Saturday, May 19, 2012

Kenner's Lava Planet Predator

If you were a child of the late eighties to early nineties, you're probably familiar with the now defunct toy giant, Kenner. The company swung the Star Wars license like a bat in the seventies, scored two huge hits with DC Super Powers and the much loved Real Ghostbusters lines in the eighties and gave Batman a costume for every conceivable occasion for three whole movies. They also took on quite a few projects based on R rated movies including Terminator and even Aliens. Seeing as how you can't go too long with Aliens before Predators show up, here's today's review.

Straight out of 1994, it's the Lava Planet Predator! The backing card is fantastic with some very nice art of a "classic" style Predator shadowing the bubble, the Predator title in the trademark font on the right and a full body action shot of the Lava Planet Pred himself on the left. There's a blurb about how Predators are The Ultimate Alien Hunter (Ha-ha! Double entendre!), the toy's name and action feature of "Blazing Rocket Launcher!" and a warning that this toy based off of R rated movies where people's spines are ripped out is for ages four and up. A corner tag informs you that the Lava Planet Predator is "New!" which he is now most assuredly not.

The back of the card makes me really want to jump on the internet and spend a couple hundred dollars. Let's take a closer look at the good stuff...

Oh momma...

I can't tell you how much time I spent staring at the figure line ups on the backs of Aliens cards or in the awesome product booklets Kenner used to stick in all their larger boxed items. The Predator line started a couple years after the Aliens one, so most of the Aliens shown are from the tail end of the line, but really there was no such thing as a bad Kenner Aliens toy. Though the Predators had a decent turn out, Kenner's photographers were careful not to put the two repainted molds too close to one another. Those of you with sharp eyes may notice the Lava Planet Pred is just a repaint of the Cracked Tusk and the Nightstorm Pred a repaint of the Scavage. Doesn't mean I don't want every single one of them though, you see that Stalker Predator? GLOWS IN THE DARK. He will be mine...

As I mentioned, Lava Planet Predator is just a repaint of the Cracked Tusk Predator released earlier. "Just a repaint" in this case doesn't do the figure justice however. While the basic idea is certainly a bit goofy and the color scheme is nineties-tastic, it's gorgeous in its simplicity. The entire figure is cast in translucent red plastic which lends to the fiery theme and could easily be interpreted as how a cloaked Predator's field would refract the glow of lava. Or it can remind you of a really big cherry flavored Jolly Rancher. Damn your deliciousness, Lava Planet Predator!

There are few paint applications, making this an even more cost efficient repaint in the long run. An uneven, blotchy black pattern rimmed with yellow adorns the chest, looking like a slightly cooler section of lava over the Predator's heart. A light black spray was given to the face to bring out detail and to the dreds hanging down the back of his skull. His tiny eyes are painted a bright yellow that really pops in person but not in a single picture I took.

Accessories come in the form of a mask and a shoulder mounted rocket launcher that snaps tightly and securely to spikes molded onto the Predator's armor. The mask, cannon and cannon arm are cast in a metallic coppery-red, the missile and shoulder pad in metallic silver. The cannon arm is articulated where it meets the shoulder pad and again at the cannon so it can be folded away behind the figure's back when not in use. The launcher's spring is still very tight and the missile flies far, harkening back to the golden days when toys could blind you if you were stupid or careless.

The Cracked Tusk Predator was possibly the closest to the movie creature's design in this line of giant bola-cannon wielding and razor-disc throwing Predators, so the Lava Planet Pred exhibits this trait as well. While it may be grossly over-sized, the shoulder cannon is quite close to the ones used by the creatures in the first two movies and the mask is a slightly amped up version of the movie design with bladed mandibles. But that's not all.

The figure's left arm features a very familiar wrist gauntlet, complete self-destruct timer for when your Terminator figure traps Lava Planet Pred under a log! The right gauntlet features the twin spring out blades the Predators frequently use in their extended position and there are various bits of chest, shoulder and shin armor resembling the style of the movie creature's wardrobe adorning the Lava Planet Predator. A drawback of the translucent plastic is that a lot of this sculpted detail is difficult to make out, a few more light black washes like the one on the face would have benefited this figure.

Another trademark of Kenner toy lines was the articulation; Between the head, shoulders and hips, you're looking at five points of articulation. All five are swivels and with the pose the figure was sculpted in, you can't get much variety out of them. This might seem poor, but it was pretty standard fair for a time when kids had to bash their toys into each other if they wanted more action out of them and adult toy collectors were still relatively unheard of. You can still get some really great lunging or stalking poses however, as my pictures somewhat demonstrate.

Released in 1994, the Lava Planet Predator probably originally retailed for around seven or eight dollars and time hasn't pushed his price up much, I bought this one carded for about twelve. Loose samples go for a lot less and frankly, if you can find a complete one, I'd grab it. Though this particular figure tugs at my heart strings  for nostalgic reasons (he was the only Predator figure I had as a kid!) and for appealing to my weakness for translucent plastic, he's still worth having even eighteen years later if any of his amazing absurdity tickles your fancy as much as it did mine.


  1. Ah, glorious days. The Kenner Toy Line.

    Many were the mornings, I spent in the car with my mom driving to the local Toys R Us to get those "hard to find" Aliens figures as they were released.

    The original “Cracked Tusk Predator”, of whom this Lava Planet Chap is a palette swap, was probably based in part off the Predator Elder “Broken Tusk” from the initial Aliens versus Predator comic series which is centered around Machiko on the planet Ryushi.

    This is of course the same plot that a movie producer fed to his sick dog in order to create AVP: canon schmanon (though it is set on present day earth and features every possible thing a hardcore fan refuses to give more than half a shit about). I have heard that one of the Predators, or Yautja, at the end of the film was intended to represent this “Cracked Tusk” Predator as well. But who can say? The whole thing is basically a fever dream induced by bad corn soup

  2. I didn't mention the Dark Horse comics because I assumed the line was based more on the violent movies and less on the violent comic, but everything Morgan said is true.

  3. nice idea.. thanks for sharing.

  4. i have the entire kenner predator line and it is rocking! i have most of the aliens (save for the $40 marines, some repaints, and the sonic alien. they are all great too! i planned on posting reviews on my blog but haven't gotten around to it...great review! love the blog!