SEARCH REVIEWS    LIVING WITH LATE FEES    FEATURES    LINKS    BIO    MISSION    EMAIL    MAIN PAGE >


Alien Vs Predator Diorama

   

"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 Parker loves his Alliens and Predators.  What better than when they're together?  He checks out the latest diorama tonight - take it away, Jeff!

Well at long last here is Hot Toys (HT) second diorama. Their first, the AvP, Elder On Throne, received a very mixed reception, mostly non-favourable, at least that was the feedback I got. I didn’t have as much of a problem with it as many others did. It wasn’t perfect but I liked it, and it stood above my monitor at work for a long time, until a bunch of AvP, Cosbaby figures, eventually usurped it. 
Now looking back I can see that the throne dio had some problems here and there, but from the initial pics I thought this new one from AvP:R looked a lot better… would I be disappointed? 












Packaging: ***1/2
This is a reasonably sizeable statue, so comes in quite a hefty box. It’s in an easy-to-assemble ‘semi-kit’ form, so the box has no windows, but is adorned with many glossy full-colour images. It’s made of thick card and inside, the many pieces are Poly-wrapped and housed in two pre-formed polystyrene trays that hold everything in place snugly, they are also taped over to ensure nothing rattles around in transit. This is, as I said, a pretty large box, and the images are good for giving you a representation of what to expect inside. I do, however, think the back should have had a larger image from a different angle than the one shown on the front, as it makes it look a little repetitive using the same image twice. The two side panels have close-ups of the Predator and Predalien respectively and a brief description of the character, these close-ups help in showing off some of the highly detailed sculpting. So, all in all, this, like most ‘statue’ boxes, is primarily designed with function in mind, and that function is to protect its contents! If it can manage to look nice to boot, then all the better, so this pretty much ticks all the boxes on its brief.

Sculpt: ****
Like the Elder on throne statue before it, this is a dynamic ‘bullet time’ pose, capturing of a moment, and also like the other statue it uses a lot of artistic licence; as the Wolf and Predalien undoubtedly had an impressive face-off in the (sadly sometimes too dark to see what was happening) movie, but this pose was never ‘specifically’ seen. However, that makes this ‘re-imagined’ pose all the better for it in my opinion. If the limited budget that the Strause brothers had at their disposal could have stretched to some more involved CG interaction, specifically between Wolf and the Predalien in the final battle, this statue gives us an idea of what we ‘might’ have seen. Of course if they had had a bigger budget it might have been better spent on the script or choice of cast, but there you go.

Of the two figures the Predalien is my favourite in this set up. He/she has a far more dynamic pose and is captured mid leap, dreads flailing, mouth roaring with his right hand raised to bring crashing down on the kneeling Wolf. He has some great detail work pretty much all over the body, but my favourite areas are the head with its opaque cowl showing the skull detail beneath and the ribs going round to his back with its four large breathing tubes. There is some very fine work exhibited all over this character, the only fault I could find, was the seam where the left arm is attached at the shoulder was a little too visible for my liking.

The Predator, though still very dynamic, is depicted much more on the defensive than the attack. His right hand is raised, palm open (which makes his wrist blades jut out at a rather odd angle) and his other holds his spear at chest height, ready to bring it up, hoping to stop his attacker in mid air. The Predator shows a lot of great sculpting as well, the amour, gauntlets and thigh guards all look very authentic. It looks to me like some of the armoured elements, particularly on his chest panels have been moulded separately and stuck on to give the look of layering far more convincingly. His beaded and skull-adorned necklace is also produced as a separate part, as is his spear (this separates into two parts, so as to fit into the hand easily). The work on his body netting was always going to be a tricky job, but it’s carried out fantastically, only let down slightly by the paint apps. 
The face is carried out well and is in a roaring expression, with his mandibles spread wide open (like the option with the 1/6 Predator cleaner version I reviewed recently.

The face and dreads are sculpted beautifully for this scale with some outstanding work on the interior of the mouth and the acid scaring. The dreads are made of a solid plastic and represent the head in motion, so they are all standing out from the head. The only drawback this makes and, indeed, my only real fault with this figure is that where the face ‘should’ blend into the neck is now highly visible with the dreads being in this position, and it doesn’t blend but just stops. So from the jaw line and right around the back of the head it is just too smooth, and though your casual observer might not pick up on this, it still feels like an oversight.

The base is also carried out very well, it’s a generic mass of broken concrete, exposed venting and pipe work, all executed beautifully, and though relatively complex it’s nothing too tough for the master sculptors at HT. To the right of the leaping Predalien are the remains of a slaughtered Alien drone, he’s pretty messed up with just bits of his head, shoulder and breathing tubes left but it’s a nice touch of detail. If just this base had been produced at twice this scale it would have made a fantastic diorama for the 1/6 figs from AvP:R.

So, I guess to sum up, if you are a dedicated hardcore Predator or Alien fanboy you will spot and pick up on a few inaccuracies here and there, if so, you’re probably better suited to the 1/6 figures. If, however, you are more of a general fan just wanting something for your office or to display in your home cinema, then this has a lot going for it, as the poses are all very powerful which makes for a very effective display. My wife, for example, loved this, I said my preference was for the 1/6 ‘cleaner’ Wolf I have displayed next to it, but she said the statue had a real energy and ‘WOW’ factor, where as the 1/6 figure was just a doll standing there.

Ah, I said, but I can put the 1/6 figure in any position I want!

Why don’t you then!

Because I like him just standing there!

Raised eyebrow!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! 

Paint: ***1/2
This diorama has A LOT going on, two complex figures and a pretty intricate base. The Predalien is, in my most humble of opinions, painted pretty bleedin well, with some very intricate work on the differing sinews and sections of the body. I especially like work on the head which has some nice paternation and the detail on the two oval sections to the rear of the head are all painted very accurately to the movie props, with some subtle washes to tie it all in together. Even the blood isn’t too overdone, as is oft the case on ‘battle-damaged’ figures.

The Predator requires a far more complex application in terms of the mixed media he is supposed to be wearing, there’s meant to be different metals, leather and flesh, so a far more diverse palette was required. All in all they have pulled off a fantastic result, the face is fantastic and the damaged ‘milky’ eye has been picked out well. All the metal sections have a good deep colour and are all weathered slightly with some thin washes. The only part that isn’t as perfect as it could be is the body mesh. This was always going to be a challenge, and they have pulled off a much finer job than many manufacturers could, but a body stocking, by its very nature is a tough call at any scale. It has also been slashed across the right flank, so in this area the mesh is open exposing long gashes into the flesh. The paint-work here on the blood, like on the Predalien, is enough to get the wound across without over-emphasising it.

As I said above, the base is pretty generic, but there’s still some fine paint apps showing the layers of concrete and screed below, different types of rock and differing sizes and finishes of pipe and duct work in copper, bronze, steel and gunmetal; one of the pipes even has a shut-off valve and a number of others have serial numbers printed on them, nice attention to detail. 

So were it not for the lack of accuracy on the Preds body mesh, this would have been a full-mark category for me. 

Articulation: N/A
Well I say ‘not applicable’ but you can move the spear in his hand and the Predalien’s tail is rubber with a metal wire armature, so you can position this how you’d like. But, there are no actual engineered moving joints, hence my N/A in this category.

Accessories: N/A
Wolf has his spear, but it’s all very much part of the overall diorama, It might have been cool had they given us the option of the whip as well, but just the spear it is.

Outfit: N/A
Wolf is obviously ‘dressed’ but it’s all very much part of the sculpt!

Fun factor- **1/2
If you are a fan of AvP:R or just Preds and Xeno’s in general, then this is a nice display piece. If you want to ‘play’ with it, you’ll be sadly disappointed.

Value: **1/2
Once constructed this is a big piece, but the price Sideshow has it up for - $179.99 - is a pretty hefty lump of moola in my opinion, and I feel it would need to be whole $50 lighter to be getting any where near 4 stars in this category. However, when I told my wife that this statue was $20 more than the Predator ‘cleaner’ she said in her eyes the statue was far more impressive, and looked like something worth twice that of the 1/6 figure. I don’t usually use my wife as a foil in my reviews, but it kind of proves a point, that to some this is far better buy than a mere ‘doll’!

Overall: ***
In many ways this is a most impressive display piece, some very tight sculpting work, lovely colour palette, that is (on the whole) very accurately applied, a great textured and detailed base, and best of all HT have managed to make both the big bads of the piece look even more dynamic and threatening than they did in the actual movie. It’s downsides are that hefty price tag, the Predator’s smooth head at the rear and the paint apps on the Pred’s body mesh, which as I said aren’t bad by a long shot, and even a talented customiser is going to struggle with painting that fine, especially if they are being mass produced.

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpt - ****
Paint - ***1/2
Articulation - N/A
Accessories: N/A
Outfit: N/A
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - **1/2
Overall - ***

Where to Buy -
Sideshow have it on pre-order for $179.99

Corner Store $ 161.99 preorder

If you’re in the UK-

Forbidden Planet- 129.99

There are also a few on eBay for around $175 to $200. You can search using sponsor MyAuctionLinks.com.

KEEP SCROLLING DOWN FOR TONS MORE PHOTOS!


Figure from the collection of Jeff Parker.

This page copyright 2000 - 2008, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour Hosting.com