Monday, August 20, 2012

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Playmates)

Presenting the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) and their sensei, Splinter the Rat from Playmates. 

These might not be the TMNT that you are looking for given the popularity of the newly released action-figure to help drum out hype for the upcoming new movie. These are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles released by the toy company Playmates in support of the CGI film entitled ""TMNT" in 2007. 

This was the first CGI movie of the turtles and actually followed the events of the previous three movies. And finds the brothers growing distant as - following the death (supposed) of The Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze - the Foot clan is in shambles and there is nothing much left for them to do. 

As a result, Leonardo is sent to Central America by Splinter to train; Donatello is working an underground electronics call center; Michelangelo has a part time job as "Cowabunga Carl" (A children's party clown where he dresses up as... well a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle"; and Raphael - with no real marketable skills - just pumps iron and fights crime at night as the masked vigilante called "Nightwatcher". 

This was sadly also the last film of the legendary Mako - who voiced Master Splinter.

This collection was actually not easy to complete and till today and it took a while to complete - I didn't find Leonardo till last year, 2011 at the Philippine Toycon. Today I'm still looking for one figure: Karai, the Shredder's daughter and new leader of the Foot Clan - who was voiced by Ziyi Zhang. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Donatello:

My favorite Turtle. 

In the movie, "Don" or "Donny" was the defacto leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the absence of Leonardo (Apparently Donatello is the second oldest of the turtles). 

As mentioned above, Donatello runs an IT support center from the sewers and is actually pissed that Raphael is not contributing financially to the family - and just mopes around angrily while pumping iron. The technobabble speaking Donatello actually has pretty much figured out that Nightwatcher is Raphael and disapproves of the vigilante. 

His Playmates action figure is one of the more interesting ones thanks to his gadgets. He comes with his trademark bo-staff that can be hooked to his belt from behind; clip on goggles; and a gameboy-like portable personal computer that can be placed in his belt sash. 

Donatello actually also comes with a climbing rope which I forgot to shoot, making him the Turtle with the most accessories.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Leonardo:

The leader - the boyscout who takes his job too seriously. He's more of a Captain America than a Cyclops. Also like Captain America, Leonardo's sense of duty is more universal versus his rival Raphael's more "local" sense of duty (Like Cyclops). In the comic book prequels to TMNT, Raphael more than once abandons the team battling city-wide destructive forces to help individuals - much to Leonardo's chagrin. 

The movie opens with Leonardo being brought back to New York by April O'Neil. I'm not quite sure what he was training in and who was training him. He returns to lead the Turtles but is not welcomed back by all of them. He goes out to confront Nightwatcher, easily unmasks him, and ends up enraged that Raphael would threaten to reveal the family so blatantly by going out every night to fight crime. Which ends up in a battle of brute strength as Raphael uses his sword breaking sais to break both of Leonardo's Ninjaken (THEY ARE NOT KATANAS). 

Leonardo does not come with any accessories other than his Ninjaken. We should note that he has the ability to unclip the scabbards, but the sash which is attached to his belt cannot be removed. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Michelangelo:

The youngest. Note the little discrepancy here between the spelling of Michelangelo's name and his title on the poster on the right.

People sometimes spell Michelangelo with an extra "a", but the correct spelling of the renaissance artist's name is spelled without the extra "a." In the case of the turtle, both are accepted - probably because Mikey is portrayed as  "Happy-go-lucky" so he can go with the flow of however way his name is spelled.

Michelangelo in the movie is portrayed as the least intellectual and emotionally developed of the four turtles. He automatically looks up to his older brothers for direction but generally tags along more with the doting Donatello than the ultra serious Leonardo or Raphael. But he is mature enough to go get a job and does so as "Cowabunga Carl" - a children's party clown that looks like a blown up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle.

The eternally happy and positive Michelangelo comes with a real rolling skateboard and a pair of nunchucks that clip to the back of his belt - interesting how the less serious Turtles use blunt weapons while Leonardo and Raphael use sharp edged blades.

The Playmates Michelangelo is also sculpted with one eye faced away from the other to give him a more "muppet" look.

Michelangelo is also the Family's comic relief removing the "darkness" of the movie:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Raphael:

The angry middle child - it's always the third child who's so angry.

Early on in the movie, Raphael is unable to save an old man who turns out to be a former crimefighter. The old man make Raphael promise to take his armor and continue the legacy of the Nightwatcher, and Raphael does - not sure how the armor fit, but it did. As Nightwatcher, Raphael trades the use of his Sais for Manriki a pair or weighted chains.

So while the rest of the family thinks that Raphael is just slacking around pumping iron, the truth is, he goes out at night to fight crime as Nightwatcher - who Michelangelo becomes a fan off despite being discouraged by Donatello.

Raphael openly challenges Donatello for leadership of the family but his claim is disapproved by Splinter until Raphael can contain his anger. When Leonardo returns to the family, the source of Raphael's anger is revealed when Leonardo goes out to confront the Nightwatcher.

Leonardo proves to be too quick and agile for Raphael's brawling style, easily knocking off Nightwatcher's helmet to reveal his identity. Raphael then reveals the source of his anger as he feels that Leonardo abandoned them when he went to train in Central America. The two again come to blow using their traditional weapons and it has been argued that Leonardo intentionally loses as he no longer goes around Raphael's brute strength but directly against it. But Leonardo is almost killed by Raphael when Raphael uses his brute strength to break Leonardo's swords with his sword breaking sais. Nearly killing his brother tips Raphael over the edge and he runs away confused and crying.

His figure comes with a pair of sais and a pair of dumbbells. He's also the only turtle to not be light green. 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Master Splinter:

The all-wise all-knowing Master of the Martial Arts (I wonder if he's also the master of his bladder? Or does he pee randomly like rats?), the one who for several years cooked food for the Turtles (Ewww).

It is Master Splinter who sends Leonardo to Central America forcing the family to adapt to different roles as - without their leader - they are prevented from doing their normal hero work. It is Master Splinter who denies Raphael leadership of the family till he finally controls his anger.

But it is also Master Splinter who finally brings peace to the family when Raphael confesses his fight with Leonardo to the rat and acknowledges that he knows now why Leonardo is the leader and not him. Master Splinter tells Raphael that his passion to protect the weak  is his greatest strength and a great quality that - while it does not make him his favorite student - it did not make Raphael his least favorite son (it's probably Michelangelo). Master Splinter also points out that Raphael's strength, passion and loyalty to those he cares for are also merits of a great leader IF he can control it and temper it with compassion.

Master Splinter then goes to lead the turtles in a rescue mission to retrieve Leonardo and kick the bad-guy's collective asses.

Master Spliter is sadly poorly articulated - he can barely move - and comes equipped with a bo-staff and something that looks like a stick with a fetching claw at the end.

The Playmates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are surprisingly still available on Amazon at various prices. From left to right: TMNT Raphael US$ 38.95 (Roughly PhP 1,675)'; TMNT Leonardo US$ 44.95 (Roughly PhP 1,932 - bought him loose for PhP 300 - US$ 7); April O'Neal US$ 18.95 (Roughly PhP 815); Master Splinter US$ 23 (Roughly PhP 989); Casey Jones US$ 39.95 (Roughly PhP 1,718); TMNT Donatello US$ 28.99 (Roughly PhP 1,247); and TMNT Raphael US 34.95 (Roughly PhP 1,503); all plus shipping.

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