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Ultimate Scout Predator

Predator 2
by yo go re

This To Kill a Mockingbird reboot is weird!

Born on a harsh, isolated island, Scout descends from a rare sub-species on Yautja Prime. This island is known for breeding unique hunters who've become specialized in stealth and long-range kills as a means of surviving the dangerous wildlife. Highly trained at using custom-built plasma rifles, Scout is a master of precision as well as an expert of reconnaissance and strategic observation. As part of Greyback's Lost Tribe, he's mainly tasked with terminating secondary targets from a distance to allow the rest of the group to focus on the primary target. At the same time, he continually watched for potential dangers. Long-range weapons are usually considered dishonorable in Yautja culture. However, since Scout only uses plasma rifles of his own design and build, he's allowed to participate in hunts in this capacity on the condition that he does not kill any primary targets. Serving as both a strategist and a protector, Scout is a hunter of rare skill contributing significantly to the Lost Tribe's legendary success in ways that are commonly overlooked.

So as Monkey Boy taught us in his Ultimate Armored Lost Predator review, the Ultimate Lost Tribe figures are not based on the movie - or at least, aren't an attempt to be screen-accurate. In the movie, the Scout Predator was just the Predator 1 costume with Predator 2 armor, and all he did was stand around in the gloom of the ship and take up part of the frame. So literally every other piece of information up there about him other than "he's a Predator" was made up by NECA. The front of the box has new art by Tristan Jones, showing Scout sitting in his sniper's nest. The coolest part? In the background, we can see the Yutani 株式会社 building! See, because they haven't merged with Weyland Corp yet. Neat!

Now, Scout wasn't literally the P1 body with P2 armor - it may alarm you to learn this, but movie monster costumes do not start with a fully nude body and then put different pieces of clothing on them, so the City Hunter's armor was sculpted right onto his body at Stan Winston Studios. Therefore, when we say this is the Predator 1 costume, what we really mean is that they pulled another shot from the Predator 2 molds, then painted its skin like the Jungle Hunter: mostly a pale yellow with some dark stripes. This choice worked out well for NECA, who were able to use their existing City Hunter toy molds and give them different paint.

The bio-mask, though, really is just the first movie's version. Several elements from the original costume were reused to create the Lost Tribe Predators, so the odds of this being the same prop are really good.

And then here's where we begin seeing NECA's changes. They've created an alternate, unmasked head for Scout, despite the fact he was never unmasked in the film. Where'd the design come from, then? From the mind of Jason Frailey or David Silva, presumably. It looks like the Jungle Hunter head with new mandibles: the lower pair come close together in the center, and point straight upward, while the higher pair are huge, as large as Pred lower mandibles usually are, and even curve upward at the ends instead of down. I don't know how those would ever fit into the existing mask, but it does look damn cool. The orange and black markings on his forehead look pretty boss, too.

The original Scout was made from the "Version 1" City Hunter body, while these days there's a better mold with more articulation. Scout has a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel biceps, double-hinged elbows, swivel forearms, swivel/hinge wrists, a balljointed chest, a balljointed waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and balljointed ankles. The left thigh on mine was stuck right out of the package - a minor inconvenience, and definitely better than being broken. He may have to take a hot bath before getting everything moving.

These Ultimate releases are a little on the expensive side (fun side note: I recently found an ancient Toys "Я" Us receipt in a pile of papers, and one of the things I'd bought back then was a NECA Predator - quite likely someone from the Lost Tribe. How much did it cost? $13.99. Let that marinate in your brain for a bit), but they at least attempt to justify their price by the inclusion of accessories aplenty. The first time around, all the Lost Tribe figures were limited to what we saw on-screen; the Ultimates really get to expand things. 2012 Scout only had a closed Smart Disc - 2021 Scout gets that and an open Smart Disc!

Okay, that's the start of things. He's also got telescoped and collapsed versions of the Predator spear, and hands to hold all these things. Considering about how the bio goes on and on about him weirdly using guns, he's sure got a lot of traditional stabby/slicy sharp weapons, hasn't he? There's even blood painted on his wrist blades!

Like most Predators, he's got a plasma caster gun on his shoulder. This set includes a red blast effect that fits on the end - these have been seen with the previous Ultimate City Hunter toy, but if you never got that, it's new to you. Another thing I hadn't seen before is the small mini-blaster that pops out from the side of his left gauntlet. The front still has the flip-open panel with the self-destruct controls, but a chunk on the outside can be removed and replaced with an extended version that has a little barrel sticking out the front. That's certainly not something from the movies!

And then finally we get to the star of the set, the gun. This thing is an absolute beast! It's 6" long, and has the kind of layered, armored look of a lot of Pred tech has. This may have come out of the minds of NECA (whether it was a team effort or just one person), but it absolutely looks like it could have been designed by Stan Winston Studio and just left in a deleted scene or something. It's several shades of grey and silver, and if there's one flaw to be found, it's that none of his alternate hands are shaped to hold the grip very well. Oh, you can get it into a hand, and he won't drop it, but it's not a terrific fit.

But Scout isn't just someone with a rifle, he's a sniper, so this can convert into a sniper rifle. The barrel pulls out, extending about 1⅛" much like the spears do, and there are flip-down legs that form a bipod to provide stability. Both the legs and the increased barrel are black, giving it a slightly different look.

Like the spear, the rifle can collapse down to a much more manageable size. Not really, of course, because that's beyond the scope of a molded plastic toy, but they've included a fully compact version that can plug onto Scout's back where a shoulder cannon's backpack would normally be. For times when the gun's not in storage, we get a little lump of plastic that can cover the long tab and preserve a seamless look. That's not something we really needed, but it's not unwelcome. Weirdly, though, we don't get the skull-on-a-string necklace the old toy (and the movie costume) had.

Scout's new characterization is a really cool take, giving him personality and style that he never had before, while adding meaning to his name. The idea that he'd be considered dishonorable for using a rifle is silly, considering every other Predator uses a shoulder-mounted gun that instantly aims wherever they look. Is there a limit for what counts as honorable? Is 50 feet okay, but 51 is bad? And do we round up or down? What if your target is 50 feet and six inches away? What if they're close enough when you fire, but they lean back slightly before the blast hits them? And if you can't feed them after midnight, when can you start feeding them again? Making arbitrary rules will always raise questions if you think about them too hard, and frankly, shooting something from very far away takes more skill than shooting something close to you. It's not like they really care about their prey knowing they're there, or they wouldn't go invisible. Professionals have standards.

-- 03/13/21

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