REVIEW: NECA's Predators Series 11
Long-Running Figure Line Still Full Of Surprises...
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There appears to be no shortage of Predator designs for NECA to produce as action figures... or for hungry fans to buy up. Over 50 Predator action figures strong, NECA's long-running series has seen the release of almost every movie Predator - from 1987's classic Jungle Hunter, Predator 2's entire Lost Tribe, to the super-clan of 2010's Predators. Collectors even received Arnold "Dutch" Schwarzenegger. Aside from their many film-accurate figures, NECA has kept the line interesting with a homage to the vintage Kenner series and the introduction of fan-film Predators from Sandy Collora's Batman: Dead End.
NECA's Predators Series 11, hitting retail now, continues to fill in the Predator ranks with one of the most varied (and awesome) assortments released yet. Where figures in past waves have usually had a movie or theme in common, Series 11 radically shakes things with three different figures from three very different corners of the Predator universe: Thermal Vision Dutch (Predator), Wasp Predator (unused mask design for Batman: Dead End), and NECA's in-house original Battle Armor Lost Predator (based on a character from Predator 2).
As proof of how popular NECA's Predator line has become, most of Series 11's figures (Thermal and Wasp) were originally planned as exclusives, but were later considered strong enough for their own wave. In fact, as recent as last summer's San Diego Comic Con (read our report HERE), collectors were "this close" to receiving an updated Elder Predator instead of Thermal Vision Dutch. Luckily, the stars aligned to deliver this incredibly diverse and unique assortment (no offense Elder fans). I'm a very selective collector, but I'd be hard pressed to pick just one favorite figure from this batch.
When NECA hinted that they would be doing a new Dutch figure, many fans thought it'd be him in his red polo shirt from the beginning of Predator. But how exciting would that be? Thankfully NECA thought outside the box, getting crazy creative with what is being called "Predator Vision" or more officially "Thermal Vision" Dutch. The figure is based on NECA's Jungle Encounter Dutch released way back in Series 9, Arnold's character being shirtless, but wearing a tactical vest (not to be confused with Jungle Patrol Dutch with shirt and vest). Cast in translucent green plastic, the figure has been painted with random patches of yellow and red to replicate how he appeared to the Predator in the classic sci-fi film. While a tad unusual upon first glance, the overall result is surprisingly effective. Accessories (M-16 w/ grenade launcher, pistol and knife) and articulation are identical to past Dutch figures, allowing for a wide range of display poses.
The only downside to Thermal Vision Dutch is that the amazing Arnold Schwarzenegger sculpt is sacrificed for the cool thermal effect. The sculpt is the same, but it gets lost in the psychedelic sea of colors. As a variant figure, this Dutch stands out as the most unique - a clever concept executed brilliantly in plastic. Thermal Vision Dutch is the perfect companion piece to Jungle Patrol and Jungle Encounter Dutch and guaranteed to be a great conversation piece in your collection.
Batman: Dead End was a 2003 fan film that simply exploded in popularity thanks to San Diego Comic-Con, Youtube and director Sandy Collora's geektastic vision. Batman against the Joker... and Aliens... and Predators?! It's 8 minutes of pure pop culture bliss - check it out HERE. In Predators Series 7, NECA surprised fans with a figure of Big Red, the easily recognized crimson armored Predator seen towards the end. The unexpected popularity of Big Red led to a Quarter Scale version (read our review HERE), as well as a San Diego Comic-Con 2013 exclusive Albino Predator (review HERE), another unique Predator seen briefly in the film. Well, if you're gonna do two "Dead End" Predators, you may as well do all three, right? Damn right! And NECA saved the best for last. With Sandy's approval, NECA's Wasp Predator action figure is depicted wearing a mask that was designed, but never worn in the final film (you can see what the mask looked like HERE). It's another brilliant decision, the concept mask much more wasp-like and original.
Tres cool looks aside, it's the Wasp Predator's unique accessory that puts this figure over the top: a bladed staff impaling a severed Alien head! And you thought NECA's bonus trophy wall skulls were cool! Using the smart reuse of their expertly sculpted Xenomorph Warrior head, NECA has crafted a weapon that amazes on display.
The only small nitpick I have with this bfigure is that I wish the Wasp's mask was more yellow (or the yellow on the body more muted). The contrast is a little too much, but it's far from a deal breaker... this is one killer looking Predator figure. The Wasp Predator's fresh new design and its unique staff are just two more examples of how much Series 11 stands out from your typical Predator action figure wave.
Saving the best for last comes the Battle Armor Lost Predator. Based on the Lost Predator seen in Predator 2 (part of the Lost Tribe), this figure's mask, armor and weaponry are all original in-house designs. NECA sculptors Jason Frailey and David Silva are credited for this insanely cool concept, the Battle Armor Lost Predator decked out in sleek high-tech gear. The bio-helmet is the first thing to amaze, the angular, plated sculpt a radical departure from the traditional smooth Predator mask design. Simply gorgeous. The angular design continues with the Lost Predator's chest and torso armor, as well as the shoulder-mounted plasma caster, all the sections hooked up via a twisting array of hoses and cables. AWESOME. The canon array is particularly impressive, the large shoulder mount loaded with cool details. I really like the gun-metal ribbed back of the unit - very bio-mechanical. There's also what appears to be a med-kit (like the one used in Predator 2) and the hint of an armored spine. Just TONS of cool sculpted detail.
Like the Wasp Predator and his staff, the Battle Armor Lost Predator amazes with some great weaponry. First is a Yautja Shuriken, of the type seen used by the Wolf in Aliens vs Predator: Requiem. In fact, to my knowledge, fans haven't seen this weapon included with a Predator action figure since NECA's Wolf action figure released so many moons ago. The detailed throwing disc fits snug in either hand. The other included weapon is a long one-handed sword. Straight bladed like a Ninjato ninja sword, the stealthy dark painted weapon features a bright orange/red stripe of color along the blade's edge. To me this simulates a super-heated blade, a future weapon that can slice through steel like butter. The heat blade, like the shuriken, can be grasped firm in either hand or can be stowed away in a hard sheath mounted on the Predator's back - a very nice touch.
IF - and that's a big if - I had to pick one favorite figure from this wave, it'd be the Battle Armor Lost Predator. Seeing an originally designed Predator introduced into this line is so refreshing, especially one that looks this cool. My fingers (and toes) are crossed that we see more original Predator designs introduced in the near future.
Predators Series 11 is one of NECA's best Predator figure waves yet. While I'm happy fans have received so many film-accurate Predators (along with their many film-accurate variants), it's unique figures like Series 11 that truly breathe fresh life into the line for me. Where many toy lines would be struggling to remain popular this far into the game, NECA's Predator series continues to impress with new and exciting characters.
It took lots of dedicated collectors to reach this point, but it's been well worth the journey. Here's looking forward to another 50 Predator action figures - movie designs, original designs and everything in between.
Review and Photos by Jeff Saylor
Review Samples Courtesy of NECA
Re: REVIEW: NECA's Predators Series 11
Just picked up one of these last night and I agree, NECA just keeps hitting it out of the ballpark with their Predator figs!
I really hope they'll redo more Kenner Pred designs (and howsabout doing some Kenner Alien designs too while you're at it?!!)
And Predator fans are still missing the unmasked Scar Predator that McFarlane had planned to release back in 2004 but never did (hint, hint NECA)
I am loving this line so much and hope it just keeps going and going.
I think the guys have also really proved themselves with their original design for the Battle Armor Lost Pred. Well done! So I hope they'll try doing more original stuff too.
Keep it coming, NECA!