12th Jan2013

Toy Review – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles “Anchovy Alley” Pop-Up Pizza Playset #TMNT

by Will

2013-01-11 22

Forgive my pics – I only had my phone!

I’m not really a toy review guy. I’m kinda the juxtaposition of my pal Howie over at UnderScoopFire. Sure, I give my two cents on comics, but I never really delve into the world of the toy review. I guess it’s because I have enough online friends who are much better at this, so I never wanted to insult either of us. That said, I think I’ve stumbled upon something that isn’t in wide release, so I can’t miss the opportunity to be FIRST! After all, that’s what the internet is built upon. So, here we are! I was lucky enough to find most of the first series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures for Christmas, but Donatello has been eluding me. I’ve driven up and down I-95 for the past week, but all I managed to do was complete my TMNT Classics collection. The new Mutagen Ooze figures have started shipping, making me think Series 1 may not be restocked in places. Well, Toys “R” Us finally decided to send me some Rewards Bucks, so I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. I did not find Don, but I did find this little gem that I didn’t even know existed: The “Anchovy Alley” Pop-Up Pizza Playset.

At a glance, it looked like this was some sort of micro playset, incompatible with the regular-sized figures. Upon closer inspection, I realized it’s a pop-up playset, similar to the ones that Mattel made The Dark Knight, as well as their Matchbox playsets. Unlike the TDK playsets, which were scaled to smaller figures, this was actually made for the regular, series 1 Turtles. While the box measures approx 12″ by 12″, it said that the playset expanded to 18″. I’d been interested in the TRU-exclusive Sewer Playset, but it’s simply too large and too expensive for me. TRU was raising the price on it weekly, and I just don’t have room for it. This is great, though, as it still provides the sewer experience at a fraction of the space and price. While the Sewer got up to $139.99 in local Bump-Up* Toys “R” Us stores, this rang up at $27.99 at a non-Bump-Up location. After using Rewards Bucks, it was down to $22.99. In the box, that price seems a tad high, but I’d have to see it unveiled before I could make that call.


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Before we get there, let’s talk about the packaging. As you saw up top, the box is designed to look like a pizza box, and serves as reusable storage for the playset. I thought that the outer case of the playset would carry the same motif, but it doesn’t really. You get the checkerboard pattern along the edge of the playset “lid”, but you wouldn’t confuse it for a pizza box, even if you saw it out of the corner of your eye.

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 As you can see, it opens like a pizza box, and you’re presented with a somewhat generic “basic pizza box”, with a small Turtle sigil in the top left hand corner (I just really wanted to use “sigil”). I’m not sure if they were worried it might bleed through to the otherside, but I kinda wish it had “PIZZA” emblazoned across it. Anyway, just like real pizza, you’ll notice that the corners have plastic protectors to keep the lid from smashing down on the “cargo” inside.

After removing the folded playset, you find that it includes one sheet of stickers to apply, and it opens up to initially look like this:

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 The brown piece is the pizza shooter in its stored position. Once the playset pops up, it can be mounted in three different places.

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 One sticker sheet later, and it looks like this:

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While there’s not a world of difference after you apply the stickers, you’ll notice that they really bring out the pizza parlor, as well as the depth of the sewer tunnels. If you look at the picture, you’ll notice that there are 3 main action features to the playset. Above ground, if you place a figure on the No Parking sign, the spring-loaded sign will cause the figure to kick through the doors of the pizzeria. Likewise, you can swing a figure from the ledge of the second partial story, which allows a figure to kick an enemy through the vault on the right. Finally, the manhole cover is activated by a lever, which will launch off any enemies standing on it.

The thing that really stood out for me as a MAJOR selling point was the fact that there’s nothing extremely “TMNT” about it. Some might see this as a detriment, but I grew up repurposing my The Real Ghostbusters Firehouse into everything from Stately Wayne Manor to Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. Being able to use this playset for toylines outside of TMNT makes it that much more awesome to me. I’ve heard a lot of toy folks lament the fact that today’s kids aren’t encouraged to use their imagination, and I think this playset is perfectly suited for that. It still has the pizza restaurant and action-feature manhole cover, but these are more subtle than they might have been in the past. I know that toy photographers will be glad to have another backdrop, and it’s not needlessly marred by ooze stickers or excessive pizza references like the old toys were.

There are a few downsides to this playset, but not many. First off, the manhole cover is glaringly large, so it’s scaled great for Turtles figures, but might look odd with figures from some other toyline. Considering the fact that the lid exists as a lever and not a passageway, I feel like they could’ve gotten away with making it smaller. The main con, in my mind, is the price. I mentioned that I got it down to about $22.99 before tax, but that’s still a bit much. I know the cost of plastic is going up, but I think this should clock in at around $19.99 at a non Bump-Up store. I’m just not sure this is a $27.99 toy, even in the current toy landscape. This means that Bump-Up TRUs are going to charge about $32 for it, and it’s DEFINITELY not worth that. I feel like this is the kind of item that I’m going to see quite a few of in thrift stores in about a year, but the current success of the TMNT revival might bump that timeline another year. I didn’t feel like waiting, and I know I’ll get a lot of use out of this, even if it’s just sitting on a shelf looking pretty. If you’re a TMNT fan, this is a great addition to your collection. If you’re a TMNT fan who’d been thinking about getting the Sewer Playset, I think you could get your feet wet with this and be just fine -especially if you live in an apartment.

Oh, wondering why there are no pics with the Turtles in the playset? I haven’t opened them yet. Yeah, I know…I just don’t feel right opening them until I’ve got all four. I’m weird like that.

Epilogue: I forgot to show you my favorite “treat” that came along with the playset:

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Ever since the days of the Kenner Action Toy Guides, I LOVE toy pamphlets. Outside of Bandai, I don’t really know any company that has released them in recent years. After all, there’s an internet and dead trees and shit. Still, I’m gonna cherish this til my constant folding and unfolding causes it to fall apart along the creases!

*Bump-Up Toys “R” Us stores are locations that raise prices based on the socioeconomic level of the surrounding area. Typically, richer areas charge more, though there have been reports of Bump-Up stores in less affluent areas. For more info, go here (yeah, I wrote that, too).