Thursday, February 19, 2015

Action Figure Review: Mystic Donatelo from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by Playmates

     With every episode of the Nickelodeon TMNT cartoon I watch I'm loving it more and more. I'm watching it on DVD so I'm a bit behind (I'm on the last third of season 2) so I'm not familiar with how or why the Mystical Turtles come about but I really dig the look. I honestly didn't even know these were coming out and stumbled onto Donatello on a store shelf (I don't get taken unaware like that very often). I was super excited for this guy but some horrible paint issues with this figure have really caused me to question my support of the TMNT line moving forward. Want to learn more about my problems and how conflicted this figure makes me feel? Then join me after the break...

The Facts:                                                                       Height: 4 7/8th inches                                                                                                                                                                  Articulation: Swivel/hinge knees, swivel/hinge hips, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, and a ball jointed neck.                                                                                                                                                                                  Accessories: Sledgehammer, battle axe, removable cloak, and some sort of coiled rope.                                                                                                                                                               Non-Scalper Price: $9  
The Positives:

* I really love the great design on Donatello. I haven't reached the episode(s) where the TMNT go on a mystic retreat but I love the idea of them changing up their looks during some intense training. While we've already gotten the cool fantasy inspired LARPing Turtles, these guys have a different feel to them. I love Donatello's outfit as it almost has an anime like feel to it. It's very epic and looks like something you might see on a heavy metal album cover.

* While these are simpler figures aimed more at kids than collectors, I still love the sculpting on them. While they're smoother and less detailed to match the animation style of the cartoon, they still look pretty good. The fact that Donatello's cloak is a separate removable piece (his mask looks to be a separate non-removable piece) helps to add some additional depth to the sculpt.

* I mentioned the removable cloak, which is great, but Donatello also comes with three additional accessories. A sledge hammer type weapon, a truly epic battle axe, and some sort of... rope? A bundle of spoons? Seriously, I'm not sure what that little thing is. The package mentions the other two accessories but doesn't mention this piece. Does it appear in the episode?
The Negatives:

*OK, here comes the boom: The only paint apps on this entire figure are on his eyes. Yup, that's it. The rest of the figure is simply molded in the appropriate colored plastic. That isn't a negative in and of itself but looking at this guy you should be able to see how awkward his arms and legs look. Know why? That's because Playmates neglected to paint the wraps on his wrists and hands, the details on his thighs, and the wraps on his feet. Yes, Donatello is left with with completely unpainted arms and legs and it looks terrible. I've been a big supporter of this line: I've purchased and reviewed most figures in the line and for quite a few years I've placed the line in my best of the year lists. Up to this point when Playmates has done things to keep this line cost efficient, I've been able to overlook them. Sure, more advanced paint details disappear between prototype and final product. Yeah, accessories don't always end up painted and figures are all made the same size. Those things haven't killed the fun of this line for me. This has. I love the designs of these figures and I really want to love these toys, but the lack of any paint work at all (particularly on the wraps, which are always part of the turtles' costumes) has crossed the line between cost effectiveness and sheer laziness. During his walk-through with Playmates at New York Toy Fair 2015, "Pixel Dan" Eardley asks the Playmates rep straight up about this issue with the Mystic Turtles and gets a pretty canned "cost effective" response. Very disappointing and this has really caused me to not pick up any other Mystic Turtles until I figure out what's happening with this line moving forward. In all honesty, if the rest of the 2015 product suffers these same cost reductions it will definitely change my support of this line.

*Ready for another negative? The right elbow pad was ripped on my figure right out of the package. That really bites, doesn't it? I'm hoping this is a one off issue and not a sign that quality control is being reduced to help make this line even more cost effective.

* This isn't a true negative, but seriously? What is this piece? It's really driving me crazy! Readers! Help identify this!

     I've loved the TMNT line since it came out and it really bothers me to see Playmates let the line slip. Coming off of another strong year with this line, I'd hate to see Playmates simply rest on their laurels and let the quality of this line slip. Maybe it's time to raise the price on these figures a bit or to not sculpt extraneous details? I'm not sure, but I definitely cutting paint apps is not a way to move forward with this line. There's so much great about this figure but the QC issue and the lack of paint are two major issues and I'm giving this guy a solid "Eh." If you're someone who will paint your own figures or who is a die-hard completist then you'll still want to pick Donatello up but everyone else might just want to stay away.

I've reviewed lots of TMNT figures, including:

Battle Shell Leonardo
Battle Shell Raphael
Baxter Stockman
Casey Jones
Cockroach Terminator
Dojo Splinter
Mikey the Elf
Ninjas in Training: Leonardo & Donatello
Ooze Scoopin' Donnie
Ooze Tossin' Raph
Raph the Barbarian
Rat King
Shredder #2
Shredder (SDCC 2013 Exclusive)
Spider Bytez
Stealth Tech Donatello
Stealth Tech Leonardo
Stealth Tech Michelangelo
Stealth Tech Raphael


  1. Not sure if you were aware, but the next TMNT DVD comes out in early March.

    1. So that should be the first part of Season 3, right? Awesome! I'll be ready!

    2. Correct - First part of season 3.

  2. Look's like Winter is coming for DONNIE!

    1. Yup. This is what I did after recording the snow day podcast we did!

      I kept humming Immigrant Song while taking these pics.

    2. I could see that. It's just such an odd looking accessory, though. Why?

  3. *sigh* Well, you already know my thoughts on this one. Follows the same problem as Leo and the rest in this variant series. They're so cool, though! I just wish they had painted those freakin' arms. Or not sculpted them to look like that. Kinda sucks that Playmates seems to not care, as well, but I guess it makes sense. Why change what works? They're still selling like hotcakes. TMNT flies off the shelf faster than most of the toys on the shelves now, and that's not even just the Christmas rush. I'm still seeing new stock being bought up within a week, just about.

    So I guess this isn't going to change. I still may get this Donnie, but we'll see. I like a good toy - and these are still good toys - it's just sad to see SO much paint removed.


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