Kenner’s Predator toy line from the early 90s was an all-timer if you grew up in that era, featuring an increasingly bizarre assortment of brightly colored, gimmick-enhanced hunters (very liberally) adapted from the Predator movies and various comic book and video game tie-ins. As the series continued, the figure designs only got more outlandish, and NECA is now approaching some of those latter-day Kenner Predators head on, and the results are amazing.
Stalker Predator, for example, was an entirely glow-in-the-dark figure, sporting bizarre curved horns on his head, adorned in copper colored armor. He was wild to begin with, but NECA ramped him up even further, adapting his armor into a tarnished and battle worn brass, complete with an effigy to the Xenomorph’s skull built into the chest. NECA’s Stalker retains the glow in the dark plastic of the figure’s skin, and even includes a removable mask just like the original.
I really appreciate the design ingenuity of this guy… his concept is perfect, even if the execution has a few issues. The figure’s wrist pegs run long, meaning there is a gap between his hands and gauntlets, and he lacks a rubber overlay beneath his skirt,which tends to leave his hip joints very loose. Despite these design shortcomings, the overall concept is strange and awesome enough to make Stalker a very visually dynamic character, and a truly fun toy.
The Ghost Predator is definitely the most normal of the latest Kenner trio. He gets his name from his light skin tone and bright silver armor, but aside from this unique coloration, there isn’t much that separates him from most cinematic Predators… except for the design enhancements of the figure’s base body, including double jointed elbows and an ab joint, both long time requests for this toy line. Ghost also includes a removable mask, which fits pretty well over his monstrous face, an extended spear, and a machete, either of which he can hold with ease. While not the flashiest release in the Kenner collection, Ghost helps to round out this display nicely.
Our true winner, in both concept and execution, is Spiked Tail. Kenner’s character featured a more reptilian design, with a horned crown adorning his skull crest, cybernetic attachments on his arms and legs, mask permanently sculpted onto the lower half of his face, and an extra long braid of dreadlocks culminating in a spiked mace, a pretty cool extra weapon that any Yatuja would likely appreciate.
NECA’s version of Spiked Tail not only respects Kenner’s outlandish design, but expands the concepts in some really cool ways. The figure’s cybernetics have been incorporated more into his actual body, as Spiked Tail’s new bio explains he’s basically “more machine than Predator” in light of the robotic parts he’s added to his body to account for injuries sustained in battle. The result is a cyborg Predator– a cool concept in its own right– made even better with the addition of a removable half-mask, spiked disc, and wrist mounted cannon which are almost exclusively unique sculpts.
Possibly the most interesting aspect of this great figure, though, is the mythology built into his bio. According to NECA’s story, Spiked Tail is part of a clan of Yatuja who have moved beyond simple organic prey once they realize robots, cyborgs, and synthetic life forms are the most dangerous game. What’s intriguing about this is that NECA has paid tribute to both Kenner’s RoboCop and Terminator toy lines in the past… and Spiked Tail’s back story seems to suggest NECA is tying their Kenner collection into one over arching story.
The most recent Kenner Predators are available now at Toys R Us, specialty retailers, and via NECA’s eBay store now, along with the first Deluxe Kenner release, the Predator Clan Leader. They make for an awesome batch of action figures, which pay homage to Kenner’s cult classic 90s series, while hinting at an ambitious mythology which might tie all these cool figures into one killer mythology. That’s a shared universe I can get behind!