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Raph the Barbarian

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.

Carrying a big axe and wearing a horned helmet and fur tunic, which is nothing more than a spaghetti strainer and a shaggy rug, Raph transforms himself into "Raph the Dwarf Barbarian!" After getting sucked into an evil wizard's maze, Raph finds himself fighting by his brothers' sides to finish the quest and free April.

Violent and angry? Raphael really didn't wander very far out of his comfort zone when it came to crafting an alternate persona for the LARP game, did he? Of course, since his brothers pretty much had to twist his arm to get him to agree to play in the first place, it probably shouldn't come as a major surprise that he didn't put a ton of effort in.

As the packaging said, his helmet is mostly made from a colander, but that doesn't explain where he found the skull and horns to go on it. Seriously, two horns of different size and color - where in the sewer do you find those? The drape on the back of his neck is supposed to be a red and white checkerboard cloth, like the table at every Italian restaurant everywhere ever.

The rest of his costume may just be a rug that he's wearing like a toga, but it's pretty impressive he's managed to keep it in such a pristine condition when he's running around down in the sewers. It's shaggy and white, that thing should be a magnet for stains! You can't even walk around your living room in socks without getting them dirty, but this guy is bounding around the city's under-structure while looking as spring-fresh as a June bride who's been waiting to walk down the aisle inside a hermetically sealed bubble.

From the beginning, the Turtles have pretty much all had the same articulation, and things aren't changing now. Michelangelo gets the benefit of a balljointed head, swivel wrists, and swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, hips and knees. The design of his neck keeps the head from taking full advantage of the balljoint - it basically just swivels. Also, because the hip peg goes up into the body instead of sideways into the pelvis, you have to turn his leg weirdly to the side to get it to move that direction.

The prototype figure was just a normal Raphael toy with a separate "fur" piece hung over top. On the final figure, the fur is a molded part of the body, so no stripping him down. All the LARP Turtles lost paint apps between the stock photography stage and final production, and in Raph's case that means silver studs on all his belts, beige on the wraps around his fingers, and a second tone of grey on his helmet, all of which would have added depth to the final figure (though at no point was he ever planned to have the chekerboard pattern - you'll have to make that one yourself). The worst, though? A giant section of his shell is unpainted white, when it should be yellowy orange.

The helmet is removable, of course, but other than that bit of skull-protection, his only accessory is an axe. The axe has no paint apps - it's flat gray. The promo shots showed it with a brown haft, tan wraps, a silver spike on top, and a two-tone blade. It looked a lot better with the paint - a lot better.

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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