There have been several different lines of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys since the half-shell heroes first appeared in plastic back in 1989. None of those were half as good as the series hitting store shelves right now.

Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo; the TMNT team is made up of these four brothers, each with their own distinct personality. Toy makers have traditionally depicted these four separate entities in two ways: bandana color and weapon choice. And since each character sported these distinctive differences, there was no need to, say, use a different sculpt for the body, or a different shade of paint for the skin. The heads were done a little different, but for the most part those older toys were Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Clones.

Playmates finally switches things up with the latest series of toys, created as companion pieces to the new Cartoon Network Nickelodeon series. I picked up Donatello from Wal-Mart last weekend, figuring I'd only get my favorite character, but when I got him out of the package I knew I had to have the rest.

These are amazing figures. Each has a distinctive head. Each has a distinctive shell (Raph's even has cracks in his). The details are gorgeous, from the skin textures to the shape of the hands. Statues aside, this is the closest an action figure has gotten to Eastman and Laird's original creations.

The rest of the line isn't quite as good. The new April O'Neil is cute, but she's more-or-less a solid piece of plastic with little articulation. Krang is small and strange. The Foot Ninja would be more of a threat if they were half as poseable as the turtles. I probably won't be making any purchases from the line beyond these.


But that's okay. These four are all I need. Great job, Playmates! Almost makes up for the NES game.

Edit: A reader pointed out that the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon these are based on debuts on Nickelodeon (not Cartoon Network) on September 29 at 11AM.