Hot Toys Predator 1

   "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."

Just in case you didn't get enough of Hot Toys Predator figure when I reviewed him earlier this week (and who could!), Jeff Parker is in tonight with a great guest review of the figure as well. Take it away, Jeff!

Firstly I’d like to apologise to Michael, and indeed anyone else who I’ve made feel like they ABSOLUTELY MUST own a Hot Toys Predator, but c’mon, if you’re a 1/6th collector you ABSOLUTELY MUST own at last one Hot Toys Predator, it’s the law, or it oughta be! And if you do decide to own just one, let it be this.

It’d make a great display tribute to Stan Winston on a shelf alongside a T-800 Endo, IRONMAN, Ed Scissorhands and an Aliens Warrior. In fact I think Stan deserves his own M-Icon figure, don’t you?

Over the last few years Hot Toys (HT) have given us a lot of Predators, but now at last we have THE Predator, the big bad that started it all, played by the near legendary Kevin Peter Hall (KPH). Well, legendary in certain circles (my kids know him as the guy that played Bigfoot in ‘Harry and the Henderson’s’), but to any card carrying geek he will be forever synonymous as THE Predator!

Now, because the titular Predator was a non speaking part, all the creatures mannerisms had to be exaggerated, but at no time did KPH slip into excessive pantomime, instead he gave us one of Hollywood’s most memorable monsters, full of feral menace but with enough techno-savvy to let us know he outclasses us ‘mere humans*’ on every level, he’s up there with the best Universal ever gave us! (* note: Dutch is not a mere human… far from it, look at him forchrisake!)

It’s a creature that went through quite a long gestation process from concept to screen. Firstly there was the idea it should be either robotic or at least part cyborg, then there was the small lithe, insect like creature that was to be played by Jean-Claude Van Damme, but depending on which version you read of the movies history, that idea was scrapped due to either Van Damme deciding he didn’t want to play a part where you couldn’t see his face, or he was sacked because his portrayal was unconvincing and his movements ‘too rodent like’.

But whatever the reason, we can all thank the maker that this design, fabricated by Boss Film Studios (against their better wishes, it should be noted), was given the chop.

The fact of the matter is the suit they devised was unworkable and incapable of answering the brief the story threw up. And so, on the recommendation of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Stan ‘the man’ Winston, who had worked with Arnie on The Terminator, was brought in at very short notice to help ‘rescue’ the production. Joel Silver (the producer) gave Stan relatively free reign to come up with a design that could work in the open Jungles of Palenque, Mexico, the location it was to be shot in.

It’s a place I was fortunate enough to visit back in the late 90’s, backpacking around various temple sites, so I can tell you from experience the jungles there are pretty damn dense in places (in fact our guide books recommended not straying too deep into the jungles near the temples for fear of getting lost… or worse). This was not a production that had the comfort of sound stages and sets, it was dense jungle, and the creature needed to be able to wade through water, fight in hand to hand combat and all importantly climb trees.

To save some time and money the idea of the creature having a stealth mode was introduced, this meant the creature wouldn’t spend as much time ‘visibly’ on screen, but that’s not to diminish the impact the beastie needed to have when he is finally revealed. No, this is a VERY memorable creation. And as testament to his abilities Stan had turned the design and build around in six weeks… SIX WEEKS… I’ll say that again SIX FRICKIN WEEKS!

His starting point had been a picture of a Rastafarian warrior Joel Silver had given him; and whilst sketching ideas based around this dreadlocked monster on a flight to Japan for a press conference on ALIENS, he was sat next to Jim Cameron, who suggested that ‘mandibles would be cool’… The rest as they say is history!

So, what we have here is Hot Toys 1/6th figure of this much loved creature, it’s a design (like Giger’s ALIEN) that is cared for pretty passionately by it’s fans, so a lot was riding on getting this one right!

Packaging - ****
A couple of weeks ago I reviewed Dutch and Billy, two members of the special ops unit who inadvertently fall prey to the Predator, and Michael also did his own treble whammy of the complete Predator trio here. This box follows the same basic principles of Dutch and Billy, but with a cool twist! 

So once again the package is designed to be viewed landscape, but this time it’s the inner box that is on its side, bearing a close up image of the Preds head and shoulders. Over this is an embossed/vac-formed transparent acetate sleeve that bears the ‘Predator’ logo-type over the printed word beneath, it also mimics the body mesh and lines of the cloaked Predator. When I unpacked mine it still had tissue and a layer of cling film to protect it from scratches, nice touch. 

The inner box is (as with Dutch and Billy) a five panelled flap fronted design with photos of the figure and his accessories on the inner flap. Inside the box is the fully assembled and dressed figure… I know, I know it surprised me too when I first saw photos of the product, this is the first Predator not to be sold as a model kit, and I get the feeling I’m in the minority that actually misses the construction part, the careful unpacking and fevered brow as you align everything and pray you ‘re not too heavy handed, it’s kind of nerve-racking but so rewarding!

 He lies (well, squats) in a vac formed tray held down by five twisties, surrounded by his accessories and a very impressive display, base there’s also a die-cut foam pad to protect his wrist blades. 

I love the transparent outer sleeve, and it’s these kinds of design flourishes that keep HT consistently at the top when it comes to innovative design in their packaging.

Sculpting - ****

I was recently blown away by Pan Mak's work on Abe Sapien, and he’s done it again here! 

The Predator in the movie is seen in varying degrees of light, and different masks were constructed and utilised depending upon what was required of its performance in any given scene. So Pan Mak had to take the reference available and come up with the best, definitive version he could. 

Now, I’ll by the first to admit, when it comes to keeping all us fan boys happy, he was on the proverbial ‘hiding to nothing!’ but I am still very impressed by this! 

His earlier work on the Elder from Predator 2, that was in fact wearing the same outfit from the first movie with a few modifications is still a hard benchmark to top, but with this new offering, for me at least, he has certainly just about managed it.

Like the last few Predator releases he comes with two sets of mandibles, both closed and roaring, they swap out easily and make a dramatic difference when fitted. The new trick here is the base plastic used on the mandibles, this time around they’re a semi opaque material that does a great job of mimicking the real tusks as seen in the movie, it’s just translucent enough to give the impression of real enamelled teeth as the light passes through them. 

The rest of the head has been revised, and the problems the fans all pointed out on the scale bust have been addressed. So the over all dimensions of the face aren’t as long and the heavy brow ridge has been straightened so it’s less of a pronounced V shape. The rear edge of the top crown has also been bought forward slightly making this, for me at least; the most impressive HT Predator head sculpt so far. 

As I said, the Elder 2 is very, very close and the Wolf from AvP:R should also be mentioned in despatches, but this is still an exceptional depiction. The Elder does have the edge in a few ways, he just looks so cool, and he stands so well, everything hangs naturally and he has that ‘older dude who’s been round the block a few times’ air about him. It doesn’t hurt that he also has the coolest and most highly detailed dreads, not only did they have the bonus of multiple beads and trinkets, but they also had that cool kink at the end of them near the head, this meant they hung at a slightly better angle helping them look weightier… and they’re blue!
But enough about the Elder, we are here to talk about the original, but they are so closely linked aesthetically it’s difficult not to almost make this a comparison review at times. 

However, lets get back on topic, considering the scale these new dreads still look very impressive and I’d recommend a quick heat treatment, gently warm the dreads with a hair-dryer then carefully place an elastic band around the whole head to pull them in. Leave it like this for as long as you can, the longer the better. I haven’t done it yet in my photos, as I wanted to show how he looks box fresh and unmodified, which is still pretty darn good, but with minimal work and a bit of futzing he can look even better. I did spend quite some time poring over my old ‘Winston Effect’ book, if you have it check out pages 103 through to 107 and hold your figure up next to the pages, you’ll see this is pretty spot on. One other criticism thrown at this figure is that when masked the head looks too big, well, I can see where the critics are coming from, however if you look at the source material those ol’Preds had pretty mahoosive noggins to incorporate all the RC servos, micro electronics and bladders, in fact if you have the Stan Winston book I cited above there is a pic of KPH standing in water with the armoured mask removed. All of the Preds Facial detail is cut away, obviously this is to help the actor see, but it also illustrates that in the real world that mask would never physically fit over the face and look the way it does on screen. The only other real option would have been a second head with the mask permanently attached, but I’m sure the cost of this would have made it prohibitive, as it would mean a lot more production time on build (two sets of dreads to do) and also paint apps.  So, I think HT went with the most realistic option open to them, and I’m highly impressed.

Paint - ***3/4
Each and every predator brings with it, its own unique set of problems when it comes to producing an accurate representation in the paint application. So far the Predator 2 and Lost Predator have had the most complex paternation, but you can bet your bottom dollar that this is the one that will get the closest scrutiny. I reviewed the scale bust a few months ago and I gave that a 3.5 star rating, so I’m pleased to say even though this is smaller in scale, it still manages a more accurate paint job, especially around the eyes. The spotting that carries further down the sides of the face to the mandibles is also better observed and the warmer richer browns also graduate further onto the top dome. The only area that seems a little off is the interior of the mouth, here the red tones do seem a little too deep, from most of the reference I’ve found it looks like it should be more of a salmon colour that softens and graduates as it comes out to the tusks. 

But, as with all Preds the paint doesn’t finish on the head, in fact the entire body is painted from the tips of his clawed feet to the top of that crowned head, the base colour is a beige, mushroom tone with softer brown airbrushed areas and even darker brown spotting. The application is again up to the usual HT standard, and by that I mean outstanding!

Articulation  - ***1/2
Knowing how important this figure is to the fans HT have given him a newly modified body, this can be a blessing or curse depending on how much of a pedant you are. I personally love the way he looks thicker set compared to the earlier Predators, here he’s more like an extreme bodybuilder. However to gain this visual impact of having a build akin to Mike Tyson, the pay off is he has lost some of his height. Most of this is due to a slight reduction of the torso and chest but chiefly it’s the shortening the neck. This shorter neck not only looks better, but the slight redesigning and re-engineering makes it far more poseable, being able to look down and tilt to the sides much more acutely. The shoulders are a totally new design as well more similar to the earlier AvP:R Wolf Predator (but not the same); you can see a comparison pic in the review here.

Apart from these revisions all the rest is the same as the previous Preds we all know and love, so it’s basically a Predatorized True Type with all the double knees and elbows we’ve come to expect and you’ll get virtually all of the poses you could want, with a little work he can even achieve a much deeper squat than before.

Outfit - ****
The Predators biggest fashion influences seem to come from Kirk Douglas as Spartacus as he likes that minimal, plenty of flesh on show with just a hint of armour, adding a few leather straps here and there for good measure… so yes, he wouldn’t look out of place at a Scissor Sisters gig. Just don’t spill his beer!

The basic outfit is identical to the Elder 2’s, you can even see some of the finer details in the sculpt on things like the knee pads, buckles and shoulder canon are from the same moulds… However, this is just as it should be because Stan Winston used the suit from the original Predator for the Elder in Predator 2 with just a few mods here and there. So what we have is sandals sculpted to the feet with separate stuck on soles, shin guards, knee pads and thigh covers, then we have an armoured cod-piece over a small suede loincloth. Next up is his chest armour that sweeps around the back with a mount for the medi-kit, this slots into hole on the back. On the left hand shoulder he has his plasma-caster mounted, unlike the Elders this is fully articulated and has a slightly wider mid section so it can sit further from the head, there are also some small wires attached to the actual plasma-caster for added detail. His right gauntlet has two fully extending blades whilst the left has an opening wrist computer and detonator for his bomb. This gauntlet also has a soft flexible tube running to the rear of his upper bicep armour and there is another shorter one running from his left chest armour over to his left shoulder guard, but these are both flexible enough to not affect articulation.

He also comes with the usual Predator adornments like leather straps around his arms, bone and skull trophy jewellery and a ribbed neck collar. Lastly is the mask/helmet which has a very cool feature, I shall go over it below as many of the bits I’ve just gone over in outfit kind of straddle the camp of accessories as well, I’ll let you decide what belongs where after you’ve read it!

Accessories - ***1/2
As the series of movies progressed so did the Predators arsenal, in the original movie he was actually pretty lightly equipped compared to those that followed. So no spears, whips, throwing disks or handguns here! 

No, this is the original; he just uses his wits, some nifty wrist blades and his ever trusty plasma caster on his shoulder… OK, he also has a helmet that helps him see in different colour spectrums and a nice line in compact thermo nuclear devices strapped to his left arm for when things turn nasty, but hey, we all need a get out clause. 

So, what does he actually come with: -
- Removable mask with light-up lasers (battery operated, you’ll find them packed in a bag taped to the back of the tray)
- Fully articulated shoulder cannon
- Extendable wrist blades (right arm gauntlet)
- Wrist computer/bomb (left arm gauntlet)
- Bone necklaces
- Bone bandoliers
- Human skull and spine trophy
- Highly detailed Medical kit
- Interchangeable open and closed mandibles
- Interchangeable hands x 5
- Jungle environment display base

Although he might not be packing quite as much kit, he does have one of the coolest features of any Pred to date in the form of his light-up laser tracker on the side of his helmet. You simply push the mask into place when he is in closed mandible mode, and then trail the tiny wires carefully around the back through his dreads. Now the fiddly bit! 

There is a small white plug you have to align with a hole in the top of his back-pack/armour, simply push this in, flick the switch (also on the back of his armour) and three tiny LED lights illuminate fixed to the inside, right hand of his helmet. It makes for a very impressive little feature, it’s not quite as bright as the eyes on the Endoskeletons, but is certainly bright enough to draw your eye. I’d recommend you treat these fine wires that join the mask to the back-pack with respect as they are pretty thin and I would imagine pretty fragile!

The skull and spine trophy is the same as the one that came with the Predator 2 figure, but hey, you can never have enough skulls with spines attached… right.

The other cool ‘unique’ accessory is the base, it shows a small patch of jungle floor with a tree stump, rocks, some ferns and a puddle, it’s a similar idea to the one that came with the ‘cleaner’ Wolf figure but this one is even more detailed. I love the sculpting and paintwork, especially on the tree stump with it’s rough bark and splintered trunk, and the effect on the puddle of water, which uses clear resin is pretty sweet too. The fronded ferns are beautifully sculpted, but could do with some more paint detailing as the translucent green plastic they are cast in is nice, but not 100% convincing as plant matter and can look a little plasticy, but hey, it’s a bonus stand and still looks pretty amazing, especially when compared to the standard black stands we are used to.

There’s also the removable medi-kit, it slides out of a slot on his back-pack and has a tiny flip open door that shows lots of tiny pieces of apparatus. There are some great finely observed details here, but none of them are removable. Lastly there are the extra hands, two fists and gripping right hand to hold the skull and spine trophy.

So, to sum up, as I said at the beginning this guy isn’t packing as many goodies as some of his brethren, but makes up for it with some unique features.There’s a link here to some very cool shots over on the Sideshow Freaks forum, I’d like to thank Dedguy for them, they’re on pages 48 and 49, amazing shots!

Fun Factor - ****
If you have any of the other HT Preds then this will probably strike you as the best of the crop. Many of the finer details are far more accurately observed, plus they have given much better consideration to the armour and the way it interacts with the body, so now you can achieve much deeper stances and more extreme positions overall. This all means he is a dream to pose and looks fantastic on your shelf… and he even has a figure stand that is worth using, even if you just prefer to use it as a base like me, rather than a full ‘supportive’ stand… great fun!

Value - ***3/4

If you can still pick this up for $170 or under I’d be tempted to say jump now… hell, I’d still be tempted say jump with whatever price you are comfortable with, this is not the one you want to dither over for too long.
Sideshow did have it for $169.99, but he is long sold out, as is the exclusive version that was $174.99. I think demand for this figure will ultimately far outstrip supply, so hopefully we might see another version further down the line to help out those that missed the first (and also help feed the addiction of us Pred fans till the Rodriguez reboot). 

But the problem is what would the second version be?
This version has pretty much everything you need. Unless we get a DX version with moving eyes or a final battle double pack with a mud covered Arnie and bloodied up Pred… but I guess that’s unlikely… or is it?
I was tempted to give this figure a full score; the only thing keeping it back is price, and only price. I think it’s important for manufacturers to try and keep their single figures as far under the $200 price ceiling for as long as is possible and this is still well within that ‘comfort zone’, but having seen what came with the recent Godfather figure (which I think was something of an exception) it’s going to be hard not comparing things to it in the future.

Overall - ****
Any regular readers of my guest reviews will be aware that I have quite a thing for the Predators design. Admittedly I have even more of a thing for Giger’s Alien, but that’s not to say Stan Winston’s fantastic monster doesn’t deserve all the praise it often deservedly gets heaped upon it.

He managed to create a creature, that when that mask was finally pulled away, still had the power to make you recoil! The first time you see the movie it’s actually hard to take in what you are seeing, luckily ol’ silver tongued Arnie managed to sum it up pretty well.

So here at last is THE Predator we have all wanted and waited for since we first saw the movie over twenty years ago, and HT have managed to deliver firing on virtually all cylinders.

If I had to dig around for a negative, then yes I guess he could be a little taller, and the $170 price tag will be prohibitive to some, especially in these tough economic times. But this figure is ultimately just very cool and poses far better than any Pred that came before with that newly developed body and armour… plus it has a light up laser-tracker… I mean c’mon!

Packaging - ****
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ***3/4
Articulation - ***1/2
Outfit - ****
Accessories - ***1/2
Fun Factor - ****
Value - ***3/4
Overall - ****

Where to Buy -
You have a number of online options:

- you'll have to get on the wait list at this point, but Sideshow has their exclusive version of Dutch and exclusive version of the Predator.

- Alter Ego Comics doesn't have Dutch listed, but the have the Predator at $160, and Billy at just $112.49.

- Urban Collector has the Predator at $153, Dutch at $160, and Billy at $140.

- for the UK fans, Forbidden Planet has Billy for 110 GBP, the Predator for 170 GBP, but no sign of Dutch.

- CornerStoreComics is also sold out of Dutch and the Predator, but has Billy for $117.

. you can always hit ebay.

Figures from the collection of Jeff Paker

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