Just the basics, the Turtles


The battle commander for the Turtles

Released in 1988, series 1


leonardoThe leader of the crew, Leonardo is known for loyalty to his family as well as his unyielding bravery in battle. Leonardo’s sculpt looks almost every bit brave and powerful as portrait and reputation describes him. He’s in a somewhat crouched position that, while it does look like he’s preparing to leap into battle, Leo seems oddly relaxed. Almost as if to say that he’s ready for anything because he can handle anything. Also, thanks to his coloring of deep, almost, hunter’s green, you can easily see that this ninja can melt into the shadows regardless of the time of day.IMG_1014


But his amazing sculpt leads to my one and only issue with any of the fab four, Leonardo’s facial expression is a little mystifying. Maybe it’s just me, but as an adult, I look at Leo’s face and I see a slightly worried expression on him. It usually isn’t a problem for me, but when you have him lined upon the shelf with the rest of his brothers, Leonardo kind of stands out as the one that’s a little off. Almost as if he’s questioning his life choices as he prepares for a dual with old Shred-head.


With that being said, once he stands equipped with his dual katana blades, this hero turtle is ready for anything the Foot can throw at him

Turtle Trivia: In the original comics from Mirage, Leonardo never once referred to himself as the leader.




The Turtles creative genius

Released in 1988, series 1

donatelloEvery team has a gadget guy, and Donatello is the best in the business. Despite what sales figures and advertising may lead you to believe, Donatello is a series favorite character, and seemingly, everyone’s first TMNT figure. Looking at this figure as an adult, I am slightly taken aback (in a good way) as to how aggressive Donatello’s facial sculpt is. With barred teeth, Donnie is leaning forward slightly, thanks to his sculpt, and suggesting that not only is he ready to fight, but he’s looking forward to it.

IMG_1016Now while we all know that Donatello is more of a tinkerer than a fighter who would rather think his way out of a conflict, I believe that his slightly aggressive posture is one of the many ways that the first series of Playmates figures paid homage to the original comics these figures were based on. Also, reading through his portrait, you’ll find a clever example of subliminal marketing with the mention that Donatello designs and builds all of the Turtles vehicles (Party Wagon!). Finally, I wanted to mention that Donatello has to be the most dynamic looking Turtle figure, thanks to his brown sculpt clashing well with his brother’s various shades of green.


Turtle Trivia: Donatello is (at least) partially inspired by TMNT co-creator, Peter Laird.




The witty voice of the Turtles

Released in 1988, series 1

raphaelThe muscle of the group, Raphael’s sculpt looks like the absolute definition of power and strength. While he has the same standard seven points of articulation, his figure was given flat feet and seemingly easier bend at the knees giving him (to me, at least) a slightly taller appearance. Add to that broader shoulders and you’ve got yourself a one turtle wrecking crew. On top of that, Raphael has the lightest color green to his mold making the bulging veins on his arms that much more vienier.


IMG_1019Just like in the cartoon, Raphael does not mess around. This figure, more than any one of his brothers perfectly strikes the look of the original comics published back in 1984, thanks in no small part to his red mask and pads. Back in the day, the Turtles of the comics were depicted as wearing red masks and I can’t help but wonder if co-creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird fought  to keep at least one of their turtles in a red mask. I mean, what other color could you imagine Raph wearing? Personally speaking, Raphael is my favorite turtle and I am so happy to have seen him in this form first. After all these years, this is the best Raphael figure.


Turtle Trivia: Voice actor Rob Paulsen not only lent his voice to Raphael, but your entire childhood, in shows like Animaniacs, Tiny Toon Adventures, Snorks and Mighty Max.



The wild and crazy turtle

Released in 1988, series 1


michelangeloEveryone loves the funny one, and Michelangelo has proven time and again that he has earned the right to be known as a fan-favorite. While this figure is a bit darker than I think some remember, Michelangelo’s personality shines through with his facial sculpt; flashing just the slightest of half smiles. While his sculpt is very similar to his brothers, it’s his belt that I have actually taken issue with. The initialed belts that the Turtles wear into battle are iconic, but I will admit to having a few problems holstering his trademark nunchucks.


IMG_1022Honestly, it is great on Playmates part that they wanted to ensure that the holsters on the Turtle’s belts could maintain a firm grip around their weapons, but while holstering Mikey’s weapons I honestly wondered what would break first, the handles or the holsters. Luckily, I didn’t have a problem and I didn’t have a problem with fitting the weapons on the belts or the Turtles hands when I was a kid either.





Turtle Trivia: Michelangelo was the first Ninja Turtle created by co-creator Kevin Eastman, which inspired Peter Laird to create his own.12540527_1145896035421116_7243977578027415271_n


The four Turtles were a massive part of my childhood, and, like a lot of us, the cartoon, figures and comics meant more to me than I could express. I remember finding a Michelangelo figure on at an antique mall when I was thirteen. I wasn’t collecting action figures anymore (thanks SEGA), but I remember seeing that figure and knowing that I had to have it. See, Michelangelo was the one turtle that I never found when I was a little kid in the heyday of TMNT. But I remember standing Michelangelo on a shelf next to his brothers, Leonardo, Raphael and Donatello, and I remembered feeling so much smaller. I remembered a cold night when I was five, and my mother handing me a blister packaged card holding Donatello inside. Everyone’s first turtle figure. That feeling is something that has stuck with me for almost thirty years. That’s why I can say with a straight face that the Playmates line of figures is the best line of action figures ever created. In the years since, with all the technological advances in entertainment, no quarter scale figure, VR headset, epic comic book crossover, or cinematic universe can ever replace the feelings and memories these figures gave me. This may sound dramatic as hell, but there is a part of me that is who he is because of these figures and the creativity it brought from me.

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