Predator. The 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle is possibly the greatest Action/Sci-Fi/Horror potboiler ever committed to celluloid, with Stan Winston’s epic creature design leaving an indelible mark on the imaginations of genre fans worldwide. No wonder then, that nearly 30 years later we’re still captivated by the mandible and dreadlocked alien hunter despite the fact that none of the follow up films have been able to replicate the perfect alchemy that made the original such an instant classic.
True, none of those movies were outright terrible but the worst ranked among fans by far has to be 2004’s Alien Vs. Predator, an oddly bloodless and toothless meeting of two of R-Rated Horror’s most brutal franchises. For being the least loved film in the series though, the movie did have some amazing character designs, a trio of roided out, heavily armored and armed to the teeth young Preds out on a training hunt against a wiry and feral incarnation of HR. Giger’s iconic Xenomorph that split the difference between their sleek 1979 debut and the beastial hordes of James Cameron’s 1986 Action romp. It’s a good thing then, that we’re here to play with toys and not play Siskel and Ebert, because NECA’s just released a set of AVP Preds and they have some of the best sculpting, paint, articulation and accessories of any Predator collectible ever released.
The first thing you’ll notice upon freeing today’s subject, Hero Predator “Scar”, so named for the clan symbol carved into his forehead, from his carded bubble (the typical series design, this time adorned with the ’04 flick’s blue/black trade dress), is his size. This guy is absolutely massive, easily tipping over 8” tall and with the bulk to match. But remember, this movie’s Predators were the gigantic Brock Lesnars of their kind, so he’ll fit in perfectly with your existing collection. Articulation is everything you’d expect and more, working beautifully within the confines of the figure’s considerable free flowing straps and armor and allowing satisfyingly deep stances thanks to the completely unencumbered ankle and hip balljoints. The head can be a tad restricted thanks to his massive mane of dreads but I found that popping the head *slightly* off of the ball gave a lot more room for tilting, and had a similar experience with the shoulder cannon.
Speaking of weaponry, this is another category where our boy Scar shines above all previous contenders, coming packed with his ceremonial dagger, closed spear, open shuriken, two forearm blades, and the aforementioned backpack/shoulder cannon. All weapons are beautifully sculpted and painted with believably worn metal finishes, and can easily be held in his open right hand or stored away on his leg (dagger) or back (spear). There’s nowhere for the shuriken to go but a closed one is permanently attached to his belt (along with several other perfectly sculpted and painted pouches and containers) so just pretend it’s that. That’s fun, right? Rounding out the expertly pitted, used and abused silver armor is a string of expertly realized trophy skulls slung across Scar’s shoulder.
Of course none of these goodies would be worth anything if the figure they came with was just an (unintentionally) ugly hunk of plastic and that is far from the case. The sculpting and paint here is seriously high end, with both operations and applications meticulously delivered to produce a near perfect representation of what was seen on screen. The detail inside Scar’s mouth is almost unbelievable and the dark paint wash is super clean and only serves to enhance the realism. The netting on his skin is almost flawlessly applied, as are his various spots and markings. The flesh tone is extremely believable as well, calling back to the eerily lifelike translucency of NECA’s previous Rocky figures. My favorite part though? Scar’s ridiculously overdesigned spiky sandals, and of course the true hallmark of any great Predator figure, his flip up nuclear wrist detonator, here conceptualized and executed seamlessly and flawlessly.
Aside from scale the presentation here rivals even the mighty Hot Toys, and blows everybody else (Revoltech, Figma, Figuarts, Play Arts) completely out of the water. That’s awesome you say, but where are the Aliens? Well aside from the considerable army of various Xenos that NECA has already birthed over the years the aforementioned strangely awesome AVP specific designs will be unleashed later this year, along with a bone white concept version of the 1979 Giger original. Insert “Fry from Futurama” shut-up-and-take-my-money meme here. Scar and I will be waiting…