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Another One Bites the Crust

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
by yo go re

It was five years ago when NECA took one of their existing Alien molds and redid the entre thing in yellow as an SDCC exclusive. Now they finally get to make the real one that exclusive was homaging.

Shredder and Baxter Stockman devise a scheme to ensnare the Turtles with free pizzas, topped with a sinister secret ingredient: three devilish eggs from Dimension X! When the prize pizzas are mistakenly delivered to April and a pair of bratty bambinos, the mysterious monster eggs hatch, and the cretinous critters escape into the city sewers. There, an even deadlier surprise awaits - once exposed to water, the creatures mature into 15-foot rampaging beasts! Can the Heroes in a Half-Shell capture Krang's creature control device and subdue the destructive demons before it's too late?

The Pizza Monster is sold as one of the "VHS" releases - by himself due to his size, rather than in a two-pack. Theoretically it'll be available at Target, home of the cartoon color figures, but I ordered this one from NECA's web store because that's a more reliable way of getting anything. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was not known for its strict attention to continuity, so in the episode ("The Case Of The Killer Pizzas"), the monsters' height was all over the place - sometimes just slightly bigger than the Turtles, other times standing knee-deep in water (water that, remember, was deep enough to swim/boat in) and still being twice as tall as them. This figure's height will depend on how you want to pose it, obviously, but it maxes out around 9", which is large enough to look intimidating without being unwieldy.

Although the Pizza Monster is inspired by the xenomorph, not every feature is identical. Like, it's got the long, lumpy head, but Aliens don't have eyes, and the Pizza Monster does. And though its jaw is hinged to reveal its sharp white teeth, it only has a normal pink tongue, not another little jaw that can extend out. The head has more lumps than the paint outlines - Jon Matthews clearly extrapolated Ryan Brown's design for the character, sculpting what it was supposed to look like more than what it actually looked like.

The body is thick but tall, with long, lanky limbs. There are lines of armored pads on the thighs and shins, and the creature's tail is packaged separately in the box and needs to be plugged in, just like the Triceraton Warrior or Leatherhead. There are no Alien tubes sticking out of the back, probably because that would have been too close to the real thing and they weren't trying to get sued. One feature that's definitely unique to the cartoon? The odd little fins on the sides of the calves - of course, if all it takes for these monsters to mature from their infant form to adults is to touch water, we can assume they're naturally an aquatic species.

NECA's cartoon Turtles all have the same vaguely "cel-shaded" paintscheme: which is to say, normal colors on the front, darker solid "shadows" on the back, and thin black outlines in key spots. The monster's body is a bright yellow, like it was in the cartoon, though the mustardy brown chosen for its shadows are way darker than the animation delivered. A few white spots serve as highlights, but the yellow base is so pale they're hard to notice unless you already know they're there. The interior of the mouth is dark, as it should be, and the eyes are solid black; the box art makes them look like they should be red, but this is accurate to the cartoon.

The articulation is fairly standard: balljointed head and neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, souble-swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed chest, balljointed hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees with an extra swivel at the top, and swivel/hinge ankles. Plus the tail is on a barbell joint, as you'll plainly be able to tell when you go to put it on the figure. We do get a hinged jaw, which isn't always a given, though it doesn't really add much: the mouth is designed to always be gaping open, so closing it doesn't really look very good. A lot of the hinges are stiff, but nothing has broken.

It may be big, but the Pizza Monster still gets some accessories, and they're all really smart ones. First, we've got a pizza, which makes sense since that's how the baddies delivered the monster eggs to the boys. It doesn't seem to be a new sculpt - if it were, it would probably have the large, meatball-lookin' egg in the center. In the episode, the tainted pizzas came from a business called "UFO Pizza," and the set includes a pizza box with the logo on the top. The box is actually hinged, which is new to us: all the other NECA TMNT sets we've reveiwed have had a box with the lid molded open, so this is an improvement. After hatching from its egg, the monster's next evolutionary stage was a tiny red version of its eventual adult form, which is why we said the SDCC exclusive should have come with a red chestburster. Well, this set includes an unarticulated baby monster that's super cute! Finally, there's a handheld device that is emphaticaly not the remote that allowed Baxter Stockman to control the monsters (until Donatello broke it and sent them into a frenzy). So what is it?

The "Sewer Mutation" Warrior Alien was a fun homage, but its level of detail meant it would never really blend in with the cartoon or game figures the way it would need to. So NECA finally getting to make the real thing is excellent, and they did their usual great job on the toy.

-- 01/13/22

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