Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leonardo (Nickelodeon) by Playmates

Uh oh, I sense a theme week coming on! Yep, a couple weeks back, I netted me a set of Playmates’ smaller, more kid friendly versions of the Turtles based on the new Nickelodeon show. I’ve seen clips from the show, but I honestly don’t even know if it’s even started airing yet. The clips look like it will make for a great series for kids, but it’s not for me. I’ll stick to watching the originals through my nostalgia and alcohol tinted glasses, while extinguishing all change in my mind. (“Damn kids, with their Ben 10’s and their Bakugans!”) I was overall pretty thrilled with the larger, more expensive, collector line, so let’s see if lightning can strike twice for Playmates in their attempt to deliver some quality Turtle toys for the kiddies…

Leo comes in a standard carded package and I really dig the way it looks. It’s simple enough, but it’s bright and cartoony and it really captures a lot of the spirit of the original TMNT packaging. It’s kind of retro, but without trying too hard. The sizeable bubble shows off the figure and accessories (oh, I’m sorry… “Ninja Arsenal!”) quite well, and there’s a printed insert to customize the packaging and declare Leo as the “Leader & King of the Katana Swords!” But wait… the figure is actually on a unique card as well, because when you turn it over, there’s an actual File Card for Leonardo that you can clip out and save just like the good old days! I actually saved the whole card. The back of the card also shows off other figures available in the line. This packaging may not be collector friendly, but it is really fun and really well designed. Playmates put a lot of love into it, and it certainly makes me excited to buy the figure.
So, the new show features a pretty heavy redesign on the Turtles. Frankly, I think it’s fantastic and the bulk of the fan feedback I’ve seen across the Interwebs tells me I’m not alone. They are a lot more stylized, which is all the rage in animation these days, but the figures actually look tons better than what I’ve seen of their new TV counterparts. Much like with the DC New 52 figures, which I looked at last week, your mileage with these figures will depend on how you take to the new look of the characters.

 

Once I got Leo out of the package I was immediately impressed by the feel of the plastic and the heft of the figure. Ok, it’s not so much that he’s heavy, but he just feels like such a solid and well-crafted toy. The next thing to impress was the complexity of the sculpting. For a kid’s line, Playmates went nuts with the sculpted detail on this guy. You can see tiny dents and scratches in his shell and his knee and elbow guards, and even all the little hash marks In the wraps around his hands and feet. His skin is even sculpted with a leathery texture. All this little detail makes this guy look more like a small high end collectible than a kid’s action figure. The head sculpt is also excellent, and while he’s showing all his teeth, Leo looks a lot happier than his larger, angrier Classics version. You also get a pair of functional sculpted scabbards on his back. Unlike the Classics Leo, the scabbards are parallel instead of crisscrossed. They’re also removable, as they simply peg into the back of his shell.
The coloring on the figure is just about perfect. Leo relies more on colored plastic than actual paint, and that’s not at all a bad thing. The paint apps that are here are all precise and clean, particularly on the head. I’m also in full support of the choice to go without pupils in the eyes. I just think it looks great.

 

Leo comes with his trademark pair of katana swords that fit snugly into the double scabbards on his back. His hands are sculpted to hold them perfectly. He also comes with a bevy of other weapons all attached to a sprue tree, similar to the pack-ins that came with the vintage figures. The weapons are all cast in grey plastic, which is cool, because Playmates has a habit of casting accessories in ridiculous neon colors. I haven’t clipped any of my extra weapons out yet, and I may not. Don’t get me wrong, I love the idea of Playmates packing all this extra stuff with the figure, but for display purposes, Leo’s katanas are good enough for me.

 

While the figure isn’t exactly super articulated, you do get a good range of movement. The head is ball jointed, the arms are ball jointed at the shoulders, hinged at the elbows, and swivel at the elbows and wrists. The legs have hinges and swivels in the thighs and the knees. The lack of ankle articulation is really the only obvious omission, and with the design of the larger feet, it would have been tough and probably unsightly to work that joint into the mix. Indeed, some of the figure’s overall sculpting does inhibit the range of motion in some of these joints, but overall, I think we still get a nice compromise of style and poseability.

In case you haven’t guessed by now, I really adore this figure. With a great sculpt, great quality build, solid articulation, and a heaping helping of accessories, Leo hits all the right points. And at $7.99 at my local Wally World, it’s hard to think of a figure that delivers this much at such a great price. I’ll be looking at the other three Turtles over the next three days. They are all individual sculpts, but now that we’ve got a good idea what to expect, I should be able to be more brief with the rest of our Heroes in a Halfshell.

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