It goes without saying that Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo are the most important part of any new “TMNT” toy line. The original 1987 animated series made each of the turtles look largely the same in cartoon form, with only their bandana colors, weapons, and labeled belts identifying them individually. But the Playmates “TMNT” action figures that followed made sure to keep each turtle distinct from each other with different shades of green skin and unique head sculpts, even if the basic body shapes were pretty much exactly the same.
The design of the characters in “Mutant Mayhem” follows in the footsteps of the toys by giving each of the Turtles a different green skin tone, but the filmmakers took things even further by giving each of the Turtles drastically different bodies, faces, and other trademark characteristics. Thankfully, Playmates didn’t take the easy way out with the creation of these action figures, and they accurately modeled each one after the character’s appearance in the movie.
Each of the figures looks almost exactly how they appear in the movie, with the exception of some of the sketchbook-like qualities of the animation itself. Sure, there are scratches and lines here and there in the plastic sculpt that replicate some of the animation traits, but the paint jobs are much more basic, which is a bit of a disappointment. Having figures that more closely resemble the animation style would have been preferred, but since these are rather basic toys made for playability, they need to be on the cheaper side. Thankfully, for collectors, Playmates did make figures that have a cel-shaded appearance, but they cost three times as much as the regular figures, and they were also Walmart Collector Con exclusives that you can no longer get unless you want to overpay on the secondary market.
However, there is one aspect of the “Mutant Mayhem” toys that excels where the original Playmates line failed. The signature weapons for each turtle have two different colors. In the ’90s, all the weapons were a single color, typically a brownish-orange plastic. That same color still lingers in these weapons, specifically for the handles. But the blades of the swords and sais, as well as the chains of the nunchucks, have graciously been painted silver. Sadly, since Dontello’s bow staff is made entirely of wood, his weapon is the only one that is a single plastic color. And all the weapons fit perfectly in their respective belt holsters on each of the figures. The only downside is that Michelangelo’s nunchucks could have used some flexibility for the chains.