Medicom's Predator
A review by Jimbob

This isn't your usual GI Joe fare. First off, he's not wearing a scrap of fabric, and I don't suppose you'd want to put a Wehrmach uniform on him. Secondly, you're not likely to find him at Toys 'R' Us, or even FAO Schwartz. However, he is wearing some kind of battle gear, and he does have what is called a "Combat Joe" body. I found this guy at a toy show, and he's one of the most insanely great Joes I've been lucky enough to find!

This guy is made in Japan by a company named Medicom. They have a whole line of rubber suits over a Joe-like body, portraying popular Japanese media properties like Devilman, Kamen Rider and Kikaider. They also make an Alien figure or two. I suspect there's some relationship to Takara, who made the highly sought-after military flavored "Combat Joe" series and the conceptually similar rubber-suited Godzilla figure. But it's a neat idea, and reminiscent of the stop-motion animation models used in film (before CGI).

As you can see from this picture, the figure underneath the rubber is very similar in construction to a GI Joe. The Predator hands are made of a hollow, soft rubber which slide onto the forearm, which is then covered by the forearm armor. So the wrists aren't articulated. For some reason, they give you a set of human hands and feet, which you can't insert into the rubber castings. (The feet are made of a stiff vinyl.) I suppose you could convert this into a regular human figure if you wanted. I don't see why, though. Instead, I'll probably use wire to articulate the wrists and maybe fingers, "bendie" style.

From a less-than-thorough investigation, I believe that the main construction difference between this body and the vintage GI Joe is that elastic is not used to tension the arms & legs. Instead, there is a nylon fitting at the hip joint like the one you see in this picture . The concept is similar to the Classic Collection GI Joes. As with those figures, I don't know how well that stands up to wear. But there is one big difference: The parts are made of a hard plastic, assembled with rivets and screws. So when stuff breaks or wears down, you can probably fix it. Another difference is that the body is not as dense as the CC Joes, so the joints don't have to support as much weight. You don't have to worry about this guy taking a nose dive, as long as you have him in a reasonable pose.

As with most things from Japan, this guy reeks of quality. Even the no-nonsense box has elastic tie-downs with metal ends so that you can remove him and put him back without much trouble at all. No nasty twist-ties to clip.

The head is an excellent sculpt, made of a hard vinyl, and I'm not sure whether it's removable--it looks like it might be. The neck articulation is superb. The twin blades at his right wrist are made of metal and retractable. The blaster on his left shoulder swivels, but I wish they'd made it out of a hard plastic with additional articulation. In fact, I wish they'd made him with a bare skin rubber suit, and produced separate armor to fit. Instead, those are cast together, in sections (upper torso, hip, arms and legs). I guess you can't have everything (unless you want to do it yourself!)... A word of caution about rubber suits though: thin, soft rubber is a difficult material to paint, and paint can wear off rather easily. It also has a shorter life than hard plastics. I don't know how long-- I've heard 10-25 years, and they're more sensitive to things like sunlight, heat and moisture. But it's such a neat figure, I wanna believe!!!

Now thinking of the big question: how much? In my case, he was $125-- but I bought him at one of those toy shows where things are notoriously overpriced. In Japan, he's 9800 yen, which at the current rate of exchange (1/98), is about $77 US.

Where might you find one of these guys? As I said, you won't find him easily. However, if you can't get him from a fellow collector, a toy show, or a specialty store, you can try Hobby Link Japan.

Happy spending!

01/25/98-- Jimbob

Last modified: Saturday, January 6, 2001 6:20 PM