Predator 2 - Guardian Lost Predator
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."

While we impatiently wait for the new Predators from Hot Toys, Jeff Parker jumps in with a review to tide us over - take it away, Jeff!

A big thank you as always to our Elder Predator, without whom the hunting down of all those darned elusive collectibles would be a much tougher job. Mind you, he does keep bringing things to our attention that we didn’t know we needed, so perhaps ‘thanks’ is the wrong word!

It seems like such a very long time ago that I reviewed Scar, he was a member of the very first set of Predators that Hot Toys released from AvP (it was in fact only 5 years ago), but a hellovalot of Movie Masterpiece figures have passed under the bridge since then.

That early figure now actually look a little quaint next to the newer Predators that Hot Toys have released, the quality back then was groundbreaking for its day, but the attention to detail and realism that Hot Toys can achieve now is another quantum leap from those early figures. However, they still demand amazing prices on the secondary market, anything from $300 to $900+… I kid you not, so you can see why those early Preds have become such a tradable commodity. But the one thing I try to hammer home, time after time is that these are things to buy only if you want, love and need them. As an investment you are building your abode on shaky, sandy soil!

However, I do have to admit that the Predator figures have found an audience far bigger than I ever imagined they would. In fact, I think I’m right in believing it’s the figures that have helped create a large part of that audience, and I dare say a few of the ‘younger’ collectors were probably sucked into the ‘event horizon’ that is the whole Hot Toys Predator phenomenon. They found them selves becoming fans of the Predator franchise purely because of the quality of the figures. But that’s no bad thing, if it gets people to watch the original movie, if only to show them how bloody good it was!

But it is so easy to get swept along. You see a very cool Predator figure previewed on a forum, then you see the prices the older Pred figures are demanding on eBay, and before you know it you’ve pre-ordered 3, just to be on the safe side!

Of course this is an exaggeration… or is it?
Anyway, to the job at hand! The fact of the matter is that there have only ever been a handful of Predators ‘actually’ seen on screen, and most of those were seen fleetingly! And those fleetingly viewed background characters have actually led to the evolution of some of Hot Toys coolest Predator figures released… go figure.
I will go out on a limb here and say I loved the original classic Predator figure, who wouldn’t, I also loved both the hero Preds from Pred 2 and both the Wolf Preds from AvP: R, but the coolest Pred to date… still by a wide country mile is the Elder Pred from Predator 2 which is why these ‘Lost Hunter’ Preds are so desirable…  you need them… ‘YES’ need them to back him up.

So, whilst I have to admit there is little point in owning this as a stand-alone character, much like there is little point in just owning last years ‘Lost Predator’ (if they were to be the only Predators you owned). But to those that do have the other Pred 2 characters this is nothing short of an essential item.

The only potential problem is that this was an exclusive item at this years various conventions, with a mere 1000 to 1500 (depending on where you get your info from) made, to be split 3 ways between the US, HK and Japan. Us European collectors were left wanting, but luckily it’s not what you know ;).

I would guess that if it was just a thousand then the extra 1 figure left over might now belong to Howard Chan, but what would I know?

So with all that rarity and the potential for the price to continue skyrocketing is it still worth trying to track one down… well, it’s now or never!

Packaging - ***1/2
Predator packaging has produced some of the most varied, and quite simply over the top boxes you could ever wish to see.

The early boxes were huge, but due to certain licensing restrictions those early figures could only be sold as model kits, meaning quite a bit of construction was necessary, so all those loose bits added up to a very oversized piece of packaging. They ended up with dimensions more like a briefcase than a 1/6th figure box.

All the early collectors out there must remember having to first assemble and construct the actual base figure, then dressing it bit by painful bit… it became something of a right of passage.

A 1/6th collector boy could never truly enter into the world of 1/6th collector men without first successfully constructing his first full Hot Toys Predator, it’s akin to a Padawan learner building their first sabre, i.e. there will be tears and tantrums before bedtime, but dedication is the key!

However, as the years have rolled on and the quality of Hot Toys products has continued to improve, so has their notoriety in the world of collectibles? And not just with the punters who buy the product, but also in the movie industry in general. Jon Favreau is said to have a collection of the Iron Man figures in his office and Sly was pretty impressed by his figures when shown them at the recent Expendables premiere in Tokyo, and he is also said to have a Rocky figure at his home.

So with all the recognition and notoriety they have gained, so has their ability to have a little more say in how their figures are released, meaning the construction necessary on the Predator figures seems to diminish slightly with each new release. Now, they are virtually good to go straight from the box, with just a few accessories needing to be added.

This boxes aesthetic is a return to form; in so much as even though the contents need less construction, making the box therefore smaller, it still has a design that sits well with all the other Predator 2 figures. A nice observation for all those MIB collectors.

So we get the oldskool pearlescent slip on outer sleeve, this has embossed images of the figure, and has the movie logo front and back plus a very brief bio on the back. The inner box isn’t a flap fronted 5 panel design, instead we get a large window on the front displaying the figure, virtually fully constructed save for a few of his gizmos that need to be attached to his back and shin. Whilst the back has a large image of a trophy skull over which a full list of production credits is cited.

So, a nicely designed bit of work, colourful and robust enough to protect the figure well. However, Hot Toys, and indeed Dixon Chan and Monster JR are their own worst enemies, having given us evermore creative packaging in the past. As such this isn’t up there with the very best they have produced… still a damn fine box though, and pretty pleasing to the eye!

Sculpting - ****
A Predator will always look like a Predator, they are rather famously, and I quote Major Alan ‘Dutch’ Schaefer - “ugly mother ****ers”, but they all have their own individual idiosyncrasies. But after studying these guys closely for the last few years I guess Pan Mak (the chief Predator Sculptor at Hot Toys) knows this all too well.

He has given us some outstanding sculpts over the years and this is no different. There is however one detail that is worth pointing out, this is a re-use of the sculpt that he produced for the original Predator linked to above. That doesn’t however detract from the quality of the actual sculpt, which is one of the strongest made to date and this time around he gets a whole new paint app. Plus for all you sticklers for detail, it’s worth baring in mind we never actually got a clear look at this guys face in the movie as his bio-helmet was kept on during his few seconds of screen time. So the fact we get a full head at all is something of a bonus. Those collectors out there who follow the new releases will be aware that the recent unveiling of the Falconer from Predators doesn’t come with an ‘organic’ head sculpt at all, as his mask was never removed in the movie, and the movie licensors obviously don’t want anyone taking artistic liberties with their property.

So as far as a description of the sculpt goes there really is nothing much more to add that wasn’t said in the review for the classic Predator. All I will add is that I have taken my photos of the figures as they come, straight out of the box. I may have futzed a little, but no modifications have been made. I would advise though that if you want to get the best out of the way this figure looks, then it is worth warming the dreads and gently binding then closer to the head with a piece of string for about 48 hours. You will find that when you remove the bindings that the dreads fall in a much more natural way. And also, like the original Pred he comes with extra ‘roaring’ mandibles, this swap over easy, but take care not lose them.

So to sum up, it’s a stunning piece of work that gets a second lease of life courtesy of an impressive new paint app, which leads us nicely to…

Paint - ***1/2
I think I’m right in believing we never saw this guys facial markings in the movie, and even if we had, those scenes at the end of Predator 2 were so dark and smoky it was hard to tell one from the other.

So here we have a paint app that is similar in its style to that of the original Predator, but where as his was earthy brown tones of beige, dark coffee and black, here the Guardian has blue/greys, browns and blacks.

The airbrushing and hand painted paternation over his face, and indeed his whole body are wonderfully applied, but still lack some of the über subtleties that we get on the human figures that JC Hong gives us. That’s not to say this application by Kermit Law is in anyway bad, but the subject matter is ‘different’ and its complexities bring their own peculiar and unique set of challenges. Most of the work is accurate and tight, the eyes and mandibles are worthy of particular note here as the detail is crisp and near perfect. The mandibles, like on the original pred are cast in a semi-opaque material that gives the tusks just the right feel. The interior of the mouth also has a more convincing salmon colour as opposed to the bright red used on the original. So, my only reason for keeping him just shy again of a full score is that some of the spotting and painting of the facial quills isn’t as perfectly carried out as I would have liked. But to be fair, that is looking at it with a reviewers ‘very’ critical eye, when just viewed casually it’s still pretty amazing and leaves the 1/6th competition standing.

And the other sad thing is, that as cool as the paint app looks mine will be masked for 99.9% of his displayed life, but just knowing that the paint job under the mask is this good, does give you a small fuzzy feeling inside.

Articulation - ***3/4
This is again a carbon copy of the body used on the classic Predator, so the review linked to again here will tell you in detail all you need to know. But suffice to say it has all the hi-end engineering you could wish for, with double knees and elbows and a full range of motion at the shoulders, hips and neck. It is in effect a basic True-Type re-sculpted and modelled to have the warty, scaly texture of a Predators body.

So the only reason he doesn’t get a full score is because of the way the body interacts with his armour, which is far from bad, and you can tell Hot Toys have studied long and hard to find a way of optimising the way they perform together. But realistically there was always going to be some restriction on his poseability, and Hot Toys have engineered a way to keep it pretty minimal. I’m confident that most people will be very impressed at the range of poses you can achieve with this guy.

Outfit - ***3/4
The Guardian here is wearing the same basic body armour that the classic Predator 2 wore here and of course by his battle damaged alternative I reviewed here. I gave a breakdown of the component parts in that earlier review so I’m gonna cheat and cut ‘n’ paste it here:

‘His main wardrobe consists of his body mesh (used to cloak him when in stealth mode) his helmet with lens effect, a tribal collar, chest and bicep armour, gauntlets, one has extendable twin blades and the other has an opening net gun and opening bomb control detonator. Then there’s his groin armour, this has a wealth of trinkets and pouches and armour hanging from it Then there are his knee guards and lastly his shin armour. All of the above are sculpted exquisitely and the paint apps are fantastic, with very convincing metallic and bone effects and some nice washes to give a bit of grime and age.’

Well, that was the description for the classic Pred 2’s wardrobe, but the guardian here has a couple of other small additions. He as leather belt worn like a bandolier that has various animal skulls and bones attached and also a necklace of small animal bones worn around his neck, over the ribbed collar. The fine details on these are beautifully carried out.

Lastly he has his unique bio-helmet; this has some cool details sculpted into the sides and a vertical grill over the mouth area. The lenses are inserted from behind, but strangely aren’t transparent or even semi opaque. Instead they are made of a dense black rubber like material.
However they do have a satin like finish that reflects light with a nice diffused glow and works very well. You’ll also find that because the original Predators head sculpt is re-used here the helmets are interchangeable between the two figures, this might not be that important to you, but hey, it’s a fact!

There are some great reference shots of Predator 2 armour in this link here (courtesy of The Hunters Lair) the second and third ones down show the armour that is used here, and there are also some fan made cosplay versions further down. By cross-referencing between the figure and those shots you can see just how well observed this armour truly is!

And of course this time around he comes fully kitted up, so no need for hair dryers and gently manipulating the figure into his tight outfit, a blessing to many, but I miss the construction in a warped kind of way.

I gave the Pred 2 a full score for his outfit, and this is a re-use of that armour as far as its sculpting and construction are concerned, but I’m knocking a small smidgen off of the score on this one because –

A- It’s re-use And
B- The right ‘blade’ gauntlet doesn’t fit quite as well as it did on the old base body, however my old ‘cure all’, of a small ball of Blu-Tack soon sorted that problem!

Accessories - ****
The Guardian comes with-

- Mask/helmet
- Net caster (leg attachment)
- Medi-kit (non opening)
- Interchangeable closed and roaring mandibles
- Two extra right hands (one spear holding grip and one for shuriken)
- Retractable spear
- Shuriken (disk)
- Newly developed breathing mask
- Alien skull trophy (but not THE Alien)
- Figure base with Guardian Predator nameplate and the movie logo

Whilst not quite up there with the battle damaged Predator 2 or the ‘cleaner kit’ Wolf Predator this guy still has a nice little haul, and a couple of those bits are unique to him. The unique parts are the skull trophy and the breathing mask. The skull is pretty big and hefty and has some great texturing and paint apps, it looks like its from a creature that could do you a lot of damage… but what would be the point in a Predator hunting it if it couldn’t?

The breathing apparatus is totally different from the one that came with the battle damaged Pred 2, this one carries a lot more detail, with a ribbed steel area over the mouth, copper coloured sections at the sides and a hose that trails round to plug into a hole in the back of the armour. The helmet/mask is also unique of course, but I covered that in outfit (but as it comes packed as a separate item I figured it had a foot in two camps).

Everything else is borrowed from the Predator 2 figure, but given paint apps to fit with this guys colour scheme. The net-caster and medi-kit are non articulated or functioning items but simply clip onto the shin and back respectively. The spear and shuriken are also direct copies, so the shuriken can still come apart slightly and the spear has a double telescopic feature at both ends, but be careful when opening it as the tiny spear tip sections might only be plastic, but they are seriously sharp and managed draw blood when I was opening one end that was quite a tight fit (I should have remembered this from last time). The mandibles are very much an accessory, but also an essential part of the head sculpt and they swap over and fit well.

Lastly we have the old faithful figure stand, perfect if you like using them, unnecessary if you don’t… mine stands on his own just fine though.

Value - ***3/4
If you managed to score one of these babies for the retail price of $185 from Sideshow then you might be feeling pretty smug and self satisfied at the moment, because this guys secondary market price shot up just about the quickest I have ever seen on any Hot Toys figure to date.

Baring in mind this figure is just shipping in the US now and has only ‘officially’ been out for a couple of months you will already see prices on eBay at around $400 a pop. At one point it was up to $600, but luckily things calmed down after that initial frenzied bout of activity. You will however still find some crazy eBay traders chancing their arm for way more than that.

However, rarity aside I have to look at this as value for money compared to any other predator we have had in the past, and I’m pleased to say it is far from lacking. He has an even more impressive array of accessories than the Lost Predator and the new Pred body has a nicer all round aesthetic. The paint apps are stunning and, perhaps more important to some than others… YOU DON”T HAVE TO BUILD HIM!

So, viewing him as a ‘regular figure’ then I’m giving him just shy of a full mark. But to those people out there just desperate to have him in their collection, then the RRP might just be looking like the sale of the century to them right now.

Fun Factor - ****
In a nutshell there is no reason you shouldn’t have any more or less fun with this figure over any other Predator figure. But for me it’s obvious he will look best when flanking the Elder with the Lost Pred standing on the other side.

I can vouch that the trio standing together does look pretty awesome, and the fact that all three look so different helps add to the supposed ‘diversity’ within the species, an angle explored even further in the recent Predators (from which we should be seeing the Berserker soon).

So, a good looking figure with lots of posing potential, but due to the fragile and quite literally sharp and pointy nature of the spear, one would be ill advised to let a child actually play with this.

And if you ended up with an expensive pile of loose Predator parts, you’d only have yourself to blame!

Overall- ****
Put simply this is a stunning looking figure, and I love it!
Still not good enough to topple my Predator 2 Elder from his top spot, but still squeezing himself up there into my top 3… not bad for a background character with a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ appearance in the ‘arguably’ second best movie of the franchise.

Even with the price tag of $185 this guy screams top quality, proving once again how unstoppable Hot Toys are when they are fully in their groove.

I can’t really fault anything. Perhaps a slight reworking of the sculpt to make the features a little different might have been cool, but to be fair the new paint app is so impressive and makes him look pretty different anyway. Plus, as I said above, we never truly saw his face clearly in the movie!
Throw in his cool accessories and the fact that YOU DON”T HAVE TO BUILD HIM, then even considering the $185 price tag he comes out smelling pretty rosy, so he gets a full score from me!

Where to buy
Sideshow were officially the only people selling this in North America and poor old Europe was left out completely! I’m not 100% sure of numbers, I’ve heard conflicting info of 1000 split between 3 conventions and also that all three received 500, making a total of 1500. But what ever the outcome it’s pretty plain to most, that supply is never gonna meet demand. I guess you could still try the waitlist at SS but your best bet now is to try and make friends with someone who might sell you theirs, or hit eBay, but be prepared to part with a substantial amount of your pay check. Happy ‘lost’ hunting!

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

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