This past weekend on Nickelodeon’sTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series took you favorite heroes in a half-shell to another dimension where they are introduced to a familiar face to fans: Usagi Yojimbo (voiced by famed Japanese actor Yuki Matsuzaki).
In celebration of this new five-part arc of the show, Playmates has released a series of samurai-themed Turtles, completely armored with feudal-styled weapons. While it might seem a little too close to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: Turtles In Time, the turtles here are simplified in their design, but still very much ornate in the details of their armor.
Playmates provided Newsarama with a look at this wave including all four Turtles, and three Usagis, including a 11” version of the Stan Sakai's rabbit ronin. So let’s take a look at this assortment and break down what’s great and not no great here.
The line will be available across mass retailers with some Walmart exclusives, like the 11” Usagi.
The Ninja Turtles:
The four turtle brothers are staples in pop culture and their series from Nickelodeon has helped revitalize their presence with younger fans (as well as a killer toyline). Each brother here has plated armor, a weapon that is adjusted to a more feudal aesthetic ie, Donatello has a spiked two-handed club, Leonardo with a jagged sword, Michelangelo comes with a set of kusarigama (chained sickles), and Raphael with sais that almost resemble hand-held tridents.
Each of them are about 4” tall with 15 points of articulation. Pretty great for that kind of scale. With their hefty sculpt, they’re able to stand and pose in all sorts of ninja and battle-ready positions without tipping over.
While waist articulation seems impossible due to the hindrance of their shells, but abdomen hinges could easily have worked here.
The armor sculpted on them is fine enough for this size with detailed etchings including what looks to be a lotus blossom being the focal point of the chestplate. It’s painted in a flat grey color except on the bracers, which have a mild metallic sheen to them. Not quite chrome-colored, but just enough to differentiate from the weapons (that are a light grey) and the armor which is a darker color.
Of course the turtles are sporting their trademark colors in a few places including the horns on their helmets and dragon masks.
Now, the masks were the biggest setback here. Similar to figures from Turtles In Time, each the of the turtles has a mask element. Back then it was masks that would cover their mouths, here, it’s their faces. The problem is that it didn’t really need them as the helmets have a cool enough design by themselves. Each turtle has a different horn shape on their helmet in their designated color. There are slots for the masks to slide into, but it’s not the easiest to maneuver and, as aforementioned, looks cooler without them. Plus, the masks don’t always stay in position. Just not worth it.
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Stan Sakai’s samurai rabbit is celebrating his 33rd anniversary (which included a very reclusive exclusive figure at last week's Comic-Con International: San Diego) and he’s honestly never looked better in this line.
Coming in at just under four inches, Usagi stands proudly here with two katana blades and stacked with 17 points of articulation. His facial expression is one of preparedness and determination, but not exactly angry like how the turtles look. His blue gi is tied in front with a white belt and a dual sheath glued to his side. The sheath even has knotted detail with faux ropes. His pants have folds into them, giving a sense of motion and sway.
This is best figure of the bunch, hands down. Classic Usagi merch is difficult to get a hold of and longtimes fans of this famed warrior have been clamoring for something just like this.
His smaller stature is noticeable, but the fact they were able to put his much detail into this scale while keeping all the charm about the character is impressive. Looking back on the Usagi figures from the past, it’s easy to see this is among the cream of the crop.
The katanas fit easily in his hands and stay there rather well. They don’t feel loose or wobbly and with his articulation, can be posed in a multitude of ways and looks all-around awesome. It’s a bit of a downer that the sheath is glued on and not pegged in, so be careful when position that. The paint job isn’t the best but easily overlooked with everything else going on with this fine toy.
‘Rama Rating: 9 out of 10
This Walmart exclusive is more in line with the rest of the Turtles in their samurai armor. Whereas the turtles are armored in gray, Usagi here is covered with brown and tan plates but with the same detailing and design. His belt is metallic gold and fits the rest of the color scheme. His dark blue pants can be seen underneath his armor for a clashing color break, but nothing massively distracting.
His facial expression is more stoic here than his unarmored version. Again, he comes with his dual sheath and katanas with the same detail as well. His helmet has a notch at the top where you can pop Usagi’s bun into so it stays more in place, but the problem with the dragon mask remains the same as before.
Usagi still possesses the same great articulation except in the legs since his armor gets in the way of hiking them up too high. The swords also don’t fit in as tightly as the other version so keep that in mind when posing him for battle.
It’s not as perfect as original Usagi, but still looks just as intimidating standing next to the turtles in their armor. This version is already going for an impressive amount of money on ebay so collectors, if you can find this one in the wild, scoop it up.
‘Rama Rating: 8 out of 10
Usagi 11’ XL Edition:
Another Walmart exclusive in this line, this giant-sized Usagi Yojimbo comes with two swords and a somewhat joyous expression. And that’s pretty much it. While it’s cool to have this tall warrior displayed on your shelves, the play value is extremely limited.
Having only a paltry nine points of articulation (wrists, shoulders, legs, head, and feet), you can’t really do much with him. The scale does allow for them to add in slightly more detail, but it’s mainly concentrated on the folds of his clothes. He’s very stiff by comparison and posability is low, giving it very limited action.
On the plus side, this is certainly something you can give a young kid no older than 10 and they’d easily have a great time with this guy, especially paired up with bigger scaled figures, but is far from compatible with vehicles and playsets.
‘Rama Rating: 4 out of 10