Predators: Falconer and Berserker
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 is back tonight with a look at a pair of deadly Predators - take it away, Jeff!

When is a Predator not a Predator… well, when it’s a super Predator!

I have a strong feeling it became pretty apparent to Robert Rodriguez that when he decided to take on the Predators franchise he would have to put his own stamp on the much loved titular monster. In the same way that Cameron reinvented the ALIEN (diminishing it from a relentless, ruthless parasitic nightmare made flesh and acid, and turning it into a glorified cockroach) Rodriguez took the blueprint that Stan Winston studios had set and roided it up to 11!

What we ended up with is a creature that towers over the original Predator design, but also seems to have something of a beef with these old-school Preds as well. The reason for the hatred between these two sub species is never truly explored or explained. But hey, every good story leaves some questions unanswered, its what sucks you into a complex universe, being spoon fed every detail ends up making things very dull indeed.

However, hate each other they do, to the extent that when Royce and the human characters happen upon their make-shift hunting camp, they find a ‘traditional’ Predator bloodied, beaten, tied up and strapped to a post. And so during a later showdown between Royce and the elected leader of the Super Preds, known as the Berserker (or Mr Black on set) he cuts the original Predator free, allowing him a crack at his captors… he puts up a brave fight, but ultimately doesn’t last long, however he certainly helps weaken and tire the Berserker, to the extent that when Royce faces off with him… it’s on a more even playing field than poor old Dutch ever got. But like Dutch, Royce shows that the human spirit and instinct for survival is a powerful force that should never be underestimated… not even by an 8 foot tall super Predator with a plasma canon strapped to his shoulder.

The other two Predators in the hunting party are the Falconer (reviewed here as well) and the Tracker. The Tracker was only recently announced by Hot Toys, but he looks like he’ll be worth the wait, as not only does the have the most unique body armour of the trio, but he also comes with one of the ‘dog ugly’ hunting beasts as a pet. The fact that the Falconer and Tracker couldn’t come with a face sculpt (due to the licensee forbidding it) upset many collectors, which they are entitled to!  But ultimately we still get fantastically detailed representations of what we actually ‘see’ in the movie.

After all these are part of the Movie Masterpiece Series so we know that HT will do their damndest to make sure they represent what we saw on screen as closely as they can… but have they pulled it off?

Packaging - ****
These Predators boxes are Cool with a capital ‘C’, every aspect of them just oozes coolness. From the textured background to the red acetate windows, I mean, what is not to like? They follow the same themes as the Royce figure that I reviewed here, his was intentionally oversized so the whole range could sit well together when they got round to these big boys.

So again we have the slip over sleeve with the red acetate window through which there is a reveal of the character. Once this is slipped off we have a flap-fronted box that can be lifted to display the fully constructed figure within, through the large window. Inside the figure lies alongside his accessories and is held in place by three twisties. Now Twisties are always a pain, but these Preds are seriously heavy, constructed from what feels like a good few pounds of vinyl. So I’d rather have to untwist a couple of ties and get an unbroken and unscuffed figure arrive in one piece, than face the risk of damaged merchandise.

I already said in my Royce review that I love these boxes, and I still do!

Sculpting - ****
When it comes to us geeks, you can split us into numerous camps, but the two most prevalent, much like Predators are the regular geek (hello!) and the super geek. Your super geek tends to have a pet love, be it Star Wars, Alien, Star Trek, Doctor Who or any number of other franchises… but if it happens to be Predators, then this guy was always in for a very tough ride.


Well first of all there is all the love that Stan Winston’s original creature design has had, and then, on top of that, even the folks who decide they like the new design of the super Preds have the chance to nit-pick between the actual screen seen prosthetics and what Joseph Tsang has sculpted here!

So let me start by saying I like the portrait, and judging by the feedback on the majority of collectors forums so do most collectors.

Only the Berserker has a full head sculpt, so more on that later, first I’ll go over the newly developed body that both the figures share. Its designed to replicate the new pumped up physique of the super Preds, meaning its thicker set and measures slightly taller. And that has been another bone of contention! You see these guys are meant to tower over the usual Preds in the same way the originals towered over humans, and although he is a little taller, it’s not quite the difference that many were hoping for. They still manage to look convincing when posed next to the Royce figure, but when posed with the other regular Preds the difference doesn’t seem extreme enough.

However, that doesn’t call into the question the quality of the sculpting here. The new body shows super detailed work covering its entirety, with each reptilian bump and scale picked out beautifully.

As I said above, the Berserker is the only one of the three super Predators that reveals his face in the movie, and so he is the only one with a full facial portrait, and once again Mr Tsang has done us proud!

If anything the new design for this guy is even more complex than what we got on the more traditional Preds that have come before. The forehead has more intrinsic deep sculptural form, with what looks like exposed musculature radiating out to where the dreads attach. It’s also worthy of note that the dreads hang down really well here with some convincing ‘implied’ weight. The face wears a heavy feral frown and the detailed mouth has two sets of swappable mandibles. One pair is relaxed and closed for general posing or when wearing the mask, while the others are in a wide-open full on roar. I found they swapped over easily and fitted tightly with virtually no join showing. So, although the design itself isn’t my fave Pred to date, the sculpt and representation of the movie seen costume is virtually faultless to my eyes, and he does look great when displayed alongside his old school brethren.

Paint - Berserker ****, Falconer ***1/2
Like all the Predators that came before, these guys get a full body paint from top to toe. As I said above the basic physiology is the same on them both, but like lizards their coloration is quite unique. The Berserker has a dark grey and mushroom base colouration out of which come areas of dark green with accents and flashes of red to help high-light areas on the thighs, abdomen, chest, arms and most notably head. The face is most complex area as the eyes, mouth interior and general paternation, with the large exposed panels of red are picked out beautifully. These sections look a little those illustrations of exposed musculature we all studied in biology class, meaning he’s even more of an ‘ugly mother f**ker’ than the original! The paint carries on over down his head tails or dreadlocks, going from a dark reddish brown with pewter coloured adornments down to brighter red tips. The Falconers dreads are much browner with a tiger stripe paternation, and they also have the metallic coloured rings intersecting them. The dreads on both are made from a soft rubber material than hangs very well and the position they have been sculpted in and subsequently attached to the head is very convincing, managing to look like they have some real weight to them. The body on the Falconer isn’t quite as colourful, it has a similar base colour to the Berserker, but here he has no red flashes, instead there is a darker green down his flanks graduating into the grey/mushroom colouration. It makes this version look much more crocodilian in his final appearance, well, as far as the skin is concerned anyway.

The armour on both is also painted; both are given a deep dark scorched bronze tone, and the dark airbrushing and washes help to pick out the pitted cast nature of the ‘alien’ metals used to construct it. So, all in all both are impressive, but the extra detailed work on the body of the Berserker, coupled with the great work carried out on his face, puts him ahead by the nose he strangely doesn’t have!

Outfit - ****
Predators aren’t your average slacks and sweaters kind of guys. No, they like a rather more minimal and gladiatorial look. However these new ones have ditched the fishnet body stockings, which to me is a bit of a shame. Don’t worry, its some deviant fetishistic thing, no, I’m not into sexual Predators. Its more that to me the body mesh made sense in being the apparatus that could be activated to cloak the body when in ‘invisibility’ mode, I know we are in the realms of deepest darkest sci-fi here, so one just has to let go… but still, I liked me in Pred in fishnets!

However, on the plus side it does mean we get an uninhibited look at the body, and that’s no bad thing. The outfits consist of moulded boots that mimic the actual shape of the creatures anatomy, with vaguely industrial/Art Nouveau stylings, then we have shin guards on leather straps (these don’t look to actually offer much in the way of protection, but hey they certainly add to his air of badassness), the Falconer then also has some rather cool thigh armour, which again looks about as effective as the shin guards in actually protecting the wearer. Next up are their Tarzan like loin-cloths, which consist of a moulded crocodile skin effect belt that hangs down at the front to conceal their ‘ahem’ dignity. From the sides hang thigh panels to gird their Predatorial loins the designs of these differ from one to the other. There are also pleather flaps hanging down from the front of the belt on the Berserker as well.

Over there left shoulders they wear an armoured pauldron that comes down to partially cover the chest and back, its held in position by leather straps and in the case of the Berserker has the plasma cannon mounted on the shoulder part, while the Falconer has a small hole into which the transparent ‘z’ shaped rod provided can be inserted. This is to display the deployed mecha falcon on top of, to make it look like it’s hovering above him. They even supply a small plastic plug that can block the hole when the rod is removed.

The masks are the most notably different features between the two outfits. The Falconers mask is permanently attached to the head and brings to mind a cross between the ‘Dark Lord Sauron’s’ helmet from ‘Lord of the Rings’ and a cattle plough on an old west locomotive… well, for me anyway. The Berserkers is more visceral by the inclusion of some unfortunate quarries jaw being fixed to its lower half, this makes me think of a cross between evil Ash from Army of Darkness, the medieval Kurgan from Highlander and even a little of the bad dude from Willow thrown in for good measure! The remainder of his mask is however much more simple, showing that the hero Pred in all the movies, be it THE Predator in the original, Pred 2, Scar from AvP or the Cleaner from AvP: R, the mask they all wear shares a common design aesthetic, with the simple crescent dome and shield shape on the muzzle.

The final look makes you think that these super Preds might be bigger and more brutal, but they also seem a little further back down the evolutionary scale, succumbing even more to their base animal instincts and entering a frenzy of bloodlust when the hunt is on.

So, even though they share a lot of common elements in this category, there are also enough subtle differences to make them great shelf companions.

Articulation - ***1/2
These Preds look good, in fact its fair to say the actual bodies are the most visually impressive we have seen to date… but at a price. That price is sadly the articulation. It’s far from dreadful, but in their attempt to make the body as aesthetically pleasing and close to the source material as possible, some liberties had to be taken with the articulation.

In the past we have had what basically constituted as a classic True-Type but Predatorised up to the max. We had double knees, elbows and articulation in the mid torso and waist.

But now we have elbows and knees that can still achieve a good 90 degree bend, ball jointed shoulders and hips, a moveable waist, peg jointed wrists and a neck joint that is funnily enough really rather excellent. That is pretty much it, so don’t expect the full impressive range we have had before, but you can still get a great number of cool poses with a little work.

The only area I would have dearly loved to see improved is at the ankle. Predators are famous for their squatting and crouching stances with some angry jazz hands thrown in when they roar. But because the boot design goes up over the ankle, all movement is in effect lost here. However, by working with the hip and knee articulation you can still find a good few poses where both feet manage to be flat on the ground.

Accessories - Berserker ***1/2 Falconer ***1/4
In the past many Predators have come with a very impressive array of goodies, think of the Wolf Predator with his cleaner kit, or the battle damaged Pred from Predator 2 with his haul of extras even including an ALIEN skull, however, this time around the Preds travel light, very light.  So whilst the Falconer in my humble opinion does actually manage an ever so slight improvement over the Berserker in terms of ‘true’ accessories, he then manages to claw it back with his removable helmet!

One of my favourite accessories comes in the form of the Predator skull; it’s a beautifully sculpted piece with some lovely observations on the texturing and form, plus its all painted convincingly and well put together, making for another great example to add to the growing trophy collection if you’ve been buying all the Predator 2 releases so far.

And then we have the late addition of the actual mech-falcon. Yep, when he was first announced he wasn’t going to come equipped with the actual falcon (an obvious omission given his name) but Hot Toys soon realized the oversight and corrected it. The actual falcon sculpt is nicely detailed, and even though it doesn’t have any articulated elements, it looks very good when compared to the screen used prop like here.

But apart from the shared elements, those being: - the figure stand, attachable wrist blades and extra fisted hands (which are a little different as the Falconer wears a gauntlet and glove on his left lower arm and hand), that is it.

The wrist blades are however quite cool, as they come in three differing lengths to mimic the stages they extend to, they are also made of some kind of light metal alloy, which allows for a super shiny chrome finish.

Now the Berserker doesn’t do quite as well when it comes to his ‘actual’, ‘bona fide’ proper accessories. He doesn’t do terribly, but he’s just not that well endowed in this department. Basically he gets a nice bloodied skull and spinal column trophy (this is not a re-use of the previous Pred 2 ones, but is an all new sculpt), some extra roaring mandibles and I guess you could, if feeling generous include the mask/helmet and plasma caster as accessories, even though they are more intrinsic parts of his outfit. I did however have a slight problem with the helmet on the Berserker, as have a few others, (Michael included) in so much as the light up feature doesn’t function on mine. I cleaned the battery, bought another battery futzed and took it out, put it in the other way up, then tried it all again, but alas nothing! This is definitely gonna have to count against him a little, but unlike the Iron Man power suits for which the light up function is a deal breaker, here its more of a nice little bonus. I think I’ve only lit up the original Preds mask a handful of times, so although slightly miffed, I’m far from heart broken. The Falconers light up function was however working just fine and lights up brightly at the flick of a switch. I found the mandibles swapped over easily and the mask attached to the face well when he has the closed mandibles in position. The extra hands also swapped over easily, there are some spare wrist pegs included, but I’m pretty sure you wont be needing them (unless yours takes a shelf dive). Lastly we get the two classic black figure stands. I got both the figures to stand well and solidly, but they are a very hefty pair, so if in doubt these may come in handy for those that like the figure base look.

So that is essentially it, definitely not the strongest show in this section, and a little weak when compared to what we are used to in this category from Hot Toys Predators of the past. However, the addition of those new bulked up super Pred base bodies, which seem to be made out of expensive vinyl rather than the cheaper ABS plastic, must have added quite a bit to production costs. So maybe the ‘accessories’ are the section that has to suffer in the name of this new change.

Fun Factor - *** 1/2
Anybody who owns a 1/6th Hot Toys Predator will tell you how cool they are, and they will also let you know that your first will almost certainly not be your last. They really are plastic crack and more addictive than freebasing heroin on a rollercoaster… ahem, I would imagine!

Both these new additions will certainly enhance your shelf display, and the new aesthetic that Rodriguez has gone for means they stand out strongly in their own right when placed with your Preds of the more classic designs. Of course if you are a blinkered old school Pred fan then this wont count for much, but whilst I still think Stan the mans original creation is a monster design up there with the very best of them, I can still look upon these very favourably, and though the Rodriguez entry in the canon of Predator movies isn’t the very best, it’s certainly very far from the worst as well, but anyone who has seen AvP: Requiem will already know that!

Of course taking into account the price and fragile nature of some parts of these figures it should be plane to all, but the brain dead or seriously mega rich that these aren’t intended as children’s play things. In fact little Johnny could have his eye out on those wrist blades alone. However to any serious adult collectors (and lets face it, they are about the only ones able to afford to feed this particular addiction), then these will almost certainly give a large dollop of fun to the enlightened!

Value - ***
At the event this figure was JP¥ 18,000, which (based on the exchange rate on 14/03/11) works out as $220, which is a lot of moolah! Of course the economy in Japan is such that everything is more expensive ‘relatively’ than it is in the US, Europe or Hong Kong for that matter.

As a comparrison I looked up the price of the Prince of Persia: Dastan figure which has an asking price of  JP¥ 20,000 ($245) in Japan compared to an RRP price of $170 in the US. So I guess the price for Friend if he ever does make it to the west will be about $150 to $160 per unit.
But right here, right now I’m basing it on the Tokyo price converted to US dollars, which still seems a little steep.

Overall- Falconer ***1/4 Berserker ***3/4
Ultimately Hot Toys hands were tied in that they weren’t permitted to give us a head sculpt with the Falconer, however it does mean that the Berserker manages to pull ahead when comparing overall, even when I take into account the fact that his targeting laser didn’t work. The fact of the matter is however, that when finally kitted up, posed and displayed these two do look hugely impressive, and when Royce is put next them the height difference makes them look pretty hulking. The only thing missing now is the Tracker Predator, but with Hot Toys recent announcement that he’s coming soon, it means the trinity can once again be united, and the three standing together will make for onehelluva display! 

And if they were to also give us the regular Predator we saw imprisoned in the hunting camp as well, then I know for a fact that there would be a whole bunch of very, very happy people indeed, its gotta be worth a punt Hot Toys!

Where to buy
Sideshow did have both for $194.99 but he has now sold out, so its time to get on their waitlist, or try some of the site sponsors below-.

Big Bad Toy Store have both listed as in stock for $189.99   
Alter Ego has the Falconer for $194.99.

Urban Collector has the Berserker for £189.99 and the Falconer for $184.99.   

Fan Boy has the Falconer for a very reasonable $179.99.

Alternatively you can try eBay where prices seem to be ranging from $150 right up to $350 (well, you cant blame them for trying), so happy hunting.

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

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