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Batman versus Predator

NECA
by yo go re

While fear and darkness have always haunted the streets of Gotham City, a new terror has crept onto the rooftops and into the hearts of its citizens. An alien hunter known only as the Predator has come to Gotham to hunt its greatest warriors, and after a string of brutal murders, the Predator has its sights on Batman. In an epic showdown, the Dark Knight must use all of his skills, both martial and mental, to beat this otherworldly menace.

One thing we've always admired is NECA's tenacity: they never give up on a good idea. This figure, for instance, was first seen at Toy Fair 2017, and it's taken until now for them to find a way to get it out. Of course, a lot of that is all the licensing restrictions surrounding DC characters - it's not like NECA wouldn't have released this sooner if they could, but (just like when they started doing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) they're limited to only doing them as con exclusives for some reason. Hey, if that's what it takes!

When Batman first fought the Predator, he was completely unprepared. Like, he did the detective work that led him to "the See-Through Slasher's" lair, but had no idea what he was about to fight and so ended up getting beaten like a red-headed mule. Or is that a rented stepchild? Batman resorted to hitting the Pred with his car and bravely running away. After spending a week bed-ridden, he cobbled together a suit of armor to give him an edge in the rematch.

However, he did not cobble together this suit of armor. While NECA is usually focused on extreme source-accuracy, this figure seems more... "inspired by" the comics than anything else. Like, it has the three-layered shoulder pads, and a utility belt with capsules instead of pockets, but literally zero parts of the parts are true to the art. It is a good sculpt, regardless, looking very much like something Batman would build and wear, with heavy armor on the boots, shins, thighs, crotch (because Predators love groin attacks), chest, shoulders, gloves, neck, and head. The pieces are sculpted to look like metal, with scratches and dings to complement the rivets and panel lines. Most of the armor is done at separate pieces that fit over the body benath - why, you'd almost think NECA was planning to reuse this mold later!

The black plastic "Robocop" dome on the helmet is a separate, removable piece - in fact, it's even packaged separately in the tray, where its black color blends in with the dark teal cardboard behind it, making its slot look empty at first glance. It seems that's intended to represent the scene where Batman took off his helmet when it stopped working, but the problem with that idea is that he took off his helmet, not just a part of it - we should be seeing a Bruce Wayne head, not an angry Batman forehead.

His articulation is what you expect from NECA: he moves at the head, shoulders, biceps, elbows, wrists, chest, waist, hips, thighs, knees, ankles, and toes. A few were slightly stuck when he came out of the package, but didn't require anything other than force to get moving. He wears a softgoods cape that's made from a surprisingly heavy fabric and drags on the ground behind him. His accessories include a miniscule pistol (it fires darts with a "wide-spectrum tranquilizer... enough to stop a herd of rhinos," yet the Pred was still standing after several shots), a baseball bat splattered with some green blood, and an alternate right hand shaped to hold either of them.

The Predator in this set takes me back to the days when we were all collecting the Lost Tribe. The original Batman versus Predator series came out the year after Predator 2, so the Slasher Predator is basically the City Hunter design with a few little changes. NECA has actually combined pieces from their Ultimate City Hunter and Ultimate Jungle Hunter figures to create Slasher: Jungle's feet, torso, and arms, and City's legs and right shoulder armor. Then there's a new belt, and a new piece of armor glued to the right side of the chest. Also, despite having the forearm bracer from Predator 1, the blades inside it come from Predator 2.

Slasher Predator is a dark figure. His grey armor is a darker shade than usual, and while his skin retains that brown/orange tint, it's further toward the shady end of the spectrum. In short, this is a Pred who would be able to blend into Gotham City surroundings even if he didn't have a stealth cloaking ability. His design fits the world DC and Dark Horse put him in, and that's nice.

The figure has two heads, masked and unmasked, both the Jungle Hunter mold. The mask is the same gun metal grey as the rest of the armor, though the eyes are lighter, and the plain head is the calm version with the mouth closed. The open mouth might have been better, since that's how he was typically drawn in the comic - especially once he learned to fear Batman. His face is lighter than the rest of his skin, and there's no orange here, just tans and browns. The speckles on his forehead form a large V, which is more detail than the comic could manage.

Using the Ultimate bodies means more articulation here than on the ones we've reviewed before. In short, it's all the same as before, but now the forearms swivel, and there's a balljoint in the chest as well as the waist. That latter one hardly seems necessary, but it is fun and doesn't ruin the look of the figure, so we're all for it. The panel on his right bracer opens, so we can see the countdown detonator screen, and the plasma caster on the backpack has a (very loose and floppy) hinge and a balljoint. It's a new mold, by the way: the backpack is the same, but the actual gun itself is new.

Other than that, he's armed with his razor disc and a sword/spear thing. The frisbee fits in the holster on his hip, or onto the fingers of the alternate hand, and while the spear's design is taken from the comic, it was assembled incorrectly: the blade on the back half should be facing the other way. The halves are separate pieces, with about a centimeter of "telescoping" action, but it's not like I can pull them apart to turn the bit around. Or even that I really care enough to try: it's a wicked looking device either way. Only downside is that the thinner bit exposed when you extend it isn't quite long enough to fit into Batman's accessory-holding hand.

Batman versus Predator is a pretty cool comic - the first one, at any rate. The second is kind of junk, and then the third picks back up a little, but that original one? It's worth a read. And even if it weren't, it inspired Dead End, and it's given us an awesome pair of figures. Too bad they had to be exclusives.

-- 08/07/19


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