There were four R-rated action/sf franchises in the 1980s that captured young Poe’s imagination: The Terminator, Aliens, Robocop, and Predator. When I was a kid, my friends and I ran around our backyards just like any other kids from decades past. However, instead of Cops and Robbers or Cowboys and Indians, my friends and I played Commandos and Aliens.
I’m not sure I could pick a favorite from among those four franchises, but there’s no question the original Predator remains one of my favorite movies, and the Predator himself one of my favorite aliens. In retrospect, the concept of making the hunter of the oft-adapted Richard Connell story “The Most Dangerous Game” an extraterrestrial seems like the most obvious thing in the world. Predator skipped the kidnapped-to-an-island scenario (later used in Predators) and instead pitted the alien against a team of U.S. commandos, thus creating the most badass, testosterone-soaked film in existence.
Predator received a 1990 sequel, Predator 2, which made the obvious change of setting to a city, but I’ve always found something about that movie less appealing. It seems more cynical, more sadistic, even a little sleazy compared to the first film. And the less said about the two Alien vs. Predator movies the better. Predators, from what I’ve heard, is pretty good, but to my everlasting shame I didn’t manage to see it before it was gone from the multiplexes (I just saw Toy Story 3 this past weekend, so cut me some slack). But I’ll see it as soon as it hits Blu-Ray.
In a somewhat surprising bit of fanservice, the filmmakers inserted a Predator based almost exactly on the original, classic Stan Winston design from the first film into Predators. This allowed NECA to finally give us a Classic Predator. Yes, we’ve had one before from McFarlane, but it was a heavily pre-posed and under-articulated. NECA’s figure was almost inevitably going to be an improvement; the question is, how much of an improvement is it?
Design & Sculpt: NECA has a stable of excellent sculptors, but when it comes to a classic character like this, you can be almost certain it will be lovingly crafted by Kyle “Tankman” Windrix–as this figure indeed was.
I’ve compared the sculpt to the Hot Toys Predator figure from the original movie, and somewhat surprisingly, it’s accurate down to the last detail, with one exception: the original Predator had a necklace of bones and skulls, while this one–being from Predators–doesn’t have it. It’s not something I’m really bothered by, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
Of course, I have no complaints about the sculpt–Windrix is one of the best, if not the best, likeness-sculptors in the business, while NECA’s production process has become refined enough to reproduce the high-quality sculpting with little softening or deterioration. Windrix has captured the original Predator’s distinctive face, especially the eyes, with his usual admirable skills.
From a design standpoint, the figure has two great features: retractable wrist blades (pic) and an articulated plasma caster (pic), which comes on a removable mount that attaches to the Predator’s back. The plasma caster can come forward and down to lock in a rest position, as seen in the movies.
It’s a bit of a bummer the figure doesn’t have the flip-out panel on the left gauntlet for the bomb timer (as seen in the first film), which the McFarlane figure had; but that may simply be because it wasn’t featured in Predators.
Plastic & Paint: High-quality sculpts like these can be ruined by bad paint, and admittedly NECA still has a few misses among the hits these days. However, for the most part the Classic Predator looks sharp.
NECA found just the right tone for the metallic parts of the armor, while the yellowish flesh looks about right. I do have some complaints regarding the paint work:
- The wash on the tusks/teeth is sloppy.
- The black lines on the “netting” are uneven, especially near joints. This has been happening on Predator figures since the Kenner days, but still, it’s a little disappointing.
- The poorly-applied wash on the wrist blades.
- The odd gloss on the character’s chest and head. I suppose that slimy look may be film-accurate, but the first time I saw it I thought it looked wrong. I’m still not totally sold on it, but again, if it’s film-accurate I can’t really complain.
None of these complaints are anything near a deal-breaker for me, and let’s face it, it would be disingenuous to fault NECA too much on a figure with so many complex paint applications while giving a thumbs-up to so many MOTUC figures. That said, NECA is a victim of their own success in some ways, and I have to measure their paint apps against their own best work.
Articulation: See the photo at right for a breakdown of the articulation. The Classic Predator has those ball-and-hinge elbows I’m not really fond of, but I suppose this was done because it would have been too difficult to get the biceps articulation to work with the shoulder armor. The lack of an abdominal joint is disappointing and prevents a few of the cooler crouching poses from the film.
And of course, I’ve never liked V-crotches. While NECA has displayed no tendency to put ball-jointed or H-hinge hips on anything but their videogame figures, I still hoped we might have seen it here. That said, the swivel thighs and ball-and-hinge knees, combined with the ball-and-socket ankles, go a long way toward providing a wider variety of poses than you might expect.
Accessories: I suppose technically the plasma caster’s mounting is an accessory, since it can be removed, but I’m never planning to display my Predator without it. I haven’t seen the film yet so I’m not sure what other accessories he could have come with, but I would assume a bloody skull/spine wouldn’t have been completely out of the question?
Quality Control: No problems.
Overall: There are three things missing from this figure: an alternate masked head, better hip articulation, and abdominal articulation. I know a version with a masked head is inevitable and I’ll have to get it, at which point I will have as close to my perfect Predator as I expect I’ll ever get–unless NECA gets the license for the original film and is willing to give us ball-jointed hips.
Still, even without those features, I’m immensely happy with the Classic Predator. It was very satisfying to place him up against my Aliens figure–finally, near-definitive figures based on my favorite versions of each creature. The scale’s a bit off (I’m not sure the Alien should be taller than the Predator), but it still looks great.
NECA has given me one of my most-wanted figures. Now all I need is the masked version.
Considering that NECA has been producing T2 figures and Predators figures, and with what appears to be plans for some future Predator and T1 figures, maybe they need to consider launching a spin off line from Cult Classics called Action Classics or something?
They could still do a number of variants, as NECA likes to do (and honestly they are usually pretty good variants) but also feel free to include figures from a number of properties. How about a nice Rambo figure? He could be redone a few times. Maybe a figure of Charles Bronson from Death Wish? Jason Statham from the transporter would be nice. I'd love to have a Jack Burton figure from Big Trouble in Little China.
How about a few of the Expendables even? If the success of that movie shows anything, it is that there is definitely a generation for the nostalgic action movies of days past (not that all the figures would have to be from older films.)
Sometimes, NECA seems to like to do properties that only have 1 or 2 marketable characters: this would be a cool way to market those figures while still maintaining some continuity within the releases. That Machete figure that they've showed for years would fit great in a series like this.
ha. ha. ha. ha. you sir are living in a fantasy world. first of all, the kenner figures are not really comparable to the current figures in terms of paint, sculpt, articulation, accuracy, accessories, etc. etc. etc. they are apples and oranges.
second, go back and check: how many mcfarlane predators gave us removable masks? go ahead, i'll wait. do a google search. check spawn.com….did you do it? are you back? what did you find? the answer is, basically, one, although if you really try you could squeeze three. considering that they gave us at least a dozen predator figures across all scales, that's not exactly proving your point.
the mcfarlane predators that came with removable masks were
1) the predator 2 predator from movie maniacs 5 with detachable arm. (note: this only featured a closed mouth head. if you wanted an open mandibles head, you needed to buy the other pred in the series, which pretty much had the exact same sculpt.)
2) the "R3" predator from the alien/predator line, which was essentially the same predator 2 figure as #1, but with more accessories (medical kit, flintlock pistol, etc.)
3) if we're counting different scales, you can also toss in the 12" AvP scar predator which had a removable mask, but if you're going to include all scales then you have to take into account the "playset" AvP figs which didn't have removable ANYTHING.
so at the very most i can find three mcfarlane preds that offer the features you desire. consider the amount of predators mcfarlane has released: the original pred from the MM5 box set, no mask. the R3 version of that released on a single card: same figure, non-removable mask. just like NECA. the flared mandibles MM5 pred 2, no mask. the AvP figs series 1: scar and celtic (non removable masks), elder (no mask unless you count the permanently glued on shoulder accessory that could in no way fit on his face). the "playset preds" all either have no mask or a non-removable mask. the 12" classic pred: no mask.
am i missing any? i don't think so. the only mcfarlane preds with removable masks in a 7" scale are basically both the same figure packaged with different accessories. and by the way after you own that figure for a year or so the mask in no way stays on.
the kenner figs had removable masks, but they also had minimal paint apps, soft sculpts, five points of articulation, were not accurate to the films, and we're about 2/3 the size of the current NECA preds.
LOL i was like: "WTF is thaaaat?!" on the last picture, haha. That old Predator looks like a cosplay gone wrong. Though the swivel hips don't give much poseability i think the sculpt looks great. (Way better than that "thing" on the last pic).
@Dead Man Walking: that's ass, V crotches look like crap once you move the hip off center. v crotch is not an answer, it's the ultimate insult, as it moves poorly AND looks like crap if actually posed. a well executed ball hip looks good and moves great. i submit to you, check the jakks pacific ball and socket on their wrestlers (not the ufc stuff, the deluxe wrestlers) they move GREAT and they fit the hip & thigh. it CAN be done well, it just usually isn't.
I like the sculpts of the NECA Predators, but I won't buy them because they don't have a removable mask or alternate head. I don't want to spend twice as much for a "complete" figure. Many, if not most, of the McFarlane and Kenner Predator figures had removable masks and it sucks that NECA's don't offer that.
However, if/when I ever see these on clearance I might pick one up if it's cheap enough.
Dead Man Walking
@monkey boy: I guess NECA has me in mind when it puts out most of it's figures, because I will always take sculpt over articulation.
I love the way V-crotches maintain the integrity of the sculpt, and with the other leg joints these Predators have you still get good range of motion. The DCUC H-crotches may look good in the neutral poses, but those cutouts look AWFUL in crouching poses. I especially like V-crotches on female figures, which traditional ball joints look horrendous on.
the v-crotch is, unfortunately, the last line to cross in the great debate of articulation vs. sculpt. when a figure is blessed with beloved balljointed hips you finally know that a company will give the edge to articulation over keeping the sculpt intact.
NECA has always favored sculpt, and the move to more articulated figures has been a very slow one. the articulation their figures do have is almost always done in a way to keep the sculpt as uninterrupted as possible, and balljointed hips are the one thing that companies are still trying to integrate into a sculpt without making it obvious.
strangely, it would have worked perfectly for the other PREDATORS figures with their much lengthier loin cloths, but the classic predator's skirt is just too short.
while i'm not a fan of V-crotches, the classic pred's does offer more posing possibility than a lot of V-crotches, mostly due to the thigh, knee, and ankle joints.
NECA will cross that bridge, just give them time.
as for interchangeable heads instead of re-used figures with different heads, this is pure and simple a marketing strategy to get you to pay for another figure. pure and simple. maybe some people would pay $10 extra for the "ultimate" pred, but NECA knows it can get most people to pay $15 or more for an entirely separate figure with a new head, so it's not going to package 3 heads with one predator and charge $30, it's going to make you pay $45 or $50 for three predators with different heads.
it sucks for the consumer in the narrow sense because we have to shell out more and end up with a lot of what is practically the same figure, but in the broad sense it keeps NECA in business. small toy companies like NECA are prone to go belly up when people aren't buying figures, so when they know they have a hit figure, it makes sense financially for them to squeeze it for all it's worth.
Palisades is gone, SOTA is practically non-existent. mezco has been cutting a lot of corners and releasing meh product, and mcfarlane is nothing more than a sports & HALO company. the point is specialty toymakers have to think of their bottom line first, or else they go under, as we've seen time and time again. companies cannot survive on our love, and as palisades and SOTA have shown, having awesome product alone is just not enough. you have to have a trump card. with mezco it seems to be drastically cutting cost, and you can see it in their product (compare HB movie figs from the first movie to HB II movie figures). mcfarlane has decided to focus solely on its cash cows, with the occasional WTF licensing mis-step (prince of persia? good job there dude). and NECA has decided to make its customers buy the same figure over and over again.
if you disagree with this tactic, you can speak with your wallet. only buy the figure once if you really want it, and swear off the variants. however this is difficult; for example if you want a T-1000 you really have to buy both to not feel like your figure is incomplete.
you may not like it. i don't. but i understand that the smaller specialty toy companies either adapt or die off, and this is how NECA adapts.
I'll just chime in with the same sort of grumbles as everyone. The V-crotch instantly turned me off. The whole reason I would ever buy a new Predator figure is for articulation. When the hips have the same range of motion as my old Kenner versions, I lose interest quickly.
The fact that these guys have multiple versions but you still can't have a complete Predator without buying several, just makes me lose interest even more.
Also, a crapload of horrible Predator movies have made me care less about the creature. It's scary that I used to hate Predator 2 and now I think it's a pretty decent movie by comparison of all the other Predator drek.
At least the first is a classic.
Here's a scary thought: Rambo, Arnold, The Terminator, Predator… All huge 80's-90's hits that would make PERFECT toys, but unless you count 1:6 scale stuff, they haven't had good modern toys. NECA (I think) made those great Terminator figures… With no leg articulation.
Two steps forward, one back.
This looks great, but it is frustrating. I know this isn't the original Predator by technicality, but the whole idea of collecting an army of a character rather than an ultimate version is irritating.
The open mouth looks fantastic, so I can see the reason behind no removeable helmet on most of the Predators, but how about a swappable head.
It's a shame when figures come so close to perfect, but barely miss it. I was pretty irked by a Buzz Lightyear from the first Toy Story that was so close to a film replica, that the lack of opening panel/sticker really stood out. That's an article right there "Close to perfect."
Anyway, I'd gladly pay $10 more for one of these that finally had everything. Hopefully, the official original Predator does, since this thing is huge ans awesome! Thankfully, Xenomorphs run around all nekkid so they're okay.
@americanhyena: Ha ha, yeah, that was a funny typo. Fixed now.
@Thrawn: It's NECA's Aliens figure from last year. Here's my review.
I want to see the "Classic" Pred with mask before I pull the trigger. As much as I love the movie I really don't need two versions of the same character.
Nice review Poe. I will have to try and pick this guy up.
Dang. He looks nice up against both He-Man and Batman. Looks like with the increased articulation of both the Batman and Predator figures it's possible to get some nice Dark Horse Batman vs Predator poses now.
Question: Which toyline/series is the Alien is that pic from?
I really don't understand the use of the V-crotch in 2010. I mean, has ANY fan community at any time, ever, said that they'd really like more companies to use it?
It's an outdated, and relatively worthless, mode of articulation. I really want the original Predator when it comes out, as well as the P2 Elder Predator. But I'm going to have a really hard time reconciling myself to that horrible hip articulation.
NECA knows better. We know they know better. The V-crotch is just laziness and it really does bother me a lot.
unsurpisingly, i got to hit TRU this weekend, and we had two full pegs of berserker and falconer preds, but not a single "classic."
"Most Dangerous Game" Poe. Although an appropiate misuse in this case 🙂
Still haven't seen these guys I my area yet.
The second wave is supposed to have a classic predator with a helmet.
@PresidentJuggernaut: You're right, they have–looks like mostly the same sculpt, though, with the addition of the bone necklace.
Not only does NECA have the liscense for the original film, they've shown off the figure from it already. And a Predator 2 Elder, which also looks awesome.
I believe the initial release will have a mask, which will make it my definitive Predator figure. I also believe an Alien/Predator 2-pack is coming.