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by yo go re

About a year ago, Nickelodeon acquired the rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from Mirage Studios, and naturally, they immediately went to work on a cartoon. Of course, a new cartoon means a new opportunity to sell toys, and Playmates is right on the ball.

Inventive and detail-oriented, Donatello may be the only mutant Turtle that doesn't mind a little time indoors. After all, where would the Ninja teens be without all his incredible creations? From the ShellRaiser to the robot Metalhead, Donatello's mind is just as sharp as the blade on his Naginata bo staff!

Now, that's the bio from the back of the package on the mass market release of Donatello - but this review isn't covering the mass market release. After quite a bit of trying, I finally managed to lay hands on the version that was given away at Toy Fair, and the fact that he doesn't come in the normal package is just one of the things that's different about him.

One thing that is the same? The sculpt. Donatello stands 4¾" tall, which puts this figure in a 6" scale - when the cartoon has showed them interacting with adults, they were noticably shorter. The sculpt of the figure isn't as blocky as the actual animation model is, but it looks very cool nonetheless. The limbs get very thick and stocky as you move away from the trunk, and there's nice definition in the muscles. They did a top-notch job on the textures too, with a mixture of small wrinkles and scattered warty bumps. The cloth wraps sculpted around his joints have the appropriate sort of crosshatching, and his pads look like they've seen some heavy use.

The head is very cute. In the cartoon Donny is either missing a tooth or has a diastema - but since the toy is the only one of the four that doesn't have its mouth open, you can't see any gap in his teeth. Instead, he just has a bit of a frown and a furrowed brow. His eyes are blank white, although in the cartoon you can definitely see his pupils. Of course, that may be for the best.

The articulation is pretty good, as well. He has a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, and swivel wrists. There's no waist, thanks to his solid shell, and no ankles. The front half of his shell is soft pvc, allowing it to move out of the way when you raise his legs. Some sort of articulation in the feet would be very helpful, if only to help him balance when you move the legs around. The design of the neck joint doesn't actually allow the head very much up-down motion, but you can tilt it to the side to give his poses a little more personality.

There are two things that set this Toy Fair exclusive apart from the normal release, and the first is the paint. The purple on his mask is desaturated, his knee- and elbow-pads are darker, the wraps around his ankles and wrists are lighter, and the entire thing has been given a simple black wash to bring out the details. The changes are all minor, but man, do they add up! He also has the number 281 stamped on the back of his shell, so either these exclusives were numbered as they were handed out, or he's proudly representing Houston's outer beltway area.

The other difference is the weapons. Well, weapon: instead of a whole plastic sprue of weapons, he just gets one. It's his bo staff, thankfully - did you really think they'd give him the wrong thing? One nice bonus that this one has over the normal releases? The white tape around the center of the bo is painted white, rather than being left the brown it's molded in. The bo can either fit in the loop on the back of his belt, or be held in the hands. Rather than being a plain tube, like the '80s toy was, this one is shaped like a rough stick: wider at one end than the other, slightly knobby, etc.

Like we said, the Toy Fair TMNT don't come in the same packaging as the normal releases. Rather, they were handed out in little Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-branded gift bags. Inside the bag is a heavy cardboard box with a pattern meant to suggest a manhole cover. The lid slides off, revealing the Turtle inside (which one is a mystery until you open it) resting in a flocked, vacuum-formed tray that holds him tightly. It's nice, and definitely gives the whole thing a "collector-y" feel.

The new TMNT cartoon just started airing yesterday, but if the first two-part episode is any indication, it's going to be a fun series. Even if you've got no interest in the cartoon, these new toys are astonishing little pieces of work. With the Classics, we told you to just pick your favorite Turtle and stick with that; with these, it's worth picking up all four of the boys. Booyakasha!

-- 09/30/12

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