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Ninja Decal Kit

Luke's Toy Store
by yo go re

In the '80s, I used to use markers to color in the unpainted details on my TMNT figures. These days, customizing has achieved a huge level of legitimacy. Jin Saotome has become internet famous for smearing dark paint on every Transformer that's ever crossed his path, and we've even reviewed (and recommended!) two fanmade add-on kits. If you want to make your toys better than they were when you bought them, there are lots of people out there who are willing to help you - including the newest entry in the category, Luke's Toy Store.

This exclusive Ninja Decal Kit will allow you to easily create your own army of Ninja Minimates! These decals have been designed so that anyone can apply them using only a bowl of water and a sharp scissors or hobby knife. This kit includes 10 unique character decals available nowhere else, from basic black and white ninjas to noble earth ninjas, haunted demon ninjas, and more! A duplicate set of decals is included, for a total of 20 character decals. You can also mix and match these designs to create even more unique characters. It is a fun and easy way to expand your Minimate collection.

This set was provided to us for free by Luke's Toy Store, looking for some cheap publicity. Since we enjoy not paying for things, it worked out best for everyone!

The Ninja Decal Kit is packaged simply - in a manilla envelope with a label on the front - but what more would you really need? The labels are inside, with a sheet of detailed instructions and an impressively comprehensive list of figures you can use as a base (more on that later).

One kit, which will run you about five bucks, includes 10 different themed groups of labels, each with seven individual pieces: head, chest, back, forearms and shins. There are five groups each designed to work with white and black bodies, and of course, you can mix and match pieces at will, to design your own ninja.

Mind you, the ninja sets aren't stickers: if you've ordered from places like ReproLabels in the past and are expecting more of the same, you're in for a shock. These are water slide decals, which aren't uncommon in higher-end model kits, but may be unfamiliar to most toy fans. Not to worry, though, the instructions walk you through the best way to apply them. Cut 'em out, dunk 'em in water, and 60 seconds later you've got a new look. I've never dealt with this kind of label before, but I only had minor problems, and the process got easier with each successive ninja; the last one only took 15 minutes total.

Now, because this style of decal is going to be unusual to most fans, Luke's Toy Store found a way to protect you from rookie mistakes: the $5 you spend on a Ninja Decal Kit includes not one, but two identical sheets of stickers. So instead of 10 groups and 70 separate pieces, you're actually getting 20 ninjas made from 140 decals. Value!

The colors on the decals are all vibrant and solid, and the colors are a decent match for those seen on the real Minimates. You don't have to worry about putting the black pieces on a black blank and having them stand out blatantly; the worst you'll get is potentially white edges around the pieces where you cut them out, but even that's not too distracting. It's a bit odd that while the "plain" ninjas have exposed some of the skin on their chests, it's not done in pink, like their eyes - just the same color as the rest of the gi.

In sending us this kit, Luke's Toy Store threw in a few Minimate blanks so we could test them out appropriately - not something they usually do. For some reason, Diamond Select doesn't offer plain blank Minimates for sale to customizers, but the store is trying to get a supply that they can sell with their kits. Even Hasbro had the good sense to list blank white Mighty Muggs on their website, so let's hope DST wises up. Anyway, with the list of suitable Minimate bodyparts included with your purchase, you'll have no trouble amassing a base for your ninja.

Using the Ninja Decal Kit isn't exactly what I'd call simple: stickers are "simple," this is a bit beyond that level of skill. However, using water slide decals is actually a bit more forgiving than traditionals labels - you don't have to worry about getting the stickers on dead-center on your first try, because there's a little bit of wiggle room between putting the piece on and having it fully adhered. Recenter it, smooth out any bubbles or wrinkles, and then let it dry. So no, not simple, but still easy. Don't be afraid that you can't do it.

The Ninja Decal Kit is just the beginning. Luke's Toy Store is also planning a set of ghosts (to go with all those popular Ghostbusters Minimates), followed by zombies, with even more smart things on the horizon. Being able to easily create new Minimates that will add some variety to your collection is definitely worth the price, so if you've got a blank Minimate hanging around and looking out of place, go buy him some clothes today.

-- 09/16/09

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