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Leo the Knight

TMNT
by yo go re

After finding a copy of the game Mazes & Mutants in the trash, Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael decided to get costumes and partake in some live-action roleplaying in the sewers around their home.

Leo creates the perfect costume and becomes the ferocious "Leo the Knight!" With his fierce medieval sward, garbage can lid shield, metal breastplate and a pizza sauce can helmet, he is ready to take on his LARP adventures! Little did he know his little game would send the turtles on a challenging mission to save April.

Oh of course Leonardo is a knight. The leader, the uptight one, the paragon of all that is good and right - they probably would have made him a paladin if any kids were likely to understand what that meant. It'd be hella interesting to see a second LARPing episode where everybody plays characters whose personalities are different than their regular ones. Just imagine: Leo the backstabbing rogue!

The guys' costumes are cobbled together from junk, and Leonardo's helmet makes him look like Galactus! It's the horns/wings that do it. The bulk of the helmet is a large can of some sort - pizza sauce, according to the back of the card. The ear dealies are L-squares bolted in place, and if you watch the episode closely, the crest in the center is just cardboard (though here it's the same gray as the rest of the bucket). There's a cutout in the back where his mask's tie sticks through.

His shoulderpads are made from stop signs, which is evident in the cartoon because of the 135° angles, and is evident on the stop by the large, raised STOP letters that are molded into both halves. A chain links them like Dr. Doom's cape. Speaking of capes, Leo is wearing one. Well, he's wearing a bath towel - it's got a duckie on it! He has armor around his waist which is totally just made up for the toy: it's not there in the cartoon. Cartoon Leo does have bracers like this toy does, but they're an entirely different style.

From the beginning, the Turtles have all had the same articulation, and things aren't changing now. Leonardo moves at the balljointed head, swivel/hinge shoulders, elbows, hips and knees, and swivel wrists. It could be better, but it's a decent amount - and for anyone who collected TMNT toys in the '80s, it's mindblowing! No, what's really disappointing is the paint.

There are a lot of differences between the prototype seen on the back of the packaging and the figure in the blister on the front. On the proto, the helmet is solid gray, rather than having blue over the eyes; the stop signs are painted red; the belt is silver, rather than flat grey; and there are beige apps at the edges of the bracers to suggest he's wearing something beneath them. On the plus side, the blue on the mask and shoulders is more show-accurate than the proto. Really, his cape should be a lighter blue, and the duck on it should be painted, but remember: cut all the corners! Heck, they didn't even bother to paint his shell, or the wraps on his hands.

Beyond the helmet and cape, Leo has two accessories: a sword, which is just his normal katana, but with cardboard taped to the hilt to make it look more "medieval-y"; and a trash can lid shield that would make Bebop proud. The shield should really have a dragon painted on it, and the crossguard on the sword should be tan and blue.

One of the things that made Playmates' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toyline the toys of the late '80s was the wild, weird variations the company made of them. Cowboys, cavemen, costumes, superheroes, samurais, sports, monsters, musicians, military... lots and lots of different turtles, is the point. These four LARP TMNT - Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael - feel like a throwback to those days, and if you don't mind all the absent paint apps, these are a lot of fun.

-- 10/31/14


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