Long-time readers may remember I was a bit perplexed by the "mid-cloaked" Berserker Predator in TRU's holiday Predator two-pack from 2011. The look they were going for was "Cloaked Predator in Front of Trees" and it worked as a funky novelty, though it really only made sense in a certain pose, in front of the included cardboard backdrop. For NECA's Predators Series 7, they're returning to that same odd design motif, this time for the Falconer instead of the Berserker.
I have a soft spot for the original Falconer Predator figure, which was the first of the "new era" Pred figures from NECA
that I was able to find. They represented a step up from the previous Alien Vs. Predator: Requiem figures, with less pre-posing and more focus on accuracy. So I dug the original Falconer, but his one glaring flaw was that he lacked his "falcon." At the time, NECA cited a lack of reference for the robotic drone, as well as it not costing out, but now finally in Series 7, he gets his bird.
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.
Sculpturally, Cloaked Falconer is identical to his previous fully painted release. It's a great sculpt, even though the "Super Predator" body sculpt has yet to get the articulation upgrade to bring it to the level of the Jungle and City Hunter bodies.
The paint is a deep dull brown with a dark wash that really brings out the sculptural details where paint is present. Where it's not present, we get clear plastic. Unfortunately, the pattern of the paint doesn't match up against the Berserker's cardboard tree backdrop, so there's no way for him to "blend in" with anything, unless you make it yourself. Thus, the quirky mid-cloaking motif is even less useful than it was on Berserker. It has an odd appeal, and he looks kinda cool when posed next to the mid-cloaked Berserker, but ultimately I would have much rather seen the falcon accessory included with a fully painted Falconer, ideally with upgraded articulation to match the other Pred bodies.
The falcon accessory is very cool, with lots of sculpted technical details and some nice paint that really sets it apart from his master - it's sort of a metallic beige with three red eyes down the front.
There is a detachable peg that plugs into the bottom of the falcon, and can be used to anchor the drone to either a hole in the Falconer's back (once you move
his dreadlocks out of the way), or another hole on his left arm. The bird drone whatever thing looks really cool perched on the Predator's glove, and cool enough stored on the back, but once again I'm left wanting just a little bit more.
A clear (or hey, even solid) plastic stand that would have allowed the falcon to "fly" over the Falconer's back would have been ideal, and it would have been even better if there was a way to make it backwards compatible with the fully painted Falconer. As it is, your falcon is stuck with his mid-cloaked master, unless you wanna bust out the drill and poke some holes in your old Falconer.
There are two wicked looking blades included with the figure, and they can plug into slots in the front of the falcon, or one can fit into the claw-hole in the gauntlet on the Falconer's right forearm (replacing the clear serrated Predators-style blade). They're a nice little addition, and they work with the Tracker and Berserker Predator's gauntlets as well, since they share the same body. The paint seems to reflect the brown of the figure, however, so they're stuck in that "mid-cloaked" world.
This figure is pretty cool, and looks great next
to his Berserker counterpart, but it falls just short of everything it could have been. If there'd been a new cardboard backdrop for him to blend in with (or even if his pattern matched the Berserker's backdrop); or if his falcon could be attached via a longer clear plastic "arm" that would allow it to fly, rather than just a small peg; or if the falcon attachments could have been developed to incorporate with the older Falconer figure... then this would be an absolute must-have figure. As it is, it's great that NECA finally found a way to give us the falcon we've been waiting for since 2010. It's just a shame it's not a bit more versatile.