I've been so jealous of online reviewers who have somehow found new waves of TMNT figures during this black hole of toy collecting that is the post-Christmas, pre-Toy Fair retail slump. I stopped by Toys R Us today, hoping beyond hope to find some new Ninja Turtle toys. Walking up to the aisle, I was disappointed to see no new figures... but I did chance upon the new Anchovy Alley playset! I've been looking for some sort of environment in which to display the awesome 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Being completely unable to justify the cost and space requirements of the massive Secret Sewer Lair playset, I thought this might be the perfect way to showcase my figures. Let's take a look!
The idea behind Anchovy Alley is that it's a pizza box that unfolds into a multi-tiered pizza shop/sewer playset. The unfolding action is quick and easy, and the design makes it nicely storable.
When you open up Anchovy Alley for the first time, you'll notice a lot of blank walls. That's because you haven't applied the stickers yet. That's right: stickers. Why did it have to be stickers? More often than not, I screw them up one way or the other. Either they end up crooked, or they fold in on themselves, or they rip... whatever the case, they end up looking awful. This time, I put them on as straight as possible, although I had to slowly peel off a few half-way through because I could see them starting to veer off course. That of course, caused the stickers to roll up, but once they were finally down, they laid flat. Still, I can imagine that they might start to peel back after a while. Thanks for the stickers, Playmates.
Anyway, let's take a tour of the playset. The top level features a pizza restaurant. The double-doors open out into the nothingness behind the playset and the lamppost is spring-loaded so that your favorite Turtle can swing-kick an opponent, hurtling him through the doors. The effect works pretty well, as long as the opponent is posed properly so that he actually fits through the doors. This is my favorite level and I would have liked a bit more standing room up here. As it is, there is only a small ledge for the restaurant patrons. The "roof" of the restaurant has a hole into which you can connect the Turtles' pizza shooter so they can rain pepperoni-laden projectiles on their opponents from above.
The next level down is a half-level with a subway theme. There's not much going on here besides another pizza shooter hole. The floor has a great texture, and it would have been cool to see some paint washes bring out the details.
Below that and off to the side is a sewer level, with a manhole cover that pops up to flip an unsuspecting villain. There's a big tunnel opening at this level which again, goes to the netherworld behind the playset. It will be cool for a larger figure like Leatherhead to lurk behind the playset and look in through this tunnel. This level also has a hole for the pizza shooter.
And below that is the base level of the sewer. The floor has all kinds of nasty stuff sculpted onto it, such as rats and various bits of trash. It reminds me of the good old days of TMNT when Playmates would sculpt as many random details on the toys as possible to amp up the fun factor. This level also has a pizza shooter hole and a sewer hatch that opens outward. Like the pizza restaurant level, this one has a kicking play feature: the Turtles can hang on a pipe on a ledge above the floor, then swing down and kick an enemy through the hatch. I dig the common theme behind the action features, mainly that the Turtles kick the enemies out of the playset as if they were defending their lair from invaders.
The fact that the playset forms a corner is a bit problematic for display purposes. You have to place it at an angle so that you can see the whole playset, but that makes things awkward for neighboring figures on the shelf. It really works best in the corner of a bookcase.
The folding up feature is fun, although the pizza box can't really interact with the Turtles because of the huge difference in scale. I suppose you could say that mutagen has a decidedly different effect on pizza in this dimension. Regardless, folding the playset up into a compact box does make transportation and storage extremely easy.
Once again, Playmates has produced another great toy for its Ninja Turtles line with the Anchovy Alley playset. The price tag of roughly $30 makes this a far more reasonable alternative to the $150 Secret Sewer Lair playset. Multiple levels build up the play value, and the fact that it folds up into a box makes it the perfect playset on the go. I would have liked the top level to have an inch or two more flooring, and maybe they could lose the stickers in favor of painted details, but that's about it. Let's hope that the upcoming Shredder's Lair playset is as cool as this one! Scroll down for more photos!