Toy Review: NECA Clan Leader Predator (Kenner Style)
I know I had some minor nitpicks, but this figure is fantastic! I can't complain about anything substantial - fantastic sculpt, paint, quality control, accessories, and concept. The Clan Leader is a great tribute to the original Kenner Predator without feeling constrained by the design.
When NECA unveiled the upcoming Predators Series 10, there was quite a bit of controversy. Some folks (like me) loved the design, while others hated it. Series 10, due this August, has characters patterned after Kenner’s old ’90s Aliens Vs. Predator line. I’ve already talked about them repeatedly here. Now see, we’re still getting our movie Predators, and on schedule. This wave is just filler to provide some unique new product while we wait for the other stuff, okay? And honestly, I think that, once we start to see these guys on the shelves, a lot of collectors will change their mind and buy them up. Case in point is the “Deluxe sneak preview” figure that’s beginning to show up in stores – the NECA Clan Leader Predator! He’s a Toys R Us exclusive, like all the two-packs.
This figure is “Deluxe” because the original Kenner figure was a “Deluxe” toy, sharing that status with two Alien Queens and the special ATAX Marine. The Clan Leader stood about a head taller than the other Predator figures, and was even taller if you used his elevator boots. He also had two action features: the aforementioned extending boots, and a pair of huge cyber-tendril/dreadlocks connected to his armor. You could whip those around by pulling a lever on the back of his head. This pulled on a string that ran through each tendril, which was connected to the anchor at the end of that appendage. He also came with a mask and a halberd, but we’ve talked enough about the old figure (and I’ve already brought it up in an article here). Let’s look at the new one!
I forgot to take a packaged pic. I’m sorry. I kind of do this sometimes (look at the Deacon review on Poe Ghostal’s Points of Articulation, or the Predasaurs on MWCToys). Sometimes I kind of get excited when I bring a toy home, and lose control like a toy-collecting werewolf. The package is typical NECA fare, though – a plastic clamshell with a photo and a blurb. If you look up the Predators Series 10 packaged mock-up from NYT Toy Fair, it’s about like that. The clamshell is a little bigger than with most figures, partly to contain those huge tendrils, and partly to justify the “Deluxe” label. There’s no fancy art of him, though, just a stylized photo, and his short bio says:
“Considered old and wise even among other Yautja elders, the Clan Leader rules over many tribes and leads hunting parties. Despite his age, he still sometimes hunts with his younger brethren, using his mechanical dreadlocks like whips.”
Let’s see now… incessant use of “Yautja” when Predators have several different species names in the expanded universe? Check. Poor sentence structure and redundant info? Check. But still good? Check! So it’s just like the bios for previous Predators (Really, the Falconer using “Xenomorph Technology?” Wha?). And apparently those tendrils really are dreadlocks.
People criticize Mattel for reusing parts, but NECA arguably does it just as often – one of the main reasons why they’ve been able to make so many predators is the fact that they essentially have only three bodies, and build specific details on top of them. The Clan Leader uses the Predator 2/Lost Clan body, the Shaman head (modified somewhat – he lacks the ponytail, and has some head armor), and arms from the Tracker Super Predator. His shins and shoulder armor are new, as are the tendrils (obviously), and his feet are slightly retooled to allow for his elevator boots.
With the dreadlocks, NECA really went for a “tentacle” look, even giving them little suction cups! They fit the character’s general look and his armor, though, so I’m not complaining. The thick metal spikes are still there, though they don’t have to anchor any string anymore.
The mix of old and new pieces look great, although you can tell some of the reuse on his right leg (I’ll get to that in the Accessories department). But overall it blends well, and the new pieces are excellent. The Clan Leader’s armor shares the original’s kinda-sorta-not-quite samurai aesthetic, and I swear the shin guards look like they came out of Lord of the Rings. He doesn’t have a plasma caster, which is odd since the original figure was one of the few Kenner Predators to include one.
I swear, NECA improves its paint work with every series. Firstly, the Clan Leader’s body netting is PERFECT. I’ve watched these toys as this particular detail has gone from sloppy to somewhat okay to passable, but now it looks like they’ve finally gotten it! Of course, mine could just be the positive exception to the rule.
The Clan Leader’s skin is reddish-orange, just like the original. It’s unique and stands out among released Predators, but doesn’t look wrong, since we already have blue and green Preds. His dreadlocks are white, which is different from the Predator 2 Elder’s, which were slightly grayed. it helps set him apart, and communicates his advanced age.
The Clan Leader’s armor is a metallic forest green, which looks odd next to the Kenner original. Yes, the original figure’s armor was green, but it was a dark green, almost black. This one is a lot brighter, almost a pine shade. It’s really different from the Kenner figure, though it contrasts nicely with the Clan Leader’s skin, and does look good. Other than that, they put a lot of effort into making his details match up – he’s even got black circles around his eyes, like the original had! I’m subtracting half a star for the shade of green, but other than that, his paint is perfect.
Since the Clan Leader is made up of pre-existing parts, his articulation is pretty much a given. Count everything from the Lost Predators as a start – but his new parts supply more! The Clan Leader’s shoulder pads are hinged, and swivel up to allow more arm movement. His elevator boots also turn in their sockets, and are removable in case you find them ridiculous.
And finally, the dreadlocks are bendy – they feel sturdy, but they’re very flexible. I’m a little paranoid about bendy toys as a rule, but these ones seem fine, and can even help support his weight a bit – which is good, since all NECA Predators have loose hips. And finally, mine had no super-loose or stuck joints when I first got him, which is a first for NECA!
The NECA Clan Leader comes with most of what the original had – his dreadlocks and elevator boots (both removable), as well as a bladed halberd.
The weapon is surprisingly unique – it’s similar to the original, but is very clearly its own thing. The axe head is much smaller on the new weapon, and the blade has a distinct curve, making it into its own thing. The weapon also has a handle which slips over either of the Clan Leader’s hands, meaning that he can have generic “open” hands and still hold the weapon! This is great, since most toys have “grasping” hands that always look like they’re trying to hold onto something. You know, maybe an invisible bottle.
As awesome as this is, there are some issues, namely two things that this Predator does not have. Firstly, his mask. The original Clan Leader had a really unique, complex horned mask, and this guy doesn’t. Sure, it would require new tooling, but the upcoming Nightstorm Predator is going to have a removable mask – apparently NECA wants him to be first, so not even this “Deluxe” figure has one. The other thing is that he lacks a smart disc – sure, the original didn’t come with one, but I mentioned that this Predator has some obviously reused parts, and one of those is a smart disc holster on his right leg. It really needs to be filled. The blue Warrior’s silver disc would work, but I would have liked to see a green one, maybe.
Aside from those two missing pieces, the Clan Leader is pretty well-equipped, especially considering the minimalist approach NECA usually takes for its figures. The only thing is that it’s a “Deluxe” figure, right? So I kind of wish he came with a little more stuff, like the mask or smart disc or maybe a trophy skull.
QUALITY CONTROL: ****
No stuck or unreasonably loose joints, fantastic paint, sturdy bendies… wow! I’d be careful around the dreadlocks, but I always am around bendy stuff. This figure has excellent quality control!
This figure is “Deluxe,” so he’ll run about $25 at Toys R Us. That’s more than the other Predators, but less than a 2-pack or something similar. You’re STILL paying less than for a (smaller, less-detailed) MOTUC figure, but the price increase hurts a bit. And you know that this guy is going to cost a mint on the secondary market. Watch eBay!
I know I had some minor nitpicks, but this figure is fantastic! I can’t complain about anything substantial – fantastic sculpt, paint, quality control, accessories, and concept. The Clan Leader is a great tribute to the original Kenner Predator without feeling constrained by the design. I wholeheartedly recommend him!
WHERE TO BUY:
It’s a Toys R Us exclusive, so check your local store – he hasn’t even shown up on their site yet! And of course, look at places like Amazon, eBay, and Big Bad Toy Store once TRU runs out.
I know that I’m biased because I already really love NECA’s upcoming Series 10, But I really think that once you have this guy in hand, you’ll say…
BAHAHAHAHAHA!!!! This isn’t a retail figure at all! It’s a CUSTOM! The Predator Clan Leader was designed by none other than Jin Saotome, who makes really, really amazing custom toys. I won’t tell you how much I paid for this dude (he was on eBay. Yikes!), but everybody gets to splurge once in a while, and splurge I did. And when i said that it’s a fantastic figure, I meant it – He’s got a place of honor on my toy shelf. If you’re not too offended by my practical joke, I suggest that you go take a look at Jin’s site for his other customs and eBay auctions:
Happy April Fool’s Day! Don’t you wish this toy were real?