When I was a fairly young kid, making the gradual transition from "buy me this toy" to heading out with my own money, there was one figure that was my Holy Grail. One that I looked for every time I went to the toy aisle. One that was nearly impossible to find. What was this oh-so-special item? The original April O'Neil figure from the TMNT line.
April was a major part of the Turtles' story, always there to lend whatever help she could. She wasn't a helpless victim that needed the guys to rescue her, and was a real member of their team. But due to the ridiculous insistence by toy companies that female figures don't sell well, April was always shortpacked. It took me years to even see an April figure anywhere but the back of the blister packs, and even longer before I found one of my own. Fortunately, April is a much easier figure to find in Playmates' new TMNT line. Unfortunately, the old figure was better.
She's got beauty, brains and a wicked round-house ninja kick. She's the "shellacious" April O'Neil, the Turtles' best friend and human protector. April was a lab assistant at StockTronics. When her boss Baxter tried to feed her to his robot Mousers, she was saved by the Turtles. April is the Turtles' "big sister" and link to the outside world. She's "street smart" and just plain smart. That's probably why she and the ninja-nerd Donatello form a special bond. April teaches the Turtles about the wonders of New York City, everything from strolling Fifth Avenue (under cover of darkness) to eating chili-cheese hot dogs.
Obviously April's story has been changed since last she made her way into toy fans' consciousness. No longer a TV reporter, the new cartoon brings her origin back in line with Eastman and Laird's old comicbooks. She looks younger now than she used to, and has traded in the garish yellow jumpsuit for a hip bellyshirt and some baggy cargo pants.
Her face has a definite cartoony look to it, which succeeds in replicating the cartoon in the way that the old line tried to do. Her hair is pulled back in a little bun that suits a science nerd who spends most of her free time wandering around the sewers.
Part of the three-figure Series 2 (seven characters in the first series and three in the second? Way to space out the line, guys), April is no more difficult to find than either of her two male companions: Casey Jones and the villainous Hun. She stands just under 5" tall and moves at the Big Five and her waist.
Much as I like April, the real reason I bought this figure was the fine selection of accessories. She comes with a laptop (though we've seen better with Willow and Oracle) and a lead pipe, which is an accessory that I've been after for quite a while (no, really). Those are both nice, but the real bonus is the two Mousers packed with her.
The Mouser is a high tech robot designed to eradicate the city's rapidly expanding rat population. With the funding and support of the city, Dr. Baxter Stockman plans to release these rodent-ridding robots throughout the greater metropolitan area.
The Mousers have been brought into the story much sooner in the new cartoon than before, and are treated as more of an ongoing threat. The new trend in children's cartoons seems to be more involved stories that have their set-ups and payoffs in different episodes (and sometimes even in different seasons), which treats young audiences with respect. I like that.
Painted a flat grey (rather than the silver shown on the packaging), the Mousers are 2" tall and move at the hips, neck and jaw. Their mouths are spring loaded: pull the lower jaw down and it snaps shut, perfect for attacking our heroes. The inside of their mouths have rows of sharp-looking blades to tear apart their foes.
These little guys are a bit short on detail, but they're much better than the over-large wind-up mouser from the original line. Though I think it would be great to see a blister pack with just a half dozen of these little rodent-munching 'bots by themselves - an army-builder set of tiny mechanized terrors - having two of them bundled with April makes this figure worth buying.
Which Turtle was your favorite? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.