Swamp-stompin’, ragin’ Cajun gator
Released in 1989
Okay, let me just say this right up front, I love this figure, but he’s a victim of himself here. The portrait on his figure’s card states his height at over twelve feet tall. But thanks to his sculpt; he somehow seems smaller than the other figures in this line, even though, technically speaking, he’s taller than most of the other figures.
Now that that’s out of the way…
Leatherhead as a character has been there since the beginning, but funnily enough, he’s portrayed differently in almost every medium and appearance he makes. What we have here is something of a massive, bounty hunter-type character that is a gumbo enthusiast and his figure, for the most part, fits this description. I’m going to be honest here, this review is going to be a little unfair, but I can’t help myself. The major problem with this figure is that his body type is much more in line with the body type of an actual alligator, where as in the ’87 animated series Leatherhead is a massive, humanoid alligator-man. Sure, he has the facial structure of an alligator resting on the body of a scale-ridden hulk of a man.
Again, now that that’s out of the way…
This figure may not be an upright alligator, what we do have is a pretty cool figure that is easily identifiable from the rest of the line; not an easy feat for late 80’s Playmates Toys. With every character being so…out there, Leatherheads sculpt leaning more on the side of the natural side of the supernatural that is mutation, is a stroke of genius. With so many bipedal versions of animals that aren’t bipedal in the real world, seeing something that just looks like an alligator with a hat on is both shocking and familiar all at the same time.
Speaking towards the actual function of the figure, while there may be no articulation at the wrists like most other figures in the line, Leatherhead makes up for this with articulation at his tail, which helps balance the figure nicely, and at his jawline, letting you open and close his mouth; letting you bite the Turtles at their legs or arms…oh my god, this figure is brutal.
Where this figure truly shines is the details found in his sculpt. Every pebble-sized scale is present with incredible accuracy. It could’ve been so easy and cost effective to have just manufactured a smooth, green colored piece of plastic for kids to play with. But if that had happened, there would have been little difference between this Leatherhead figure, and an alligator bath toy. On top of the numerous scales, you have a animal fur, patched up blue jeans and I swear to god, Leatherhead is running around in Timberland boots. One thing that I do want to mention is Leatherhead’s weaponry. Holy crap, this guy means business. While there is a long carving knife strapped to his arm, it’s actually part of his mold and thus, doesn’t count as an accessory. However, I wanted to mention it because it does look menacing, which is in keeping with his character. While he doesn’t come with a lot, Leatherhead does come packaged with a bear trap and a pretty realistic looking shotgun. Much like Ace Duck’s service .45 pistol, Leatherhead’s “Swamp Gun”, looks t be a twelve gauge, pump-action shotgun with an illegally sawed off barrel. This small addition to the figure adds a sense of threat and urgency that is specific to this character alone. You know that Leatherhead is no joke.
And that’s what’s great about this guy; his presence is second to none in my opinion. There are plenty of “big guy” characters in this line, but there is something about Leatherhead that makes you a bit weary around him. Perhaps it’s his red eyes, or crooked smile, but you just know he’s a threat and not just to the Turtles either. Just looking at this figure, you get the sense that he could and would take on anybody. Don’t let his (apparently) slight stature fool you; Leatherhead is always looking for the next flavor to add to his gumbo. And if you’re not careful, you could be next on the menu.
Turtle Trivia: Leatherhead was originally intended to die after his first appearance in the Mirage TMNT comics back in 1988. But TMNT co-creator Peter Laird liked him so much, that he brought him back later in the comics run.