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Mega Bloks Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I went into Toys R Us looking for one thing only: an Extreme Heroclix Superman figure I’ve seen several times and had finally decided to purchase (particularly given its price in the store compared to prices I was seeing the exact same thing listed for  online–via Amazon and eBay and such!)

I happened across a display of TMNT stuff I hadn’t known existed. I didn’t quite recognize stuff, but quickly realized they were Mega Bloks TMNT toys. That alone had my attention, then–so much for the TMNT Lego stuff.

krangs_rampage_unopened_front

Along with the Krang’s Rampage, there were also mini-sets for the four individual turtles, some sort of Turtle-Van set with Shredder and Raph, as well as "trooper" packs with Bebop and several Foot ‘bots or Rocksteady and several Foot ‘bots.

There were also several sets for the "current" TMNT that didn’t really have my interest…except for "blind pack" minis. What the heck? For $2.99 (compared to Lego‘s $3.99 minifig blind packs) I grabbed a couple, figuring they felt like different shapes–so not duplicates–and since I didn’t have any, they’d be "new" to me.

Ultimately I decided I did not have nearly as much interest in those as I did the "classic" TMNT stuff…and though it was certainly more than I’d intended to spend for the evening, I bought Krang’s Rampage.

krangs_rampage_back

I cared nothing for the pizza cart or News 6 billboard "accessories." I simply wanted the turtles, and Krang with android body.

cat_on_the_table_1

I had a visitor while I was first examining the contents of the box. Once Ziggy determined the rustling bags were not treats, he ignored me…but didn’t feel like leaving "his" space.

cat_on_the_table_2

Eventually I had to set the box between my "work area" and the kitty…he was quite curious, and after he tried to eat a minifig the night before, I wasn’t going to let him walk through the brickspace. He left and returned several times while I assembled.

fully_assembled

A couple hours after I started, the project was complete, and I had two of the four turtles facing off with Krang in his enlarged android body…and I’m quite happy with the result overall.

I did notice as I worked that these bricks feel like a lighter (cheaper) version of Lego, but I expected that–this set WAS cheaper in purchase-price than a Lego equivalent. A lot of pieces seemed pretty custom to this set (as opposed to repurposed pieces creatively integrated for a Lego set.

The mini figures–the two turltes–feel a lot more flimsy than Lego minifigs…but are far more poseable! The detail and articulation make them truly seem like miniature action figures rather than turtle-themed accessories on a standard blocky minifig structure. The weapons also seem much more "in scale" to the figures than the Lego counterparts had.

But all in all, I’m quite happy with the set, and glad for my purchase.

The miniature action figures leave me very interested in acquiring others–especially the Bebop and Rocksteady packs, and make me think it would be simply amazing if they would do a simple trooper pack with a dozen or so Foot ‘bots…making it far more possible in this scale to have the turtles face a small army of the robots than in any scale prior.

And surprisingly enough to me–in searching online for more details of these sets and what might be expected beyond what I saw, in the near future–I learned that "street date" on these was 1/1/2016.

I was in the store seeing these and buying the set I did…1/1/2016.

Though "purist" Lego enthusiasts will almost certainly find these to by physically inferior, on the "fun factor" and "enjoyment," as well as variety (the Lego sets were expensive and only focused on the "current" TMNT and then the 2014 film…Mega Bloks has sets for both the ’80s TMNT as well as the "current" series.

Mega Bloks also has the individual turtle packs–I believe they were $7.99 or so–which make it quite feasible for one to obtain all four of the turtles without having to invest in a $12.99 set and two or more $25-$60+ sets just to get the turtles.

other_sets

Above: a closer view of the image from the box showing Bebop, ROcksteady, Foot, and the individual turtle mini-sets.

Below: a differently-lighted photo of the box for Krang’s Rampage after the contents were removed.

krangs_rampage_opened_front

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #44 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw044Attack on Technodrome (part four)

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Cover: Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s been a few months since I’ve covered an issue of this title–I think it was the end of the previous arc. Here we are at the end of the next arc–already! Though we’ve had Krang since the earliest issues, this arc and issue is where the “long arc” of stuff pays off.

The Leo, Raph, and Mikey tangle with some of Baxter’s flyborgs, before the scientist recalls them to make his escape…which leaves them free to get the mousers away from the Fugitoid…though this does not go over well with Krang. Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady have been ordered to kill Donatello, and take great pleasure taking on the turtle and Metalhead. While the other turtles face Krang directly, Splinter is aided against Karai by Alopex and Nobody. Back on Burnow Island, Shredder’s mutants fail to help him, and escape…not realizing Baxter has designs on an alliance with their (probably now former) master. The turtles and Fugitoid end Krang’s plans for the Earth though they’re unable to prevent the island from being terraformed. The legacy of their battle is a space on Earth that can be a haven to surviving Utroms. While Honeycutt returns to Dimension X to see Krang answers for his crimes…the turtles return home to find that everyone was too late to save their brother.

Even long as the above summary is…it hardly does justice to the feeling I had reading this issue. I was expecting something big–I may have seen something hinting at a major event, or might’ve just felt like there’d “have to” be something big given all the “buildup” to the Technodrome activating and that it’d be a letdown if “all” that happened was that the turtles defeated Krang with no other lasting repercussions.

The art and writing together made for quite a scene between Bebop and Rocksteady vs. Donatello…and I honestly felt a bit sick reading it, at seeing Donnie take such an outright beating from the two. Gone are the overblown words and threats and no-one-actually-gets-hurt notion of the turtles facing the supposedly-dangerous lunkheads as we got throughout the ’80s/’90s animated series. Here, as I turned the pages I had a mental flash to Batman: A Death in the Family…exacerbated by the panel of Rocksteady’s hammer-swing quite looking like a crowbar. And though we don’t get detail, we get enough–the crack and crunch on the shell, and my realizion that I’d just been contemplating before that I’d never really read any TMNT story with any of the turtles truly having their shell damaged. They’ll be shown with scratches or cuts and such but the shell is generally shown deflecting a sword blade or some other object…but they’re not superhuman or invulnerable.

And we’re shown just enough to SEE that yeah…this is bad. VERY bad. Of course, that itself is made worse by the two talking over what they’d just done, remarking on the damage and what it looks like…definitely solidifying that it wasn’t just some “visual sound effect” and not just some visual angle.

And the end of the issue certainly suggests that the turtle family has been truly reduced by one…and yet no one comes out and says the “d-word” here, and I’m reminded of a key scene in the original Eastman/Laird series when Leo’d been horribly beaten by the foot and his near-lifeless body thrown through a window to the floor amidst the rest of the turtles. While mentally processing as I read the rest of the issue, I’d also thought immediately of the Image TMNT series, in which Donatello wound up a cyborg after a horrific accident all but killed him…the specifics remain a blind spot in my TMNT knowledge but given how much this series has drawn from prior incarnations of the property, I certainly have some expectation of where things can go from here…it’ll be the details and pace that are gonna hold my attention in a big way.

The immediacy of the issue–it’s the current issue as of this writing; it just came out this week; there’ve been no other new TMNT issues SINCE–certainly lends to a sense of importance by itself. Yet, I do truly think that in the long run, this may well be a key, defining issue in the series as well as moment for all the characters…something that’ll be referenced and relevant and to some degree inform the heart of the characters and the series for a good long time.

There’s not much “context” given, this is the fourth chapter of a four-part story, so it’s not particularly a jumping-on point. I certainly recommend the series, whether you backtrack to #41 and the start of this arc or pick up the entire series in collected format. Though I hurt for the characters, look forward to seeing how they get through, this remains one of my favorite comics being published currently by any company, and just about the longest I’ve kept up with any single series consistently on a monthly basis for such an extended time since the late-1990s.

While not the foundation/building blocks of the property, in terms of story quality, development, longevity, consistency, and quality…this is probably my favorite TMNT series, period…and after this issue I am all the more eager to see what comes, and even at the $3.99 price point, would likely enjoy weekly issues as long as the quality was maintained.

[ “The Scene” behind the cut. ]


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Krang, Utroms, and the Kraang

krang_utroms_kraang_thumbKrang is one element of the classic cartoon TMNT that in retrospect I’m not all that fond of. The toy, on the other hand, brings back some “fun memories.” “Nostalgia” might be a better word…I don’t know.

I recently posted about finding Classic Collection Krang at Toys R Us, and having that figure now adds a character to a small grouping that I own, that have appeared in some form across all three “main” TMNT toy lines (1980s, 2003, 2012).

While the pink brain itself has been missing from my collection for I-don’t-know-HOW-many-years, the Krang’s Android Body has been around my apartment for awhile…a cool (if incomplete) oversized “figure.”

krang_android_body_empty

The android body is about 2 1/2 times as tall as a basic Turtle, though the angle of my photo makes it look a bit bigger.

Krang’s walking contraption is–at top of the bubble–about as tall or only slightly shorter than one of the turtles.

krang_figure01

Of course, though it was the basis of the “main” figure itself for awhile, the bubble contraption I believe only appeared in the first handful of episodes of the cartoon before the android body was introduced.

krang_android_body_with

Though the idea of this creature essentially being a “brain in the stomach” was odd to me at first, back in the day. It wasn’t TOO long, though, before I discovered via the comics that Krang was based on an entire race of aliens from the comics…

utroms

…and part of what I so greatly enjoyed about the 2003 animated series was its adherence to the core elements of the Mirage comics. Here are three Utroms with android bodies from the 2003 line. They came with the little hover-platforms, so can fit either into the android body or as they’ve been shown to get around on the hover platforms without the bodies.

kraang

While Utroms were consolodated into the singular Krang character for the 1980s cartoon, they were introduced as generic villains in the 2012 series as a race called The Kraang…in OBVIOUS homage to the 1980s. These again are brains in the android bodies, though I haven’t bothered to pull enough to pop one out…they don’t come RIGHT out, and I don’t feel like tearing one if they’re really glued in there.

krang_utroms_kraang

So, as with the turtles themselves, I now have a full complement across all 3 “generations” of figures for a given character.

Of course, I’d love to find the “regular-size” figure that came out late in the 1980s run. Sadly I doubt I’d find one for a decent price…I’d be happy to find one “loose” for under $10. Still sounds a bit steep, recalling the turtle figures were once $3.49 apiece. But then, many modern figures are $10 anyway, and to get a vintage figure even without the card for that price isn’t horrible. I do remember seeing it once or twice, but had “outgrown” getting the turtle figures at that point (obviously I’ve grown back in).

New TMNT Classic Collection Acquisitions: Krang and Foot Soldier

I recall being somewhat disappointed at the limited nature of the “Classic Collection” TMNT line, as it seemed to be limited solely to a single original “wave” of figures–four turtles, Splinter, and Shredder.

I recently stopped into a Toys R Us looking for a current Nickleodeon 2012 Slash figure, and came across a bit of a pleasant surprise: two new figures in that Classic Collection line!

Firstly, the original “edition” of Krang, back when he was just a brain in a walking bubble contraption:

tmnt_classic_collection_krang

While to this day I cannot say I’m overly fond of the character in general…there is definitely a bit of the nostalgia even here, as I DID used to have this version of the figure back in the day. I never did get to acquire the “regular sized” Krang-in-android-body figure I recall seeing at least once.

However, I had gotten the large android body that this figure fit into…though somewhere through the years Krang himself disappeared on me, while I have the android body at my apartment…

tmnt_classic_collection_footsoldier

And I only ever had one single Foot Soldier back in the day. I don’t recall if it was due to not finding multiples, or just not coming around to buying multiple copies of the “same” figure. This restores that single figure status quo for the moment…though I’m certainly interested in buying several more.

That these two figures showed up gives me hope that we’ll at LEAST get a re-issue of the Bebop and Rocksteady figures. Rocksteady was THE very first TMNT figure I ever owned (back in the days when you simply could not find the turtles themselves despite stores like Toys R Us having what my memory suggests was HUNDREDS of figures on the pegs…

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #37 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw037Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Cory Smith
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

This is easily one of my favorite issues of the series so far…yet it’s not exactly one that would stand alone entirely as an introduction to the book. The fact that it deals deeply in established continuity, bridging the previous arc(s) and leading into the next is a huge strength for the issue.

When I first saw this cover (I get the “A” covers as a matter of principle) I almost grinned. Shredder and Krang facing each other as if an uneasy alliance or entering an alliance, with the under-construction Deathsta…er…Technodrome in the background? This could easily be a poster, and one I would frame and hang if I had it. So to say that the cover caught my attention in and of itself is an apt bit to note in an age of generic interchangeable covers and variants.

The interior art is similarly eye-catching, which makes sense–Cory Smith provides the interiors as well as the “A” cover. The characters’ appearances all look very good, fit established appearances from other artists, and on the whole I just can’t find anything disconcerting or off-putting that drew me out of the story or any negative reaction. I’m not typically an art-focused reader, but to put it simply: I really enjoyed the visuals to this issue.

The story opens on Shredder and Krang and immediately had me curious what they’d be up to in this issue, and half-wondering if it’d be a “talky” issue. We then shift to see what Alopex is up to, with Kitsune, and see that there’s definitely something building there. The story returns to Shredder and Krang’s conference, which doesn’t get either very far before violence breaks out and it becomes quickly apparent that the two will be at odds with each other even while having a common foe in the turtles.

This was indeed a bit of a “talky” issue…though moreso, it was Shredder vs. Krang (with a bit of Shredder’s goons vs. Krang’s goons thrown in for good measure). From the characters’ exchange I’ve realized I definitely–as I’ve somewhat suspected for awhile–missed an issue of the Utrom Empire series somehow. I found myself rather engaged throughout the issue, enjoying it immensely and wishing it wasn’t quickly drawing to a conclusion.

That the story credits three creators is something that I think has made this series extremely enjoyable for me: Eastman as original co-creator of the property, and three years in Curnow and Waltz have certainly established themselves. As a team they’re providing stories and character moments and concepts that have made IDW‘s TMNT continuity possibly the most well-rounded and pretty much my favorite of the myriad TMNT continuities out there.

There’s a definite nostalgia factor for me with Alopex–I’d initially thought she’d be a stand-in for the Ninjara character that appeared in the ’90s TMNT Adventures series…though that could yet be, just (like everything else with IDW‘s continuity) developing a bit slower and with more detail as we go along. I also far prefer this version of Krang to any other version, much as I prefer the comics Cobra Commander to the GI Joe cartoons’ version(s) of the character.

Koya and Bludgeon also remind me of TMNT Adventures characters–Koya of a character whose name I don’t recall offhand, and Bludgeon of the time-travelling shark Armaggon…whether or not these current characters have any bases visually or otherwise on the classic characters doesn’t much matter as I simply enjoyed seeing these, and have the freedom to “hope” there’s some sort of tie.

While I wouldn’t really recommend using this issue as a cold jumping-on point, it’s a strong done-in-one “interlude” that carries itself while bridging arcs and reminding readers of what’s come before that presumably will come into play in the next arc. If you’re a fan of Shredder and/or Krang this isn’t a bad issue, either, even if you’ve been away for an arc or few. 

(However, if you’re looking for the turtles themselves? They don’t appear in this issue’s story. And I’m more than fine with that–the conflict with Shredder and Krang was so engaging that as I read, I was hoping this’d be the case so as to not steal page-time away from the villains.)

As much as ANY comic is these days, this is definitely worth its cover price for the read, particularly as an ongoing reader of the series/continuity. Highly recommended.

This Week’s New Comics haul: 4/17

This was another rather large week of new comics, which leaves me truly hoping next week is a small one!

20130417newcomics

The cheapest of the bunch are the issues I’m not as likely to read as soon–I’m waiting for the full Cyber Force arc to be out (1 more to go), having been picking the series up with the price being quite appealing. Jirni is a typical Aspen book; but fell under my standing request for $1-or-less promo-priced issues.

I continue to be frustrated with Valiant‘s clustering of titles. X-O Manowar #12 is out this week, as is Bloodshot #10…marking the fullness of a year I’ve been following all of the new Valiant books. You’ll see Archer & Armstrong #9 there, too–my THIRD copy of the issue, due to my unfortunate spilled-liquid-on-my-comics-and-accidentally-bought-the-stupid-variant-as-replacement incident this past weekend.

Superior Spider-Man is on my chopping block…I’m pretty much just looking for a good jumping-off point while struggling with the idea of the excitement I had just 3 months ago for this title. It’s not bad, but I’m just losing interest a bit–primarily due to the $3.99 price point for the thing!

Cable and X-Force had bought itself a couple extra issues when I saw the ad for this issue–but unless I’m HIGHLY impressed when I read it, I do intend this to be my final issue of this series…in this case due entirely to the price point.

Finally, a new mini-series of “micro-series” for TMNT, focusing on the villains, begins with a look at Krang. While not particularly fond of the character in the cartoon, the IDWTMNT-verse iteration has been a much more worthwhile character…I consider this much the same as comparing the cartoon Cobra Commander to the comics’ Cobra Commander in GI Joe.

20130417hardbacks

Continuing the goldmine of bargain-priced hardbacks…Ultimate Spider-Man vol. 11 came in this week, for the sweet price of 75%-off-cover, making it cheaper than 3 single issues of Superior Spider-Man…and come to think of it, about the same price as 3-4 of the original singles it collects.

And not being one to turn down “free,” chose the Punisher volume as my “buy one of those, get one of these free” book.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #18 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw018Story: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Ben Bates
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Ben Bates
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

The bulk of this issue follows the turtles on planet Neutrino in Dimension X as they assess their situation and come to an understanding with the soldiers they encountered on Earth, native to this planet. They also learn what it is the soldiers were after as they realize all has not been as it seems. Meanwhile, back on Earth Splinter, April, and Casey deal with the sudden disappearance of the turtles. By issue’s end–18 issues into this new series–the turtles are introduced to General Krang, in a must more competent iteration than the ’80s cartoon that spawned the character.

Story-wise, this continues to be a great series that–on the whole–I am thoroughly enjoying. However, I’m growing a bit weary of 4-issue arcs, despite lingering subplots (and believe me, I am extremely grateful for subplots in an age where it seems stories are “written for the trade” and to be entirely self-contained). Eastman and Waltz continue to take core elements of the numerous iterations of these characters, and weave them together into a new tapestry that is at once familiar and yet new and interesting.

I particularly recognize Neutrinos Zak and Kala, and appreciate the turtles’ interactions with them; Mikey’s characterization with the princess is familiar as well. The turtles being suddenly, unexpectedly zapped to an alien planet in the middle of a war is a familiar “broad stroke” from the original Eastman/Laird series…though new in the specific details.

Visually, I’m liking Bates‘ art–it fits the characters well, and it just “works” for me. The only real weirdness is that the Neutrinos take on a very anime-like visual effect that contrasts a bit with the more sensible look of the other characters. Pattison‘s colors lend a real sense of continuity to the multiple artists on this series so far, where the linework’s changed, the colors have been consistent and certainly ease the transition between art styles.

This series has been on a relatively slow burn, steadily introducing characters and elements to the story, playing on past stories and expectations to build a strong continuity made up of the “best of” past versions of the TMNT. I’m truly appreciating the development, that things aren’t being rushed for the sake of getting characters in (especially characters whose original versions I find rather silly and off-putting as an adult). But I am increasingly anxious to see something a bit more major happen, something to truly shake up this continuity and define the characters–I’m not sure how, exactly–but it seems that other than the all-too-frustrating $3.99 price point this continuity would be ripe for a weekly series–or multiple series effectively making for weekly glimpses into the world.

With the typical 4-issue arcs, this is the 2nd chapter of this arc; so if you can find #17 along with this,  you can jump in and probably figure out for the most part what’s what, especially if you’re fairly familiar with the turtles anyway. Alternatively if you’re waiting for the collected volumes…this is shaping up to be another good mini-arc.

On the whole…the issue is good, and definitely leaves me quite interested in getting the next issue in-hand.

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