I think Shredder’s minions might be the most consistent out of all the Ninja Turtles characters. They’re bug-eyed ninjas. Always.

Yeah, the Turtles are always green guys with headbands, but they have varied a lot in size, shape, color, and ocular detailing. Shredder is always a guy with blades stuck to him, but that design has looked a whole lot different every time we’ve seen it. The new Splinter is about as different as that rat has ever looked and they had to go and make him look like a badger to change him any.

No, the Foot Soldier is always a bug-eyed ninja. Sometimes they’re robots, sometimes not. But they always have the same forearms, calves, and baggy shirts. And masks with creepy, round eyes and a headband on top.

These guys started out in Eastman and Laird’s Mirage comics as nameless ninjas working for Oroku Saki’s (Shredder’s) Foot Clan. They were numerous and dangerous and human; and they gave the Turtles a fight every time they ran into them. These ninja were capable of strategy and even the occasional victory.

We next saw them as massively incompetent robots on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. They got bashed, slashed, and trashed every weekday afternoon for years and never got any better at fighting.

Since then most media has stuck to the slightly more competent human Foot Soldiers, which is what I think we’re dealing with in the new cartoon. Granted, this limits Raphael and Leonardo’s offensive capabilities given that it’s a children’s cartoon, but maybe Mikey will at least get to use his nunchaku this time.

First Glance: My brain tells me that this subdued, black and grey color scheme makes good sense for a ninja. My heart tells me this guy should be blue, grey, and purple. Which is weird, because the original cartoon is not my preferred Turtle interpretation.

Sculpt: This Foot Soldier has ball joints at the head, shoulders, and hips. There are swivels below the elbows, at the wrist, and at the waist. I’m not happy with this articulation. The knees not bending is bad enough, but to have swivel elbows is just blech.

Not helping things is the figure’s stance. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a good stance. For a single ninja. But if I’m going to buy several of these – as I would certainly be inclined to do – just look at all the Clone Troopers I bought (no – behind the Jedi):

I don’t want them all standing in exactly the same action pose. Just like Monday’s Kraang, this guy’s limited articulation and “action” stance really mess up his value as a troop builder. I do understand that kids are not going to care. I didn’t care that the original Foot Soldiers looked like they were pooping back in the day. I still had four or five.

The actual sculpting on this guy is pretty great. I love all of the detail put into his lower legs, forearms, and gloves. The gi looks really good and has a nice form and the little harness thing across the chest looks neat and gives our Foot flunky a little more depth.

The head is nice, with the trademark bug eyes and a nicely done headband.

I really like the proportions on this guy. His hands and feet aren’t too big or too small but he still looks nice and cartoony to go with the Turtles. But not too cartoony. He is well-balanced and stands, sits, and holds his weapons well. I like the look of this Foot Soldier an awful lot, I just find the functionality to be a bit lacking. I will say, though, that getting this size of figure for nine bucks almost makes it worthwhile.

Design: Not as basic as you might think. Yes, the figure is predominately black, but there is a lot more going on.

The eyes have a weird, speckled detailing rather than sculpted lines or dots. It’s okay and works fine. The headband is a bright red with the little Foot logo on the front. Everything on the head is painted cleanly and the colors are all where they’re supposed to be.

The body is mostly black except for the little harness or whatever going across the chest. That thing was detailed nicely and contrasts the black well.

The forearms and lower legs are what really sell this guy. Besides the bug eyes, I mean. There is a wash of black in the sculpted lines that gives these parts a lot of depth and an appealing look.

The Foot Soldier’s paint job is very basic but very good.

Accessories:The Foot Soldier comes with a katana, a dagger, a scabbard, and two throwing stars.

The weapons are all molded in black. I might have preferred silver, but I have to admit the black is okay. Maybe I would have preferred a metallic black.

Everything looks good and none of the weapons are just cast-offs from other figures. Both the sword and the dagger fit in the scabbard and in the Foot Soldier’s hand.

Packaging: The new Turtles figures come in some fairly unique, die-cut blister cards. The shape and design of the card is eye-catching and the blister has some nice sculpting and textures. Each character has a bio on the back with a cartoon-style illustration.

Overall: I like the look of this guy so much, but it almost makes the execution even more disappointing. I’d love to have about four of these guys (I typically buy four of any particular kind of troop builder – go look at that picture of the Clones again; you’ll see a lot of quartets), but not with all of them in the same action pose. If you’re going to limit the articulation, I’d much rather the figure be in a simple “standing” pose.

Still, this is a nice-looking ninja and I bet kids really dig him.

3 out of 5

I’ve seen the new Turtles at Target and Toys R Us. No Walmart sightings yet. At nine bucks apiece I have to give these guys bargain of the year so far.

-Phantom

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