THE BACKGROUNDKidrobot have been producing vinyl toys since 2002, and are well-known within the art/designer toy community, a scene which I know very little about myself. I’ve never bought any of their stuff previously, as it’s an aesthetic I have mixed feelings about, and I could never quite justify the price even when I did see something I liked.
However, I have noticed that in the last few years – and it’s quite possible it’s been going on even longer overseas – they seem to have developed a number of products at a lower price point and with greater availability, presumably to appeal to the more casual collector. I suspect this has something to do with the growing popularity of Funko, a brand that has traded on the designer vinyl aesthetic very effectively, managing to snag a huge number of licenses and bring the whole scene a little more mainstream in the process, all while doing it at a very affordable pricepoint.Your own thoughts on this will vary of course – as with any underground scene there are always those loath to see things become “mainstream” or to have things “ruined” by “casual fans”. I’ve had many a moan about things over the years myself! But as someone who enjoys Funko’s work, I’m pretty happy to see the style gaining wider acceptance.
Anyway, Kidrobot recently picked up the TMNT license, and have produced a number of products based on the 1980s TV series. The shop I picked this up from also had keyrings (approx. 1”), these “Ooze Action” figures (3”) and blind-boxed figures (also 3”), which cover all of the same characters in the Ooze Action set, plus a few more. Online I've also discovered that there are 7" Bebop and Rocksteady figures, and I suspect there may be more in future. Time will tell.Today’s figure, Raphael, comes from the Ooze Action subset. These guys are in the same scale as the blind-boxed figures, but have slightly different paint apps – including ooze splattered on their weapons or bodies, which is depicted via glow in the dark paint. Additionally, they’re not blind-boxed, which makes it much easier to get the character/s you want. Being a huge sucker for anything glow in the dark or TMNT related, I decided that I was going to make the investment. How did that pay off for me? Well, read on to find out!
I don’t often talk about the packaging much these days, but I thought this one was worth a mention. It fits with the 1980s TMNT blister packs, modernising the “green on brick” aesthetic, all printed on nice thick card with a j-hook. It’s printed with an open sewer pipe, over which the figure in its blister is positioned, as though he’s bursting out of a pipe to say hello, or attack. For a brief period I did consider keeping him MOC, but that brief period lasted only a few minutes. A second one to keep MOC would be good though…
The back of the card depicts the other characters available in this line – Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, Splinter and Shredder – while also including a few lines of flavour text about the ooze, which mutated the turtles and Splinter into their current form.However, in spite of all the character designs being clearly based on the 1980s cartoon, it uses the logo from the 2012 TV series. Not wanting to create confusion among the (presumably) younger audience that this release is targeting, perhaps?
More strangely, the text on the back of the pack specifically states “this is not a toy”. This seems a little strange – if it’s not a toy, what is it? But perhaps this is as a legal protection against some of the safety requirements that toys need to adhere to – types of paint, sharp edges, etc.
But these curiosities aside, the packaging really enhances the overall product. It’s not essential to enjoying it, but it’s a great bonus for those who want to keep it mint.
SCULPT AND ARTICULATIONKidrobot seem to use a base body for most of their creations, which can be seen on their rabbit-like “Dunny” and monkey-like “Munny”. Their products do cover a broader range, of course, but for the purposes of this review that’s all you need to know about.
(Incidentally, “dunny” is Australian slang for “toilet”, so it gives me a childish little giggle every time I see Kidrobot stuff being sold around the place.)For this range, that means all four turtles use the same body and head, with the differences coming in paint app form. Likewise, Shredder and Splinter use the same body, but have different heads. Splinter…did not turn out so well. The sculpt is not poorly done, but it just doesn’t look like Splinter – he looks more like a dog than a rat.
Raph (and all of them) is articulated at 3 points – his neck and at both shoulders. All are cut joints, and the articulation on the arms is a little restricted due to the shell on his back. But this isn’t necessarily a minus; these figures are bought for their overall aesthetic as opposed to their Marvel Legends-esque contorting ability.It’s a very basic, kiddie-looking thing, somewhat like a bath toy. Once upon a time, I really disliked the vinyl toy look, particularly during my prime comic buying days of 2006-2007. It seemed so pretentious – who would pay insane amounts of money for a toyish, under-articulated piece of crap? Why not get a real action figure?
With the benefit of a little bit of exposure to stuff that was more to my taste – and a bit of general growing up on my part – I’ve come to appreciate it more. And of course, in this case the license definitely does a lot of the heavy lifting. Being inherently cartoony, the 1980s TMNT lend themselves to the aesthetic much better than say, Cthulhu does. But of course there’s a market for that too.
ACCESSORIESRaph comes with his two sais, which are spattered with “ooze”, which is actually glow in the dark paint. Both of these fit neatly in his hands and will stay in place, though you’ll want to consider arm and head position before clicking them in – otherwise they’ll just poke straight into his face.
PAINTThere isn’t a great deal of straight paintwork on Raphael – as far as I can see it’s restricted to his bandanna, the belt across his shell and possibly his sais. Everything else is tampographed, and they’ve done an exceptional job. Just about everything looks neat and clean, and doesn’t look likely to rub off anytime soon. However, the glow in the dark paint scratches quite easily, so be careful with it. I scraped a little bit off just by my thumbnail banging against it accidentally.
My only real disappointment is that Raph himself doesn’t glow. Given that the turtles are all primarily green, it seems like they could have done it reasonably easy – but perhaps a future series or variant/ComicCon/online only exclusive release will do this. And it’s certainly a viable project for any keen customisers out there.OVERALL
I’m really happy to have picked Raphael up from this range. I have no real quibbles about the execution or the price, and as my perennial favourite turtle, Raph will make a fine addition to the existing TMNT collection. Nonetheless, I don’t plan on picking up any more Kidrobot TMNT anytime soon. Not because the figures are bad quality, but I collect enough stuff already and don’t want to funnel hundreds of dollars into completing a set of the blind-boxed figures – which I can definitely see myself doing, if I don’t nip it in the bud now!
But for TMNT and designer toy fans alike, these toys come highly recommended.