Thursday, January 12, 2012

NECA – Predators Wave 4: The Lost Tribe

 NECA’s most recent trio of bad-ass alien hunters is some of their most impressive work yet.

As I mentioned in the review of the new two-pack, this wave uses the new body buck incorporating enhanced articulation, allowing for more poseability. I won’t rehash the litany of praise I lavished on the two-pack, but suffice it to say, what I said there goes for these guys as well.

This wave features the unmasked version of the City Hunter, the Shaman, and my favorite of the wave, the Boar Predator.

The packaging on this wave uses the same “Predator 2” cardback as we saw on the Elder Predator from wave 3. It’s a cool design, and makes it clear what movie these characters represent, but unlike previous releases, there are no character-specific biographies on the back. This is a shame. I always enjoyed reading the blurbs about how the characters got their name, or what their specialty was. With the Lost Tribe being so relatively unknown, and having so little information on them available online, I was really hoping to see the cardbacks provide more insight to the characters. Maybe that lack of available information is the exact reason they don’t, though. Instead, the cardbacks now just contain a generic statement about the Lost Tribe being travelers of both time and space, hunting stuff, blah blah blah. Oh well. Know what’s more exciting than cardboard, anyway? Figures!

The City Hunter here is virtually identical to the two-pack version, with minor variances in the deco, so there’s not much to say that hasn’t already been covered. The big difference is the unmasked head sculpt, which looks true to his movie appearance. In other words, it will make some people pee their pants.

The deco is pretty spot on, and the detailing in the skin tones is nice.

This guy includes fewer accessories, only his smart disc this time around, but that’s typical for this line. And with the masked version including both combi sticks, I can’t really complain. The smart disc still fits nicely into its leg holster. I do think that as a nice future variant/running change to this figure, it would be cool to do a battle damaged version with green blood, detachable arm, and med-kit, similar to what McFarlane did with this character years ago.

Overall, if you’re a Predator fan and like having both unmasked and masked versions of the hunters, this guy is a must. If you prefer to stick to one version, the two-pack is the one to get.

Next up is the Shaman Predator, the Lost Tribe’s resident mystic, I assume. Again using the new base body, this guy also features the new enhanced ball hinge hip and double knee articulation. But this guy also uses several new parts, so you don’t feel like you’re just getting another City Hunter with different paint.

Surprisingly, the cool thing about this guy is that he features very little weaponry. The gauntlets appear to be plain leather, rather than weapons of warfare containing razor sharp blades and thermo-nuclear self destruct devices. He’s also pretty light on the body armor, giving the impression that this Yautja is more in tune with nature. No arm blades, no net launcher, no plasma caster, and no helmet. He does feature different armor plates on the upper left arm, though. No actual smart disc is included, but the right leg covering is sculpted to show one peeking out from under a flap.

The one weapon he does include is pretty unique though- a shaman’s staff/spear, tipped with the wrist blades that are lacking from his forearm, and with four small bone trophies hanging from the end with cord. At first, I was worried about the stability of this accessory, being so long and thin, but it’s actually two separate pieces, that connect together in the middle. It feels sturdy enough, and I don’t expect it to warp or snap.

Overall, this guy features enough new sculpting, and nice sculpting at that, to separate it from the City Hunter. My one gripe about this guy is that the deco doesn’t look quite as nice as the pre-production samples shown off at the summer conventions, but overall, the deco isn’t bad. This guy is still worth picking up.

So that brings us to the Boar Predator, my favorite of the lot.

Again, same buck here, but a few different parts to differentiate him from City Hunter. The leathery chest armor and bone trophies are nicely detailed. The included weapon is a smart disc, but colored in silver instead of the City Hunter’s copper, and it too fits nicely into its holster.

But the thing that impresses me about this guy is the helmet. I’m a sucker for all the different Predator helmet designs, and this is an awesome one. It’s got a mean looking snout, similar, but not too similar, to the City Hunter. You can tell these guys probably come from the same tribe, but they’re obviously NOT the same guy. The dome of the helmet is very nicely detailed with a pale gold color breaking up the solid silver. The figure’s overall deco is impressive as well, and clearly sets him apart from the rest of the group.

Overall, this is a solid wave of figures. Despite all using the same buck, there’s enough difference between them to make you feel like you’re getting three distinct characters. The deco on all is nice and detailed, the new articulation rocks, and best of all, this is the first time EVER that I have not had a single stuck joint on any of the figures in the wave, so maybe, just maybe, that one thing that I nitpicked about in the last review is slowly getting better.

Now I just have to (not so patiently) wait for the next two waves to be released so I can complete my Lost Tribe. With pre-orders not even up for these waves yet, it might be a long wait. But by the looks of what’s to come, our patience will pay off. NECA clearly knows what the fans want in this line, and they’re delivering. We’ve got all the main Predator characters now. From here on out, it looks like this line will be focusing on the “blink and you’ll miss’em” Lost Tribe characters from the end of Predator 2. Who knows where NECA will take the line after that (but I wouldn’t mind seeing some older characters updated with the new articulation).

If you’re a casual fan of horror/sci-fi movie figures, this wave, and the waves to follow, may not be for you. But if you’re a die-hard fan of the Predator mythos, THIS is where this line of figures starts to get really good.