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Feral Predator

by yo go re

This is why we can't have nice things.

Set in the Comanche Nation 300 years ago, this the story of a young woman, Naru, a fierce and highly skilled warrior who has been raised in the shadow of some of the most legendary hunters on the Great Plains. When danger threatens her camp, she sets out to protect her people. The prey she stalks, and ultimately confronts, turns out to be a highly evolved alien predator with a technically advanced arsenal, resulting in a vicious and terrifying showdown between the two adversaries.

The original plan, when Prey was being put together, was that the marketing would never even mention it was a Predator-universe prequel, instead treating it as if it were just a coming-of-age story about a girl who wanted to prove her worth. Prove it against some unknown monster, perhaps, but not specifically a Predator. Imagine how hard you would have geeked out if you'd gone into the movie not knowing that, and only realized it as the story went along. But no, somebody had to leak the connection, ruining the fun for the rest of us.

Luckily, Prey remains an awesome film even without that Fight Club/​Matrix/Sixth Sense kind of reveal. It goes back to the original kind of story, where it's a movie about one type of thing for like half the runtime, then it changes into a scary alien fight.

Unlike every other Predator we've seen in the movies, Prey's Feral Predator is mostly nude. He's covering his shame with a loincloth, and has wraps around his ankles, but his bracers are not as high tech as usual, and he has no armor on his shoulders or chest - just bare skin (with what looks like a large scar running all the way down the center of the chest). He does have a row of tiny dreadlets (like their dreadlocks, but smaller; "dreadlets") running across his shoulders, where they're entirely hidden by the ones hanging from his head. His belt has some bloody bones hanging from it, as well as a couple non-removable weapons, like his netball and cut clamps.

Feral still wears a mask, but instead of metal, it's bone - the skull of some creature he felled, presumably. But while it has a nasal cavity, it doesn't have any eye sockets; how does he see? Are we meant to interpret it as Preda-Vision somehow seeing through the mask? Like, we know they naturally have thermal vision, does Feral's species have x-ray, too? Well no, that can't be it, because the point of x-rays is that they don't go through bone; otherwise there'd be no point to them. So now we're back to asking how he sees through a solid skull. Maybe the little bit of tech affixed to the inside of the skull has something to do with it. Yes, this is a removable mask, not a swappable head.

This Predator looks different from all the ones we've seen before: its mandibles don't stick out as far, and instead of a broad forehead with ridges around the edges, it's a narrow head that's comparatively smooth. Director Dan Tractenberg and concept artist Michael Vincent have said they imagine this Predator as coming from a different environment on the homeworld: all the others we've met in the movies have been "jungle" types, while this one is more "desert."

To maximize the number of ways you can display this figure, the unmasked head has three interchangeable mouthparts: fully closed, open slightly, and open wide. They swap in and out of the face via a big plug in the lower jaw, which isn't the most seamless thing, but it beats having to do full alternate heads. If nothing else it saves space in the package. And all three versions work fine with the mask - you can have him howling around the sides of the skull, looking even more frightening than usual!

Articulation is typical for a NECA Predator: balljointed ankles, double-hinged knees, swivel thighs, balljointed hips, balljointed waist, balljointed chest, swivel/hinge wrists, swivel forearms, double-hinged elbows, swivel biceps, swivel/hinge shoulders, and a balljointed head. The figure stands 9" tall, which is a little bigger than the average Pred and therefore nice and intimidating, and the figure includes a bunch of alternate hands to hold different accessories - open wide, open narrow, fully closed, fully splayed, trigger finger extended, and pinching.

The Feral Predator's weapons are similar to the ones you're used to, but slightly less advanced. Because this was 300 years ago. For instance, he doesn't have a plasmacaster gun on his shoulder, but he does have his Bolt Gun, a handheld arrow launcher that sort of works similarly. A pair of wrist blades can plug into his right arm, but they don't retract or extend. He has compact and extended versions of his distinctive spear, which has a blade at one end and a club at the other; it can also be split in half to be wielded as two separate melee weapons. The set includes two sizeable hooks so you can hang the collapsed staff from the back of his belt.

He has a shield on his left arm that extends and spirals out from a single plate in the center - a device inspired in the movie by Kratos' Guardian Shield in Dad of Boy. Neat! In the movie it's got bladed edges sharp enough to cut rock, so it's not just a defensive tool. On the toy, it's done as two swappable bits - one just a bar, the other fully open - and there's no piece to fill the slot in the arm when there's no shield in place. If you don't get the tab into the slot just right, it sits in place pretty decently, but will fall out with a nudge; when you've got it in all the way, it's perfectly secure.

Finally, he has a backpack, which just attaches to the figure via magnets; how does that work on the real creature? It can stick to either side of his back, depending on how you want him to look. In the movie, he wears it on the right side, and his bolt gun somehow stores on the left, though the only way to do that here is if you also have the combi-stick hanging from the belt and kind of jam the tip of the gun in behind it. Guess there wasn't enough room in the gun for a second magnet.

Prey was a startlingly good movie, and so it's great that we get the Predator from it. It's just too bad that NECA can't get human figures to sell, because having a pack of Naru and her dog Sarii to face off against him would just be tops!

-- 02/04/24

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