Monday, 30 January 2017

Predators Series 16: Ghost Predator

Company: NECA
Year: 2016

NB: This review was written BEFORE the Spiked Tail Predator that was published in December

Well, it’s been quite a while since I reviewed any NECA Predators here at the LBC. The last one I bought was the Elder Predator v2, which was released back as part of series 12. Cool as he was, I don’t think I ever got to reviewing him on here – which means the last one I looked at was the ¼-scale City Hunter, all the way back in early 2015!

Series 13-15 weren’t bad, by any means, but I didn’t buy any of them. Series 13 continued the Kenner-style Predators, while 14 and 15 focused on the first Aliens vs Predator film. The toys looked good (if a little too similar to one another) but my aversion to the movie itself really kind of put me off. I’m hanging out for an updated Wolf Predator from AvP: Requiem; nothing has been confirmed, but I think it’s a reasonably safe bet to show up sometime next year.  

So today we look at the Ghost Predator, who seems to be based on the Renegade Predator from the old Kenner series. Back then, he was probably the truest to the “real” look of the Predator from the movies in comparison to his gaudier companions. NECA has retained this comparative realism, which I enjoy, but they’ve really played up his pale look, giving him a nice semi-albino look.

Now, NECA’s Predator line has been built on the back of reuse. While that’s brought us some very creative action figures, it has also been a source of frustration for some – in series 16, Ghost Predator is clearly the one who’s had the least spent on him in terms of new tooling. But with the AvP Predators came newly sculpted base bodies for NECA to use, as well as increased articulation. Ghost Predator benefits from this immensely, with swivel biceps and double elbows now being incorporated into the design, as well as a balljointish thing in the chest – a proper ab-crunch would be good, but it would probably also ruin the aesthetics of the figure.

My main criticism of the design is that Ghost is a victim NECA’s current trick of simply not painting the netting to indicate that a character is not wearing netting – the sculpting is still present, but the paint is not. I feel somewhat churlish complaining about it, given the other positive features of the toy, but I think it should be noted nonetheless. The only bare body NECA seems to have for Predators is the old Super Predator body, which was pretty mediocre; perhaps we’ll see one eventually though.
Still, enough about the bad and onto the good. Netting aside, the paintwork is excellent. Check your sample in-store, but they look to have had a good run on this figure. The tiger-stripe lines and cheetah spots contrast nicely with the pale skin – they seem to have shifted back to a moulding process similar to the one they used to give Dutch his distinctive skin tones. This is very welcome, as it gives a more naturalistic look to the figure, in contrast to the heavily painted AvP figures which looked much more overtly toyish.  

Unlike his original figure, Ghost doesn’t get a gun. But he’s got some very cool accessories; a smart disc, a machete, a spear and a removeable mask. All accessories we’ve seen before, but rarely together. The spear won’t quite fit into the left, gripping hand, but it can be balanced in the more open right hand if you’re careful. 

The mask is very well sculpted, and could easily pass for something out of the films. It’s slightly too big in proportion to the head; for a long time NECA shied away from making removable masks for their Predator figures, and this is exactly why. But he still looks fantastic with the mask on or off anyway; it does tie in with the reality that a Predator is a mask in a mask, and there heads have always looked slightly large on-screen.  

Series 16 was heavily delayed. It was originally meant to come out around July, but it hit stores shelves in Sydney in December 2016 – a few weeks behind the US. Nonetheless, it looks to have been worth the wait. Ghost Predator is an excellent design, Spiked Tail Predator was flawed but still looks great….and the glow-in-the-dark Stalker Predator has now arrived too. So overall, I'd say it's been a very successful series.

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