The bad guy leader
Released in 1988, series 1
The old saying goes that a hero is only as good as their villain. Well, the Shredder is a pop culture icon. There are very few villains whose identity is so intertwined with the hero of a story, but the Shredder is so much a part of the TMNT history, that he does not appear in any other media franchise without the presence of the Turtles themselves.
Now while the ’88 figure line might be known more for their variants of previously released figures, even I agree that the Shredder getting a couple of variants here and there were a blessing in disguise, as the figure that came out in the first run of figures is a little…odd. While the Shredder’s figure is very imposing (his portrait states that he’s six feet tall), you wouldn’t know it to look at him, as he is crouched down so far forward that you may think he stretching for his morning yoga class; the reason behind this being that Playmates toys didn’t want the bad guy figures being taller than the Turtles themselves. While this is understandable, it makes standing Shredder up on display an absolute nightmare. On top of that, his actual frame is a bit weird. While the Shredder is a very well-muscled individual, he’s so lean that he almost looks like he just got over a bout with pneumonia.
Plus his hands don’t really seem to operate the way they’re supposed to. His hands for the most part are almost completely open, making holding a sword or a dagger almost impossible. But the Shredder isn’t exactly known for his swordsmanship, he’s all about his blades. And while his armor is incredibly accurate to both the ’87 animated series, and the Mirage comic books, he has his helmet and blades colored a thick looking navy blue that just makes this figure look like a knock off of the real figure that didn’t exist…until 1993.
In ’93 we got a Shredder from the “Toon Turtles” variants that gave us a figure that, while using the exact same sculpt of the ’88 figure, was one hundred percent accurate from the Shredder of the animated series. While he’s still a pain to stand up, his clothing and blades/armor is makes this figure look like he just jumped out of you television set; even if his helmet has a hint of blue to where the cartoon Shredder just had a straight up silver helmet. Also, it should be mentioned that both the ’88 and ’93 Shredder wear a purple colored cloth caped bound to him by a black belt. Just like Splinter, this is a welcome addition to the figure and it’s great to see that Playmates didn’t just give the Shredder a cape made of soft plastic, like so many other caped figures have had in the years since.
For all its faults, the Shredder was given an amazing action figure that no set of TMNT figures would be complete without.
Turtle Trivia: In the 2003 animated series, the Shredder was an alien named Ch’rell. Bet you didn’t see that one coming.