Retro Toy Review: Creature from the Black Lagoon Leonardo
The vintage Ninja Turtles line was one of the most prolific in producing wacky theme variations on the core characters. Collectors shun these variants like they're wearing the Scarlett Letter: Farmer Mike... TD Tossin' Leo... Hose 'Em Down Don... there's a lot to hate there. But it's not that the concept of themed variants is bad, it's just that the theme has to be cool. For example, a theme like Universal Studios Monsters would tend to produce cool figures. So let's see if that rule holds with Creature from the Black Lagoon Leonardo!
Year Stamped: 1994
Company: Playmates Toys
Size: 4 1/2"
Price: $13 MOC shipped from eBay
Creature Leo's sculpt is the perfect meld of the two properties. It's like a Ninja Turtle and the Creature from the Black Lagoon got caught in a transporter accident, a la Brundlefly. His segmented hide sports a really interesting scaly texture, and the various fins and gills look fantastic. His palms are even suction-cupped. My only complaint is that there aren't any weird and wacky sculpting details like you see on Muckman or Pizza Face.
The paint apps aren't sloppy, but there isn't much in the way of color variation. A shiny finish covers the entire figure, simulating slimy fish-flesh pretty well.
Creature Leo has the usual classic TMNT articulation: swivel neck, swivel shoulders, swivel elbows, and ball socket hips. Playmates was known for good articulation, and this figure doesn't disappoint. Still, Creature Leo falls short compared with his Star Trek contemporaries.
This fish-faced Turtle comes with a Terror Tearin' Trident, Seaweed Katana Blade, and a Hideous Harpoon Gun. The accessories make up for some of the lacking wackiness in the sculpt of the figure, with loads of really interesting sculpting details (check out the impaled fish on the trident). He also comes with an "Exclusive TMNT Collector Card" featuring comic book-inspired artwork of the character. I'd love to see a whole line of these cards.
The value score is a bit tricky with this figure. My winning bid for MOC Creature Leo was only $1. But the shipping cost ($12) is significantly more than what you'd expect, so I think it scared off some of the buyers. If you consider how much shipping normally costs for a carded figure like this (maybe $6) you'd have a $7 figure. Not bad.
The real value of TMNT figures remains ambiguous. I often see sellers trying to hock the MOC Universal Monster Turtles at a price like $40, and yet, I got this MOC figure for only $13 shipped. It seems like the market for vintage TMNT figures is so volatile that there aren't constant values like we see in the more stable vintage Star Wars market. That's great for collectors, because it means that we can get pretty much any figure we want as long as we are patient and stay frosty.
Anyway, back to the figure: Creature Leo's value score is diminished a bit because the figure feels hollow and very brittle. I'd imagine the bandana tips would break off very easily under normal play scenarios.
The Creature from the Black Lagoon is one of the coolest (if not THE coolest) of the classic Universal Monsters. And TMNT is one of the coolest toy properties from the early 90's. A melding of the two, into one figure, is coolness personified. This figure also represents a really interesting blending of the pop culture of two different time periods: the creature-featured 50's and the TMNT-obsessed 90's. I admit that many, if not most, Ninja Turtle theme variants are cheesy and pointless. But this one is not.
Creature Leo is one of the cooler of the "Wacky Theme" Turtles, blending two awesome properties into one fun and interesting figure. The sculpt manages to pull off the melding of the Creature and the Turtle really well, as do the nifty accessories. This figure is definitely worth your money if you're a TMNT or Universal Monsters fan. Just be sure to act fast while the TMNT figure market is still unstable enough for you to catch a good deal.