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Slash & Leatherhead

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
by yo go re

It's a supervillain team-up!

When it comes to animation, simpler is better - the fewer things your artists have to draw, the faster they can go, and the fewer mistakes are liable to be made. That's why character designs get simplified. You start with something like TMNT's Slash, who's hunched over, covered in spikes and armor, and has an asymmetrical face, and then by the time he reaches the cartoon, he's the same size and coloration as the other Turtles, his outfit is toned down, and overall he just doesn't look as cool as he does in other media.

Most of this figure's molds are the same as the videogame figure, logically - you're not going to design that spiked shell and then not reuse it - but the little details are different. The shoulder armor is smoother, with sculpted rivets at the edges, the gloves have a single spike on the back instead of two claws, the kneepads are a single smooth plate instead of bands like the elbows, and the belt has been stripped of all the pockets and gear, and doesn't even have ties hanging down from its skull buckle like a ninja belt would, just the normal end of a belt.

All that would have been fine, if not for the head. Slash, as a toy, had one eye opened wide and the other normal-sized, to make him look wilder and more threatening. That was toned down for the comics (and thus the game as well), The cartoon, however, decided the best way to deal with this would be to give him a metal mask that has a large, yellow eyepiece over the left eye, and boy does it look stupid! The left eye is visible through a slot in the mask, and rather than sharp fangs like every other incarnation, animated Slash has a few big, square teeth visible in the corners of his mouth. The overall look is very dumb. If not for this head, I'd probably have been fine accepting Cartoon Colors Slash, and wouldn't have needed to buy the 8-bit one. But that's not NECA's fault, it's Murakami-Wolf-Swenson's.

Cartoon Slash definitely has 8-bit Slash beat when it comes to accessories, though. He doesn't get any alternate hands, weirdly, but he does get two broad katanas, a pizza with a giant bite taken out of it, a high-tech "Animalizer ray" pistol that seems to have gas canisters mounted on it, a larger rifle with two squarish barrels, and even a version of himself as a normal turtle with a plastic palm tree, from back before Rocksteady mutated him. He's got a techy backpack strapped around his chest, which you could probably remove with some work, but it's not really designed to be taken off. The mechanical accessories all come from the same episode, Season 6's "Donatello Trashes Slash."

The theme of this two-pack seems to be "villains in the cartoon and the toyline, allies in the comics," because the second figure is the ragin' Cajun gator, Leatherhead.

The biggest gator that ever got born, Leatherhead was already a legend to the locals even before he got mutated (by leftover mutagen from when Shredder and Krang created the Punk Frogs). He swam through that mutagen soon after an encounter with a father and son gator-hunting duo, and since the cartoon's mutagen combined you with whatever the last thing you touched was, he swiftly grew into his humanoid form. His intelligence increased, but he still had his instincts and ferocity, making him a danger to everyone around him.

The major difference between the old Leatherhead toy and the cartoon version was the posture: in plastic, he was still very much an aligator, and so was fairly horizontal - he was even sculpted with his head raised, because he was so short he'd have to look up at all the other characters; but on the cartoon, he was redesigned by his original creator, Ryan Brown, and now stood upright. Quite handy for NECA, since it allows them to reuse a bunch of bodyparts. A good 90% of this toy is the same as the Triceraton Warrior (who else would have a tail like this, or a place for it to plug onto?), though it's not like they look even remotely identical.

Leatherhead dresses like he's ready to go fishing, with a tan workshirt that's had its sleeves ripped off to become a vest, a pair of blue waders (yup: the fact that his shoes and pants are the same color is not a mistake, that's an actual garment), and some sort of grey crotch-armor. He has a floppy red hat with the front brim turned up, which seems like it would defeat the purpose of having a brim at all. His ridged chest is part of the same piece as his vest, a PVC shell that slips over the actual torso beneath.

You want articulation? You've got it! We're looking at swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a balljointed torso, swivel/hinge wrists, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, a balljointed neck, and a hinged jaw. Because of his tail, he's also got a barbell joint there, as well. A lot of people got figures where the inside of the ankle joints were molded in pink, which was really blatant when you moved them and the paint scraped off; others got blue that matched the rest of the pants.

Leatherhead gets open hands, gripping hands, and fists, just like the Triceratons. There's a shotgun that's been modified with hot sauce bottles (from the episode "Night of the Rogues"), a pair of crawdads (he's Southern - they wouldn't be lobsters), a hinged bear trap, a manacle on a chain, a thick rope fashioned into a lasso, and a net large enough to actually capture the Turtles. There's a hook on the back of the belt where the trap can hang, but be careful, because it could snap easily. Little loops on the front and side of the belt are for the crawfish, but there's no easy way to hang them: your best bet is to hook their claws through. Unless you want to bend twist-tie hooks around them, like I did.

Like Slash, Leatherhead was available in the videogame line, but the fact that this one has so many more accessories makes him worth getting over that one. But there's no way to get him alone, so Slash's stupid head will have to come along for the ride. Since the set barely ever showed up at Target, it's a darn good thing NECA offered it through their website as well.

-- 08/12/21


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