A rule of thumb I use when doing toy reviews is that if a toy is five years or older, it’s a Retro Review. So what do I do if a toy is two or three years old? The Elder Predator came out in 2010, so it’s not fresh or new, but it’s not old enough to be a Retro Review. But then, NECA did tease an upcoming Elder remake, so now is as good a time as any to talk about the original figure.
Of the nine or so Predators who showed up at the end of the second movie, the Elder is easily the most memorable – he’s the only one who got more than two seconds of screen time! Elder, aka “Silverback” (production nickname), aka “Golden Angel” (A tie-in comic) is the older, wiser leader of the “Lost Tribe” of Predators. He is the one who confronts Mike Harrigan after the death of the movie’s main Predator, but instead of attacking, the Elder gives Mike an ancient pistol as a trophy and lets him go. That one little moment – honoring a human as a fellow hunter – spawned who knows how much expanded universe stuff. See, Predators are cool, and now you can imagine being BFFs with one! Hah.
But anyway, the Elder was the first “extra” Predator released for this line, and a sign that the entire Lost Tribe was coming up. It took me a while to find one at a decent price, but I did – he was part of the huge recent toy hail that will fuel a lot of Retro Reviews coming up soon. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at this guy!
The packaging isn’t much different from other NECA Preds – a blister with relevant pictures and info. The Elder gets his own bio, which sets him apart from other members of the Lost Tribe.
Let’s get this out of the way first: The Elder Predator’s design is basically the Predator from the first movie, just a little older. So because of this, he largely uses the “Classic Predator” body – one that has only shown up twice before being superseded by the Jungle Hunter body. We’ll get into that more under Articulation.
The Elder Predator has your basic skimpy armor with netting as any other Pred, and he’s got the P1 design plasma caster. He does have more random trophies and bits of bone on his person than the Jungle Hunter, as well as some harnesses for his gear. I should also mention that the Classic Predator body is slightly different than the Jungle Hunter, so he won’t look like a headswap next to the P1 Predator. The Elder is just a little bit shorter and stockier, which kind of fits. He’s older, right?
But the big difference is in his head. NECA has an incredible knack for Predator faces, consistently producing things that honestly look real. The Elder’s head is the least toy-like part of him, with the sculpting detailed to a very fine and minute level. His mandibles are closed, giving him kind of a grin, which fits his look in the movie – he never roared or snarled. He’s got a heavier brow than the regular Predator, with more pronounced eyebrows. The Elder is also more wrinkled, but only by a little – he’s late middle-age, not elderly. His eyes are small and sunken, but very clearly visible.
He’s also got a piercing in one mandible, done with two interlocking pieces of plastic. His dreadlocks are also more adorned than on the average Predator, and I can’t imagine how many hours of work it would take to string them up with beads like that. So he’s a little older, and a little more decorated, but it’s subtle – Predators don’t appear to believe in massive crowns.
I think that the only time NECA hasn’t absolutely nailed Predator paint was with the Berserker Predator’s body. The paint on my Elder is fantastic, especially his varying flesh tones and the other apps on his face. His netting is also on straight, but I may have lucked out on that one. But his face is the big thing, and it looks organic, natural, and real – not like plastic! They could have stuck with one flat color, but instead NECA chose to go with just enough shading for the Elder’s face to look like a movie Predator suit. He’s a slightly grayer cream color than the Jungle Hunter, which shows especially when you place him next to other Predators.
As I said before, the Elder uses the now-outdated “Classic” body. It has vastly different leg articulation than the current Jungle Hunter body, and matches the Super Predator body (which, ironically, will see some more use this year). It’s just as mobile in the arms as any modern Predator – ball-jointed head and hands, ball-and-socket shoulders, elbows, and knees, and a swivel waist. The legs, however, work with V-cut hips, swivel thighs, oddly-jointed knees, and ball-jointed ankles. The knees are kind of a ball-and-socket joint, but it’s anchored strangely and feels fragile, and has been known to break.
The hips and thighs are less poseable than on modern Predator bodies, but are far more stable and less likely to become loose. The thigh cuts ruin the net sculpting and paint, though, and these figures are notorious for stuck joints. Of the ones I have owned in this body type, every last one has had something stuck in his legs – my Elder has one stuck hip, and I can’t make it budge even with hot water! For me, the stuck joints are worse than the lessened articulation, as it limits this Predator to standing… or standing. The fragile knees are bad, too, and I’m glad that they got phased out.
The Elder comes with his plasma caster, cutlass, and the flintlock pistol he gave to Mike Harrigan. So basically, everything he had in the movie. The plasma caster is just like on any Jungle Hunter-style Predator – it clamps with a couple of pegs, including one tab in the bottom, and stays secure. The gun itself is on two ball joints, and is possibly a little fragile – the tubing definitely is – but overall it’s quite good.
The cutlass is really more like a machete – a big, straight-edged blade meant for chopping. This is definitely a weapon and not a trophy, as it looks vicious. The blade has a few notches and barbs carved in, and the handle is leather-wrapped bone. It slides into the extra-long sheath at the Elder’s hip, and the hilt extends to just under his arm. It’s nice sheathed or in his hand, although his poor leg articulation means that he can’t do very much with it.
The pistol is pretty much the most important accessory, and I am happy to report that it looks perfect. It’s a basic flintlock, dated 1715 – the inscription (“Raphael Adolini 1715”) is clearly visible, though hard to make out at its tiny size. I’m really impressed with that, considering how small the weapon is. The pistol fits in the Elder’s belt, and nestles snugly without the belt looking odd when it’s taken out. He can also hold it, although the Elder doesn’t really look normal if he tries to aim or fire the weapon – he can pick it up the way he did in the movie, though.
This varies. You can generally pick up the Elder for $40 (ouch)… but I got mine for $15. The smart thing to do is not to look at eBay or Amazon, but to find people who sell him in person – I got mine at Collector’s Playground in Las Vegas, Nevada.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Watch out for the articulation. The knee joint is liable to snap, and chances are that SOMETHING will be stuck. Aside from that, try to keep an eye on the tiny wire on the plasma caster, as it breaks easily.
WHERE TO BUY:
See what I said above? You can buy this guy anywhere, but try to scout out a good deal,
A solid four-star sculpt, paint, and accessories has been knocked down a peg by poor articulation. It’s not that the v-cut offers less range than ball joints, it’s that the Elder’s legs are so fragile and prone to getting stuck. Chances are, he’ll be as immobile from the waist down as any McFarlane figure, and there isn’t anything you can do about it.
But other than THAT, this is a really fantastic figure, and it does justice to the Elder. Hopefully we’ll get that update using the jungle Hunter body soon!