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Triceraton Infantryman & Roadkill Rodney

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
by yo go re

After a literal year and a half of never setting foot inside their assigned store, whoever stocks the NECA section at my local Target has finally turned things around. I was able to walk in and buy a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles set right off the shelf!

Triceraton is a simple beast, who wants nothing more than to eat rats and destroy Turtles. Ever since our three-fingered green guys visited his homeworld in Dimension X, Triceraton hasn't gotten his beauty sleep - and boy-oh-boy does it show. This ugly cold-blooded creature uses the full capacity of his walnut-sized brain to seek out and destroy all Turtles! And Triceraton would rather shoot first, since he can't ask intelligent questions later. His Laser Phaser and Neutron Neutralizer come in handy while chasing the Turtles from the sewers to the streets.

Triceratons existed in the old cartoon? I thought they were made up in 2004. Which is especially stupid of me, because that text up above is taken from the 1990 figure - a figure which I owned! Still own, in fact! How did I forget a bright orange triceratops?

Reading that text, you may have noticed that "Triceraton" was treated like an individual name, rather than a group. The toy was the only one that did that: the single episode of the cartoon where they appeared (Season 7's "Night of the Dark Turtle") depicted them the same way the comics did, as a whole race of dinosaur aliens; that's why this is identified on the box as a "Triceraton Infantryman," and named members of the species are available in a different set.

The cartoon model definitely owes at least a small debt to the toy. Comicbook Triceratons just wore jumpsuits when they weren't stripped down to their skivvies; the animated ones had riveted plates of armor. The arms and legs are bare, with studded bands on the wrists - the same Bebop wore. The black lines on the armor are sculpted in, not just painted, and the red triangle symbols on his chest and utility belt are raised.

Like the Turtles, the Triceraton only has two fingers and a thumb, though his three toes all point forward. Why do they have big claws on their toes, but smooth fingers? The head is total triceratops, with the three horns, the beak, the grimmace exposing his teeth, the eyebrows... okay, so maybe a few liberties have been taken, who are we to judge? The frill on the back of the head is more geometric than organic, but hey, these are aliens, not actual dinos.

The Triceraton Infantryman is a bright figure, with only a smattering of large purple spots painted on his vibrant orange skin. The armor is several light shades of gray, and as is the case with all the other animated TMNT figures NECA has made, the back of the toy is painted darker than the front, to suggest the cartoon's style of coloring. It's less noticable here than on some of the other figures, but it does still exist.

The figure's tail needs to be plugged in, and his has alternate hands to hold his accessories: two with a tight grip, and one with the trigger finger extended. His weapons include a Triceraton laser rifle, plus a couple guns that are clearly the ones Bebop and Rocksteady used on the cartoon - basically, it seems this set is designed to complete that one. It's a bit fitting, since at least some of the parts of the body (the arms, the thighs, quite possibly the torso under that add-on armor) are shared between the figures.

All the other cartoon-style Turtles figures are sold in two-packs; depending on how you want to judge it, this one is either a three-pack, or a single-pack with a lot of accessories. The "second" figure in this box is actually two: a pair of Roadkill Rodneys.

That name comes from the manual for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II videogame (which described them as "Unicycle soldiers that will zap you senseless"), but the design was created for the cartoon. They appear in the second episode, kidnapping a rhino and warthog from the zoo. The little droids went unnamed there, so when the NES game called them something, the fans latched onto it. They've made appearances in most of the TMNT games, but there's never been a toy of them before.

The sculpt captures the classic look perfectly: the discus-shaped head, the conical neck, the barrel-shaped shoulders, and the vertical blocky body, all balanced precarious on top of one fat wheel. Now, there's no way a single-wheeled robot could ever stand, D-O, so NECA found a way to cheat it. Among Rodney's accessories is a small cloud of dust that plugs into a hole in the back of the wheel, making it look like he's screeching along the ground. The sculpt of the bot is very simple, with just a few embellishmemts on the surface, and the shape of it is perfect.

Everything Rodney could do in the game was inspired by things that happened on the cartoon. They enter the stage by tunneling up from underground? They have little extendable lasso arms? A panel on their chest hinges open to reveal a tiny blaster? All in the game, all on the show, all on this toy. The bendy arms are removable, so you don't always have to have him flailing around, and there are two extra-long arms for distance attacks. The articulated blaster is still the most impressive inclusion, though.

The two Rodneys in this set are not identical - the hole in the tire that connects them to the dust cloud support stand is in a different spot, so they lean at different angles and don't look like clones. There's even a swivel where the wheel assembly meets the body, so you can twist them around for even more dynamic poses.

The set includes some alternate caps for the head. The "scalp" can be taken off and replaced with either a drill, or with a version that has three holes poked in it. Why? Because in the episode, Raphael stabbed a couple of them in the head with his sais, and these holes are sized to allow him to do just that. Way to tie in with an accessory from three years ago!

While just having a swappable drill would probably have been enough, NECA went one better. Beyond the "dust cloud" bases, there are also two little piles of rubble. They're not for the wheels, though; they respresent the droids bursting up through the ground! The toys pull apart at the neck, so you can mount the head on the dirt pile, to make it look like they're just coming up. What a clever idea!

This set is a total winner, and not just because it was actually in my store and I didn't have to drive to the middle of nowhere to find it. The Triceraton Infantryman is a big cool dino soldier, which is awesome, and he includes bonus weapons for the Bebop and Rocksteady set. Add to that the fact that we get two Roadkill Rodneys with dozens of display options, and you've got a ton of fun. Just be ready to fight off the army-builders who want a bunch of them to really beef up their displays.

-- 12/03/20

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