Noland - 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."

It's another terrific Hot Toys guest review from Jeff tonight, as he hits up a review of another great figure - take it away, Jeff!

Every now and then Hot Toys truly surprises me… not as often as they used to, not like back in the days when they were steadily reinventing and redefining the quality we could expect in 1/6th, but more in the choices they make on who they will and won’t represent from any given licence.

The debate about the Watchmen line-up will probably haunt them for a very long time (and no, I don’t think that’s too big a statement, it’s based on such a classic of the comic industry that it deserved to at least cover the main characters… what were you thinking Hot Toys, go sit on the naughty step). But on the flipside we have ‘questionable’ movies like Terminator: Salvation and indeed Predators, which have spawned multiple figures from each story respectively.

However I’m judging these facts with my geek head on. If I were wearing my marketing and business head it would be plain to see that fan boys Hoover up cool robots and aliens with a fervour that is often not lavished on the more classic cult favourites. I’m guessing that’s why the Planet of the Apes and Platoon licenses didn’t get the love they deserved… sigh, kids today, don’t know they are born… etc, etc, wanders off mumbling incoherently to self smelling vaguely of disinfectant and urine… oh yes!

But back to the job at hand, the character of Noland was more of background Machiavellian force than major player in the movie, and was one of two cameo parts intended for and indeed devised to lure Arnie Schwarzenegger out of retirement (it was also rumoured that Danny Glover might have been intended for the Noland role). However, for a million and one reasons Arnie didn’t or couldn’t take the job (fool, could have turned the movie around in one fell swoop rather than taking ‘The Expendables and The Expendables 2’, sighs, shakes head, weeps silently into handkerchief!). So, anyway, to give the story a bit of a left field diversion during the big game hunt the ‘Dutch’ character was kept in and the role was given to a rather meaty looking Laurence Fishburne, hence ‘Dutch’ became ‘Noland’. The other cameo would have seen Dutch turn up at the close of the movie as a member of a ‘Classic Predators’ rescue team; this shot was obviously cut completely.

Noland actually ended up being a pretty unlikeable character, but there was no denying that his ad-hoc survival outfit, made up of various cribbed elements from medieval knight, Samurai and Predator armour did look pretty cool. And so he was given the green light by Hot Toys to stand on your shelf alongside Royce, the three super Preds (Spike) and the new classic Pred as well.

OK, I have to admit that in the greater scheme of things Noland did not inspire me as a character per se! However in terms of being visually interesting I can 100% see why they chose to make him… and why he is in my collection… and why he may well end up in yours.


Well, ain’t it obvious!

Apart from Machiko Noguchi (hello Hot Toys…. What actually happened to the promised Hot Angels line?) this is the only other ‘human’ Predator we have got, and regardless of his role in the movie he looks all kinds of kick ass!

For a start he is black, and black characters are woefully under represented in Hollywood, let alone the 1/6th world. And secondly he is played by THE FISHBURNE and thirdly, he is a dude dressed like a military dude freaking dressed as a Predator… Just accept the tri-levels of coolositude! If you can’t accept any of those levels for whatever personal reason you may have been weaned on… just leave now... NO, SERIOUSLY GO!

So, now we have lost the losers, lets get on with the game at hand!

Packaging - ****
If you don’t know what to expect go read this
or this or this or indeed this. Because this follows exactly the same design cues laid down by those previous boxes for the Predators figures… and I like it!

It’s a great but simple design solution that has proved to be a one size fits all across the board. It works well and looks good so why fight it. Full score!

Sculpting - ****
The name of Noh Sung Woon is quite a new one to be featured on Hot Toys boxes, but the outstanding work they did on the New Goblin (I will review him eventually, trust me) and now this, would lead me to believe it’s a name we’ll be seeing a lot more of!

I’m loving this portrait; it suits perfectly the meaty heavier and indeed older Fishburne that we saw in the movie. The expression is the angry/determined side of neutral, making him perfect for all manner of poses when just holding the helmet rather than wearing it, but I guess it stands to reason that the expression should exhibit a touch of seething anger. If you’d been trapped on an alien planet, living off your wits and being permanently hunted like an animal, my guess is you’d be pretty pissed off too.

The general likeness is very strong, and the skin texture on the flesh, including the pock marks on his face are beautifully observed, as you can compare against a reference pic here and more reference can be seen here. As far as facial likenesses go I have no issues but plenty of praise, and the work on the selection of eight hands, six gloved, two ungloved, is close to perfect as well.

Paint - ****
There is nothing to fault here. Maybe one day, through some kind of horrendous aberration we might get a few bad paint apps slipping through the net from Hot Toys, but as is per usual here we just have a stunning job.

The black flesh tones are even and warm, carrying the base colouration perfectly between the head and body. There is gentle work picked out on the lips and eyebrows, and the eyes, which are painted and positioned to be looking up slightly, have the now famous trademark glossy wet look. The hair is painted in a deep dark brown with a semi matte finish that works well with the underlying sculpt.

His selection of hands is also well executed, with fine detailed work on the painted elements on the gloved ones.

Articulation - ***3/4
Noland is another figure that utilises the muscle body. The first time I reviewed it’s particular set of manoeuvrability was on the Wolverine figure here, and then others like The Comedian and Perseus right through to the recent DX Indiana Jones figure.

It does mean that some of the more extreme poses are a problem, particularly from above the waist, but for a character like this that’s not such a big deal. You’ll still be able to find a great range of poses even with all his armour on.

Accessories - *** 3/4
Noland comes ready for all kinds of Predatory action… that could sound wrong in some circles, but I’m amongst friends, so moving on. He is equipped with-
- Two bare fists
- Two gloved fists
- Two relaxed/semi gripping hands
- One right axe/spear grip
- One right hand gun grip
- One grey over shirt
- One heavy-duty ‘fantasy’ assault rifle
- One jawbone axe
- One extendable spear
- One Hybrid Predator helmet
- One pleather Bandolier with sculpted pouches
- One right forearm gauntlet with extendable blades
- One left forearm gauntlet computer/bomb
- Armour panels for shoulder, upper arm, chest, waist, thighs and legs
- Figure stand with nameplate and the movie logo.

Quite a number of those items have already been covered in other categories, so what we are left with here is mostly his weapons. And for me, apart from his helmet, the second coolest bit of kit is the obscenely big gun. I was told by someone (who shall remain anonymous) that it was mooted at one point that Noland should be equipped with an ARC Generator gun from District 9, as an in-joke with sci-fi fans to a never intended but hinted at crossover of universes. I have to admit I like little in jokes like this, and as long as no one ever made Predators vs Aliens vs Prawns it would have been cool with me. However, for what ever reason (most likely Fox wouldn’t allow it) it didn’t happen, but the gun Noland carries does actually look like it could have come from that universe.

The detailing on the rifle is lovely, with plenty of well-defined and accurately observed modelling, and the huge double ‘over and under’ barrels make it a most impressive weapon, and one of its cool features is the webbed carry strap, which like the rest of the weapon is über accurately executed with the plaits, bindings and leather strap section. He also has a Predator spear, which has some cool detailing with a double extendable feature. However, knowing that Rodriguez’s movie takes place in a universe that it would seem might like to imagine the AvP movies never happened, it may well have been cooler to include the Predator 2 spear, as the one included is definitely of the AvP design. But as it was never used or indeed even seen in the movie it’s a moot point and ends up as a cool bonus. Do be careful with yours, as I found they can be very fragile. I tried to gently twist the point on one end of mine while posing him and it literally fell off with a gentle touch, and sadly Noland was posing up a tree at the time, so where it fell is anyone’s guess… slightly miffed about that!

His last weapon is the jawbone axe, seen briefly in the movie being used more as a prop more than an actual weapon, but again the sculpting is solid in representing the bone and teeth of the jaw as it is fixed to rather industrial looking long handle with bindings. I did say that was his last weapon, and as a separate stand alone item it is, but he is also equipped with the double extendable blades on his right wrist gauntlet.

As always with the MMS line, he also comes with an oval black figure stand featuring the movie logo and a character name-plate, he does however stand just fine unaided, so mine won’t see the light of day!

In terms of quality, aesthetic, sculpt, paint and quantity there is no problem with any of his accessories, but the fragility of the spear is worthy of note. Had I been photographing him in studio shots it would have been simple to glue it back on, but as he was on an ‘exotic’ location shoot in my garden, it’s sadly lost to the undergrowth.

Outfit - ****
Hot Toys have actually taken the liberty of giving us much more armour than we saw in the movie, as Noland’s actual coverings were far more minimal, check out the image here. However the outfit and especially his gun did end up reasonably similar to the concept outfit designed for him, which you can be viewed here

The standout piece of his outfit is also an accessory, but I think this is the most relevant category to look it over. I’m of course talking about his hybrid Predator mask and helmet. The detailing on the top of this can be seen closely in this pic, which helps you breakdown how the character is meant to have scavenged various pieces of kit from the Predators previous quarry brought in to hunt (amongst which is a Predator mask, bits of alien armour, a knights shoulder pauldron and the helmet of a Samurai from feudal Japan).

His helmet is connected to his left arm gauntlet/arm computer by two cables, you can check out the detailing with the reference here. Now, as he has no plasma canon I’m guessing this might be linked to improve his night vision, thermal imaging and range finding for his hand held weapon… but that’s just me geek guessing… its more likely just because it looks cool! The fine detailing, layering and mixed media used to make it all look as authentic as possible is fantastic. The main body of the mask and helmet are two solid sculpted plastic elements, but the panels that fall over the neck and shoulders are soft pleather. And the soft pliable cables have pegs at one end to attach to small holes in the helmet, and holes at the other end to slot onto pegs on the wrist computer.

The rest of his outfit consists of combat boots, camo military trousers and a T-shirt over which he wears armoured leg panels (all invented for the character by Hot Toys) a wide ‘tribal’ belt with panels hanging down, an upper body armoured chest and back covering and a pleather bandolier with ‘ammo’ cartridges, at least I imagine they are meant to be ammunition, but as it is meant to be of ‘exotic, or maybe even ‘alien’ design, that is purely conjecture. Over this he wears a tattered shirt with the left sleeve ripped off at the shoulder seam and sculpted pockets (made to look like some kind of reptilian hide). The right sleeve is made of a fabric mesh (intended to look like some kind of chain-mail derivative). To go over this he has rigid upper arm panels (one of which for the right arm is again invented), and his lower arm gauntlets as well.

All the garments are well tailored where made of fabric and beautifully designed to fit the body where sculpted and moulded. The finely observed work on the leather and metal textures for the armour and its myriad of straps and chains is fantastic, as is the paint application which brings it all to life, making it look convincing as the mixed media affair it is intended to represent.

So, the bizarre thing is, that for all the naysayers who still question why this figure got the green light at all, it actually ended up with one of the most impressive outfits to come out of the Predator based movies to date. And as such it gets a double thumbs up from me.

Value - ***
The full RRP in North America for this guy is a hefty $184.99 making him a full $35 more than Royce cost upon release (and for me at least, Brody’s character was a far more essential purchase). But at least he’s $10 less than the super Preds (well, the ones without pets… and I don’t count a robot falcon as a pet!).

For that price you get a pretty unique looking character with an amazing celebrity portrait, an awesome paint app, a well designed box and a great range of accessories with some even being a bit EU, which is pretty rare for the MMS range, as lets face it the films makers wouldn’t even let Hot Toys give the Falconer or Tracker a proper face under their masks.

However, even with all the cool features it still feels like a lot of wedge to lay down for what was in effect a tertiary ‘cameo’ character.

Had his bulky alien assault rifle had a cool blue light up feature then he may have garnered another half star more. But for me it seems that Noland will be a hard sell but to the most ardent of Predator fanciers. But if you do consider yourself to be amongst their ranks, then you will feel pretty handsomely rewarded, as his background status hasn’t lead to any cutbacks on his final quality.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
I enjoyed kiting him up and then photographing him… even if I did have a mishap with his spear! The body poses more than adequately in any number of positions, even when fully armoured and up a tree! Sadly my Super Preds were in storage when I came to photograph him, but I do look forward to posing the full movie line-up together in the near future. I think it’s Noland’s mixture of Ben Gunn, Robinson Crusoe with just a dash of Boba Fett thrown in for good measure that makes him look so sub-arctic on the shelf, and it’s those unique looks that help cement him such a healthy fun factor.

Overall- *** 1/2
All in all this is a very solid release. Admittedly not for everyone in terms of subject matter, but lets face it what figure has ever pleased all of the people all of the time… OK, I guess there was the DX Jack Sparrow, but even he didn’t get a full score (well, not from me anyway).

So, to sum up there is little to gripe about in terms of build or quality, it is as always just the monetary outlay that keeps this figure out of the full score hall of fame. However, if you can score him for one of the more competitive prices listed below… well, then he might just merit that full score after all.

Where to Buy -
Sideshow has Noland in stock for the full whack $184.99 or you can try some of Mike’s sponsor below where you could potentially save $18 on the RRP.

Alter Ego in stock- $166.99

Fanboy Collectables in stock- $166.99

BBTS $169.99 

Or hit eBay where the BIN prices are between $165 to $180.

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

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