Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Nightstorm Predator

Nightstorm-Ship

You know those Predators I’ve been going nuts over all year long? Well, I’ve saved the best for last!

Back in the mid-’90s, Kenner Toys created an Aliens toy line, which was awesome and served as my introduction to “there are better toys out there than Ninja Turtles.” It later expanded to include Predators, and went from awesome to super-awesome.

Nightstorm-Hunt

One of the first few figures was a green-skinned Predator named “Scavage.” His big gimmick was the gigantic twin missile launcher he came with – it was as big as he is! It clasped around his waist and used a skull-tipped staff to support its weight, and then either fired two missiles at once, or one bola if you tied them together. Closer to the end of the line, Kenner took a few of their earlier figures and repainted them into new characters. Scavage was redone with a new paint job – black skin, gold armor – and christened “Nightstorm.” Of the three Predators in NECA’s series 10, Nightstorm has been the figure previewed first and most, and has gotten the most attention everywhere. They chose not to include his gigantic cannon, but that’s all right – the thing was pretty cumbersome, anyway. And they made up for it with something huge – this is the first NECA Predator with a removable bio-mask! I immediately fell in love with Nightstorm’s new design, particularly the way they chose to decorate his armor and how they incorporated the old figure’s staff accessory. What was he? A judge? Clan leader? Some sort of arbiter? The final reveal surpassed even my expectations:

Nightstorm-CompareFace

***
NIGHTSTORM Predator (aka SCARAB Predator)

Over 4,000 years ago, before the ancient feud between the Yautja and the Rouges[sic] (Super Predators), Nightstorm accompanies one of the first Yautja Xenomorph hunts to Egypt. However, he did not approve of the Yautja code of honor, feeling that it gave too much power and significance to the prey they hunted. Thus the feud between the tribes began and Nightstorm’s legend soon grew amongst his kind, eventually leading him to Elder status. He set out to unite the rest of the Super Predator tribe, ruthlessly hunting nothing less than the noble Yautja warriors.

***

Nightstorm-Compare

“Rouge?” Really? Unless he wears a lot of makeup, I think they meant to put “Rogue” in that bio. But typo aside, this is awesome! Rather than jus t a random Predator or part of a tribe (as in the other two), Nightstorm is a vital part of the Predator mythos. Remember that Predator civil war going on in the newest movie? He started it! He is the first Bad Blood, and he formed the Super Predator tribe, which has been warring with regular Predators for four thousand years! So, while you can’t really put him in any scenes with modern characters (four thousand years? Nah), he is great on his own. Nightstorm works in any Ancient Egyptian setting, which gave me a little bit of diorama trouble. But hey, I love a challenge!

So, why don’t we look at this legendary Predator leader?

Nightstorm-Packaged

PACKAGING: ****

Typo! Hahaha! Really, guys. “Rouge?” Seriously? Come on, that’s one of the first things you learn in school, up there with choosing correctly between there/their/they’re and using apostrophes for possessives.  I know that I make typos in my reviews, but I’m not paid to do these (yet).

Nightstorm-PackagedBack

Writing aside, this package has a leg up on the others – you get not one, but TWO pieces of concept art! The front of the box shows Nightstorm with his mask on, while the back shows him with his mask off. I encourage you to go find this figure as soon as you can, because it really is awesome. NECA intends to release some hi-res versions of the art soon, on their offical site and Facebook page. Other than that, the card does a really good job stylistically matching up with the old Kenner toys, which is just awesome.

Nightstorm-Unmasked

SCULPT: ****

NECA Predators all use a few basic bodies. Nightstorm uses the Super Predator body from the new movies, although it seems to be scaled up slightly.  Compare him to the Berserker figure, and you will see that Nightstorm seems to stand just the tiniest bit taller.  This is good, considering how short Berserker was.  The Super Predator body also has different articulation from the Jungle Hunter and City Hunter bodies, but that will be addressed in the proper section.

In an amazing coincidence, the original Nightstorm looked a lot like a Super Predator – fifteen years later! Their armor matches up, the plasma casters are essentially identical, and even their foreheads sort of work, as Scavage/Nightstorm had a ridged, bony head. The original was kind of like a Klingon, so I don’t mind the change.

Nightstorm-Masked

Nightstorm has a pretty decent combination of new and re-used pieces. His armor is built off the Falconer Predator’s base (the strap matches the original Nightstorm), but has new shoulder attachments. He’s got new pauldrons on his shoulders, a new left hand, a new right wrist gauntlet with blades, new cuisses on his thighs, and new dreadlocks. Some of the reused parts are disguised well, like the Falconer armor pieces or his Tracker boots. His new left hand disguises the reused gauntlet, too. The cuisses (Or tassets, I get confused when it comes to thigh armor) are loose pieces held on by friction, which keeps them from getting in the way of Nightstorm’s thigh articulation.

Nightstorm-TrophyRoom

Nightstorm’s armor theme is vaguely Egyptian, especially when he wears his mask (more on that under Accessories), or at least “royal.” It’s why I assumed some sort of elder, and why I was not disappointed. He really looks decked out in ceremonial garb, even more when he has his mask and staff. But at the same time, everything is clearly practical and deadly. His new gauntlet and claws attest to that, and are one of the biggest liberties taken from the Kenner original.

Nightstorm-Claws

The first Nightstorm had tiny little pointed claws, while this figure has a huge bulky gauntlet with gigantic, hinged blades. According to Randy Falk, the reason for this was to tie Nightstorm in with other Sper Predators – in the 2009 movie, they had long katana-like wrist blades. Nightstorm’s are fairly similar, and looking at them I assume that they are meant to retract all the way back and extend to one of several lengths. Of course, this was logistically impossible for the toy, so they only extend a little at the base.

Nightstorm-Impale

The hinges clearly allow them to swivel and grasp his prey, much like how the Jungle Hunter in the first movie reversed his blades to pin down Arnold without killing him. Nightstorm’s new wrist blades are crazy and over the top, but they make so much sense within the overall design aesthetic that I love them.

Nightstorm-Face

PAINT: ****

The original Nightstorm’s skin was flat black, his dreadlocks were maroon, and his armor was gold. The new figure is another example of NECA taking liberties with the original design, as his dreadlocks are black now. Also, his skin is no longer black, instead it’s a gradient pattern of midnight blue! This makes Nightstorm the third blue Predator total, and the only one whose face we can see. You won’t catch me complaining about this one. His paint is awesome! Incredible!

Nightstorm-Berserker

If you stand Nightstorm next to the unmasked Berserker, you can really see how far NECA has come in the last few years. The old Berserker had a complex paint job marred by sloppy apps – colored scales turned into measel-like splotches, his mandibles weren’t the same as the rest of his face, and so on. The Falconer and Tracker also suffered from drastic color changes when a gradient scale was called for. But with Nightstorm, all of his paint apps line up. His face is an excellent combination of blues and blacks that looks natural, the inside of his mouth is a cool purple, and his eyes are bright, icy blue. As much as I would like to see Warrior or Hive Wars unmasked, this will do.

Nightstorm-HoldMask

The rest of his body maintains a definite pattern – lighter blue on his chest and the front of his thighs and arms, grading to darker shades on his back. With no netting to worry about, NECA was able to keep the paint apps completely clean and splotch-free, whether it’s the spots on his side, his chest hair, or even the light wash over the ridges on his back.

Nightstorm-Mask

Nightstorm’s armor is primarily gold, but with a lot of paint apps and washes to give it a lightly tarnished patina. Gold color can be difficult for toys – if you cast the plastic in gold, it ends up looking swirly and toy-ish. If you paint it, the paint can be gloppy. If you vac-metallize it, it will all chip off in under a week. The paint on Nightstorm’s armor looks like the real metal, but is also thin enough that it does not obscure any sculptural detail – you can see every little pit and ding in his armor! Nightstorm stands out on the shelf, whether on his own or among other Predators.

Nightstorm-Nighttime

ARTICULATION: ****

Nightstorm uses the Super Predator body, and thus has different articulation from the other two. Technically, it is somewhat “lesser,” but I still give it four stars, and will explain why now.

Nightstorm-Kneel

Nightstorm has ball-jointed wrists and head, ball-and-socket shoulders and knees, cut joints in his thighs, v-cut hips, a swivel waist, swivels in his boot tops and ankles, a ball-and-hinge combo for his plasma caster, and extendable claws on the right hand. The boot swivels are actually important, as they spell the difference between a cool action pose and awkward leg-bending. The main point of contention is in his legs – modern Predator bodies lack thigh cuts but have ball-jointed hips. While it is true that ball-jointed hips offer more inherent poseability, the V-cuts are far sturdier, and the Super Predator thigh cuts actually make up for most of the lost articulation. I have to be careful with newer Predator bodies because their hip joints come lose very easily, and if I pose them too much, they lose the ability to stand. But my Super Predators (and I have all of them) have so far remained firm. Nightstorm is the “loosest” of them, and he stands just fine. His articulation also allows for slightly different poses than other Predators, including the much-elusive kneeling stance. You trade some poses for others, and gain a little bit of durability. So in my book, it evens out.

Nightstorm-BattleReady

Nightstorm’s extra-long claws extend a little bit, just enough for the difference to be visible. I would have liked if they folded back or were removable for durability’s sake – these things are gonna get fragile. But it isn’t too much of an issue. The plasma caster is articulated as well, with a ball joint at the base, hinge at the cannon, and rotating barrel. It is also very easily removable for a reason I will list under Accessories.  Flaw-wise, Nightstorm’s left arm is hindered somewhat by his armor, and he cannot lift it as high as the other. Also, you can’t make him look too far in either direction without removing his plasma caster to account for his dreadlocks. But since it’s meant to be removed, that is fine.

Nightstorm-Brandish

ACCESSORIES: ****

As stated before, the new Nightstorm Predator does not come with a gigantic twin cannon clamped to his waist. And as much fun as it would be to get a gun turret with this toy, I don’t know how their budget would allow it. As it stands, this guy has more extras than pretty much any other Predator.

Nightstorm-MaskShelf

Firstly, Nightstorm comes with his mask. I had never thought “Scarab” when I saw the Kenner original, but the idea absolutely fits. To be honest, it reminded me a lot of Lord’s mask from one of the Alien Vs. Predator video games. The idea of making it a mask worn by one of the greatest hunters in Predator history more than makes sense, and fits with his new bio. For this figure, NECA took the original design – which was cool and unique but also mostly smooth and plain – and loaded it with detail.  It’s got all the detailing of the original, even the uneven sizes of the ridges by his temples (on the new mask, one set is smaller to allow for his laser sight.  On the old mask, it was just sloppiness).  But the mask is also loaded with new detail, and those new sculpted features fit the usual Predator tribe-deco motif, even showcasing a few Xeno-esque ridges and plates. The horns also have a tiny little bit of Yautja writing inscribed on them, reading “Kenner Tribe.” Nice!

Nightstorm-InsideMask

Even bigger is the interior of the mask – instead of leaving it blank or sculpting it to match the contours of Nightstorm’s face, the inside of his mask is fully decked out with little technological details! It’s an awesome little touch that most people won’t even see, but makes this figure seem more “real.” This is also the first NECA Predator figure with a removable mask, as the logistics would be difficult with those mandibles – Hot Toys makes the mouth removable in order for that mask to fit, for example. The original Kenner figure left his mandibles somewhat visible when the mask was on, so NECA went with this by opening the sides of the mask. To put it on, slide it down over his face, and it will lock in around his mandibles. To take it off, simple slide it back up. The mask stays on securely without any threat of scuffing the paint, as all the friction is on the interior edges of his mandibles, where you can’t see. This is an excellent piece of engineering by NECA, and I hope they can implement more removable masks in the future.

Nightstorm-Stab

Nightstorm’s battle staff is taken more-or-less from the post used to support the original’s cannon. The original toy was bone-colored, but NECA has painted this one gold and blue to match his armor. It maintains details from the original like the hand guard or flared, blunt sphere on the bottom, but all with more detail.

Nightstorm-Skull

The staff also more clearly shows off a human skull and spinal cord, but also has a Xenomorph tail stinger sticking up from the skull! It is now a weapon as well as a scepter, and looks great in a huge variety of Predator poses! It fits in his left hand only, as his right fist is closed, but it would have been hard to fit it around those claws, anyway. Is the skull just sculpted, or did he have a trophy bronzed? I don’t know!

Nightstorm-Backpack

And finally, Nightstorm’s plasma caster is removable for a reason. There is a little hole in the back of his armor, perfectly sized for the cannon – you can plug it in and use it to hang Nightstorm’s staff from his back! You can even clamp his mask by the horns over his back and hang it there for safekeeping, allowing him to stow his accessories when not holding him. This is ingenious, and it makes it hard to figure out how best to pose the figure. When not using the cannon as a hanger, you can position Nightstorm’s dreadlocks to cover the hole and hide it from view.

Nightstorm-Daystorm

VALUE: ****

This figure should run you about $20-ish, give or take a little depending on where you find it. That’s the exact industry standard these days, and a lot cheaper than Mattel would charge for the same thing. And besides, Nightstorm has a surprising amount of new tooling and accessories, and possibly the best paint job of the bunch!

Nightstorm-BadBlood

THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:

Nightstorm’s wrist blades are the most fragile thing on him. Watch them and be careful not to let anything crush them, and remember to pose him far enough from the edge of your shelf that he will not fall and land on them. If you have a cat like I do, you just need to take more precautions. Everything else feels durable, however.

Nightstorm-VsClanLeader

WHERE TO BUY:

These guys should start showing up any day now at Toys R Us, but for now you can check plenty of on-line dealers, such as Big Bad Toy Store, where I preordered mine.

Nightstorm-Trophy

OVERALL: ****

I’ve been really excited about these toys since the New York Toy Fair waaaaaaay back at the beginning of the year. Nightstorm was the big standout to me back then, and he still is now! In fact, he has spent the most time off she shelf by a huge margin, just hanging out on my coffee table. If I owned that Nepthu He-Man figure (and I don’t), I would have posed Nightstorm murdering him just for the Ancient Egyptian flavor. But since I don’t, the best I can do is some sand on the floor, big tan blocks, and half of a Mummy play set…. and a horrifying Mummy for him to fight.  Can’t forget that one.  But honestly, it doesn’t matter because Nightstorm himself is so awesome that he is the only thing needed in your display!

Nightstorm-Mummy

I have no problem with his articulation, although some collectors do. My only complaint is the fragility of his wrist blades, but that is very minor (and they are nowhere nearly as fragile as Tracker Predator’s tusks). Nightstorm is one of the best Predators that NECA has made, and is a really great example of how far they have come in only a few short years.  He’s just cool.  There’s no two ways about it. And on top of all that, Nightstorm fills in a great part of Predator lore, making him truly the “Ultimate Alien Hunter.”

 Nightstorm-SuperPredators

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12 responses to “Life In Plastic: TOY REVIEW: Nightstorm Predator

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  2. I bought one – great scupt, but his head fell off straight away, and I don’t seem to be able to get the balljoint to pop back in securely. I think this may be due to his neck armour though- Suggestions?

    • I dunno. Mine has a pretty secure head – maybe try soaking it in hot water for a few seconds and then forcing it as securely as you can. If it’s still loose, then there is something wrong with the neck peg. Remove the head and coat with a layer of super glue. Wait for the glue to dry, and it will be like another layer of plastic.

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