More, more, MORE, MOAR TMNT ULTIMATES! for us! We promised you we would be back with with a look at the other half of series three, so here we are! April O’Neil is the Turtles’ Girl Friday and one of the most essential parts of the TMNT mythos, and Metalhead makes this assortment a two-for in terms of Turtles. It might take some patience, but we are really starting to build out the collection here.
It’s a funny thing being a collector and fan of TMNT who has been with the property for a long time. These Turtle boys have had a lot of media and toy incarnations over the years, so being able to find a single source of preference when it comes to design and characterization for all of these personalities is a tough task. I find my tastes going (mostly) back and forth between the vintage toy line and the ’87 cartoon, but the original comics and movie sources are also favorites. Metalhead and April have always been on opposite sides of the spectrum for me as I have always preferred April’s cartoon look, and Metalhead’s toy design is MUCH more to my liking over his cartoon appearance. This makes for an interesting entry point to getting these new ULTIMATES! figures and what I was hoping to get from each of them.
I love April. She is such an integral part of TMNT and without her, the Turtles would have struggled in so many ways that are often taken for granted. She is great female presence for the property overall as she has always been a more than capable part of the team, and a wonderful conduit as the Turtle’s primary representation of humanity. Her action figure journey has certainly been an interesting one to say the least, so as ULTIMATES! is really a modern tribute to that original toy line, I have been anxiously waiting to see the final April product.
As I mentioned above, I have always preferred April’s cartoon look as that original April action figure was always kind of weird to me when I was a kid. Playmates certainly released a lot of April figures in that original line, and I eventually settled on the version with purple costume accents and wind-swept hair as I felt that one best represented the cartoon version April at the time. That said, the original April figure (be it with or without the blue accent line) is by far the most iconic April figure, so I am glad Super7 went in this direction for their first April offering.
This figure has certainly undergone a lot of changes since it was originally solicited, so I was anxious to get a look at the final result. I am glad to say that this is one of those cases where the actual figure fares much better than the early in-hand pictures, and this figure does a pretty great job of being that modern representation of the vintage figure. Yes, it makes sense to deem this figure the most straightforward of the group, but with with the exception of a couple of little nitpicks, it does what it is supposed to do well.
First and foremost, the classic portrait and figure build are very true to the original. Heck, you even get the “Turtles” logo on the back of the jumpsuit. This is not the most articulated ULTIMATES! figure, but it has all of the points that you would expect for this line, including a nice partial ball at the waist. The plastic used for the skin is a bit glossy for my tastes, but it is not NEARLY as bad as some of the online pictures with hot lights would lead you to believe. Yes, under those lights it is reflective, but in a normal room on shelf, that it does not come across, and if you compare the tone to the original figure, it is pretty similar. I appreciate the headset addition as that really shows April out in the field, and the more second version/cartoon head tribute is nice too, but for this version of April, I am going all-in with the regular vintage head. Like or love the style, it brings that old figure across accurately, and the more time I have with it, the more I like it.
Aside from the various portraits, April comes a ton of accessories, both updated and all-new. The whole camcorder to pistol combo has always been crazy to me, and I glad to see it brought back here. I mean, the plucky reporter goes to straight “answer the @#$^ing question!” with one quick swap-out. She also gets her trusty brief case (which can open and close) as well as the ninja stars that I assume were given to her by the Turtles for protection. Even though she is the only one to be packing blue steel. Oh, and she also has a flash light that can be used as a blunt force weapon, and a microphone to help complete the reporter look. The latter was actually an accessory included with a later version of April in the vintage line, but I am glad to have it here.
The new accessories come in the form of two cartoon-inspired Turtle comms (open and closed), her Channel 6 press badge with vintage news van colors and call numbers, a tripod for her camera. I really like the tripod inclusion as she has struggled long enough trying to film herself on location, and the repurposed weapons sprue to include the legs is pretty ingenious. Again, being someone who will recreate that vintage feel on the shelf, I will likely outfit April with her camera/gun combo, but there are many options here. She also gets several different sets of hands to best handle all of these accessories.
Overall, I find this April to be great update of the vintage figure. It is very true to the form and spirit of the original Playmates offering, so I appreciate that a lot. I know the plastic used for the skin will not be for everyone, but if you don’t take anything else from this, just remember that the shine is much less apparent in person than in some pictures online. I will be interested to see if we get other April figures in the future (maybe even a repaint of this figure into the green jumpsuit) as she had a lot of representation in the vintage line.
Well, it certainly ain’t Donnie, but we now officially have four turtles in the ULTIMATES! line. Metalhead always looked his best in his vintage figure design, and this is one of those figures that clicks on just about every level. Metalhead is one of those figures that has a tremendous amount of details within the vintage sculpt, but many were lost due to lack of paint or other things. The Four Horsemen’s recreation really lets those finer details sing with this update, all while retaining the charm of the original. And by charm I mean a translucent brain. Other things, too, but that translucent brain is a big one.
One of my biggest critiques of the vintage Playmates line is that some figures went way past the palatable line of balanced character design. While many had a perfect amount of detail, some marched their way into over-design hell. Metalhead has always been one of those characters that balanced those details perfectly. As you can see, there is nary a surface without a sculpted flourish or embellishment, but somehow is all works together very well. It helps that MH is not an organic character, so little things like switch panels and electricity markers make sense fo his facade.
I have had a great time finding new details within this sculpt that I have never noticed before, and while the up-size contributes to that, the paint work REALLY makes them shine. Even the oil can and funnel on the back of the belt are given a dry brush in metallic paint to bring them forward. This is a “busy” figure to be sure, but the integrity is retained by those essential parts, not by strangely ripped clothes or little crawling monsters. For the first time, this Metalhead featured tubes on the back of the lets that connect above and below the knee joint. I am split on this – they are made of soft plastic so they bend fine, but I am a bit concerned about the longterm stability of them. They don’t inhibit the up and down movement, but as these are pin and swivel knees, the swivel is pretty much removed from functionality. Just something to watch for.
The best detail about the vintage figure is carried over into this new ULTIMATES! version, so yes, we have glowing eyes! At least for one of the included heads. The light piping gimmick is retained so the translucent brain is the pathway to get those eyes to glow, and even after 30 years, it is still a lot of fun. An alternate head with painted brain and eyes is also included, so if you want that red to be more constant, you can use that one instead. I am so glad they gave us this touch, and it works well, so have a ball.
Now, as you have seen and been told, Metalhead does NOT feature the vac-metal gold shell of old. This is probably easier for me to take because I am not a fan of vac-metal as a general rule, but even if you are, this is a the safer approach. The process is costly, can only be applied to ABS plastic and is not at ALL sturdy. So, instead of facing the wrath of all of the figures chipping, Super7 gave us a very eye-catching gold that looks great, even if it is not “just like you remember.” Again, I am glad for this because in addition to the sheen not appealing to me, I think a lot of the shell details would be lost to such a finish. So yes, the verdict will be split, but I am happy with the direction here.
Where I do have a nitpick is with Metalhead’s hips. They function fine and can support this beefy boi, but the pins are really, really small. I worry about their durability over time, so I would say to practice caution. I knew there are engineering needs and whatnot, but if there was anything I could change about this line as a whole, it would be thicker pegs/bars in the joints, and especially in the hips. I hope this will continue to be improved as I think it would also help with the strength of the joints as well – I want all of these figure to be able to stand tall for all time.
For accessories, Super7 went nuts with Metalhead, and the packaging is pretty much at its limit for what could have been included. Therein you get: five swappable hands, one alternate portrait, two grenades, backpack, radar dish, robo-chucks (hand), robo-chucks (backpack) and weapons sprue. We spoke about the portrait already, but the open hands and fists provide good posing options, and the “finger whip” hand is a fun inclusion highlighted by the folded down finger tip. The two grenades bring this series’ total to FIVE of the explosives (Rocksteady has three), which he can loft from above because everyone knows that the robo-chucks in the backpack make him able to fly. I am more of a radar dish guy though, so that is what I will be displaying, and I will probably have the nunchucks permanently affixed to one of his hands. The back back is the impressive piece, though, and the tampo video screen is nicely rendered. It is big and heavy, so it really adds to the shelf presence of Metalhead, even if it faces the back.
I am so glad we are back in the swing of getting new ULTIMATES! figures! ThunderCats, more Turtles, and others are getting closer and closer to shipping to us, so our collections look to get a lot bigger as we charge towards the end of the year. TMNT 3 is a really fun wave with Rocksteady being and absolute gem. These are already hitting some retailers, but I got the email from Super7 stating they would be sending theirs out within the next couple of weeks, so the wait is almost over. Then we can put our focus on series four – it looks to be the best so far. And not just because it has the BEST Turtle!
*Thanks again to Super7 for sending these figures along for an early look!