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Falconer Predator

Predators
by Monkey Boy

The idea of a third Predator film featuring a group of humans being shang-hai'd and used as game on a Predator planet has been floating around for about as long as I can remember. That idea, based on a script by Robert Rodriguez, had been languishing in development hell for around 15 years before it was finally filmed and released in July 2010. The film was produced by Rodriguez and directed by Nimrod Antal, and NECA teased us with prototype photos of figures that it promised would be out by the end of that same July.

They came, through just barely. I managed to come across the remnants of the first series of Predators figures on the 29th of July, which is cutting it pretty close; nevertheless NECA has made good on its promise. The first series features three of the four Predators featured in the movie: the "classic" Predator (based on the creature's look from the original film), the "berserker" Predator (the film's chief antagonist) and the "falconer" Predator (another of the film's villainous Predators).

Highly skilled in engineering, Falconer Predator isn't interested in following the old Yautja traditions of the hunt. To him, the hunt must evolve, along with its tools. In his eyes the best way to do so is to observe and acquire the techniques and technology of those he hunts. As a newly successful Young Blood class Predator, Falconer Predator became intrigued by his prey that used flying creatures as a hunting tool. Not satisfied to domesticate and train such creatures on his home planet, Falconer Predator built and programmed his own deadly bird using the technology of the Yautja augmented by the technology of Xenomorphs and other cultures he had encountered in his hunts.

Uhm... what? Although I have to hand it to NECA for giving us a bio blessedly free of glaring spelling errors, I can't say I have any clue where they got their information. Did they make it up? None of that info really came across in the film... there is a large robotic bird-like flying object seen in the movie that appears to be tracking the movements of the hunted humans, but it's never directly tied to Falconer Predator in the course of the movie. Also, Rodriguez had repeatedly said he specifically did not want to tie Predators in with the Alien franchise, as he believed the Alien vs. Predator films strayed too far from the spirt of the original Predator flicks. So what's with the "Xenomorph" reference? Also, since when do "Xenomorphs" use technology (assuming by "Xenomorph" they are referring to the creatures from the Alien universe)? The bio also makes a lot of allusions to the expanded universe of the Predator novels and comics, by referring to them as "Yautja" and referencing the "Young Blood class". The different expanded universe sources never seem to be able to reconcile what the "canon" name for the species is, but here NECA has taken "Yautja" and ran with it.

Anyway, the Falconer Predator is one of the three Predators in the film who are hunting a group of humans including Adrien Brody, Danny Trejo, Topher Grace, and some other forgettable characters. He is not the main antagonist, but he actually gets to do some pretty badass stuff (which is more than can be said for the Tracker Predator).

His design is distinctly Predator, but has enough unique elements to make him recognizable as an individual. Unlike most other Predators, the most prominent point on his helmet is between the brows, rather than in the "nose" section, and his helmet is sharp and angular rather than rounded on the edges. The sculpt, handled by Jason Frailey and Adrienne Smith, replicates this well, and the rest of the figure is also sculpted wonderfully. The figure's skin is wrinkled and scaled, and the detail is amazing. Much of the armor bits are actually separate pieces, which makes the figure look more realistic and allows the articulation to work more freely. Falconer's build is imposing and well-muscled, but not to the point of ridiculousness (I'm looking in your direction, Preds from AvP). It's really an awesome sculpt, and the figure looks like he stepped right off the set of the film and into your hands... and also shrank.

The paint is decent, but falls a little short of keeping pace with the awesome sculpt. According to the packaging we have Jon Wardrell and Geoffrey Trapp to blame. The helmet and armored pieces are done very well, with a nice brushed metal look and an appropriate level of weathering. The skin is done fairly well for the most part, with a yellow and green motif that manages not to look too "toyish." But where it falls apart is the black spots. The figure is loaded with black spots, and while it doesn't look that bad from far away, upon close inspection they are applied in a pretty sloppy, haphazard way. There is a lot of bleed, and many of the spots overlap and run into each other. It's a fairly minor nit, but one that stands out on an otherwise well-painted figure.

Despite prototype figures that appeared to show no useful leg articulation, the final product actually has pretty plentiful articulation by NECA standards. Falconer gets a balljointed neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees, as well as V-crotch hips and peg joints in the waist and thighs. His ankles, it would seem, feature balljoints, although they are covered by the figure's boots, which are made of softer material that has some give to it. It conceals the joint, and I can't decide if I find the move innovative or frustrating. The ankles have no problem turning side to side, and although they don't seem to hold their position when you turn them on a hinge, it seems to do a decent job of keeping a pose when the figure is standing up in various poses with knees bent. It's a bold move, and one that I hope holds up as the figure ages.

In addition to "over 20 points of articulation", the package also boasts the figure's "removable wrist blade." The wrist blade is, in fact, removable, but it's not really up to you when it gets removed. The blade barely sits in a hole in the figure's wrist gauntlet, and the slightest provocation will knock it right out. The blade is Falconer's only accessory; his helmet is not removable, but that's not a huge deal since he never removed it in the movie.

Falconer is a great example of a figure that looks amazing while still functioning as an "action figure". His articulation is practical but well integrated into the excellent sculpt, and if his paint were just a smidge better, and his blade didn't fall so easily out of its wrist gauntlet, we'd be looking at a figure that was pretty much as good as it could possibly hope to be. Even with those minor gripes, this is still an awesome figure for any Pred fan to own.

-- 08/07/10


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