Every year, NECA introduces at least one new concept to keep their long running (and increasingly impressive) Predator line fresh, and 2014 now sees the first ever comic book Predators. We got a sneak preview this summer, thanks to the Comic Con exclusive Ahab Predator as featured in the Fire and Stone series, but now NECA has unleashed some Dark Horse characters into the mainstream toy line as well.
First up is the titular hunter from Bad Blood, the miniseries that saw the sickest, most brutal Predator ever stalking Jersey’s Pine Barrens, before running afoul of another hunter on his trail. The Bad Blood Predator had a very unique, over the top look (“over the top” being somewhat of a specialty for writer Evan Dorkin), adorned in battle armor fashioned from the bones and skulls of his prey, and the figure’s sculpt spares no gory details.
Sculptor Trevor Zammit has created a truly dynamic monster, one that harkens back to the cartoonishly visceral and graphic character designs that made McFarlane Toys’ Spawn series such a unique hit with collectors of that era. Bad Blood sports severed heads on his belt, blood spatters on his chest and hand, and plenty of asymmetrical buts of bone from his past prey, all converging to leave us with one of the most unique– and most heavily tooled– figures in the Predator collection. I’ll get to what makes that last point so impressive in a little while.
First, though, I also have to commend the outstanding paint work on this guy. The weathering on his armor and bones lends a realism that ensures Bad Blood fits in with the rest of NECA’s Predators, but he also manages to get some very comic book-y nuances, like the heavy black rings around his eyes and the red pupils on both the Predator and the heads of his human victims. It’s stylized and cool to look at, yet doesn’t impact the overall aesthetic of the figure, which is really the best of both worlds.
Bad Blood sports the ample articulation we’ve seen from NECA’s previous Predators, and thanks to some very keen design work, not even his bulky, skeletal armor impedes his movie parts. This means Bad Blood can reach lots of poses– especially important if you want to display him in mortal combat with his foe the Enforcer– and he strikes a very menacing presence, no matter which way you pose him.
I really like that NECA also stepped up their game in terms of accessories for their Predator figures, in terms of both weapons and alternate hands. Bad Blood gets a swappable right hand, resting atop his newly tooled triple blade gauntlet. The blood-stained hand is open, while the swap-out piece has a closed fist which can grip his sword. This monstrous hunter also includes a new spear, which he can hold in his hand or store through a loop on the back of his armor.
Early in the process of making Bad Blood a reality, NECA realized they couldn’t cost out a figure with this many unique pant apps, new tooling and sculpted details. Many companies would have simply dialed down the figure to fit their production budget, but NECA stayed committed to the vision of the figure they wanted to release. As such, Bad Blood is not technically part of Predator Series 12, but a one-off Deluxe Edition release. He retails for a few bucks more than the standard figures, but that little bit extra was put to brilliant use on this great figure. As if the fantastic detailing of the figure itself wasn’t enough, Bad Blood’s blister card also gets some nice metallic foil stamps, a throwback to his 90s era comic book appearance, as well as a way to pack a little more punch into this deluxe figure.
I was planning to stay true to the movies in terms of NECA’s Predators, but the ideas they come up with to grow the line are just so damn cool, it’s impossible to not jump back in. Between the Kenner Collection, the Dead End fan film tribe and now the Dark Horse Predators, we’re seeing a toy line that is drawing from all corners of the property’s mythology to create one singular universe. I loved that Mattel pulled this off with Masters of the Universe, but what NECA is doing with their Predators takes that same formula and perfects it even further.
Thanks to NECA for giving us the opportunity to spotlight the Bad Blood Predator. Bad Blood and Predator Series 12 are available now.