|But that is not a
problem. There are a raft of expanded universe
Predators from comics, games and books, and for fans of this particular
monster there have always been some great garage kits knocking about
too. And in a way it is those garage kits that have been the
inspiration for this particular figure. It is designed by the renowned
Takayuki Takeya, who may be known to some Sideshow collectors as the
man behind the cool Predator on Horseback statue here
and the uber cool Alien
Just try entering his name under any image search and you will see just
how talented this guy truly is. And so it is fitting that the first
articulated figure release from this master of his medium should be
named the Artists Series. Apart from his original pieces, his
distinctive MO is to take a well-known character and give it his own
personal twist, exaggerating some of the features to make it fit his
own inimitable style!
And so it is that here we have an imagined
scenario, where a Predator has visited ancient feudal Japan and taken
the armour of various fallen quarry in a hunt to the death… or, like so
many troops of an Empire, has he seen the bravery of his intended prey,
become inspired and gone native, joining their ranks to defend a
citadel against the onslaught of a full A L I E N attack. I guess the
back-story is up to you, lets just get on with the review.
If you do want to see and learn more about Takeya’s work, check out a
retrospective of some his kits here and
also salivate over a tour of his studio space here.
The early Hot Toys figure set their own style with the pearlescent foil
sleeves over a flap-fronted box. But as they delivered more and more
figures from more and more licences they diversified and became more
creative with the design, manufacture and materials used.
With the addition of the M-Icon range, DX series and stand-out
collections from Iron Man and the Terminator: Salvation lines, they
showcased just how dedicated they were to delivering a well designed
experience from the moment you open that brown shipping carton to the
moment you display your figure.
And so it was that the new Artists Series demanded another statement of
intent… and boy do we get one! This box is HUGE measuring 15” x 10.5” x
10.5”, and comes in an oblong cube format. The outer design at first
glance looks more like it will contain some rare ancient Japanese
artefact, like a vase or set of fine china bowls rather than a toy
figure. Its base colour is a dark parchment and is decorated with stark
black Japanese calligraphy and an illustration of the Predator Samurai
helmet on the front. The top has a gold foil blocked illustration of a
Predator and A L I E N in a close quarters skirmish whilst the two side
panels have the ‘Samurai Predator’ logo out of a blood smeared
background (this logo makes me think of Street Fighter for some reason,
am I alone?), then the rear of the box has a panel listing the full
design team responsible for the figure.
Lift off the large lid and you are met by two regular-sized figure
boxes. These are decorated in a dark brown/red mottled effect that
looks a little like distressed antique leather. Both have large open
windows to display their contents. One houses the figure alongside some
of his accessories, whilst the other contains the slaughtered A L I E N
base. These contents are held in place by vac formed plastic trays
making the whole un-boxing experience as collector friendly as it can
So, I come away greatly impressed by this box, and salute the talents
of Vic Chung and Monster Jr for coming up with such a memorable bit of
packaging design… Now I just prey that Takayuki Takeya is given the
chance to give is an A L I E N warrior to display next to this beauty…
an articulated version of his A L I E N pile would truly make my year!
(albeit my 2013)
Sculpting - ****
There is one huge thing in this figures favour, and that thing is that
it is not from any movie, game, comic or book, it is straight from the
mind of Takayuki Takeya. This of course means it’s near impossible to
judge it against what came before, but must be viewed as a re-imagined
piece by the artist given the task of bringing it to life. However, it
would also be hard to judge this too harshly as what we have delivered
unto us is such a jaw-droppingly amazing figure that it could well end
up being one of my contenders for figure of the year. As I said, it was
designed by Takeya, but the job of actually sculpting the figure fell
to Yuji Oniki who has done a sterling job of translating his drawings
into fully realised 3D splendour.
It is like a dynamic comic book illustration that has just leapt out of
the page, and after some careful investigation of its engineering and
with some gentle exploration of its articulated potential you will
start to formulate just how you want to pose this monster.
In its essence this is a very stylised interpretation of the basic
Predators face and physicality. The features are exaggerated in the
forms they take whilst still keeping the classic mandible snout in both
the closed position, but also in a swap out roaring pose. You will also
notice that the inner mouth has the ability to open to shut, another
cute new detail. His dreads are made out of a medium/firm vinyl and are
sculpted to look like they are in a mid flowing movement pose, whilst
cascading like a nest of proverbial vipers down the sides of his domed
head. They have a very serpent like quality both in the way they are
sculpted and in the manner that they fall. The most ‘over the top’ but
still cool re-imagining on this portrait is the way the brow and upper
head are portrayed. We’ve had quite a few different ‘ethnic’ variations
from the Predators over the course of the movies, and each ‘clan’ has
exhibited distinct variations in skin pigmentation and the physical
form they took. And here we get an even more extreme variation, with
exaggerated bulbous growths radiating over the top of his cranium to
form a rather gross looking upturned insect like appearance. The
attention to detail here is just beautifully rendered, and the way it
radiates down to the angriest, snarling, pissed off expression we have
had on a Predator to date is just fantastic. We have seen angry
Predator faces before, the Berserker springs to mind, but this guy just
looks plain vicious. The blood-lust of a mid battle expression shows
that this dude is not resting till every single opponent is a pile of
sliced and diced xenomorph meat!
His body also has quite a ‘super-hero’ comic-book feel, in that the
already impressive physique of a movie seen Predator has been pumped up
to the max, so that every muscle in his body is straining at the very
limits of their ability. The chest and abdomen show the kind of taut,
strained muscle tone that would make Bruce Lee weep. This is then
backed up by legs and thighs that would make your average roided-up
body builder cower in the corner of the gym for shame.
In short this is an amazing looking sculpt, and is one that sits
perfectly between the movies, comics, paintings and statues that we
have all been exposed to over the years, and as a kick off piece for
the Artists Series it’s a fitting start to what I hope will become an
impressive range of figures.
The paint control for this figure was also handled by Takeya, and it
works well in enhancing the sculpted work carried out by Oniki. Like
the sculpt it has a more ‘fantasy’ feel than your average movie
Predator, but the slightly glossy application and expertly rendered
detailing still deliver an amazing finished result. One that manages to
stand out from all the other 1/6th Predators to date.
His base skin-tone is mid to light grey, over which darker tones are
applied to help increase the clarity and definition of the sinewy
musculature beneath. His abs, thighs and arms come in for special
attention in this department. It is however that snarling face that
rightfully gets the closest consideration in this stunning paint job.
The detailing on his inner mouth is crisply picked out, as are the
details on the two sets of mandibles with the differing skin tones on
the outer and inner sides of the skin. Then the quills that
erupt from his cheeks are picked out beautifully as are his glossy red
eyes. The dreads are a graduating two tone colour that look as they
have been dip dyed, and their semi glossy sheen again adds even more to
their serpent like qualities.
Much of his armour and accessories also receive a detailed paint app,
and the crisp application, coupled with a microscopic attention to
detail is as well considered as always. I guess this shows that even
without JC at the helm, Hot Toys can still deliver a stunning paint
app, albeit one in a different style.
This bodies engineering
falls into a similar category to the recent super Predators. This means
we get a killer sculpt, but end up sacrificing some of the more extreme
articulation. In its essences he has pegged ball jointed ankles (think
big wrist pegs) and a hinged knee capable of a bout a 90 degree bend.
His hips have a universal joint able to bend upwards by about 90
degrees and back by about 45, this joint can also splay out and rotate
His waist can turn and tilt but there is no mid torso articulation. His
shoulders have a sturdy universal joint and his elbows have a hinged
one that like the knees can bend to roughly 90 degrees. The wrist pegs
are of the usual design, but a little of the articulation is lost
because the collar of the gauntlets extends over the lower arms. Lastly
he has a neck joint that is positionable both where it joins the
shoulders and the head, making for a great range of motion. He also
features a tiny concealed joint in his lower (inner) jaw, so the mouth
can be opened up a little. The dreads are pliable but do not feature
wires within them, so they can not be posed.
The armour does hamper some of his articulation a little, but overall
I’m happy with the way this body performs, and once you find that
killer pose and futz for a while getting everything to look just right,
this will look even better than many statues… with the added bonus that
you can reposition him as many times as you like!
In this category the figure truly shines. The most obvious reason for
this being the kick-ass diorama base depicting a felled xenomorph. It’s
made of a semi-translucent base plastic that looks to be a dark caramel
brown that is then overpainted in a deep maroon/purple colour. The body
is sculpted to look like it has just erupted through the ground and you
need to slot all of his rear breathing tubes into place. You also need
to attach the rear part of the head, which comes in two pieces as the
Predator has sliced the front section clean off. Well, I say ‘clean’
there is a certain amount of oomska, acid blood and alien brain
spilling out onto the circular plinth. The top of the A L I E N S head
is of the classic Giger design, so we get a smooth dome, and can see
the detailing of the skull and brain within. The fore section of the
head is made in the same style, and has a protruding tongue that the
Predator can hold the head aloft by, in readiness to slice it off and
add to his already impressive collection.
He also comes with a selection of 4 permanently sheathed Katana’s that
are fixed to the rear of his armour as emergency back up weapons, and a
further two Katana’s that he can hold. One is a full sword with a real
metal blade whilst the other is plastic, and features heavy damage and
corrosion from the A L I E N S blood. We all know that the Preds have
developed acid resistant super alloys, but sadly even the finest folded
Japanese steel isn’t quite so impervious!
His remaining accessories are an extra selection of five hands,
bringing his total to seven including the ones he comes fitted with.
Their poses are-
1 left sword grip
1 right sword grip
1 left fist
1 right fist
1 left open palmed
1 right open palmed
1 A L I E N tongue grip
These are obviously either designed to interact with his accessories or
are gesturing to aid in your chosen pose. Overall I think this is an
impressive collection, made all the more essential by that fantastic
environment base, which is without a doubt my favourite stand to date!
I am actually pretty darned impressed by the design of this guys
armour, belts and robes… so why no full score?
Well, it’s a tough call, and even though I’m impressed by the styling,
I can’t help but think that for the price this guy demands, some of the
armoured panels could have been more articulated, maybe even metal. The
reason being, I have a couple of the DiD Samurai figures who did indeed
come with real metal plated armour that was actually laced together. It
made for a truly unique feature at the time, and the fact that I got
them over four years ago, leads me to believe that Hot Toys could and
maybe even should have delivered an outfit of that quality. OK, I admit
the metal would have made this guy mighty heavy, but surely they could
have made the individually segmented armour out of ABS plastic and
laced them together… just saying!
As it is, the figures armour is constructed of a mix of moulded ABS and
vinyl. The softer vinyl being used on areas like the panels that hang
from his waist, while the ABS is used on the more rigid panels on his
shoulders and upper body.
I haven’t been too heavy in my condemnation of the armour, because even
though not quite as articulated as I might have liked, it still manages
to look totally bad-ass and fits the figure well (plus I knew from the
promo pics it would be made this way). He comes with sandals sculpted
to the foot and a pair of ornate greaves shielding his shins. From
beneath his waist and loin armour hangs a frayed cotton kilt/loincloth
that helps to juxtapose the heavy ornate armour that hangs over it. We
have various armoured panels (obviously taken from his past Samurai
opponents because of their eclectic mix of designs) and a trophy hangs
from his broad sash belt. The trophy consists of a finely sculpted
bunch of severed A L I E N tongues, gruesome, but cool. These seem to
represent the equivalent of Native Americans taking scalps to prove the
number of kills on a skirmish, especially in one so intense and violent
that you don’t have time to take their skull and spine… c’mon we’ve all
been there. He also has a second black fabric belt that you need to
attach; this has his traditional Japanese Saya hanging from it, to
house his real metal Katana.
His midriff is left bare to show off his impressive six-pack, but then
his upper half is semi clad in a kind of Samurai/Gladiator armoured
panel combo, a style much favoured by your average Predator.
Highlighting once again that those guys like to look macho, but with
just a hint of homo-eroticism thrown in for good measure. This covers
the chest on the left side and has a strap going around the other side
of his body to link up with the armour on his back. The shoulders have
oversized domed pauldrons featuring large ring attachments, then the
left arm has a secondary piece of armour over a fabric netting swatch
and the right has a larger shield attached to the upper arm. Both lower
arms feature armoured gauntlets, and the right one has three huge
articulated blades that can swing out to form a vicious looking claw
Last up is his helmet… and I found this a nerve-wracking bitch of a
thing to get on. It comes in three separate pieces. First there is the
main body of the helmet that circumnavigates the rear and sides of the
head. This is the piece that made me sweat. It is a super snug fit, and
rather than coming in two pieces that clip together, it has to be
firmly but gently forced onto the head sideways. There is a specific
way to do this that is explained in the instruction sheet provided, so
read and follow them well. It’s made of what feels like potentially
brittle plastic, with just enough give to ‘pop’ into place. Once in
place you attach the red face-plate section, which simply fits over his
mandibles and then position the top of the helmet over his cranium,
(this is held in place by a magnet) et voila, job done. For my
photography I had to remove and attach the helmet a couple of times
more… it’s not something I want to do too often!
The fabrication of the outfit is credited to Pun Lo, and once I got my
initial complaints about the armour out of the way I was back to being
happy with the way he/she had constructed the suit. My wants for
articulated armour might have been a cool detail, but in all fairness
it has little or no impact on how this figure performs or looks when
There has been a pretty alarming jump in the prices of top end 1/6th
figures recently, and that disturbing trend is again evident here. I
can see why some of that jump is relevant for this figure, mainly
because of his unique physique, meaning there is little chance that any
of the elements created here could ever be re-used on other figures.
This is very much a one-off, stand-alone figure. I guess the fact that
this is the premiere release for the new Artists Series means it needed
to have a USP, and for that I salute it, but I wish it didn’t have to
come at such a high cost! If this had come in a known and published
edition size, and maybe even had a numbered certificate or plaque on
the base it would certainly have helped sweeten the pill.
As it is, when you pay the full RRP on this figure, which is an eye
watering $359.99 I think we are paying a whole $100 too much. However,
much like when I reviewed the recent Play Imaginative metal Batman
figure, it is up to the individual. In much the same way as a pair of
Denim jeans from a supermarket are ultimately much the same product as
some from a designer boutique, it’s the detail and quality of finish
that makes all the difference, and someone with a discerning palette
will always want that air of exclusivity. I guess in its simplest terms
it’s called snob value ;)
Factor - ****
OK, I’ve got my moan about price out of the way, now I can concentrate
of the good stuff! I have truly had fun playing and posing this figure
more than almost any other one in the last year. His articulation isn’t
quite as good as some others I’ve played with, and the comic book
styling might not be to everyone’s taste (especially if you are a
dedicated Predator movie fan), but to me this is just a classic fun
toy. All be it one that doubles as a very expensive work of art!
It feels mighty robust and heavy to the point I think it could stand up
to a fair amount of sand-box torture, were you inclined to give little
Joey a $360 figure to mash it up with. I dare say some of his
accessories might not fare so well, but hey ho, we all know this
scenario will never happen anyway!
There are times when writing reviews where you feel like it is
Groundhog day, playing the same sentences over and over and over again.
I say this because the price is once again the key factor in stopping
me from awarding a full score. I truly love this figure in almost every
sense of its existence… but $360 is just way too much wonga to let me
even contemplate awarding a full score.
However, this is called the Artists Series and as such, what price can
one put on art. Many people will think nothing of shelling out $500 on
a nasty pottery figurine, so I guess value and beauty are in the eye of
the beholder. If this figure had come in at the $250 mark I might have
still felt like I was paying a little over the odds, but at the full
price I feel slightly alarmed, and concerned for the future pricing of
high end figures.
Where to Buy -
Sideshow still have this
figure available for the full RRP of $359.99 here.
And that high unit price seems to have scared off many of Mikes
sponsors from stocking this, but where others fear to tread the BBTS
has swept in and has this in stock for a whole $30 cheaper at $329.99.
Your last port of call is of course eBay,
where dealers are asking for between $329 right up to $480… but don’t
even consider that top price yet, there are still plenty to be had for
far more reasonable prices.