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Armorized Shredder

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
by yo go re

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a prime example of how good press can sway public opinion.

In feudal Japan, it was the samurai who were honorable and respectable - they were the ones who lived by a code, they were the ones who served the public interest. Mamas wanted their babies to grow up to be samurai. Ninjas were cowardly pieces of crap. But today, what's the cool profession? The ninja. Who are the good guys? The Ninja Turtles. Who's the bad guy? The silver samurai Shredder.

Things are going to get a little rougher for our Turtle compadres thanks to new Armorized Shredder! As if he wasn't already evil and dangerous enough, now Shredder is even more equipped to grind our boys into Turtle soup! Will his new armor hold up against the Turtles' own Fightin' Gear? Put Shredder into lethal action against them for the ultimate confrontation!

Okay, first of all, does anyone find it odd that Playmates is encouraging kids to engage in "lethal action?" Now, I'm not one who believes that violent movies, toys or games will actually make children violent, but for some reason "lethal" just seems to jump out of that description at me. What ever happened to the days when enemies tried to "destroy" or "eliminate" each other?

And secondly, how is Shredder now more equipped to fight the Turtles? He's got the exact same gear as the original figure. Now it's shiny. That means he's more dangerous? How? Is the gleam of his armor going to blind his opponents? Pah!

Ridiculous complaints aside, the new Fightin' Gear figures are all pretty cool. The Turtles all wear armor that looks like it was cobbled together from the dust bin, while Shredder gets some swank removable blades.

Always a fan of removable armor, I really liked this Shredder when I saw him at SDCC '03. Knowing I'd eventually need to get a villain for Donatello to fight, I held out for Armorized Shredder to hit shelves. He's made from the same general body as the other Shredder, standing 5⅝" tall and moving at the neck, shoulders, right elbow, wrists, waist and hips. He's got the same pose, and all the same body armor.

The six pieces of armor - shoulder pads, gauntlets and greaves - all snap on to the figure securely, and the helmet slips over his head. The pieces fit on so well, in fact, that they're a little difficult to remove, so you shouldn't have to worry about them falling off during a battle.

The only bad point about the armor is that it's vac-metallized. What is vac-metallizing? Plastic pieces are coated with a special paint that dries to a slightly sticky finish. They're then loaded into a chamber which contains two large vertical tungsten electrodes and aluminum rods are hung between them. The air in the chamber is pumped out to create a vacuum as a tremendous electrical current is pumped through the tungsten electrodes. The combination causes the aluminum rods to instantly vaporize and spray outwards, coating everything within their spray pattern. The aluminum spray sticks to the special paint on the plastic, giving them that shiny, chromed look.

The aluminum coating is very fragile at this point, so a clear sealer coat is sprayed over it for protection (transparent dyes can be added to produce other metallic colors). The pieces are then generally run through this process again using different vac-chamber racks so surfaces that weren't coated during the first blast are exposed for vac-metallizing. While it does give us the look of metal pieces without the associated production costs, the thin layer of metal has a tendency to flake off over time, and the pieces show fingerprints very easily.

While the body and pose are the same as the last Shredder, this Armorized version doesn't come with any of the accessories: no naganata, no swords, no shuriken, no nothing other than the armor; while the snap-on pieces are nice, at least one weapon would have been nice, if only to give that bent right arm something to hold.

Armorized Shredder is a pretty good toy. He looks good in costume, he looks good as Oroku Saki, and he's fun to play with. Despite the vac-metal parts and the lack of accessories, I'd rather have this version than the other. Only problem is that now I think I want some of the Fightin' Gear Turtles to go along with him.

-- 12/03/03

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