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Mutagen Man

by yo go re

Part of the beauty of Nickelodeon's current TMNT cartoon is the way they update so many crazy old characters into something respectable.

Formerly the Pulverizer, who mutates into a jar of goo, then Mutagen Man. He absorbs any Ooze around him for fuel. Being mutated from nothing but a tube of guts to an armed and legged jar with acid Ooze hands, he searches for April in hopes of finding a friend and fights anything that gets in his way. His acid Ooze hands melt anything they touch, so the Turtles fight to keep him away and Ooze free in order to find a cure and reverse the mutation.

Mutagen Man is technically on "Team Kraang," according to the back of the card, but if he's anything like his '90s counterpart, that's only because he requires tungsten mutagen to live, and the bad guys are the only ones with a steady supply.

The old version had a body that actually looked somewhat humanoid - it had a few suggestions of anatomical details, like a hollow mannequin. This one, however, is clearly just a glass tube that has arms and legs sticking out of it. The frame of the tube is gray, while the "glass" is translucent aqua plastic. There's a speaker on the front, presumably so Mutagen Man can communicate.

The "Man" part of "Mutagen Man" is not even a little bit human any more. He's basically just a loose collection of organs. In the cartoon they float around inside MM's gooey body, but since that wouldn't work on a toy, Playmates faked it by having them all hang from the (removable) lid of the container. They're all pale pink, with the only paint being the white eyes [though in some cases there are also painted pupils --ed.].

Rather than having semi-dissolved human limbs like the old toy, this time they're just goopy pseudopods in the shape of limbs. Think Clayface, if he were a little bit more runny. They're cast from trans yellow plastic, and there are studded silver band around the wrists and left ankle. Where did they come from? Why isn't there one on his right ankle? You'd have to ask the designers. His right hand is a fist, and his left hand is open, providing a bit of an action feature.

To simulate the way acidic ooze can run from his pores, the left hand can be popped off at the wrist. There's then a silver cap that can be removed, revealing the hollow of his arm. Fill the arm and the hand with Ooze, and it will drip out through the holes in his palm. It's a neat gimmick, but I've never run slime through any toy I've ever owned, and I'm not about to start now. Obviously you can also fill the central body with the stuff, though I'm not sure it would be translucent enough to allow you to still see the floating organs.

The articulation on this figure is better than the original, but is that really saying very much? It's still not as good as you'd expect from a modern action figure. He has swivel wrists and swivel/hinge shoulders and hips. There's no way to have him standing straight up without being pigeon-toed, and it's hard to find anything to do with his arms that won't make him look stupid. Articulation is the weak point of this entire line, and there are no signs of it correcting any time soon.

The old Mutagen Man looked monstrous, but this new one makes a lot more sense from an in-universe standpoint. There's certainly room for improvement, but Mutagen Man is a fine addition to my small "Nick Turtles" collection.

-- 04/13/14

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