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Classic Predator

by Monkey Boy

During interviews promoting the release of Predators, producer Robert Rodriguez made a big deal about bringing the original "classic" Predator design from the first film back. That's all well and good, but the idea isn't anything new in this franchise. If you go back as early as Predator 2, you'll see the "classic" design in the form of the elder Predator who famously throws Danny Glover a centuries-old flintlock pistol from a previous hunt. Sure, the Elder has some differences, like a lot more spikes on his face and a piercing in his mandible, but the armor is exactly the same as the original Predator. Kind of a major revelation when you think about it, because it heavily implies that the second film's Predator, despite being designed to look more "urban and hip" (whatever that means), is from the same clan as the first movie's Predator. Something to think about.

Anyway, the "Classic" design does indeed show up in Predators, and he isn't treated very nicely. When we first encounter him, he's in a pretty sorry state, and not to spoil anything too much, but things don't get a lot better for our familiar friend. His appearance, however, gave NECA the opportunity to include him in their line of figures based on the film. Since the design is essentially exactly the same as the first creature from Predator, it gives NECA a chance to one-up McFarlane again by tackling the same character they first gave us in Movie Maniacs 5's "Alien & Predator" box set.

Classic Predator is by far the most desirable figure in the first series, since he isn't restricted to being from the new film like Berserker and Falconer, his series-mates. He's also packed four to a case while each of the others is packed five to a case, so he's a tad shortpacked as well. It's no surprise he's pretty hard to find as of this writing.

I have been waiting for a figure like this for a long time. Back in the mid-90s, when Kenner had the license to produce Alien and Predator figures, many of their examples were crazy variants you'd expect to find in a Mattel Batman or Masters of the Universe 2002 line. Lava Predators and Glow-in-the-Dark Predators and something called a Scavage Predator... but there was one Predator, found only in a two pack with an Alien adversary, that was clearly based on the original Predator from the first film. He was a tiny figure by today's standards, and he only had six points of articulation, along with wildly inaccurate accessories and pink teeth, but he was still the first chance toy collectors ever got to own an action figure of the original Predator.

Then came McFarlane's Movie Maniacs. In a similar two-pack box set, we got an original Predator vs. an original Alien, both from the first films in their respective franchises. This Predator features an undoubtedly better sculpt than his Kenner predescessor, but he was still pretty light on articulation and his paint left a lot to be desired. McFarlane went on to produce Predator figures from both Predator 2 and Alien vs. Predator before NECA picked up the license for Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem. The Classic Predator, however, marks the first time they've produced essentially the same Predator design as McFarlane.

Unlike the other two figures in the first Predators series, Classic Pred features a unique sculpt. Don't fool yourself though, you'll be seeing this sculpt again. NECA has already shown prototype headsculpts for a masked, battle-damaged version of this figure as well as a close-mandibled headsculpt set to be released in a two-pack with one of their Alien figures. We've also seen prototypes of the aforementioned Predator 2 elder that utilizes the same body, so trust me, this sculpt will get around.

For this heavy-hitter, NECA called in its big guns: Kyle "Tankman" Windrix is responsible for this amazing sculpt, and as usual it looks like it jumped right off the silver screen. The ugly, unmasked face looks more screen accurate then ever, with its flared mandibles and beady eyes sunk deep into the sockets. The armor and technological pieces all look awesome, and the entire exposed body is covered in sculpted netting, save for the right arm. There are three cables on the armor: one connects the chest armor to the left shoulder pad, one connects from the upper left bicep to the left wrist gauntlet, and another smaller cable pokes out of the backpack. Despite the fact that two of these cables connect across joints, they seem to have a good amount of slack and give and don't seem like they're in danger of breaking in the least. The little cable on the backpack is a different story, however, and is easily flattened or broken.

The Classic Predator's wrist blades on his right arm aren't removable like the other Preds in this series, but they do extend, which is pretty awesome. Sadly, there is no opening panel on his left gauntlet to initiate the self destruct command; that is the lone advantage the McFarlane versions have over this one.

With paint being somewhat of an issue with the other figures in this line, I was anxious about how the Classic Predator would fare. My worries were unfounded. The paint job is very well done, particularly on the head. The spots, which proved to be such a challenge on Berserker, are much better on the Classic Pred. The netting is missing a few spots, but overall it's handled well. Some of the blast marks on the armor look a little hokey, but they don't stand out enough to be a real issue.

Strangely, there's a paint app missing on my figure. The loincloth of Classic Predator is done in a reddish brown, and where the sculpted cloth moves from the crotch piece to the right leg, the paint app disappears. It's a bit annoying, but it seems to be an isolated mistake on my figure, and one that isn't too distracting, but worth mentioning as a quality control issue.

The Classic Predator's articulation is shared with his series mates, and this is where he really shines over all previous original Predator figures: balljointed head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles, as well as pegs in the waist and thigh, and V-crotch hips. Since he's barefoot, the "boot issue" that was present in the other figures in the line is a non-issue, and his angles have a great range of motion. While balljointed hips probably would've offered even more posing possibilities, there's still a lot that can be don't with this guy. And since every other original Predator has been significantly pre-posed, this is the first time we get to have some nice neutral stances.

Classic Predator gets a single accessory, and sadly it's not an interchangeable masked head (why include that when you could get us to buy another entire figure?). It's a removable backpack, with a nifty shoulder cannon. The pack feels a little oversized, but it's possible that most other figure versions have been too small, and i'm just used to seeing it that way. It's hard to find solid film references, but based on the Hot Toys 1/6th scale figure, it appears the the size of the backpack is about right, but it sticks out a bit too much.

The figure is missing one accessory, and that absence cements the character firmly as the one seen in Predators. Any guesses? It took me a while too. The trophy skulls. In the original film, the predator has a sash of skulls and bones that adorns his torso, as well as a small bone necklace. None of those are present on this figure, unfortunately. If you happen to have one of the McFarlane versions, you can always swipe his trophy sash. Or you can wait patiently, as I'm sure one of the inevitable re-releases of this sculpt will rectify this omission.

But if you're like me, you're not patient at all, and you'll pounce on this guy the moment you see him. If you see him at all, that is. He may prove to be difficult to find, but if you miss out on him this time around, well... as Danny Glover said to Adam Baldwin at the end of Predator 2: "Don't worry, asshole. You'll get another chance."

-- 08/21/10

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