Saturday, September 13, 2014

Mutatin' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Back in the early 90's I was one of those kids that watched the old TMNT cartoon on TV. I never was a rabid fan of the Turtles, neither the show or the toys, but I had enough of an interest to give the property some attention. One of the questions I always had as a kid was how did some of the other characters get to be the way they looked in the show. I mean, I knew the turtles were exposed to the ooze that changed them, but what about the others? I had heard the same ooze that changed the turtles and Splinter had also changed several of the Foot's henchmen like Bebop and Rocksteady. I had those toys as a kid, but I always wondered if there were ever toys of these characters in their pre-exposed to the ooze selves.

Mutatin' Splinter & Shredder photo 100_6880_zps1a4d6f59.jpg

Mutatin' Bebop & Rocksteady photo 100_6875_zps03530ce8.jpg

In the past months I've been working my way through a huge collection of toys I bought locally. Anything that wasn't Transformers was immediately placed off to the side. Now that I've got most of the TF items sorted and at least pictured, I've started to go back through the other items. At the bottom of one of the boxes I saw figures of Splinter and Shredder that I didn't recognize. Granted I only had a few of the original figures from the first wave, but these figures seemed odd. They were "chunkier" that what I was accustomed to. After a little research on the world wide web, I discovered these were part of a series called Mutatin'.

The premise of these Mutatin' toys was to show some of the characters in their pre-exposed selves. I probably would have loved the crap out of these as a kid. Look at them as a 37 year old man now, they seem a bit silly however I can still respect the idea and the mechanics used.

Mutatin' Splinter photo 100_6867_zps271d5c1d.jpg

Splinter looks as good as a rat can look wearing a Japanese kimono. Good head sculpt - buck teeth and all. He retains all trademark look, from the red kimono to the bandage wrapped feet and ankles. One may think a action figure his size (around 5 inches) would sport some sort of articulation, but alas he is pretty much a brick. His arms do turn a full 360 degrees as does his head, but that is about it.

Mutatin' Splinter photo 100_6869_zpsd072ca07.jpg

To get Splinter back to his human self, you simply open his kimono (come 'on, no jokes guys - this is a family friendly blog!) and you simply rotate the rat head in and the human head out. The legs also rotate in giving you room to rotate the human legs out. The sleeves on each arm open up revealing a cavity inside concealing the human hands. Simply rotate these around and snap the sleeves back into place.  Decent looking figure, but he doesn't look too Japanese to me.

Mutatin' Shredder photo 100_6878_zps7be29a5d.jpg

Shredder was never exposed to the ooze (was he?), so his Mutatin' toy is more or less converting him from his armored self to his regular self. Kind of boring if you ask me, but Playmates did a good job here.  I will point out that his spikey armor bits are all soft plastic of course. His helmet is also made of the same soft plastic.

Mutatin' Shredder photo 100_6877_zpsefc62677.jpg

Shredder's non-armored self has him wearing what appears to be traditional Japanese clothing. If you look carefully you can see how the sides of the blue garb are slightly discolored. This came from the toy being stored outside in a storage shed for many many years. Transformation follows Splinter's in many ways. Even without instructions I was able to figure out in a matter of seconds. Shredder's figure makes a more convincing Japanese male that Splinter does.

Mutatin' Bebop photo 100_6872_zps54e0a650.jpg

Bebop and Rocksteady also got the Mutatin' treatment. Starting here with Bebop the figure looks like his original figure. You may notice he has a sai and a drill sticking out from the tips of his shoes. I'm not sure in which mode these are supposed to be exposed. Just as with Splinter and Shredder before, articulation is almost non-existent. Arms, head and the legs all move to some extent.

Mutatin' Bebop photo 100_6873_zps16f74ded.jpg

I remember the old cartoon showing both Bebop and Rocksteady in their human forms, after all they were both in a street gang that Shredder had employed. However I remember Bebop being African American and not white. Can anyone confirm that, or am I just wrong? Whatever the case may be, this guy had to be a tough guy to walk around New York wearing a pink shirt! It seems most of these Mutatin' toys share the same construction and conversion process. The whole upper chest of Bebop folds forward, allowing you to rotate the heads. Again, the arms open up to allow you to rotate the hands around.

Mutatin' Rocksteady photo 100_6870_zpsac8e997b.jpg

Rocksteady was always my favorite of the two, but I hated his original toy. He seemed to skinny and his head was way oversized. This version gets the look down better, but I don't care for the Army style jacket he's wearing. While none of the toys I had came with accessories, you may have noticed Rocksteady has two brightly colored neon orange grenades attached to the sides of this thighs. These are removable so he can hold them in his hands if you wish, however they can stay on his legs, even during transformation.

Mutatin' Rocksteady photo 100_6871_zps494cc79a.jpg

Boy did Rocksteady look pretty dumb before! He oughta forever be grateful to Shredder for improving his appearance! Converting Rocksteady to his human form is basically the same as Bebop, however those grenades on his thighs have their own panel that flips around. Nice to see that they worked in some small differences such as this.

Mutatin' April photo 100_6881_zpsc39a6996.jpg

The figure that really stood out in the box was this horrendous looking April O'Neil. I immediately snapped a picture on my phone and sent it to a few friends who are much bigger TMNT fans than I. This figure too was from the same Mutatin' line, but no one could give me a back story on the figure.

Where do I start here? I can't believe someone thought this would make a good action figure. I mean, come on. It looks like April is ready to step onto the football field! Just look at those broad shoulders she is sportin'. I'm pretty sure that she isn't wearing shoulder pads underneath her trademark yellow jump suit either. Maybe boys don't like to play with female action figures not because they are girls, but because a lot of the female action figure suck. This here is a prime example of how NOT to make a female action figure. Granted the transformation adds a lot of bulk to the figure, this still wouldn't look very good as a stand alone figure.

Mutatin' April photo 100_6882_zps44c87de7.jpg

If you thought the April human figure looked horrible, check this out! Somehow she managed to mutate herself from her annoying human self to a cheetah hybrid. I'm not even sure if April in this form would turn on the Cheetos mascot, Chester Cheetah! The feet, arms and head all rotate out from their concealed cavities like the other figures. However she also has thigh panels that flip open, allowing you to fold out cheetah skin. How sexy!

Mutatin' April photo 100_6883_zpsc4705aff.jpg


In addition to the Mutatin' toys, there was another series of transforming TMNT toys called Road Ready. These toys featured a vehicle transformation integrated into the humanoid figure. Interesting idea, but how well executed could these really be? Let's find out.

Road Ready Splinter photo 100_6894_zpsb80062e8.jpg   Road Ready Splinter photo 100_6895_zps2644248e.jpg

If I told you that Splinter here would transform into the Turtles van would you believe me? Playmates did a great job concealing the vehicle parts here. Outside of the dark green "spine" on the back of Splinter, you can't see any of the van. Yes Splinter is a bit bloated looking and I'm not sure what's going on with the gray hair around his neck and chest, but this is Splinter alright.

Road Ready Splinter photo 100_6896_zpsf75bcdd4.jpg

Road Ready Splinter photo 100_6897_zpsa8f34a3c.jpg

The whole figure basically opens up to reveal all sorts of flat panels. I didn't have the instructions, but it was a  fairly straight forward transformation procedure. The van is small and compact, but I've very impressed. Playmates managed to capture the look and feel of the Turtles van. The wheels are free rolling and glides across a hard, smooth surface with ease. Very cool toy. If you peer inside you can even see Splinter appears to be driving the van! This is the same rat head that the figure uses.

There are a few other characters in this Road Ready series, but I've never seen any of them in person. I'm not about to start collecting TMNT toys, but I almost kept this toy for myself as I had a lot of fun messing around with it. This toy here makes up for all of the short comings I give Playmates for the horrible, horrible Mutatin' April figure.

Road Ready Splinter photo 100_6898_zps561c807c.jpg

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