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Rocksteady

TMNT Classics Collection
by Monkey Boy

I never bought the first batch of Classics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures; reviews were generally positive, but there were just enough nits to pick that I decided I'd rather keep my money than be dragged into collecting another property. I loved TMNT as a kid, but as an adult it never really tugged on my nostalgia strings. It was too goofy. Granted, Masters of the Universe was the same way, and I have a fair amount of MOTUC figures...

So even though I told myself I shouldn't, I jumped on Classics Rocksteady and Bebop when I saw them on pegs. What can I say, I love anthropomorphic figures, and I also love rhinos and pigs, and I also have a serious addiction to buying new figures. So here we are.

Rocksteady's sculpt is pretty good, but it's a bit soft and simple, which works for the TMNT aesthetic, but also kinda shows that Playmates is new to the whole "making good action figures" game. Their Turtles line has chugged along in one form or another, but the figures were always very toyish, and clearly made with kids in mind. There's nothing wrong with that, and they made some cool figures, but their inexperience shows when they try to transition into higher end toys.

The head is very nice, with a snarl that exposes sharp teeth on the side and beady, angry eyes. Rocksteady's outfit is based on the cartoon more than the old toy, with a tan shirt, ammo belt, and single grenade on a string around his chest. The belt, grenade and string are sculpted, but the edges of the shirt are just barely suggested. They're so soft that I originally thought the shirt was just painted on, but on a closer inspection there are some very slight, rounded ridges to mark the edges. He's got the turtle shells hanging off his belt, a feature of the old figure (occasionally one shell showed up in the cartoon, but it wasn't consistent).

His pants are baggy and sculpted with a few wrinkles, but looking at how the peg joint at the boot tops slants across the lower legs, I'm fairly certain that his legs between the knees and boots are assembled backwards. I haven't tried to boil and pop them yet, but I know that dealing with small pegs when trying to reassemble hinge joints is not always terribly enjoyable.

His backwards legs aren't the only thing that's a bit off on this figure. The paint varies in quality from figure to figure, but in most cases is serviceable, except he's missing quite a few paint apps that were present on the prototype photos of the figure. The goggles on his helmet, for example, were originally supposed to have a brown strap, silver eyepieces and gold lenses. On the production figure, the entire helmet is unpainted green.

He was also supposed to have gold caps on the red shells in his ammunition belt, and a silver ring on the pin of his chest grenade. His arm bandana was also supposed to be camo-patterned like his pants, but the final figure's armband is green like his helmet. These are all fairly minor adjustments that are somewhat understandable in the transition from proto to production figure.

What is less excusable, though, is the missing paint app on his neck. As it is, his tank top looks like it has a turtleneck, since his neck is tan like his shirt, rather than gray like his skin. The prototype showed a scooped neck, and the sculpted edges of his tank top are ever so slightly visible. When you look at the figure as a whole it doesn't stand out too much, but upon closer inspection it's a pretty glaring error.

Other than that, we do get some decent paint apps, although the blue of his camouflage pants is dangerously close to the gray of his skin. You can tell it's different where the two colors meet at the waist. The tank top cuts off above the belt to reveal his midriff, in a nod to the potbelly of the cartoon Rocksteady, despite the bulked-up muscular nature of the figure's sculpt.

His articulation is pretty good, with one really awful omission. His neck is a balljoint, his shoulders are peg and hinge, his biceps are pegs, his elbows are double-hinge, and his wrists have a really nice hinge and peg joint. He has a torso joint that feels like it's either a balljoint or a very loose peg joint, balljoints in the hips, double-jointed knees, and pegs at the boot tops.

But where in the world are his ankles? He is in desperate need of some ankle joints, especially since his backward legs mean that putting any bend in his knees makes him lean back way too far, even with his mighty hunch. It might be a little better if his legs were on the right way, but as is, the figure below the knees is just kind of a mess.

His accessories are a nod to his original figure: a rifle and a knife, both molded in gray with no paint apps. The rifle is a bit more detailed, with a bipod this time, but overall the accessories are very toyish. The rifle has a hole in the underside near the foregrip, but I have no clue what would fit in it, so it must just be a "plastic saving" hollow.

His helmet is also removable, which I originally found cool until I discovered it barely stays on. He's also without his forebear's coolest accessory: the manhole-cover shield. Like all Classics figures, he gets a manhole base (with his name printed on it) but it's got footpegs and no handle.

This figure is a very mixed bag. It's sculpted very well, except where it's not, it's got nice paint apps except where they're totally missing, and its lower legs are on backwards. Even with the poor paint and soft sculpt, I'd be pretty okay with the figure as is if it wasn't for the screwed-up construction. It's not just mine, either - every production Rocksteady has the same issue. And it's quite obvious when you view the prototype that they're on wrong.

Perhaps I'll dig this guy more if I'm able to assemble his legs the right way, but as of now I'm just disappointed. Looking at the prototype, I find myself pining for the figure we could have - and should have - gotten.

-- 12/05/13


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