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Ultimate Elder Predator

Predator 2
by yo go re

Take it away, TS Eliot.

The Elder Predator known as Greyback originally visited Earth in the 18th century, encountering a crew of murderous pirates and claiming his first human kills. Years later, he'd go on to gather a hunting team which would amass an impressive collection of alien trophies as they would travel uncharted portions of the galaxy in pursuit of the most dangerous prey. Their hunts were usually so far from home that they'd earned the nickname "Lost Tribe." The Lost Tribe were just as much explorers as they were hunters, and Greyback developed a reputation for taking down the most exotic species in the galaxy. He'd visit Earth once again in 1997, bringing his team of skilled Yautja for various hunts across the globe. This would culminate with the loss of their youngest hunter in Los Angeles. It wasn't the first time the Lost Tribe had suffered a death, and it was unlikely to be the last. But this is the thrill of the hunt, as Greyback knows better than any other.

It makes sense that Elder would be the final Ultimate Lost Tribe release, because he's already had more figures than any of the rest of them: there were two Borgs and two Elders, but there was also am Ultimate "Golden Angel," which was Elder when he was younger. So I guess just "Eld." Since he had not yet grown Eld... er. Anyway, if you start off with your fourth version of the same character, its sales won't be as good as they would be if you wait until the end and everybody already has eight other Predators helping support the release of one more. And at that point, maybe they won't notice there's no cool new info about him on the back of the box, or that the art on the front appears to just be drawn over photographs of the toys. The only interesting thing about the art is the two cloaked Predators flanking him, because you have to actually notice they're there - otherwise it just looks like a weird choice to make part of the background blurry.

NECA's previous two Elders had quite a number of differences, which Monkey Boy detailed nicely in the Version 2 review, but this Ultimate release handily splits the difference between them: specifically, he has the costume elements placed correctly like v2 did, but has the lighter, more accurate skin color of v1. Truly living up to that "Ultimate" modifier! A lot of the Lost Tribe Ultimates have given the characters new design elements, and Elder follows suit: he has a bandana or something tied around his right elbow. That's it. Sure, okay. Really mixing things up now, team!

Like we said, this Elder has the paler skin of the version 1 toy, but the pattern of markings isn't the same, so honestly, all three versions look like they could be different monsters. The forehead on this one is subtler than before, and there's a stripe up his stomach. Like Version 2, his dreadlocks are grey, rather than black, and the leather parts of his outfit are dark brown instead of closer to red. It's a very dense, dark figure, and looks basically grayscale next to all the others.

Instead of a new head with the mouth in a different pose, Ultimate Elder gets two different masked heads. Why two? Because Golden Angel came with two, and these are both reused from that. Why did Golden Angel have two? Because in the comic, he wore one helmet on the cover and a different one in the actual story. Why? Well, possibly because the original story had been drawn in 1996, while the cover was created for a reprint in 2008, but honestly you'd have to ask artist Igor Kordey about it.

Since the Elder Pred was pretty much just supposed to be the Predator 1 Predator with a few more years on him, the original mask is pretty much the Predator 1 mask: smooth on top, flat snout, etc. The biggest difference is is the deep, hollow cheeks. The later mask is more ornate, adding more detail to the mouth and nose area, putting some smaller ports in those cheek recesses now, and adding a ring of lizard-like spikes to the crown. Much like Borg, who began this set of figures, Elder gets an LED feature in this mask. The battery cover is held in place by nothing more than friction, and fits so well you might not even realize it's removable if not for the box telling you so. The switch to work the eyes is inside there, as well.

The inclusion of Golden Angel's masks sets the stage for all the accessories we get here: everything reused, nothing new. Elder's got his backpack and shoulder cannon, with a plasma blast to fit in the end, and you know he's going to have his jagged sword and the flintlock pistol that is seemingly going to be retconned once Prey 2 comes out. Finally, he gets two cleaned human skulls: one with spine, one without. And with that mention of skulls, if you've read our last few Ultimate Lost Tribe reviews, you know what we're going to say next: NECA should have given each of these releases a trophy skull and then re-released the diorama itself. The figure does include a couple alternate hands to hold everything, of course, but that's all.

Having LEDs behind the eyes in the pointy mask is a new feature, but otherwise, everything about this Elder Predator is pre-existing. The bones, the weapons, the story on the back of the box... for a series that's been about expanding the world of the Lost tribe, to end with just what we had before is disappointing. It's better than the previous ones, sure, but not anything new. [does getting an in-universe reason they're known as "Lost" not count for some reason? --ed.] Now that NECA's finished with this multi-year release schedule (remember, the first came out in 2020), it will be interesting to see what they're planning to do next. Our recommendation? Dead End. There's still one Pred design from that movie they've never done, and you could probably come up with all kind of fun new additions to make the sets even better.

-- 06/11/23

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