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Wingnut & Screwloose

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
by yo go re

I know I watched the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon as a kid, but I'm coming to realize that I maybe never watched it. Because every time it comes to review some of NECA's animated appearance figures, I rewatch the episodes they're based on, and I can't remember ever seeing them before. Like, I didn't remember Wingnut and Screwloose ever appearing on the show at all, yet here we are.

In the episode "Zach and the Alien Invaders" (the duo's only appearance in the series) Wingnut was a villainous alien from the planet Flagenon who was intent on taking over the Earth. He was an alien according to the old toy as well, but there he ended up on Earth after Krang destroyed his home planet (Huanu - presumably changed because it was a pun on "guano," and they didn't want to get in trouble if any kids looked the word up?) and was an ally to the Turtles. That's a pretty massive change! And why would you bother rewriting the history of someone so minor?

Furthering the notion that I was dense and unobservant as a child, it took me years to realize Wingnut is supposed to be based on Batman. The blue and gray costume, the yellow utility belt, the tiny sidekick... it's utterly blatant once you realize it, but my dumb ass didn't get it. Cartoon Wingnut has a fairly chubby body, all soft and round with a big ol' butt [oh yeah! --ed.] There isn't a ton of detail in the sculpt, because it's based on an animation model, but they did manage to sneak a few smooth wrinkles in around the joints. His face has the tall, pointed nose that's always been part of his ridiculous design, and his tiny, atrophied wings are encased in big mechanical prostheses.

The "gray" part of the costume is more lavender, though you may not notice until you turn the figure around to look at the back. Like all the "cartoon appearance" toys, he's been painted with shadows on his back - shadows which in his case are purple. The wings are true gray, because they're meant to be metal and needed to stand apart from the rest of the suit. There is a little bit of the wing right where it meets the body that should have been painted brown like the rest of his skin, but is the unpainted color of the plastic.

Wingnut's got plentiful articulation. He has swivel/hinge ankles, hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, swivel/hinge wrists, double-swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, a balljointed chest, and balljointed head, plus swivel/hinges for the wings. The lower hinge on the elbow is hidden inside the upper edge of the glove, so it can be hard to get those moving, but there were no broken joints and no other problems to report. You get your choice of swappable fists, open hands, or gripping hands, plus a triangular bazooka thing he definitely never used in the episode. Knowing NECA, it's meant as a bonus for a different set.

Released in 1990, the vintage Wingnut figure was one of the first to come with a little "sidekick" figure, the tiny mosquito Screwloose. Screwloose appeared on the cartoon, and thus appears in this set as well. He's a much smaller figure, as he should be, but still gets a detailed sculpt and full articulation. Of course, "smaller" is a relative term - compared to the old toy, which was just an unpainted, unarticulated accessory, he's much, much larger!

Some of the old toy bios would give at least a hint of personality to the sidekick figures, but not Screwloose. The cartoon didn't do much with him, either. He seemed to be Wingnut's boss - their plan for conquering Earth involved brainwashing pre-teens at a military academy for some reason, and his cover ID was "Col. Clout" to Wingnut's "Sgt. Rambo" - but other than ordering the bigger bat around, he had no identifiable traits.

If Wingnut is Batman, you'd expect Screwloose to be his Robin, right? Well, no: he wears a belly-baring tanktop,indigo pants, and black dress shoes with white spats. So I guess his aesthetic is "1950s Italian-American relaxing at home"? Weird choice. He's got spiky ridges on all four arms, a segmented tail twisting its way out of his pants, and a pair of flat gray wings that just emerge from his shoulders without ripping his shirt at all - presumably these are alien clothes designed specifically for him. Or at least for his species.

Screwloose's skin is yellow, with a pale green for his arm-spikes. The same green is repeated on his stomach and tail. There are thin black lines to outline the sculpt and make him look more cartoony - around his eyes and teeth, yes, but also a few on his orange shirt and two small ones to deepen the bends on his crooked nose. If you look into the mouth, the interior is painted red; the lower jaw and the cranium are molded as two separate pieces and then glued together, which is how that's possible.

There are no accessories for Screwloose - the only things he used in the episode were his human disguise and a piece of brainwashing machinery large enough to fill up half a room - but he does have full articulation: a balljointed head, chest, and hips; swivel/hinge wings, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles; and a swivel tail. It's possible the tail is a balljoint, but the socket is so deep it only turns. Two of his hands are open and two are shaped to hold something, and you can swap them between the arms if you like (in the package, the bottom two are the open ones).

Okay, small correction: there may be an accessory for Screwloose. See, this package includes one of NECA's clear posing stands, which are normally sold by themselves; it's got a large base, an articulated arm, and a poseable clamp to hold figures securely. Wingnut is a bit heavy for it, but Screwloose is light enough that you can use it to make him fly. So while it could be used for either character, it feels more "right" with the mosquito.

The set also includes a bag of extras: several little slips of paper for you to fold in half to create comicbooks (an important plot point in "Zach and the Alien Invaders," and all based on ones mentioned in the cartoon series), and a sheet of stickers featuring the lumpy W emblem that appeared on Wingnut's classic toy but was absent on the cartoon, a wanted poster for Smash (the leader of the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang Shredder used to try to discredit the boys), and a yellow map for inside Splinter's robe, as seen in the episode "Case of the Hot Kimono." That is beyond obscure!

When rumors of this set first surfaced, a lot of fans assumed it would be a "VHS" set like Metalhead or Krang's Android Body - there didn't seem to be enough there to warrant a two-pack, but the mechanical wings would be enough to fill out a package. Wingnut's body turned out to be plumper than expected, and Screwloose is larger (both things that are cartoon-accurate), so a set like this does make some sense. I didn't remember Wingnut and Screwloose ever appearing on the cartoon, but I did have the old toys, so this update is fun. Plus, with Slash and Leatherhead, we're now well on our way to creating a Mighty Mutanimals team! Maybe I shouldn't have passed on that Mondo Gecko all those times I saw him...

-- 12/16/21

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