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Elder Predator

Predator 2
by Monkey Boy

Once again, NECA has brought out its work-horse, the "Classic Predator" sculpt. This time, it shows up twice in a series of three total figures, and this is the sixth time NECA has used it. Not that I'm complaining; it's really a wonderful sculpt. And the re-use makes sense in this case.

Elder Predator is the ancient, veteran leader of the Lost Predators - and he gifts Detective Harrigan his pistol as a sign of respect as a capable hunter and honorable warrior.

What's with these bios? Why are they so awkwardly worded? Who proofs these? And what's a "Lost Predator?" Oh well. Anyway, NECA no longer uses actual photographs of the film Predators on the packaging, and now uses images of the figure itself. I can't blame them, as I'm sure references for the older films are harder to come by, and the Predators figures were developed at the same time as the movie, but I give credit to any toy company that can put a reference for comparison right on a toy's packaging.

[Note: we talked to Randy Falk from NECA about it, and the reason they didn't put real photos on the packaging for these is that Fox doesn't actually have any reference images from the original films. --ed.]

The sculpt we've mostly seen before, but like I said it's a great sculpt, and it makes sense. This Elder, seen at the end of Predator 2, wears armor that is a blatant nod to the original film. There are some notable differences, and for the most part this figure relects that. Elder gets a new head, a new upper left arm, and new hands.

The new head is great. It has more spikes around the eyes and little trinkets woven into its dreadlocks, suggesting an older, more developed specimen. It even includes the Pred's tusk piercing as a separate plastic ring embedded in the lower mandible. That's awesome. The new upper left arm lacks the netting of the "Classic" Pred, and is possibly a shrunken down version of the quarter-scale Predator sculpt, since that version had separate "real" netting. The right hand is sculpted in a splayed pose, while the left is sculpted to hold an accessory.

There's also a new belt included as a separate piece that includes a bone encrusted sword sheath and a strap that runs over the figure's shoulder. A bone trophy sash is also included (the same seen with the closed-mouth Classic Pred from the TRU exclusive Alien/Predator two pack), as well as a small necklace with a single skull.

There are two issues I have with the sculpt, both involving the forearm area. First, although reference material is scant so I can't be certain, it seems that the gauntlets of the Elder Predator in the film are wrapped with a few straps of some kind of leathery material. NECA's figure lacks those wrappings. Additionally, since the lower left arm is re-used from the Classic Pred sculpt, it features netting, while the new upper arm does not. The netting isn't painted, and since there isn't much skin visible on the forearm I'm sure NECA believed they could get away with it and save on shrinking down another quarter scale part. It's a minor nit pick but for a figure priding itself on hyper detail it's a little irritating.

Paint is a huge improvement over past NECA offerings. While I've enjoyed the Predator series, paint has always been the little niggling issue that keeps the figures from reaching their full potential. The Classic Predator had a strange glossy sheen which wasn't terrible, but isn't the most desirable effect. The masked Berserker Pred had an awful mishmash of dots on its torso attempting to approximate the character's scaled pattern. The TRU two-pack Pred ditched the gloss, but the paint issues were almost too many to enumerate. NECA has since stated that they've switched factories, and the end result shows.

The details in the face are excellent, and the red, yellow and black used in the tiny eyes is spot-on. The skin color is a bit paler than the Classic Pred, and dark blotches are scattered throughout. The armor is a dull metallic, and the bone effects are a nice off-white. There's very little slop, save for the netting covering most of the body, which is forgiveable.

The figure's articulation is, of course, the same as we've come to expect from this sculpt, so check any of the previous reviews we've done to see the details. It's very good, but the V-crotch isn't ideal. Still, the thigh, knee and ankle joints make up for the limitations one would normally find with such antiquated hip joints. Make sure to be careful and test out the joints gently first, as my first figure broke at the elbow. I exchanged it for a new one and everything was fine, but this isn't the first time stuck joints have presented a problem with this line.

Accessories have been traditionally light for this line... a removable wrist blade here, a removable plasma caster backpack there. Thankfully, Elder bucks that trend. He gets the extendable (though unremovable) wrist blades and giant backpack of his Classic Pred forebear, but that's not all. He gets a wicked looking sword with a wrapped bone handle that fits in the scabbard attached to his new belt. Then there's the most important accessory: the flintlock pistol mentioned in the bio up above. In one of the more memorable scenes from Predator 2, after (SPOILER ALERT!!!!) Detective Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) defeats the film's titular antagonist, a whole clan of Predators materializes. After they collect their fallen comrade, the Elder removes something from his belt and tosses it to Harrigan. It's an authentic flintlock pistol from 1715, which reveals to Harrigan that Predators have been hunting on Earth for quite some time. Also, they can speak English when they want to ("Take... it."). I originally thought the pistol was re-used from NECA's Pirates of the Caribbean line, but it matches the on-screen model of the pistol used in the film. There's also a loose spot in the belt to slip the pistol through. Awesome!

This figure is great, despite the lower arm issues. With the right paint, these figures look amazing, as this figure demonstrates. I'm all for re-use when it makes sense, and in this case it totally does. With a few new parts, we get a brand new, bad-ass Predator to add to our displays. The sword (with its functional scabbard) and pistol are just icing on an already delicious cake.

-- 09/01/11


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