Tracker Predator And Hound - 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."

Jeff is checking out another of the cool Hot Toys Predators tonight - tell us all about him, Jeff!

I’ve already given my thoughts on Royce and both of the earlier Predators released in this series and it’s fair to say that for a mediocre movie (much like was the case with Terminator: Salvation) Hot Toys managed to make some pretty astounding figures. I have to admit I thought this was going to be last figure from the movie when it was unveiled, but then I was very pleased to see them announce the classic Predator and then to also follow up with a figure of Laurence Fishburn as Noland.

Initially I thought he was an odd choice, but when you look closer at his ad-hoc outfit, formed of pieces from Samurai, medieval, contemporary and Predator armour I guess his ‘eclectic look’ was the thing that sparked Hot Toys interest.

But lets not get too carried away about what is to follow. Because right here, right now is what I personally consider to be the most visually interesting from the gang of Predators that form the unholy trinity in the story.

Given the choice in a Predator line-up, I generally favour the ones in the simpler masks and armour. As since seeing the original movie, the sleek lines of a minimalist helmet design do seem more iconic. However, in Predators none of the main 3 big bads had a truly ‘unfussy’ mask design. And so, when viewed side by side it just strikes me that under normal circumstances, this is the guy that would rule the roost, OK, OK so he wasn’t that bright… and got blown up by a claymore mine strapped to a Chechnyan mercenary, but hey, we all have off days!

So given the fact he had the least actual screen time, can the figure impress you enough to make himself worthy of your collection?

Packaging - ****
This guy comes with his fearsome looking hellhound spiny wart hog-lizard thing (does it have a name?) that I shall for the purposes of this review christen Spike. And because of the inclusion of Spike he needed a bigger box than either of his brethren.

But apart from the size, this is in all other respects very much a companion piece that follows all of the design cues laid down by the three earlier boxes. So we get the same (all be it bigger) slip over textured outer sleeve with the red acetate window that covers the flap fronted over-sized inner box. This box has images of the Predator figure alongside Spike, and background info not just about the movie, but also a full list of design credits for the figure. And yes this box, like the others in the series was designed by Dixon Chan and Monster Jr, a detail I failed to mention in my previous reviews as I was too busy enthusing about how well designed the boxes were. A case of carts before horses maybe, but I hope collectors appreciate good graphic design when it is put before them. This is a quantifiable peach!

It again confirms how very seriously Hot Toys take the whole package when they consistently come up with innovative graphics like these! Love it!

Sculpting - ****
Just recently I feel like I’ve been reviewing quite a few figures where a degree of re-use has occurred. Figures like the Comic Con exclusives of the Secret Project grey Iron Man, the Shadow Predator and of course the first night Dark Knight. And so it is again that here we have a figure that has borrowed heavily from the first two Predators released in the series, but most of that borrowing is just down to the base body. For this guy is actually by far the most unique of the trio by a wide country mile when it comes to his outfit and mask… but more on the outfit later.

So what is new here? Well the most obvious thing is the mask, and like the Falconer it is not removable… well, its not meant to be, but whilst doing the photographs it did come off, revealing a half finished face beneath that looks like this, bringing to mind another classic image of Kevin Peter Hall in a rare ‘break from shooting’ that was taken on the set of the first movie. OK, it’s far from the same, but it highlights how all is not always what it seems.

However, a couple of drops of ‘Super Glue’ later and its all hidden away again! I like the basis of this mask; it’s simple in its form with a short ergonomic snout and three sinewy ellipses that radiate away from it over the cheeks. There is also some deep gouging and scaring over and around the left lens and two long rather vicious looking animal tusks protrude from the lower jaw. I’m covering the mask in this section because it is a permanent fixture, meaning it is in effect his face. He also comes with a selection of hands that are different from the first two figures as he sports armoured fingerless gloves. The positions are two fists, two gesturing and two that grip the leather leash you attach to the hounds horns. All are well observed and swapped over very easily.

The other big sculptural area is Spike himself, he’s a big solid lump of vinyl with no moving parts, but he’s a finely observed piece of visceral work! His stance is captured mid forward step with the head turned to the right in a fearsome roar. The skin texture is reptilian/crocodilian with boney protrusions running over its shoulders and to the rear of its hind leg. But its most notable characteristics are the huge pointed spines and spikes that erupt from around its neck and on either side of its upper spine. Basically this thing doesn’t even need to attack you, you’d just have to accidentally stumble onto it and you’d be more perforated than a Tea-bag.

However if it did decide to go on the offensive you wouldn’t stand a snowflakes chance in hell. Because if… just IF you did manage not to have your vital organs skewered like a shish-kebab in the initial charge, it then has a set of protruding jaws with huge piranha like teeth that would shred your flesh quicker than a Wampa in a snowstorm!

The physiology of this beast, though looking primarily reptilian in its texture is actually much more canine in its structure, like a cross between a Pitbull and a Rottweiler. Basically if Arnie thought the Predators themselves were ugly mother f**kers, lord knows what he’d have said about these!

So, in a nut-shell it’s all just about as good as it gets. Yes I’d have liked a face sculpt on the Tracker, but we already know why that was a no go… so I’m as happy as I can be under the circumstances, and the fine work on Spike does make up for that fact!

Paint - ****
The Tracker has a similar paint app to the Falconer, but with darker tones on the upper arms and legs, he also has a few flashes of a warmer reddish brown in patches on his back. As you will have seen above this guys mask is NOT meant to be removed, so there is no detailed paint job on the face, they have however painted the visible sides of the head and tricked in the green oxidised coppery rings that litter his dreadlocks.

Spikes paint app is just as complex as his masters. He is predominantly a deep emerald green that blends with areas of leathery brown and a lighter flash of beige on his chest. The short boney horns that radiate over his shoulders and hind legs are picked out in the same dirty beige from his chest, as are his fearsome claws and teeth, whilst the interior of his mouth and exposed gums are a deep pinkish red. The tiny mean unblinking eyes are a glossy black and the myriad of spines and tusks are a slightly more bleached ivory colour at the tips graduating to dirtier tone at the base, drawing its inspiration from the colouration of deer antlers.

Both figures are ultimately painted to the highest of standards and the tones used make them compliment each other perfectly.

Articulation - Tracker ***1/2, Hound N/A
Tracker here has an identical body design to both the Berserker and Falconer that I went over in detail here so as far as a breakdown goes, you’ll find all you need there. And as for Spike, well sadly he is strictly a construct and display item, there ain’t no articulation to be had on him at all!

Outfit - ****
The Tracker has by far the most individual look of the three super Predators from the movie, but even though he looks the most badass, he was also the first one to be unceremoniously dispatched. But lets not let a little thing like the actual story get in the way of a cool looking figure. Oh no, this guy just cries out to take centre stage in any three Pred line-up display!

First off he has the same boot design as the others but then has more armour covering his legs (for when Spike gets bitey) comprising of solid metal effect panels and leather strapping that binds them together. Next up are his armoured trunks, for some reason I cant look this area without thinking about the ‘Red Dragon’ movie poster seen here, I guess it’s those curled horns! The codpiece section is solid whilst the side and back flaps are a soft leather-like material. His waist is bound in a criss-cross of leather strapping that is covered at the back by a fringed panel. His back armour is quite bulky but ergonomically designed to sweep up over his shoulders. This area houses the batteries that power his plasma canon directional laser (a small switch is concealed in the middle). The aforementioned canon fixes to his left shoulder, this can turn and tilt up and down. Of course were he a real Predator this would be guided by the laser marker fixed to his helmet.

And even though it was decided that this Predator would be given the moniker of ‘Tracker’, at no point in the movie do we actually see him as the handler of the hounds as they hunt down their prey. But it was a cool decision to pack him with the hound, and the displayed figure, with Spike tugging on his leash does look pretty impressive.

Accessories - **1/2
It’s tempting to say that Spike is an accessory, but as this is sold as ‘Tracker & Hound’ and the fact that the hound adds an extra $35 means it’s very much a featured item rather than a cool extra.

So that actually makes him pretty light in the ‘true’ accessory department. He basically has three metal blades of varying length for his right wrist gauntlet. Then there’s his shoulder cannon that you need to attach, three pairs of hands and lastly (well as far as I’m concerned) there is the leather and chain leash to bring Spike to heel. The quality of all these items is top notch, and the ornate real metal chain on the leash is exceptionally nice. You’ll find that the ‘dog leash’ hands are already gripping the leash when you un-box him, which saves much fiddling and swearing.

There is also the classic black oval stand included, I believe some people like them.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
This would have been a full score had Spike had a little articulation. Even just one leg and a ball joint neck would have been nice. You see if you do splash out on getting a couple more hounds parted out from ebay or wherever, they will all look like clones… needless to say I haven’t done this, but you get my drift. Apart from that small detail its all good and if you do happen to have his other two partners in crime you’ll have no problem finding an awesome pose for all three.

These are however just about as un-child-friendly as you can get. If you did give it to anyone under the age of 8 I’m pretty sure you’d be having a trip to ER within the hour… those tusks and spikes really mean business.

Value for money - ***
The RRP on the set is $229.99, and for that price you are getting a ruddy great hulking lump of vinyl in the form of the Pred and a smaller lump in the shape of the hound. The quality is all without exception at the pinnacle of what you can expect in 1/6th today. There are features like the real metal blades and light up laser targeting device that help drag a little more value out of this premium figure, but there is no two ways about it, 240 big ones is a very premium price. Had Spike had that articulation I alluded to before I may have lavished an extra a star, but this feels like a three star set in terms of price to me!

Overall- ***1/2
Another solid addition to your Predator line up, and I have very little to actually complain about. The sculpting and paint is all pretty much faultless (if you approach with realistic expectations) and the actual Pre figure poses well (apart from the ankles). So, its yet another case of the only fly in the proverbial ointment being the price.

Where to buy
Sideshow still has this set available for the full retail of $229.99.

But you can try some of mikes sponsors and save over $20 below:

Alter Ego - $206.99 
Urban Collector - $229.99
Fan Boy - $209.99 
BBTS - $209.99

Or try eBay where prices are between $190 to $240, good luck tracking one dow… OK, I’ll quit now!

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

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