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Stalker Predator

Predators
by yo go re

Spiked Tail was fun, but now we've got an update of an old figure I actually owned!

Descending from the Night Hunter Clan near the southern pole of Yautja Prime, Stalker lives in a world of complete darkness. Having developed unparalleled night vision technology, the members of Stalker's clan hunt in coordinated packs over large, open areas. Their translucent skin is an environmental adaptation that allows their phosphorescent green blood to shine through, and that glow acts as a location sign in the absence of light. Pack hunting offers a great advantage, for while most creatures in this area are blind, their prey is also much larger than them and thus extremely dangerous to take down alone. Stalker and his clan are very removed from the rest of the planet and thus hunt more for survival than for sport. The Night Hunter Clan is one of the few Predator clans that does not possess cloaking technology, as it is of no use in this environment.

What a terrific excuse for creating a glow-in-the-dark action figure! It's one thing for NECA to craft fun original biographies for the Kenner updates, it's another entirely to offer a plausible kayfabe reasoning for what was originally just a toy's random action feature.

The original Stalker Predator had a striking design even when not cast in GitD plastic (which is a good thing for him, since he was re-released in a later series sans glow, instead done in black and olive tones). His armor was covered in large spikes and seemed to have an Aztec-style skirt - to say nothing of the xenomorph head sculpted on its chest. The modern version keeps that feature, though it's quite clearly just a sculpted piece and not meant to be an actual bit of anatomy - unless Stalker's been stalking undersized Aliens. The human skulls on his knees are smaller than a real one would be, too. Instead of plain gauntlets, he gets new ones with a hook on the bottom and a tiny blaster on top.

While we don't get the full skirt we do get lots of spikes, from the small ones on the ankles to the single large one on the left shoulder. Comparing the armor on the two toys is like comparing a modern Transformer to its ancient counterpart: many of the same shapes, just done with much more detail. Like, all those small boxes on the chest armor? Those were there in the '90s, too, but you'd easily overlook them. And nice work putting the Xenomorph "tongue" bits over the shoulders! The original toy had a fully gloved right hand, but NECA already walked that ground with Spiked Tail, so repeating it in the same series might have been a mistake. This one also has exposed feet, instead of full boots, but he does get a pod on his right shin that matches the old look.

The 1994 toy had a helmet that was fairly smooth and sleek, with an arching section over the mouth and two large, curved horns coming off the sides. While the modern version keeps the horns, the rest is more detailed. The shapes carry over, but what used to be smooth panels now get raised lines and ridges. The snout is now concave instead of convex, looking vaguely similar to Boar's mask. There are inset panels on the nose and cheeks, and nice technological detailing all over the interior.

The old figure's head was also one of the most off-brand Predators ever. It had dreadlocks and four little fangs, but then things went off the rails, with spikes on his chin, bony ridges running back the sides of his face, and a gigantic pair of ram horns for some reason. Once again, NECA has turned craziness into appropriateness, reimagining the horns as something more traditionally Preddy and shrinking the chin-spikes as just extra nubs on his mandibles. He looks like the same species, not just one that's kind of related.

In order to best show off the finest phosphorescent plastic the early '90s had to offer, Kenner's Stalker Predator was mostly unpainted - in fact, the implication was it was his armor that was glowing, not his body. The head, glove, boots, and a little bit of the armor were given paint apps, but the rest was just white. As revealed in the bio, NECA's Stalker has a white body, while his armor is almost entirely painted in brown and bronze shades. It looks really cool! There is a little bit of paint on the head, to bring out the sculptural details - some brown on the forehead and around the eyes, plus a very dark mouth. But even his Predlocks are the glowy stuff! It makes for a great contrast when the lights go out.

Vintage Stalker had a spear-launching feature, and NECA has even homaged that by including three AvP spears - two are retracted, and can store on his backpack next to his weird blaster, while the third is fully extended. There's no launcher, and the spears don't glow, but the intention is clear. The figure also includes an alternate left hand, for some reason: the normal is curled to clutch something, while this one is in a perfectly flat karate-chop? It was also going to come with a whip, possibly meant to stand in for the xenomorph tail that curled around the original toy's left arm, but is absent here - that, however, was removed after Toy Fair for budget reasons.

The figure has a balljointed neck, swivel/hinge shoulders, double-hinged elbows, swivel forearms, balljointed wrists, a balljointed chest, swivel waist, swivel/hinge hips, swivel thighs, double-hinged knees, and balljointed ankles. The wrists poke out from the gauntlets just a little too far, allowing us to see too much of the peg, and a few of the leg joints on mine are a bit loose: the left hip and the lower hinge in the right knee aren't as tight as usual, but he still manages to stand up okay.

I'm a sucker for glow-in-the-dark stuff, so the old Stalker Predator was one of my favorites in Kenner's line. But it was really just for the glow, not the design or anything else. NECA took the bare bones of the idea and turned it into something that looks just as good with the lights on as it does with the lights off.

-- 01/29/17


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