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Hive Wars Predator

by Monkey Boy

The third figure in NECA's series of homages to the Kenner Predator figures of the '90s is probably the one with the least nostalgic connection to me, personally. The Hive Wars Predator is a new take on the Warrior Predator figure released in the Alien: Hive Wars toyline that was something of a swansong for the Alien/Predator Kenner toys, and was only available as a Kay-Bee Toys exclusive. While I was aware of both Nightstorm and Lava Planet (and even moreso their predecessors Scavage and Cracked Tusk) when they were released, I didn't really become aware of the Hive Wars series until much later on. That doesn't mean I like this figure any less, though. What has been great about this series is the way NECA has made updated these old-school designs into figures that transcend the nostalgia factor.

Stranded for years on Xenomorph Prime, his tribe was killed in a reckless Xeno hunt gone awry. Left with nothing but a broken ship and limited supplies, this Predator has proven to be very resourceful, crafting new weapons from the wreckage of his vessel. He lives in isolation, an outcast among the enemy, often becoming the hunted himself. He once longed for rescue from this desolate planet, but has since realized that this is the greatest challenge a true warrior could ever hope for.

Series 10 manages to use all of the Predator base bodies NECA's got: Nightstorm used the "Super Predator," Lava Planet used the "City Hunter," and now we have HWP with the updated "Jungle Hunter" body. It manages to pass the squint test when compared to the original design: chest armor on the left side only, a large plasma caster backpack mounted on the left, a codpiece with overlapping plates of metal.

The rest of the figure has been retooled to match the original even better: a new gauntlet on the right wrist, a left forearm with no gauntlet (and netting that continues to the wrist bracelet), new lower leg armor pieces, and removed right shoulder armor and thigh armor pieces. The new gauntlet features some wicked curved claws that aren't rectractable, and his right shoulder armor is the Dead End design seen on the SDCC-exclusive Albino Predator. He gets a unique rear loincloth piece that's sharp and flat, with none of the usual tatters and wrinkles.

His body may mainly be Jungle Hunter, but his head is plainly City Hunter-based. This makes it truer to the '90s design. The sculpt has been retooled to include the vertebral motif on his forehead, and it looks very, very cool. His bio-helmet also includes three tiny indentations under each "cheek," another subtle but impressive nod to the original figure. Overall, he's the least "over the top" looking of the three Kenner Preds, but he still stands out from the typical hunters from the films.

His paintscheme also helps in this regard. His armor is a dull silver, which is nothing new, but his skin is a brilliant blue. It's lighter in the front and it fades to a deep rich blue in the back. I'd call it an ultramarine, but what do I know? As usual, there are spots scattered about the skin, and that skin is covered with a layer of sculpted and painted netting. By and large, this netting has been the single biggest issue I have with NECA's Predators. Over the course of the line, it has always been a wild card, and if you don't take the time to inspect individual examples on the pegs, you may end up with a figure with a misaligned paint pattern that doesn't match the sculpted lines. It must really be a pain to get these spot on, and I can appreciate that, but when it's not properly matched it throws off the entire look of the toy. It may be OCD on my part, but this is why I won't order these guys online sight unseen.

The netting wasn't an issue with Lava Planet due to his translucent red color scheme, and Nightstorm uses a netless Super Predator body, but Hive Wars has more netting than I think we've seen on any NECA Predator thus far. His entire right arm is devoid of any kind of armor save for a bracelet, and it's covered in netting. There's also much more netting than usual visible between the knee pads and lower leg armor. So it's especially crucial that this figure's net paint is in the right spot.

Thankfully, most of the examples I saw seemed decent, if not spectacular. The painted lines usually at least touched the sculpted area, even if it was just the edge, and there were a couple with just totally mis-matched netting. But for the most part, it seemed like there were more with passable paint jobs than without, which is a good sign. I managed to find one with a bit of digging that had about as pristine netting as I could have hoped for in anything but a handpainted figure.

The updated Jungle Hunter body means his hips are now peg-and hinge joints, his thigh peg joints are positioned higher to be better hidden by the loincloth (now a separate sculpted piece), and his knees have double hinges. Basically, his articulation mirrors the City Hunter body, except with a peg waist instead of a balljoint. In addition, he has a balljointed neck, peg and hinge shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists, and balljointed ankles. All the joints work well on mine, but the hips with this body have to potential to be very loose, which unfortuntale isn't something you can check for before purchasing. Thankfully, it hasn't affected many of my Preds' ability to stand, and only the Series 9 Masked Jungle Hunter really struggles with remaining upright. His plasma caster is articulated with a hinge at the bottom of its arm, and a balljoint where the arm meets the actual cannon and as previously stated, his claws do not retract.

The original Hive Wars Warrior Predator included a removable mask and a curved, double-bladed staff. The new figure's mask isn't removable, but he does get a nice new version of the staff, with a huge Klingon-esque blade on top. Both of his hands are sculpted to be able to hold the staff, though his right hand's grip is pretty loose. It can be used in a two handed grip quite well though.

While his oversized blades and eye-catching skintone make him a little bit louder than your typical Predator design, he's familiar enough to fit in with the non-Kenner designs. He's different enough that I'm not having flashbacks of "Lost Tribe fatigue" and I ended up liking him a lot more than I imagined I would. I actually enjoyed this whole series much more than I thought, and I'm anxious to see what designs NECA will choose for its next Kenner homage series. I'd personally like to see a Clan Leader, a Laser Shot Predator, and a Stalker Predator (without the glow in the dark bits, naturally), though that assumes an update of the unproduced Heavy Infantry Predator (with its horns, four arms, and huge backpack cannon) is off the table.

-- 13/22/13

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