The Matrix - The Sentinel
Hot Toys

The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

Jeff Parker is back tonight with a look at an unusual Hot Toys product...take it away, Jeff!

Back at the beginning of the summer Hot Toys announced they had finally acquired the license to start making collectibles from the Matrix trilogy.

Now, strictly speaking they have already given us a figure of Neo, but that was back in their earlier ’non-licensed’, bootlegged ‘Famous Type’ figure days. It was a figure I nearly bought on eBay so many times, but never actually pulled the trigger!

They also released a limited edition model of the Nebuchadnezzar as an exclusive item in Japan, it opened up to reveal it housed the Blu-ray DVD’s. However the wait to see if we are going to get any 1/6th scale figures from Hot Toys is still very far from over, as no announcement has yet been made!

The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys

The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys

I did hear through the grapevine (though it was a non-legitimate source) that a APU was in the pipeline as well, but for now the only thing we have for sure, is this 1/16th scale Sentinel. I have to admit I’ve always had something of a soft spot for these guardians of the Matrix. As like the T-800 in the Terminator movies, they are very effective, heavily armed, emotionless hunter killers, designed purely to track down and eradicate any sign of human life. They look like the warped off spring of an Imperial probe droid merged with the armoured appendages of Doc Oc and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a good thing.

It also didn’t hurt that they were designed by Geof Darrow, I’ve been a fan of his work since I first picked up Hard Boiled, his seminal graphic novel that covers a lot of the same ground as the themes explored in the Matrix. But as engaging as the story was (written by Frank Miller) it was Darrows artwork that completely blew me away. If you’ve never read Hard Boiled I urge you to track it down and read it now. I still have mine in the original three issues that seemed to take an eternity to come out… but once you’ve checked out the meticulous intricate details in Darrows work you will completely understand why it went so wildly over its deadline, and also why it was so very much worth the wait! This guy can draw… now I know you expect that of a comic book artist… but this guy can really, really draw.

Not only is his figure-work jaw droppingly good, but his hardware is simply divine. I kid you not when I say this guy could make a living as a product designer, everything in his ‘universe’ is designed from the floor up, and it all looks amazing, every nut and bolt is fully realised. So, knowing what big fans the Watchowski brothers are of the comic book medium, it didn’t take them long to beat a path to his door and make him their chief conceptual designer for all three of the Matrix movies.

And so here we are with Hot Toys take on what has to be just about the coolest bit of hardware from Matrix trilogy. Being a fan of its design, I already had the larger scale McFarlane version, so, how does a more expensive and smaller scaled version stand up to comparison.

Packaging ***
From the off set it is worth pointing out that some aspects of this model are fragile, most notably the multiple jointed, insect like arms that hang underneath the main body of the Sentinel. But its also worth pointing out that with just a little care you shouldn’t encounter any real problems, well, I haven’t anyway. I say this more, so that any of you buying this, know to exercise caution, and handle with care. To protect the model it comes in a clear plastic vac-formed tray, the arm with the radar dish is curved above the main body, whilst the rest of the arms are gathered into three bunches trailing behind it, each bunch is wrapped in a wire twisty to hold it secure while in transit. However, as annoying as twisties can be, you’ll find they fade into insignificance next to unwrapping each and every one of the articulated claws that are at the end of each arm. They are all encased in shrink-wrapped clear covers, and they all need to be cut off individually. I used a scalpel to slice each one open and just peel them off, it’s not exactly difficult, but takes a steady hand and a little patience. The tray it sits in has a clear lid that fits over the top, which is then slid into a card box with a die-cut window. The rest of the box is covered in photo-shopped images of swarming Sentinels, with full production credits on the back. This box then slots into a secondary card sleeve that has the Matrix logo on both sides and the classic streaming code in tones of green covering the rest of the sides. So, a good box in terms of getting the contents to you unharmed, but in terms of graphics and creativity it’s serviceable but not one of Hot Toys strongest pieces of work.

Sculpting- ****
The thing is, when anybody tackles a model that has already been done by another company, comparisons will always be drawn, and the Sentinel has already had quite an impressive interpretation from McFarlane back in 2003, in fact Michael covered it in depth here. However, although this version is well over twice the price of that one, it is also literally half the size, whilst still managing to cram in just a little more detail. The trouble with the McF one was… and it’s not often you’ll hear this as a complaint, but as impressive as its scale was, at the end of the day it was just too darn big, well for me anyway. I displayed mine for a few weeks but it took up so much space that after a little while it got relegated to a high shelf, then eventually back into it’s box.

Now, if space isn’t an issue for you, then I’d still highly recommend the McF one, in fact here a couple of pics I took while photographing this version. However if you’re a fan of the movie but don’t live in an aircraft hanger, then this version might be more to your liking. All the details are realised beautifully here, many of which can be seen in this CG model here and the articulation is even better than its larger brother. Not only are all the crab like appendages that hang under the body fully articulated, but so are each and every one of the talloned claws at the end of the tentacles.

This thing is literally a mess of details, as Darrow is infamous for, so I’m not going to try and wax too lyrical, but suffice to say its incredibly accurate, and this version even has the cool communications array (radar dish to your layman) that flips open at the end of one of the tentacles in the movie, this item is not articulated, but comes in the open position. It also has red plastic lenses in five of the eyes on the front of its… head… face… whatever!

The only detail I did originally think might look a little too soft were the ridged gun-metal cowlings that run down the sides. On the McF version these were more like the gills of a shark, as each one overlapped the one before it. But on this one they look more like corrugated ridges, I wondered if the difference might be down to the smaller scale, but as all the other details are so crisp and well observed I decided it was more down to the interpretation from the source material by Dickson Yip who sculpted this. I was very surprised at how difficult it was to find any decent reference photos of the Sentinel, as ‘actually’ seen in the movie. I expected to Google ‘Matrix Sentinel’ and be flooded with cool detailed shots of the CG monsters, but instead I was met by lots of pictures of all the various models and toys available (mostly from this site), apart from that there were just a few low-res movie stills from very poor angles. So I decided the only way to be sure was to look through the relevant scenes in ‘Revolutions’, I spent about half an hour freeze framing shots and zooming in, and although the Sentinels are always moving quickly and in virtual darkness, there were a few key scenes where I got a half decent glimpse, especially a scene where someone kicks the tentacle of a downed Sentinel lying motionless on the floor, and I’m pleased to say Hot Toys got it right. I think McFarlane must have based their sculpt on the concept sketches like this, but the fact is they should look the way they are sculpted on this new version. In that scene I mentioned above, you also get a reasonably good look at the arms that hang down, and it was instantly apparent that they had also been very well replicated here. So, even though smaller, this does for the time being seem to be the most definitive version, meaning it’s just gotta be a full score!

I’d also like to thank Centrocal over on the freaks board fro finding these pics for me, they were a great help, cheers.

Paint- ****
The paint app is a master class in precision, and is uniformly outstanding over the whole model, especially when you consider its scale. I was very impressed with the clean lines around the eye details, and also with the crisp division lines between the main blue/gunmetal body and the dark steel elements. But it’s the cool detail work on the tentacles that actually blew me away the most. In the movie there were glowing red sections between the metal vertebrae, now obviously Hot Toys couldn’t make them actually glow, but they have used an intensely bright red paint that is just beautifully applied, each tentacle has 43 of these sections and I can not find a bit of slop on any of the 15 tentacles. The main body also has some subtle weathering and a couple of the pipes on the top are picked out in a glossy black, so yet again another perfect score, but unless you happen to be unlucky enough to get one with sloppy apps (not that I’ve heard of any), then I would defy you to actually find any fault with this.

Articulation - ****
Again this section far outstrips the McFarlane version, as even at this diminutive scale it packs in a ton more articulation, and even the bits which it matches are easier to pose and better constructed.

Starting off with the claws, each of the 15 tentacles, bar the one with the dish array, has a fully articulated claw, so 2 points of articulation per blade means eight points per claw, which adds up to 112 in total. Each tentacle has a wire at its core so it can be gently manipulated into just about any position, but I shall only count each tentacle as one articulated element, which equals 15 points. Lastly there are the insect like appendages that hang beneath the body, there are 10 of these and each one joins the body with a hinged ball joint and has another two hinges further down, which means a total articulation count of four points per arm which adds up to 40 points on these arms alone. This all gives us an overall total for the whole model of 167 points… not bad for 1/16 scale model!

Outfit N/A
I guess you could knit a nice snug ‘Sentinel’ cozy if you wanted to… no, thought not!

Accessories - **1/2
To be completely honest this thing doesn’t need any accessories, it’s just a self-contained bit of hardware designed to track down human survivors and squish’em. However, as desirable as it would be, it’s still not possible to get a model to levitate in thin air… well, not without some big **** off magnets!

So what we do get is a rather nifty little stand, it has a ratcheted arm that can be set to a number of different heights, and at the top of the support arm is a clear plastic ball joint, this has a small rectangular arm that pushes into the exhaust port on the underside of the body. I thought it was cool that they used this detail to house the stand rather than making a random hole for it. The position you place the stand in will be dependant on the pose and direction you have the Sentinel in, as it is engineered to counterbalance the weight in different directions and at different heights, it’s difficult to explain but you’ll get a feel for it when you have it in hand. My only slight gripe is that this stand is quite light-weight… don’t worry it’s more than up to the job of holding the model up, but for the price it is, a metal stand would have sweetened the pill even more.

Value for money - ***
Considering it’s size I’m actually surprised that I’m giving it even three stars, but I like this model a lot, it actually has me hoping I might find a few cheaper down the line, as a swarm of these things would look so very freakin cool.

But with prices on eBay fluctuating between $59 and $95, a swarm might be wishful thinking. Even over at Sideshow where they were a reasonable $59.99 they have now sold out. So it’s time to start rooting around, or just try some of Michaels sponsor linked to in the ‘where to buy’ section below.

Fun Factor - ***1/2
This is definitely more of a display ornament than a toy, but there is still a ton of fun to be had from posing all those tentacles, claws and arms. The only drawback is you might find yourself wanting at least a second, so you can display one in attack mode while the other is in mid flight.

Overall - ***1/2
There is absolutely nothing here that I don’t like about the model; every aspect is as near perfect as it can be for its scale. So, why not a full score?

Well at a cool $60 it does seem just a tad on the expensive side, if it had been more in the $45 range, of if the eyes had lit up then I’d have given it a clean sweep. But even at the RRP there is no getting away from just how cool the design of this thing is, and the Hot Toys execution is simply majestic. 

Where to buy
Sideshow have sold out, so your best avenues are-

Big Bad Toy Store - Pre-order $57.99

Or you can chance your arm on eBay, where it’s becoming increasingly difficult to, but you might just find a bargain. 
The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys

The Matrix Sentinel action figure by Hot Toys

This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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