For some odd reason Kenner picked up the Aliens license in the 1990s, after a reportedly not-so-great run with the original Alien in the 1970s. The first year saw great success with the monsters but weak sales on the human Space Marines, so Predator was brought in to pick up the slack-- and even though Dutch was listed as a planned character for the line, Kenner opted to focus on the monstrous alien hunters instead, drawing mostly from their own sketchbooks with few exceptions. The Cracked Tusk Predator is truly a product of his times, the 1990s Kenner house style of 5 points of articulation with a muscular, stylized pose shows the influences of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and, to some extent, Street Fighter II. Toys were increasingly "extreme" in color and attitude, although Kenner did seem to drop the bizarre neon and pastel palette we saw heaped upon G.I. Joe and Transformers around this time. Heck, nobody thought anything of making big toy lines aimed squarely at kids based on R-rated film franchises many of their parents wouldn't let them see. It was an amazing time to be alive.
At about 6-inches tall, the Cracked Tusk Predator towered over other Kenner human figures and was sufficiently menacing and taller than the humans previously released under the Aliens brand. Inspired by the flavor of a "Broken Tusk" Predator character in the Aliens Versus Predator comic books he had lots of silver armor with greaves and gauntlets. The swell knives coming out of his right wrist much like Vega in Street Fighter II and the movies seemed to be in league with other toys and characters of the day, giving the guy a comically brutal appearance. Kenner really started pushing the envelope with dynamic sculpting around this time, so the figure has action-posed arms and legs and one of the hands had spread-out fingers that were a real departure from the standing-at-attention Batman figures from the first few years of the decade. With fists unable to hold weapons, Kenner sculpted a shoulder-mounted weapon which snaps onto the body which seamlessly integrated some pegs to connect the harness, while the rocket gets some pretty good distance on it when you push down the button. I'm happy with this piece.
This figure debuted as part of the first wave of Predators, alongside an infamous Alien vs. Predator 2-pack, a Scavage Predator, and a mail-in Ambush Predator. Others would follow, but not too many as the line seemed to lose steam pretty quickly as the two film franchises dwindled quite a bit and kids were slow to latch on to the versus team-up idea inspired by Dark Horse Comics' various books. It may have had something to do with the fact this guy looked nothing like the movies in any truly authentic sense-- sure, the inspiration is obvious, but giant tusks, different coloring, and bizarro gear tended to irritate toy collectors back then much like it does now. It made for a better toy, no question about it, but that doesn't mean you could go to any venue where collectors collected and not hear the complaints. Much of this line of creativity came out of Batman, which Kenner managed to expand to a couple hundred action figures during its time with the license.
He can stand, he can sit, and he can stab-- sort of. Star Wars was still a couple of years off, so Predator as a sci-fi toy franchise was important stuff in those days. Only a handful of figure sculpts made it out, some of which were legendarily hard to find, but its debut in the 1990s was a really exciting time to be in the toy world. Just because your movie had only one or two memorable creatures meant nothing, Kenner could still craft a diverse and extensive line of toys based on it with vehicles or playsets or whatever it saw fit. There were some real talents working there in those days, and that mentality faded away as Star Wars took over the boy's toy business and by the time the Kenner brand name was largely phased out in 1999, the notion of a line like this-- with original designs, limited articulation, and fun (working) action features-- was something collectors were sadly in a big rush to leave in the past. The Alien and Predator characters rode off into the sunset with the Aliens Hive Wars line around 1999, which was another in a series of Kay-Bee exclusive lines of weird Kenner figure repaints-- except this one actually had new molds in it.
With the endless supply of new figures every month it may be tough to suggest you go back and grab this guy, or his cohorts, but they're fun, cool, and cheap. He's worth three or four bucks-- why not get him? If you can find one for $5 or less, especially packaged, just buy it. You're welcome. I can't say I ultimately understand why Kenner (and then Hasbro) abandoned this aesthetic in favor of the evolving look which became the super-articulated 3 3/4-inch figure, as this kind of bigger, less poseable figure is undoubtedly cheaper to produce. If I could waltz into Wal-Mart and get Thor, Captain America, Green Lantern, or especially Predators movie figures in this style I'd have absolutely sprang for a few, instead of the none I have purchased thus far.
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