Royce - Predators
Hot Toys

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jeff jumps in tonight with a look at the recent Royce figure from the popular Hot Toys Predators series - take it away, Jeff!

There seems to be a general law of diminishing returns when it comes to movies and the subsequent ‘cash in’ sequels. Of course there are always exceptions to that rule, but the fact that they are exceptions kind of proves my point.

So when it was announced that a certain Mr Robert Rodriguez was picking up the reigns for the Predator franchise it caused quite a stir in the fanboy ranks. Then the movie finally hit, and it was… OK!

I tried to go and see it with low expectations, which did pay off for me as it was basically a solid popcorn movie. Rodriguez tried to capture something of the magic that made the original such a cult classic, and to be fair he managed to pull it off to some degree. I guess I ought to warn you that a few spoilers might follow (nothing too earth shattering… but spoilers nonetheless). He placed his rag tag group of deadly desperados deep in the jungle of an alien world, each one was brought there individually from a separate background, and mostly from totally different continents as well. So upon discovering one another, a degree of in-fighting quickly ensues, but it doesn’t last long as it soon becomes apparent they must unite against a common foe. Someone or something has brought them there for a purpose (the clues in the title guys).

The various quarry are all a pretty stereotypical bunch of 2 dimensional characters, but as this movie, like the original has its roots firmly set in the world of comic books I guess it would be churlish to count this factor against it too much, these guys owe more to Sgt Rock than All Quiet on the Western Front.

But one character had to stand out, we needed a hero, someone who we could believe in, someone who could, like Dutch, take on a Predator… but not just a normal run of the mill Predator… but new mahoosive hulking, pumped up super Predator, and best him!

That task fell to an unlikely person, but someone that wasn’t found wanting.  Adrian Brody has a very diverse back catalogue, but he’s not totally alien to taking the heroic lead role in an action orientated movie, as he showed his mettle in Peter Jackson’s King Kong. I’ve always liked him as an actor and his ‘everyman’ quality made him ideal to portray an ex special forces, highly trained operative that when pinned down just assesses a situation then uses whatever is available to him to try and hit back. He was basically the best thing about the movie, well, for me anyway. He was a hero, but a hero with vulnerability, just a guy who happens to find himself in a very bad situation, in a very bad place and he just wants to get home!

So, as he was my favourite part of the movie I guess it goes without saying that I’d want him in the collection, but could the 1/6th representation do justice to Royce, the man who outdid Dutch by felling an even mightier warrior, oh I think so!

Packaging - ****
This is just such a cool box, and considering how cool the Hot Toys packaging has been of late it’s even more impressive that this stands out as strongly as it does! It’s also worth noting that this box is slightly oversized, it’s obviously to keep the packaging in keeping with the future releases of the Berserker and Falconer who are a little more extreme in their stature.

The outer sleeve has a gray on black mimicked textured background with a graphic red acetate window that represents a Predator glyph; through this window you can see a black and white image of the figure. Once this is slipped off you get to the 5 panel flap fronted box, the front has the image that was viewable through the window, while the back has a pic of his AA-12 shotgun. The inside flap has a full figure pic with a brief bio and opposite is a large window showing the figure alongside his accessories. The tray inside holds everything secure without the need for any twisties or tape so he’s as collector friendly as he can possibly be, very nice, very nice indeed.

Sculpting - ****
I’ve read that some folks just aren’t seeing Brody in this sculpt… WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU…? NO… SERIOUSLY… OPEN YOUR EYES!

This is a fantastic sculpt, showcasing the classic hangdog expression that Brody favours in so many of his roles. It’s somewhere between being so earnest he might just cry at any moment and so deep in thought he might implode at any second… but it is definitely him from whatever angle you look at it. My wife is a fan of Brody through movies like The Pianist and The Darjeeling Limited and even she thought it was one of the strongest figures I have reviewed to date (I have to say I think there are others which are stronger) but I can certainly see where she’s coming from.

Every skin pore, wrinkle, eye bag, crease of the ear and distinctive nostril is just so well represented here, giving us a virtually perfect portrait. Even the hair which is worn in a messy long crop (quite a tricky style to capture convincingly) is rendered with a masterful flair. It’s another piece of work from GOX (Eom Jae Sung) who also did the fantastic Ezio from Assassins Creed that I reviewed recently, and this sculpt has in my eyes elevated him to a position where he can sit comfortably next to the masterful works of Yulli, KoJun and the new stable mate Arnie Kim, just outstanding!

Paint - ****
I know I said a while back that I was going to try and be harder on Hot Toys in all categories, as they are so consistently strong that the competition isn’t really competition at all, they just happen to make 1/6th figures too… but not quite as well.

However, even trying to be more critical, it is impossible not to recognise the consistently AMAZING production paintwork that Hot Toys put out. So here we are again in the familiar territory of a paint app so good you could swear he’s alive at times.

Royce, like the other quarry in the movie is given a pretty rough time in the ‘game reserve’ he finds himself trapped in, so JC Hong has reflected that in making the skin tones swarthy and dirtied up, even managing to mimic a truly convincing light beard growth. He has a small graze on his left cheek and the eyes are as crystal clear, crisp, glossy and wet looking as always. The paint also continues on over the muscular body design, meaning that even when this guy is stripped to the waist he still looks amazing. Perfection at a mass-produced level like this is something we just can’t take for granted, thus he gets that much deserved full score!

Outfit - ****
Before displaying him there is a little window dressing to do, you will find he comes with a folded Shemagh that needs to be refolded and placed around the neck under his shirt, you can see how it poked out here and here, the thing about a Shemagh is apart from the traditional ‘desert’ style as seen here there are many other ways to fold them. However, here it is just worn simply like a scarf around the neck. It’s a garment that has been borrowed from Arab and Kurdish culture and used by UK military forces for many years, in fact the Hot Toys; Blues and Royals that I reviewed a couple of years ago both sported them, as you can see here, and I have to admit I wear one myself (well, in the Winter anyway).

On the figure it takes a little futzing to get it laying right but is worth the effort, and the task is made slightly easier by the fact you can open the tactical vest at the top of the shoulders. I found that by popping the head off then opening the vest and shirt like this it was a much easier task.

The full outfit consists of moulded combat boots, these still leave a good range of articulation at the ankle so no problems here, then there’s a pair of dark blue cargo pants, these fit well without hampering articulation and have working pockets throughout. Next is his skin tight white singlet over which is worn his military style shirt, this is also very well tailored with beautiful attention to detail on the complex cut on the seams and stitching. Lastly there’s his MOLLE system tactical vest, it has two panels attached to the front where you can store the 16 extra shotgun shells he comes equipped with. It also has a zip front, opening yoke on the shoulders and adjustable straps at the sides, so all in all it is a very well observed bit of kit that is well put together and matches the screen seen garment almost faultlessly.

If you want to strip him down I recommend you remove the boots (they pop off on ball joints) and trousers first, then undo the top of the vest, unzip it and slide it down the body. You can then remove the shirt and singlet and slide the trousers back on.

To re-dress him just reverse the procedure, doing this also makes if far easier to get the shemagh laying flat to the body.

So that covers all the actual garments, but he does also have a few extra bits of kit that fall into the same category. They are his webbing belt with pouches, the drop leg holster and his machete sheath. The pouches can be opened, including the spare magazine pouch for his AA-12 (sadly there isn’t a second ammo drum though), and you’ll be pleased to hear that you don’t need to take the belt off to attach the holster and sheath, both have opening Velcro tabs that just feed over the belt and press shut, you then just open the small plastic clip buckles to strap them to his thighs. It’s a cool outfit when all kitted up and marks Royce out as a man that knows where he’s going, and no one is gonna stop him getting there… not even an eight foot tall Predator!

Articulation - ***
Brody got pretty pumped up to portray Brody, but as he was meant to be filling Arnie’s boots I guess he had to put on a good show. He transformed his body from this to this, and so to represent his bulkier look Hot Toys gave the figure a body type that is very similar to the one first used on Wolverine here and subsequently on the Comedian as well here. The other reason they went for this body is that during the course of the movie Royce also wears just the tactical vest like this and of course goes completely native like this, so it was important to give the figure a body that could be used in displays that could at least approximate all of these looks to some degree.

From the legs down he has all the articulation of a standard True-Type but above the waist the improved aesthetic results in a slightly less poseable torso and arms. The elbows can still get a good 90 degree bend and shoulders have a fair range, as does the waist and abdomen and because of the rubber material covering the neck you still get a great degree of tilt and nod here too.

So ultimately you can’t expect the uber mobility of the classic TT, but you’ll still be able to achieve an excelent range of poses.

Accessories - ****
His actual list of goodies is-
- AA-12 shotgun
- Semi-automatic pistol (Browning M1911) with suppressor
- Drop holster for pistol
- 18 shotgun shells
- Predator axe
- 2 extra hands
- Wristwatch
- Shemagh (scarf)
- Machete
- Machete sheath
- Combat knife
- Classic figure stand
- Spare wrist pegs

All the reprobates that find themselves at the mercy of the Predators have a very individual look, and part of that is because of their unique signature weapons, they have everything from mini-guns and sniper rifles right through to Claymore anti-personnel mines and Katanas, but Royce’s weapon of choice is the rather cool AA-12 shotgun.

You can find background info and reference of the small arsenal used by the various characters in this link here.

You can also find some great reference of the actual screen used AA-12 here with its distinctive silhouette and digital camo effect printed directly onto the gun. The 1/6th version has a removable drum for the shells (this pulls down on a sliding mechanism) and the top lever can be cocked back. When the drum is fully in position you can see the top shell in the chamber through the window on the side of the gun, and when the drum is removed this shell can be slid out… now that is an awesome attention to detail. Royce also comes with a Browning M1911 sidearm that has a removable suppressor fitted; it can be cocked and also has a removable magazine and a moving hammer, plus the grip has the digital camo pattern used on the AA-12 printed on it as well. Next up are his assorted blades in the form of his machete, combat knife and the Predators axe. All are well sculpted and can be held well, the axe in particular (that plays an important role in the movie) has some great texturing and paint effects. Everything else is pretty self explanatory, but the quality on the finish of it all, right down to those tiny shotgun shells, is absolutely top notch, the watch he wears even has a tiny pleather strap… nice!

Value - ***1/2
Sideshow was asking the full RRP of $149.99 and at that price he may seem a little on the expensive side, but by searching through some of the sites sponsors and perusing eBay you could have easily picked him up for as little as $130 to $135. At those prices, with this fantastic sculpt and that cool shotgun he suddenly feels like something of an essential purchase… and once you have the Berserker on your shelf you’ll kick yourself if you miss out!

Fun Factor - ***1/2
The slightly limited articulation above the waist hurts his fun factor… but only a little. This is still a great figure to pose and he looks all kinds of kick ass when standing nonchalantly with the AA-12 slung around his neck, in fact there’s something of the rock star with a big gee-tar, so lock ‘n’ load and rock ’n’ roll people, you will not be disappointed!

Overall- ****
Sometimes the stars align and a figure that you had high hopes for not only pleases you, but knocks you sideways and cements itself solidly in your list of top figures. This is another one of those times. I’ve had it happen twice recently with Royce here and also on the Assassins Creed- Esio figure. Both were figures that looked good in the previews and on paper they were going to be solid, but nothing ever prepares you for the ‘in-hand’ experience. Meaning sometimes a much anticipated figure can leave you under whelmed, while other times you find yourself just knocked out and completely blindsided by the level of excellence on a figure you thought might just be OK… and this is definitely one of those occasions… Royce is an absolute gem! 

Where to buy
Sideshow have sold out long ago, but the waitlist is still open, so you may be in with a good chance, so with their excellent customer service and care it could still be worth a punt with them.

Alternatively Mike’s sponsors have it for the prices below
Fan Boy - in stock- $139.99
Urban Collector - in stock- $142.99
Big Bad Toy Store- in stock- $144.99   

Or you can try eBay where buy it now prices range from $135 to $180, happy hunting.

This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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