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TMNT Ultimates
by yo go re

You think the stonks market is a gamble? I'm out here pre-ordering Series 2 figures before Series 1 has shipped!

Bebop is the mutant punk rock hog who could slam dance his way through any crowd. This roadhog warrior dares to shave his head in blatant opposition to the establishment and his parents. Behind his mohawk ponytail, cool shades and all-star tennis shoes lurks the heart of a pig, ready to pulverize the Turtles. Guided by the evil Shredder, Bebop is willing to roll in the mud to snort out the Turtles. His two turtle shoulder pads cover a grotesque array of safety pins, tattoos and junk food.

Proving that people taking umbrage at imagined slights is nothing new, a 1990 article in the New York Times regarding children's television programs tried to make hay out of the fact that the mutant heroes in TMNT were named after European artists, while the mutant villains were based on African animals and named after black musical styles. Yes, institutional racism can lead to people not being aware of the implications of their choices, but at some point there is such a thing as reading too much into something. I think?

Bebop was created by Peter Laird - at least, the concept of a mutant warthog soldier was, during the early stages of negotiating an action figure deal with Playmates (because they needed more than four characters to sell). The name and story were the work of writer David Wise, because the cartoon needed more mutants. The first version was a lot more like Duke Nukem's PigCop, with the features becoming more human and less porcine in subsequent revisions. Since this is based on the old toy, it's got the old look: purple mohawk (a bit closer to red and farther from blue than it should be), blue glasses with silver lenses, and a face that's pink instead of brown. No mistaking this for the cartoon!

When Playmates made their Classics Bebop, it was supposed to be based more on the cartoon than anything else; as we said, this is meant to be an update of the original 1988 action figure, so his red vest is sculpted with punk pins instead of grenades, and he doesn't wear a bandolier across his chest. The vest has a babric texture and frayed edges, and there's a tiny skull on the chain around his neck. It's shaped like a human's, not whatever animal he used to wear. His red sneakers look more like boots, even with the white Converse circle above the ankles, and they've sculpted his laces tied around his ankles - a feature that was present on the old toy, but that you never noticed until now. His pants are stitched together, he's got that handcuff belt, and the weird design that used to be sculpted on his back (a Foot Soldier face, maybe?) is done like a thickly embroidered pattern here.

Playmates was always known for skipping paint apps, but Super7 really goes all-in on them. The stitches on his pants get picked out, his shoelaces are grey, the soles of his shoes are darker than the tops, the knee brace on his left leg has brown leather straps and silver metal bars, and they've even painted the little metal rings that attach the turtle-bone heads and feet to his shell shoulderpads. Super7's Ultimates lines are definitely expensive toys, but they certainly pour every penny of it into the final product. Really, our only complaint here is that his hair isn't as cool a purple as it should be.

Bebop is a very big figure, nearly 8" tall if he's standing straight up, and thus large enough to be an intimidating presence up against the Turtles. Kind of ridiculously, the filecard on the back of the original packaging told us the powerhouse punk enforcer for the Foot Clan stood only 5'10". That hardly seems right, does it? It also said he was only 19; have you ever thought of Bebop as a teenaged character, or have you only ever considered him an adult? The figure gets swivel/hinge joints in the ankles, knees, hips, wrists, elbows, and shoulders; swivel joints in the shins, thighs, waist, biceps, and tail; and a balljointed head. One elbow on mine was a little stiff and one knee was a little loose, but nothing too bad. He does look nice squatting like the old toy did, but his thighs feel a little scrawny in that pose.

Unlike Baxter Stockman and his weird weapons, 2021 Bebop gets the same accessories as 1988 Bebop: a knife, a trash can lid shield, and a power drill that for some inexplicable reason has a targeting scope on top of it. His hands are shaped to hold them (though you can also replace them with closed fists if you want), but the size may shock you: the drill and shield are barely any larger today than they were 30 years ago, despite Bebop himself having grown so much. What the heck! Like Baxter, he also has duplicates of all those accessories on an unpainted "weapons rack," though at least the old one did, too. It's still an utter waste though - drop that useless hunk of junk and use the extra plastic to make the weapons more substantial. As it is, they barely fit in his hands. Hell, the '88 figure has an easier time holding the damn things, and that's not good!

One thing he does have that Baxter didn't is an alternate head. It's the same sculpt, no changes, with all the same wrinkles, the same expression, the same teeth... everything. It came out of the same molds, so of course it looks the same. So why make it an alternate head? Because if you never had the original Bebop (or simply don't have easy access to the one you've kept for all these years), you may not remember that back in the day he had a brown body and a pink face, and thus you'd find this toy's standard head, with its pink face, weird. You might find it wrong. So Super7 has included a head that's identical in every way, except it doesn't fade to pink at the snout, leaving him the same color all over. There was never a vintage Bebop with a face like that, but if having the option makes fans like the toy they bought better, where's the harm? Call it "Box Art Bebop," because the old packaging was colored this way. Both heads are made from solid plastic, rather than squishy hollow PVC. Now that would have been a true homage!

Like we said hinted at at the top of the review, the TMNT Ultimates Series 2 preorder window closed before Baxter Stockman and the other Series 1 figures had shipped, so we had no idea if the quality would be commensurate with the price. More than that, the Series 3 preorders had closed before then, too! So I gambled on Series 2 Bebop, because he's one of my favorite mutants, but now I'm going to have to hunt down a Series 3 Rocksteady to hang out with him, because now I have proof the toy will (more or less) be worth it. We'd never recommend being a Super7 completist, but if they make one of your faves and you want an upsized reproduction, you can take a chance.

-- 02/03/21

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