Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Masked City Hunter Predator (1/4 Scale)

Company: NECA
Year: 2012
Series: Reel Toys/Predator 1:4 scale


Predator 2 is much maligned, and there are some good reasons for that. While it has some good points (Danny Glover, Bill Paxton, the Predator’s design), it feels a lot cheaper than the original, even though they spent waaaay more on it. But nonetheless, I’ve got a soft spot for it – probably because I watched it before the original.   

Since 2013 I’ve bought a few NECA Predators, so naturally I wanted a City Hunter too. But it has been an exceedingly difficult thing to achieve. NECA has been pumping out Predators for some years now, covering a whoooole buttload of them. Unfortunately, distribution has not been equal across the board. The City Hunter – namely, the masked version of him – has been particularly difficult to find, in spite of having two separate releases. And if you can find him, you’ll be paying far more than you should. So it was actually easier and more cost-effective to get this ¼ scale version – thanks must go to my wife for getting it for me for Christmas!   


This guy came in a giant window box, which echoes the colour scheme of some of the smaller figure blisters. In terms of colour scheme and design, it’s also fairly similar to some of the Predator 2 posters. It’s a great-looking box, and it’s a bit of a shame it’s not really collector-friendly – it would be great for storage!

Unfortunately though, the plastic window cracked quite easily, and removing him from the box means destroying a lot of the elements that hold him in. There’s not really any space wastage but there are a whole bunch of twist-ties that need to be removed when you take him out. I would strongly suggest that you have a pair of wire cutters handy. Ordinary scissors may not be enough to get it done and you don’t want to damage anything via twisting and pulling.    


First things first – the City Hunter is massive. I'm never going to pretend I'm the world's best toy photographer, but this guy was particularly difficult to get a good, well-lit shot of, just because he's so big! Time for me to get a proper (large) lightbox.

That size translates into weight. He’s got a good amount of heft behind him, too. The sculpt is by Kyle Windrix, who’s done a huge amount of great stuff for NECA. It’s top-notch, capturing all of the essential details – at least to my eye. I can’t find a clear photo of the costume from the movie, so I can’t vouch that it’s 100% screen accurate, but NECA tend to be quite good with these sorts of things.  

Instead of going with the painted netting that features on the 8” figures (which can be pretty mixed in its execution) this figure uses plastic netting. It’s somewhat similar to the netting you sometimes see on bags of fruit, though thinner and with smaller gaps. It’s a good alternative, though I wonder if fabric – like on the Hot Toys version of the City Hunter – might have been better still. You’ll want to be careful with it. I’ve seen a spot on the right arm where it looks to be weakening, but I’m not sure whether it was already like this before opening or not. No breaks yet, but I’m expecting some, which is annoying for a figure that cost $140AUD.

As for articulation, here’s what he’s got:

*Ball-jointed neck? (It only moves like a swivel though)
*Swivel-hinged shoulders
*Swivel-hinged elbows
*Ball-jointed wrists
*Ball-jointed hips
*Double-hinged knees
*Ball-jointed ankles

The motion of the hips is pretty restricted, due to the loincloth and associated leg armour, though you can figure out workarounds. As always with NECA toys, be careful when you first move the elbows and knees – some joints will be tighter than others. Also, it seems like there’s no motion in the waist, though it’s clearly a separate piece to the hips. If it does loosen up, I’ll update this review later.  
I was recently reading a review of the NECA ¼ scale Batman, and it mentioned the figure (and indeed, pretty much all recent NECA ¼ scale figures) were very top-heavy – so much so that it was very difficult to get it to stand. Though I was able to get him standing relatively easily, I was always a bit hesitant in letting him stand on his own, as I wasn’t sure if he’d stay balanced. He’s pretty heavy, so a fall means he’ll hit the ground hard. Investing in a stand seems like a good idea if you plan to keep him displayed full time. 

One thing to note: the figure comes with no instructions – there’s nothing terribly complex that you shouldn’t be able to work out, though. My main concern was in relation to the Plasma Caster, which I mention in the accessories section below. 


Broadly speaking, paint is off a similar high quality to the smaller 8”-scale figures, but the downside is that the minor errors you wouldn’t notice on the smaller figures are greatly amplified and much more noticeable. For example, where the left wrist meets the left hand is a little wishy-washy – there are a few similar spots dotted about the figure; incorrectly painted dreadlocks, slightly sloppy gloves on the hands etc. With so much sculpted detail, it’s not really surprising that there’s the odd mistake or two. This isn’t Hot Toys quality, but granted, you’re not paying Hot Toys prices. Overall, it’s impressive and well-executed, with some room for improvement.   


City Hunter comes with three accessories – an extra left hand (to hold the Combi-Stick), a Smartdisc and a Combi-stick. His plasma caster is also a separate piece in the box, but it clips straight into the rail on his left shoulder – just be careful when you slot it in; the rubber of the rail will stretch and hold, but the plasma-caster stand is a little more fragile.

Out of the box, the hand designed to hold the combi-stick is a little too tight. You’ll need to ease it in gently, adjusting the fingers one by one as you go. Don’t force it, as you don’t want to break the hand or the combi-stick. Speaking of which, the real star accessory is the combi-stick – almost as tall as the Predator himself, it’s fully extendable.

The smart disc is really cool to have – particularly since it plays a fairly important role in the movie itself – but it doesn’t actually stick into the holder on his leg properly, and it’s tricky to make stick on his (right) hand.  

Three accessories is a lot for a NECA figure (even one as big as this) but I think it would have been good if you got a right hand that could hold the combi-stick, as well as the skull and spinal cord that the Predator takes from Bill Paxton’s character. That would have let people really re-enact this scene.

I'm lead to believe that the 1:4 Scale Predators are released on a fairly limited basis -- about 5,000 figures worldwide each. Nonetheless, most of them still seem to be reasonably easy to pick up for retail price. You might have to pay a premium for postage, but that should be about it.   


Though wildly impractical in terms of storage around the home, the City Hunter is a great figure. I’m very satisfied with my purchase, and provided I’m careful with it can’t see there being major issues in the future. I don’t see myself venturing any further into NECA’s ¼ scale line at this stage, due to expense and the sheer room they take up – though in about a year’s time I may be dipping my toes in again. Now I just need to find an 8” one at a reasonable price, and for NECA to release a Danny Glover figure too.

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