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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Nickelodeon TMNT Fan Preview Event - The Toys & Playmates' Presentation

The Playmates presentation part of the Fan Preview Event ended up being far more elaborate than I could have ever imagined. To set the scene a bit, I'll attempt to describe the room we spent most of the day in. The room was actually a "gym," with a basketball court floor. For the event it had been converted into a presentation room. Green lighting, which illuminated Nickelodeon's new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles logo on the floor, contrasted the overall dark atmosphere. At the front of the room was a table built from two large metal barrels, from which green-colored "ooze" made of spray foam was leaking, and a glass top. The 12 fan attendees sat front and center on an array of chairs built from skateboards (very neat looking, but they did force you to sit with good posture!). To the right of us were some more (non-skateboard) chairs where the Playmates guys and some Nickelodeon executives sat. There were even more people standing in the back of the room, including more Nickelodeon people, people from the PR agency that helped coordinate the event, and other who didn't ever say anything (they could have been the focus group people). Whatever the case, we were being constantly watched by a lot of people.

But back to Playmates. Their presentation started with a slide show. The slide show was kind of boring, as it was basically a bunch of numbers about the awesome sales history of Playmates' TMNT toys through the years. Basically, they've sold a crap load of toys. Well, I knew this and I wasn't sure why they were telling all of us this, since it seemed more aimed at potential retail buyers or other business people of that sort. But then the slide show ends and they tell us to turn around and WHOA the wall that had been the back of the room is opening up to reveal even more of the room and a full display of toys along the new back wall! Impressive. Most impressive.

As I said in my first report of the event, I really wasn't planning on seeing toys. Not to this extent, at least. The entire back wall (the real back wall) was a massive display of toys. In the middle was completely new stuff, while the sides had some of the old toys on display. This included a diorama that showed the evolution of the basic Turtle figure through the years - a nifty thing to look at, but the unreleased Mirage Turtle at the end of this display made me laugh inwardly.

Now to the meat of the display - all the new stuff! On display were basic Turtles, "deluxe" Turtles, the new Turtles' Sewer Lair playset, role play toys, several vehicles, and more. Let's go through all of these individually.

Basic Turtles - OMG these are awesome!! I am not going to be able to do them justice in words. IIRC from the slide show presentation, the scale of these figures is between 4"-5". Before this event I was thinking that I would only be interested in new figures if they were in the 3.75" scale, but going slightly taller on these actually works perfectly. The Turtles prototypes were fully painted and each Turtle was a 100% unique sculpt - no use of identical bodies with just different heads here. The detail and paint and just the general look of these was amazing.

You may have noticed on the Michaelangelo poster Nickelodeon released that he has freckles. These freckles were beautifully (or, if you're me - adorably) detailed on the action figure. Also detailed on Mike, and not detailed on the other three Turtles, were blue pupils. When asked about that, the Playmates guys said that no decision on pupils had yet been made and they were honestly interested in hearing our feedback on that. I think most, if not all of the group, was in agreeance that as they were, the pupils looked fantastic and we would love figures that looked that great. However, this being the prototype, those pupils had been painted by a woman who specializes in doing just that. Retail figures would be painted in mass in China, and no one was optimistic that it would carry over as well. If it can be done well, pupils on these figures would look great, but if it can't be done well, the figures would still be spectacular without pupils. Another great detail was the weapons, which were all realistically colored and Mikey's nunchucks were actually linked chain! It was really hard not to grab Mikey and just run. ^_^

My only complaint about these figures goes back to the previously mentioned mysterious third toes. All of the Turtles featured very distinct and detailed third toes on each foot. This isn't enough to stop me from buying them, but these seriously have the potential to be the most ultimate TMNT figures of all time, and to have that third toe staring back at me for eternity on such a figure is an unnecessary blemish on otherwise perfection. Sadness!! :(

Other Basic Figures - Also on display was the unpainted Shredder prototype. Even unpainted he looked amazing! This also has potential to be the best Shredder figure ever. Unfortunately, Splinter was in a much more early development stage and I don't think he reflected what we will see with the final figure, so I have no real judgment on him. These six figures will probably be the entirety of the first wave we see hit stores in August 2012. An April figure would likely come in wave 2. Oh, and I think they said the price point was going to be $5.99, which is quite impressive.

Deluxe Figures - I don't think the Playmates guys actually called these "deluxe" figures, but they are the higher price point figures. The ones on display were in a really early development stage, and they asked us not to talk about them in detail, so I won't. I will say, however, that in concept, I hated these. It is just more of their standard "put the Turtles in wacky costumes and give them an action feature" that I can't stand. Bleh.

Mini Figures - These are a smaller scale, 2"-3", figure that sound destined for the European market (where apparently they love mini things). Only Leonardo was on display, but he looked very cool. I would buy it if it was sold here.

Vehicles - So, it turns out that I completely neglected to talk about the new vehicles in my previous post with details of the new show. I'll make up for that now since all of the (revealed) vehicles naturally will have a toy version. I do not remember the exact names of these vehicles, so please keep that in mind in your conversations.

Sewer Rail Glider - This is a converted train car that Donatello has retrofitted to be able to glide on the rails and also go top side to the street. The design for this is, in general, pretty cool. It kind of looks like a beefed-up party van/subway car hybrid with a paint job that seems to harken back to the old party van from the original cartoon. Playmates had a fully painted prototype on display and it looked to be a solid toy. I personally have no interest in buying vehicles, so I'm indifferent to it as a toy.

Stealth Shell - I found this thing to actually be really cool, both as a toy and as an element of the series. Basically, this is like a low-riding recumbent bicycle (but motorized) that is covered by flat armor (shaped like a turtle shell), which camouflages the rider when looked at from above. Again, there was a completed prototype on display, which was really rather sleek. I won't likely buy it just because I don't buy vehicles in general, but I'd have no problem buying this one for a kid.

Shredder/Foot Motorcycle - Nooooo, not more motorcycles! If there is something the TMNT line has had too much of through the years, it's motorcycles. So, as a toy this does nothing for me. As an element of the series, I think it'll be ok. As it was described to us, this thing is meant to be badass and loud. There's nothing stealthy about it - the person riding this wants to announce their arrival where ever it is they're going.

The Turtles' Lair - This thing is huuuuuge! Probably between 3'-4' tall. In describing it in detail I'd have to describe the general look of the Turtles' Lair, which I think I would fail miserably at, so I won't. But it's really cool! The prototype on display was really, really impressive and detailed. However, it was literally built from parts bought at Home Depot. I don't know how this is going to translate to a finished mass market toy, so that is my only hesitation. As with vehicles, I have no personal interest in buying playsets, but I think a lot of kids will have some serious fun with this. Playmates also mentioned potentially releasing add-on modules in the upcoming years that would make the playset even bigger.

Role Play - The role play toys on display were your standard colored bandannas and plastic weapons. I found it kinda weird how the masks had "eyebrows" sewn into them. I think they've tried to do this before, and I know the effect they're trying for, but I also think simple flat bandannas look better.

Classic Turtles - Oh yeah, that's right - classic Turtles. You know how there was never really any action figures that looked like how the Turtles looked in the old cartoon? Well, Playmates is ready to right that wrong. This line will be larger scale and with super articulation. The only figure on display was Raphael, and while he didn't look quite finished, he looked really cool. And although this line will start with the Turtles and maybe other standard characters, it sounds like there's potential to cover some of the more obscure characters. We'll have to see.

And I think that's it! And looking back at what I just typed, it's quite a lot! Playmates did mention that they intend for the line to take up significant shelf space in stores. And this is just the start of it - coming in 2013 (tentative) there will be even more to go along with the new movie. And it sounds like they intend for that line to be completely new/separate from the Nickelodeon series stuff. In short - lots of stuff to look forward to!


  1. Can you give more info on what type of articulation the cartoon based line and the classics based line had? It doesn't sound like you were able to actually play with them, but the more you could recall is appreciated! For comparison:

    original tmnt line turtles: neck (spins), shoulder (spins), elbow (spins), hip (full)
    2k3 tmnt line turltes: neck (spins), shoulder (full), elbow (spins), wrist (spins), hip (full) - for almost 20 years later, not that much improved
    neca turtles: head (full), neck (full), shoulder (full), elbow (open/close), wrist (full), hip (full), knee (open/close), ankle (open/close)

    Besides the quality of the sculpt itself, it's the amazing articulation on the neca figures that make them so outstanding. I really enjoy the sculpt on most playmates TMNT toys, but the articulation has always been sub-par.

  2. I really can't be any more accurate than saying that they are well-articulated. I'm pretty sure Playmates stressed articulation being a key feature, but I never saw any of them move and I just wasn't looking at them with articulation in mind. Sorry!

  3. Awesome Blog and These figures are sounding really awesome. cant wait till 2012!

  4. Rose, great write-up as always. How do you remember all this stuff? I'd forgotten more than half of all that stuff. Thanks again for documenting this so well.

  5. Loving the idea of highly detailed an articulated "Classic" figures for the original cartoon. Seems to be all the rage right now, given the Thundercats line as well. Hopefully we get more than just the turtles. Hoping to get Krang, Rocksteady, and Bebop as well. Not to mention a comic accurate Human Baxter. :)

  6. Rose, thanks again for taking the trouble to do all these write-ups. It's really appreciated!

  7. These new figures sound really cool, but I'm worried about the superfluous toe. Although I haven't seen the third toe yet, little details that seem out of place tend to drive me nuts. Like Rob, I'm really interested in seeing what type of articulation these come with, being that has always been the weakness in Playmates' figures.
    Painted pupils also scare me. I just don't trust the factory that is making these to paint good looking eyes, and would rather just have them be completely white. Also, I always loved that the old figures had completely white eyes, just to give a little nod to the Mirage comics, and would like to see that continued in this new line.
    Thanks for giving all the details. I can't wait for the new show and products.