Toy Review: TMNT Mutant Mayhem Basic Turtles by Playmates

Playmates take a lot of heat from collectors.

Much of the ire stems from the fact that their action figures have remained essentially unchanged since the ’90s. They have the same levels of sculpt and articulation, and the same lack of internal scale. Example: Krang’s Robot Body can be anything from a deluxe giant to a turtle-sized figure.

But these criticisms miss the point. Playmates has managed to sell fully poseable, fully accessorized Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures that a kid can buy for under $10 (plus tax, of course) since the ’80s. With the new Mutant Mayhem basic Turtles for the upcoming animated movie, they’ve done so and upped the sculpt and paint games. You might be lucky to find them for $10 still, but it’s not impossible.

Turtle Boyz II Men

For the new movie, the foursome come in all new sculpts. Each figure includes a baby turtle, signature weapons with colored handles (except Don’s staff; he makes up for that with an extra accessory of headphones), and a weapons rack with pop-out bonus weapons all in one color.

The single-color aspect is a little gross when we’re talking pizza slices. Then again, this is New York — maybe some gourmet place makes expensive metallic pizzas with edible silver and squid ink. Your imagination, your rules.

If you want the weapons to stay attached to the rack “unpopped,” take extra care to cuts the ties that hold it in the package. Pulling the rack out too abruptly may pull one of the weapons off.

That aside, they lie on the posts pretty well after being popped or cut off.

The gang do all include sheaths for their primary weapons. But in a slight change, Mikey’s are on his back. This is because he now has a fanny pack on his front, containing what seem to be a non-removable smartphone. (His glasses are removable, if you’re an older-school fan who hates that look.)

Turtles ‘N’ Timely

These Turtles draw on what came before. With Donnie now having glasses in many incarnations, that’s what this one has too. Likewise, Raph wear a bandana and be bulkier and more battle scarred than the rest, which also carries over. Mike looks a little goofy, as the party dude. Leo’s serious but calm, with head ties fluttering in the wind. To fit the aesthetic of them all being actual teenagers who look like teenagers, they’re thinner and not full adult-muscle size.

Packaging includes tiny file cards, containing factoids like Raph wanting to be an MMA fighter (Huh? Isn’t he one, unofficially?)

The articulation on these is an interesting mix. Cut joints at the wrists and ankles, true ball neck, disc-and-pin shoulders, knees, and hips. But the hips are unusual — normally, the disc joint would go side-to-side on the legs, but for these, they go back to front, allowing the gang to sit down and bend forward much more easily without going bow-legged.

The outlined eyes and teeth make for a nice cartoon-y look, and the sculpt feels a little rough, like a woodcut or unique animated style. These guys do look like they stepped out of a cartoon, which is the idea. And while they may be tougher to balance than some, you can achieve some contorted action poses with a bit of patience and finding the sweet spot.

Reptilian Scales

In case you’re wondering, they play reasonably well with the Loyal Subjects TMNT figures, scale-wise.

As far as 6-inch figures, it again depends how big you think the Turtles are, as they have varied a lot across many media.

Right as this review was about to publish, Playmates sent over a couple of the 12-inch Turtles to compare. Oddly, their leg disc-and-pin joints do go side-to-side. And they lack elbow joints completely. That aside, they’re similar, and have even more of a wood-carved feel. It keeps them visually distinct from previous toys. And at under $20, also a great deal, with sheathable primary weapons.

More detailed collectibles might add more of a wash, or even more hidden articulation, but these really are quite impressive for Playmates, with higher sculpt quality than usual and good articulation at the price. Anyone looking to casually pick up a set of the foursome could pay a lot more for NECA iterations, or get a fun, solid set for $40 and change.

Check out more images below for a better look.