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Donnie the Wizard

by yo go re

After finding a copy of the game Mazes & Mutants in the trash, Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael decided to get costumes and partake in some live-action roleplaying in the sewers around their home.

With a pointed bed sheet hat, robe decorated with stars, neck medallion and a glowing ornament on his bo staff, Donnie is "The Magnificent Wizard", ready to cast spells in the Turtles' imaginary game. But Donnie is shocked to find out all the Turtles have been transported by an evil wizard to complete his maze. After discovering the princess that needs rescuing is April, Donnie is motivated more than ever to defeat the maze and rescue her.

No surprise that when the boys adopt fantasy personae, Donatello becomes a wizard - what does he usually do? [Coke? --ed.] Machines! And anybody who can build this is already controlling forces his mortal companions cannot begin to comprehend. It's like they say: sufficiently advanced technology, indistinguishable from magic, all that.

Considering the fact that the Turtles' costumes were assembled from whatever junk they could lay hands on, you've gotta ask yourself... where did Donnie get that beard? Best case scenario, it's a mop head he found floating in the sewer and then wrapped it around his mouth; worst case, it's actual hair that washed down the drains, and he'd been weaving it together for some purpose before they even decided to play the game. Either way, "eww." The beard and hat are a single connected piece, with a slot in the back where the tie for his mask can poke through.

The packaging says the hat is made from a bed sheet, but that doesn't seem right. Really, it just looks like a hat with a cresent moon taped to the front. If they really wanted to go with the "made from junk" angle, they should have made his hat a traffic cone. His robe is sculpted with stars, and there's hood hanging down against his back. The toy's torso and arms are entirely new molds, because the only other option was to give him a softgoods robe, and nobody wants that. He has two small pouches hanging on one side of his robe, and a medallion featuring a bull's head(?) hanging in his beard.

Don's articulation is not as good as usual. He has a balljointed head, swivel wrists, and swivel/hinge shoulders, hips and knees. He has no kind of elbow joints, so his arms are forever going to be in one basic pose. On the plus side, his kneepads now go all the way around the leg, which is definitely an improvement. The paint, however, is disappointing.

Judging by the episode (and the stock photo on the back of the card), the hat should be about the same shade as Donatello's mask, while the robe should be much lighter. Additionally, the circles around the stars should be pale lavender, and the pouches on his side should be silver. The beard could stand to be a little darker (or at least have a paint wash). On the other hand, the prototype figure had a big T on his medallion, while the bull's head on the toy is accurate to the cartoon, so not all the changes are for the worse. Sadly, the bands around his wrists are completely upainted, and so is his mouth.

If you don't count the hat-beard, Donnie's only accessory is his bo staff, which has been given a medieval makeover. To turn a simple wooden stick into a wizard's staff, he tied a snow globe on the end. In the cartoon, there's enough of a closeup that you can make out King Kong climbing a building inside it, but that would be a ridiculous thing to expect on a 5" toy. What we might have expected is that the globe and the tape holding it on would be painted different colors, like in the promotional images - no such luck.

One of the things that made Playmates' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toyline the toys of the late '80s was the wild, weird variations the company made of them. Cowboys, cavemen, costumes, superheroes, samurais, sports, monsters, musicians, military... lots and lots of different turtles, is the point. These four LARP TMNT - Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael - feel like a throwback to those days, and if you don't mind all the absent paint apps, these are a lot of fun.

-- 10/31/14

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