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Bad Blood

by Monkey Boy

How much does NECA hate the movie Alien Vs. Predator? Well, before even thinking about giving us the Preds from AvP, it's given us pretty much every other on-screen Predator in figure form, plus fan-film Predators, plus Kenner-based Predators, plus completely made-up Predators, and now our first comic-based Predators, including Bad Blood, the subject of this review.

Bad Blood is a "deluxe" figure, a first in NECA's Predator line, which means he may cost slightly more than his series-mates, depending on where you buy him. My local comicbook store had him priced the same as the other Preds, but Toys Я Us has him for roughly $5 more (keeping in mind that TЯU's prices are hardly across-the-board consistent). His packaging isn't really noticeably larger or different than the others, although the piercings and dreadlock clasps on the Predator profile that forms the edge of the cardback are given a gold foil shine. The same Pred profile is featured on the Enforcer Predator's card back, but his piercings are plain old yellow. Subtle!

The New Jersey Pine Barrens has become a slaughterhouse, witness to a hideous spree of murders and mutilations committed by a creature from another world - a Predator. But unlike others of his species, this alien intruder is no sport hunter, but a blood-crazed psychotic, a killer of his own kind, an unhinged killing machine. While a massive manhunt sweeps the Barrens, a stalker of a different kind searches for the killer - a second Predator, bent on bringing down the rogue monster.

Ah yes, the Pine Barrens... home of the legendary Jersey Devil, and the setting (and title!) of my favorite Sopranos episode... but I digress. "Bad Blood" is a Predator tale from Dark Horse Comics, a four part mini-series first published in 1993-94. It basically asks the question "What if a Predator didn't play by its own rules?" The answer is it kills a lot of people, just like a regular Predator. But it also kills its own kind. Gruesome deaths and a massive Predator throwdown ensue.

"Bad Blood" himself is just a batshit crazy design, and the art by Derek Thompson makes sure to highlight the "psychotic" nature of the beast. He's got the crazy eyes, and he's all pointy and spiky in both his skin texture and the armor that covers it. While he may not be the traditional "sporting" Predator, he still takes trophies, and is covered in several spines and skulls, among other gory accoutrements.

NECA's figure uses the City Hunter as its base sculpt, which is a wise move considering the outfit of the Bad Blood of the comics is clearly modeled after the Predator 2 antagonist. He gets a fair amount of new parts, however, not the least of which is a brand new face sculpt: the head is mostly Unmasked City hunter, but gets new flared mandibles. Don't be surprised if these show up on a City Hunter update down the road. They look quite nice and help sell the berserk nature of the character. He also gets a funky eyebrow ring on the left side of his forehead. There's another ring in his right nipple area. In the comics he had both nipples pierced, but the armor of the figure obscures his left side too much for it to work here.

Other new additions include a large piece of right shoulder armor featuring three spines running across it (that's spines as in spinal columns, not spines as in spikes [though they are still rather spiky]). His left shoulder features an entire Predator skull, which looks to be based on the Jungle Hunter skull NECA has released before, but this one's got an entire set of dreadlocks hanging down on either side. There are vertebral columns affixed to both of his gauntlets, and to the sides of his calf armor as well, and a spiky, semi-humanoid skull on each kneecap. His right forearm gauntlet also features an oversized claw housing with three wrist claws, instead of the standard two.

The whole effect of extra parts attached all over the place almost gives him the look of a custom figure. He's big and bulky and awkward looking, but that's not really a knock against him. The whole kitchen-sink look works for him, considering the "extreme" nature of his design. Seeing the promo pics didn't convince me, but once I saw him in person, he won me over.

Bad Blood's paint is something I imagine many fans will either love or hate. It's bright, bright, bright. His skin is a creamy yellow, he's got pink tattoos on his forehead and chest, and strikingly red blood splatters his torso and right forearm. It's garish, but it works: this is a comicbook figure, and it looks like the figure stepped right out of the pages. Bold, flashy colors make perfect sense. There are a lot of paint apps to go around, including several metallic shades for his armor and piercings, and many browns for the rest of his outfit. His skin is mottled with blacks and browns, and his bone trophies are an off-white with a darker wash. It's all applied neatly on mine, but be sure to check two things: the netting (as usual) to make sure the paint mask matches the sculpted lines, and the forehead tattoo. I've seen a few examples where it's markedly off center.

His articulation is up to the same standards as the rest of the figures that share his base body, and surprisingly none of it is hindered by the bulky add-on bits. He's got a balljointed neck, peg-and-hinge shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists, balljointed waist, peg-and-hinge hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, and balljointed ankles. His hips, like the rest of the Preds released alongside him, have a ratcheted hinge, which will help solve the issue of loose hips that have long plagued this line. It's a very welcome change.

Some people were annoyed when NECA announced that Bad Blood would be a "deluxe" (read: "more expensive") figure, since he's not actually any bigger than the other Preds. But you definitely don't feel cheated when you have him in-hand; in addition to the many extra sculpted bits, he's got far more accessories than we're used to seeing in this line. He's got a bloody sword that uses the same sculpt as the Elder's, which is accurate to the comics, and a new short spear, either of which can be stowed in a loop hanging from the back of the right shoulder pad. He also gets an extra right hand sculpted to hold these weapons.

But there's much more. He's got two absolutely disgusting head trophies that he's taken from human victims. They're really more faces than heads: the back half has been removed, and you can see a neat cross-section of brains and other grossness. They hook onto the strap that secures his loincloth. He also gets two animal skulls of unidentified origin, which are attached to each other. The small strip of plastic that connects them can be hung on the other side of the loincloth, but take care when sliding the skulls under it, because this strap can break. I recommend hiking the loincloth up around the figure's waist to give you some extra wiggle room.

His last accessory is a bit of a surprise, and one that wasn't really revealed until the figure hit shelves. It's a bit of Predator dreadlock, and its purpose was mysterious to anyone who hasn't read the comic. It's not really meant to fit anywhere on the figure, though we recommend slipping it in the waist strap so it won't get lost as it's quite tiny. It represents a plot point in the comic where a character manages to tear it from the Predator, and it serves as evidence that whatever is stalking the Pine Barrens isn't human.

Bad Blood isn't my favorite Predator design, and I'd much rather see some AvP Preds (especially the Elder!), but he's definitely a unique design, and one that translates into toy form very well. As the Predator line grows, I'm finding that I've become more drawn to Predators that stand out from the rest, whether via their color scheme, armor, weapons, etc. Bad Blood manages to set himself apart from the pack in just about every possible way, and he'll add a nice splash of color and quirkiness to your Predator shelf.

-- 11/30/14

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