The crafty crook cat
Released in 1993
If you’re a collector of Turtles figures of any kind, you’ve heard of Scratch. He is the white whale, the Holy Grail, the myth, the legend…the three ounce piece of plastic that people charge four hundred bucks for, loose. This figure has moved beyond the realm of just being a “toy”. There are people out there that won’t consider you a serious TMNT collector if you don’t have a Scratch figure in your collection. I am not one of these people, and I hope you’re not either. But why is Scratch so coveted? Well, after I got my hands on this figure earlier this year, I decided to find out. And what I found out was, conflicting, to say the least. Some people say that he is so rare because of low production numbers. So say he is so rare because of ebay sellers jacking up their prices for him and creating a demand.
Some say that his mold was broken during production at Playmates toys. The truth is, to me at least, is that no one knows why he’s considered so rare; and I don’t think we’ll ever know why. With that out of the way, let’s take a look at what makes this felonious feline worthy of being a part of your collection.
Before we get to the sculpt and articulation of the figure, I want to mention just how tall the figure is. Unlike most of the villains in the line, he stands straight up with barely a hint of a hunch to his back. As a result, he stands nearly a full head taller than the Turtles themselves, giving him a much more imposing presence than some of the more disgusting villains in the line. A big reason why I wanted to talk about Scratch so early in this series is because he almost fits in with the more streamlined designs of figures like Casey Jones and Ace Duck. He’s a simple example of what a human mutated into a cat. But somehow, he’s more than just a six foot tall cat in a black and white, striped prisoner’s jumpsuit.
His uniform is torn up at the sleeves and legs, exposing brown, matted fur underneath. He’s missing a boot on one foot, and he has a broken clamp on the opposite ankle that used to house a ball and chain. Around his neck, he wears a large nail file that hints at his method of escape from the boys in blue, and his prison ID number is “0009”, probably for how many times he’s escaped from his chains. But for me, the best part of Scratch’s sculpt, the real selling point, is his head sculpt. Honestly, Scratch has a truly menacing design when it comes to his looks. He sports a large, Joker-like smile that shows off his white, vicious teeth. His whiskers and brown, sweeping hair is beautifully and painstakingly painted on in a way that doesn’t suggest mass production. He wears a black mask, hinting at his days spent cat burgling, and a black and white hat that matches his prison attire. But it is said that the eyes are the window to the soul, and Scratch’s sickly, green eyes are the crown jewel of this figure. His eyes truly look evil and cement his place among the villains that terrorize the turtle teens.
I know I may sound like I’m over selling this figure’s sculpt and overall look, but I can’t really help myself. Despite his sketchy status as a truly rare figure, there is an air of mystique to this figure that places him in a notch above most other figures in the TMNT line. But on the other hand, given his lanky, wiery frame and his clean design, he almost looks out of place amongst his fellow villains. He has the look of one of the hero characters, and if they had just painted him in a different color and said he was a gas station attendant, you could say he were a friend of the Turtles that took the fight to Shredder. Whether you think of Scratch as an action figure or an artifact, I can’t deny that this guy is truly something to behold. While obviously being a part of the ’88 toy line, you would be forgiven for never hearing of this guy before. He is the very definition of “Holy Grail” because this figure is something that you will (almost) never hear about unless you actively search for him. But why would you when you don’t even know about him? Somehow, that sums up this character perfectly. Maybe that’s how he busts out of jail all the time.
Turtle Trivia: Scratch’s one and only appearance in any piece of Turtles media is in the third Nintendo Gameboy game “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Radical Rescue”, where he is the first boss of the game.