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Alpha Predator

by yo go re

Thank you for joining us on another edition of "fan-fic nickname speed round."

The Yautja race began thousands of years ago as the Hish-qu-Ten, a primitive species suddenly struggling under the rule of alien invaders. For many centuries, the Amengi were cruel rulers, using the Hish for labor and breeding them to battle for the entertainment of their masters. But ultimately, the Amengi engineered their own defeat when they produced fighters strong enough to organize a rebellion, led by one perticularly powerful Hish who came to be known in legend as the First Hunter - the "Alpha Predator."

We will never stop finding these alleged species names for the Predator stupid. No no, by all means, tell us more about the Horpy Dorppels and their brutal slave war with the vile Besplinky invaders. The Yamjams' struggle against their Shadrach-Meshach/Andabednego overlords is totally serious and dramatic stuff, worthy of our quiet respect! STOP LAUGHING YOU GUYS!! The Yiffmasters and the Jumanji are super, super serial!

For their landmark 100th Predator toy, NECA got creative, designing their own unique character. Or, more accurately, David Silva did: he's credited on the packaging for doing the Conceptual Design, Sculpt, and Story, so way to go, Dave! This monster is your baby, top to bottom. And frankly, what Silva came up with is all kinds of awesome. The underlying body is a normal Pred, though the skin is chalk white instead of the usual mottled brown/green/orange palette. Even his dreads are white! His head seems longer than usual, suggesting either age or power (that jawline feels very "Schwarzeneggery"), and he has more bony spikes than average, too.

Even if you don't read the origin story or the bio on the back of the box, the design intention is clear: he looks like a caveman Predator, wearing ancient antecedents to all the equipment we're familiar with - mask, armor, wrist blades, all of it. It's just primitive. Like, Predators always wear their wrist blades on their right arm, yeah? Well, so does Alpha, but his aren't made from metal; rather, he's killed some big, fanged creature and is wearing its lower jaw in that same place, with its twin tusks extending out past his fingertips. The rest of the skull is tied to his left arm, though only the right arm has a slider so the "blades" can extend.

The mask and chest armor are nice enough, but if you know a little about the history of the Predator design, they're totally awesome. You may recall that the Pred we know was not the original intent; the first design was more insect-y and would have been played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, but it didn't work in the actual jungle location, so it had to be scrapped and they needed to start over. Well, the "mask" Alpha's wearing is clearly a hollowed-out head from that unused design! Brilliant! The chest armor, too, comes from that silly suit, suggesting the reason it couldn't be in Predator was that Alpha Predator killed it and cannibalized its body for parts.

Presumably the rest of his armor comes from the same source - the large panels on the thighs, the pieces tied around his shins, the shoulder pads, etc. Insead of wearing sandals like most Predators, he's barefoot, though a little armor is strapped to the top of his foot. There's also no netting on his legs, big surprise. Nor would there be a plasma caster backpack, so instead he just gets some big spikes - two that are attached in the package, and two you have to plug in yourself.

Like the Ultimate Lost Predator, Alpha's got some impressive modern articulation. Balljointed ankles, hinged lower knees, swivel/hinge upper knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a balljionted waist, balljointed chest, swivel/hinge wrists, double-swivel/hinged elbows, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed neck. Like we said, he doesn't have a backpack gun, but the jawbone on his right forearm does slide forward - it's also mounted via two balljoints, so it can hinge up a little if you want it to. All his joints worked right away, with nothing stuck or broken. NECA's gotten really good about that lately (which is handy since we're all being forced to order more online these days, rather than finding things in stores).

The "prehistoric" aesthetic continues on the weapons. What are Predators most known for? Their spear and their glaive. Alpha's got both, though clearly not as advanced as we're used to. Instead of a technological disc, he carries what's basically a shuriken formed by tying sharpened bones together; instead of a telescoping spear, he's got a stick with bones, spines, and claws lashed to it. Something new he brings to the table is a rough-hewn sickle, which can store in the loop on his belt. The toy also includes two fists and two hands for holding the weapons, though getting the left hand in and out of the wrist is difficult, thanks to the bone gauntlet.

NECA designing their own Predator for the 100th release is a very cool idea. It's not the first one they did (that'd be Viper), but going back to ancient times for their inspiration is just good storytelling. It not only manages to homage the history of the Predator as a concept, it also gives cultural reasonings behind the Predators' typical fashion choices, turning them from something just done to look intimidating on film into something with historical significance: they don't do these things "just because," they do them in remembrance of the one who founded them.

-- 12/05/20

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