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by Monkey Boy

It had been known for a while that NECA's SDCC Predator-themed exclusive would be the "Albino" Predator from the Batman: Dead End fan film, the same source that gave us Big Red from Series 7. He had an interesting color scheme, to be sure, but I wasn't 100% sold on the necessity of the figure until I saw pictures of the Dead End display NECA had set up, which featured not only Big Red and Albino but a third DE Pred, the black-and-yellow hunter dubbed "Wasp." And on his spear was a ridiculously awesome decapitated Alien head.

And just like that, I was back in again. Big Red was cool to have by himself, and Albino alone just wasn't enough for me to feel like I needed and entire DE section of my display. But Wasp put it over the edge. Rustin must have sensed this, because he went ahead and snagged an Albino for me, knowing I'd be sorry later if I didn't have one. For those who couldn't attend the con and didn't have someone there to pick one up for them, NECA offered the Albino (and its other SDCC '13 exclusives) on their site store at random times during the convention weekend.

Devoid of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes, the Albino Predator lurks in the shadows. Enraged by the stigma of being ostracized for his genetic mutation, Albino's propensity for violence is extreme even by Predator standards. A member of Big Red's clan, the Albino shuns most of the tradional Predator weaponry like plasma casters, throwing discs, swords, and spears. Her prefers hand to hand combat and will literally tear his prey limb from limb. The wrist blades, his only weapon, are used to eviscerate his opponents.

By and large, he fits your typical NECA exclusive mold of being made of entirely or almost all existing parts, with a funky color scheme to set it apart. Alby here is essentially a sculptural clone of the new updated unmasked Jungle Hunter body (with the added balljointed hips and double-hinged knees), with only a new set of right shoulder armor and an un-netted left bicep to set it apart. The new shoulder pad is a variation of original Predator pad, but it's more angular and arched in the style of some of the DE Preds. It's a very nice sculpt, although if I had one nit-pick, I'd ask for NECA to finally tackle the issue of vestigial, unpainted netting sculpt remaining on the figure's bit of exposed left forearm.

Being that this figure is billed as "Albino," the paint obviously is going to be the primary point of interest. While none of the Predators in Dead End are all that visible for any significant amount of time (except the main "Jungle Hunter" that fights Batman), there are plenty of behind-the-scenes references on the ol' internet to showcase this guy's striking colors. "Albino" is a pretty loose description of the guy; yes, he lacks much of the darker pigment present in most Predator designs, but he's not totally white. He base color is a pale cream, which is accentuated generously by SCREAMING BRIGHT TRAFFIC CONE ORANGE.

There is actually some black in the figure's skin in the form of scrawled, irregular, not-quite-organic looking markings, which may be the Predator equivalent of douche bag tribal tattoos. The tats are found on the torso, right arm and face, striking right through the right eye and continuing on up the forehead. The application of the markings is decent, though it varies depending on how smooth the surface is that they've been applied to. They look best on the arm, and probably fare worst on the forehead due to its extreme bumpiness.

The figure's hair is the same cream color as most of his skin, with ringlets in the braids that are the same dull bronze of the armor. His netting, feet straps and half-gloves are black, as are the hoses that connect his shoulder armor to his gauntlet and chest plate. The paint on these hoses is beginning to crack where they connect to the armor, so be careful. His loincloth bits are a dark brown similar to the bronze of his armor. Overall the paint is pretty nice, and little details like the eyes and inside of his mouth are handled particularly well.

The figure moves at all the current standard Predator joints, including the Jungle Hunter upgrades to the hips and knees previously discussed. The right wrist is the only weird spot: it's a balljoint, but for some reason it's only got the range of a peg. Loose hips have typically been the weak spot of this otherwise excellent articulation set up, but as of right now my Albino's hips are much tighter than usual, which is a most welcome surprise. Here's hoping they stay that way.

Albino gets no accessories. Not a trophy skull, not even a plasma caster backpack. The bio text on the cardback cleverly mentions his savagery and preference of his bare hands and brute strength over technological weaponry. Still, some kind of pack-in might have been nice, since we're used to getting something with these guys. Even a re-use of the human skull/spinal cord combo would have been appreciated (or hey, how about a "trophy" throwing disc that looked like the film's unique batarang?). He does get the extendable wrist blades, which work very well.

This figure alone wasn't enough to edge me back into being excited for Predators figures. But coupled with the announcement of Wasp and other Expanded Universe designs, including a Randy Falk designed armored-up Lost Predator (aka Borg) and two planned homage series showcasing figures inspired by the '90s Kenner Predators, it's certainly piqued my interest enough to keep me hooked on through til NECA eventually gets around to the designs it's been putting off for as long as it conceivably could have: Alien Vs. Predator.

He certainly stands out in any Predator display, however, due to his loud color scheme and funky markings. Right now, he works as an exclusive, in that he's a fun, quirky take on existing designs, but not something that's essential to one's collection. That may change, however, once Wasp gets closer to hitting the shelves, and I imagine a lot of people will be looking to track this guy down when that happens.

-- 08/17/13

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