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Nightstorm Predator

Predators
by Monkey Boy

I'm not going to go as far as taking credit for the idea that NECA should do a series of Kenner homage Predators that reinterprets the latter companies funky '90s figures, but I'm pretty sure we mentioned it here on OAFE before NECA ever made any public announcements. Just sayin'.

Now that we've got our Lost Tribe, a handful of Dutches and a couple of Dead Enders, the time has at last come for NECA to drop its Kenner Preds on us. Seeing these things in the package, in person, with their infra-red color motif and cartoon Predator illustrations, I definitely got hit with a bigger wave of nostalgia than I was expecting. After all, these weren't like Star Wars or GI Joe or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, that I had when I was a kid kid. Kenner's Predator figures were released in 1994, one year after they debuted their equally-film-inaccurate Aliens line. I was 10, or maybe 11?

Ah, but perhaps that's it. That's usually the age when boys start to realize they should maybe grow out of toys. But me, that was around when I realized I was probably never going to outgrow action figures. And there wasn't a lot of other action figures to collect at that time, remember: it was the dayglo era of GI Joe, right before the line would go on hiatus until 1997, and Star Wars wouldn't be back with Power of the Force 2 until 1995. So I suppose Kenner's Aliens and Predator figures were the right figures at the right time for me in that transition period when I discovered I was going to be man child forever. Thus, nostalgia.

The figures were never that great, and they never really looked like the movie designs. But at the time, they were the only figures from either franchise that were available, unless you wanted to build model kits or hunt down one of those old Kenner "Big Chap" Aliens from 1979. So I bought them, and loved them and hated them at the same time, wondering why they couldn't be more like the character designs from the movies. And then NECA came and made the figures I always wanted, and now they're bringing it full circle by giving us figures based on the Kenner designs but with all the articulation and detail of today's NECA figures.

Over 4,000 years ago, before the ancient feud between the Yautja and the Rouges [sic] (Super Predators), Nighstorm accompanied one of the first yautja Xenomorph hunts to Egypt. However, he did not approve of the Yautja code of honor, feeling that it gave too much power and significance to the prey they hunted. Thus the feud between the tribes began and Nightstorm's legend soon grew amongst his kind, eventually leading him to Elder status. He set out to unite the rest of the Super Predator tribe, ruthlessly hunted nothing less than the noble Yautja warriors.

I'm willing to be more forgiving of this bio than I'd usually be because it deals with an Expanded Universe character, but it's still got that "written by a 12-year-old" vibe. Also, "Rouge?" Anyway, Nightstorm was originally a repaint of Scavage, one of the first Predator figures Kenner released. His defining features were his mask with two scarab-like pinchers protruding from the top of his bio-helmet (his name apparently being an amalgam of scarab and savage), a spring-loaded bolo launching accessory, and a staff with a human skull at the top of it. I assume NECA went with the Nightstorm version because of his more striking color scheme, but the scarab/"Scavage" lineage is even hinted at in the Egypt reference in his bio.

To represent Nightstorm, NECA used their Super Predator base body first seen on the original series of their Predators line. While it's a bit dated in terms of articulation, it's still got all kinds of crazy detail, and there are plenty of additional details to better suit the look of the original Nightstorm. His head is pulled from the Unmasked Berserker, while his body is the Falconer, or, to be specific, the Cloaked Falconer - he's still got the peg hole for the falcon on his back. Whether it's an intentional Easter egg for added versatility or a more conveniently available mold, I couldn't tell you, but if it is an Easter egg, it's not the only one (more on that later...).

He gets new armor for his shoulders and thighs, as well as a new right gauntlet with some wicked-looking claws. They retract and extend a tiny bit, but not as much as you might expect. He also gets new lower leg pieces that add some height (as well as an extra, if somewhat redundant, point of articulation). Overall he resembles the original Nightstorm, but with far superior detail. The Super Predator body was a good choice here.

The original Nightstorm had black skin with gold and copper armor, but NECA has opted for a dark blue skin so as not to lose all that nice sculptural detail. The paint is applied well, with a nice pattern of spots on the skin and some really cool patina-like areas on the gold plating. His loincloth gets some leathery brown, and the inside of his mouth is an almost purple pink. Also, since there's no netting, you don't have to worry about the painted net matching the sculpted lines, which is still my biggest issue with this line even after 10 series.

Articulation is the same as it was when this body was first utilized, but with an added peg joint below the knee. He lacks the double knee hinges and ball hips of the latest NECA Preds, but he's still plenty posable with a balljointed neck, peg and hinge shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists, peg waist, V-crotch hips, peg thighs, peg and hinge knees and peg ankles. His plasma caster can swivel side to side and up and down, and as I mentioned his claws are ever so slightly retractable.

Nightstorm has abandoned his spring-loaded bola accessory, but still gets a wicked skull-topped staff and NECA's first removable Predator bio-helmet. The original Nightstorm's mask allowed the tusks to show through, and NECA's follows that design. They've always said there was no way to include a removable bio-helmet without sacrificing either the face or the mask itself, but Nightstorm's unique design allows them to get away with it. The staff is much more detailed than the '90s accessory, with a spine wrapped around the staff below the skull and a pointed tip jutting from the top.

His bio-helmet fits snugly on his face with the mandibles exposed, and he looks great wearing it or not. The mask is covered in all kinds of intricate designs, both on the outside and the inside. But there's one particular area to note. Just as these figures started hitting shelves, NECA's Randy Falk announced on Twitter that there was a "hidden message" on one of the Series 10 figures, and whoever identified it would receive a free test shot figure. It just so happens that it was your humble narrator who first happened to notice that there was writing in that digital-looking Predator alphabet along the scarab-like pincher extensions on Nightstorm's mask. After Googling an image of the Predator alphabet, I was able to surmise that the right pincher reads "Tribe" while the left reads "Kenner." So Nightstorm would be part of the Kenner tribe. Quite an interesting little Easter egg, and I'm pleased with my own role in its public discovery.

I really dig this figure. I was expecting the Kenner homages to be fun, forgettable novelties, but was genuinely surprised that Nightstorm is actual a great figure that transcends his nostalgic roots. He'll fit seamlessly into any Predator display, unlike say, the translucent Lava Planet Predator, and he's more than just an homage. He's actually one of my favorite Predator figures in the line thus far.

-- 13/02/13


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