Hey, you know how the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got a new cartoon and a new toy line, and I haven’t said anything about it yet? Well, today’s your lucky day! See, I bought a figure (the Kraang robot) before I reviewed toys, and it was really unimpressive, so I simply hadn’t bothered since then. Well, until now…
The original Mutagen Man was one of the goriest action figures ever (before McFarlane). He was essentially a jar of internal organs and viscera suspended in roughly the correct formation, topped of with rotting ilmbs – really, they had whole sectiosn of skin stripped off, revealing raw muscle beneath. The innards were meticulously detailed, nd nothing about this guy pulled any punches. In fact, his lone episode in the cartoon was the only time I ever remember seeing a dismemberment occur on-screen in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (seriously. Blink and you’ll miss it, but after he falls into the vat, his limbs float to the surface separately). So when I heard he was coming back, I was very curious how they would handle this. Would it be as gory as one of Todd McFarlane’s masterpieces, or sanitized like a care bear?
In the new series, Mutagen Man started out as a distracting wannabe Turtle sidekick calling himself “The Pulverizer,” who after a few episodes rano into mutagen and more or less dissolved. Now his remains survive in a vat while his limbs are essentally shaped acid blobs. He eventually got frozen, with Donatello trying to find a “cure” for being reduced to a few internal organs. The new toy is certainly less bloody, but it’s also still very clearly a pile of organs in a tank. Let’s find out how good a toy it is!
The new TMNT packaging is a lot like the old – a traditional blister full of bright colors, info on the guy inside, and pictures of other figures. It reminds me of being a kid, and I like that.
The new TMNT cartoon has a very distinct visual style, and this figure more or less reflects it – it has that sort of smooth, shiny, rubbery look found in lots of CGI. And for the most part, he looks great, even if he isn’t as bloody as the classic toy. He’s good at least at a first glance, and at 5″ tall is actually roughly the same height as the old toy!
But to be honest, Mutagen Man does not look much like his comic counterpart – the lumbs are too soft, and his organs are much, much different on-screen. Here, they are clumped together like a ball. In the show, you have a few veins and eyestalks and whatnot trailing around, somewhat like in his classic toy. Unfortunately, this makes his innards look kind of confusing – you can pick out the organs, but they are mashed together and fairly hard to identify.
His limbs look more like ghost arms than ooze, but they are sufficient. Puffy or not, they match the show, which is what matters. As for his tank, it’s good – the old Mutagen Man had sort of a sculpted tank, contoured like a human torso, but this one is more of a vat. It’s well-balanced between smoothness and functionality, even with a little evacuation “drain” in the bottom. Heh heh. Robo-nudity!
On the exterior, the paint is just fine. Mutagen Man’s arms are translucent yellow, which is close enough to the hue on the show, which would have been hard to manage. Most of his pieces are sculpted in the correct plastic rather than molded, which allows his “metal” parts to look appropriate. His tank glass is green, which is the color of the mutagen that he soaks in. In the show, it isn’t always full, but that effect would have been hard to pull off.
Once we remove his internals, though, we see some cost-cutting. Mutagen Man’s organs are painted in one coat of thick, gloppy, detail-obscuring pink. Part of the reason why it can be difficult to identify which part is which is because they are covered like this. He’s got two eyes, but some have pupils and some do not. Either it is an odd running change (he has pupils in the cartoon), or there is a massive production error in play.
Mutagen Man has ball-and-socket shoulders and hips, swivel wrists, and a removable lid/guts. When I compare it to the Kraang robot (swivel limbs), it is better, but thi still isn’t very good. Yes, Mutagen Man can cartwheel, but most of his standing poses are repetitive. He can’t really stand without being pigeon-toed, and his arms never really face the right way.
The unscrewable lid is nice, though, especially with how you can “turn” his head. It ads a layer of expression to the figure that otherwise was not there, and few things are as hilarious as putting the wrong “filling” inside of his tank!
Mutagen Man comes with no accessories aside from himself. The original toy came with a ton – discounting the backpack, tubes for his tank, purple armor overlay, and lid, he also had a vacuum-esque gun and a whole host of super-tiny pieces of “junk” to toss in his tank and float there. Little fish, apple cores, bones, and other stuff that were impossible not to lose made him just a little cooler as a toy.
Well, Mutagen Man DOES come with his guts – the originals certainly weren’t removable, after all! And you can balance them on his head or in his open hand, or just rest them somewhere. It’s nice to get to pull those things out when you feel like it.
He also has a removable hand, but this one has a purpose. See, hen you remove Mutagen Man’s hand, you can also pop off a little cap and fill his whole arm with slime. Then, when you restore the hand, the slime should pour out of the holes in his palm! It’s nice in theory, but… I can’t get the cap off. Can’t twist it, pry it, or pop it. Nothing. Nada. Well, at least his detached hand makes for a great Bigby’s Grasping Hand prop!
At $10, Mutagen Man is more affordable than most smaller figures. This is something I will not criticize – these toys have a great price point. Does it come at the expense of everything else? Probably, but it is a high point.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Nothing really, although the translucent parts of his tank might be prone to scratching and scuffing over time. Mutagen Man is pretty sturdy.
WHERE TO BUY:
You can find this guy all over – Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, or Target should have him. I’ve found one nearly every place that I’ve searched because Playmates seems to have a good grasp on desirable case packing.
I want to like this figure a lot more than I do. The concept is great, he’s a remake of an awesome old toy, and he is pretty creative in a lot of ways, from his basic construction to the ooze-arm action feature. So what’s the problem?
Well, the figure just feels pretty cheap. He lacks detail, is not show-accurate, has awkward articulation, and overall is not as good as the old toy. The old toy is over twenty years old. This figure is not as good as a twenty-plus-year-old toy. I do like it, but it wasn’t the hit out of the park that it should be.