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Lava Planet Predator

by Monkey Boy

I initially had no intention of picking up the Lava Planet Predator. Of the Series 10 "Kenner Tribe" Predators, he seemed the most nostalgia-centered, and a translucent red Predator seemed just as stupid to me today as it did in the '90s. Obviously, since I'm reviewing him, my attitude changed after a couple of things happened. One of those things was seeing him in person. The other was reading his bio on the cardback:

A descendant of a rare tribe that inhabited the lethal volcanic regions of Yautja Prime. They wear specialized masks and cloaking nets to suppress the high levels of radioactivity. Their invisibility cloaking technology is highly advanced and nearly always active as a protective electromagnetic field against the radiation, though visible undulations of skin and armor are constantly moving and shifting amongst the fiery red landscape these Predators occupy. Lava clan warriors carry specialized weaponry specific for hunting the Vy'drach insectoids of the desert. This is a rite of passage for most common Yautja warriors, but for the Lava clan, it is a way of life.

It's no secret that I typically don't care for most of the bio text on these cardbacks, but this one actually comes up with a decent in-universe explanation for a translucent red Predator. So bravo, whoever writes these. It was a big part of justifying this purchase. The rest of the push I needed came from seeing him up close and personal; he just looks really cool and imposing.

LPP [yeah you know me! --ed.] is based mainly on the City Hunter base body, with the loincloth of the Shaman Predator. You can tell because his loincloth features the same arrangement of pouches and mostly covered up smart disc sculpted peeking out from underneath the largest pouch on his right hip. He has a new head with a really awesome mask based on the original Lava Planet Predator, which itself was a repaint of the Cracked Tusk Predator.

Unlike the Nightstorm/Scavage scenario, I could totally see NECA revisiting this design and giving us a proper non-translucent Cracked Tusk the next time they dig into the Kenner vault. And I would have no problem with that. He also gets a new top piece for his right gauntlet, and a hose running from there to his back armor. His wrist claw is a new design that mirrors the original figure: a horseshoe-shaped pincer that retracts and extends. His other gauntlet has been flipped, so the little fins on the (former) top now recall the blade on the original figure's gauntlet. His plasma caster is new, based on the hugely oversized cannon that came with the original figure.

He's cast almost entirely in translucent plastic, with only the mask being totally solidly painted. There are hints of painted armor and flesh showing through, to create the "always kind of cloaked" look the bio alludes to while staying true to the odd paint apps of the original. The visibly painted armor pieces are either reddish copper or silver with a wash, and the leather pieces are dark brown with gray edges. The exposed skin is the most strikingly painted area: completely black and edged with yellow and orange, like burning cinders. I always found this goofy on the old figure, but NECA's execution (coupled with the backstory they concocted) makes it seem quite natural.

His articulation is the same as all the City Hunter-based Predators, which is to say he can definitely move. His hips are loose, which is a common issue with this body, but his skirt piece helps keep him stable, though it inhibits leg movement somewhat. His plasma caster is on a track like the City Hunter's, but it's hinged more like the Super Predators'. For those keeping track, he's got a balljointed neck, peg and hinged shoulders and elbows, balljointed wrists, a balljointed waist, peg and hinge hips, peg thighs, double-hinged knees, and balljointed ankles.

LPP's only accesory is a version of the Predator 2 Elder's sword, with a reddish copper blade, brown handle and silver pommel. It's not a callback to any original accessory that the old Lava Planet or Cracked Tusk figures came with, but it's better than getting no accessories at all. And I'd rather a sword than a huge spring-loaded arm cannon any day.

I really didn't expect to like Lava Planet Predator. At all. But seeing him in person really changed all that. He's funky and a bit goofy and he'll definitely look a bit odd in a Predator display, but he fits in much better than I'd anticipated. And for once, I actually like the liberties taken by NECA for their bio text. He's still probably my least favorite in the series, and he's the easiest to pass if you have to skip one, but I still really like him, and I'm glad I changed my mind and picked him up.

-- 13/16/13

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