I was really excited for NECA's Classic Alien and Predator two pack. Even though I already had the "Classic" Predator and Alien that they had released singly, I still wanted the set very badly. You can never have too many Aliens, and the Predator had the proper trophy necklaces to really solidify him as the original Pred, as well as the new closed mouth face sculpt. The topper were the additions of the Alien and Predator skull accessories, and the sweet price of $24.99.
Seeing the product in stores, however, quickly killed my buzz. I had to sift through countless examples of the set at a couple of different TRUs before I found one even borderline acceptable in terms of paint, construction, and overall quality.
Many sets had the lines of spots on the Pred's forehead grossly misaligned. Since they are meant to be centered, it was very noticeable when the double rows of spots were wildly favoring one side or the other.
A few other sets had mandibles that were haphazardly attached, sticking out at all angles, or other such construction problems with the face. With the face being the only new part, this was quite an annoyance. Many sets have very noticeable gaps under the eye sockets, where the face is meant to attach but is not snugly fit before being glued.
One set even had the plastic on the front of the face smushed and flatted to a glossy sheen! It's very strange to me that these were let out of the factory in such condition.
And that's barely touching on the paint problems that are present on nearly every example of this set. Most figures are missing the dark shadows in the sunken sockets around the eyes, which seems like a minor annoyance, but makes a huge difference. The open mouth "Classic" Pred has this paint app, and looks great. The missing shading also makes the "gap" present in the facial construction of many of these figures even more noticeable, since it occurs right below the eye socket area.
The eyes themselves aren't without issue either. The paint on the eye is meant to be a small black dot, with a thin circle surrounding it. Most figures just have a splotchy black mess to represent the eye. The tusks are also highly variable, with some figures having smooth uniform paint apps on the tusks, while others are lumpy, goopy, and blotchy.
It makes it extremely difficult to find a Pred that matches up enough to really show off what a great figure this could be. You've got to get a Pred with a solidly constructed face, properly applied forehead tampo, properly shaded eye sockets, properly painted eyes, and avoid any other random manufacturing error like melted plastic and missing accessories. I have yet to find a single set that meets these expectations, even though they should be a given.
The Alien is almost a straight re-release of the original Cult Classics Alien figure, but the construction on this version is much shoddier. Again, most of the issues seem to surround the face, with the clear plastic "dome" being applied extremely haphazardly, with liberal amounts of glue splattered all over the place and large gaps between the plastic of the dome and that of the figure's head.
NECA has acknowledged at least some of these issues, and has stated on its Twitter feed that it has moved production for its future Predator figures to a different factory. Time will tell if this factory is better than the previous, although (and I may be jinxing myself by saying this) it would have to be an absolutely horrible factory to be as bad as the one where this set was produced.
I probably dug around through at least 20 of these sets in search of a set that meets my pretty basic expectations, and have come up empty every time. I finally settled on one that was simply the least offending example, but it's still far from what I expect from a toy company. Even for a company like NECA that has had its share of paint/quality issues in the past, this set is bad. The real shame is that it has amazing potential. Both iconic characters in a single set for an awesome prize with some great pack-in accessories, what could go wrong? Well, apparently a lot. I only hope that we see a re-release of the closed mouth Predator in the future, hopefully from a better factory.