“Death comes for us all, Oroku Saki, but something much worse comes for you. For when you die, it will be… without honor.”
I collect a lot of action figure lines, and I love each and every one of them. Most of them are a constant reminder of greatness, and have whirlwind and wallet-punishing releases scheduled constantly throughout the year (like Marvel Legends). However, the NECA 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line really only rolls around once a year or so, but man, that is all the time they need to reinforce the fact that these figures might be my overall favorite thing being done at this point in time. Last year’s SDCC box set (and subsequent GameStop release) of the four Turtles was absolute perfection, so when NECA revealed that they were going to continue the line at Comic Con this year, this set instantly became my most-wanted exclusive.
Last year’s set boasted a fun packaging recreation of the old VHS cover sleeve for the Turtles themselves, but this year we get a more plot-specific release that also follows the Foot print (pun intended) of releasing recent quarter-scale offerings in the standard Reel Toys format. So, this new “Capture of Splinter” set gets us two of the Foot Ninjas as well as head honcho Shredder himself, but we also get Splinter in his character’s full NECA debut, and if you loved the previous SDCC set, this one lives up to every expectation. I mean, it was pretty much telegraphed that if we got another 1990 movie exclusive for San Diego this year, Shredder and Foot would be included, but Splinter might just be the best part of this set overall, so seeing him here first as a bit of a surprise is most certainly appreciated.
To be clear, in case you have been living under a shell for the past two years, these sets are popular. I mean REALLY popular. The online pre-sales sold out in record time each day before the Con, and if you did not prioritize getting in that NECA line first thing each day at SDCC, you were likely going to be out of luck as well. I mean, that is with good cause because these figures are stunning, but I hope that all of them return for single release at GameStop in the next few months because really, everyone needs a set of these. The care and attention to detail on this line was certainly not limited to just the Turtles, and everything from a bevy of accessories to correct scarring (on both Splinter and Shredder) has been accounted for in beautiful movie accuracy. The funny thing is that, also like the previous set, I cannot really pick a favorite here, so I am just going to say that all of them are pretty much perfect and go from there. Fair enough?
I will start with the Foot Ninjas since they are the most straightforward, and I have been living with their quarter-scale counterpart for some time now. Truth be told, I need about 20 of these dudes to recreate the fights from April’s apartment and the end scenes, but for now, I will be content with two and cache of weapons they brought with them. As far as I can tell from my years of watching the movie, everything about the sculpture and costume details are spot-on screen accurate and they have been translated well down to this scale. The articulation scheme has been carried over as well, and as usual, I think it works better at this scale than before. All of the joints move freely (once you give those knees a bit of pressure), but are strong, and the range of movement on most is surprisingly good. The softer materials used on some of the costume pieces help facilitate that range of movement, as well as the ability to swap hands with ease. The ninjas (as well as Shredder) have an added elastic belt to help hold additional weapons like nunchakus and knives, so that is a nice touch, too.
As I mentioned, these dues come with TONS of weaponry, as well as additional hands. Sure, two or three of them might be able to be held by the ninjas themselves, but NECA did not want the other weapons to be untidy or strewn about the East Warehouse (over on Lairdman Island), so they also included a handy weapon rack, too. There is an axe, Katana, bo staff, two sets of nunchakus, a nightstick, and a pair of sais, so these guys come fully-loaded. There is a swappable bandana knot as well, and fists, open hands, and grips, too. I DO wish more grip hands were included so these guys could carry more weapons at one time, but that is a minor nitpick. Overall, these guys are killer, and I like I said, I wish I had an unlimited budget to get scores of these dudes.
Now, the Foot are great and all, but they are nothing without their master, Shredder. Remember, they are a family and he is the father, so he is here to give orders and build up his criminal empire. Man, Shredder was so damned imposing in the movie, and the dudes at NECA have done a wonderful job in pulling that all over to this figure. It is funny, I have the quarter-scale version on order now, but he has not shipped to me yet, so this is my first time experiencing an honest to Krang movie Shredder, and really, I could not be happier. As expected, and as is appropriate, Shredder share much of his base with the ninjas, but it works well, and really, all of the added unique pieces are what make this dude. You would never expect a sparkly maroon jumpsuit and a zebra striped cape look so good and imposing, but here we are.
Most of the new details for Shredder comes in the addition of his bladed armor on his shins, forearms, and shoulders, and those are accomplished with pieces that slide on the legs and arms, and then attached to the top of the shirt in the costume. This works well, and the meshed detail on the arm and shin guards is really nice. The coolest part is, of course, the new unique head sculpt and helmet, and damn it, they are both really great. Shredder looks (appropriately) PISSED and his eyes are so expressive on their own above the mask. Speaking of, the mask might actually be my favorite detail of the entire figure. In the movie, the mask features wire “screens” that allow you to see some of Shredder’s face behind it, and that is brought to life amazingly here. Looking just right, you can see his face, including the scars provided by Splinter so many years ago. However, the mask is also removable to recreate the climax scene, and it clips on easily and securely on each side of the face. I love it. I do want to mention that the back of the helmet on my figure was a bit warped right out of the package, but after a few days, its intended shape did return, so you might experience that as well.
Shredder also includes swappable hands to hold the included spear and knife, and the knife sheath can fit in the small of his back via the elastic belt, so that is a nice touch. All of the left hands include the giant “claws” to do his actual shredding. I am glad the spear is here to kick turtle shell, but I do wish it was a tiny bit longer, but that might be my memory of the movie prop deceiving me. The cape is also a massive achievement in terms of execution, and that is coming from a self-identified soft goods disliker (that will get me again with Splinter in a minute). The material matches the screen brilliantly and that is crazy because the fabric used for the movie is pretty insane in its shimmering silver zebra print. The sewing even matches because you can push is back behind his shoulder blades, just like Tatsu does in the movie, and it stays perfectly. This is not a practical cape, more of a ceremonial one, so it splays out nice and big behind him, and the metal clasp for attachment around the neck works really well.
This Shredder is a total winner, and now I want to build a rooftop diorama just to immortalize the final battles between him and the Turtles/Splinter. This guy looks awesome fighting four others at once, or doing the Nestea Plunge (there is a date marker I would like to take back) off the roof, so whatever you have planned in terms of display, Shred Head will be awesome.
Finally, the rat, and it has a name. To me, Splinter was the biggest wildcard coming into this set both because he does not (currently) have a quarter-scale figure, but also because his form is totally unique and was obviously going to require an all new sculpt to make him happen correctly. It was obvious from the first press photos of this set that Splinter would have the potential to be the standout figure in the group, but a lot had to happen to make that a reality. Well, Hamato Yoshi’s favorite pet came through production wonderfully, and he might just be my favorite overall, if I HAD to pick one. Splinter was (obviously) a puppet in the movie, but that guy had more life and charisma than many screen actors, so getting his look, expression, and well, soul right for this figure was essential, and NECA did not disappoint.
The sculpted detail and likeness is perfect here, and I don’t use that term lightly. I have to say, having Trevor Zammit back and overseeing the TMNT show at NECA is piece of mind that you cannot put a price on, and you can see that level of care and attention to detail come out in droves with this figure. Splinter’s expression and careworn eyes are just what they need to be, and seeing part of his right ear missing awesome. However, for some reason, Splinters hands always stuck out to me as a kid when watching the movie, so while it sounds weird to say it, the form a shape of the hands are great, too. This is obviously Splinter during his capture by the Foot, so his kimono is dirty and tattered (more so than usual), and once again, NECA really nailed the soft goods. The folds, wrinkles, tears, and staining are all on point and while I was impressed with Shredder’s cape, I think this is even more of an achievement. I might do some wearing or find an alternative for his belt, but other than that, the soft goods are perfect. He also has his arm shackles and chains, which are removable.
What got me the most with this figure is thought, is just how articulated it is. In fact, Spinter might have more joints than the other figures in the set, and that is saying something, especially for an elderly rat. The figure is small with slender appendages, but there a lot of points in the arms (including double elbows, wrist hinges, and swivels) and legs (like hip hinges, two spots in the legs, and toe hinges). Heck, his body is even sectioned in three places with a very fluid neck, so you can pose Splinter on all fours like a non-mutated rat and he still looks good. His tail is also somewhat bendy, so that helps with posing, and to also use it as a base of support, but it is not all needed for him to balance.
Seriously, color me really impressed with Splinter, and aside from maybe swapping out the belt, my only wish is that he came with gripping hands, too, to wield some nunchakus, but we can make that work. I am really thrilled that he was included with this set, because NECA could have TOTALLY done Shredder with three Foot Ninjas and called it good, but as it turns out, Splinter is probably the best of the set, and 100% essential to our TMNT movie canon.
Wow! I love this set so much, and it is the perfect complement to last year’s release. It is such an exciting time for TMNT to be with NECA, and the other figures from the cartoon and video game lines look just impressive, and with Trevor overseeing things, I think our best days are still ahead of us. Now, NECA has teased that they will be doing some figures from Secret of the Ooze (I HATE that movie, but would gladly take Tokka, Rahzar, and Super Shredder for sure), but that we will have to wait due to 2020 being the 30th anniversary of the original 1990 movie. So… that begs for speculation, right? Hmm… if it was another four-pack, and realizing that we will probably never stand a chance of getting Chief Stearns, I could consider myself complete if we could get April (with vinyl yellow raincoat), Casey Jones, Tatsu, and maybe Raphael in his disguise for next year. Holy crap. Can you imagine a NECA CASEY JONES? NEED IT. Anyway, I do hope these current figures make it to GameStop because everyone needs them, as they are perfection. In the meantime, I have always liked, COWABUNGA. I made a funny!