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'Predator' Draws Stares at East Village Clothing Store

By Patrick Hedlund | May 18, 2011 7:03am | Updated on May 18, 2011 6:50am

By Patrick Hedlund

DNAinfo News Editor

EAST VILLAGE — It's an intimidating doorman.

An East 7th Street clothing store has placed a towering metal sculpture of the frightening star of Arnold Schwarzenegger's cult classic "Predator" at the front of their store.

Since arriving two months ago, the hulking 8-foot-tall, 900-pound Predator statue has drawn stares from passersby, which was exactly the point when Tokio 7's owner bought it.

"It's one of a kind," said Makoto Watanabe, 55, who runs the East Village consignment store. The Predator is constructed entirely of scrap metal and old motorcycle parts, and is a perfect advertisement for the business and for Watanabe's desire to promote recycling.

"Kids love it, older people love it — many people love it."

Watanabe wouldn't say how much he paid for the statue — only that it was expensive — which was built by the Thai-based designer Metal Park.

It took five workers three months to complete, he explained, and was too good to pass up when Watanabe spotted it on display in Bryant Park over the winter.

"That's badass!" exclaimed one man who walked past the statue on a recent afternoon.

"It looks like a robot samurai," added Silkia Figueroa, 33, a Hell's Kitchen resident who gets her hair cut nearby. "I think it's cool, but I wouldn't have it in front of my store."

Others thought the sculpture brought some much-needed artistic flavor to the area.

"It's nice to see some artwork outdoors in the Village," noted DJ Carroll, 23, of the East Village. "In the '90s you had more stores like this. It's nice to see some of the independent stores taking a visual stand over all the Starbucks."

Watanabe has owned Tokio 7 for the past 16 years, recently moving it across the street from its former location.

He said his new Predator is getting lots of positive attention outside the new location — with people constantly taking pictures of the piece, and some even trying to climb over its protective gate to get a closer look.

The storeowner said the piece also helps him spread a message about re-use.

Watanabe, who hails from Japan, said his home country takes recycling very seriously, especially in light of the recent tsunami which has forced residents to do more with less.

"Nature changes, so we have to think about recycling — it's very important," he said.

Watanabe's store also does a brisk business in secondhand designer clothing. But he wants everyone to know that the Predator isn't like the rest of the shop's wares.

"It's not for sale," he said.