Thursday, March 6, 2014

Toy Review – Nightstorm (aka Scarab) Predator from NECA

I don’t examine NECA’s Predator releases too closely prior to their release because I know I will have the luxury of examining them at retail whenever they come out. It seems like local Toys R Us stores get around two shipments and I have yet to have a problem getting the figures I want (from this line, anyway – Pacific Rim is another story).
That’s why I didn’t realize what a must-have the Nightstorm Predator would end up being.
As I’ve said before, I pick and choose which figures I buy. I am not a completist with any of the lines I collect (unless I am forced to be). While NECA is cranking out a whole bunch of awesome with its Predator line, there are some that I just don’t need. Whether they are mostly repaints or updates I don’t need or just Predators I am not familiar with, I skip a few. I thought that this figure would be one of those. I remembered it from the Kenner line, but I figured it would be a repaint with a couple of new parts. Lacking any wacky features like the Lava Planet Predator’s translucence I didn’t see why I would need it.

Then I found it at retail and realized how awesome it looked. Then I got it home and realized that it is an entirely new sculpt; for my collection, anyway. I say that because I didn’t buy any of NECA’s initial Predators figures, so I’m not sure if this could have some parts from one of those big Predators. I was still avoiding NECA at that point because of their wonky feet. Well, their figures’ wonky feet.

I’ve talked about it before, but NECA went through a fairly long and irritating run of figures with feet made of soft plastic – The Tall Man, Bubba Ho-Tep, Elvis Presley, Michael Meyers, Doctor Loomis, and probably more. They were all characters that I just couldn’t live without and they are all figures that require some sort of support on my shelf because they have developed a gravity-and-weak-plastic-induced lean over time. So I just stopped buying NECA for a while.

I’m glad that’s all over with.

FIRST GLANCE

This is an extremely tall Predator with a design heavily influenced by ancient Egypt. It’s almost Stargate-looking. This is one that is going to have a strong presence on the shelf. I’m also impressed by the removable mask. You don’t see that too often, particularly with a face as expressive as this one.
PACKAGING

The whole blister card is a throwback to the Kenner figures. From the artwork to the grid on the back, this is very much what those cards looked like. It would have been neat if they had gone so far as to Kenner-fy the NECA logo, but I guess the ReAction line has cornered – or is that Kennered? – the market on that.
Okay, you guys – I have to admit to not knowing is this bio is from the Kenner figure or the comics or if Randy Falk just made it up. I’m leaning towards the latter but I’m not sure. I am currently in the process of trying to convince him (or somebody from NECA) to come on the podcast, so maybe we’ll find out. Either way this is pretty awesome and paints ol’ Nightstorm here as kind of an elitist dickhead.

I am an asshole. I forgot to photograph the credits. But they were here!
LOOKS

So much new – and vastly different – sculpting! I think!

Regardless of if Nightstorm is 100% new he’s still very different from most other Predators, which is why I like revisiting these Kenner characters so much. Some of them can be reproduced through clever re-use of parts, some will require lots of new tooling, and they are all quite different and distinctive. It’s funny – back when the Kenner ones were coming out all I wanted was a regular Predator. I didn’t like all of the crazy variants.

Nightstorm’s head has longer dreds that are swept more directly back than standard releases. The top of his skull also has a different structure. The face is the angriest Predator face I’ve seen, I suppose because he’s pissed at his own people rather than just some Austrian covered in mud. There’s an astonishing amount of detail on the head and face – from the ridges in the skin to the brows to that terrifying maw. I love the formation over the eyes.
While the sculpt is excellent, what really makes this for me is the paint. The blue skin tone with the black wash is fantastic, especially with that pink mouth. The eyes and teeth are accurate and clean. This is one of the absolute best heads I’ve seen on a Predator.
 
The first thing I noticed about the body sculpt was that the usual netting was absent. This Predator is longer and leaner than most. The skin texture – which we usually don’t get to see so clearly on the torso – is rough and pebbly like a dinosaur. That texture over the muscle tone is done very well. The armor has the layered, plated look of Predator armor, but is somewhat sleeker and covered with glyphs and markings. The amount of detail worked into these pieces is fantastic and the paint really helps to bring it all out. The shimmery gold evokes that Egyptian feel and the duller worn spots make it feel aged and worn. This deco is consistent throughout the armored portions of the figure.
Nightstorm has a much larger shoulder cannon than other Predators. It does not retract onto the figure’s back, but it does swivel. These are always sturdier than they look, which is nice.
The gauntlets are a darker bronze color that compliments the gold and breaks things up a bit – there is a matching colored belt. 
The left one extends into a glove and is similar to a regular Predator’s; except sleeker. The right one is huge, as are the claws that extend from it. Nightstorm sports a pair of vicious, hooked claws reminiscent of a scarab beetle’s pincers. These are sturdy and sculpted to look terrifying. They don’t extend a whole heck of a lot:
But they don’t need to.
Nightstorm has a sort of codpiece/loin cloth thing going on that carries the Egyptian theme, as well as thigh pads like all Predators. All of this stuff moves around well and does not interfere with posing too much.
This guy has much more elaborate footwear than any other Predator. Most of them kind of make me laugh because they’re wearing the alien equivalent of Birkenstocks, but this guy has some full-on Egyptian Pharaoh knee armor sandals. Or something. They look really cool and are just as detailed as the upper body armor. Glenn Hetirck would love them because they’re so asymmetrical.

My sole point of contention with this guy is that his knee joints are a much darker plastic than the surrounding parts. It doesn’t look terrible, but it’s there.

ACCESSORIES

Nightstorm would have been totally fine without any accessories, but he comes with a mask and a badass staff that really caps off the Egyptian look.
The base spear would be cool enough on its own. The bottom has four vanes and a sphere on the end. The handle looks great and the head is a menacing, serrated blade. The skull and spine wrapping around the top is just the cherry on top of the murder sundae. The paint on this thing is some of the best I’ve seen on an accessory. If Mattel had made this it would just be gold. And they would have cut it. I hate to shit on Mattel all the time, but they really ask for it. I try not to ever put Mattel products beside NECA products because it is, quite frankly, a little shameful.
The mask isn’t overly Egyptian, but it is painted to match the other armor. It fits securely onto Nightstorm’s face and looks like part of the figure once attached. Oh, and the inside of the mask has a ridiculous amount of INSANE detail:
FUN

Nightstorm has very similar articulation to other Predators, though some is a bit limited. The head, shoulders, elbows, wrists, and knees all pretty much work the same as any NECA release. There’s no waist or abdominal joint and the ankle joints aren’t actually ankle joints. They’re swivels that are incredibly well hidden about halfway up the calves. This doesn’t matter too much, as the standard Predator ankles don’t do much more than swivel anyway. I’m just impressed at how well hidden these swivels are.

I had a blast messing around with this figure simply because of how different it is. Figuring out the limits of the articulation took a little bit of time. Finding properly regal and aggressive poses was fun. The only bad thing here is that I have to redo my whole Predator shelf to accommodate this guy, the Lava Planet Predator, and a couple of Dutch figures (I haven’t reviewed Doo-Doo Dutch yet).

It’s also fun changing up Nightstorm’s carious parts – the mask, spear, and retractable claws had me moving them around for a while. They all work and interact with the figure quite well and are the sort of features that make you happy a figure has features. And believe me – not all features and accessories do that.
OVERALL

Nightstorm isn’t necessarily an outstanding toy – not one of those I’d recommend to any toy collector. But this is a figure that any Predator collector should own. It’s a fantastic and unique design that has been executed almost flawlessly. The sculpt and paint are beautiful – real standouts within the line. This is a must-have for your Predator shelf is you have one.

5 out of 5

Amazon and BigBad are probably your best bets, but you might still be able to find this one lingering in stores. I even sent Belligerent Monkey a message specifically recommending this one. He’s slightly pickier than I am when buying NECA stuff, but I wanted to make sure he checked Nightstorm out.



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