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Mondo Gecko

TMNT Ultimates
by yo go re

Well, at least road rash wouldn't show up on this skin?

"A Loner, A Lizard. A Skatemaster. Mutated from a head-banging, thrash-metal, teenage guitarist, Mondo Gecko is the coolest lizard to surf the concrete jungle." Known to his cold-blooded boardin' breathren as "The Mon," Mondo Gecko likes to skate the sewers and grease the grind. This maximum maniac grooves on shining the curbside and puts fun and freedom ahead of everything else. He's always stoked and lookin' for a new adventure. So when the Turtles need some extra help, Mondo's ready to skate, rattle and roll.

Huh, that cuts off the second paragraph of Mondo Gecko's filecard, which went on to say "Mondo Gecko and the Turtles make funky freestylin' friends. Teenager to the end, Mondo's got his brain jammed into Michaelangelo's frequency. They're both party dudes - and that makes for a totally awesome twosome. With braces on his tubular teeth and cream on his mutant zits, Mondo Gecko chomps and chews on butter beans and rips through the sewer pipes, ready to crash and thrash the Foot."

Another surprise found on the old toy? Mondo is Hawaiian. The info there is usually just meant to be silly asides, but it definitely does say he was born in "Quarterpipe, Hawaii," and that's more biographical information than literally any other source has ever given (unless you count the Archie comic saying he was in a metal band called "Merciless Slaughter"), so there's nothing to contradict it. This is a native Hawaiian hero!

(Side note: what is it with pop culture Polynesians and this name? You've got Mondo Gecko from Hawaii, and the X-Men's Mondo from Samoa; that's just two, but it's still weird, right? The word itself comes from Italian and means "world," and was popularized internationally by the 1962 film Mondo Cane ("A Dog's World"), starting to be used as a general intensifier in American slang. So how does it become the go-to name for Pacific Islanders?)

The Super7 Ultimates don't try to reimagine the old TMNT toys, they just reproduce them in a larger size with a higher level of detail. Mondo was already a fairly deatiled figure, thanks to his scaly skin, but this toy manages to take it even further. The individual scales are about the same size on this 7" scale figure as they were on the 4½" scale vintage one, so there are more of them overall. His fingers are slightly bulbous, like a gecko's toes, and his pupils are now slits rather than circles. The figure includes two heads: the first copies the original toy, with a lock of black hair falling across his forehead, his ponytail trailing out from under his backwards cap, and his tongue darting out the side of his mouth; the new head is more dynamic, with the hair sculpted blowing off his forehead more, and his mouth open to reveal the gap where the tongue could stick out before. Neat!

One area where Super7 really improves things is the paint. 1990 Mondo Gecko was light green with a few blue scale scattered on his upper arms and underneath his tail, plus on his eyelids; 2022 Mondo Gecko gets the green and the blue again, but now the blue continues onto his formerly unpainted stomach, and the entire ridge over the eyes is painted instead of just the lid. The spikes on the backs of his arms are blue now, too, where they used to be the same purple as his elbow pads. His kneepads - a spike on the right knee and a skull on the left - get their own paint apps, and they've even painted the eyelets on his sneakers! The best upgrade has to be the single rollerskate he's tied to his tail so it doesn't drag on the ground: that used to just be bare plastic, but now it gets red strings holding it on, a blue base, and red wheels on silver trucks. Way better! Instead of a sticker, the logo on his shirt is tampographed on. It would have been interesting if they'd been bold enough to really decorate him, the way the prototype was intended to be.

The articulation does get an upgrade, but that's not as flashy and immediate as the new paint. Mondo gets a balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/​hinge wrists, a balljointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge knees, and swivel/​hinge ankles, plus a balljoint at the base of the tail and a swivel in the middle. That means you can get more radical poses when he's riding his skateboard. The figure includes four sets of alternate hands: a pair curled like the old toy, a pair designed to hold accessories, a pair of fists (well, one fist, one shaka), and a pair splayed wide open. Fun!

Other than the hands and heads, the only accessory the figure includes is his "Turbo-Charged Sewer Skateboard." It is a larger-than-average skateboard with a motor in the back. The red wheels are larger in the back than in the front (presumably to help support the weight of the engine), and they get silver paint for the caps in the middle. The pattern on the top of the board is applied cleanly, but the underside is entirely unpainted. We're sure this had to be an expensive piece (for once, they didn't even bother giving us one of those insipid "parts trees" to pad out the packaging), but surely some of those sculpted details deserved better than they already got three decades ago.

I dug Mondo Gecko as a kid - he and his skateboard were a fave. I passed on the NECA cartoon figure because I already had this one preordered, so it's nice Super7 made such a detailed update.

-- 04/07/22


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