The Elder Predator from Predator 2 is my absolute favorite Predator design. Yes, I know it's essentially just the Jungle Hunter from Predator, aged up a bit, but to me that's what makes it so awesome. He's got gray dreadlocks with tons of little trinkets woven into them, the spikes on his face are long and woolly, he's got a broken tusk, a pierced mandible... he's seen some things, man. He commands respect without overdoing it. He's basically the opposite of the Elder from Alien vs. Predator, with his elaborate red cape and shiny armor. P2 Elder doesn't need that pomp and circumstance. He doesn't even need a mask.
NECA already gave us this character in figural form back in Series 3 of their Predators line, but thankfully they've finally released their much-needed update. This figure was originally meant to appear in Series 11, alongside the Wasp from Dead End and the Randy Falk designed take on the Borg Predator. But instead, we got "Thermal Dutch," which was originally meant to be an exclusive until the overwhelming response NECA received upon his reveal meant he got to elbow Elder out of the line-up. But NECA promised they'd fit the Elder in, and they managed to make good on that promise just one series later.
So what's updated on this Elder? Well, first off, his sculpt gets some tweaks to make him more screen-accurate. It may seem fairly minor, but there were a few weird aspects of the first Elder that just didn't fit with the screen version: for example, in the film, we are alerted
to the presence of the Elder when his laser sight targets Detective Mike Harrigan. But the Elder isn't wearing a mask, so where does the laser come from? Turns out he has a small triangular sight built into the top of the plasma caster on his shoulder. The first Elder just took the caster from the Jungle Hunter figure, but this new one features the addition of the tiny little sight. It may seem minor, but it's a neat aspect of the figure that was missed on the first go-round. Remember what we said about him not needing a mask? Having the sight on his plasma caster implies he's such a badass, he doesn't even have a bio-helmet at all.
NECA's original Elder also had some elements of the costume in seemingly incorrect places. A front section of a human skull was attached haphazardly to the belt, and the scabbard of his sword featured an
array of small rib-like bones at the top. The new figure features the skull section at the top of the scabbard, and the rib bones on the pouch that lays on the left side of the hip, rather than on the scabbard on the right. Where it gets a little strange though, is that there appear to be shots from the film that indicate both bone arrangements are correct. For example, here and here we have images that seem to favor NECA's original release, while here and here we see a look that favors the re-release. Despite the inconsistency, most merchandise seems to reflect the look that NECA went with the second time around, so it's nice to see them keeping up, and at the very least now we have both options.
Additionally, while you wouldn't know it
from the film (since the floor of the Predator ship is shrouded in mist), the Elder is actually barefoot, unlike the Jungle Hunter the first Elder figure borrowed its feet from. So the new Elder figure gets the un-shoed City Hunter feet. Other than that, we've pretty much got the new-body Jungle Hunter sculpt, with a different belt and loincloth, a different housing for the wrist blades (from the City Hunter) and slightly different straps for the chest armor.
Except for the head of course. It's the same sculpt as the first Elder figure, and it's a great one, though the paint makes it look
quite different. The trophy skull bandolier and skull necklace are also straight from that figure as well.
There are still a couple of areas where the figure is still not 100% screen accurate: the little hose that connects the left shoulder armor to the chest armor is missing in the film, but the figure still has it. There are also some wrappings on his gauntlets on screen, but the figures don't have them. These are pretty negligible issues though, and all in all this figure is a nice improvement over the original.
I imagine some people might be divided on whether or not
this figure has better paint than the original, but I definitely think it does. Overall, everything is darker, and while that may not be exactly how it looked in the film, the new version has more more detail in the paint on his face, and his dreadlocks are more of a grey-blue instead of black, which gives him more a more aged, regal look. As with most NECA Predators, it helps to be able to choose from multiple figures to pick the best paint, but once you find one where everything lines up and is applied neatly, you should be pleased.
In addition to the sculpt tweaks and new paint scheme, the V.2 Elder also gets an update in the articulation department. He now
uses the updated Jungle Hunter body with peg-and-hinge hip joints and double-hinged knees. But that's not all: NECA has finally addressed the issue of loose hip joints on its Predators, and every figure in Series 12 gets ratcheting pegs. Huzzah! Here's the total breakdown: balljointed neck, peg-and-hinge shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists, peg waist, peg-and-hinge hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, and balljointed ankles. His plasma caster has a hinge at the bottom and a balljoint at the top (it's quite loose, sadly), and of course his wrist blades can extend and retract.
To accessorize your new Elder, you get the sword and flintlock pistol of the previous version, with new paint jobs. The sword fits in the scabbard, as it did before, but the fit is much tighter this time. Still, it's not so tight that it feels like it's going to break or get stuck. He also gets an interchangeable right hand, so you can switch his splayed fingers with pistol gripping ones.
I liked the original Series 3 Elder figure, but since he is my favorite Predator design, I'm very glad NECA took another pass at him to make him even better. He's still not perfect, but he's probably the best you can hope for at this pricepoint, and as long as you can find one with good paint, he's well worth the price of admission.