If any twelve months in recent memory has needed an end of the year celebration, it has most certainly been 2020. I mean, New Years Eve parties might have to be virtual this time, but I think that will not slow down the flow of adult beverages being consumed to wash away the memory of this pandemic-driven dumpster fire. That said, I cannot help but look back at the year and marvel at the action figure releases we have seen. There will be time to get that topic later, but the, ahem – ULTIMATE – way to cap off the year is to get the second series of TMNT ULTIMATES! from Super7, and a bit early at that. OMG, you guys, just wait until you see Bebop and Mutagen Man.
Hoo-boy, you guys. I did not make any attempt to hide that I was smitten by the first series of TMNT ULTIMATES!, and in fine form, series two is even better. I don’t need to pull you all the way through two features before just coming out saying it, but man, it’s shaping up to be an amazing line. S7 is now running on all cylinders when it comes to ULTIMATES! and now that those wheels are set we are getting regular deliveries of the ULTIMATES! series from those initial pre-orders. When I had the chance to talk to Brian Flynn back in September, he hinted that TMNT series 2 might be shipping from the factory early, and that looks to be the case because they are arriving now, and I am so glad they are here.
I covered the first series all at once, but I wanted to break this one up a bit to give more time and attention to each figure. I am starting with Bebop and Mutagen Man because, well, I was looking forward to them the most, but Leonardo and Shredder will be following soon. Guys, what Baxter Stockman brought as a preview in terms of what this line is capable of in taking on the more complex and crazy designs of these characters, Bebop and Mutagen Man are taking to the next level. Sure, I am excited about the essential Turtles and others, but when you talk about playing into the strength of the sculptors, designers, and capabilities of the ULTIMATES! lines, the monsters and freaks are gonna be pageant winners.
I am going to start with Mutagen Man because, frankly, he was the character most unlooked for in the line thus far, and I am still kinda can’t believe he is in the collection already. I mean, it is my hope that, ahem, ultimately, we get every character who had a vintage figure in this line, but I was pretty convinced that some of the earlier figures would still beat guys like Mutagen Man to plastic. I mean, I have not owned a Mutagen Man figure since the early 1990s, and he is one of those guys whose design gets better as you have more time to appreciate it. He is actually listed as an heroic character in this line (see: green packaging as opposed to purple for the villains), a departure from his Playmates days. It makes sense, though, as even his old biography listed him as a tortured and unwilling participant to Krang’s machinations and bidding.
Additionally, from an action figure construction standpoint, he has some definite challenges (he is mostly a fish tank for Pete’s sake), but Super7 executed really well with him. That design is not articulation friendly so say the least, but Super7 has done a great job in adding everything they could, and with good range of movement and functionality. It is a credit to everyone working on this line to get things to such a high level so early on, and we as fans and collectors are benefitting from it.
So, as you probably know, Mutagen Man has a bonkers design, even amongst his TMNT brethren. He is essentially guts in a jar supported by decaying limbs, held up by a partial exoskeleton. If you don’t want a toy of that, I don’t know what to tell you, but if you are a fan of Mutagen Man or insane action figures in general, this one is for you. TMNT ULTIMATES! follows the footprint originally set by lines like Masters of the Universe Classics in that the classic toy designs are the base and model for these new takes, and Mutagen Man’s ULTIMATES! figure takes all of what he was in the past, and bring forward so many aspects to the next level.
One thing you can never take away from the original Playmates line was the amount of sculpted detail it contained, but S7 and the Four Horsemen still find ways to bring out more and more with their updated takes. So, Mutagen Man is “just like you remember!” but still, well, better. Don’t get me wrong, I love the vintage line and have a deep affinity for it, but modern times call for modern action figures, and this update is kind of a work of art in and of itself. All of the gory details have ratcheted up, and nothing has been left out, or taken in a tangential direction. Heck, even the “action feature” of being able to fill his clear body cavity of water, slime, or a mixture thereof is still possible, but please do note that the tank is NOT water tight, so it will not hold water permanently.
Seymour Gutz’s well, guts, have been faithfully recreated, and that bit of internal organ system is about all that is left from Krang’s experiment gone too far. Like the figure of old, you get little bits of Gooey Garbage for the tank. Also like the vintage figure, unpainted versions of these come attached to the sprue, but you also get multi-colored versions that are free from the mold so you can keep the former intact. Even with all that, though, I still find the melting skin and exposed musculature to be the grossest (in a good way!) part of this figure. It is all so well rendered here, and while I knew this would likely be a cool figure, I still can’t get over how much better it actually is in-person, even having seen the prototype at Toy Fair back in February before the world went to shit. The hot pink accents are really eye-catching, and I LOVE the metallic blue used for the metal pieces of the system. Seymour’s guts are still mostly pink, but they not have a blue wash to bring out the details.
By his design, Mutagen Man has a different articulation scheme than most others in the line. Yes, it is more limited in terms of points, but the range of movement in some spots, especially the elbows is a lot better than what I expected. I was hoping for a bit less than 90 degrees on most of these, but the movement is actually better than that, and I don’t find them to be noticeably more limited than other knees, elbows, wrists, and ankles across the line. I am not looking to get MM into Spider-Man-esque poses or anything, but getting close to 90 degrees in these is possible. The hips are something that needed to be conceptualized as different as well, due to the guts tank design. This is where I am the most pleasantly surprised is with the hips. I was preparing myself for them to be simple V-crotch hips, but no, my friends, Mutagen Man has partial ball hips and they have a great range. Overall, I am very impressed with Mutagen Man’s articulation, and Super 7 did a great job.
Aside from the little garbage pieces (bone, eye, turtle, pizza, fish, wrench, and apple core) and the sprue, Mutagen Man also includes his Mutagen Machine Gun and the cord/tube that connect to his containment tank skull plug. There are all rendered nicely, and I like that the tube is made of a soft and flexible plastic, just like you remember. The life support system tank is now permanently affixed to his back, but that is actually better for me as it is on less thing to fall off. The Mutagen gun is still a bright yellow, but it does have some gold accents added to give more detail.
Kudos to Super7 for giving us such an amazing Mutagen Man figure, and this early to boot. I like the idea of floating into the later and more oddball characters with each series, and I hope this kind of slot is designated for at least one character as move into series 5 and beyond. Guys like Mutagen Man are what will make this line fun and enduring, so my body is ready.
Okay, Bebop has been the figure from this series I have been most anticipating, not gonna lie. Ever since I got to stand at the Super7 Toy Fair booth while Brian took the prototype out of the case to show off in a quick video, I have been smitten with this pig-headed ruffian. I mean, Bebop has always been one of my favorite TMNT characters anyway, but I distinctly remember just muttering that the prototype was quite large, and Brian was all like, “yeah, that is how big he is gonna be.” I am sure I looked at him dumbfounded because I couldn’t believe it. The cool details and design aside, Bebop was finally gonna get to be realized in a form that put him towering over the Turtles, just like I thought he always should. If I have one universal complaint about the vintage line, it is that all of the figures were basically the same size. Well friends, that problem is most definitely a thing of the past.
Bebop is a BEAST, plain and simple, and I love everything about him, and with all of my black heart. I mean, LOOK AT HIM. Since the vintage figure line was always my default in terms introduction to the TMNT, Bebop always shined brighter than his rhinoceros counterpart. His vintage figure was colorful and chunky, and Rocksteady just wasn’t as cool to me. Everything from the Mohawk to the sneakers is just so detailed and faithful to the original design, and my face is tired from smiling so much about this figure. Granted, Mutagen Man is bonkers, but for me, Bebop instantly becomes the centerpiece in this young collection, and I can tell you there are plenty of lines that have been going for a long time that wish they could boast such an impressive figure.
This Powerhouse Punk Enforcer stands at 5’10” according to his canonical classic height, and since most of the Turtles stand in that mid-four foot range, this figure actually scales fairly accurately to them in this 1:10-ish scale. Then again, Shredder is listed at 6’, so that pretty much throws the classic scale into blender, but you know what? I am okay with that. Here’s the thing, the Turtles are supposed to be shorter than most of the other characters, and that is playing out already in the line. The human characters like Shredder (and Foot Soldiers and Casey, for example) should probably clock in right at that 7-inch height to look “right” with the Turtles, and again, that is happening here. When it comes to guys like Bebop, Rocksteady, and the other monstrous/mutant characters, I am perfectly fine, and even welcoming of some diversity. B&R are supposed to be Shredder’s muscle, so if they are going to be big dudes in the ULTIMATES! line, I think that is perfect.
Let’s face it, this line is supposed to build and enhance on the vintage figures for what they did well, but also break through the limitations of the line. The Playmates figures have tremendous sculpted detail, so kicking that up a bit and enhancing those details for a modern line is doing exactly what I expect to happen. At the same time, the paint applications, articulation, and scale were all limitations, so those are fertile grounds for Super7 and the Horsemen to work some new magic. We have already seen the articulation and increased paint details at work, but Bebop is a shining example of the line breaking out of the confines of the fact that just about every figure in the old line was near the same height. This approach is going to give the ULTIMATES! such a cool range variance for height and build, so I am all for it. I mean, having a hulking Bebop, or Traag, or Triceraton, or Hothead is what I always wanted in the old days, and this is going to be so much fun.
So, as I was saying, Bebop is a beast of a figure, and frankly, he is better for it. I collected TMNT with younger brother, much like I did MOTU and other lines, and I had the good guys in this instance. Also, like MOTU, we each had a couple of figures from the opposing side just to keep things honest, and this wave it funny because Bebop was one of my bad guys (along with Muckman, who was advertised as bad in the Playmates days), and my brother’s Turtle was Leonardo. So, I might be a bit biased towards this porcine punk, but that is just good for me, because I LOVE this figure. LOVE IT. Like, it is the best one of this young line, and I cannot even imagine what teaming him up with Rocksteady is going to be like once series three hits. They are finally going to be the brutish threat to the Turtles they have always needed to be.
After you adjust to the cool reality that this figure is so massive, you start to notice all of those enhanced details that this line is doing such a great job with. I mean, Baxter Stockman was the showcase figure for this in series one, but I find Bebop kicks it up even past our resident flyboy. All of the great little details from the buttons to the knee brace are here, and for the first time, in their own color paint decos. The knee brace is kinda like Baxter’s wedding ring, you know? I have no idea why it is there, but it is a cool addition to the figure, and it makes Bebop all the more interesting. Aside from being a giant humanoid warthog, for me, Bebop’s most memorable attributes are his Mohawk, sunglasses, shell shoulder pads and sneakers, and they have all be wonderfully rendered here. I grew to love Bebop even more as Punk Rock became my favorite music genre, but the fact that his figure was so much more dynamic than Rocksteady’s (Rock’s cartoon look was always better to me), was certainly a draw, and the color palette, while more diverse in the old days, is even more eye-catching now.
For being such a big dude, Bebop has just about as much articulation as the average figure from this line, and it functions about the same as well. In short, that means that you get a fairly good range of movement and can achieve some dynamic posing, but for the most part, you won’t see Marvel Legends-level options. But that is okay, because as Brian said in our FwooshCast, there is a balance of movement and aesthetics that being accomplished here, and I think the line is doing well in getting there. So, Bebop can crush those toitles with he best of them, and still look good doing it. If I have one nitpick with the figure it is that I wish there was an ab-crunch for Bebop so you can give him that vintage figure “hunch.” I know that joint is not common to this line thus far, but I miss it more here than I have in other figures, so maybe they will consider that joint for figures in the future.
That said, he does have a couple or specific articulation points that arrive unlooked for in the tail and knee brace. Yes, Bebop’s little piggy tail is articulated so it can move in full 360-degree around, and it does have a bit of back and forth to it, too. Additionally, the knee brace is actually jointed on both sides, and that is great from an ingenuity standpoint, but also for functionality. I just assumed the brace would be soft plastic that could move along with the knee joint, but instead, the brace moves just like the knee so you don’t lose any range of movement in the joint. That is VERY much appreciated, especially for dynamic posing.
Bebop has a good list of accessories, but he actually clocks in with Baxter as having the least amount of add-ins than any figure in the line thus far. That is okay, though, because everything that is essential is there, and let’s face it, the figure itself pretty much uses ALL the plastic, so I am glad to see the money go there. That said, Super7 still included an alternate repaint of the head, this one without the pink accents. For me, that was not needed because my vintage Bebop had the airbrushed color, but Super7 heard the early feedback from some fans and added this one so everyone can have their preferred look, which is always awesome. You also get the required drill gun, trash can lid shield, knife, and unpainted weapons sprue. I was never a fan of the drill gun as a kid, in fact, when Triceraton was released, his machine gun went right to Bebop, but it shines better than it ever has here, and the details are given their due, just like with the shield and knife.
Guys, if you were not excited about this line already, Bebop and Mutagen Man are here to give a very loud, “HELLO!” to the world. I know series one was unproven and caught many off-guard, but this new assortment is going to show what the TMNT ULTIMATES! line is capable of, and things are hitting on all levels now. Bebop is easily my favorite figure thus far, and he is right there in the 2020 figure of the year conversation, so I think he is going to be really popular with collectors. Mutagen Man is so much better than I even expected, and he is the gateway to funkiness that made the vintage line what it was, so I ready for the likes fo Doctor El, Wyrm, and other crazies, too. The wait for series three and four is going to be agonizing now, and I cannot wait to see what series five is gonna be, hopefully that will be solicited in February (we know Disney ULTIMATES! series two is schedule for January pre-order).
Be back soon, though, we will have a look at Leonardo and Shredder from this wave in just a bit!