It's the holidays, and you know what that means...Toys Я Us exclusives from NECA, including yet another Predator themed 2-pack. Following last year's masked City Hunter Predator and cloaked Berserker Predator, this year's offering includes two "battle-damaged" Predators: the original film's "Jungle Hunter" and Predator 2's "City Hunter." These are characters that NECA has already given us several times (each) in figure form, so what makes these guys stand out?
Deep in the Central American jungle the Predator is hunting humans for sport. Armed with his plasma caster, wrist blades, and cloaking technology, the Predator methodically stalks and kills the opponents
he deems worthy. The Jungle Hunter Predator collects the skulls and spines of his victims as trophies and skins his prey, leaving the bodies hanging from the trees. When a special forces team is dispatched on a "rescue mission" they soon become the Predator's prey.
Hm. Should "special forces" be capitalized in that bio text? I feel like it should. Anyway, this Jungle Hunter may, on the surface, appear to be a simple re-release of the same sculpt NECA has already given us six times, it's actually the long awaited and highly anticipated debut of the newly articulated Jungle Hunter base body! So what's different? Sculpturally, not a lot. But hey, we're not saying that's a bad thing. It's really an excellent sculpt, and it would be foolish to mess with success.
Above the waist, he's pretty well identical to the "Classic Predator" figure we're used to by now. Below the waist, however, he's been retooled to include new articulation in order to match his "Lost Tribe" siblings. This means new balljointed hips with peg thighs, and double-hinged knees. The new tooling is pretty extensive, particularly in the crotch area (euuhhh I just typed that), where his loincloth gets a lot of new separate pieces that bring out the detail. And who doesn't love a detailed loincloth?
His paint is mostly the same as we're used to
seeing with this character, with the notable exception of the "battle-damaged" parts. It amounts to a bit of flourescent green around the right leg and foot to represent Predator blood. It's not terribly noticeable, but it is movie accurate. The armor bits seem a bit more metallic than previous versions, and some areas of the skin seem a bit lighter in tone, but these are minor differences.
Jungle Hunter gets all the usual accoutrements: a bone necklace, two trophy "bandoliers", and a removable backpack with a "plasma caster" cannon. The caster is on an "arm" that normally has a balljoint at the base
of the cannon itself and a hinge where it meets the armor, but mine seemed stuck at the hinge. I've been assured that it's there, though.
Overall, the new lower body articulation is very cool, but the original "Classic" was such an awesome figure that it's hard to improve on it in any serious way. One thing that is unchanged is the height: this guy's still a bit shorter than his Predator 2 counterparts. This was a point of contention for some fans, who harped on the fact that the Elder of the Lost Tribe (built on the "Classic" body) wasn't as tall as the rest of his tribesmen (who were built on the "City Hunter" body). It was never a huge issue to me personally, but it's worth noting that this new Jungle Hunter is exactly the same height as the previous.
One of the youngest members of the Lost tribe,
the City Hunter arrives on earth during a record heat wave in Los Angeles, CA. He has been sent on a mission by the Elder to acquire honorable trophies. Armed with an arsenal of weapons that include a throwing disc, plasma caster, wrist blades, spear, and net gun the City Hunter stalks the urban jungle in his quest for prey.
Yes, in the distant future of 1997, the City Hunter stalks its prey. Like the Jungle Hunter, this version of the figure is "battle-damaged", and it's showing on this guy much more. His sculpt is identical to previous versions of City Hunter save for some crucial exceptions: the head, the left forearm, and the right hand. In the last act of the movie, the Predator is attacked by the combined forces of Gary Busey and Danny Glover, and is left severely wounded and maskless.
This figure's head is taken from a scene in the movie where the City Hunter uses a portable "re-breather" to assist in his breathing (whether this is due to an incompatibility with Earth's atmosphere or due to the wounds he had sustained is up for debate). The head sculpt is mostly the same as the previous unmasked City Hunter, but instead of mandibles we get the facemask re-breather (it's not removable). It's sculpted very well and connected via rubber tube to a spot on the chest armor.
The left forearm is taken from a later scene in the film in which Danny Glover's
Roger Murtaugh Mike Harrigan is successful in severing it, using the City Hunter's own smart disk. The lower half of the forearm pops on and off via a peg, revealing some bright green gore. The obvious peg sticking out of the arm is distracting, though it's difficult to think of a more effective way to attach the arm (magnets? Two smaller pegs, like the McFarlane one used?). The right hand, meanwhile, is clenched, possibly to simulate the City Hunter crushing up the mixture he uses to heal his wounds in the film.
The paint is pretty much the same as other CH figures, except for the very prevalent neon blood stains marring the torso,
right gauntlet, loincloth, and left leg. The forehead features the same pattern as the last unmasked City Hunter, which I wasn't a big fan of at the time (I was much happier after customizing the figure). It doesn't bother me so bad this time around for some reason, but I haven't yet decided if I'll attempt to customize it to match my unmasked figure. The painted net lines are done pretty well, matching the sculpted net lines close enough. Still, you may want to compare examples if you're buying from a brick-and-mortar store.
Unlike his Jungle Hunter pack-mate, City Hunter's articulation is largely unchanged. It's a great set-up that works well and still includes the retractable wrist blades and articulated plasma caster. You could argue that there's an extra point of articulation at the severed area of the forearm, but it's not like he gets all new balljointed hips (he has them, they're just not new).
One thing he doesn't seem to have is his throwing disk, which you could excuse by the fact that at this point he'd lost it to Danny Glover, but its inclusion is mentioned more than once
on the packaging. It seems the figure was definitely meant to include it, but most samples seem to be missing it. NECA has shared on Twitter that anyone missing a disk should e-mail them a picture of the receipt to get a replacement disk, so we'll see how that turns out. I couldn't find my paper receipt, but I did send them my e-receipt, and shortly thereafter received confirmation that a replacement disk was on its way. While I don't miss the disk since I've got plenty with NECA's other Preds, a figure should still come with what it's supposed to, and kudos to NECA for stepping up to make it right.
There are two accessories that are included, however, and I bet many people are buying the set just for these: two more trophy skulls from the end of Predator 2, when we get a brief glimpse inside the hunter's trophy room.
NECA continues to release these skulls in different sets and exclusives, and hopefully someday soon we'll see a trophy case display released that they'll all fit in. One of the skulls is fairly small and finned, while the other is quite large with some wicked downward curving tusks. Now all we need are a couple more human skulls/spines, and that giant fanged monstrosity that could practically be a release all its own.
While neither of these figures are totally necessary, they're fun variants of the core Preds of the franchise. The skulls are a nice bonus, and the re-breather head sculpt and severed forearm on the City Hunter are cool. It's nice to get the new hip articulation on the Jungle Hunter, but it's hard to ignore how fantastic the prior "Classic" figure was. I prefer the paint on that version ever-so-slightly over that of this two-pack, so it'll be a dilemma determining which I'll display (possibly both?). If you're a Pred fan as I am, you'll probably get this for the skulls alone, but the figures are nothing to dismiss outright. Your casual collector may not see a reason why he needs more than one Jungle and/or City Hunter, but NECA has shown that they're in this license for the hardcore fans. This set is just enough to tide those fans over while they await the arrival of Big Red.