Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics: Leonardo by Playmates

[Welcome to Turtles Week! Today through Thursday, I’ll be checking out Playmates new Classic series of TMNT figures and then Friday we’ll return to Vintage Vault as normal. I considered doing a TMNT edition of VV to round out the week, but after looking at these beauties it was hard to go back to the old stuff. And yeah, I’ll be getting to some of the figures based off the new Nick Toon. Look for that later on in the month, so there’s almost certainly another Turtles Week coming up. – FF]

Oh yeah… I’ve been waiting for these figures since, well since before Playmates even showed them off. Actually, it was probably around the time I got my first Masters of the Universe Classics figure and started wishing that we would get the same sort of collector-grade upgrade for a lot of 80’s toy lines. It seemed like the Turtles would be particularly well suited to such an upgrade, but I never wanted Playmates to be the one to do them. Sure NECA produced an amazing comic inspired set, but I held out for something a little closer to the 80’s design. Well, here we are, Playmates did them, and honest to god, they blew me away with the results. I give Playmates a lot of shit (and some loving) here, so it’s nice to be able to really tip my hat to them on something. Let’s start today with the leader of the pack, and my personal favorite hero in a halfshell… Leonardo.

I’m going to say my piece about the packaging today and then not much else for the rest of the week. The packages for these figures are fantastic, but apart from the bubble insert with each turtle’s name, they are essentially the same across the board. That having been said, when I first picked up one of these packaged figures I was in love. It’s a hefty semi-cylindrical bubble on a fairly heavy cardback. The front card art is deliciously cartoony and vintage and exactly what I wanted in a classic TMNT figure package. There are two stickers on the bubble, one pointing out that the figures are based on the 1988 cartoon classic and the other points out that the figure has 34 points of articulation. Leonardo is (almost) holding his swords in each hand and looks ready for battle, with his stand mounted behind his legs.

The back panel has some blurbs about the turtles, pictures of all four figures and again, some great vintage inspired artwork. There are only two gripes I can level against this package… one, it isn’t collector friendly and that saddens me because I almost shed a tear when I ripped this figure open. Secondly, a personalized file-card style section on the back of the card for each character would have been cool. Nonetheless, Playmates, you really hit a grand-slam on this package. It looks great, and displays the figure wonderfully.

Folks, this is how you update a classic action figure! Playmates was able to make use of the same body for each figure, and it doesn’t at all feel like a copout. They even went so far as to vary the green used for their skin tones. The sculpted detail on Leonardo is fairly minimal, but that works for a retro figure based on an animated character. The most detail is vested in the shell, front and back, the knee and elbow pads, and the wrist bands. The arms and legs are mostly just smooth like they looked in the cartoon. Leonardo’s head sculpt has him ready for action. This is definitely not “kick back and eat some pizza” Leonardo, this is “I’m gonna go fuck up some Foot Clan Ninjas” Leonardo. He’s sneering with the left side of his mouth to expose his teeth. His eye mask is sculpted as a separate piece, but permanently attached, and trails off the back of his head.

Leonardo features a belt and baldric, all sculpted separately from the figure, but permanently attached. The belt has a disc with the letter “L” in the center. The whole ensemble wraps around the back of his shell and holds his criss-crossed scabbards, both of which are functional and can be removed, as they just peg in through the belt and into the shell.

The coloring on this figure is just about perfect. A lot of the figure’s details are color coded to Leonardo’s eye mask, including the grips on his sword hilts. I’m also pretty fond of the somewhat matte finish given to the figure. It’s not super glossy, it’s not painted over and completely dull. You get a nice subtle shine on the arms and legs and on the shell.

Playmates boasts this figure has 34 points of articulation, so let’s just count them down. Ball jointed neck… check! The arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, have swivels at the biceps and wrists, double hinged elbows, and each of the three fingers are hinged. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, have swivels in the thighs, double hinges in the knees, hinged ankles, the ankles also swivel, and each of the four toes are hinged. He also has a ball joint in the torso. Yep, that’s 34 points and that’s mighty damn impressive, giving this figure  an amazing amount of poseability. The only thing I would have changed would be to add rockers to the ankles, but not at the expense of any of the joints in the figure now, so I’m perfectly happy if that just didn’t cost out.

The old TMNT figures used to come with a bevy of gear, but Leonardo just comes with his swords and a stand. From a cost standpoint, I’m ok with that, since Playmates obviously poured so much attention into the figure itself. The swords are pretty cool. They’re sculpted in plastic that is bendy enough for safety regulations, but not enough to easily warp. They’re appropriately molded in silver/grey plastic and as previously mentioned the wraps on the hilts are blue. The swords fit snugly into the scabbards on Leo’s back, and he can hold them pretty well. I’m wondering if it would have been a good idea to put pegs on the handles and have them peg into Leo’s palms to help him hold them, but I don’t know if it would have been worth the unsightly pegs and holes. Probably not.

As for the stand, I’ve read a number of less than favorable opinions about the stands online and I really can’t understand why. You get a big disc stand sculpted to look like a manhole cover with the TMNT logo sculpted in and Leonardo’s name printed on it. There are two meaty pegs to really hold the figure nicely. I think it’s a fantastic bonus and probably one of the best stands I’ve got with an action figure in a long time!

I haven’t seen Leonardo, or any of the Classic TMNT figures at retail yet, so I have no idea what the going price at brick-and-mortar stores is going to be. The Targets here already set their TMNT section, but it’s all just the new Nick stuff. I got my set for $17 each from Amazon along with my free Prime shipping, so I’m guessing they might be around $15 MSRP? Either way, the fact that these figures are significantly under $20 each is a great deal. Leonardo is beautifully made, has a nice quality and hefty feel to him, and is hard to put down. Sure, he’s a little light in the accessories, but he’s got his trademark weapons and a great stand, and for the price, I’m not complaining. So long as the other figures turn out this good, I’m beside myself with joy.

Tomorrow, we’ll move on to Donatello. The rest of the features will be a lot less long winded to avoid getting redundant, as the figures do share the same body.

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