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by yo go re

Daddy's home!

Splinter was mutated by the same ooze that changed four tiny turtles into his proteges in the fight against the Foot Clan.

I'll be quite honest with you: until this figure began showing up at Walmart, it hadn't occurred to me that we'd never gotten a Mirage Studios version of Splinter. "After," in fact. Because I saw this figure on the shelf (with some of the solid-blue Foot Soldiers) and thought to myself, "oh, that's neat, but I already have Splinter." No, dummy, you have the cartoon version and the movie version, and neither of them look anything like this! (I'm regularly very mean to myself.)

Splinter is a 7"-scale figure, so that means he's very short, as he should be - if you look at the old comics, the Turtles stood about chest-high on a human, and Splinter was about chest-high on the Turtles, so this toy is little! For those who mainly know Master Splinter from other media, his proportions will probably be surprising, as well: with a very small torso and comparatively long limbs, he's built like a person with dwarfism. Like the other Splinters (the rats, not the small pieces of wood), his robe is softgoods, so you won't get to see the furry sculpt very often.

Mirage Splinter was more emphatically "rat" than "rat man," with the major factor in that distinction being the lack of human eyes. It's not that he was never drawn with pupils, but it was rare; typically, he was drawn with just blank white eyes, like an animal's shining in the dark. Yes, a rat's eye would typically look solid black (and would shine red), but by simply leaving out that black dot in the middle, it makes him look more like a creature.

Because Splinter is so little, his articulation has been toned down just a bit. He moves at the neck, shoudlers, elbows, wrists, chest, hips, knees, ankles, and the base of the tail. The tail is bendy, but it gets so narrow at the end that the wire has to end before the part where you'd want it to bend. His robe is surprisingly short, and really wants to ride up - you know, for that authentically "old man" experience! (Remember that even in captivity, a well cared-for rat lives for about two to three years, and yet Splinter had been alive for at least 27 by the time the story started; he is elderly!)

Also because Splinter is so little, there's lots of room in the box to load this release down with accessories. We begin with the simple, a few replacement hands. Right out of the tray, he's got a relaxed pair, but you can swap those for either pointing or clutching versions. He includes his familiar walking stick, a must for any classic Splinter, plus a teapot and teacup, because he deserves to have a nice relaxing drink when he wants it.

That's all fine for modern Splinter, but maybe you'd like something older - say, perhaps, the version of him who was still a pet rat, learning ninjitsu via observation and mimickry. We get just that, with his pose taken straight from the flashback in the comic. Skewing the timeline a bit, we also get four unmutated baby turtles! And to complete the scene, the canister of TCRI ooze, which has broken open and is leaking green goo in a puddle around itself. How fun!

Beyond that, we also get an angry-looking Utrom (the proto-"Krang" guys) and a Mouser robot! Surprisingly, the Utrom is not the original mold, nor is it the same that came with the robot exoskeleton. You could potentially have three unique Utroms in your display! The Mouser isn't the old version, either - it's not easy to differentiate them by simply looking, but this new version has a rounded butt instead of flat. Oh, and entirely superior articulation! The 2008 Mouser had swivel hips and a balljointed head; this one has the hips still, but moves the balljoint to the base of the neck, and adds hinges for the head, the jaw, the knees, and the ankles! Wow! Not crazy about the light blue airbrushing on the gray body, but everything else about this Mouser is an improvement.

After some less-than-impressive offerings, it's great to get a NECA Mirage Turtles release that's worth being excited about again.

-- 12/28/23

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