Playmates Toys Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Donatello 1988 Action Figure

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Heroes In A Half Shell TURTLE POWER!

Jan 25, 2012 (Updated Jan 25, 2012)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating: Excellent

  • Durability:

Pros:It's Donatello, in his original glory.

Cons:Easily lost parts, broken easier than the real Donatello.

The Bottom Line: What I bought for around six dollars back in 1988 now goes for around $80... wow.


As a child growing up in the 80’s I got possibly the greatest trio of cartoons and toys ever imagined (by my slightly biased opinion).  First there was Transformers which then led to Ghostbusters (spun off the movie), and finally the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Of the three cartoons Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT for short) became my favorite from my childhood.  By a strange coincidence all three of those franchises began in 1984, but it took longer for TMNT to get out of the incubation period and become a worldwide phenomenon during the late 80’s and early 90’s (at the top of their popularity they had a rock band that traveled and played as them in costume).  So when I happened upon a review about a Nostalgia Write-Off the first thing that came to mind for me was TMNT, and since I primarily write gaming reviews I thought of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II for the NES, but as fate would have it when I put “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” in the epinions search engine the first thing to pop up was the original Donatello action figure from 1988.  Not only was he my favorite turtle from my favorite line of TMNT toys, this was also the best and the first large scale toy line Playmates put out for TMNT.

This was my favorite toy for years of my life while I was still a youngster.  First of all the craftsmanship and artistry were excellent for 1988.  Donatello always was my favorite, I don’t really know why.  Perhaps it was because everyone else was gathering around the other three, Leonardo for his skill and leadership, Raphael for his bad-boy attitude, and Michelangelo for his comic relief.  I chose Donatello, much for the same reason I chose Larry as my favorite Stooge, he may not be the headliner but when it comes right down to it he’s vital to the formula, the underappreciated character that makes it all work.  Donatello was the nerd of the four ninja turtles, the least violent of the bunch and relied more on his intellect to get out of trouble spots.  He had a bo for a weapon (namely a long stick, or spear with no pointy part) which never deterred him from fighting with the best of them despite the others having much cooler weapons.  Now that I think about it he appears to be the inspiration for Gabriel on Xena: Warrior Princess.

The toy Donatello depicted here is based the comic book coloring of Donatello, not the cartoon coloring that later took prominence in the toy lines.  The comic book coloring is easily better since unlike the cartoon coloring, all of the turtles have their own unique shade of green.  In Donatello’s case that means he is almost as easily called brown as he could be called green.  The detail on this action figure is very nice, the arms and legs show excellent muscle tone, which is fitting for the Ninja Turtles.  Donatello has a nice and menacing sneer, baring his teeth on both sides of his turtle mouth, while his purple mask only lets out otherworldly white portals from the eye holes.

One unique thing about this line of TMNT action figures is that they all feature rubber heads, unlike the later versions which were replaced with plastic heads.  I always preferred the rubber heads, mostly because I could squish in their heads and then watch them reshape back to normal (what can I say I was a kid who was easily amused).  The heads could be turned to a degree, while the arms could only spin around like a windmill.  The arms were permanently bent at the elbow, but that didn’t matter much since the hands could turn at the wrist, enabling you to properly hold the included orange plastic bo.  In fact they included two bo’s with Donatello, which was good so once you lost the first one, admit it you were a kid so you lost the first one, you still had that second replacement.  Also included were little plastic throwing stars and some little orange plastic things that were supposed to look like pizza.  I don’t remember those all that well since those were lost quickly.

The legs were both solid pieces of plastic on a ball joint.  There really was only one way for them the (precariously) stand, but at least you could adjust the legs so that they appeared to be jumping or dying.  Another really cool feature of the 1988 toy line was the inclusion of the belts for each of the turtles.  Donatello’s criss-crossed over his shoulders and had a “D” on the buckle.  This looked quite snazzy and was meant to hold his bo on his back, but like all good things this gottbroken after a few months of placing and removing the bo, and putting on and taking off the belt itself.

As you may have noticed I mention lots of parts of this toy breaking, well that would be because I was a kid and I did what any logical kid did with toys, I took them out of their packaging and played with them until they met their unfortunate demise.  Sadly this Donatello is no longer in my life, he met his end when he took a nasty tumble from a great height and broke both of his arms on the asphalt (of the playground).  He joined Raphael in the 1988 Turtles graveyard (Raphael lost a leg in an unfortunate farming accident, he got tilled) but will forever hold a sentimental part of my heart, from a day that is long past.  Overall I was infinitely pleased by this toy back in the day, and I wish I hadn’t given away all of the remainder of my TMNT toys back when I was still too young to know better.

This review is part of the Nostalgia write off hosted by krial


Recommend this product? Yes


Amount Paid (US$): 6
Type of Toy: Action Figure
Age Range of Child: Whole Family

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