left leg doesn't show up until page 38, primarily because we don't get a clear view of his legs before then. Josh Sutton's new pieces blend in with the existing work well, so it still looks like a single, cohesive toy.

The big problem is the color. Both this Shredder and the Ultimate Foot Soldier released at the same time are wearing nonsense blue uniforms, just solid blue, blue from head to toe. It looks super crappy on the Foot Soldier, but at least ol' Shred-head has his silver armor to break things up. The previous figure made him maroon and gray, which was minorly jarring, but still far, far better than this. The blue is not without precedent, but that doesn't mean it looks good. Granted, wearing dark blue and being covered with inky shadows makes sense for a ninja master, but what makes sense and what works best aren't always the same thing. We want our Hand Ninjas to wear red, not black. At least this one gets flashes of pink skin and red blood to break things up.

Articulation is as it was before: hinged toes, swivel/hinge ankles, swivel shins, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, a plain swivel waist with no other chest articulation, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, a swivel/hinges at the bottom of the neck, and a barbell joint at the top. The biceps on my figure were stuck, and the plastic is soft enough that I worried about ripping them if I weren't careful. So I put him in the freezer (for a few days - I went grocery shopping after, and he ended up beneath a bag of frozen peas, so I kept forgetting he was in there), and when he came out, both worked fine right away. If you're going to freeze a toy to get a swivel like that moving, remember to bend the elbows first: it gives you better leverage when it's time to twist the arm.

One of the things that happens during the rooftop fight is Donatello smashes Shredder's mask right off his stupid face, so this release gets an alternate head. technically an alternate head and neck, since that's where the pieces swap. Why the neck, you ask? Surely there was some reason. The face is just like in the comics, bloody and angry and desperate, and looks even better on the figure than the old masked head does.

The rest of the accessories are minimal. We get some alternate hands, all of which are insanely stiff at the hinge joint, the thermite grenade Shredder planned to use to blow the Turtles up, and a loose piece of forearm blades, the only thing left after he and his thermite grenade fell off the roof. They're all fine, and it wouldn't make sense for him to come with any other weapons, but it still feels like you're not getting much.

This Battle-Damaged Shredder is a Target exclusive, which may explain his appearance: maybe they made him in these ugly colors as an exclusive so they can do a wider release in the better ones later ? After all, the Mirage Shredder Clones pack still gets to be maroon, and they're meant to look like their source, so if blue was the new standard, that's what they'd look like, too. This is an okay toy, but it could be better.

-- 08/24/23

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