Editor’s Note: Sorry about the delay, but my computer died for a week. It’s back, now.
Every so often, NECA manages to sneak something original into its Predators line. Why? Because it’s awesome, shut yo’ mouth!
In Kenner’s ’90s Aliens/Predator line, there were a few mini-comics. In the Predator mini-comic, an unidentified Predator was shown flying the Blade Fighter vehicle (sold separately). When NECA decided to produce and sell the Blade Fighter (coming in a few months), they designed a brand-new Predator based on that one to accompany it. And then, later, when Bad Blood got bumped up to a deluxe release, Viper got moved away from his vehicle and more into a solo role. This is a plus for everybody, because it turns out that he’s awesome.
Viper Predator is the leader of the notorious Serpent Clan, known throughout the Yautja underworld as the most skilled and brutal group of mercenaries. This clan includes his older brother, the Snake Predator. Specializing in Xenomorph hunts and the occasional clan wars, Viper and his crew have but one code to follow: Finish Every Job.
When not on a mission, he has been known to target those possessing valuable tech or honor trophies, which are used for bartering or kept for the next job. Viper sometimes works with the elder Cracked Tusk on hunts. In return, the Serpent Clan receives weapons, bio-gear to endure jobs on foreign planets, and in some cases, personal transports such as the Blade Fighter vehicle.* He has also been known on occasion to help Enforcers track down Bad Bloods in exchange for immunity from various crimes.
*A fast, low-altitude, single-passenger transport designed to hunt Xenomorphs that also functions as a mobile armory.
Well… NECA just managed to advertise Snake, Bad Blood, Cracked Tusk (a Kenner Predator figure who is coming in the NECA line soon), and the upcoming Blade Fighter vehicle! Or rather… they tied stuff together so they aren’t in a vacuum!
Viper’s packaging follows the same format as the other Kenner Predators, complete with a retro design and some awesome concept art for Viper. I love the way they put this together, and if you collect stuff on card, you can hang him up next to the other Kenner figures.
Viper uses the Jungle Hunter body as a base, which contrasts with Snake’s use of the City Hunter body. It also helps make him more than a mere repaint, which some might assume at first glance. In fact, Viper does not have any immediately obvious new parts (except for his mask) – even his left-handed wrist blade came from Big Red Predator, originally!
So, does this make him just a cheap repaint? Well, no. His individual pieces came from some disparate sources, but that isn’t the issue, either – as a whole, the figure does not seem like a repaint or a kitbash. His individual parts are a testament to NECA’s ability to create such a modular line as the Predator toys without looking cheap. Or, as in the case of Mattel, making everybody identical ‘roid freaks.
As for Viper himself, he looks great. You can imagine him as a protagonist and not just a movie bad guy – it’s not just that he has style, he has the kind of style you want to root for. And hey, I’d love to see a story starring him, kind of like Concrete Jungle.
The first thing you’ll notice is how much Viper resembles Snake. It’s really in the forehead – they share the same diamond pattern, albeit in different colors. Viper is decidedly more red than most other Predators, too, with an orange skin tone that sets him apart from the crowd without making him look oddly out of place. I could see him showing up in one of the movies, for example. Included among his painted details are some extra quill hairs on his brow, too – a nice touch.
Viper’s armor is mostly a dark, almost black metallic color, with a few red highlights. The combo fits his body’s color scheme and compliments him, helping him stand out. The netting on his body seems to be a little off, but it always is with Predators, and overall it isn’t bad.
Viper’s skin also has a sheen to it, which helps sell the idea of him as an actual, organic, living being, not just a plastic toy. That, coupled with the fact that his plastic is moulded in his base flesh tone, means that he really is one of the best-looking Predators in person. Everything about his color scheme is either attractive or realistic (or just both).
Viper’s articulation is essentially the same as all of the other versions that use his body – ball-jointed head, wrists, and ankles, ball-and-socket shoulders, elbows, and hips, hinged knees, swivel waist, and extendable wristblades. The good is, this frees him up for a lot of really dynamic poses, just like the other Predators. Nothing restricts his articulation, and since he’s got two sets of claws, this actually gives him a few more options.
Viper comes with some gear. He has a pair of hands specially designed to grip weapons (or the controls of the Blade Fighter, heh heh), and a dark-metallic plasma caster, which aside from the paint is identical to the basic one.
The far more important detail is Viper’s mask. See, regular Predator masks just don’t fit – even the costums had to remove the mandibles as sort of a cheat. Viper is now the third figure with a removable bio-mask because, thanks to his design, it could be done. Nightstorm and Ahab had room for their mandibles to reach around, while Viper’s mask just protudes a little. But it does not look unnatural in the least, and instead is great. His mask is dark with some red highlights and ominous yellow eyes – and yes, it has detailing on the inside of the mask, showing off the mandible controls! Fun thing is, it should fit perfectly well on any Predator with the same head… including, for example, his brother Snake.
The $20 price tag on this guy is an exceptionally good value for the stuff you get with him.
THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Aside from the usual (claws, thin wires), Viper is absolutely durable. In fact, he seems to lack the problems that others in his wave have been sporting, so that’s a plus!
WHERE TO BUY:
You can find this guy in abundance in Toys R Us right now!
Viper is an entirely original creation. Sure, he is technically based on a single panel from a comic, but honestly, he’s original. On the one side, he fits in nicely with the other Kenner Predators. But at the same time, he’s a lot like Armored Lost Predator, the only other “original” Pred. Viper has a unique sense of style, a great backstory, an eye-catching and realistic color scheme, and this aura of coolness that really makes him my favorite of the wave.