Toy Review: NECA Predators Series 7
For a series that's two parts repaint/re-release and one part new, Predators Series 7 is really outstanding. The sculpts, paint and articulation are all well done, and they all have some great accessories.
NECA Predators Series 7
NECA’s Predators line has been going strong for a couple of years now, even more if you consider their Aliens Vs. Predator: Requiem toys to be part of it. They’ve produced the titular alien hunters from AVP:R, Predator, Predators, and even the entire “Lost Clan” from Predator 2 (all NINE of them)! There are plans for more variants and the AVP aliens soon, as well as the long-awaited debut of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch Schaefer, but the most recent release, Series 7, is somewhat of an anomaly. It debuted just before Christmas, though most people are only now beginning to find them at retail. So hey, this review is still timely, right? Two of the three figures are repaints – a “stealth” version of the Falconer from Predators (that includes his falcon), and a minor repaint of the Masked City Hunter from Predator 2 (which had previously only been a Toys R Us exclusive). The third figure is actually a character from a fan film – “Big Red” (the samurai Predator) from Batman: Dead End. We’ll let the ramifications of THAT idea stand on their own! Anyway, let’s talk toys!
I neglected to take any packaged pictures of these guys – I’m sorry! But it’s been a standard across the whole line: A blister pack with a brief bio on the back. The figure and accessories are held pretty securely, the bios are brief and kind of odd (City Hunter’s is about his random clan members, Falconer’s is completely off the wall and talks about “Xenomorph Technology,” and Big Red’s alludes to Batman without naming names). Interestingly, Big Red’s card contains a glimpse at the Predator 2 concept art that ultimately became his design. Pretty cool, eh?
If you don’t count the AVP:R figures, then there are four basic Predator “Bodies,” with most figures being a modification of one or the other. The City Hunter uses the City Hunter body, which is shared among nearly all of the Lost Clan. It’s pretty much their best generic Predator body, and this shows through even now, when it’s been used more than ten times. He’s got great attention to detail, from the little spear gun on his ankle (slotted for a spear head, which we have yet to see) to the netting over his chest or that odd purse-thing over his shoulder. His armor looks appropriately pitted, scarred, and used, whereas his body seems to match his reptilian texture from the movie.
Stealth Falconer uses the Super Predator body, which is shared among the three Predators Super Predators. You can really get a handle on the texture now that it’s essentially unpainted, which shows off the minor differences between those Predators and the ones from earlier movies. His skin textures are certainly unique.
Big Red uses the new Jungle Hunter body, which so far has only been used in one other figure. He’s not too obvious, though, as a lot of things are altered or changed around to keep Big Red unique. Most notably, his wrist gauntlets are swapped to match his left-handed design in Dead End. It looks good, although there is an odd hole where a peg on the Jungle Hunter lined up. For the most part, it’s similar to the City Hunter, only with appropriate little modifications where needed. His new loincloth is a nice touch – not only does it match the movie, but it also obscures some of the re-used parts of his sculpt, further setting him apart from the Jungle Hunter.
PAINT: Big Red, City Hunter: ****, Stealth Falconer: ***
Big Red stands out the most in this group, with a yellow-brown skin tone, bright red armor, and gold wrist blades. Everything seems to match up with the movie, including the odd symbol on his forehead (clan symbol?). Mine is all right, but there is the potential for misaligned paint on his body netting. That’s been the case for all of NECA’s Predators, although they have gotten better over time.
The City Hunter matches the movie, which is impressive considering how rarely you saw him in good lighting. His body is kind of a light cream color with reddish patterns, serving as a nice contrast to the Jungle Hunter. His armor also looks pitted and worn, and the copper paint used on it is quite nice. Again, though, watch the netting.
The Stealth Falconer is… well, look at him! He’s only barely painted, in a concept that seems kind of odd unless you remember the previous Stealth Berserker Predator from a while ago. With THAT, the Berserker was painted to match up against a particular backdrop, with darker sections working well against darker parts of the backdrop. The Falconer works on the same principle though he does not have a backdrop of his own. I experimented a little and found that I could line him up with some normal terrain, producing a good camouflage effect. It’s actually a pretty good change from the expected flat clear plastic, too.
ARTICULATION: Big Red, City Hunter: ***1/2, Stealth Falconer: ***
Big Red and the City Hunter share the same articulation – ball-jointed hips, double knees, ball-jointed shoulders and elbows and hands and head, and so on. They are very poseable, except with a few caveats. one is the elbow joints – these seem to vary from figure to figure even when using the same body, but the City Hunter just can’t bend very far at the elbow. Big Red fares much better, although there are still poses he cannot take, such as holding a katana with both hands. Also, as poseable as their hip ball joints are, they have a chronic tendency to go loose very quickly. Thankfully, it’s never TOO loose, but it can make them a little unsteady on their feet. The ball joints are also fairly visible, even underneath their respective loincloths.
The Stealth Falconer has an older-style body, and totally different articulation with it – his olegs use cut joints in the hips and thighs. Quality control was a major issue with the older Predators, as those joints were often painted shut and stuck; Obviously, that’s not the case with this guy. While his legs definitely aren’t as poseable as the other two, you can take a good variety of stances for the Falconer, and he is much, much sturdier on his feet. Of course, the other drawback are those cut joints in his thighs – they just don’t look good, since moving them at all breaks up both his sculpt and the minimal paint on his legs.
After several series of one or two accessories per Predator, my expectations were pretty low going into this – it wasn’t uncommon for a Lost Clan member to only have a smart disc, or the Berserker only came with a tiny, easy-to-lose wrist blade. But these guys FINALLY change that trend!
Big Red comes with both of his swords (a katana and a shorter washizaki), and two alternate hands to hold them. The hands are easily swappable without damaging his wrist pegs, and the swords fit snugly either in their sheathes at his belt or in the appropriate hands. A nice little touch is that his swords are scaled not for him, but for a human. They seem tiny in his hands, but this makes sense – those swords were a trophy. They weren’t made for him. He’s seven feet tall, and using swords designed for a five-foot-nothing samurai. It’s a nice little touch.
The Masked City Hunter comes with three accessories he had in the old Toys R Us exclusive 2-pack: A smart disc, an extended combi-stick spear, and a bloody human skull trophy. The smart disc is a great little coin-sized accessory, which can fit into a holster on his hip (surprisingly, it stays in!), or fit snugly on the fingers of his right hand – specially sculpted to hold it properly! The trophy fits in either hand or strapped to his back, and is going to look great when NECA releases that trophy case they’re promising. The combi-stick is extremely well-designed, with a detailed paint job that even shows off a little LED readout in the Predator language! It’s right on the central handhold, surrounded by a leather handle. The spear fits snugly in the Predator’s left hand – and that hand is interesting, as the fingers are flexible enough to adjust to holding almost anything. My personal favorite is a push broom swiped from one of Palisades’ old muppets. Of course, you can’t put his spear in both hands, but that’s just the way things are.
The Stealth Falconer comes with a long wrist blade that’s easy to use, but more importantly, he has the one accessory that he had been missing back in his original figure: The FALCON! Yes, the Falconer’s first release lacked the one accessory that defined him! Granted, it only showed up for a couple of seconds in the movie, and the only connection to him was when it landed on his shoulder, but not having it was crazy (on a related note, couldn’t they have afforded to show the falcon again? Maybe before the fight with Hanzo?). But it’s here now, and has a little removable peg that will allow it to fit on the Falconer’s wrist or his back. It also comes with two blades of its own, in a feature totally not seen in the movie – either blade can fit into his wrist gauntlets, too, if you want a slightly different look. I certainly used them in these photos. The Falcon is a really nice piece, and absolutely makes this figure worth it even if you don’t like the paint scheme. It’s just a pity that you can’t anchor it on the original Falconer, instead needing to balance it carefully.
QUALITY CONTROL: ***1/2
NECA’s quality control has come a long way. My Unmasked Berserker Predator (from Series 2) had one frozen thigh, a frozen elbow, and two knees that snapped immediately. My replacement Berserker has two frozen thighs and two frozen knees, and I just gave up after that. These guys work WELL… except for the aforementioned loose hips. You have to watch those, as it’s not something that will seem wrong out of the box. Also, watch the Falconer’s knees. If they seem stuck, work them carefully, because the older knee style was indeed quite fragile. Other than those issues, though, there is nothing wrong with these figures.
Depending on where you go, they should be $15-$20. In a world where you spend $40 (including shipping) for a MOTU Classics figure, that isn’t bad for the quality.
For a series that’s two parts repaint/re-release and one part new, Predators Series 7 is really outstanding. The Masked City Hunter needed to be released on its own, the Stealth Falconer matches a previous figure and includes a necessary accessory, and Big Red is just a fantastic idea. I can’t stress enough how significant it is that a fan-designed character got produced as a toy – not a fan-designed concept winner, a literal piece of fan art. This could have huge ramifications in the toy industry, and it will be interesting to see how the precedent works out in the future.
Where To Buy:
UPDATE: If you’re looking for these figures, eBay is probably your best bet.
Click this link to: search eBay for this NECA Predator Stealth Falconer action figure.
Click this link to: search eBay for this NECA Predator Masked City Hunter action figure.
Click this link to: search eBay for this NECA Predator Big Red action figure.
And now, on to the Gallery: