Toy Review: Loyal Subjects BST AXN Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

The Loyal Subjects’ “BST AXN” figures came out the gate swinging…and in some cases, missing. Working in a 5-inch scale, which has fallen out of favor since its heyday in the ’90s, they grabbed lots of open licenses, including characters as disparate as AC/DC, The Lord of the Rings, Napoleon Dynamite, animated Beetlejuice, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The problem was their likenesses weren’t on a par with other companies who’ve made those characters before. Arguably, they didn’t need to be, if the goal was to make ’90s-style retro figures in the same way Reaction figures imitate ’80s styles. But they seem to have settled into a better groove with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It feels like every toy company has some piece of the TMNT license. Playmates hold the original license, NECA has multiple lines, Hasbro did them in a Power Rangers crossover, and McFarlane are rumored to have the new movie rights. There’s a turtle for every taste. With the 5-inch scale fairly uncharted territory, BST AXN are trying many things too.

They started with animated-style TMNT, which got mixed reviews. The company sent over subsequent variants for our perusal, however, and much like Toy Biz when they grabbed the Marvel license, they appear to be a quick study. We got to look at video game variants, “Street Style” animated versions, and comic style. The base figures stay mostly the same across all these variations. And the good news is they’re strong figures, likely to be somebody’s favorite version. As for scale, it really depends what size you like them. Between the different live-action movies, animations, and comics, the foursome have been shorter than people, and much bigger. Typically they’re big enough to wear human clothes, but humans come in all sizes too.

The base figures tout 31 points of articulation, which sounds about right. Ball neck and mid-torso restricted double-ball under shell, ball joint attaching shell, ball hips and shoulders, disc-pin wrists, cut shoulders and thighs, double-hinge elbows and knees, hinge and swivel ankles, and butterfly pecs.

The comic-styles turtles, which come packed with really nice, thick comics containing three stories (two IDW, one Mirage) aren’t quite Mirage style. They include the toon-styled letters on their belts, and feature different skin shades that are also different from the cartoon. They do, however, maintain the red bandanas and brown pads.

Speaking of the pads, that’s the one design choice that may irk some. Rather than having separate pads over joints, like WWE figures, the pads are the hinge, and thus the flange that goes into the arm for articulation remains the pad color. Painting it wouldn’t make sense at this scale, so it’s a necessary choice. But it’s an aesthetic favoring playability over looks, for better or worse. And that will depend on the buyer.

The game-style Turtles are Gamestop exclusives, and feature a pixel deco that’s really pretty cool, if obviously a lot smaller and more intricate than an actual pixel Turtle in a 16-bit game would be. NECA’s dome a version of this, but those figures saw pretty limited distribution. These make great alternatives.

All the four heroes can stash their primary weapons in the back of their belts, though the scabbards for Leo’s swords seem too low to the ground. Making them higher might have necessitated a newly sculpted shell from the others, so it’s a convenient decision. They also all feature an additional accessory: manhole lid for Leo, pizza slice for Don, grappling hook for Mike, and extra blades for Raph. Each Turtle also includes open and closed mouth heads, and multiple hands.

The Street Style figures are a bit different. Don’s bo is replaced with a pike, and they get more modern accoutrements like a Walkman (modern for the ’90s, that is), movie camera, and pizza box. The gist of the line is they all wear jackets and sunglasses, which stick into tiny pinholes in their bandanas. One-in-four variants have the jacket in a color matching their bandanas; separate one-in-four variants wear letter jackets and red/blue 3D glasses. The jacket sculpt remains the same, but the clever repaint disguises that well.

The heads sport the same sculpts across the line, but a little eye paint can make a lot of difference. The only thing weird about these Turtles in jackets is the lack of rear shells. As such, the fact that they’re going pantsless really stands out in a way it maybe shouldn’t. ’90s toy collectors may have “Party Angela” flashbacks here.

Again the elbow joints are not the smoothest, but it’s a choice favoring play over display, which seems fair.

Basic figures seem to run around $20, with the comics pack figures going for around $30. On the one hand, the comic inside is cover priced at $5.95, so boo. On the other, that feels like it might be a retro price. These are thick, glossy, full-color comics, and the stories within are fun and satisfying rather than mere toy commercials. For figure aesthetics, the pixel Turtles are way cooler.

With the Loyal Subjects now branching out beyond Turtle variants and making villains, Casey, April, etc., now’s a good time to get in on this line. The BST AXN banner seems to be putting the most eggs in this basket, which is fine. Especially if they keep improving as they have.

Take a look at many, many more pictures in the gallery below. Then tell us what you think in comments.

Recommended Reading: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 1

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