No matter how bad the movies get, the Aliens and Predator franchises just keep making money - after all, would anyone bother to keep making more movies if they weren't showing a profit? And no matter how many toys we get based on these characters, there's always another company willing to make more. McFarlane Toys made (tiny, crappy) figures for the first Alien vs. Predator, but NECA picked up the license for the second. Their first series featured the alien and the hybrid (and proved ragingly difficult to find); the Predators showed up in Series 2.
Well, technically that's "Predator" - singular.
There's just the one character, but several versions of him. That's something that pissed off quite a few fans, but it's not without reason. You have your choice of masked or unmasked versions, and they each come with a few unique accessories. This is the masked version, chosen for reasons we'll get into later.
The Predator (forget what the fanboys claim, these guys don't have any official species name) looks really good. Though the Predator design has evolved over the years, there are a lot of stylistic connections to Stan Winston's original costume. The placement of his armor, the skulls around his neck, his skin color... none of it is exactly the same, but it's all very similar. If you missed McFarlane's first Predator, this would be a decent stand-in.
"The Wolf" (as he's apparently known)
is a one-man cleaning crew. After the events of the first AvP, he came in to pick up the pieces. To that end, he's got plenty of weapons - even if half of them are just part of the sculpt, rather than true accessories. For instance, the two collapsed bladed disc weapons on his belt, or the four triangular thingies on his free-floating bandolier. Some sort of mines or grenades, perhaps? There are claws on the armor covering his feet, and a wicked double blade pulls out of his right forearm: it doesn't slide out, like previous attampts, which means no nob on the side to make it work smoothly; you just pull it out yourself. Yeah, good luck with that.
So that's it for attached gear. The masked Pred also features a silver spear (which seems to have a vulva
sculpted on the handle for some reason), a three-piece shoulder cannon, a battery pack and, his exclusive accessory, a large backpack "cleaner kit." Since that one only comes with the masked Pred, but both versions share the same body, I guess the unmasked version just ends up with a bare spot back there. The battery pack is a pod that plugs onto his back and presumably powers all his wonderful toys.
The cannon has an articulated arm that plugs in place on his shoulder - either shoulder, actually. The unmasked version comes with two cannons, so the mold has two spots for them. In addition to three points of movement in the arm, the cannon can be popped free and a handle attached, allowing the Pred to wield it like a handgun. Neat! And versatile, too!
We said that the Predators
all have different heads, but that's not precisely true: they actually have different faces. The back half of the head is the same, while the front half is what gets swapped out. That's fine for the masked version, since the helmet covers the entire upper part of his skull, but on the unmasked versions, that leaves a bit, blatant seam running horizontally across the forehead - and forget about getting the paint apps to line up nicely on both sides. The sculpt is nice on both, but really, the helmet is a better choice. It's scarred from many battles, and has the same metallic texture as the rest of the armor.
The body is detailed well,
with a distinct musculature and an inhuman texture on the skin. The spurs on his heels look like bone, and he has small spikes or fins or something on his calves. The paint is excellent, with just one chronic problem area: the paint doesn't always line up with the raised, sculpted netting on his chest and left arm. It's not major, but it is pervasive. The armor is silver, but also has a black patina to make it look used. The three skulls hanging around his neck are a reddish orange, and his skin is yellow and brown. So overall, the figure looks great.
Standing straight up, the Predator is 8" tall - the right size for this character in a 7" scale. But he's not designed to stand straight up: the figure has an intended pose that sees him in much more of a wide-legged squat and leaves him just 7½". The figure has swivel ankles, hinged knees, swivel thighs, a v-crotch, swivel writs, swivel biceps, balljointed shoulders and a balljointed neck, so he's got enough for more than one pose.
The biceps are particularly ugly, since they're just cut straight through the arm, rather than blended into the anatomy. A small tube connects the armor on his shoulder to the armor on his chest, so his left arm can't really take full advantage of its balljoint.
The Predator is a good figure, but a lot of fans are unhappy about the way NECA is selling masked and unmasked versions as separate figures. It's not like the company just randomly decided to do it that way: because of the way oil prices are rising, NECA has to be able to sell at least 20,000 units of any given figure to make it financially viable; there are some figures they made in the past that they'd never be able to make today, because the break-even point used to only be 10,000 pieces. Re-using 95% of the sculpt for multiple figures just helps defer that initial cost, and increases the chance of the company surviving to make some of that cool, obscure stuff again in the future. I really only bought the Predator as a way of showing thanks to NECA for what they did for the Four Horsemen, but ended up being pleasantly surprised by the final product.