The good guy leader
Released in 1988, series 1
Splinter is the reason the turtles are the heroes they are. Had the Turtles never been recovered by Hamato Yoshi, they would have never been trained in the mystic and ancient arts of Ninjitsu, and thus would have never gone on to save April O’Neil in a time of need. (let it be known that I am going by the continuity of the ’87 cartoon series). The actual character of Splinter may be a bit of a cliché. We all know by now that we should never judge a book by its cover, but taking a look at Splinter’s actual sculpt and design, you would be forgiven if you thought there was nothing special about him.
Splinters figure might be the same height as the turtles themselves, but he is decidedly less aggressive and more laid-back in his stance. While Splinter may be a giant rat, you have to give Playmates some credit by leaning on the side of restraint while designing this figure. Splinter’s facial design is certainly more realistic than some of the figures that came later in the line. This figure has a calm, peaceful facial sculpt that shows off some of his graying fur near his nose showing you that he has some miles to him.
A stroke of genius to this figure is the fact that Splinters karate gi is made of an actual piece of cloth instead of being a part of the plastic mold. Add to that a posable tail (giving you a whopping eight points of articulation!), and the fact that he comes equipped with a bow and arrow, you have a figure that rises above his small stature and proves why he’s an unrivaled master.
Turtle Trivia: During the (current as of 2017) run of TMNT comics from IDW Publishing, Splinter became the leader of the Foot clan after defeating the Shredder in mortal combat…spoilers.
TV news reporter & the Turtles #1 fan
Released in 1988, series 1
Everyone needs a friend, and despite a rocky first encounter, what’s great about April is that every iteration of her character has openly accepted the Turtles for who they are and not just by how they look. Say what you will, but that is a great message to send to kids while they watch cartoons. Getting to the actual figure…actually, I’m going to be honest; her figure has a single glaring flaw that just looks odd. While she does have the standard seven points of articulation, her left arm hangs straight down at her side, stiff as a board. It wouldn’t be very noticeable had the rest of her sculpt followed suit, but her knees and right arm are all slightly bent, suggesting action. Who knows, maybe she’s supposed to be holding her microphone, but she probably shouldn’t be so tense on camera.
Speaking of her figure, April has had several makeovers over the course of the toy line. While she kept relatively the same sculpt, her clothes were often accented with different colored stripes (often orange or blue or orange and blue) and even a green jumpsuit for an April figure that accompanied the Channel 6 News van vehicle. All this talk about paint may seem like a trivial way to pad out the number of figures, but if you’re a collector, the color scheme to April’s jumpsuit is an indication of her rarity. With the rarest being a yellow jumpsuit with no stripes or colored accents at all. Or maybe it was the green-suited April that came with the news van…I don’t know. Honestly, I don’t think anyone knows.
Turtle Trivia: During the fourth volume of the Mirage comics, April was revealed to be a drawing come to life instead of a human being. Reactions were…mixed, to say the least.