When it comes to Tuesdays, #TurtleTuesday is by far my favorite, and dudes, NECA has been saving the best for last when it comes to 2020 releases. Sure, there have been some doozies already, so that is saying something. Since it is December and all, I have been doing a lot of considering when it comes to what I might choose a my best action figure release of the year, and all recency bias aside, Tokka and Rahzar from The Secret of the Ooze might have just shot right to the top.
As I have mentioned before, I consider myself to be tried and true and hardcore TMNT fan. Along with Masters of the Universe, it ranks as the most important toy property from my youth to me, and living through the prime of the original Turtle mania, I devoured just about anything I could. The vintage toy line was my first foray into the property and the cartoon quickly followed, and my life was pretty much devoted to Turtles, from the toys I played with, to the clothes I wore, and the cereal I ate. I am pretty sure I could search out people I have not spoken to for 30 years and they would still remember me as the kid who really, really liked TMNT.
After cruising along for a couple of years, the original TMNT movie was released, and my whole Ninja Turtle world changed. The flick showed a darker and more urgent side of the TMNT, and I fell in love right away. That isn’t to say that I abandoned the more happy-go-lucky nature of the cartoon, but a lot of the stakes in my action figure adventures were raised, and I took an immediate shine to more serious side of the property, especially with the threat of the villains. So, as I wore out the VHS tape of the original movie, I was beyond excited when they announced a sequel to open that version of the world back up.
But then The Secret of the Ooze was released, and I think that was the first time I ever walked out of a movie theater with that “WTF?” feeling. Sure, I was still at a tender age, but I knew that movie instantly offered me NOTHING that I have ever wanted in terms of tone for TMNT at that point, and I pretty much hated the flick instantly. Unfortunately, those feelings have not really changed to this day, and in my own mind, there still only exists one TMNT movie, and I just kind of ignore the rest. Sure, much of the original cartoon doesn’t hold up either (especially) the latter seasons, but I remember being very much aware that TSotO was the first TMNT thing that I knew I did not like.
Fast-forward to today, and as mentioned, I still do not like the movie, and it has been many years since I even attempted a re-watch. That said, I DO have the ability to compartmentalize things about the movie to take some positives where I can find them, and those pluses mostly exist in the design work of Tokka and Rahzar. I have always found their character designs to be pretty awesome, and I think that is the driving force in those characters permeating other vintage media like the toys, video games, and cartoon. Sure, they were pretty lame as babies in the movie (I get it, it makes sense), but I did like the vintage figures quite a bit, and they were much more threatening in my own adventures.
In full-disclosure, when NECA announced that they were going to start making figures based off of the TMNT movies, the first flick and all of the essential characters were my priority, but I still wanted to see them work their magic on Tokka and Rahzar, too. Characterization aside, the designs of these guys are fertile fields for NECA to go crazy in terms of action figure execution, and you knew that would be the case prior to seeing them at Toy Fair back in February. Well, they blew me away when I saw them in New York, and now that the final product has arrived, these are so much more amazing than they really have any right to be, and not only are they probably the best TMNT movie figures they have done thus far, they are actually some of the best figure in my overall collection now. Seriously, these are LEGIT.
This set really does have everything going for it, I have to admit. T&R have neat designs and they have been recreated so faithfully here, but the engineering and articulation is some of NECA’s best work to date, and the pre-order approach to get them has been the best ordering experience for the line yet, too. I mean, bad ass figures were shown, they offered a nice window to get orders in, and then they showed up at my door without any other effort on my part. That is living the collector’s dream as far as I am concerned. So, if you got your order in, just give a minute, they are shipping throughout the month, and trust me, they are worth waiting for.
So where do I even begin with these guys? By saying that they look like they have been lifted directly from the film cels? Yep, they do. Do I say their amount of functional articulation is pretty crazy considering their size and design? Yep, it is. Do I say that they are totally worth getting even if you are not into TMNT because they are so impressive in their own right? Yep, they are. Seriously, I could go on and on and on about these and still not be able to articulate how cool these figures are, and there is no substitution for having these guys in-hand. They are massive, SHARP, and surprisingly poseable, and I just cannot put them down.
Let’s get the easy part out of the way: these things look absolutely killer. You knew from the onset that Tokka and Rahzar’s designs play into their strengths, and they have been realized in peak NECA fashion. I mean, they are monstrous characters with a lot of detail, so that what NECA does best, but even with that bar set high, these guys jump right over it. I mean, ALL of the TMNT movie figures have been so impressive in terms of looking like their onscreen counterparts, but these guys are the best of the best, hands down. I have always liked Rahzar better overall (like Slash, Tokka being another turtle always felt lazy to me), but man, Tokka is just impressive, I might have to call him the better of the two.
That is not to take anything away from Rahzar, though. Every strand of fur, every fang, and all the tire treads are accounted for here. Rahzar is wolf (or is he a dog? I don’t think I have ever bothered to check for sure) so that makes a perfect animal for mutation as far as I am concerned because he can tear it up. The figure features a bevy of swappable hands to achieve your posing needs, and the does, of course, open and close for a variety of expressions. Rahzar pretty much wears an entire car as armor in the movie, and it is cool to see the radiator, tires, and other things realized on this figure, and the paint applications are just as impressive as the sculpting work.
All that said, I think Rahzar’s articulation is the thing that impresses me the most. Maybe it is because I was not expecting it to be so effective, but it really, really is. There are numerous points, but the engineering and range of movement are what really make the scheme great, especially on a dude this big. I have come to realize that while there is a certain floor for articulation to be realistically effective, once you get there, it is more about effective joints, rather than adding to the count. This is very much apparent in the ankles and elbows, and especially the latter. NECA has an interesting double elbow system they have been using lately, and while it is not as aesthetically pleasing for all figures, it blends in well with Rahzar and gives him a remarkable range of movement there, especially considering how beefy he is. I mean, he can touch his own shoulders, which might not be something you would utilize, but it gives a lot of range for action posing. This figure really is the perfect storm of form and function.
Tokka is just as impressive in some of the same regards, but also in different ways. He is most certainly a chonky boi, so his basic articulation scheme is pretty pretty impressive, but maybe not *quite* as effective as it is with Rahzar. I love the in-shell torso articulation and it is much more fluid than it is on the standard Turtle figures. He is very well balanced, though, and even though he is about twice as wide as a regular Turtle, he can pose in impressive stances without toppling over due to his impressive girth. I was really worried about this prior to opening the figure just because I have a lot offerings that do not balance well, but the engineering is lights out here, and you have nothing to worry about in terms of shelf-diving or vanilla restrictions.
This killer snapping turtle is just as impressive as his pal in the sculpting department, and I think this is my favorite version of Tokka in any form ever – he looks incredible. No detail has been left out here from his spiky beak, to his insane shell, he looks tremendously vicious and ready to pick apart any toy or foot in his path. By foot, I mean an actual human foot (not the Foot Clan) because, I mean, look at that shell. The most likely conversation starter with Tokka will be the spikes on the back of his shell, and they are as impressive as they are threatening. Seriously, like every single one of them is uniquely sculpted (give or take), and make for an impressive array that looks great on the shelf, but that I would 100% not want to step on. Legos have nothing on this dude, that is for sure.
But that is just the start, because the rest of this dude is just as ferociously realized. All of the parts click to build one bad ass dude, and the paint applications is bonkers and even more impressive here than they are with Rahzar. The washes alone count in the double digits, I would say, but the spots and dirt and whatnot make Tokka hideously beautiful. No place is that more true than in the portrait, and that is due to the combination of of sculpting, paint, and articulation – yes, articulation. Sure, we are used to hinged jaws on figures at this point, but NECA boasts the articulated expressions on the back of the package and that is because of the wild EYEBROW articulation that Tokka features. Eyebrows, you guys. Just changing the position of one or both of them completely alters the look and expression of this figure, so if you like some of the goofy faces he made in the movie, you can get that done here. Plus, the “beak” piece is articulated as well to add a bit of subtle change to the mouth position for those different expressions. Impressive, NECA. Most impressive.
The impressive figures are still supplemented with some essential accessories as well to finish off this great release. I already mentioned the extra hands, but you also get Rahzar’s hubcap shield, wooden post, Tokka’s pipe, the fire extinguisher, TGRI Ooze canister (reused from Super Shredder), doughnut box, doughnuts, and the opened doughnut with the little mutation reversing pill in the middle. Seriously, the only thing these guys did not come with is Vanilla Ice, so you should be all set for any fights and misadventures they share in battling the Ninja Turtles. With as much as you get with the two figures, I would have been understanding if they did not have any additional pieces, but NECA has come through, and for all the better.
Wow. I am really impressed with these guys, and I am serious about the fact that this might be the best action figure release of 2020. I really cannot come up with any real nitpicks about either figure, and NECA went and made me really love something about The Secret of the Ooze. Like I said, I have alway appreciated Tokka and Rahzar’s designs, and I have liked the characters in other forms and media, but these figures are best take on them ever. EVER. I hope you got your pre-order in last summer, and if so, just be patient for them to arrive, these dudes are worth the wait. Even if, “‘dey’re BABIES!”