Thursday, March 14, 2013

Toy Review Big Red Predator By NECA

I think I first saw this guy back during Sand Diego Comic Con and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on him. The contrast between its yellowish skin and that bright red armor was striking. The plate mail… loin cloth? Codpiece? I dunno. Whatever. It all looked good put together. This was a Predator I was going to buy.
            At the time I had no idea where the design came from. I assumed it was something from the Dark Horse comics, which I haven’t read a whole lot of. I’ve read a ton of the Alien Versus Predator comics and have both of the Omnibus editions; as well as the original 12-issue series (which is one of my favorite miniseries ever). But I haven’t read any of Dark Horse’s regular Predator titles in years. As a matter of fact, I’d have to look at a list of them to even know which ones I have read.
I was extremely surprised to find out that Big Red was no from the comic books, or even a background Predator from movie concept art or something. As a matter of fact, I’m not sure “extremely surprised” adequately covers my reaction to discovering this guy’s origin. It turns out Big Red is from the fan film Batman: Dead End:


That’s just fucking crazy.
I’m impressed enough when a mass-market toy line delved into comic books for characters, but to use something from an unlicensed fan film is wild. And yeah – I know it’s silly to be impressed by comic characters on the pegs. It’s been happening forever. But when a company has the option of cranking out a variant of Luke Skywalker or Batman or a Predator and opts to choose something from an obscure comic rather than doing a repaint of an existing movie look I think that’s pretty cool. Movie Wolverine will always be more recognizable to the general public (the “Moms and kids” that Mattel claims everything must be marketed towards) than Brood Wolverine from Uncanny X-Men #23(?).
Anyway, I was even more stoked to own Big Red after finding out what he was from. Like any nerd with an internet connection, I’ve been a fan of that particular fan film since I first saw it. As a matter of fact, Dead End was the first non-Star Wars fan film I ever saw. For a long time I was one of those assholes that disregarded fan films. As a matter of fact, I still think there’s a slippery slope there.
Big Red was released alongside a stealth variant of the Falconer Predator. I didn’t pick that one up because one stealth variant is enough for me (now, show me a glow-in-the-dark and I’m in).
First Glance: This is such a striking figure I think even folks who aren’t actively collecting the Predator line might pick it up. As a matter of fact, my theory seems to be bearing out, as I haven’t seen one in stores since I bought mine. The Falconer seems to be warming pegs, though.
Articulation: Big Red features the same articulation as the more recent Predators. NECA has thankfully done away with the T-joint crotch and cut swivel thighs.
Head – Ball joint
Shoulders – Ball joint
Elbows – Swivel/pivot
Wrists – Those ball pegs that I don’t have a name for
Waist – Rocker joint
Hips – Ball joint
Thigh – Swivel
Knees – Double pivot
Feet – Same as wrists
Big Red’s left arm movement is somewhat restricted by his shoulder armor.
As with other recent Predator releases, the usefulness of the double-jointed knees is somewhat restricted by the ankles. You can’t get a true squat out of these.
The absence of the shoulder cannon means Big Red’s head has a greater range of movement. The soft dreadlocks are easy to reposition.
All of the joints on my figure are fully functional and sturdy. It can hold a pose and nothing is too loose. The hands and feet pop off easily, but they don’t fall off.
Sculpt: Big Red mostly shares parts with the Jungle Hunter from the original movie, but it does have some different stuff.
I’m not positive this is a new head, but it is different. There is a sighting device on the right side of the helmet that is a nice touch. The mesh of the eye ports is also impressive. Big Red’s dreadlocks are slightly different, with some different beads or whatever. They’re molded from a soft plastic so that they don’t interfere with movement of the head. I’m still impressed with how pliable and durable these are.
The chest and shoulder armor has cool layered plates going on and a flexible tube going from the chest to the left shoulder. I dig tubes. TUBES.
The exposed portions of the body have the signature netting over a nicely textured skin. The sculpt extends even into the joints of the figure, so when the arms and legs are bent there is still detail.
The forearms present something new – a left-handed blade gauntlet. It has been retooled from one of the existing forearms and looks great. The blades slide in and out with no problem and stay wherever you put them. They’re a firm but not brittle plastic, so if this guy falls over they aren’t going to just snap off. The right forearm features the regular tech gauntlet that these guys have. The regular hands are both in the spread position and feature studded rings rather than the standard half-gloves. It’s neat.
The legs are essentially the same as the Jungle Hunter. They look great. I love the way the kneepads sit on the joint and how the greaves conceal the ankle articulation. Really, all of the articulation on Big Red is fairly subtle. NECA are the masters of blending useful articulation.
Coloring: Obviously this is where Big Red stands out.
The skin coloring is similar to the Jungle Hunter’s but with a more yellowish hue as the base. The brown markings with black speckles are also distinctive, though the pattern is familiar. The black netting on top is very clean and does not bleed onto the skin anywhere. The hands have an awesome amount of speckling and the rings and studs are each cleanly detailed.
The bright red armor looks awesome. There’s a bit of a dark wash to make it look worn, but it’s mostly clean so that the glossy red can really stand out. I’ll admit that this might not be the best camouflage for a Predator, but it looks awesome. I guess this guy is all about intimidation. The buckles and straps are weathered and detailed. I like the glossy black of the tube on the armor (TUBE!) and appreciate that the designers chose to make it a different color rather than blending it in like on the Jungle Hunter.
I also love the designs on the mask. The black lines are very simple, but create a sinister look. The yellow dots on the forehead add a nice highlight and the sight on the right has a couple of colors to bring it out.
Flair: Big Red has a new loin armor piece with two scabbards attached for the included swords. It also includes a trophy necklace of small skulls.
The belt piece looks awesome and is the real centerpiece of this guy, sculpt-wise. The hanging armor plates in the front are flexible and do not interfere with posing. The sculpted detail is great, as is the paint. Each plate is well-defined and cleanly painted. The scabbards are fairly firm. I’m a little concerned about the point at which they are attached to the belt. It seems okay, but I don’t want to futz with it any more than I have to.
The trophy necklace is the standard Predator thing with a bunch of little skulls on it. What’s the deal with these? Is there a planet of tiny, deadly creatures that are so vicious a Predator could proudly wear their skulls without his friends making fun of him? I mean, these things seem to be about the equivalent of a redneck mounting squirrel heads on his wall. I dunno. Maybe these are the first things they kill when they’re little baby Predators.
Accessories: Big Red comes with two swords and an extra set of hands to hold them.
The swords might be the ones from NECA’s excellent Ryu Hayabusa figure (which I foolishly sold). One is a katana and the other is a wakizashi (if memory serves) and there’s some kind of name for the pair. They look great. NECA isn’t afraid to put a shine on things.
The hands are open fists and are decorated exactly like the open ones. They look really good. Problem is, they don’t hold the swords (which is part of why I think they’re Ryu’s). The sword hilts fit very loosely into Big Red’s hands and don’t stay there exactly long enough to take one picture.
Packaging: It's a blister card. I mistakenly referred to the TRU Predators packaging as a blister card because I was very tired. That is actually a clamshell. I may or may not correct that. Nobody’s called me out on it yet.
Not only does NECA’s packaging feature credits for the creators:
There’s also a brief biography:
With a direct reference to Batman.
Value: I have no problem paying $17.99 for these figures.
Overall: I love this guy. I want so badly to give him a perfect score, but the mis-sized swords are such a Mattel mistake. Sorry, fella.
4 out of 5

If you can’t find one at Toys R Us, I recommend you check their website or hit up BBTS. This guy is worth it. Despite his tiny swords.

-Phantom

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, so this guy is the reason I'm on such a Predator high right now. At first I thought he looked silly, but after seeing what great reviews he was getting I decided I should just buy him when I saw him, otherwise I'd run the risk of never finding him again. He is so cool and so much fun that it just sent me on a Predator roll.
    Fantastic review. At first the smaller swords didn't bother me, because I figured that may look correct with a human in the same scale; but alas they are quite under-sized. Nevertheless, that really doesn't hurt the figure in the long run for me.

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    1. Yeah, the swords don't honestly bother me too much. I've got them in the scabbard for display. But it does seem like an odd oversight coming from NECA. If this were a Mattel toy I probably would have just been thankful it came with any accessories at all and given it a 5.

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