This isn’t the first “cloaked” Predator figure that NECA has made. They’ve done them completely cloaked, in mid-cloak (with painted sections), cloaked-but-meant-to-be-in-front-of-a-backdrop (with paint apps to simulate the backdrop), and now this. “Water Emergence” Predator matches a specific, brief scene from the first movie, when the Predator stands up in a lake, and his cloak shorts out. For a brief moment, his cloak is half-faded, and his outline is covered in blue sparks. Why do this variant? Because vanilla cloaked Predators are fairly hard to come by, and this gives way more variety than plain clear plastic.
So, again: A Predator’s cloaking device doesn’t work in water. Maybe it shorts out, or maybe the system that reflects and refracts light just can’t handle water’s reflective surface. Whichever it is, that’s a weakness of theirs, and it provided us with a great, great scene. So I’m trying to give some new insights on this character, but it’s hard – yes, it’s a cool toy, but I can’t explain much more about the Jungle Hunter aside from providing the context, can I? Everything else has to be talking about the toy. Water Emergence Predator compliments the two Dutch Schaefers in Predator Series 9, just as the plain masked Jungle Hunter (which I missed!!) complimented the two in Series 8. So, is he just an afterthought, or cool on his own?
Like all Predator figures, Dutch comes in a big blister pack with info on the character, some artwork, and photos of other figures in this release wave. I’ve got no complaints, and there is nothing particularly unique about this one.
NECA has five Predator bodies that they can use. There’s the “Wolf” body, which was used a few times for the Predator from AvP:R, and has been retired. The “Super Predator” body, which is used for the ones from the recent Predators movie, and will show up again in the Kenner homage set. The Predator 2 body possesses immensely improved articulation and has been used the most – eight of the nine members of the “lost Tribe” as well as every version of the City Hunter. The “Classic Predator” body has similar articulation to the Super Predator, but had a few fragility issues, and only saw use a few times before being overtaken by the new “Jungle Hunter” body, used for the Predator for the first movie and some others, like Big Red, the upcoming Albino, and the upcoming Hive Warrior. It’s articulated like the Predator 2 body, but is still quite distinct.
This guy obviously has the Jungle Hunter body. Obviously! Seeing it without paint affords a nice opportunity to really get a good look at the sculpt. His torso is a little thicker than the P2 model – not more muscular or fatter, just thicker. His body type is slightly different. His armor is pretty well-detailed, and he’s got the appropriate wiring connecting his plasma caster to his shoulder armor and gauntlet; something that was dropped for future Predator designs. His claws feel as fragile as all predator claws do, though not half as bad as the old McFarlane ones, so that’s good. He’s got a pretty brief leather loincloth, and it’s just short enough not to bother his articulation at all, thankfully. The masked head and dreadlocks are also pretty typical – the mask was smooth to prevent spoilers.
He’s also got his little bone and trophy necklaces, and the paint brings up something interesting – I had assumed that the little plastic skulls were strung through a black string, but I was wrong! The black string connects a piece of plastic “string” with the skulls attached! The painted Predator has the faux-string painted to look real, but this guy doesn’t. It’s crazy how well they disguised it!
When you have a color scheme that’s essentially one translucent color, it’s hard to make it look good. Even back in the Kenner era, they tried adding some shading to their stealth Predator to make it feel worthwhile. The other most recent stealth Preds have had black camo apps designed to help them stand in front of trees or bushes or a painted backdrop or whatever, which either work well or not at all. And this guy?
The whole Predator is covered in a series of paint washes – milky white, gray, darker gray, and even darker gray. It’s all slightly metallic, which helps give him an unreal “ghostly” appearance,and the shading is done just right to bring out sculptural details without seeming out of place. And of course, he’s got… the sparks!
There is no feasible way to make animated blue sparks in plastic, so NECA chose to paint them in iridescent blue. And you know what? It works! As you move the Predator around, sparks show up and seem to disappear based on lighting, so it’s like they’re animated! You could argue that they could be a little brighter, but I kind of like how they fade in and out. And when they show, they’re bright. Good job, NECA!
This figure has four-star articulation with a few minor nitpicks.
As I said, the Jungle Hunter body is great – it’s got ball-and-socket shoulders, elbows, and hips, ball-jointed wrists and head, a swivel waist, and double knee joints. You can put him in pretty much any movie-accurate or combat pose, with the only restrictions coming from a few spots.
Firstly, the wiring all along the Predator’s left arm restricts that arm’s movement fairly badly, and you need to be careful not to stress it. Secondly, his ball-jointed hips can go loose pretty easily – not as badly as the Predator 2 body, but don’t expect them to stay strong. But hey, these really are minor nitpicks! He’s as good as he needs to be!
Predator 2 was when they started using the really entertaining and varied arsenal that we know these guys for, but what about the first movie? The Jungle Hunter had his plasma caster on his shoulder, his wrist blades, an… well, I think he shot Blain with a spear before firing the caster, but I’m not sure. I know he was supposed to have a spear gun, but it got cut. So this guy? He has the plasma caster, which is really loose and unreliable until you figure out how to clip it on. Then it’s safe and secure and awesome, with the little cannon being pretty easy to aim.
He’s also got… a SKULL! Several Predators in the last few years have come with some skulls, meant for the now recently-released Trophy Wall (expect a review of that, soon). Water Emergence Jungle Hunter’s got one of those, presumably Billy’s skull from that scene. It’s a great little sculpt with good paint and an unobtrusive peg hole in the back. A lot of people are going to buy this guy just for the skull, even though for about the same price you can buy all the skulls separately from NECA’s Amazon and eBay stores. Still, trophy case aside, the skull is something he held in the movie, so it’s absolutely a good thing to have!
Water Emergence Predator will cost about $17 at Toys R Us, which is half of what a new He-Man figure. On-line, expect to pay about $25, which is still okay for this guy, though maybe not quite as awesome.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Watch out for the thin wrist blades, the trophy necklaces, the plastic wires, the tiny plasma cannon, and those loose hips. This is no differant than pretty much every other Pred on the market, though.
Paint-wise, he’s fine – the blue sparks are stamps, and the rest of the paint job is simple enough that for once you don’t have to worry about uneven netting!
WHERE TO BUY:
Go to Toys R Us while you still can! And if not… well, have fun on eBay or Amazon or wherever.
Yeah, a Stealth Predator isn’t the most revolutionary idea ever, but NECA knows how to vary it enough to make it work. And if you don’t have any, then this figure is more than sufficient – even with the blue sparks, nothing about him stands out as weird or wrong (black camo paint?), and it’s a pretty decent representation of the first Predator, cloaked. Even the paint combination is aesthetically pleasing, and I like him well enough to recommend him.