Maybe it's just me, but it feels like NECA's quality has been getting consistently better recently. Don't get me wrong, there's still the odd mis-assembled figure here, the odd stuck joint that snaps clean off there... but overall, I'm not sure what it is, whether they're making more figures at a more dependable factory, or what... but it seems like I've been getting more NECA toys lately with more reliable paint and more joints that move right out of the package.
Which is good, if it's true, because these days I'm relying more on
ordering things online, since going to stores is something I try to keep to a minimum. Annoying retailer exclusives have made that difficult, but still - if I can order something online, I try to.
So a while back when NECA's Ultimate Lost Predator figure became available on their official Amazon store page, I grabbed it. It ended up arriving quite a long time before the figure began showing up at stores like Target, so I've had some time to acquaint myself with it. It's the first in a line of figures marking the 30th Anniversary of Predator 2, which will eventually revisit the entire Lost Tribe of Predators, in "Ultimate" form, meaning window box packaging and a ton of accessories.
Armored Lost Predator - a master of weapons, this mysterious mercenary of the Rogue Space Tribe was originally part of Greyback's old crew, the Lost Tribe, from which he took his name. After being tricked into a heist job with Spiked Tail and Lasershot on Yautja Prime, Lost was convicted as an accomplice to the theft of experimental Yautja technology,
which included weapons and a spaceship. Being pursued by the high council and their Enforcers, the trio used the stolen prototype ship to narrowly escape off-world. After his deception, Lost had no trust for his two new partners but conceded that it's the only tribe he can still hunt with and maintain his honor. Now with an advanced ship, they can travel through space and time to explore new systems unlike any other Yautja ever could. In addition to taking mercenary jobs from other alien races, they eventually became specialised in artificial intelligence hunts, expanding well past biological targets. Silent and tactical, Lost prefers solitude and brings much-needed order to the otherwise chaotic nature of his new crew.
This is the third time NECA has made a figure of the "Lost Predator". The first figure was a movie-accurate version, while the second was an "Armored" Lost Predator figure, in which NECA took some liberties and expanded on the idea of the figure, adding new armor pieces including a bio-helmet, a plasma caster, and a sword.
This latest Ultimate version is based on the "Armored" figure, which means it's not completely movie-accurate. The actual Lost Predator from the film, one of a group of Preds that arrive at the end of the movie to gather the remains of their fallen comrade the City Hunter,
was also referred to by fans as the "Borg" Predator, because his armor was more mechanical and robotic than the other Predators in his tribe.
We've discussed before how it's quite similar to the armor used in a movie called The Vindicator, and it's highly likely the crew may have just grabbed some existing armor and slapped it on a Predator, blissfully unaware that the internet would become a thing one day and every nerd would be poring endlessly over screenshots from '90s sci-fi films. The Lost Predators are all pretty slapdash; you're not supposed to pay much attention to them since they're only on screen for a few seconds, and heavily obscured by both fog and darkness.
But where the movie Lost Predator featured some robotic armor over your basic Predator loincloth bits, the "Armored" version leaned into the technological aspect, giving the figure a different armored
skirt piece and new technological weapons. While it's very cool, it isn't technically "accurate," if that's your thing. Judging by pics released of the upcoming Ultimate Lost Tribe figures, this guy's not alone, as many of them seem to be more artistic interpretations rather than spot-on representations of what we saw in the film; if the bio we copied up above is any indication, it's because this is something of a "class reunion" collection, imagining what the Lost Tribe has been up to since partying down with Danny Glover. That's right: the toys now have their own distinct continuity.
So the sculpt shares a lot of parts with the previous Armored Lost figure, and it's very good. You can't really fault NECA's sculping, especially if there's no human likeness to capture, and the face of the Predator is a very good match for what we know Preds look like. All the techno bits are super detailed, and while all the Lost Tribe figures are based on the "City Hunter" base body and share a fair amount of armor
pieces from that toy, the Lost Predator still manages to stand out and look cohesive.
His gauntlets are unique, and unlike most of the other Predator figures, he lacks wrist blades of any kind. His chest piece is the robotic armor discussed before, complete with the NECA-designed backpack, which includes a plasma caster and sword sheath. His codpiece is also a NECA creation, since the original design favored a simple cloth. It's got some fun accents, including a sculpted retracted "glaive" weapon on the belt, and a "net gun" sculpted in the small of the back. His right thigh armor is unique, while the left is shared with City Hunter (film accurate in both cases). From the knees down he's got City Hunter parts, and his shoulder armor is also shared with his less fortunate brother.
What sets him apart even further is the paint. Lost Predator's armor is a dark metallic blue, and his skin is a pale yellow with green accents. The unmasked heads, in particular, are painted much better than the original release, which suffered a lot in the forehead area. Most examples had the red accents applied off-center, and the yellow bits were too thin to stand out from a distance. This new version remedies all that, and the design looks great.
Another area that has been stepped up quite a bit is the painting on the Predator's trademark netting. One of the most important reasons to buy NECA Predators in person was to inspect the netting,
since it was often applied sloppily, not matching up with the sculpted netting at all. Thankfully, this seems to be something they've tightened up lately, and the netting paint on my figure matches perfectly with the sculpt, everywhere except on the back right thigh, which isn't super important. The examples I've seen in stores also seem to have pretty reliable painted netting, which is a nice move forward with NECA Predator figures.
As long as we're talking improvements,
not only does the Ultimate Lost Predator have more joints than previous figures, they also work better. The original Lost was missing the double-hinge elbows and knees we take for granted today, and the updated Armored version had the very loose hips which plagued NECA Predators for a very long time.
Thankfully, the Ultimate Lost has gained all the added articulation, and all the joints are tight without being stuck. That includes a balljointed neck, peg-and-hinge shoulders, peg biceps, double-hinged elbows, peg gauntlet tops, peg and hinge wrists, a balljionted torso, balljointed waist, peg and hinge hips, peg thighs, double hinged knees, and balljointed ankles. One of the hips on mine was stuck initially, but I eventually got it moving.
These hips are the weird kind where the joints are connected
through the crotch piece, with a male end of one hip plugging into the female end of another. So moving the left hip will move both legs, while moving the right will only move the right leg. The plasma caster is also articulated with two balljoints. It can fold up flush against the backpack, or extend out for a "ready to fire" pose.
Many of the Ultimate Lost Tribe figures shown so far feature expanded weaponry beyond what was seen in the films, and the Lost is no exception. However, unlike future figures in this line, we've already seen most of this guy's accessories on the previous Armored Lost Predator figure. He's got his bio-helmet, a sword that slides into the sheath on his back, and a glaive accessory based on the spindly Alien Vs. Predator version of the weapon, rather than the solid P2 ones.
The bio helmet is the same NECA-designed piece as before,
but this time with an added bonus - LED light up eyes! They work really good and the feature adds some nice value to an already nice figure. The switch to control them is right on top of the mask, and weirdly, the cover for the battery compartment is as well: it doesn't have a screw holding it shut, just four thin pegs and friction.
The sword is a dark metallic blue with a red painted edge along the blade, and it fits nicely in the sheath (just make sure the bladed edge is facing toward the backpack, otherwise it'll get stuck - despite the hilt fitting against the scabbard better the other way). The figure also gets two unmasked heads: one with closed mandibles and one with open mandibles. There are also extra hands, two "splayed" and two designed to hold accessories.
The Armored Lost design was very cool, and this Ultimate figure is definitely a step up from the previous version. However, your mileage may vary if absolute screen-accuracy is important to you. NECA seems to understand that the film-accurate designs for the Lost Tribe were pretty haphazard at best, so this 30th Anniversary line seems to focus on taking a little bit of extra time designing the characters, with additional bits of armor and weaponry, and newly designed unmasked and masked faces.
It's an interesting concept, although it's a fine line between those who want a well designed figure and those who are sticklers for absolute accuracy. Personally, I really like this figure, although part of me does long for a straight movie accurate version. And you never know with NECA - they may get around to that in the next update.