Be afraid, be very afraid
Released in 1989
You know, the more I think about it, the more I’m thinking that Shredder isn’t the only iconic villain to battle the Turtles. There’s Krang, Rat King, and, of course, Bebop and Rocksteady. But very few villains rival Shredder’s longevity within Turtle canon. Debuting in the second issue of the TMNT comics published by Mirage Studios, scientist Baxter Stockman was hell-bent on ransoming portions of the city under the threat of him walking death machines of cuteness, the Mousers. Baxter has made many appearances throughout the Turtles storied history. Oftentimes finding himself working for, or at least around, the Shredder.
And that brings us to the animated series in the season one episode “A Thing About Rats”, which finds the lowly scientist/engineer being manipulated by Shredder into working for him. Fast forward a season or two, and Baxter has been accidentally mutated into a fly. Blaming the Turtles for his misfortune, instead of Shredder or himself, he works to take down our heroes by any means necessary.
The figure in question, released as a part of the second series of figures, is actually more than a little creepy. While I can’t help be notice that this character is a walking Jeff Goldblum reference, he does have a more cartoony appeal to him (that actually makes him a walking Vincent Price reference) thanks to the color palate which is getting brighter and brighter the further we go into the line. But the cartoony aspect of this figure ends with its brightness. This Baxter is actually a pretty intimidating figure, thanks to his broad shoulders and thick trunk. It seems obvious to me that this guy is enjoying his new sense of strength found within his mutation. But perhaps the selling point of this figure, is the insect aspects of Baxter’s design and sculpt.
First and foremost, it needs to said that if points of articulation is a selling point for you, Baxter deserves you money. Since Baxter has a second pair of arms, albeit fly arms, and a pair of wings that attach to the characters back, that elevates this guy to an incredible eleven points of articulation. I don’t know for sure, but that had to have been unheard of for 1989. However the good doctor’s extra set of appendages is a bit of a stick in the mud if you happen to lose them, which can be an easy thing to do. See, Baxter’s arms actually slide into a “groove” that’s been cut into the figure’s back, instead of using the tried and true peg system or even having the arms clamp around the figure’s waist. While the arms being set into the figure’s back might seem odd, compared to other figures with similar gimmick (see X-Men’s Spiral figure), it does make the extra arms and wings appear much more natural, as if they are really growing out of the figure’s back.
This figure is a surprisingly creepy addition to the toy line. Sure, there are other figures that are humanoid bugs of some kind, but there just isn’t the same appeal as Baxter Stockman. Either the other bug figures are too cartoony, or they rely a bit too much on kid friendly gore and gross out presentation. Somehow, Baxter, a man manipulated into doing the wrong things, a man that would rather run from danger than cause it, has one of the most intimidating and unnerving sculpts in the entire line. While he isn’t scary, like say a Rat King is scary, Stockman’s figure is so creepy and unnerving, while also resembling something that everyone recognizes, that you have to wonder if this figure would be made today if it were presented the same way. I don’t think it would.
Actually, to be fair, the Baxter figure released in 2015…pretty damn creepy.
Oh, by the way…
Robotic rat trap with an appetite for turtles
Released in 1989
You can’t talk about Baxter Stockman and not mention is greatest achievement, the crown jewel of his laboratory, the Mouser. Again debuting in the second issue of the original comics in 1985, the Mouser was given a figure in 1989 as a part of the very first wave of variant figures from Playmates known as the “Wacky Action” Turtles. I’ll be honest, this figure…well, it doesn’t suck.
In terms of his sculpt, it’s a fairly accurate representation of what a Mouser robot should look like, but it’s way too big, standing almost as large as Baxter himself. In terms of his “Wacky Action” feature, there’s a key on the back that you push a bunch of times to make the figure walk. Unfortunately, mine doesn’t work anymore, so my Mouser figure rests comfortably on its shelf.
Honestly, if you want the best version of the a Mouser figure, buy the figures released in 2013. They’re just as accurate to the source material as the Mouser from ’89, plus, they scale well with the original Baxter Stockman figure. And if that wasn’t enough, the 2013 release of the Mousers was a seven-pack of figures that were roughly an inch in height. But two packs and you’re set.
Turtle Trivia: Baxter Stockman actually had a cameo in the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film, where he was portrayed by actor K. Todd Freeman, in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it role. To this day I haven’t spotted him in the film.