Toy Review: NECA’s ‘Predator Bad Blood’ Figures Honor Dark Horse’s Early ’90s Excess
After the success of the 1987 Predator film, Dark Horse snapped up the rights for licensed comics featuring the alien menace. For ten years, Dark Horse continued telling the tales of the elite otherworldly hunters, including some where the likes of Batman and Magnus, Robot Fighter, took on Predators in their own universes. However, it's the 1993 tale of a rogue Predator that crash landed in the New Jersey Pine Barrens that captured toy manufacturer NECA's attention.
Predator: Bad Blood, written by Evan Dorkin, with art by Derek Thompson and Chris Warner, inspired a duo of action figures, including the first "deluxe" Predator in NECA's continually expanding line based on the license. Though the story itself is very much a product of its time, NECA's managed to bring both Bad Blood and the Enforcer to life with great detail. Right down to the decapitated heads.
Believe it or not, but NECA's released about 60 different Predator figures since 2010 (with no signs of stopping any time soon). In all that monstrous mayhem, only one had come from the comics prior to the release of Bad Blood and the Enforcer (Ahab from Predator: Fire and Stone). While it'd be easy to shrug off the latest additions to the clan due to potential line fatigue (60 some figures in four years is a lot, after all), NECA's always managed to keep each new Predator different enough that no two figures are truly alike. This is especially true of Bad Blood himself.
In the package, which is adorned with artwork from the comic, it's initially hard to tell what separates the Bad Blood (sculpted by Trevor Zammit) from the rest of line to make it a deluxe figure. Once you crack it open, however, the weighty figure's additional value is immediately observable. This thing has such ornate detailing, and so many more accoutrements than a standard Predator, it's amazing it only costs ~$5 more.
As a somewhat regular collector of the Predator line, the first thing that really popped out was the paint app. Nearly all of the figures to this point have been based on the movie appearances of the iconic creature, and as such, the figures have been given a more realistic colorway. The Bad Blood is the first that gets a paint scheme that's a little more flat than ordinarily seen on a Predator figure. That's not bad thing, by the way. The inspiration comes straight from the pages of the comic (colored by Chris Chalenor), and the figure adequately represents that era before Photoshop and digital coloring really took off.
As you can see, the Bad Blood Predator suffers from a bit of '90s comic syndrome, what with the incredible amount of over-embellishing to his outfit. Is that a spine on his shoulder or a part of a coral reef? Does he really need two nipple rings and an eyebrow piercing? And of course, what could possibly make the trademark Predator dual-wristblade cooler? How about a third blade? The only thing missing from this design are some thigh pouches and neck belts. He looks more ridiculous than intimidating on paper. In reality though, NECA does a fine job turning something tremendously outlandish into something that looks like it actually fits in the mythology.
Bad Blood has some random bones on his shins, his shoulder, and his forearm, and features two foreign skulls for knee pads, and a Predator skull on his right shoulder. He's a bit of a Predator serial killer based on the opening of the comic, and wears his trophies proudly. It makes the figure a bit of a challenge to pose, not for lack of articulation or movement, but because I'm afraid of accidentally snapping off the armor flourishes. Call it a bit of action figure PTSD based on the DC Collectibles Batman figures. The only point that really gave me any trouble at all was the additional hand included for holding the machete. The wrist joint hole wasn't wide enough to fit without a little additional sculpting of my own.
I'd be remiss without mentioning the human trophies included, which are ripped straight from the first few victims Bad Blood claims in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. The decapitated heads hook onto his belt rather easily, and do give Bad Blood a bit more attitude. There's even a stray dreadlock in the package, which one person rips off the Predator at some point during the story. It's tiny, and probably didn't need to be part of the package, but it's a nice touch for fans of the comic story to appreciate.
Part of what made the comic story so interesting at the time was it was one of the earliest examples we saw of Predators fighting each other. We got a glimpse that there was a strong lineage at the end of Predator 2, but the Bad Blood storyline was really one of the first instances where fans got to see what happened when two Predators faced off. The Enforcer Predator (sculpted by Chris Gawrych) is responsible for tracking down the rogue, and putting an end to his homicidal ways. Say what you will about the Predators being killers, but for all intents and purposes, they've always had a code. Not so with the Bad Blood.
Anyway, the Enforcer isn't quite as ornate as his foe, but still has a cool aesthetic. His helmet is one of the largest we've seen on a Pred, which helps give the more basic figure a bit more personality. Like Bad Blood, the paint app is a bit flat (again, on purpose), making both stand out when side-by-side with other Predators from NECA's collection. That kind of distinction shows just how much attention the company is paying to keeping the line fresh, while also keeping in line with the source material.
Where Bad Blood was a bit more ritualistic and primal in his armor, Enforcer looks and feels much more futuristic and alien. You get a better sense of the technology the Predators use thanks to the cybernetic-looking shoulder armor and trademark canon. In execution, the Enforcer's armor doesn't have as much of a real metallic sheen as it appears to have in the comic. However, you do get a sense that there's a big difference between his armor and the Bad Blood's leather-like outfitting.
None of NECA's movie-based Predators include removable helmets, so it's not surprising the Enforcer doesn't either. He's actually only without it in the comic for a short time, so it's not really that big a deal. He's got the same 20+ points of articulation as most of the rest of the line, as well as the big spear and the traditional glaive, but aside from a few very specific comic details, there really isn't much else to set the Enforcer apart. He serves as a nice counterpoint to complete the Bad Blood set, but there are definitely cooler Predators available if you're not a completionist.
It was great to see NECA delve into Predator lore outside of the films, and Bad Blood himself is truly one of the most impressive Preds the company's made. Despite not being as well known as the Jungle Hunter or City Hunter from the films, the Bad Blood Predator definitely stands out way more on a shelf. Though the Enforcer is solid, it's not quite on the same level, and isn't quite as memorable. It's hard to believe such cool figures could come from a story about Predators that overrun a paintball facility currently being run by an ex-CIA operative in New Jersey. The '90s sure were weird, man.
You can find the Bad Blood Predator on NECA's eBay store for $24.99. The Enforcer Predator is available at Big Bad Toy Store for $17.99. You can check out Predator: Bad Blood from Dark Horse Digital for $5.99. These figures were purchased for review.