City Hunter Predator - Predator 2
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 checks in tonight with a look at another great Predator. I checked this guy out just a little while ago as well - tell us all about him, Jeff!

A big shout out, and a bow down of  ‘we’re not worthy’ to the Captain of all things toy, Mr Michael Crawford. A man who not only kept the faith, but the receipt (in case he needed to return it).

Hot Toys have pretty much given us every incarnation of the Predator ever committed to celluloid (and VT and digital recording come to that), with a fanciful ‘artist inspired’ Samurai version and a ‘comic book inspired’ human ‘she-predator’ thrown in for good measure. So apart from a few ‘lost tribe’ lurkers at the very back of the room in Predator 2 (who were so out of focus it’s a moot point anyway), they have pretty much officially exhausted the ‘relevant’ supply of characters to depict. So… what is one to do when that happens with one of the most popular cash cows in your stable… easy of course, you go back and do them again… only better!

Like any company, you are only as good as your last job, but the last time Hot Toys did the Predator from this movie was 5 years ago (version 1 being 6 years ago), and onehelluvalot of improvements have been made in terms of sculpting, casting, fabricating, painting and disguised/engineered articulation since then… so they obviously thought it was time!

Of course this means the floodgates are now officially open, with announcements that they plan to revisit AvP… and surely a classic DX Predator can only be a year or two away. I’m thinking moving eyes are a bit of a wasted exercise on this… I’m hoping for silicone covered ‘real skin’ mandibles with a working ‘roaring motion’ and complete swap out head with the mask attached (c’mon, indulge us Hot Toys, you know you want to… and it makes complete financial sense). For every jaded 40 something that gets pissed off that you are ‘revisiting’ a figure ‘he invested in’ and quits the hobby by quite literally throwing his dollies out of the pram, there is a new swathe of wealthy 20 somethings who shout ‘shut up and take my money already’. Colonial Marines anyone… anyone?

But right here, right now we are looking at the third version, yeah you read that right THIRD version of the big bad from Predator 2. First we had the regular version and then we got the battle damaged, but this new one takes the best bits from those two and wraps it all around the all-new ‘aesthetically improved’ Predator base body. It means we don’t get the double elbows and knees of the previous versions, but we get something much closer to how the dude looked in the movie… Which was 6’ 7” of Predatorial bad assness!

There is also an all-new facial sculpt to make it even more appealing, including swap over mandibles (a feature that was funnily enough first featured on the second version of this figure). We also get not 1, but 2 respirators, one to attach to the face and one to hold (nice touch).

However, if you are Predator fan that has been in this for the long game, is this version truly essential, or more of a ‘nice to have?’

If you want to catch up on what came before I have my old reviews for the regular version HERE and the battle damaged one is in the archive HERE.






















Packaging - ***
This is the one category that the old ones have this beat. The large-scale impressive nature (though not particularly eco friendly) of the originals, was a multi coloured dream come true. With the old school full colour ‘pearlescent’ outer sleeve covering an inner carton that concealed the figure in all it’s ‘kit-formed’ glory. Now we have a far more low-key affair, that appears to have an image of the figure on the sleeve, that (to its merit) looks like a still lifted from the movie and made into a duotone image. The inner box holds the figure and his multitudinous accessories all held between collector friendly layers of plastic. All is as it should be in terms of construction, but it leaves me pining for the glory days!

Sculpting - ***3/4
When Hot Toys first unveiled their figures from AvP they were pretty groundbreaking. Not only did we get some killer detail, but unlike the McFarlane ‘glorified statues’ we had untill then held up as the geek equivalent of the second coming, we got some kick ass articulation and removable/swap out armour and accessories… this was indeed what we had been waiting for. And whilst Todd continued to wax lyrical about what his ‘collectors wanted’, they voted with their credit cards and jumped ship to the HMS Hot Toys (even if a few did feel press-ganged, they knew it was for there own good… you can’t stand in the way of progress!).

Of course that was a good few years ago now, and the quality of those early AvP figures is almost as distinct from the modern crop of Hot Toys figures as McFarlane’s used to be from Hasbro. Which seems to be why they have decided that now is the time for some updating. This figure utilises the latest Hot Toys has to offer in terms of the way they have constructed their Predators since the emergence of the newly designed figures from Rodriguez’s Predators.

I liked the original sculpt on this guy, but looking back he does now seem a little ‘duck faced’, where as this guy looks like he belongs at the top table. I’m sure there are some ‘fans’ out there who will tell me I’m wrong, but uless you are the kind of anal-fistula fanatic who hovers over the pause button on your Predator 2 Blu-Ray, like a hobo in the ‘sell by date’ aisle of your local super market… all is good!

The first thing I did when I started to review this guy was venture into my storage archive and retrieve the two earlier versions, so I had something to compare. And I’m pleased to say that only a few minor details have been directly reused here. This much closer represents the face we saw in the movie, the eyes aren’t as deep set as previously and the general detailing, especially on the interior of the mouth, is better and more distinct, as are the swap over mandibles. You’ll also see that the dreads now hang more convincingly, as they fall away from the back of the head instead of sticking out at an angle. The body looks to be the same one used on the recent classic Predator, but with its own unique colouration displayed in the paint app.

Being armour clad and accessory heavy, this is a figure with a lot of sculpting, but I’ll cover these aspects in the relevant categories.

Paint - ****
The original versions had a cracking paint app, but here there seems to be improvements in the subtlety between changes in tone, and the over all palette is warmer and richer, using more orangey brown Autumnal tones rather than the deeper orangey reds used before. The patternation on the head is beautifully executed with a complex design that mimics reptilian skin markings, and the general graduations and colour changes that were evident on the suit in the movie are adhered to here, even going all over the body, feet and hands. The eyes are also distinctly different, with an eerie yellow/green hue to the pupils and iris, painted in such a way, that against their dark backgrounds they appear to have a glowing quality. The dreads also have a number of beads and trinkets adorning them at random intersections, and these are all painted in crisply as well.

In short it’s a pretty stunning job. Nothing is particularly new or ground breaking, but it still delivers a top representation of the screen seen character to all but the most autistic of fans.

Articulation - ***1/4
I guess it is always tricky to have your cake and eat it. After all, very seldom is anything in life perfect, except perhaps the fit of Black Widows outfit in The Avengers. And so it is that what one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away. You see those early Preds (for the unenlightened that weren’t collecting back then) were basically model kits that you had to construct. The base element was the body, which was a Predatorised version of the classic True-Type, all double knees and elbows with great articulation at the waist, abdomen, shoulders and neck. You then had to attach the collar and head, fit the ‘fishnet’ body stocking (kinky), put on the armour and attach all of his accessories and gizmo’s (technical term). And so it was that not until then, when the task was completed had you finished the trial, and then, and only then were you a true Predator collector, and a true man to boot! It was a rite of passage, and one that these new ‘whipper-snapper’ collectors can only hear spoken about in hushed circles of reverence, (you needed nerves of steel, a heart of gold and a knob of butter) a silver age, for the chosen few!

However, these days… just like everything else in life it’s all done for you… ain’t it grand! I’m that old grumpy git who looks at folks pissing about retouching in Photoshop (which I use on a daily basis) and says ‘yeah, but I could do that with a proper real airbrush and compressor, mixing my own pigments and using a scalpel so delicately that I cut the ‘Frisk’ film without ever scoring the surface of the photographic print…EVER’ (which I could). But I choose not to as it may make me appear to be bitter and twisted ;)… and after all, who cares granddad!

So what am I saying… well I kind of went off on one there, but we end up with an aesthetically good looking body that poses well on the whole, but leaves a little to be desired when compared to the old school… much like in life.

For a more accurate breakdown of the actual ‘engineered’ articulation you can find it in the review I did for the ‘Predators ‘classic’ Predator here and the Shadow Predator which also utilised an identical body here.

Accessories - ***
Though lacking the xenomorph skull that the original BD Predator came with, this guy still has a most impressive haul, made up of-
- one pair of interchangeable ‘roaring’ mandibles
- one  interchangeable forearm with severed stump
- six interchangeable hands, consisting of-
- one right spear holding hand
- one right throwing disc holding hand
- two  fists
- two relaxed hands
- one net-caster hand
- one telescopic spear
- one net-caster
- one small medicine-pouch on carry strap
- one extendable throwing disc (can attach right thigh armour)
- one detachable helmet/mask with LED light-up function
- one  respirator with molded plug to attach to face
- one  respirator to hold in hand
- one human trophy skull and spine
- one opening medical kit with non removable tools inside
- one figure stand with City Hunter Predator nameplate and the movie logo

Some items, like the spear and throwing disc (and indeed the plasma caster attached to his shoulder) are direct re-uses from the earlier figures, but with improved paint apps to suit this figures armour, especially noticeable on the new spear. For those not familiar with the spear it is a small work of art. It replicates near perfectly the one from the movie and has a six stage extendable feature, with each respective end telescoping out 3 times, short of this feature being automatic, I fail to see how the detail could be improved at this diminutive scale. Do be warned though, it is potentially fragile, especially in its extended mode (perhaps a metal one next time if you ever plan to revisit this figure Hot Toys).

However other items like the pouch on a strap, net-caster, medi-kit, respirators and skull/spine trophy are all new sculpts with finer detailing. The trophy in particular looks more natural in a macabre way, and the curve of the spine and the way it hangs looks far more anatomically impressive. And the less pitted helmet does look strangely more comfortable at this scale with its texture reduced, and the new way of attaching it makes for a far more secure fit.

So, a solid set of items that are all supremely well crafted and feature pretty much everything you could need to replicate key scenes from the movie, but an extra alien skull for the trophy cabinet would have been a sweet adition.

Outfit - ****
These guys are so far from modest that its obscene! I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, for a warrior race their choice of attire makes little or no sense. They frequent that classic sci-fi idiom of being technologically advanced, yet have the fashion sense of a bunch of barbarians… but hey, we all buy into it and we love them all the more for it!

So what we get is bare-feet (no sandals on this incarnation) then an ornate pair of greaves to protect the shins and calves, this goes right up to the top of the lower leg, unlike the previous one that stopped well before the knee (you can also attach the net caster here, by pushing it into a concealed slot on the side of the left panel). Next up are the kneepads which are leld by elastic straps, no front thigh armour (go figure) and an ornate pair of pants (briefs for out US readers) from which hang various accoutrements and trinkets, including the necessary armoured panels over the groin and sides. To the right hand side panel you can attach the throwing disk, which is basically a killer Frisbee, whilst the left is purely protective/ornamental.

Apart from the mesh like body stocking his midriff has no protection, but then his chest has the classic gladiatorial half covered and half strapped on armour’, this spreads over to his back where his opening medi-kit is stored and on the shoulder is his ‘vision guided’ plasma canon. The shoulders are afforded some protection from armoured epaulettes and the forearms have armoured gauntlets (the right featuring a propelling set of twin real metal blades) and the left has the pop-up projectile weapon and the trademark incendiary device, (which can flip open to show the digital countdown) designed to cover all tracks of his existence/visitation to an alien world, in the event of being bested.

Lastly comes the mask/helmet, the item that not only protects the head, but also enables him to view things across the colour spectrum, including infrared and thermal imaging, and it also guides his plasma-caster in directional and range finding. It features a light up red LED concealed on the left hand temple area, and the three pinprick apertures are distinct and very bright when illuminated. There is a fine wire coming from the side that needs to be concealed amongst his dreads and plugged into a small slot on his backpack, beneath this is a tiny switch to activate it.

All of the armour above is well detailed and sculpted to look like it has seen some action, and this fact is further enhanced by the base metallic finish it receives over which some ageing and weathering is applied in the paint job. Pretty much every piece is re-sculpted and re-tooled to show a far more pitted and textured finish than on the earlier versions. You will also see that the detailing across the board has been tightened up and refined. This is most apparent on the epaulets, trunks and greaves.

But funnily enough the one item that has had the texture reduced slightly from last time is the mask. At the time of the originals release I remember some of the more hard-core Predator fans complaining that the pitted appearance of the mask was too overboard, so here it has been reigned in to look more in keeping with the screen seen prop, and it of course features the light up feature (gone over above) which the earlier ones didn’t have.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
In terms of play value this is a very sturdy and robust figure, however the nature of the highly detailed accessories does mean there is always the risk of breakage if handled by tiny of clumsy hands. The only place that the previous figures had this one beat was in terms of engineered articulation, but even they were hampered by the way the armour infringed on their movements, so ‘com ci, com ca!

In all other respects this looks to be a superior product, well to my eyes anyhow, and the inclusion of the light-up red targeting laser puts a nice cherry on top.

Value - Real terms- **1/2, If you have been chasing the old ones on eBay for ages **** (or the sky’s the limit)
This guy comes it at a quite eye wateringly high $219.99, just six years ago the battle damaged one had an RRP of $129.99… a $90 increase in that short time is pretty alarming. Of course the world economy was in a much better state back then, and the cost of raw materials for manufacturing has rocketed in the interim. However I would have thought that would allow for no more than a say $30 to $40 increase per unit. Had this been in the $170 to 180 area it could well have walked away with an unblemished record, and had it skirted under the $200 ceiling it may have had a whole extra star. At this price it does feel a little like a premium price for something we have all seen before in different guises.

However, there is always a Yin to the Yang, and that flipside is that this flicks the finger to scalpers on the grey market, where the two original versions of the City Hunter were demanding some simply outrageous prices. So for those guys and gals this will be a far less bitter pill to swallow, as you get to save some money and you get a far better looking figure as part of the deal!

Overall - ***
A great looking figure, but at a very high price! The problem that the ongoing Predator series has, is that you can end up feeling like you’ve been there, done that and seen it all before, and it many ways you have. If you got either of the earlier Predator 2 figures you will already know what to expect from the design of the armour and many of the accessories (even if they are retooled and improved), and if you have any of the newer figures you will be very familiar with the construction of the body, its articulation and the way they are painted.

As such, the initial enthusiasm I had for this figure was a little short lived. Don’t get me wrong, it is a very cool looking figure, and as I said above, for anyone who had been considering pushing the button on one of those earlier versions for anywhere north of $400, you now have a far better option. And even if you still feel the need to own one of those originals (still important figures in their own rite, both in terms of quality and their place in showcasing the progressive history of the company), the release of this one must have surely made them slightly less desirable to all but the completists, and hbelped slashed their extortionate price tags!

So my score is only really dragged away from perfection by that $220 asking price. Had it been around the $170 to 180 mark it might have seemed just a little more essential, but at this price he feels at least $40 over the odds.

Where to Buy -
Sideshow still have him in stock for… $219.99.

Alternatively you can hit up a site sponsor and save over $15, try-
Alter ego $202.99
BBTS - $208.99 

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

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

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