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Toy Review: Playmates Toys’ TMNT Vehicles and Secret Sewer Lair Playset

Posted by: Casimir at 4:24 pm on Sunday, July 29, 2012

Before we tackle the Big Kahuna, let’s review two of the smaller “vehicles” in the line.

The first is the “Sewer Spinnin’ Skateboard” and stunt ramp. The skateboard is an oversize motorized device. Like the motorized toys of yore, you simply push the toy forward a few times to rev up the engine, and then let it go. In this case, you aim the skateboard towards the ramp. The skateboard is weighted in such a way that it will seem to do wheelies and such after it “jumps” the ramp. Some instructions are included that explain how to make it perform stunts.

Click on thumbnails to view bigger pics.

Honestly, I wasn’t too impressed with this on the whole. Since it was oversized, it didn’t really make for a good display piece. But then I’m not really the intended audience. So I handed it over to my five-year-old son.

It held his attention for all of 45 seconds. He hasn’t looked at it since.

On a more traditional front is the “Rippin’ Rider” motorcycle. It’s pretty straightforward. The turtles seem to fit on its saddle seat well enough. The wheels roll. It has a forward-mounted missile-launcher, though the missiles are finger-powered. There’s no launch mechanism or spring. Overall, not bad for a lower price-point vehicle.

Click on thumbnails to view bigger pics.

The real gem of this first wave, however, is the “Secret Sewer Lair Playset.” Anyone who has followed my work over the years knows that I love good playsets, and I’m a big proponent of adding more to the marketplace. Honest-to-goodness playsets are a rarity these days, as retailers don’t want to deal with the necessary shelf space, and the cost can get out of hand. As a result, more often than not when we do get a “playset,” it’s a sham of some kind. Sometimes it’s flimsy cardboard.Sometimes it’s a hinged box or convertible Batmobile. (Mattel should be ashamed of its efforts these last few years.)

Click on thumbnails to view bigger pics.

So does this new TMNT sewer playset deliver? Generally speaking, I’d say yes. In fact, I’d grade it a solid “B.”

First off, it’s big. Really big. If you intend to display this, best clear out a corner or remove a piece of furniture. When I first saw the press release photos, I thought this would be along the lines of the lame Batcave Mattel released for “the Batman” line a few years ago. That was essentially a top-heavy cardboard wall. It was all height, no depth. While the new sewer has shades of that, the lower portions are solid plastic that spread out. The footprint is roughly 16” by 34”. That’s pretty substantial.

Click on thumbnails to view bigger pics.

As any good playset should, it has loads of play value. There are lots of levels for posing and action. It’s adorned with plenty of things to hang on, open up, jump from, climb on, and practice secret ninja moves. A great deal of thought went into the “fun value” of this. As proof, much like the turtle figures themselves, it was all I could do to keep my son away from this while we photographed it.

Click on thumbnails to view bigger pics.

There are some flaws, however. Nothing major, though it prevents me from grading it an “A.”

The biggest problem is the cardboard portions. Frankly, the cardboard used impressed me. Most of the time, such things are flimsy. With care, these should last a long time. More importantly, while they certainly add to the overall look, the cardboard is not a necessary component. (I’m looking at you, Mattel.) The playset will function just fine without the cardboard. So I give props to Playmates for that. However, the cut of the top piece does not match the plastic of the upper floor, so the fit is not flush. Furthermore, the cardboard fits over eleven plastic protrusions that hold the cardboard in place. Tiny plastic squares are included that are supposed to fit over these protrusions and lock the cardboard in place. The only problems are a) the set included seven of the necessary eleven, and b) they flat out don’t work. These will be the first pieces of the set lost, and I’m skeptical as to how well the cardboard will stay in place without them.

The stickers are less than perfect, too. It’s always been a pet peeve of mine when the instructions reference a vague drawing, and it’s clear no such place on the toy exists. Yeah, that happened more than once. And stickers should be applied to smooth areas of an appropriate size. Stickers applied over textured and sculpted areas are poor design. Perhaps these issues can be fixed in future releases.

Click on thumbnails to view bigger pics.

Two other pieces bother me. The arch near the computer must be installed with the sculpted side facing the main wall. This means it will rarely be seen. It should have been positioned the opposite way, so we don’t see the support structure side. Also, the circular “drain” at the center bottom serves no obvious purpose beyond décor, and is only attached by a flimsy snap joint. It’s constantly coming loose.

Aside from those few complaints, the new sewer playset is tremendously fun. I applaud Playmates for being brave enough to offer such a large item. It’s well conceived and generally well executed.

The playset allows for crossovers with other toy lines.

Click on thumbnails to view bigger pics.

The last thing I read regarding price was a suggested retail of around $115-$120. That could change by the time Wal-Mart and Amazon are done fighting over the price come holiday time. Is it worth $100+? Honestly, that’s hard to say. My instinct say this would be more accurately priced around $60-$80, but with the rising cost of oil and plastic these days, my instinct seems to be lagging behind the times. I will say this, though: any young turtle fan will go bonkers to find this beneath a Christmas tree.

PS: Don’t forget to check out the video review of the Secret Sewer Lair playset (as seen through the eyes of a 5-year old).

 

About the Author: Casimir
Not satisfied with the limited options available at retail, award-winning customizer Cason Pilliod has been crafting his own toys since he was a child. His passion for toys merges with his background as a theatrical prop designer, allowing him to find unique customizing solutions, which he shares with the ever-growing customizing community via Inanimate Objects. Cason is also an armchair pop-culture historian, Swing dancer, DJ, daddy, and was once a Muppet wrangler, so he's got a unique spin on life. He also worked for Microsoft once, but let's just keep that a secret.

 

 

1 Comment »

  • demoncat says:

    om that has to be now the biggest playset ever to come back for a toyline not to mention the work it will take to put the thing together plus finding a place to store it . though do like the thought of being able to use it for other figures


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