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Trophy Wall Diorama

Predator 2
by Monkey Boy

Several years ago, NECA included a little something extra in their Toys Я Us-exclusive Alien/Predator two-pack (I'm leaving out the "VS" intentionally there). The Alien was a straight re-release, and the Predator didn't turn out too good, but the major draw of the set was a pair of little plastic skulls that matched the figures. The Predator skull was apparently based on the brief blink-and-you-miss-it glimpse at the Super Predator camp in Predators, but the Alien skull was the one that raised some serious eyebrows, because everyone knew the source: the Predator's trophy wall in Predator 2. It introduced a possibility that seemed almost too good to imagine... was NECA thinking of an in-scale trophy wall?

The skulls kept coming, as pack-ins with future Predators, and eventually NECA revealed what we'd all been hoping for: a place for our skulls. Initially, NECA held firm that the skulls would not see a re-release, and the wall was a treat for those who'd stuck with the line from the get go. They eventually caved though, and are poised to offer an online-only skull set to those johnny-come-latelies who didn't feel like hunting down an SDCC exclusive Cloaked City Hunter figure. I understand the outrage of those who missed out, but as someone who read the signs and spent the time and money to track down all the various skull accessorized figures, I'm a little peeved that NECA bowed to those raised voices who wanted to take the easy way out. But such is life.

Now, to the wall itself. It's packaged in a windowless box, and the first thing you'll notice when you grab it is that it's monstrously heavy. Why? Because it's actually a resin sculpture, rather than a plastic "toy." It's packaged as a single piece (other than the pegs for the skulls) between two pieces of styrofoam, and it's not exactly small: 6.2 x 2.8 x 11.2 inches, to be exact. There structure is comprised of the wall itself, two small side walls that jut out at slightly obtuse angles, and a shelf below the skull area.

The detail on this thing is pretty awesome. All manner of pipes and tubes and ribbing cover every inch of the wall piece, and as far as I can see every rivet and cable seems to match what was on-screen in the film. Reference is admittedly not easy to come by, which was a struggle NECA copped to facing when attempting to create the piece. The result is pretty stellar though, and you won't see any evidence of flubbing the scale or skimping on details. The only complaint, if we had one, would be that the detail is done in a pretty deep relief, so bits of styrofoam from the packing can be difficult to pluck out once you get it out of the box. That is an insanely minor nit though, I'd much rather the detail be as sharp as possible than have to deal with a really shallow relief or *gasp* a sticker.

The paint is simple but effective: a bronzy, coppery coat of paint with a heavy wash to weather it up good. It's done very well, and even though it's pretty monochromatic, the detail is still very apparent due to the wash and the aforementioned steep relief. The flatter, less detailed areas on the shelf piece appear to have a lighter brown paint application, which adds a little bit of variation.

The figure comes with one skull that was far too big to include with any figure. Known informally as the "T-rex," it's a massive toothed monster with four eye sockets and two large pincher-like mandibles framing the jaws. Its sculpt is wonderful, and its paint is bone white with a wash, which gets the job done. But that's not all the Wall comes with! There are also plastic pegs that plug into the Wall for skull-hanging. The way they work depends on the skull: the horn-chinned skull and finned skull, for example, have holes in the back that correspond to standard pegs in the Wall. The Alien skull sits on two claw-like projections, and the human skulls with spines fit into clamps.

Overall, it works pretty well, with one glaring exception: The tusked skull, which is positioned in the upper right hand corner of the Wall, connects via a thin peg that fits into the gap behind the teeth but in front of the jawbone (where the cheek would be if it still had skin). It's far too thin to fit tightly, however, and the skull tends to just spin freely on that axis, unless you brace one of the skull's horns against the side wall. That's how I've kept it in place, and even then it's pretty precarious; a bump or jostle will knock it loose.

Once it's all set up though, it's really difficult to be upset over, because it really looks beautiful and serves as a wonderful backdrop for the scads of Predator figures NECA has been pumping out. This is a fantastic piece, and really jazzes up any Predator display. This is one of those things that many a fan has surely wished for in their wildest nerd dreams, and once again NECA is the company to make it happen. And they've done a great job.

-- 07/24/13


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