Monday, July 1, 2024

Action Figure Review: Kirby from Eastman & Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by NECA


   I haven't seriously collected a TMNT toyline for at least a decade now, though this year I have been collecting Mattel's Turtles of Grayskull due to their Masters of the Universe connection and I've been secreting away the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles x Universal Monsters (which are being set aside for some terrifying purpose!). I've been aware of this upcoming Jack Kirby figure from NECA's Eastman & Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toyline based on the 1980s Mirage Studios comic book series since it was revealed last year. I've read quite a bit of the Mirage Studios TMNT comics through the excellent hardbound editions released by IDW and I was familiar with the story that Kirby appeared in, "Donatello: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle #1" (Kirby King also appears in the 2003 series in the episode "Kirby and the Warp Crystal"). In the story Donatello meets Kirby, a new tenant of April's building, who is an artist utilizing a magic crystal he has found that brings his drawings to life. Kirby and Donatello end up travelling through a portal into another world where Donatello and Kirby help the human population fight off the monsters that Kirby has been drawing. It's a simple and neat story that was Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's tribute to Jack "The King" Kirby, one of the most legendary creators in all of comics. Kirby is a Target exclusive and is part of their Haulathon promotion. I managed to just stumble upon him on a shelf one night right after it seemed like a fresh display had just been set. I didn't buy this figure because he's a TMNT character; I bought him because he's a tribute to Jack Kirby. Let's check out Kirby after the break...

The Facts: Kirby

Height: 6 1/8ths

Articulation: Swivel/hinge ankles, upper ankle swivel, double hinged knees, thigh swivels, balljointed hips, balljointed waist, swivel/ hinge shoulders, double swivel/hinge elbows, swivel/hinge wrists, balljointed neck, and a balljointed head.

Accessories: Sketch pad, pencil, 6 swappable hands, and the gravitic equalizer.

The Facts: Kirby Creation

Height: 3 inches

Articulation: Balljointed hips, balljointed shoulders, and a balljointed head.

Accessories: Axe

Non-Scalper Price: $35 dollars

Credits: Director: Randy Falk, Trevor Zammit; Sculpt & Fabrication: Richard Force; Paint: Geoff Trapp, Mike Puzzo;
Photography: Stephen Mazurek; Packaging: Travis Hastback;
Illustrations: Kevin Eastman

The Positives:

* In the TMNT comic, Kirby appears as a middle-aged man, so that's the take on Jack Kirby that NECA went with. He's not a traditional superhero himself (just a creator of them), so he's not wearing tights or a cape or anything. Instead, he's wearing a collared shirt underneath a sweater with the sleeves rolled up and some blue jeans. It's a basic outfit, sure, and I think there's a lot of shared parts between Kirby and Baxter Stockman (in human form, not fly form) but the bright colors and the really detailed pencil line shading NECA uses on this line still manages to make it an impressive looking figure. I don't always like cel-shading or ink shading effects, but NECA does a remarkable job here and really makes these stand out. How cool to have a figure of the King of comics in a traditional, comic drawn style?

* Kirby looks middle aged here, though he doesn't have as much grey in his temples as I'm used to seeing on him in pictures. This isn't young jack Kirby, though he still looks fit and feisty enough to go out and punch out some Nazis. This is definitely a caricatured take on the man, but it matches Eastman & Laird's art and captures Kirby's facial features. I love the smile and the laugh lines on his face and the detail in his hair. 

* Here's a shot of Kirby from the rear so you can see more of NECA's fantastic work on the paint. The pencil and ink lines are really impressive on this figure. Also, they captured his hair forearms really well. 

* I'm even loving Kirby's shoes. Yeah, they're just simple brown shoes, but the highlights on them just bring out the detail and give them a pop that you wouldn't get if they'd been painted in a "realistic" manner.

* What articulation would you expect from a Jack Kirby action figure? How about some real Nazi punching action! I tried to recreate Cap punching out Hitler with Kirby and Red Skull (about the closest figure I could find) and I'm pretty happy with the results. His articulation is pretty nice and the figure feels softer than most NECA figures. Less like a traditional NECA figure and more like a more traditional mass market figure. The sweater overs the balljointed waist and the double swivel/hinge jointed elbows allow for great punching and drawing poses. Hail to the King, baby!

* Kirby comes packing six hands. He has a pair of standard grips, a right hand for holding his pencil, a left hand for holding his sketchpad, and a pair of fists.

* In the story Kirby uses a magic crystal attached to his pencil to bring his drawings to life. The pencil is included and for being such a tiny accessory it's pretty intricate. Check out the tiny paint application for the lead tip! Crazy! Don't lose this one.

* Kirby's sketch pad is another key accessory in the Donatello one-shot comic and another extra that just makes sense for the artist to carry. It's a spiral bound sketchbook and one side has a sketch of a winged creature on it, one that Donatello and Kirby end up chasing through a portal to another dimension, I believe.

* Flip it around and you've got the image of Donatello holding the Gravitic Equalizer that Kirby draws into being to help Donatello out. It also has Kirby's message to Donatello that he sends through the portal with the turtle at the end of the issue. It's legible and says: "Don-- 'Life at best is bittersweet.' Take care of yourself! --Kirby"

Interestingly, it's a quote from Darkseid from Mister Miracle #18. 

* Last is the Gravitic Equalizer. It's a neat accessory that has lots of bold highlights. It's meant for one of the smaller Mirage Studios turtles to hold but Kirby can hold it was well. 

* To beef up the package NECA included one of the little monsters that Kirby draws. These guys are waging war against the humans in the world that Donatello and Kirby travel into via a magical portal. This guy is pretty wild looking and definitely has a nice, Kirbyesque look. He's not too tall, only around 3 inches, but he's mighty detailed. 

* He also uses the dark highlights that this line utilizes so well that really does make him feel like he jumped off of a comic page. I also love his bright red and blue color scheme. 

* The headsculpt on this guy is crazy! I love his face! He's wild and pretty terrifying for being a little dude. He reminds me of a Battle Beast.

* His articulation is pretty limited but he does have balljointes that allow for a little bit of posing. It's nothing too crazy but for a pack in figure I think it's pretty acceptable. 

* He also comes with his little axe or kama that he carries in the comic. It's also painted to look like it's been sketched and shaded.

The Negatives:

* The grips on the little creature's hands are so tight that it's a real ordeal to get his weapon into his hand without using heat of some kind. I'd recommend sticking it in there once and leaving it in there!
   NECA did a really fine job with Kirby, including giving links to the The Jack Kirby Museum & Research Center ( and It's a fine tribute to the man and a cool piece of TMNT history as well. It would have been neat if NECA had maybe included some more accessories that hinted at this being more of a tribute to the real Jack Kirby rather than just a figure of Kirby the TMNT character, but that might have been outside the scope of what they were able to do. Still, I'm impressed. I love this guy (and his little creation, too) and I'm already thinking of a fun way to display him on my shelf. He's quite Epic.

This is the first review of a toy based on Jack "The King" Kirby himself on this site.

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