On top of Playmates
' rejuvenated action figure line, Lego's new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sets
are perhaps one of the greatest things to come out of Nickelodeons new CG animated series. As a principally "Pirate" and "Space" theme fan as a kid, I hadn't paid too much attention to Lego's Ninjago
sets over the past few years, but when the bricksmith's announced a proper TMNT line, I suspected the company was well prepared to arm Minifigs with the proper weapons and accessories to successfully bring Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's ever-adapted comic book world to life in plastic pieces. Lego recently sent CA the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Shellraiser Street Chase set to check out, and I can unrepentantly use a silly abbreviation to report that it's my
cup of tea
slice of 'za.
The Shellraiser Street Chase includes the titular Shellraiser, an Antonio's Pizza-Rama delivery truck, and minifigs of Leonardo, Michelangelo, a Foot Soldier, new mutant bad dude Dogpound and one of The Kraang. Like the Marvel and DC superhero sets that preceded them (and Lego's in-house lines before that), the TMNT sets are furnished with comics-centric packaging and instruction booklets. It's the hallmark set of the line, so it makes sense that the new Shellraiser version of the classic Turtle Van has the biggest and arguably best box for demonstrating the set inside's various features.
The set comes with 620 pieces. Having been away from Lego's larger sets for a few years, I appreciated how neatly organized all of the pieces were. Building a Lego set isn't a race, but it's nice not having to dig through one massive pile of pieces to find what you're looking for if you decide to start building at 10 p.m. on a Tuesday with a stomach full of, let's say... pizza.
One of the coolest things about the new TMNT line are the original head and shell pieces. Rather than simply painting the traditional cylindrical minifig heads to resemble the ninja bros, Lego has produced all-new sculpts. They didn't even spare the expense of releasing two different shell piece types, reflecting the attire choices of each turtle. Just in case the shells are too bulky for a given play situation (like fitting into a vehicle or a tighter space than a bigger backside allows), each TMNT minifig still has a shell printed on their backs to avoid too much cognitive dissonance.
The Foot Clan ninja and Kraang minifigs are also pretty great too, although I'd have loved to have seen a more translucent Kraang body, reflecting how the brainy bad guys' android suits
appear on the show.
Accessory-wise, this set comes with swords, nunchucks and a laser gun. I don't know that I have to explain which characters each of these weapons belong to, but as with all Lego sets, it's fun to swap items between minifigs. When else are you going to see Leonardo holding a laser gun and some nunchucks?
In the tradition of selling "scenes" rather than mere items, the "Shellraiser Street Chase" set's Antonio's Pizza-Rama delivery truck comes stocked with two ooze drums and the massive driver known as Dogpound. The truck's swinging doors expose a pretty substantial cargo space, which is probably capable of holding even more ooze drums from other sets -- or maybe even actual pizza if you're daring. Just like the initial TMNT Lego set teaser that we got prior to the line's official announcement last year, the truck's got a clever minifig-based logo decal, which is a nice touch.
Speaking of decals, this set's got its share of them. I am, like, the Wreck-It-Ralph of applying decals and have come to loathe the entire process, generally. Lego clearly has people like me in mind when designing their sets, though, because the stickers and the pieces they cling to are pretty forgiving. Even if you stick everything on at less-than-beautiful angles, the set doesn't suffer much aesthetically. It's a sadness-free process as long as you just take a deep breath, focus, and know that somewhere out there is a blogger who is probably worse at decals than you.
Building the Shellraiser is a lot of fun and takes up just the right amount of your free time. The pieces pop with colors pulled straight from the cartoon and the overall design is packed with thoughtful touches that you can both gush over and/or happily take for granted.
Here's a photo breakdown of the features I really like:
- Big, flip-down doors
- Detachable weapon rack and a flip-down computer (and skateboard storage)
- A huge firing missile
- An easy-to-pop-off roof for accessing the interior
- Lots of room for the full TMNT team (the Raphael and Donetello don't come with this set, but I popped them in from other sets I bought)
- Proportions and an overall look that I kind of prefer to the Playmates action figure Shellraiser
- Huge wheels that pop up to reveal train track-ridin' alternatives that roll like a dream
After getting this Shellraiser set in the mail from Lego, I went a little nuts and bought most of the other sets in the series myself. I love Lego and I love the TMNT, and while Playmates hooked me on its initial core turtle team offerings, the appeal of figures and in-scale vehicles I actually have room to display (and take apart if needed) cannot be understated. I live in an apartment and don't want to go down the storage unit road, you know? The bricks are bright, the sets are thoughtfully designed, and the minifigs sport no shortage of paint apps, accessories and overall 'tude. I tried my best to get through this review without a horrible TMNT pun, but if you're down with the set's roughly $60 price tag, you'll likely have a... shell
... of a time with it.
(Don't blame me for that joke, blame the 2003 TMNT cartoon theme song