I’ve got the Blues today! Okay, bad pun.
In the last few years, NECA has really made a name for itself by taking chances. The Predator line is doing well? Release concept art and Kenner tributes! Planet of the Apes is getting a new movie? Full line including classics! Gremlins aren’t selling well? Make the Spider-Gremlin! And the thing is, these have all been pretty good moves. Another little theme running around is adding NES repaint to various toy lines. Starting with last SDCC’s Nintendo Jason, we have also gotten Freddy Krueger and Robocop in their classic video game colors. So of course, a Predator is only natural.
Predator for the NES was a surprisingly unique game. Part shooter, part platformer, and part puzzle/maze, the goal in most of its many stages was to find the best weapons for the job, avoid small enemies (scorpions, soldiers, jellyfish, skull-faced seahorse aliens) and find the best route to the exit. These were broken up with autoscrolling stages where Arnold, in a new graphics style, had to shoot down tons of little bubble-like enemies before facing off against the Predator itself. Speaking of the titular alien hunter, there were a few different ways to fight him. He showed up in regular stages (and did a lot of flipping around), in the big stages (with a new attack pattern each time), and then finally in the last level as a gigantic floating head.
NECA’s conundrum was which color scheme to adapt, as the Predator appears in-game as purple, tan, and white most often. What they chose to go with was the title screen, where a large portrait of it fades from purple to blue and back – they chose it at its most blue. So, this is an experimental piece with a really unique color scheme that has just begun showing up on shelves – in regular stores, not just in comic shops – and let’s take a look!
Unlike the usual NECA clamshell, this one is a boxed set! From the outside, it’s a really good approximation of the old NES game box. And by really good, I mean AWESOME! If you look on the back, you can see little things like shots of the toy instead of in-game screenshots, and even a parody of the old Nintendo Seal of Quality (can they do that?).
And it’s even more fun when you open the box! The inside of the lid contains a screenshot from the game’s ending, and the figure’s environment – it and its plastic tray are within the box – is a backdrop taken directly from the game, life meter and all. How awesome is that? Very awesome. This is a toy that you can keep in its original packaging without feeling silly for doing so. Also, I really take crappy pictures when it’s just of a box.
Back in the day, we put up with McFarlane’s shenanigans (high prices, poor articulation, fragility, weird character selection) because they had the best toy sculptors in the business. Nowadays, NECA produces outstanding toy sculpting… but they also have good articulation, durable figures, and great selection. It’s a good time to have disposable income.
The Sculpt on this particular Predator has been used before – in whole, there are at least two other full Jungle Hunter Predators, and in part because most of it gets used for unmasked Predators, or some of the Kenner or Dead End toys. So we’ve seen it a lot, but it is still outstanding. Every detail is film-accurate down to the tiniest thing, which is something that not even Todd McFarlane could pull off. The Predator sculpt is a treat no matter how it’s used, and I am loving this one.
Paint has thickness, and although NECA does not use gloppy detail-obscuring paint, any toy sculpt must be a little “deeper” than expected to account for it. Thus unpainted or lightly-painted toys can offer a brand-new look at a sculpt. And this one does! You cna really get a good feal for the texturing ot the Predator’s reptilian skin, or his fine netting, or even all the mechanical gear he’s got. It’s a lot like the Water Emergence Predator, only not hampered by translucent white plastic obscuring the details. Sure, the NES Predator is painted, but this paint is a lot less thick than on most Preds, so enjoy it!
Now here’s the reason to buy this figure in the first place! It is blue. Blue, blue, blue. Azure. A color that the Greeks could not even see. NECA had an impressive array of options for Title Screen Predator, and it actually only stays all-blue for a fraction of a second. On-screen, it’s largely purple, and even though this guy has a few purple highlights, he doesn’t match. Why? Honestly, because it just looks so cool like this.
The Predator’s paint job follows the contours and curves of his NES art without being intentionally pixellated. Good. It’s more than simply a classic video game paint job, and it’s good to see it kept that way. This can be a special kind of stealth cloak, or even just a highlight for certain lighting conditions – it just looks really, really good!
The paint isn’t just blue, either. Don’t get that idea. It’s patterned in a mixture between impressionist art and camo over his body, designed to bring out details, add extra shading, and go above and beyond simply aping the video game. The end result is really dynamic – not just a callback to Nintendo, but an impressive art piece on its own, like a one-of-a-kind indy toy!
And finally, I have to bring up one extremely important thing about the Predator’s paint: It is really bright. That isn’t just an effect of the lighting, folks! Its color is bright and deep and incredible, standing out pretty much no matter where you put it!
The NES Predator has typical Predator articulation – a ball-jointed head, hands, and feet, ball-and-socket shoulders, elbows, and hips, double-hinged knees, swivel waist, and extendable claws. So what can I say that I haven’t already? It’s good, although not the greatest in the universe. You can get your Predator in just about all of his required poses, but don’t expect him to turn into a gymnast any time soon.
The NES Predator comes with his plasma caster, which clips onto his shoulder. That’s standard, and his hands are not open to clutch anything else. It’s small, but what else could he have come with? Skulls are always nice accessories, but there weren’t any in the games. One of the more surreal enemies or even a scorpion could have worked, but this figure is a pure repaint, and those would have required new tooling. So it’s great as-is, even if it seems lacking at first.
This figure costs about $25, the same as other NECA Predators. He’s got the bonus of that awesome box, so it feels like more bang for your buck!
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Maybe it’s just my bad luck, but one of my Predator’s trophy lanyards snapped right out of the package! His plasma caster also fell off, and only barely loosely clings to its hinge, and his wrist blades are crooked. It might just be me, or there might be some QC issues with this guy. Be careful!
WHERE TO BUY:
Sure, you can buy these from Amazon and eBay (NECA’s official stores), but why not go straight to Toys R Us and let them know that stocking NECA toys is a good thing?
Predator nut though I am, I wasn’t entirely sure if I wanted to buy this figure when it was first announced. Gimmick addict though I am… well, I’m glad I did. Really glad. Here’s the thing: This is an art toy. it’s the kind of figure you’d see sellng for $100 at KidRobot or wherever. It’s the kind of action figure you keep in the living room to impress guests.
The game isn’t the greatest thing in the world, but it’s not a bad way to pass some time. The thing about playing Predator for the NES is getting a firm grasp on Arnold’s horrible jumping and skidding physics. He has trouble coming to a stop, drops like a rock, and does not jump well. Also, be prepared for a marathon – the game is very, very long. In the big shooting stages, stick to the left side of the screen and try to take out every target that appears. Just beware the Predator himself, who tends to go invisible in said big stages. In the regular levels, make sure you have a laser before fighting him, and if you keep shooting he will probably get stuck in a pattern before going down. The game is a tough, grueling slog, but it isn’t impossible! And the music is surprisingly moody, too.