America's unofficial motto seems to be "bigger is better." Cars, food, houses and movies all get progressively huger each season, and the toy industry is part of this trend itself. In just twenty years or so, we've gone from 3 3/4" to 4.5" to 6" to 9". Everything just gets bigger and bigger as companies try to get more and more detail into their toys.
But any movement has an equal and opposite reaction, so there are entire selections of figures out there that are small and interchangeable. From the tremendous fun of Stikfas to Art Asylum's all-encompassing Minimates, simplicity has its place.
Of course, AA isn't the only small company making a name for themselves (and saving profit margins) in the block figure boom that began with the first series of imported Kubricks. Mezco (formerly Aztec Toys, a partnership with AA) has created their own simple figures with the Mez-Itz.
Following in the footsteps of those abominably awful SMITIs, Mez-Itz have a generic body, painted with details, beneath a uniquely sculpted head. Covering mainly properties from movies, Mezco has given us Mez-Itz of everything from Dracula to Fat Bastard. Their newest line is part of the recent marketing boom surrounding the Predator films.
In addition to three Movie Maniac Predators, there have been several statues, busts, lunchboxes and other products tied in to a film series that hasn't been in theatres in over a decade. Of course, Fox's sudden willingness to license this property (to something outside the world of videogames and comicbooks - those have both been fairly constant) probably has something to do with their upcoming Aliens vs. Predator film: by selling product now, they create a bit of "pre-buzz" for the film when it does arrive (there's also, conveniently, a line of Aliens Mez-Itz on the way).
Whatever the reason, fans are just happy to be getting these intergalactic gun nuts. While McFarlane Toys is bending over backward to cram as much detail as possible into their tiny plastic statues, Mezco has opted for the simpler route of block figures.
At the summer conventions of 2003,
Mezco offered an exclusive three-pack of "stealth" Predators: limited to 1,000 pieces and molded from clear plastic, the Stealth Predators had the usual generic Mez-It body and the same heads as the standard figures; two wearing the iconic Predator helmet, the third unmasked and howling. These are the same figures that will be in the regular set, just will less accessories and paint.
The Predators' dreadlocks are molded from a slightly softer plastic, which gives them a feeling more like real hair. Even unpainted, the quality of the sculpt is evident with a close inspection; the helmets are textured like real metal, while the unmasked head has all the bumps and ridges of the alien's flesh.
The Mez-It body, slightly egg-shaped and not as stark as AA's Minimates, moves at the hips, waist, shoulders, wrists and neck. The parts pop on and off easily, allowing you to assemble your own fun. You could give Dr. Evil Ash's chainsaw and Jason's hockeymask before setting him loose on Jam Master Jay.
Each of the Predators has a variety of weapons: the twin-bladed gauntlet is here, as are the shoulder-mounted cannons and the telescoping spear; all three figures include a glaive that can be held in either hand or plugged onto their belt. Each figure has unique armor glued onto its body.
At 3" tall, these Predators were never going to be photo-accurate representations of the character in the film, but Mez and his team did a great job capturing the feel of the characters regardless. Such a good job, in fact, that I now want to pick up the normal Predator set. And those will probably make me want the Aliens selection. And you know, that Werewolf does look pretty cool. Hmm. Curse you, Mezco, for creating such an insidiously addictive toy line!
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