Some of you may remember myself posting pictures of the Hot Toys Asia Edition Ancient Predator about a week ago. I've since acquired the Special Version, and decided to write a 2-in-1 review. As some of you may already know, both these Ancient Predators are supposed to be exclusives; the Asia Edition exclusive to Blister Japan, and the Special Version exclusive to Sideshow Collectibles USA. What I've learned about HT though, is that if you live in the Asian region with any major HT retailer, you are most likely to be able to access 'exclusives' at retail level albeit in very limited quantities. The AE and SV Ancient Predators are virtually identical, the only difference being the mask. Everything else is exactly the same (save for the captions on the stand).
Without further ado, let's get into the figures...
PACKAGING - 5/5
Anyone familiar with HT packaging should know what to expect here. You get the usual huge AvP box with a fold-out flap, cut-away windows revealling parts of the figure, and a shiny outer sleeve. They certainly know how to make their boxes look attractive, with plenty of different pictures on every side. However, there are typos on their captions once in a while...
Inside is a 4-layer transparent tray. The top layer covers the second, which houses the armor, mask and accessories. The third layer separates it from the bottom one, which houses the body, stand and netting. With such quality packaging (and the fact that they are not sealed with tape), collectors who prefer to leave their figures in their boxes will enjoy these.
ACCESSORIES - 4/5
Aside from the regular body armor, shoulder cannon, blades, mask and dagger (parts that make a Predator complete at the very basic level), both Predators come with a trophy necklace, a smaller trophy string to be hung from the belt, and a closed shuriken. They come with a pair of bendy hands, a left fist, and an Alien head on a spear (with a right hand permanently attached to it). The Alien head on the spear is of course the main attraction of the Ancient Predator, though the head cannot be separated from the spear. The bottom part of the spear is retractable, but the top part holding the head is fixed.
The accessories aren't bad, but I felt that they could've done better - like including another regular spear for those who do not wish do display them with the Alien head. Adding an opened shuriken wouldn't hurt either as all the other HT Predators have them. My guess is that the level of detail that went into the Alien head made it more costly and so HT had to cut back on accessories.
The new armor design is a slight departure from the other AvP Predators in that the right side of the chest is left bare. I personally like it this way; it has more of a tribal look that was seen in the original Predator movies.
SCULPT & PAINT - 5/5
The pictures speak for themselves. The Predators look phenomenal. Judging them as poseable model kits or action figures, they are probably the most detailed and arguably the most accurate representation of the characters. HT doesn't compromise here - you get every little detail done almost perfectly, from the Alien's transparent dome to the fibre-like material under the Predators' lenses.
I have all HT AvP Predators except the Elder, and there have so far been three sets of Predator releases from them: Scar + Celtic, Chopper + Elder + Ani-Com Exclusive Scar, and the two Ancients. The first two Predators had great paint apps, but I noticed a decline in paint vibrance in the second set in the sense that they appeared more dull. HT managed to regain their original quality with their latest release, and in fact made it better by giving the Predator bodies a glossy finish. I think the gloss gives them a more accurate representation as Predator skin appears to be slightly moist in the movies.
The only qualms I have about the paintjob is that the blood on the Alien head looks a little cheap, but it's hardly noticeable.
BUILD - 4/5
I've always been very impressed by the build quality of the newer generation HT figures - they're durable, have solid joints, and they can stand on their own. I've not had any problems or breakages with any of my HT Predators so far.
So why the slightly less than perfect score? The Alien head trophy is a little too heavy for the Predator to hold securely. The hand is glued to the spear, so you don't have to worry about it falling off. However, the wrist and bicep joints of the Predators are not ratcheted, and so they tend to turn under the trophy's weight and cause it to tip over. It won't take you long to find the perfect balance, but it sure as hell does not feel safe. I don't display the Predators holding their trophies simply because I don't want the trophy flipping over and bringing the entire figure down with it.
HT should've strengthened the right arms of the Predators and made the trophy a lot lighter. Already the figure leans a bit under the trophy's weight, just imagine if the joints were to give way and spin around.
POSEABILITY - 3/5
As mentioned before, HT bodies are great. They've got good articulation and solid joints, making their figures rather robust. With the Predators however, the armor gets in the way of their poseability so in order for them to look absolutely good, they'll have to be in a standing pose. The main weaknesses are in the torso and neck area. If you try to give them a more dynamic pose, the stiff torso and neck will almost always make them look stupid. The heads can be tilted upwards, but not downwards - an issue that has plagued all HT Predators unfortunately. Another thing hindering poseability is the body netting - I'd be careful not to stretch them too much or they might tear.
VALUE - 5/5 if you buy one, 3/5 if you buy both
The Ancient Predator is no doubt a must-get if you are a Predator fan, or a regular HT AvP collector. However if you are not the hardcore fan, you might just want to make do with one. After all, they're identical except for the mask. HT figures are costly enough, what more paying for two figures that are 90% the same. If you are in the US, Sideshow still has the Special Version in stock, though I don't know of any US retailer that has stock of the Asia Edition. Whichever way it ends up - whether you choose just one or get both, you will get nothing short of satisfaction as with all the previous HT AvP Predators. I personally can't have one without the other, and though I wish they had some different accessories, I'm overall quite happy with these two figures. Bring on AvP 2.
Asia Edition on the left, Special Version on the right...