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Night Shadow Leonardo

by Rustin Parr

San Diego Comic-Con 2012 had a fairly unimpressive board of fare when it came to exclusives. Sure there were plenty that were appealing, but there weren't any that got me very pumped; no must-haves. Then the week before, someone uncovered this figure - Shadow Leonardo from Playmates' new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line - and I finally found something to get excited for. I love the TMNT and was looking forward to the new line, and I have an incredibly soft spot for extreme/interesting paint jobs like this. Little did I know it'd come to be the biggest disappointment of the year.

Spoiler alert: this is a terrible figure. How so? Well... it's not a figure. It's a statue. Oh ho ho, fans, that's right. Rather than being an incredible repaint of a great figure, Playmates not only cast all new tooling sans articulation they glued all of the pieces in place! What. The. Hell!?

The sculpt is identical to the figure released at retail but now with the articulation totally removed. You can still see where it should go in the sculpt though, mainly in the knees. On one hand it affords you the chance to better appreciate the sculpt (presumably a digital one, since the articulation was so easily removed) but it raises questions too. Like, why don't the kneepads wrap all the way around the leg? Still though, it is a great sculpt and a fantastic new take on the Turtles.

I really love the heavy texturing on the skin, tape, bandages and so on, plus the chipping on the shell really helps tell a story and inform the character. The figure is cast in seven parts - head, torso, arms, legs, belt, scabbard - and they are all glued in place. Why? Would affording us the simple swivel joints at the Big Five come too desperately close to making this worthwhile? I'm sure it just tied into the paint: since the figure is highlighted from a specific light source he'd look a bit odd when not in this specific pose; but I'm glad they had so little faith in their consumer they chose not even to risk us being able to adjust him ourselves possibly finding comparably unique and dynamic poses.

If this figure is worth having in the least it is for the paint. Conceptually this is just awesome - something really only attempted twice before (on a McFarlane Collector's Club repaint of Spawn "issue 7 cover art" and on the DC Direct Mignola Black & White Batman mini-statue), extreme lighting via paint. There are four colors on this figure. Every piece is cast in flat black plastic, then we get the neon green highlights from an unseen light source, while the head gets blue for the bandana and white for the eyes. There is a tiny black dot on each of my figures' eyes near the upper rim, but they are uneven and for the life of me I can't decipher if they are meant to be pupils or were just a paint error.

Despite this guy's flaws he does look neat. The lines are fairly crisp, slightly better than your average mass market paint job. Other than the bizarro pupils my only complaint is that the only color here is blue for the bandana. This figure would have been infinitely cooler if they had used the browns, yellows and tans for the shell and tape parts that fell within the light as well. To go all neon green but keep the bandana color is a bit odd and I think I might even have preferred it to be green instead of blue just to maintain a cohesive look.

Leo came in a boring square box in a plastic tray. He had twisty-ties to hold him in place but they were solid, clear plastic, not bendy metal. It's the first time I'd seen that but in the months since the Con I've noted it on several other figures, and think it's a great innovation. If we have to have the twisties I'd prefer these plastic ones. He comes with a base and his swords are removable, but without them he just becomes Jazzercise Leo, and who needs that? The base is, I'm sure, re-used from some other range of their TMNT line, but I wouldn't put it past them to have wasted the money on fresh tooling for such an average thing. It has two pegs that match Leo's pegholes, but the sizing is just slightly off so it can be a bit of a struggle to get him on and off of them.

It is impossible to discuss this figure without mentioning his buying conditions. He was easily one of the most sought-after exclusives of the Con, and, between him and the other merchandise Nickelodeon had, there was a near permanently long and unmoving line. Why? Well they were complete and utter... we'll say morons. I got in line 10 minutes after the hall opened Thursday morning and proceeded to wait just over an hour to move about 30 feet. Why, oh why!? Well it turns out they were charging $30 for this nightmare, not the $20 they had quoted before, plus it was now magically one-per-person (the guy next to me in line was kind enough to get me a second for my friend). And to prove they hate their costumers they were charging tax on top of that price. To make matters more unbearable, their credit card machine was down so they were only accepting cash. AND they ran of change within that first hour! So, their solution was just to sit there and smile at folks as we shoppers had to try and come up with exact change magically on the spot by figuring out how we could get change from each other's purchases.

The staff was polite but completely and totally unresourceful and unhelpful. It never occurred to them to give us some form of reservation slip/receipt to come back later to pay and pick up our items when things were working, to put up signs anywhere saying "Cash Only" or, god forbid, close the line until they had at least gotten the basic moneys necessary for them to conduct business. Nope, all they did was to ensure that we had the worst possible experience buying the weakest possible exclusive. So you can imagine my outrage when I got home and opened this unimpressive shlock. It truly puts the "Con" in Convention Exclusive.

Shadow Leonardo is a great idea of a figure, but is a confusing and poor execution and was distributed the worst way imaginable. It sickens me that I paid three times the retail price for something with considerably less tooling and paint. I worried at first that Playmates would do one Turtle a year in this paint style but between the ordeal of buying him, the utterly exorbitant price and the worthlessness of the figure, I will certainly be passing on any future iteration, and quite possibly any Playmates exclusive to come.

-- 10/31/12

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