NECA‘s Ultimate Jungle Hunter Predator Was Worth The 30-Year Wait
Over the last six years, NECA’s been busy releasing as many Predator action figures as humanly possible, and is coming up on its 18th wave based on the franchise. There have been several different versions of the Jungle Hunter Predator in those assortments, but to commemorate the pearl anniversary, the company has released a special “ultimate” edition of the OG Predator. Complete with multiple portraits, hands, and accessories, NECA’s latest Jungle Hunter is the kind of figure fans of the series have deserved since 1987.
30 years ago, Predator hit cinemas for the very first time. The story of how Predator came to be is legendary among fans, but proper collectibles that did the franchise justice were in short supply for a very long time. Kenner gave it a go in the early 1990s following its trip down Aliens Lane, but it wasn’t until 2011 when NECA snapped up the license to the cult classic that devoted Yautja lovers truly got something to celebrate.
It actually took a few waves for the actual Jungle Hunter to get some love, though he did make an appearance of sorts in the first series of NECA’s collection, which was based on 2010's Predators. By 2013 however, in conjunction with Predator’s 25th anniversary, the Jungle Hunter was flush with figures —as was his chief rival, “Dutch” Schaefer. As strong as those figures were at the time, NECA improved on its initial Predator body designs in the years since, and saw fit to revisit the original two Yautja (our boy here and Predator 2’s City Hunter) with all that new articulation this year.
The added articulation in the arms really makes a difference in posing this figure. While pre-2016 Predator toys weren’t poorly articulated, adding in more flexibility in the biceps and elbows gives the alien hunters much more agility and poseability. Their limbs were a little stiff before, which made more action intensive poses a bit more difficult than they should have been. Now with double elbow articulation, there's a greater range of motion that’s more believable. Additionally, the bicep rotator offers new opportunities, such as giving the Jungle Hunter the ability to actually look at his wrist computer.
With the revamped mold on the Jungle Hunter, NECA’s included a “functioning” wrist computer, complete with Yautja language in the countdown timer. The flip-up panel wasn’t part of the original Jungle Hunter releases, and is a small touch that's definitely welcome in the 1:12 scale. Previously, NECA did include a working wrist computer, including light-up features, in its quarter-scale Predator, but such a fine bit of articulation is often more trouble than it's worth down in the 7” arena. The hinging is strong, and the piece doesn’t feel like it will come off anytime soon. Unfortunately, the shoulder blaster doesn't fare nearly as well.
Every Predator worth its weight has a shoulder-mounted cannon of some sort, and the Jungle Hunter is no exception. The separate piece attaches to the slots hidden on the figure’s back and shoulder well enough, but the gun itself is a bit of a misfire. Not only does it not fold up and down as it’s supposed to, but the new firing effect accessory weighs the gun down completely. Once attached, there’s no real way to aim the blaster but straight down, as the balance just isn’t there for the tiny piece of plastic. Conversely to the rest of the figure, which is hefty but has a solid center of gravity, this attachment just doesn’t measure up to the same quality.
The Jungle Hunter figure comes with two different head sculpts to swap in and out. The helmeted version is how you’ll find the figure out of the box, and it’s got a slightly different paint application than those earlier incarnations. The blaster damage scuff marks do look a little too perfectly formed, but the wear on the rest of the helmet is applied well. The same should be said of the paint app throughout the rest of the figure, which captures the alien look of the Predator while still keeping every element of realism from the feature film. The wash applied to the rest of the armor elements also gives the figure a more authentic feel, and is another testament to the great painters working at NECA. Those guys don’t miss a beat.
While it would have been great to have the unmasked portrait have the mandibles open, as if the Jungle Hunter was screaming, the closed-mouth face isn’t disappointing. There's some fantastic sculpting from Kyle Windrix — whose name is synonymous with NECA's Predator line at this point — and it’s always amazing to see how much detail these sculptors can pack into a head no bigger than a half-dollar. Yes, we know figures are sculpted larger and scaled down for production, but that all of the effort placed in making this character as authentic to Stan Winston's original isn’t lost along the way says a lot about NECA’s total process.
In addition to the two heads, there are two sets of hands (one open, one closed), a skull and a skull attached to a spine, and the Jungle Hunter’s detached mask. All of these give you a range of things to pose with, as well as offering more decor for your display. Unlike the City Hunter and his wealth of weapons, the Jungle Hunter was basically using his shoulder cannon and wrist blades the whole movie. The lack of additional weaponry is screen accurate, but even just getting some of his weird medical tools would have added a bit more “ultimate” to this package.
Aside from those few minor issues, the Ultimate Jungle Hunter Predator is a fine action figure. The articulation, sculpting and paint app are all on par with NECA’s typical quality work. That’s especially true at the price point NECA’s 7” figures fall under. Given that the 25th Anniversary wave is making the rounds again for the 30th Anniversary, there’s no better time to snap up this Ultimate figure alongside any of the “Dutch” Schaefers to make your Predator shrine that much more complete.
The NECA Ultimate Jungle Hunter Predator figure is available now for ~$24.99. This figure was purchased for review.