Predator is a classic of the 1980s. Watching it more than a quarter-century after its release
it’s easy to see that it’s not a perfect film, but it’s far more than the sum
of its parts. It’s ridiculously silly, yet never falls into parody. And the
Predator itself is a very frightening, yet very cool-looking Stan Winston
But today, we’ll be looking at the other star of the film –
Dutch, as portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger. Specifically, the Jungle
Encounter Dutch action figure.
I’ve been spending a lot of time spent over at
www.ItsAllTrue.Net, and I can’t deny that I’ve been heavily inspired by them to do
this action figure review – and, I must admit, they were the inspiration for my
more regular Lego reviews too. It was actually through them that I discovered NECA was
releasing these 25th anniversary Predator
action figures. The guys over have got their reviews down to a fine art,
and if you’re remotely interested in action figures it’s well worth your time
to check them out.
The NECA Predator series has been running since 2010, apparently in tandem with the release of the film Predators (which I still haven't seen), There’s been a
mix of original film, Predator 2,
Predators and even a few “fanon”
action figures released over this time, and the range is quite impressive for its
attention to detail.
Series 8 and 9 are the most recent releases - though at least up until series 11 is planned - and they're both
based on the original movie, to coincide with the film’s 25th
anniversary. It's a nice touch, and it would be nice to see the second
(admittedly inferior) film get some similar action figure love in the next couple
The box (not pictured) is nice enough – it’s roughly in the shape of a Predator
in profile. The copy on the back of the box does a good job of conveying the
backstory , and all the photography for the figures themselves is excellent. However, I do tend to prefer NECA’s clamshell cases. This
does become something of a moot point, as I’ve never been one to keep action
figures in their packaging – I guess I just prefer them.
The Figure Itself
The figure's front and back views
I am yet to see a NECA figure that didn’t deliver the goods
in terms of attention to detail, even if I didn’t particularly like the property
it was based on, and this figure is no exception.
Across series 8-9 there are four different variations of
Dutch, all of them good in their own way. But I chose this particular variant
of him as it also looks quite a bit like Arnie’s character from Commando – Colonel John Matrix. I doubt
we’ll see a Commando line anytime
soon – but the idea of a matching Bennett figurine is certainly an entertaining
The likeness on the face sculpt is quite good overall. The
original review I read over at ItsAllTrue.net noted the impressive detail on
the stubble, and I’m inclined to agree. This is a level of detail that’s I’ve
rarely seen on toys in this price range, and I’m also particularly impressed
with the fact that they’ve managed to make him look sweaty, as though he’s
actually been spending time in the jungle.
The only real problem
with the likeness stems from a small paint issue on the lips. I ordered my
figure online, so I wasn’t able to check the paint job before purchase. Not
anything worth getting too upset about, but if you get yours in-store I’d
suggest checking a couple of different figures first.
Dutch comes with three accessories – a rifle with grenade
launcher attachment, a pistol and a knife. Nothing too complex, but I’ve never
been a fan of toylines that give movie or TV-based characters a zillion
different accessories that are never seen or mentioned in the original
The articulation is good, as well. You can get Dutch into a
lot of different poses, and combined with the great sculpt, it’s pretty easy to
get some good photos. I want to take him out to some bushland and do some
location photos with him and the Predator, though that may have to wait for
However, the figure isn’t perfect. The knife can’t really be
held by either of its hands, so stick it in the holster if you don’t want to
lose it. The pistol can also be a bit tricky to get into the right hand as
well, as it’s made from somewhat harder plastic than you might normally expect.
Additionally, the pistol holster does not seem to want to close properly – you
can see it dangling in the photos.
Still, these are relatively minor issues, and don’t spoil my
enjoyment of the figure at all. I ordered the series 8 Jungle Hunter Predator too, and they work quite well together...but more on him in a future review, hopefully.
I am very, very pleased with this figure of Dutch. Though
he’s quite basic, it works to his benefit, not his detriment. The great
likeness of Arnie really elevates it above your average “adult collector” movie
With that said, I’m not super-keen on the other figures in
series 9. Though I might be sold on the Water Emergence Predator if he glowed
in the dark (and the same goes for the upcoming Heat Vision Dutch from series
10), I don’t think there’s enough reason to purchase it if you’ve already got the
Jungle Hunter Predator (i.e. the standard or “Classic Predator” from series 8).
Jungle Disguise Dutch looks kind of cool – and it’s a very
cool part of the movie – but he does also look a bit like he’s a regular Dutch
action figure who’s fallen into the toilet. So I’ll probably pass on that one
What I would have liked to have seen – and I know I’m not
alone in this – is the other squad members from the film. I have read elsewhere
that NECA have said that they will not be doing this, and I suppose I can
understand why. I would imagine getting all of the likeness rights would be
expensive, and I daresay that none of them would sell as well as Dutch.
Nonetheless, the thought of a screaming one-armed Carl Weathers variant action
figure is an intriguing one.
Still, the fact that NECA now have such a good sculpt of
Arnie makes me hopeful that we’ll also see some other Arnie properties released
by NECA. Conan the Barbarian had a
small series few years ago – which is now reselling for a pretty penny on eBay
– but they were more akin to statues than action figures. Time for a new one?
And of course, having Dutch means that you can have awesome 1980s team-ups which never happened, but would have been great. Here we see Nightfighter Robocop and Dutch teaming up to take on crime!
I haven’t been particularly interested in the Legends of Chima theme so far. Debuted
earlier this year, the storyline centres around several groups of
anthropomorphic animals battling one another for control of “Chi”, a mystical
energy source that borrows a little (but not too much, from what I can tell)
from its martial arts namesake.
It’s not a bad premise, but the creatures look a little too
cartoony for my tastes, and it annoys me that the Wolves are one of villainous
factions (though I do like that the Lions are good guys). Also, I wasn’t really
sold on the ripcord racer gimmick.
Nonetheless, some of the sets have been quite impressive,
particularly after the first wave. The Lion CHI Temple (70010) is exceptionally
striking. Still, it wasn’t until I saw that a series of Ultrabuild figures had
been released, that I got interested. A giant wolfman? It would be pretty difficult
for this to go wrong.
Friends who know me will attest to my obsessive love of
wolves and wolf-related merchandise – in fact, I’d say at least 90% of the
appeal of this set lies in the fact that he looks much like a gigantic werewolf
The Werewolf Warrior strikes a majestic pose atop the iPad
Naturally, werewolves are my favourite monster from
folklore. Traditionally they tend to be depicted as evil, though I tend to
think of them in a different fashion, typically as good guys, rather than
villains of the night. Zombies and skeletons, though? Generally, not so much…
Officially, this guy’s name is “Worriz”, but I don’t much
care for it. He looks too tough to have a name that rhymes with “Morris.”
Nonetheless, I don’t think I’ll call him “Grimripper” or anything else that
sounds like it could have come out of a 90s Image Comic (as entertaining as
some of them were). Though it’s not particularly creative, I think “Werewolf”
will do sufficiently well for the time.
I haven’t previously owned any Ultrabuild figurines. I
remember the original Bionicle series impressing me all the way back in 2001 on
first release, but of course I was in high school then and owning something
like that would have been ridiculously “uncool.” More than a decade later, I
don’t feel the same kind of concern. As C.S. Lewis once said, “When I became a
man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the
desire to be very grown up.” Whether the creator of Narnia and famous Christian
apologist would have approved of adult collections of Lego is of course open
I digress. I was pleased at how quickly I built him,
considering I hadn’t built one of these before, but also a little disappointed
that it was as easy as it was. Nonetheless, I like the concept of a DIY action
figure, which is essentially what these Ultrabuild figures are.
Werewolf’s articulation is pretty good; the balljoints at
each point of articulation allow a good range of motion, and it’s pretty easy
to get him into some cool poses. However, I did find that his shoulder spikes
do interfere a little with certain arm movements, as do the size of his paws. While these might be more serious issues for
those looking to play with their figures, if you’re looking at him as more of a
display piece, it’s usually pretty easy to find a workaround.
Werewolf and Nightfighter Robocop duel! (later becoming friends, of course)
In terms of accessories, Werewolf is armed with a two-bladed
sword and defends himself with a shield in the shape of a buzzsaw blade. The
build does a nice job of making it look like his gigantic paw is holding the
sword, but it’s actually connected by balljoint. The shield can also be mounted
on his back, via a hole.
The balljoint holding the sword.
The shield, mounted on Werewolf's back
My only real complaint is that it would be nice if Werewolf
came with an alternate head, too. His angry face is great, but it would be nice
to have something a little more neutral too. Still, on the whole there’s a lot
more to like than there is to dislike.
Big Werewolf meets minifig Werewolf
Although I don’t think I’ll pick up any of the regular Legends of Chima sets, I’m very
impressed with the Ultrabuild figures. I could see myself picking up a couple
more of these guys, particularly the Raven and Crocodile. Alternatively, I
could also see myself getting a Hero
Factory mech or two and staging Pacific Rim-style battles in the
loungeroom. There could be some good photo ops in that.
But for the time being, Werewolf is something of an anomaly
in my collection – though as you’ll see below, he does look good attacking the
Attack taking place in kid's imagination only, of course. The mess this would leave in real life would be difficult to explain to the kid's parents
I’m more than a little late reviewing this particular set; Brickipedia
tells me it was originally released back in May 2012, though I don’t recall
ever seeing it until closer to September/October 2012. Just in time for
Halloween, I suspect.
The backstory to Monster
Fighters is something to do with a whole bunch of classic horror monsters
in Lego form (vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein’s Monster, mummies, ghosts etc.)
each owning a piece of a “moonstone”, which I believe is some kind of magic
rock. When Lord Vampyre (the main villain) collects them all, the world will be
drawn into a state of permanent lunar eclipse, and the monsters will invade the
land of the minifigures.
The "human" minifigure characters are less than pleased
with this state of affairs and are looking to stop this evil occurrence. From a story point of view, it’s
then up to the individual purchaser to decide which side emerges victorious. One
might reasonably ask why they can’t just sort out some sort of mutual
agreement, I suppose, but let’s not dwell on the details.
I don’t know that I rate Monster
Fighters as a theme all that highly; a number of the main monsters have
already appeared in various collectable Minifigures series over the last couple
of years, and a lot of them looked better there, in my opinion – though granted,
some of the Monster Fighters versions do glow in the dark. As I’ve mentioned
elsewhere, that can be a real clincher for me (and by the way, I did end up
buying the glow in the dark Robocop recently).
Given my generally unimpressed demeanour, you’re probably
wondering why I bought this kit at all. Well, the minifigures were definitely
the main reason behind this purchase – the “Swamp Creature” minifigure
specifically. He’s not officially Gillman (of Creature from the Black Lagoon fame), but he’s about as close as
we’re probably going to get.
He comes with a standard wooden spear, a piece that’s most
frequently been seen in Castle sets.
It’s good that he’s got an accessory, but I think it would have been cooler if
he had one of the golden tridents that were featured in Atlantis (though I suppose it would have been less “swampy”). I
think I’ve got some lying around somewhere, so I may substitute this in future.
The Swamp Creature, with his portion of swamp and Moonstone
Speaking of Atlantis,
I think he fits in quite well with the sea monsters that came with the Atlantis
sets that were released a couple of years ago. When I finally get around to setting up my City of Atlantis set again, he may
pay a visit to the underwater denizens of that legendary city.
You’ll recall I mentioned earlier that I liked the fact that
some of the monsters in this theme glow in the dark. Well, this is one of only
two sets in the theme that don’t feature glow in the dark pieces. It’s a shame,
because Swamp Creature has some green highlights on his scales that would have
looked great if they glowed. Nonetheless, this is a minor quibble, and on the
whole I’m very pleased with him. $12 purchase price justified right there, for
In contrast, I wasn’t particularly interested in the
minifigure of the actual Monster Fighter – Frank Rock. In monster-oriented
media, the humans tend to pale in comparison to the monsters themselves.
They’re just not as visually interesting, and tend to be fairly thinly drawn as
characters. At first glance, Frank Rock was no exception. With his large Polaroid-style sunglasses and greaser
hairstyle, I initially thought he looked just like Elvis, sans-sequinned
bodysuit. An Elvis minifigure would be cool in many other settings, but not
this one, and his smirky expression makes him look kind of like a jerk. However,
closer inspection reveals him to be a little cooler than I first thought. He’s
got impressive little details all over his face, including stubble and little
Frank Rock? Or Elvis sighting?
Best of all, the reverse of his head is also printed,
sans-sunglasses. With this expression, he looks a little more hardened and
serious – like someone who’s actually spent some time battling the creatures of
the night. He also looks more than a little like the legendary Bruce Campbell,
which does tie in well with the Monster Fighters theme. Give him a Lego chainsaw instead of a hand and a sawn off-shotgun, and he'd pretty much be Ash in Army of Darkness.
He’ll probably never be
my favourite minifigure, but he was a pleasant surprise especially considering
that I thought he would be nothing more than a Mr Generic McBoring monster
Frank Rock with his swamp boat.
There are two builds in the kit – the piece of swampland and
a swamp boat.
The swamp section takes all of a couple of minutes – it’s a
brown base with some stones, some swamp weeds, a fish and the Swamp Creature
Moonstone piece. There’s also a frog, which is a neat little touch. Small as it
is, it’s surprisingly effective at conveying the required swampy atmosphere. It
could also be repurposed as part of an Atlantis diorama, or even with the
Treehouse’s (set 31010) water area.
On to the swamp boat – like its driver, the swamp boat ended
up being much cooler than I expected. It’s like a mini-hovercraft, though this
one shoots flick-missiles, and is also armed with two pistols mounted to the
front. It too was quite simple to build, but it demonstrates an effective use
of minimal pieces in its construction. It’s also a nice middle ground between
the extremes of the implausible (but awesome) science-fiction Galaxy Squad vehicles, without moving
into the “impressively-realistic-but-a-little-boring” territory that City often veers into. An interesting
novelty - there's not a lot of Lego vehicles that look like this one.
I don’t see myself picking up any of the other Monster Fighter sets - though the werewolf does intrigue me - but I am glad that
I got this one. $12 for one great (and one good) minifigure, as well as a cool
vehicle is hard to argue with.
Though the kit itself will not grab the more dedicated
builder, the Swamp Creature minifigure alone was worth the price of admission for
me – everything else was a bonus. I’m giving it a 7.5/10 for minifigures, but
in building terms it’s more like a 5 or 6/10.
And as for who won? Well, I don't think of the Swamp Creature as evil, more misunderstood. So after a hard-fought battle, Frank and Swampy became good friends.
My Lego purchases tend to be very minifigure driven. As a
result, I don’t pay much attention to the Creator
theme. The miscellaneous mini-vehicles they produce are quite impressive to
look at, but aren’t really within my spheres of interest. However, every now
and then they’ll produce a more typical Lego set that could fit comfortably
within the City theme, and some of
the ones released this year have really grabbed me.
What differentiates Creator
from other Lego themesis that the
pieces included in each Creator set
can be built in not one, but three ways. Cool as this is, it’s also where my
main gripe with Creator stems from. Readers
of my age will probably recall that once upon a time, most Lego sets functioned
as a 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 kit. As I recall – and anyone is welcome to correct me on
this, as I’m doing my best to recall a period going back 20 years or more –
most Lego kits would depict the primary build on the front of the box, and then
1 or 2 other builds on the back of the box. You’d only receive instructions for
the “main” build, but the others tended to be sufficiently simple that you
could work them out just via looking at the pictures.
Of course, one can certainly argue that the kits and
minifigures are frequently of a higher quality than those of 20 years ago. But
it still annoys me a little sometimes, particularly when I’m looking at kits
that go for $50+.
But I don’t like complaining and I’m getting well off track.
So today we’re going to look at the Lego Treehouse – my first Creator kit.
The minifigure that comes with the set is okay; it’s a
little boy in a red cap, with a plain blue shirt. He does the job, but I’m a
little disappointed with him. He just seems a little bit too generic. Maybe a
print on the front of the shirt or something would have been good?
Nonetheless, I’ve given him a name – Adam Brickston – and
Adam’s accessories do give him an edge he wouldn’t otherwise have. The treasure
map is great, and the walkie talkie is pretty cool. The wagon is nice, but I
can’t help but think it’s a little unsanitary to carry around a pizza in it,
without a box, plate or any other form of container.
There’s also a buildable dog. It’s a nice touch, but I think
I would have preferred one of the German Shepherd-style dogs that appear in
some of the police sets. The upside is that this one does look less
intimidating than your average police dog.
I have been a fairly anxious person for most of my life,
though this has begun to change within the last couple of years. So it was with
some interest that I read this article on Surfing Pizza a couple of months ago. Among a number
of other things, it mentions that Lego can be a great structured activity for
those who experience anxiety disorders.
Reading this got me thinking, and made me reflect on how
much I had enjoyed Lego as a child, and still do as an adult. Indeed, building
Lego is a process that does help me relax and unwind - even though I don't think I have a full-blown anxiety disorder. I think I also like Lego
because I know that – unlike many other areas of life – if I follow the
instructions as outlined I will get the desired result, regardless of any other
problems in my life. It may sound simple, but this is actually very soothing.
Certain sets may be challenging for my skill level, but I am yet to meet any
that have come close to defeating me.
In general, I tend to prefer the more fantasy-oriented Lego
to their more “realistic” counterparts.However, I felt that this particular set straddled the two realms
nicely; it’s realistic enough that it could sit out the back of one the Creator houses, but it’s also something
of a kid’s dream treehouse – the sheer size of it, coupled with extra features
like the telescope and the treasure map hiding spot, make it an ideal base for
hours of shenanigans.
There’s three different builds to this kit, but the
treehouse itself is the one I bought it for. The other two are perfectly fine –
and I’ll probably get to building them eventually – but they just don’t grab me
in the same way. They also look a little more like adult’s buildings, which
don’t sit as well with the included minifig. I don’t know if they have official
names, but they appear to
be something like a two-storey playhouse and a waterfront shack.
If/when I get around to building them, I’d like to review
them too – so stay tuned on this page.
When I first saw this set, I liked the story possibilities
of it – specifically, that it’s a hub world for the other Lego I own. Galaxy
Squad, Atlantis, Batman, etc – it’s all a product of this particular kid’s
imagination. This sets up some intriguing possibilities for zany crossovers in
the future, so keep your eye out for photos. I know I had very little respect
for licensing rights in my own childhood playtime – Adam may be much the
(I’m well aware, of course, that this is a bizarre reason to
buy a Lego set - but there's few sets that lend themselves to photos like the one above.)
The minifigure gets a 5/10. He does the job, but
he’s a little bland. The build I give an 8/10. It was very enjoyable to see it
all come together, and it also leaves more possibilities for the other two,
should Adam ever need to take his imagination on vacation. I’m exceptionally pleased
with this new treehouse.