Shredder is the original villain for the Ninja Turtles going all the way back to the very first issue of the Mirage Comics.
The first action figure of Shredder is the strangest toy in the wave and was a source of bafflement for many kids of the 80s and 90s. This version of the toy is the reissue from the very end of the first Playmates line.
Shredder is shirtless and molded in a hunched-over posture. He features a cloth goods cape held on by a removable rubber belt.
The “cutting armor” parts that give the Shredder his name are all separate pieces permanently attached to his shoulders, wrists, and shins. It’s likely possible to remove them, but only with force, and they may be glued down.
His bizarre pose is taken from a specific panel from the first issue of the Mirage comics. The blue, black, and purple color scheme is original to the toyline – though Shredder wasn’t colored in his original appearance, when Eastman and Laird did color him, he usually sported a red tunic and silver armor, similar to his appearance in the 1990 film.
Shredder did wear a purple cape in the animated series, but he wore a gray tunic and his armor was silver, making the toyline version its own distinct variation of the iconic villain.
Since the cape is easily removed, when you find a loose vintage Shredder he’s usually looking like this, with his ropey musculature and furry underwear on display.
He feels like a mutation of the squatting, battle-ready Masters of the Universe figures of the 1980s, but with atrophied muscles and exaggerated proportions. If the figure were capable of standing up straight, he would tower over most of the other toys in the line!
The way Shredder’s flesh folds over his undies and around his arm sockets has always disturbed me. TMNT was full of gross-out figures, but somehow Shredder has always struck me as one of the grossest of them all.
Shredder’s head sculpt is also bizarre. The mask feels almost like it’s meant to be part of Shredder’s face, being molded in a similarly fleshy style, as if it’s an extension of his wrinkled eye sockets and nose-less visage.
The eyebrows are painted right onto the helmet, with just a small flesh-colored strip to indicate that it’s meant to be part of Shredder’s forehead. The bladed tips of his helmet are rounded off (likely for safety reasons), which also gives them a somewhat organic look.
Accessories and Articulation
Shredder came with a selection of the ninja weaponry also included with several other first-wave TMNT figures, including a katana, a kama, two fist daggers, and two shuriken. Like the other first-wave weapons, they are initially attached to a sprue that doubles as a standup weapon rack.
Shredder is articulated at the neck, shoulders, wrists, and hips. The hips are on ball joints, but his exaggerated stance means he’s only capable of a few poses, and most of his weapons don’t fit the figure’s designs well. He can only hold accessories in his right hand, which is molded such that he holds items between two fingers and a thumb. The katana looks pretty awkward held like this.
The fist daggers and kama look similarly odd when held. Shredder can’t really stab or slash with them.
The shuriken are the only accessories that seem to work well with Shredder. His right hand can hold one quite well and his left seems molded in a throwing pose, so it’s easy to imagine him standing in the distance and hurling shuriken at the turtles while they fight off a gang of Foot ninja grunts.
Shredder is easily the strangest figure in the early TMNT line. As a kid I didn’t like him much – I wanted a Shredder to fight my Turtles, but this shrimpy shirtless guy didn’t match the imposing ninja master seen in the NES games, the 1990 movie, or even the animated series.
But I’ve somehow grown fond of it over the years. Maybe it’s the pleasing mixture of textures between the cloth cape and molded plastic. Or maybe it’s the blue/purple colors. Or maybe it’s the eyebrows painted on the helmet. I can respect it for being so weird.
Original Shredder works better as a stationary figure than he does mixing it up in battle with your turtles. The outstretched hand helps him look like he’s commanding an army of Stone Warriors or announcing an assault on Earth from the Technodrome control room.
And for accessories, cartoon Shredder used firearms as often as he did melee weapons, so you can easily swap out any of Shredder’s generic ninja weapons for a laser rifle from General Traag or Triceraton.
If you’re trying to build a vintage Turtles collection, there are a couple options out there for better Shredders (Wacky Action comes to mind). But I’m satisfied with this weirdo in mine.