Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Series 1 (Playmates Toys)

As we've said in the past, we really don't make it a habit to review the most current toys on the market. However, the opportunity for this exclusive look was just too good to pass on. With Turtle-Mania slowly but surly rising fast with the all new Nickelodeon animated series just on the horizon, we felt it a great opportunity to bring you a full look at the all new series one toys, as well as a look at some of the exclusives that have already come and gone in the convention scene.

The new animated series is set to launch on September 29, 2012 on Nickelodeon. With it comes the voice talents of Sean Astin (Raphael), Jason Biggs (Leonardo), Greg Cipes (Michelangelo), Rob Paulsen (Donatello) and Mae Whitman (April). Like any good Turtle series, the show will follow the four brothers and their mentor Splinter as they battle the mysterious Foot Clan lead by the evil Shredder. While not much is known about the series at this time, one key change has some fans raising an eyebrow. April O'Neil, the once mature reporter for the local news station is now a younger, high school student. It will be interesting to see how this reiteration of the character is worked into each story. Will she play the ever vulnerable and weak woman she's become known for from the 80's cartoons, or will this be a strong, smarter April, capable of handling her own? Unfortunately we have to wait for the series to see just how everything will play out.

Another major gripe of TMNT fans is the inclusion of a third toe on each turtle. While the general public may think this is no big deal, to fans this is unthinkable. We don't know if fans will ever be able to let this particular change go.

With the new series comes a fantastic new line of action figures, vehicles, and playsets. While the series was initially slated to be released in early August, several stores were reported as breaking street date as soon as the first week of July.

Nine figures encompass the first line, and as you can see, Playmates has covered a lot of ground right out of the starting gate. All four turtles, their master Splinter, April O'Neil, The Shredder, Kraang and Foot Soldier are all here. Its certainly a very strong launch, but leaves some fans wondering how the series will maintain any momentum with the basic "main" cast already on store shelves.

Though we suppose we should correct that last paragraph. While the new toys have hit stores, they are already incredibly difficult to track down. Most shelves have bare minimum product left in terms of the action figures, and the majority of those are a variety of the turtle figures. The rest of the characters are already scarce, and secondary markets have exploded with second hand dealers.

Each figure stands anywhere from 4.5 to 5 inches. Playmates added a nice touch to the series by varying the heights of each turtle from each other, as well as providing varying heights to the remaining figures. This helps to add a great deal of spectrum to the series, something that many toy lines have yet to bother with.

Each figure comes packed with a fair amount of accessories, all carded on a nice cardboard backer.

While the figures look very pleasing to the eye, some are not without fault. One of the biggest complaints to come from the series is the lack of articulation in The Shredder who has no knee joints. Another complaint is in regards to the Kraang figure which is stuck in a somewhat running position due to the way he was molded with no leg joints at all.

A design flaw is also very apparent with Michelangelo's weapons. The chains for his weapons, which are not chains at all, but rather a single strip of molded plastic suffer from poor design. When the weapons are inserted into his belt for storage, white stress marks show immediately. What this means is that with continued play and insertion into his belt, these weapons will eventually snap in half. We are writing to Playmates Toys to see if they will address this issue, and if so, how. We will let you know what they say, if anything at all.


Playmates Toys has returned our e-mail regarding the Michelangelo figure. While they acknowledge the problem of the stress marks on the weapons, they assure everyone that they will not break. They even provided photographs of a pair of chucks from their test figure that has the same signs of wear to the plastic.

While we thank them for their response, we're not too inclined to believe that over time these stress marks on the chains won't cause an eventual break to the weapon. In the meantime, some collectors have suggested using a hair dryer on the weapons as it apparently does away with the white marks, returning it back to the original orange color. We have not tried this tactic ourselves, and those who do, should do so at their own risk.

However, all and all the series is looking really good. As we said above, the majority of the figures are already becoming scarce in most retail stores. This is due in part to the case assortment which contains twenty-four figures in the following quantity;

Leonardo (X4)
Michelangelo (X4)
Donatello (X4)
Raphael (X4)
Splinter (X2)
April O'Neil (X1)
The Shredder (X2)
Kraang (X2 or X1 - Depending on the assortment number)
Foot Soldier (X2 or X1 - Depending on the assortment number)

As you can see, April O'Neil is definitely short packed, and depending on the case that arrives at your local store, Kraang or the Foot Soldier are as well. We've personally noticed that stores in our local area have been getting more of assortment two, which contains two Kraang figures, and one Foot Soldier.

San Diego Comic Con (2012) brought Turtle fans joy and excitement, and then proceeded to bring a fair amount of sadness and dismay.

The Nickelodeon booth sold a limited amount of Night Shadow Leonardo figures during the entire show. However, the ability to purchase the figure became increasingly difficult to obtain from day to day for several reasons.

The biggest problem was the Nickelodeon employee’s inability to run a tight and neat "ship" on several levels. Lines of fifty people could take the staff as long as two hours to get through. This was caused by the booth only having one register, and several employees who were apparently on hand with the explicit job duty of sending text messages and/or playing on their phones in general. All their stock was also confined to a small room inside the booth which had a door that would require staff to crawl through. However, the final insult to fans was that the booth was only selling a set amount of figures each day, and refused to sell any number beyond that. While this ensured that each day of the show, attendees who didn't attend on a prior day had an equal chance of obtaining one out of the six hundred produced, it didn’t sit well with fans who had a first come, first serve mentality.

A self-inflicted problem with this exclusive was some of the fan’s mentality towards it. While the figure was limited to one per customer, several attendees were using their guests to purchase multiple copies, thus invoking the greed before need policy. This meant that some fans who wanted the figure were turned away simply because prior fans weren’t content with just having one like they were supposed to which meant stock for the day was selling out faster than it should have. Of course on top of all of that, you have to factor in the people who bought it simply with hopes of reselling it on the secondary market.

Those who were lucky enough to obtain the figure were treated to even further disappointment. All points of articulation were removed from the figure making it nothing more than a 4.5 inch statue. This has caused several fans to deem the exclusive not worth the $29.99 price tag. As word spread, several took to secondary market outlets to offload their exclusive. Unfortunately due to the increasing word of mouth about the poor quality, these have become more and more difficult to sell, and several sellers are having to drop prices to little to nothing more over the price they paid for it just to make a sale.

However, despite the major disappointment surrounding this figure, there are some points that make it worth its while to a small percentage of collectors. For starters, the paint job is amazing. If you're the type of collector who is going to open your toy and display it on the shelf, this piece is not short on eye candy. Second, a select few of the boxes were signed on the inside flap by Jason Biggs, the voice of Leonardo in the upcoming animated series.

Do these two positives justify the $29.99 price tag? We think so.

For those of you who couldn't make it to San Diego Comic Con, and are interested in this particular exclusive, Playmates Toys has it for sale on their site for the same price that it sold for at the show. You can check that out "HERE". Remember, quantities are very limited.

As a final note regarding this figure, we would just like to remind everyone that we are not affiliated with any toy companies, and while we are showing you where you can find it, we're not outright advertising or endorsing it.


The Night Shadow Leonardo is sold out.

Sadly these next four exclusives are figures that most of you should do yourself a favor, and just forget that they exist. These nicely packed figures of each Turtle were given out to an incredibly select few people at the 2012 Toy Fair show in February who were lucky enough to obtain a reserved seat at Playmates unveiling of the line.

Each figure came packed in a small felt lined black box, similar, but not exact to the Night Shadow Leonardo. While we don't have specifics on just how many of each figure were produced, we would wager that it wasn't many.

The sculpts are the exact same as those utilized for the basic figure assortment. The difference is that the weapons have been painted, and greater detail has been put into each turtle to bring out skin tones and blemishes. They're nice figures, but for us, we can't justify the $300.00+ price tag that people have been collecting on secondary markets for them.

Like we said, do yourself a favor, and forget that they exist.

Playmates is showing the world of action figures that they have no fear of producing vehicles for the line with their impressive launch of five right off the bat. A class of small, medium and large vehicles, all with multiple price points, helps to round off this first wave of toys nicely.

As we know little to nothing about the actual animated series, we don't know just how well these vehicles will fit in with the actual show (if at all), but that aside, for the most part, they're still pretty amazing.

Each one has multiple levels of play, from firing projectiles, to what appears to be the series focal point, "360 degree action". This 360 degree action refers to the way that the figures can be implemented into the toy to perform a full 360 degree action.

For example, in the case of the Dragon Chopper, the included Foot Soldier can be flipped from the driver’s seat to the front of the bike with the push of a button. On the Shellraiser, a Turtle figure (or most others from the line) can be attached to a bar mechanism on the side of the van to perform a 360 degree kick to enemies.

All and all, there are a lot of things for kids (and adults) to play with here.

Each vehicle comes fully assembled in the box, with the exception of the larger Shellraiser, and the medium sized vehicles each include an exclusive packed in figure.

The Shellraiser is the largest vehicle released so far, while the Dragon Chopper with Dragon Fang Foot Soldier, and Ninja Stealth Bike with Stealth Ninja Raph are the medium sized. The final two are the small Rippin' Rider and Sewer Spinnin' Skate Board with Stunt Ramp.

Out of the vehicles, the Shellraiser is the most disappointing. For being the largest vehicle released, and also the most expensive, we expected something top notch. Unfortunately, we can't even qualify it as good. While the vehicle has several compartments that can be opened up to put figures inside, said inside is nothing more than a hollowed out shell (no pun intended). There are no seats, not even a stearing wheel or dashboard. It's nothing more than a glorified carrying case for a few of your figures. Sure it looks impressive on the outside, but a thirty-five dollar vehicle which becomes nothing more than a display piece is a real let down.

The only other vehicle we were disappointed with was the Spinnin' Skate Board with Stunt Ramp which is nothing more than an oversized, bulky and clumsy attempt at a cheaper priced add on to the line. It's unattractive to the eye, and unappealing to "play" with. Attempting to cram your Turtle's feet inside the straps risks not only damaging your figure, but breaking the straps themselves. All and all it appears to be a poorly thought out, and poorly executed toy.

The grand daddy of the entire first series is the Toys R' Us exclusive Secret Sewer Lair Playset. This monstrous playset stands over forty inches tall when constructed and boasts over twenty interactive features. This bad boy is to the Turtle line what the USS Flagg was to G.I. Joe. It’s the centerpiece to any proud collector/child, and the envy of all his/her friends.

While we've seen anywhere from three to six of these in stock at Toys R' Us at any given time, we're sure that this will be a hot item for the holiday season this year, and they'll disappear fast at that point.

Construction wise, this playset took us about an hour and a half to construct. The instructions aren't very specific, and some of the stickers aren't even listed as to where they go. Speaking of stickers, a lot of them don't fit in the areas that the insturctions say to put them. Most toys have indentations that are cut in the plastic to insert the stickers in. Not so much with the Secret Sewer Lair. Some obvious indentations are there, but some are not. That minor inconvenience aside, this playset is pretty awesome to look at, and a whole lot of fun to set your various figures around.


The Secret Sewer Lair Playset is no longer a Toys R' Us exclusive item.

Price wise, none of these items will break your bank (unless you're reduced to secondary markets). The figures sell for $8.99 each, while the vehicles vary in price from size to size. The large vehicles sell for $29.99 to $34.99 (depending on your retailer), medium for $21.99, and small for $10.99. The most expensive piece is of course the playset which costs $119.99. If found at retail, the entire set could be obtained for around $300.00. This of course wouldn't include any of the exclusives figures.

Overall we're very pleased and excited with what we've seen from this line so far, and can't wait for the already announced next three figures - Metal Head, Dogpound, and Fishface, which are slated for a fall 2012 release. We've very curious to see what figures release with the new ones, and if it is a compilation of series one figures, we wonder if the card backs will be updated to show the three new characters, which will add some form of collectability to the prior released figures for those who already have them.

It’s true that no Turtle line has ever been quite as popular as the original 80’s/90’s line. In fact, most of them since have been absolutely terrible. We really have high hopes for this new series, and hope that it will stick around for a long time to come. Turtles are timeless, and have been a generation bridging icon since their first iteration. We wish this line nothing but the greatest of success.


Reader, Matt, wrote with an excellent question regarding the stickers at the top of the packaging, and wanting to know which was produced first.  The short answer to that question is that the ones with the stickers were produced first.  However, this led us to this particular update regarding production run changes.

For you variant hunters out there, to date there are two different production runs for seven of the first series figures - Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, Splinter, Shredder and Foot Soldier.  You'll need a keen eye to spot this as the change is subtle, and to a portion of the packaging that not many people pay attention to - the bottom.

Note that the first production run has three safety warning labels on the bottom of the package.  A "C" and "E", and the standard UK red circle "NO" 0-3 logo.  To the right of all this is a written warning which takes up two lines.  On the second production run an additional safety logo was added, and the written warning text has been squashed down in length, and now takes up five lines of text.

Not only does this production run pertain to the seven figures listed above, but you can also find versions of all the vehicles and the massive Secret Sewer Playset from series one with this change.  In short, if you're a variant hunter, you need to essentially buy the entire first series of toys again to get all the changed packages.

We hope that you've enjoyed this look at the all new Nickelodeon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles line.

Click "HERE" to go back to the home page. For more posts related to this one, please click the labels below, and don't forget to join us next time when we take a look at Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!


  1. I just picked up all four turtles the other day. I absolutely love these action figures! My one complaint about them is that I would have liked to see some ankle articulation on the turtles. After reading what you have here, I'm glad that I did not pick up a Kraang. No leg articulation?! No good...

  2. As a whole, the Kraang figure looks great, but as an action figure, he just doesn't make the grade. Our completest menatility means we have to have one of these (okay, we're really up to eight) for our collection, but that doesn't mean we're necessarily happy with it.

    While pegs for the most part still remain empty at local stores, we've definitley noticed that when restocking does occurs that he sticks around slightly longer than he used to. How long this lasts is another story.

    Despite Turtle mania slowly but surly building up again, it still remains to be seen if the younger generation that the show is targeted at will bite. The show is still over forty days away from airing, and with that said, we can't help but think that Playmates jumped the gun a little with their launch date of the toys.

    While there are a lot of "adults" grabbing these toys up for now, the future of this line is depending on a whole new generation of Turtle fans getting hooked. Let's hope they do.

  3. I've noticed that some of the original 4 turtles have the "includes Ninja Arsenal" sticker on the front, and some do not. Which was released first?


    1. Great question!

      The ones with the stickers were released first. However, shortly after product began hitting the streets, Playmates released the figures without the sticker (also during the first production run). Probably as a cost saving measure. This was also not limited to the four Turtles. We have seen all the other first series figures without stickers as well. Though we don't expect that a figure with or without a sticker will change the value much as you could easily buy two with a sticker, and peel one off as a variant.

      The best way to tell if your figure is from the first or second production run is to look at the bottom of the package. Specifically the exterior of the package below the figure's feet. The first production run has three safety marks on it - A "C", an "E", and a red "no" 0-3 circle. The second run of these figures inclue all the above as well as an odd shapped one that looks like two half circles and a squiqly line coming out of it. It's hard to describe, but you'll know it if you see it. The actual warning text on the second production run now takes up five lines as opposed to the two lines it took up on the first run due to the amount of space available for it with the additional safety logo.

      We've updated our post with a photo and more information based on your question. Hope this helps.