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* The figure developed a loose shoulder joint, so the arm flops a bit. (Oh well.)

* The final casualty was a piece of armor with an elastic band that attaches to his right shoulder. The band, without much fuss, popped off (failed, more Krazy Glue).

I did finally get the fellow built and, although he looks impressive, he also looks as if he went five rounds with a PredAlien.

Price: $159.99

Read all about it: There is no better way to appreciate the battles between these two sci-fi horror legends than with a pair of massive trade paperbacks from Dark Horse Comics, the original creator of the pairing. Two full-color volumes, each averaging 400 pages, fall under the title “Aliens vs. Predator: Omnibus” ($24.95 each) and provide a fantastic sequential-art retrospective covering multiple miniseries.

What’s it worth: This kit is the only true way to appreciate the Predator Cleaner. The movie was shot so dimly, it was impossible to see his detailed firepower and monstrous attributes.

Although it’s posable with 22 points of articulation, this obviously is not an action figure for junior but a near-museum-quality piece, limited to 550 pieces (for Sideshow’s Alien Chestburster exclusive) and built for display under a solid case in an entertainment room.

It is tough to justify spending $160 for something I also have to put together. However, it’s a tough item to find, so there must be plenty of collector masochists out there.

Pop bytes

A look at more toys with a pop-culture twist.

Darth Vader’s T.I.E. Fighter (Lego, $29.99, 251 pieces) One of the foremost interlocking block makers in the world celebrates a decade of association with George Lucas’ space-fantasy universe with a selection of exclusive anniversary-edition kits.

One of the first available is the Dark Lord of the Sith’s special ship used to pick off Rebel forces above the Death Star.

Once it’s assembled, owners get a Twin Ion Engine special with a cockpit that opens, dual working missile launchers and a place for Darth to hide his primary weapon. Let’s not forget the included Darth Vader minifigure (it can scrunch into the cockpit) which has a translucent red light saber and removable helmet to reveal his gray, scarred mug.

Build time for a reasonably intelligent 9-year-old is about 30 minutes, and it can withstand average impact during play.

* Visit Zadzooks at the blog section of The Washington Times’ Community pages (www.washingtontimes.com/communities/zadzooks).

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