Fans of the vintage Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toy line may remember it fondly for its variety of wacky characters, some stepping right off the pages of comics and others brand new creations. It was a great time to be a toy collector and a great time to be a kid. Without the internet to let us know months in advance of upcoming releases the only resources we had were package card backs and the Sears catalogue. I still remember how much I wanted Mutagen Man once I got my first look at him and to say that Mutagen Man was a highly anticipated figure in the Nick TMNT line would be a massive understatement. I went absolutely nuts when Mutagen Man was unveiled at Power-Con 2013!
In my head, Mutagen Man was kind of a cousin to Krang, he was a brain, pair of eyeballs and some vital organs suspended in a big Frankenstein-type body. I was always so tempted to crack open the torso to remove the brain — but I didn’t since I still wanted to be able to fill him with water.
Not many TMNT figures actually came with “action features” which unlike Masters of the Universe where most figures had a spring loaded punching feature or some equivalent. Those that did usually had gimmicks centered around mutagen. Mutagen Man was essentially a transparent hollow torso with arms and legs. The user could fill the hollow plastic torso with water or mutagen slime and then add in some bits of plastic “trash” which were packaged along with him. I believe this is part of what made him so memorable. I used to love shaking him up and watching all the junk float around inside. Much to my delight, Nickelodeon’s new take on Mutagen Man carries over that same feature.
With this updated version, you do not have to worry about breaking your toy to get the goods on the inside. Simply by twisting the lid off of his canister you can fill him with your choice of water or mutagen slime and enjoy the byproduct of looking at the disgusting insides. In addition you can also remove his left hand and pour some slime inside. When you push the hand back on it will ooze out of the tiny holes in his hand!
The arms and legs on this toy are molded in a hard translucent yellow plastic with some orange shading to add detail. He also has silvery metal wristbands and anklets. The canister which comprises the torso of the figure is a translucent green plastic with a flat metallic grey frame. On the front there is just a touch of magenta which is a nice visual nod to the bright colors of the 1990 figure. Attached to the canister is a dark gray life support respirator that harkens back to the vintage as well. Inside the fleshy bits are solid plastic in the shape of what appears to be a brain, eyes, lungs, a heart, a stomach, and maybe some intestines. The whole piece is painted pink with the exception of the whites of the eyes. I heard through the grapevine that later releases will have pupils painted on, however this does not — like I actually needed a reason to buy another Mutagen Man!
Articulation-wise, Mutagen Man’s sculpt is very deceiving, and in this case thats a good thing! At first blush I assumed he would have minimal articulation and expected swivel joints at the shoulders and legs, however I was pleasantly surprised to find out we did manage to get ball joints. In addition we also get swivel wrists on both arms (and remember his left hand does pop off for the oozing hand feature!). Finally, while not technically articulation, you can twist the canister lid with his fleshy bits attached with limited range of motion giving you the option of having him look forward or slightly to the left. While I doubt it was the intention it is a nice benefit.
Mutagen Man does not come packed with any accessories, which is very hit or miss with this line. Since his left hand is sculpted open and his right hand is a closed fist he couldn’t hold anything anyways. I would have liked to see him come with some bits of trash to toss in side as a nod to the vintage figure, but I am not sure if that would have made sense with this new take on the character.
We are well over a year and a half into this line and TMNT remains one of my favorite lines out on the market today. At less than ten bucks, most of the deluxe figures pack plenty of play value for kids and a nice dose of nostalgia for adult collectors. A lot of the new characters are easy to pass on for anyone cherry picking this line, but this updated Mutagen Man is definitely worth the price of admission if you are a fan!