Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Splinter (Nickelodeon) by Playmates

I did my usual pass through the Wally World action figure aisle this week on my way to stock up on toys groceries, and sure enough they had a whole pallet of the new Nickelodeon TMNT figures. I was absolutely blown away by the Turtles figures in this line, and I had always planned on picking up at least three more: Shredder, Splinter and Amy, so I didn’t have a chance in hell of getting out of there without buying something. I wound up with Shredder and Splinter and since I have a weekend to kill before getting back to my Toy Show haul on Monday, I thought I’d give this pair a looksie. And no, I still haven’t seen an entire episode of the new series, and it’s really not a priority for me.

When we last saw the new TMNT packaging I gushed on and on about how much I loved it. Well, I still do. At the risk of repeating myself, this packaging just shows me that Playmates gets it. (Yeah… there’s a concept. Playmates, the masterminds behind the 2009 Terminator and Star Trek figure debacle, actually gets it!) By “it”, I mean, they understand how to make a toy package simple, functional, and yet oh so appealing. As an adult collector, the retro goodness baked into this package design makes me want to buy it, because it really does summon up memories of seeing the Turtles on pegs back in the day. But even if I were a kid, just seeing these figures on these cardbacks would make me swear up and down to take out the garbage, wash the car, and neuter the dog, if only my parents would get me a couple. The back panel has a clip out file card and shows off the other great figures in this little line. Oh yeah, Splinter comes in the package with his tail off. You just need to get it off the tray and plug it into his butt and you’re all good to go.

While I took to the new Turtle designs right away, I was really iffy on the newly designed Splinter. He didn’t look like a rat to me, but rather some kind of bizarre Australian marsupial. Still, the Turtles need their “Honorable Sensei,” and so I was willing to give him a try. I’m very glad I did. His design is still pretty out there, but with the figure in hand, I’m really digging him a lot more than I thought I would. I think my biggest sticking point on the design is the black and white paint on the face. It looks more like aboriginal war paint than rat coloring. Rat coloring? Yes, rat coloring. Turns out, it was just a matter of getting used to it. His stringy little beard is awesome and I love the little nicks in his ears.

Spinter’s robes are sculpted in soft plastic and attached over the figure’s body. You can theoretically take it off, but then Splinter would still have awkward looking sleeve arms, as those are sculpted as the upper arms. His forearms have sculpted wrappings and he has cool, ugly little rat feet. The tail looks good too and it’s rubbery so you can bend it around to try to keep it out of the way.

For a Sensei, Splinter isn’t exactly sporting martial arts caliber articulation. His head turns, his arms are ball jointed at the shoulder and swivel at the elbows. His legs are ball jointed at the hips, and his tail swivels. The lack of knee articulation really doesn’t bother me so much, since the design of his robes would probably render it mostly inert anyway. The lack of hinges in the elbows, however, bugs me a lot. Actually, it should bug me a lot. In reality it doesn’t. He displays just fine and I don’t need my Splinter to be super-poseable, especially at this price point.

What does bug me a little more is the lack of accessories with Splinter. You get his stick, and that’s it. It’s also molded in a translucent plastic, which seems kind of weird to me. Considering the Turtles all got “Ninja Arsenals” I think they could have helped a rat out and gave him some extra goodies. Maybe the point is that Splinter is so badass all he needs is his stick.

Playmates set the bar for the Nickelodeon line very high with the four Turtles. They had great articulation, superb sculpting, and loads of weapons. They were just an amazing value. Splinter features less articulation and virtually no gear, but the sculpting here is still good and the paintwork is solid. I understand the reasoning behind investing extra money into the articulation and accessories of the main characters, and I’m perfectly fine with it. For a figure this size at the eight dollar price point, I’m still plenty happy with him.

I’ll be back later to check out Shredder.

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