This week, I am going to have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme to my features. So, with two features on the docket (including this one), there will be a pretty stark contrast in the tone and reception of the two pieces. One will be pretty positive, and the other, well, probably not as much, so here is a spoiler alert: this first one definitely fits into the positive category.
Unless you have been hiding under a rock on Pluto for the past year, you know that, when it comes to collectible TMNT action figures, NECA has been KILLING it as of late. Even in the midst of Playmates having a stranglehold on the mass market Ninja Turtles license, NECA has found some creative ways to bring figures I have been waiting for since I was, like, 7 years old to the market. Their Arcade and Foot Clan convention exclusives were pretty amazing, but the Collector Case coming to SDCC next week might be the best convention exclusive of all time.
However, some of the absolute best work the company has been doing is taking place at (literally) a much larger scale in the form of their quarter-scale 1990 TMNT movie figures. I have already raved about the previously released Donnie and Raph, and as you might know, Leo here gets pretty much the same praise. That makes sense from one aspect in that this figure uses a lot of the same parts as the other two, but also like the other two, the pieces that make this figure uniquely Leonardo are so perfect in their plastic realization, that it can be easy to be fooled in pictures whether or not you are looking at a toy, or the actual movie-used costume. I have said it before, but it bears repeating: these likenesses are some of the most accurate ever rendered from screen to plastic.
If this is your introduction to this quarter-scale line, first: where have you been? and second: Leonardo actually makes for a good gateway into these figures, but you will want to run right out and get his brothers as well. Leo is, of course, the oldest brother, and the de facto field leader of the foursome, so even though I got my favorite turtle first with Donatello, and probably the most interesting one (from the movie, anyway) in Raphael, Leo is really who you build a display around as he stands ready for battle right at the front. You will get just about everything you need in order to have him at the ready as well, and while he shares some commonality with the other two in terms of accessories, I think I like Leo’s weaponry the best overall.
Let’s start with the most important part of the figure, though, with the likeness, and more specifically, with the head sculpt. I remember way back when NECA was teasing the production of these figures and they showed a picture of an unpainted test shot with all four of the turtles’ heads nearby. I was so taken by the fact that, even without paint details, you could instantly tell each turtle from the other based on the sculpted expressions, and all of that is just paid forward ten-fold in the final product. Like Don and Raph before, Leo’s likeness is spot-on, and the chosen expression is pitch perfect. He looks stoic, yet intense, and with his Katana blades in-hand, you know he is about make a mad dash at Shredder up on that rooftop. His lips are slightly pursed, and I really like the slightly sidelong look as it differentiates him from the other two. So NECA is a very solid three for three in the likeness game, and the upcoming Mikey doesn’t look to be any different.
In terms of production quality and value, Leo continues the top notch trend for these figures, and again, the paint applications alone are something to marvel at. The Henson suits/puppets really brought the turtles to life in a unique but respectful way to the comic and cartoon subject matter that came before. As this was the first live action venture into the property (and if you are counting quality, the ONLY live action TMNT movie), the turtles were adapted into the real world, and that came with a lot of texturing and color details. These are all captured faithfully here, and the intricate lines from the shell, the reptilian patterning in the skin, and the “dots” unique to these designs are all front and center in the execution. NOTHING can really be hidden in terms of imperfections at this scale, and NECA has been nailing the paint applications, so I do not see anything in terms of imperfections or slop or bleed when it comes to the paint work. The detail in the eyes is almost scary, and for being a giant turtle action figure, there is a pretty lifelike and almost human quality to them. It’s nuts.
The engineering continues to be superb as well, and for being such a huge chunk of plastic, this figure balances and poses remarkably well, while keeping the joints and articulation strong enough to support Leo’s entire frame. This is especially important with the hips, knees, and ankles, and while I have done this twice before in these features, as you can see in the picture, Leo can balance just fine on one leg. Maybe I make too big of a deal about that, but that is so impressive to me at this scale, and with the weight of these behind it, that it is almost a posing rite of passage as soon as I open these guys. Plus, high kicking with two swords just looks awesome in this case, and speaking of …
Most of the accessories included with these figures come in the form of swappable hands, a couple of choice accessories, and of course, each character’s signature weapon(s). I believe we have seen them all before, but there are a total of eight hands included, and most are designed to interact with the other accessories. These include a slightly open hand, an open hand, and a pointing hand which are more for posing purposes, but there are also hands designed to hold TCRI ooze canister, and tight and loose grips for the swords and pizza slice. The slice and canister are carryovers from the first release, so you will know what to expect here; however, the swords are all-new (duh).
Like the bo staff and sais before, these Katana blades are faithfully rendered from the movie, and Leo can hold them well. While Donnie is my favorite turtle, there is no denying that Leo definitely has the best weapons, and they look great here. I prefer the looser grips for these as they look more nature in-hand, but the tighter grip hands are good for battle poses, too. Also, while not technically an accessory, Leo’s unique belt, chest straps, and sheaths are exceptional in both form and function. The faux leather is a nice material difference and the distressing looks very natural, but that does not take away from the ability of the sheaths to hold the swords well. While I will definitely be posing Leo with swords in-hand, that fact is not lost on me because the option to keep the swords stored should definitely be there.
Well, dudes and dudettes, we are three-quarters of the way through our one-quarter scale TMNT movie collection, and I simply could not be happier. Leonardo is a perfect addition to the collection, and I am glad to have the leader of the group (despite what the Partners in Kryme song at the end of the movie tries to tell you) now in my collection. Even if this scale is not normally your thing (don’t worry, it usually isn’t mine either) this line is such an accomplishment. I dream that NECA might get these down to 1:12 at some point, but I am not even concerned with it because I love these so much, they are instantly the centerpiece of my TMNT collection. What I am concerned with is the wait for Michelangelo, because it is already killing me. Yeah, he is going to be here before we know it (projected by September), but as the last piece, the wait is excruciating. PLEASE do not miss out on these figures if you are a TMNT fan because not only are they great Ninja Turtle figures, they are some of the very best figures I own. Go order Leonardo from BBTS right now. You will not regret it.