Most casual fans of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles will remember April O'Neil as the buxom reporter who somehow retained her high-profile TV news job despite never changing out of her yellow jumpsuit (perhaps her inability to button it up all the way had something to do with it, I don't know). But in the original 1980s comics by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, April was quite different.
The original April was a computer programmer and research assistant working for mad scientist Baxter Stockman. She got mixed up with the Turtles when she discovered Stockman was using his "Mouser" robots to rob banks.
It's been more than a year since we reviewed NECA's Ninja Turtles back in April '08. Since then, the line has been declared dead several times. But April popped up at SDCC 2009, and soon she'll be available in specialty stores in green or yellow outfits (the yellow outfit hopefully drawing in casual fans who only know the cartoon, and the green apparently referencing a rather obscure variant from the '80s line).
It would have made more sense to make the SDCC outfit green and release the comic-accurate blue and cartoon-style yellow ones to retail.
But perhaps we're simply overestimating how much fans care about April's outfit color (particularly the all-important casual fans).
Like the Turtles, April was sculpted by the Four Horsemen, and as usual, it's excellent. The 4H managed to make her look prettier than she did in the comics (particularly the earlier issues - the image above is from the series' second issue, but Eastman and Laird's art improved dramatically over the series' run) while still keeping her distinctive, racially-ambiguous look from the comics.
Since the figure is done in a comic style, there's not as much detail to show off in the sculpt, but I do want to point out the hair - it's very well done.
As with the Turtles, the paintwork is one of the best aspects of the figure. A matte blue paint is used for most of the body, with black lines in the folds of clothing and so forth to give it that line-drawn comics appearance. The wash on the hair looks great.
April has some interesting articulation. She has balljoints
at the shoulders and hips, but no swivel joints at the hips. Her elbows are hinged and have swivels, which looks okay when moved to the side since her upper arms are fairly cylindrical. The lack of swivels at the hips limits her articulation somewhat, but since she's not really a martial arts fighter like the Turtles, it's not too much of a problem.
She also has a balljointed neck, a swivel waist, swivels at the wrists and the cuffs of her jumpsuit, and hinges at the knees and ankles.
April comes with two Mousers. Both have - hallelujah! - articulated jaws. Both Mousers have a black drybrush to represent wear and tear, and the "battle damaged" Mouser's
leg is off. Unfortunately, the leg's peg can't be fitted into the hole in the side of the mouser, meaning you really only have one good Mouser with an articulated jaw.
Fortunately, the heads pop off easily, so if you have last year's Mouser 3-pack exclusive, you can do a head swap. [According to reader JediCreeper, this doesn't work because the articulated head's peg is smaller (presumably to make room for the jaw). So no, I didn't actually try it, I just assumed when I was able to pop the articulated one's head off so easily. My bad. --ed.]
My favorite part of the Mousers - well, aside from the articulated jaws - is the great paint work inside the mouth. I always liked the blue glow in the Mousers' mouths in the comics, and at the right angle it's very easy to reproduce with the toys.
One of my figure's ankle hinges was a little warped. Fortunately, a quick heat-up with a hair dryer and some pressure and I was able to fix it.
OK, so April's not the most exciting character for the first non-Turtle figure, and the Shredder probably would have made a better choice, but I have a hunch April was further down the production pipeline when NECA decided to put the line on hiatus.
Still, she's a great figure, and no doubt many fans will be pleased to finally have Mousers with articulated jaws.