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NECA: TMNT Musical Mutagen Tour Set Review

And we’re comin’, we’re comin’ out of our shells…

Holy pepperoni, you guys. Even though they aren’t able to actually refer to them as TMNT figures based off of the “Coming out of Their Shells” Tour, NECA has totally made TMNT figures based off of the “Coming Out of Their Shells” Tour. Now happily rebranded as the “Masical Mutagen” Tour, Randy and the awesomely crazy crew at NECA have finally teed up an TMNT offering I never thought we would EVER see in action figure form. Sure, some little hints were dropped about the possibility of these figures being their SDCC exclusive a few weeks ago, but I was still holding to a “I’ll believe it when I see it” position. Well, we have now seen them, and these little dudes arrived on my doorstep just a few days, so I can confirm that, even though you might still not believe it, these figures are very, very real. And they’re spectacular. 

Now, NECA has amassed quite the history of pretty amazing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles exclusives for SDCC (strictly virtual this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic), but this one seems different from past offerings even still as it cuts a lot deeper than ever before. Unlike most of the past sets, this one likely elicits a lot of different emotions amongst the TMNT fandom, and if the online anecdotal evidence is any indication, they run the gamut. That is understandable, though, because, unlike the seemingly-universally loved 1990 movie, original arcade game, and ’87 cartoon, opinions are pretty split about the COooS Tour, and I get it. 

For me, as a little kid just coming off seeing the original TMNT movie the summer before and having a total (and amazing) paradigm shift about what the Turtles could be, I was not exactly impressed with the idea of music tour for the brand. I mean, was going dark and gritty with serious ramifications built into the universe for the first time (I was too young to even know about the existence of the original comics), and then this crazy concert tour came along (along with the mostly maligned (by me) second theatrical movie) and it seemed to turn everything back on its head. I know now that it was likely due to a gaggle of Karens posing a concerned moms over the gritty tone of that first movie, but damn, the timing just caught me all wrong.

That said, after several years of growing up with the Turtles, holding on to them as an adult, and passing them on to my three young daughters, I have developed a weird sense of nostalgia about the tour itself, and a definite appreciation for the sheer insanity of it all. So, when these were formally announced, I almost couldn’t believe it, but I knew immediately that I had to have all of these. I mean, they have become an essential part of TMNT history as peak decadence for the property, and guys, there is absolutely no denying the absurd accuracy and amazing care put into these figures. I have to be honest here, I feel like these figures are more life like in their execution than the actual tour costumes themselves, but after faithfully collecting NECA TMNT movie figures for a few years, that razor-sharp accuracy should come as no surprise.

So, if you are not a fan of the concept of that “Musical Mutagen” tour, I get it, you are free to pass here, but… for what these figures represent, they are GLORIOUS. Don’t get me wrong, I love the cartoon, comic, and video game figures NECA provides us with more than I can say, but when I think about really being blown away by a specific piece of their Turtle offerings, the movie releases get me every time. These figures definitely go hand in hand with the movie figures in scale as well as overall stylistic execution, so even if the tour isn’t your thing, there is no denying how perfectly these represent the source material. So, if you think the tour and the Turtle looks are amazing, that is what you are going to see here. If you think them cheesy, that is what you are going to see here. If you find them to be a bit creepy – yep, that is what you are going to see here. And if you think they are all those things, then that is what you are going see, and I mean all of these things in the very best and most complimentary way possible. These really are amazing awesome and NECA’s team of talented sculptors, painters, engineers, and managers have given these looks so much care, and imparted so much fun into them, it is impossible not to feel the love when considering all the details and inclusion with this set.

The pictures can, hopefully, do most of the talking here, but the fact that so many things are included to produce the actual stage and publicity looks for these makes it hard to give everything its due justice. Thankfully, I am not beholden to a specific looks due to my lack of attachment to either, so I will just happily display them all in the fully vested regalia, and firggin’ LEG WARMERS, along with their glorious instruments. Let’s talk about that for just a second, please, because, holy $#!%. Raphael includes his stage-accurate saxophone, but that is made even better now due to some tongue-in-cheek creative on the part of NECA to include a track listing titled “Sax in the Sewer.” Sax in the sewer. Oh, you betcha. Also, Donatello comes with his keytar, which again, is accurate, but that gets me by the nostalgia feels because my favorite Turtle variant from the original line is Punker Don, and yep, he had a keytar, too. 

All of the costume embellishments are present and accounted for, both in plastic and soft goods, of which the latter, that I normally do not love, are all amazing. I already mentioned the leg warmers, but the vests are the real stars, and I could not possibly consider not displaying them on the figures. While they all share the same print of the “Musical Mutagen Tour” poster on the back, each jacket has the individual Turtle names, initial on the side, and Raph has a smiley face button, too. Plus, I either did not remember, or never actually knew, that the Turtles wore sneakers for these looks, and there is certainly something to say about that being hilariously awesome. I mean, I understand that it would be much easier and safer for a performer to wear shoes instead of giant turtle feet, but the fact that shoes look normal to house a human foot just adds to the charm of these figures. 

Mikey and Leo benefit just bit more than Don and Raph in the costume department due to the bedazzled mask embellishments, and not only does Leo look extra glamorous, but he kinda looks like a Trek fan, too, due to the shape of the bling. Don’t worry though, if you don’t care about stage accuracy, the eye pieces can be swapped out, and they fit on Don and Raph, too. The extras also extend to the figures themselves, and while these share parts with the movie Turtles, there are lots of new parts here, including the swappable hands (each Turtle gets two sets that can be shared amongst the group), and of course, the heads.

The heads are fantastically accurate, of course, and very expressive. They are unique in their look to the old tour costumes, and you are either going to love them, or be completely freaked out by them. Regardless, the detail on these is absolutely exceptional and match the source material as accurately as the movie figures. Plus, these figures all feature hinged jaws, so the Turtles can be in any number of singing and performing poses.

The instruments are pretty amazing as well, and make up the bulk of the accessories, along with the pizza. Mikey gets his synthesizer, Don has his aforementioned keytar, Leo gets his base, and Raph has his guitar, as well as the all-important to the late 80s and early 90s scene, a saxophone. These all look great with the corresponding Turtle, and the swappable hands help each one to hold and play convincingly. These guys are just begging for a stage set in your display, which brings me to the last bit…

The packaging on this set, like all of the SDCC TMNT offerings, is very impressive. There are three forms, with the outer slip case representing the tour poster, and with a cut out mask on the back. The track listing is hilarious, and love how Pizza Hut has been excised (required) but the tribute to it still lives on. The inside case looks like a tour crate, and the added stickers and and hinges look almost three dimensional. Then, once you open it up, you get a built-in stage that will look great on your shelf if you so choose. There is just as much care in the packaging as there is in the figures, and it helps sews it all up as a fantastic summer exclusive set. So, as you can see, NECA has done it again.

You better believe this is going to be popular set, so you are not going to want to sleep on picking this up. It is exclusive to Target in-store and online for the UD, so starting next week, I would be keeping an eye out. Or, you can go to the NECA Online Store on Thursday, July 23rd where it will be offered online for international fans. Go to NECA online to get all the details. This is such a fun piece of TMNT lore, so if you are a fan, this is required collecting and it is so well done that even if you are not a fan of the original tour, it is still going to be REALLY difficult to pass up.

*Thanks to Peter and team at NECA for sending this set along for an early look, we really appreciate it. Cowabunga, dudes!