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Sideshow Throws Down the Glove on Prop Accuracy and Predatorstuff Responds – Predator Helmet Lens Debate Saga Continues!

September 18th, 2009

It has been one of the hottest debated subjects in Predator collector circles in a long time…  BUT, before we go on and for the record, I would like to say that I love Sideshow and love the people that work there… no disrespect intended and this article is more out of fun than any actual indignation. So don’t go too crazy with the Sideshow hate… I just love a good arguement is all!  So, when Sideshow first dove in to the realm of Predator helmet replicas, they brought us the highly prized AvPR Wolf Predator helmet, which was well received and considered a highly successful release.  The helmet was beautifully detailed, featuring a gorgeous sculpt, great paint-up, lasers and a real mesh lens to finish it off.  When Sideshow then announced they would be releasing a full compliment of AvP props, including the Scar, Celtic and Chopper helmets, collectors were very excited.  Unfortunately for the die-hards, the AvP helmets were not well received and showed signs that perhaps Sideshow development had skimped on details to save money… the number one issue was the lack of decent looking lenses.  The Scar used a paper-like material with an icky print pattern of a mesh, and the Celtic had no lense at all, it was simply painted over resin where the eye holes should have been.

Needless to say, fans were VERY upset with this move, not to mention the paint job wasn’t really as well done as the Wolf… but again, the main issue was how awful the lenses were.  I mentioned them extensively in my reviews, emails were sent to Sideshow about it, people everywhere were talking about them on the forum and my videos featured semi-rants about them.  People were not impressed… the obvious knee-jerk reaction was to grab our torches and pitchforks, but I treated more as something to make fun of than anything else, despite this being a $300 prop with a paper lense glued on it.

I started doing some research and talked to Sideshow…  turns out the choice of lens material was out of their hands, as the master copy they received from ADI (The company that did the prop effects for the AvP and AvPR movies) came exactly like that and they were simply following their design and paint scheme.  I was assured that the materials and paint scheme of the master matched the screen-used props exactly and that there was no difference.  I completely disagreed despite this information and still felt that the lenses used were nowhere NEAR what was used during film production, not a chance.  But I supposed I agreed to disagree… after all, Sideshow didn’t make the movies, they can only go by what ADI tells them right?  So that was it… I figured there would be no more debate about this perhaps until the Chopper came out, which we assume will be like the Celtic… no lense, just painted resin eye-holes.

The forest was quiet, we had moved on… then Sideshow threw down a glove.  Yes my friends, Sideshow puffed up their chests, bristled in the cool California air and posted this on their website:

Some folks have been wondering how close we can really get to the actual screen-used piece with a Prop Replica collectible. Well, we’d like your input! How close do YOU think we’ve gotten? Take a look at the side-by-side photo below. One of these Predator Masks is the screen-used prop by special effects studio Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc., and the other is the Sideshow Collectibles replica. Can you spot the real movie prop?

And here’s the photo of the two masks side by side that they showed (click to enlarge):

Oooo Sideshow why must you taunt me so?  *rolls up his sleeves* You have now released the evil Fanboy Dan, and it’s time to go fanboy on your ass!  I am going to go ahead right now and say this… that is not a screen used prop, it’s the master ADI sent to Sideshow standing next to one of the replicas, which by the way has been touched up.  And I’ll prove it.

We’re going to cover 3 things in this article and I will back everything up:

1. The "screen used prop" in the photo is not from the movie, it’s a prepared master copy ADI sent to Sideshow to be used as the material and paint master.
2. The helmets had separate lenses installed, they were NOT painted resin.
3. The helmet in the photo above that is the Sideshow replica has been tweaked to resemble the master more closely.

Let’s go ahead and get number 3 out of the way right now shall we?  First off, there’s no way that is a regular factory issue Celtic bio helmet standing next to the "screen used prop".  If you haven’t already read it, please check out my review of the Celtic Predator Helmet and be sure to go look at the gallery.  Pay VERY special attention to the paint detail and weathering, and the sheen of the paint… you will notice in the review that the paint is very uniform with a dull grey with a couple of black airbrushed spots on the crown and that the finish is quite flat, meaning no shine.  Now look at the photo Sideshow posted… both helmets have extensive weathering over the entire helmet, with browns and blacks and the finish is a mild shiny satin.  Think it’s just me?  Go ahead and check the forums where dozens of people have posted their helmets and you’ll see the EXACT same thing.  If either of the helmets in that photo are from the factory floor and from a normal production run, it’s been touched up for this photo… absolutely no question about it.  All bias aside, the two helmets side-by-side look almost identical with only tiny differences, I’m not arguing that at all.  Too bad the helmets we received didn’t have that paint job and there’s no screen used prop in that photo.

Next, let’s cover 1 and 2, since they are both directly related… the question is, where do I start?  In all honesty, you could skip to the last photo and point in this article as that alone is enough to put this debate to rest, but I figured we’d go over the movie stills first and then go in for the kill.  Sound good?

The major debate here for me and most of us is the lens issue.. the lens look like crap, especially up close and we’re not liking the fact that we’re being told that this is the way it was done on the screen-used props.  Now, if we look at the comparison shot from Sideshow, we know that both helmets have the same painted resin eye holes instead of lenses.  Now, I am going to prove to you that ADI used separate lenses in the eye holes of the helmets, NOT painted over solid resin.  So with that proven and out of the way, it’s an obvious conclusion that the so called "screen-used prop" in the comparison photo is in fact a paint master, not a screen used prop.

Once again, this is the purpose of the article… we’re not happy that Sideshow is not using separate screen-accurate lenses in their helmet replicas and we’re being told that this is how it was done on the actual screen replicas.  I’m going to show you proof that this is not the case.

OK, first… the lenses on the screen-used pieces are curved like sunglasses, they are not a flat surface.  This is important when looking at the shape of reflected light…  when a reflective surface or shiny surface is flat, it will reflect light uniformly, meaning the entire surface will be bright.  When a surface is curved, you’ll notice that there will be a bright soft line of light in the middle or towards the sides (depending on the angle) and the light diffuses outward from that point.  It’s the curve that causes that, as the highest point of the curve closest to the light source reflects that light.  So, armed with that knowledge I want you to look at the comparison photo from Sideshow and you will notice that the eye hole areas are fairly uniform, meaning very little curve.  That’s because it’s just flat resin covering the eye holes, they’re not rounded eye lenses like in the movie.

Now, look at the following movie stills (click for larger):


See the difference?  You’ll see it in every frame of film with the Celtic in it… the lenses are curved.  Not only that, but there is an obvious color difference between the color and tint of the lens and the rest of the helmet making it pretty clear it’s not part of the helmet’s paint job, it’s a separate installed piece.

Next up, if you look at the comparison shot from Sideshow, BOTH helmets have copper accents on the rounded nose sections, the cheek detailing and jaw detailing.  Didn’t we already establish that the screen used prop had no copper detailing and that ADI added that to the master because they preferred that paint scheme?!  So if there were no copper accents on the screen-used props, why does the "screen-used prop" in Sideshow’s comparison photo have them?

Now granted, we only get limited looks at the Celtic’s side detailing on the helmet and the lighting is not very color-friendly, but from what I can see, there certainly isn’t any copper paint on the nose or jaw sections.

Another point regarding the lenses, they are reflective…  now, whether that is movie magic, lighting or the grace of god, when watching the movie, we see several scenes where reflections are clearly visible.  Now, I know that the alien jaw reflections we see are computer generated, that’s fine… but no matter how the effect was achieved, the lenses we as the movie watchers saw them REFLECTED.  The Sideshow piece does not reflect ANYTHING… they do brighten up because of the silver paint when you shine light at the prop, but that’s about it.  So now there is this argument… screen accuracy vs bench accuracy.  This is how I define the difference between a prop looking different on screen than it does sitting on the work bench of the prop builder.  When it comes to prop replicas, I personally believe the prop should reflect what we see on screen, NOT what it looks like on a work bench, because this opens the door to all kinds of BS.  Think about it for a second…  entire lines of props could look like garbage and all the company would have to say is "Oh, well this is how is was really done, it only looked good because of special effects, lighting and post-editing".  Sorry, but that’s absolute nonsense.  The facts are simple: In the movie, the helmets the Predators wear have reflective lenses, the prop replica does not.  Straight up, it’s wrong, and I don’t think using the ol’ "well this is how it was really made" makes it right at all.

Still not convinced?  OK, then I offer you the nail in the coffin… what if ADI themselves came out and said, look, we heard about this debate and we wanted to confirm that the lenses are indeed separate.  What we did was drill out the eye holes and laser area, painted up the helmet fully, and then later installed the lasers and eye lenses.  Not sure why people might think that the lenses were in fact solid resin with just some paint over them, we apologize for the confusion.  Wouldn’t that be GREAT?!  And what if you could verify that yourself and not just take my word for it?  After all, I could just make any BS up and tell you ADI told me so and you would have no choice but to believe it right?

Well luckily, we have these things called books, and ADI just happened to write one on the making of AvP and it was published by Design Studio Press in 2004.  I’m sure many of you pred nuts like me already own this book… if you do, would you be so kind as to open your book and turn to page 105 for me?  No problem… I’ll wait while you go fetch your book.

OK, all set?  Right, could you please go ahead and read me the caption for photo 7… you know, the pic of the fully painted Celtic helmet with big gaping holes where the lens and lasers should be?

OOPS!  What does that say?

The next step is a trip to the Paint Department (07) before it is finished off with any final fabrication details (such as installing a laser sight and eye lenses).

*And Jordan fades back* SWISH! I think we’re done here…

So this goes back to my first review of the AvP helmets…  Sideshow, ADI, whoever…  please put the right lenses in the helmets because they were not solid resin with a bit of paint flecked over.  It doesn’t look like that in movie, and it says right in the ADI book that they are separate pieces.  Besides, logic would dictate the actors kind of need to be able to see what’s in front of them.. last I checked, humans can’t see through 1/4 inch thick resin.  When making prop replicas, they should reflect (no pun intended) what we see on the silver screen and blowing off legit complaints by saying the studio said so shouldn’t be the end all playing card.

So I did enjoy the comparison and I’m sure the average Sideshow fan will assume that indeed you have a production run piece standing next to a screen-used prop, but to me and many other Predator fans, it seems obvious that neither helmet is screen used or a production piece.  What you’ve got there is the ADI master sitting next to a touched up production piece that’s been more intensely weathered to match the master more closely.

Would love your thoughts guys, please click the comment button below and tell me what you think. 


PS. Yes I know I just broke the soapbox in my nerdy display of fanboyism… and I’m happy to do it!

Post a Comment!


20 Responses to “ Sideshow Throws Down the Glove on Prop Accuracy and Predatorstuff Responds – Predator Helmet Lens Debate Saga Continues! ”

  1. Adam Says:

    “SWISH” is right. Good job countering Sideshows’ questionable claims.

  2. Jason Says:

    Awesome job Dan. We may have to start calling you Matlock! It serves their cheap asses right to get busted like that. I hope they feel really stupid and ashamed now. Of course, none of this matters if they keep producing crap and people keep buying it. But regardless, I am glad that you called them on this.

  3. cajunpredator Says:

    You hit the nail on the head Dan!!!! Both Celtic bio helmets in the Sideshow comparison pics are pretty much identical……BUT NOT identical to what we see on screen. A scrren accurate prop should be EXACTLY like the prop seen on the screen and not like a behind the scenes prop. Accurate collectibles, that’s the whole point in collecting, isn’t it? By no means am I bashing Sideshow, I love my Celtic bio…..but actual lenses would have been a great finishing touch.

  4. Justin Says:

    Safe to say you just ruined their shit… I can’t believe a “legitimate business” like Sideshow would put something like that out. It’s not like they’re trying to keep us from ordering their products by producing horrid bios, now they wanna piss all over what little integrity they have left? I just don’t get it.

  5. Destroyer Says:

    Beware fanboy Dan’s leet skillz!

    Seriously Sideshow, if you’re going to try and argue something, actually… you know… HAVE a valid argument! I can’t think of a better way to lose any credibility with the Predator community quickly.

  6. Matt Says:

    Great artical Dan, i can’t believe sideshow are still trying to legitimise their pathetic efforts for the last two $400 (UK) bio’s!! The masks in the picture do indeed match each other…. unfortunately, as you say they don’t match the screen used mask and they certainly don’t match the masks that we recieved after handing over a heck of alot of money for them!!! Also, i have spoke with Alec Gillis about the subject and both the scar and celtic had oakley sunglass lenses installed. These sideshow bio’s are not taking from screen used bio’s!!!! that wouldn’t bother me so much if they were half decent but the lenses are crap, the paint jobs are crap…. Probably why only 500 choppers are being made, SS know we are through with their cheapo ways regarding this line, they are just awfull, sideshow need to wake up and smell the roses!!

    Thanks again Dan, what would we do without your voice? i hope sideshow respond to this, there are plenty of us paying attention still….

  7. Heavy Metal Spike Says:


    Good ol’ Slideshow – good to the last drop when it comes to Predator bios.

    Well, I think they are a wonderful company who produce exceptional product and deserve to increase their profit margins by whatever means they choose even if it means trying to misslead their customer base.

    (* only joking *)

    By the way – I posted what I felt was a fair comment at the time the original side-by-side pic was posted and they asked for feedback. It wasn’t rude, it didn’t use bad language, but they decided not to post it – presumably because it called them out on the pointlessness of comparing the items in their picture (lol).

    Snideshow need to get back to the good ol’ days when they produced quality stuff like the 1:1 P1 bust (not that crappy Wolf 1:1) and the P1 maquette (not the crappy bios and weapons) – ah – happy simple times. :o)

    Produce a 1:1 P2 bust and a P2 maquette to go with the P1 pieces and (almost) all will be forgiven – mostly (lol).

  8. Sabres21768 Says:

    Damn dude, way to smack the taste outta their mouth with that.

    Looks like somebody at Sideshow forgot to do their homework.

  9. Jeyl Says:

    Bravo Dan. I like quality control like this.

  10. Jason Says:

    Nicely done Dan!!!!! I’m glad you have the balls to put them in their place. They CANNOT tell us that was screen used when we can CLEARLY see that it was not. The lack of copper ALONE should be enough to tell even the non-hardcore human being looking at the picture that it isn’t screen used.

    Thank you Dan…you are my hero!!!!!!

  11. Predian Says:

    Well played Dan but will SS understand? They put the photo up to try and show how right they are, but judging from the first few comments below it they are simply showing themselves up and digging themselves a deeper hole.
    They could have made the helmets with lenses you can look through and/or make them look the same as they did on film. They failed.

  12. Ash Says:

    Well said Dan, lets just hope that sideshow actually take notice and do something about the lenses in the chopper bio….. i doubt it though..

  13. Faken Says:

    Well Sideshow will take it as anything else, I’m posting this simply for the sake of setting things straight 😉

  14. Matt Says:

    Just a shame we’l never hear an official responce to this 😉 This line would be quite the joke if we hadn’t all paid so much money for the bio’s…. No more until they are done properly, here’s to hoping for an elder with quality materials and proper lenses!!

  15. T Says:

    The moment SS put that poll up, it marked their own death.
    Cant believe they refuse to admit their mistake & have the guts to challenge us with that crap poll.

    My mask doesn’t look like that at all. Good job in screwing this whole predator bio line which could be a hit if put a little effort in it instead of cutting cost & taking shortcuts.

    Both of the ” Toms ” should get a working pair of spectacles to assist them the next time they intend to review any bio mask.

  16. Fu-Manchu Says:

    Dan, if you want to i can send you the same screencaps from the bluray, which smashes even more the Sideshow’s argument 😛

    They are curved lenses, for sure, added to the eyeholes, then they are missing either in the ADI production piece or the Sideshow one, so the comparsion pic simply doesnt make any sense…

  17. Adam Says:

    Ok sideshow care to rebut!! Wheras I like the quality that sideshow does for the collector and keeps my wallet empty! LOL this is why I will not but the AvP series bios (except wolfie) anybody knows that when a company puts up a challenge to the fans especially us diehards! photos will be doctored to test the intellect so that way they can say “see you can’t tell” Dan made alot of good points to fit the facts! So sideshow don’t ruin your reputation and play us stupid

  18. emmanuel Says:

    Way to go dan……! You know, everyone is talking about the lens, but nobody talk about the laser. As you can see on the movie they really use lasers on the bio helmets, you can see the 3 red dots at close and large range, while sideshow it’s only using regular lights. Every time you turn on the “laser” from the sideshow prop, you don’t see any light coming from a laser (The 3 red dots, just a regular red light.

  19. Matt Says:

    emmanuel, the led’s are used as lasers can be very dangerous, it is simply a health and saftey thing that provents sideshow using lasers. However, you have just stumbled onto another fault in sideshows defence that hasn’t yet been mentioned….. that “screen used” ADI bio also has led’s instead of lasers……….

    Still no responce from sideshow then? im shocked 😉

  20. Mike Says:

    Dan is the Man! Sideshow & ADI obviously never heard of the phrase “Customer is always right.” Especially when all the customers are prop making and collecting junkies. My only comment to SS is “hey you can fool my grandmother on this piece of crap but not me!” booyah!

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