Showing posts with label Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Show all posts

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Resolute Collector

The Party Dude!
Christmas has been good to us here at the Mos Espa household, but things are settling down to normal again now. One of my gifts from the Emcat was the superb TMNT Classics Michelangelo figure seen above, and I can't stress how great this guy is. Despite loving the original cartoon over and above anything else, the Classics figures didn't appeal to me at first; however in recent weeks I've become truly converted. I'm looking forward to picking up Leo, Raph and Don as soon as funds allow.

That's not all I'm looking forward to though. You may have noticed that 2014 is just around the corner, resplendent with the optimism that a new year always seems to bring, and as such I'm going to highlight a few of the figures that I'm most looking forward to over the coming months...

T-U-R-T-L-E Power!
Continuing on a theme, there's the TMNT Classics Series 3 to look forward to, which features the Turtles based on their appearance in the first live action movie from 1990. That was the first movie I remember getting bed-wettingly excited about, and I completely wore the soundtrack cassette out from repeated late night listening on my Walkman, so these guys are dead certs for the collection.

Image from
Arriving later in the year is the MP-22 Ultra Magnus "Perfect Edition" from the Transformers Masterpiece line. There are no images of it yet, but early reports indicate it will use the existing MP-10 Convoy mold for the cab, in true G1 style. I don't yet own any Masterpiece figures as I'm still deliberating where to start, but as Ultra Magnus is a big hitter for me in TF terms this is one I'm very excited about. It will most likely cost a bomb, however...

My money's on Spider-Man.
Hitting stores a lot sooner is the rebranded Marvel Legends: Infinite Series, which combines all of the movie related waves under one catch-all line. I'm loving the Superior Spider-Man comic right now so I'm very much looking forward to picking up SpOck, as well as Captain America in his 'Super Soldier' costume from the Winter Soldier wave. ASM2 Spidey and Boomerang are also on my radar, but those first two are on my want list for certain.


So that's three lines that will almost certainly be getting my money over the next 12 months, but it doesn't stop there. I've collected my thoughts on the state of the Star Wars line here, but of course there is the upcoming Rebels to look forward to in the Autumn. I'm late to the party but NECA's Predator series looks like it's been churning out some pretty incredible figures, and then there might be some interesting offerings from the Transformers 4: Age of Extinction line. I'm not sold on a lot of the Bayformers but Dinobots? Hell yeah!

With all of this excitement for the future, I guess that wraps it up for 2013. It's been a good run for the blog with an expanding readership, brand new look and redefined focus and purpose, and I'm enjoying running it here more than I have at any point before. Massive thanks to each and every one of you who has taken the time to read my ramblings or to look at my pictures, and thank you even more so if you're a returning visitor or commenter. The comments mean a lot to me, and I appreciate you taking the time. 

I wish you all a most excellent 2014. It will be better!

Monday, 11 November 2013

The One with the Katana

He's the Leader in Blue!
Just a quick posting here - this shot above is the latest of mine to be featured as one of the Figure Photos of the Day over at I've had some interaction with site contributer Ridureyu on Flickr, where he posts his great action figure photos. Nerditis covers comics, action figures, films, games and, uh, slash fic, amongst other nerd-relates subjects, so be sure to click through and check it out!

Thursday, 1 August 2013

On Location

Leo going solo.
I re-arranged my Flickr sets today, and as I pored over the photographs from the last three years I was struck by how bad some of my initial efforts were. Unfortunately, some of the more recent ones stuck out as well, and it struck me that my biggest issues are lighting and setting, two of the three key components of a photograph (the third being the subject). I thought I'd pay a little attention to this for today's post...

Leader in blue!
It's unfortunate that I don't have room to store different sets, much less the time to build them nowadays, and a cluttered house doesn't really cut it as a backdrop when photographing 1:18 scale figures. Fortunately though, as fantastical as Star Wars is, if you live near a swamp, woodland, desert or beach, or even some destitute scrub land, you've got the ideal setting for your action figure photographs. Although living in the middle of the UK isn't ideal for a desert or beach, it more than does the job when looking at Dagobah or Endor...

BTS: The glory of cropping!
But what about the urban heroes? Northampton really isn't much of a cityscape, the lift tower being the sole defining feature of the skyline, and if I struggle with building a set for something fictional, I think I'd really mess up a scale recreation of an NYC rooftop. So how best to photograph them? Why, multistory car parks, of course!

Miles Morales...
I frequently try and find a lighting set-up that works best for me at home, in the lightbox or otherwise, but hands down using natural light is the best. The colour balance looks right, and if you pick a  good spot (somewhere open but out of direct sunlight) the lighting is crisp and even across the subject. Occasionally you may need to use a reflector to get the light to go exactly where you need it, but you should be fine without. Also, the more light that is available, the less your camera has to compensate by auto-filling information. This is what happens when dark pictures appear grainy; there's not enough information for the camera to create a whole picture, so it fills in the gaps itself. It's always better to shoot light and darken the image in post, if needs be.

...the Ultimate Spider-Man!
A car park fits the bill of being somewhere open but out of direct sunlight, and provides a gritty and urban setting for our more 'street' figures, with a view across the rooftops to boot. Furthermore during the day the higher-up levels of the car park are rarely used, providing all the privacy a grown man playing with toys in public needs!

Ninja Protector!
It's not perfectly to scale, but the car park fits the bill well enough, and it's nice to finally have somewhere to play with capture my superhero figures at work. What's even better is that I'm finally starting to get the quality of photograph that I've been after since I started. Onwards and upwards, I suppose...

Good luck with your own on location shooting, and thanks for reading!

Friday, 18 January 2013

TMNT: Leonardo (Basic Collection) Review

"I don't think you're the sewer-dwelling green mutant-lizard I'm looking for..."

"Mutated from ooze and raised in the ways of Ninjutsu by their rat Sensei, Splinter, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are ready to venture outside their sewer lair to fight evil everywhere!"

I had seen pictures of the new Playmates TMNT line (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in old money) all over the internet last year, and was immediately interested in picking them up. It took a while for them to hit over here, but since they have it’s been a Turtle bonanza at supermarkets and toy shops, and other than empty shelves at Christmas, they’ve been quite easy to pick up. And it’s a nice feeling, being able to go out to a shop and actually be able to buy something you want (ahem, Star Wars Vintage Collection).

I was sold on the show from about halfway through the first episode I saw, “Never Say Xever”. It was action packed and entertaining anyway, but when, in a moment of inspired lunacy, Michelangelo proclaimed a need to get a tattoo of his face on his face to use as a mask, visualised as his 80’s animated look, I knew I’d found my new favourite cartoon...

Back in the 80’s and early 90’s, fearless leader Leonardo was my favourite, and so he was a natural to pick up first.

Leader and King of the Katana Swords 
Hardworking, honourable and respectful, Leonardo is the Turtles’ fearless leader. Driven to be the perfect hero, Leo’s inexperience and (often) rowdy brothers sometimes get in the way of his goal.

Weapons: Niten Ryu – double katana swords
Team: Ninja Turtles

From the cardback.

"Wow, Weird Looking Dudes."

A big reason for picking up Leo first, aside from my affinity for the character, was the aesthetics. The shade of green matches the blue of Leo’s mask and the yellow of his under-shell beautifully, and the flashes of white on the figure make him look really dynamic. The sculpt captures the muscles with a rough texture that really evokes reptilian skin, and there are plenty of little nicks and scratches, presumably battle scars, that add further texture and complete the look beautifully. The large feet and hands are somewhat reminiscent of late 90’s Spawn to me, and I really like the power and bulk they bring to the figure. The belts and pads on the elbows and knees are well sculpted, also suffering scratches and nicks. They are all painted the same shade of brown, with gold highlights on the buckles on the chest strap. The belts go all the way around the back and incorporate the katana sheaths, so you can pose the figure anyway without having to worry about a break in the design. The back shell is as detailed and textured as you’d think, given the rest of the figure, and the colour perfectly differentiates it from the rest of the body without clashing. In terms of looks, this Leonardo is a perfect figure.

"You...are seriously twisted."

Leo has 11 points of articulation: ball jointed neck, shoulders, elbows, thighs and knees, and swivel wrists. The ball joints are also hinged, which allows a much greater range of movement; however the bulky sculpt of the body of the figure gets in the way of a lot of poses. The bottom of the front shell is flexible, allowing Leo to adopt a sitting position, which I’m sure would come in handy for use in the Shellraiser, or other such vehicle. The bulky, wide feet and angled big toe allow the figure a fairly decent balance, meaning that despite not having foot articulation, Leo can be stood in quite a few poses; however, you’d need a stand if you wanted him in a full-on action stance – the heavy weight of the upper body makes it pretty much impossible to balance him on one leg.

"The Class is Pain 101…"

Leonardo comes with his trusty twin katana, or Niten Ryu, as the cardback tells me. They’re a decent size for Leo to hold, but the coolest feature is how easily they fit into the sheath on his back. The sheath itself is attached by a plug and is detachable, but as the swords are part of what makes Leo Leo (visually, I mean), I prefer to keep it on. 

Reminiscent of the 80’s toyline, he does come with weapons packed in – a blister pack containing two throwing stars, three knives, an even larger sword and what looks like a shank. I’ve not broken these out yet; I think mainly because I’m acutely aware I could lose them…

There’s also a pack-in flyer showing the rest of the 2012 line, including the massive sewer playset, which finally puts the Blue Peter version to shame. These extras with the figure should be mandatory when it costs £10, especially the catalogue – I used to pore over these when I was a kid, mentally marking down which figures I wanted next, and I’m sure there are kids out there today doing the same.

 "Get yourself together Captain, you're our leader, so act like one!"

The only real negatives are the slightly restricted articulation and, maybe, the facial sculpt. I say maybe because I’m in two minds about it. As a figure based on the cartoon, the head fails: the eyes are missing the coloured pupils, and his face is in a mean and slightly humorous grin – in short, he looks way more aggressive than you would imagine TMNT Leo could get. However, as an action figure in itself, the head sculpt works really well. It’s like the Eastman/Laird comic versions in its attitude and ferocity, and seems more influenced by the visual style of the NECA figures than the show itself. I’m falling on the side of it being a win though: as much as I love the show, this guy makes a truly kick-ass action figure, and if anyone cares that much about show accuracy, pupils are but a blue Sharpie away…

"I am impressed, Leonardo."

In conclusion, I am seriously impressed with this figure. It looks fantastic, with impressive articulation, it’s got weight and feels sturdy, and comes with a decent amount of accessories. Leonardo straddles the line between child’s toy and collectible perfectly. I’ve got Michelangelo waiting to be unboxed and reviewed as well; hopefully it won’t be too long after that I get myself a Donny and Raph to complete the team.

My verdict? ****1/2

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