When Peter Laird announced that he had sold the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles property to Nickelodeon, I was pretty trepidacious. What would happen to my beloved Turtles? But Peter, after he bought out Kevin Eastman's ownership rights, had a great run with the 200X cartoon and the Volume IV comics. It seemed like he finally explored everything he wanted to with the property, so I was eager to see what some new blood could do. And when I saw the new 2012 action figures from Playmates, I was excited about this new direction for the Turtles. Let's check them out!
Like most TMNT figures, the 2012 toys are pretty different from the cartoon designs they're supposed to represent. (Think about it... besides the TMNT movie Turtles and the new Classic Turtles, the toys tend to not really look much like their respective cartoons.) These action figures have different feet, more realistic detailing, and designs that are far less geometric. But that's okay, the more realistic designs actually look better than the cartoon.
The body proportions harken back to the old Mirage comics (bulky feet and forearms with comparatively scrawny upper arms and neck). It should be lauded that each Turtle has a completely unique body sculpt that reflects the character's personality and body size: Don is the tallest, Mike the shortest, with Raph and Leo in the middle. Even the shells are completely different. This attention towards unique sculpting makes the figures seem like individuals rather than the same old figure with different paint apps (like you'd see in MOTUC and DCUC).
The face sculpts are similarly awesome, capturing each Turtle's personality well. I would argue that Mikey should have a goofy smile, but hey, I can live with it as it is. Don's head sculpt is my favorite, which seems to be a recurring theme for me and TMNT figures.
The paint apps are pretty good. The prototypes have nice paint washes that really bring out the detailing in the sculpts, but the paint apps of the production figures work well enough. It should also be praised that each Turtle has a different color scheme, not only in regards to his bandana, but also in the greenness of his plastic and the wrappings on his hands and feet.
The articulation is exactly what it needs to be. The Turtles are articulated at their necks (ball-socket), shoulders (swivel-hinge), elbows (swivel-hinge), wrists (swivel), hips (swivel-hinge), and knees (swivel-hinge). Hyper-articulation enthusiasts would probably want more, but more articulation would just screw up the sculpt and lead to quality control issues (I'm looking at you, NECA Turtles). This articulation is perfect for toys that are meant to be played with rather than collector's figures that spend the bulk of their existences sporting the collector's favored pose on a shelf.
Each Turtle comes with his own signature weaponry and a rack with a bunch of additional weapons. Not only are the extra weapons fun and appropriate to the Turtle, but also the whole rack idea harkens back to the vintage figures. It's a nice touch.
These Turtles clock in at $10 each at Big Bad Toy Store. The quality justifies that price, but you should be able to get them for about $8 at big box stores.
Honestly, these are probably my favorite TMNT figures of all time. And that's saying something, considering how awesome the NECA and Mystic Fury figures are. But the TMNT line of 2012 perfectly blends great toy-like designs, awesome sculpts, and sweet accessories into an unstoppable force of Turtle Power!
(Dork Dimension historians may want to note that the Turtles join an illustrious group of only four other toys - out of 122 reviews total - that got this close to a perfect all-5 score: Starship Legends Enterprise D, Clone Wars Chewbacca, vintage TMNT Casey Jones, and vintage TMNT Muckman.)