Retro Toy Review: Toon Don (Playmates TMNT)

Being a huge fan of the Mirage TMNT comics, I always loved the gritty comic-inspired design of Playmates' original wave of figures from 1988. But even though I appreciated the Mirage styling, the figures weren't particularly representative of the classic cartoon. Finally, in 1992 (4 years later!) Playmates released the Toon Turtles. Are they the "cartoony" Turtles that I so desperately need for my collection? Let's check out Toon Don to find out.

Year Stamped: 1992
Company: Playmates Toys
Size: 4 1/2"
Price: $7.50 loose complete from eBay
Packaging: Carded

Toon Don certainly looks like a cartoony Ninja Turtle, but his head sculpt doesn't quite capture the specific design of the classic cartoon. The head isn't wide enough, the eyes are too big, and the spinning-action bandana looks weird. But the rest of the body is pretty good, with toony rounded lines that work well.

The color scheme doesn't make much sense. The shell should be brown, not sea-green; the belt should be brown with a grey buckle, not all black. And for some weird reason, the figure is covered in a sort of pearlescent finish. The finish is admittedly kind of cool, but it's definitely not in-line with the cartoon theme. A flat, matte finish would have worked so much better. And if they wanted to go crazy, they could have added two-toned shading, similar to the way they painted the animation cels.

Toon Don swivels at the neck, shoulders, forearms, and (get this) hips. What happened to the ball-socket hips that virtually every single vintage TMNT figure has? Oh well, he still has some pretty good movement.

Donnie's accessories are as follows:
  • Two Toon Bos - These should be brown instead of purple, but I'm cool with them.
  • Toon Turtle Pizza Disc - I have to admit, I have absolute no use for this flying disc.
  • Animated Toon Television - The screen is one of those lenticular prints that shifts between two different images when you look at it from different angles. I really dig it, and the TV can be used in Turtle Lair dioramas.
  • Turtle Communicator - The Turtle Communicator was used so often in the show that it's a must for any Toon Turtle. It's great to finally get one, but it should be green instead of purple.

I was lucky to get this dude for $7.50 (loose) because sellers just love to inflate the prices of the Toon Turtles. But that's pretty close to my upper limit for TMNT purchases. You can get lots of really awesome Ninja Turtle figures for less, even carded.

As cool as the cartoon concept is, the figure is frankly a bit doofy. Part of that is because of Don's Playskool-esque expression, but his silly action feature definitely contributes. If you push a button on Don's back, his bandana spins. Whoopdie-do. Did that happen in the cartoon? No. Does that give him some sort of "action edge" during playtime? Hell no. Does it look doofalicious? Oh yes.

I really want to love this figure, but I'll have to settle with just liking it. The sculpt doesn't quite capture the specific look of the cartoon character, the pearlescent finish is odd, and the action feature is stupid and pointless. He's definitely a toony Turtle, though, so at least he helps to fill the "animated Turtle" void in my collection.

DISCLAIMER: All items reviewed on Dork Dimension were purchased by the reviewer unless otherwise noted. The opinions expressed on Dork Dimension are solely those of the author and are presented for entertainment purposes only.