Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Voyager Class Predaking (2014) Toy Review

in 2014, Action Figure Review, Beast Hunters, Predacon, Prime, Voyager

Beast Hunters

Predaking General Information:
Release Date: January 2014
Price Point: $19.99
Retailer: General release (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Infernum Blade/Tail, Missile launcher, Missile

Images:

*Images with asterisks* and text below in italics from The Official Transformers web site:
Converting Predaking action figure features Infernum Blade, launching blaster, 1 missile, and instructions. The powerful leader of the Predacons. Changes from robot to beast and back in 9 steps. The beast's tail becomes his sword when you convert to robot mode.

Transformers Prime Beast Hunters Voyager Class action figures are the ultimate warriors in the ancient conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons! These mighty soldiers from the planet Cybertron have come to Earth to continue their epic battle, with Optimus Prime and the heroic Autobots fighting to protect our world from the tyranny of Megatron and his Decepticons. And now the savage Predacons have joined the fray, blasting all before them with an inferno of dragon fire. Ages 5 and up

As the "Generations" and "Age of Extinction" segments of the "Transformers" toy line roar into 2014, "Transformers Prime" has not been forgotten. An entire line of figures ranging from Legion to Voyager Class figures are due for early 2014. One of the first releases reflects part of a new philosophy in the toy line I addressed in my recent article "Simplified Transformers & Chicken Little": simplified transformations. The idea is to still have a fun transformation pattern, but not one so complicated that it is frustrating. One of the introductions into this type of figure is Predaking. This figure serves as one of the leaders in the last breath of the "Beast Hunters" line in early 2014 before the "Age of Extinction" line takes over the toy aisles along with the "upscaled" Optimus Prime.

To dispell any misinformation, this figure is not an "upscaled" version of any previous Predaking figure (including the Commander Class figure). This is a whole new sculpt using the "simplified transformation" philosophy (which thus far seems to try to keep the number of transformation steps under fifteen).

Robot Mode:
The first thing that struck me about Predaking as I removed him from the package is that he's big. He stands right under 9 inches (22.9 centimeters) tall and shoulder to shoulder (not including the big spikes that stick out the sides) he's right under 5 inches (12.7 centimeters) wide. Compare that to the Voyager class figure from last year and that one stands right under 7 inches (17.8 centimeters) tall and less than 4 inches (10.2 centimeters) wide! No doubt it is the cost savings from simplifying the transformation and accesories that allowed more money to go into the size of the figures. This addresses a concern fans have had for a while: namely the shrinking size of figures in the "Transformers" toy lines ("Fall of Cybertron" Autobot Jazz is often cited as an example). This helps bring the size of Voyager Class figures back up a notch and the result is a rather imposing looking figure.

If you've read my Voyager class or Commander Class Predaking reviews you'll be familiar with his detailing in broad strokes including the jagged, spike filled design that makes him look like something that came out of a museum of mythological creatures. However, in this size, these details really stand out and grab the eye the way the Voyager and Commander do not. This is especially true with the upper body where huge spikes stick out the sides of his shoulder armor (which themselves are made of up of more blade-like and spike-like parts). The robot head itself has spikes flaring out to the sides and sweeping back. The torso has a series of designs that look like several layers of armor with the top section looking influenced by an organic design and a more mechanical one below it. The legs are perhaps the most robotic parts with clean, smooth panels making up both the lower legs and thighs. The "spike" designs are still there in the form of pointed knee armor and blade like designs on the feet. The proverbial cherry on the whipped cream on this figure are the wings. On the 2013 Voyager Class figure, the wings were set horizontally in this form, different from his TV show appearance where they were vertical and formed more of a cape behind him. That is how they look here, and the wingspan measures over 14 inches (35.6 centimeters) wide when fully spread out. It's a very impressive sight and I really dig the sculpt on this version of Predaking.

This Predaking isn't just about large scale details. There's a ton of more intricate details that add to the overall visual fabric of its design. The most interesting to me are the Cybertronian glyphs found all over the figure. These give hints to the ancient nature of the character and make him quite distinctive. You'll find these glyphs on both wings, his left shoulder, right forearm, left upper arm, waist armor and both legs. On top of that there are some other very intricate details including fingers that are segmented into claws at the end and lines that look like "veins" in the wings. He may be bigger and more simplified in terms of transformation, but this Predaking does not lack in detail.

To differentiate him from the other releases of Predaking, this figure has been cast in a translucent grey plastic along with silver, black and translucent orange. The translucent grey makes up most of the figure, with silver making up other parts like his feet, thighs and hands. The translucent plastic is light enough in tone that if you put it up against a light it will shine through, but the opacity varies. On the torso it's pretty solid, but on the shoulders the light comes through more. The result gives Predaking a mysterious and almost ethereal appearance that I like quite a bit. The silver and black help provide balance to the translucent plastic while staying consistent in tone color-wise. Adding a splash of brightness to the figure is the translucent orange plastic used for the wings. Since the wings are so wide, they really add to the visual appeal of the figure. Orange and silver paint helps add more detail on the figure, hinting at Predaking's "fire" based attacks. Black paint is used to paint the top edges of the wings. There isn't a ton of paint details on this figure, but somehow it works well. I think this is partly thanks to the way the translucent grey plastic looks along with the amount of sculpted detail. It doesn't feel like Predaking is lacking in painted detail at all.

Predaking has twenty one points of articulation in this form. This includes four in each arm and leg as well as two on each wing. What's surprising is how many of these points are ratchet joints, including the hip joints, nee joints and elbows. This gives a very solid feel to the figure and also removes any potential issues of loose joints that is sometimes encountered with ball joints. I found myself surprised at the use of ratchet joints, which is arguably a bit more expensive to produce than a ball joint - but I am grateful as I think they do a good job of making the toy better. The wings can be swung out and back, allowing for a wide range of poses. Predaking's main weapon is the "Infernum Blade", a giant scimitar like sword with designs that look like his tail (which makes sense since that's what it becomes) and a huge curved blade. Cybertronian glyphs are sculpted into the blade. the sword is cast in black, with the blade portion colored orange and it looks awesome. The blade also has two 5mm pegs at the hilt, allowing you to attach weapons to it. The back of it also has a 5mm port. Predaking's other weapon is a missile launcher which is relatively small and uses a pressure launcher to fire the missile. This piece is cast entirely in silver. So how does he hold these weapons? Thankfully you don't have to rely on claws holding together like the other Voyager Class figure. Instead, the claw like hands have a 5mm port sculpted into the hand, allowing you to slide both weapons in without any problem. Even better, the wrist joint is solid, allowing the hands to hold the weapons without flopping down!

Transformation to Beast Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons and attach the missile launcher to the sword and set it aside for now.
  2. Rotate the robot head around.
  3. Swing the dragon neck/head piece up and clip the two tabs at the end into the corresponding slots on either side of the robot head.
  4. Rotate the arms up and swing the hands back to form the front dragon legs.
  5. On each lower leg, swing out the beast mode legs.
  6. Swing each foot down.
  7. Swing each leg back to form the back of the dragon mode.
  8. Attach the sword to the area in between the two robot legs using the pegs on the sword to connect to the corresponding holes on the leg pieces.

Beast Mode:
So you may be thinking "Great, the robot mode delivers, but does that mean they just sacrificed the quality of the beast mode?". Well, I'd say no with two very minor caveats. Let's get the "bad" out of the way first. With the sword becoming the tail, a large chunk of the tail is made up of the blade on the sword - which looks kind of odd honestly. It's not a deal breaker to me, but some will find it incongruous. The other caveat is the lack of jaw articulation on the beast mode head. Again, to me this is no big deal since it's not a major point of articulation in my book, but other fans may feel differently.

And now for the good. Quite simply, Predaking looks very impressive and powerful in this form. His wingspan gives him a majestic and regal appearance. The large spikes on his shoulder armor help give the appearance of a creature that was born to destroy! Also, from the perspective of perceived value, Predaking looks big in this form. With his tail up he is about 8.75 inches (22.2 centimeters) long. Swing the tail down and that adds another 4.5 inches (11.4 centimeters). If there's one thing the television show established, it's that Predaking is large, especially compared to the Autobots and this figure certainly does the trick.

There is a ton of sculpted details in this form. The beast mode head for instance has many layers of spike like details curving and sweeping back on a curve. While his jaw may not open, it does have the large fang-like details on the top and bottom parts of the jaw. The neck of the beast mode has several layers of armor along with more Cybertronian glyphs. The front claws have the distinct "V" shape shown in the TV show and his rear legs angle back in a "chicken walker" type position. Overall, Predaking looks fantastic in this form.

There are no color surprises here. The only newly revealed parts are his rear legs, neck and head. The legs are black with silver details for the claws. The neck is cast in orange plastic with a lot of gunmetal grey paint used for the armored areas, leaving only the front of the neck orange in color. The head is translucent grey with silver and orange paint details. Like the robot mode, the eyes in this mode are yellow. While not using his TV show colors, the colors that are used are basically "shades" of those colors so they work perfectly for this figure - making it distinct from previous releases but true to the character at the same time.

There are eighteen points of articulation on Predaking in this form. This includes six in each of the front legs and one in the rear legs. His head can move up and down as well. While there are holes on the sides of his rear legs, they are not 5mm ports, which is a lost opportunity in my book. Still, you can take off his missile launcher and attach an alternate weapon to the tail or just have fun with the figure as is.

Final Thoughts:
I think the highest compliment I can pay this figure is that I consider this the Voyager Class Predaking that should've come out last year. It's big, imposing looking and still has plenty of play value. This figure is also proof that a simplified Transformers figure is not necesarily a bad action figure. If you've skipped all the other Predakings up until now, I highly recommend this one. If you own one of the other ones that were released, it's still not a bad addition to your collection for $20. Highly recommended!