The Lovely Lizard Lady
Released in 1993
It has been said that behind every great turtle, there is a great lizard woman…or something to that effect. The point is, is that for Raphael, there is Mona Lisa.
Mona made her appearance way back in the season four episode, “Raphael Meets His Match”, of the ’87 animated series. I won’t get too into the specifics, but in short, Raphael and Mona meet, sparks fly, and they save a literal boatload of seafaring hostages. The episode has since become one of my favorites because, even as a kid, I always enjoyed a love story and that what the episode gave us. Unfortunately, it was a 90’s animated series, and there was little time for love in our show at that time. But what was even more unfortunate, was that it was another three years before we were able to get our hands on this figure, and by time we did, many of us just got it because we knew it was another Turtle figure.
With all of that being said, I think this is a great figure and a welcome addition seeing as how there are only four female characters in the entire toy line. Sure, there are plenty of April O’Neil variants, but very few ladies. I hate to say this, but it may have been a sign of the times when toy manufacturers (incorrectly) believed that boys wouldn’t play with girl action figures.
The figure itself is a great find to be sure. Mona’s overall appearance is very similar to her animated counterpart, although her green skin is a touch darker here than it is portrayed in the show, and her headband and scarf are a deep red instead of pink. She has webbed fingers and toes, as well as small fins on the backs of her arms and legs to possibly illustrate her poise and grace underwater, which was actually integral to the plot of her episode in the old series. I could possibly be reading into this a bit too much, but considering how much detail Playmates put into all of these figures back in the day, I may not be wrong. Also, she has a posable tail that is almost the same length as her legs, making Mona Lisa one of the easiest figures to stand up for display in the entire line. She may only have six points of articulation, but it should be mentioned that she is also made of a softer plastic, allowing for much more flexibility and it also makes her a candidate for weapon swapping between figures, as she can easily grasp many other figures weapons where most figures can pretty much only carry their own weapons. It’s a fun feature that I’m sure is just a happy accident that I noticed while goofing off.
Finally, I really like her head sculpt as it shows that Mona is kind of an adorable young woman. While she does have large eyes and pearly white teeth, she doesn’t just look like a green skinned woman, she also does portray the animal this woman was mutated into, although she does seem to look a bit more like a salamander than the general “lizard” Playmates says she is.
I have heard online that some people believe that Mona Lisa only exists to be a girlfriend to Raphael. This is ridiculous. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. But I think many people have misunderstood who Mona is; but she’s more than a “girlfriend” character. Although her first appearances were brief, during her episode, Mona was a college kid who became another tragic victim of wrongful mutation who had come up with a plan to strike back at the ones that had altered her life as she knew it. Meeting Raphael and the other Turtles was completely coincidental and if it hadn’t of happened; she was still going to go about her mission with or without them. Mona is a character that was kind of on a revenge mission. Who knows how long she had been in the background, planning, waiting for her time to strike. If anything, Mona is not arm-candy at all, she convicted, disciplined and accepting of her mutation. Falling for Raphael (he falls just as hard for her to btw) is a bonus. Mona may be considered a girlfriend character now by some, but she didn’t start out that way.
Like the Turtles, there’s more to Mona Lisa than meets the eye…wait…
Turtle Trivia: According to legend, (which means that I don’t know how true this is) Mona was originally meant to be another turtle, but was changed at the last minute to a humanoid lizard.