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Casey Jones as the Phantom

Universal Monsters x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
by yo go re

Serendipity!

The enigmatic & operatic man behind the mask
Bringing fear in hockey gear!
The penalty box vigilante
Experience fear-atrical frights
Stalking under the stage!
Slashing beneath the ice!
Who or what is it?

As glad as we are NECA's Universal Monsters x Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are going beyond the paramenters set by Playmates' similar 1990s releases, we do worry that the license agreements may limit the Turtle half to the New Line movies. Does that mean we'll never get to see the Bebop from the Black Lagoon? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Rocksteady? Metaluna Mutant Krang? The Baxter Stockman of Notre Dame? There are so many options that may be cut off forever.

The idea to blend Casey Jones and the Phantom of the Opera is, in a word, inspired. Casey famously wears a white mask, the Phantom famously wears a white mask... half your work is done already! The movie-poster-speak on the back of the box gamely tries to draw further parallels, revealing a story of Casey Jones... lurking around under the ice rink, I guess? Is he mad that Shorsey is getting the attention he thinks Riley and Jonesy deserve? Is he going to drop a zamboni on someone if the Shamrockettes don't win the boat this year? "It's &^(&ing embarrassing!"

This may be based on the movies, but don't expect an Elias Koteas likeness: we got the Judith Hoags because they could just be painted blue and sent out the door, but accurately zombifiying Elias not only would have required new work, it also would have likely required new approvals from the actor himself. So while he get swappable heads, it's just a case where one of them has an intact mask (adjusted slightly from the original to look slightly more skeletal), and the other has the lower left quarter broken away to reveal his raw, deformed jawline beneath.

There's also a skull, which may or may not be a mask. NECA just refers to it as a skull both on their website and on the packaging, and it has no eyes in the sockets or evidence of a chin/throat behind the jaw; but also, it's larger than the skull from inside someone's head would be (compare it to any of the skulls any of the Predators have come with), and it has a hole so it can go onto this figure's neck. So is it supposed to be his fleshless head-bones, or is he dressing up to be spooky? You make the call!

The Phantom's clothes are an odd melange. Like, he's wearing cleats, thick kneesocks, big kneepads, quilted hockey pants (identifiable by the kidney protectors coming up off the sides), then a waistcoat, shirt, and a dress jacket with seemingly elastic sleeves? It absolutely fits the design directive of "old-timey sports man" crossed with "opera-loving dandy" (keeping in mind, of course, that those "dress clothes" were once only intended for lower-class activities, such as sport). Everything's a bit raggedy, almost like he's been living in his clothes under a building for years! Nah, couldn't be! The set includes a softgoods cloak to cover everything, and it's got a shaped collar and a posing wire inside front edges.

We get the usual assortment of hands open to different degrees to hold different accessories, but there's something cooler than that as well. His normal hands (and fists) are wearing short fingerless gloves, but once you've popped the hands off the wrists, you also have the option of giving him hockey gloves! The right hand is a brown leather glove, while the left hand is a goalie's blocker in red. The blocker pad has a white skull and crossbones painted on it - it's a bit "Misfits," honestly, but is also reminiscent of 2012 Casey Jones' mask/facepaint.

The figure's only weapons are the same two hockey sticks as the first Casey, done in a plain, dark brown with black tape. That's not that much, compared to the other crossover figures. He's still got good articulation, though: swivel/hinge ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, balljointed waist, swivel/hinge wrists, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a barbell neck. Every single one of those moved smooth as butter right out of the packaging. His cape is stored in a separate baggie behind the tray, and as mentioned above, it has wires stitched in so you can make it hang dramatically no matter how you have the figure posed.

Considering the genesis of this figure is "hey, both these guys wear masks!", the combo works out better than anticipated. A fully unmasked head would have been terrific, and possibly some weapons that fit into some of the other alternate hands (we don't need tightly closed hands if we don't have a golf club for them to grip, guys), but the execution of the idea is overall a ton of phant-astic fun.

-- 05/18/23


 
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