The Matrix - Morpheus and the Twins

This is another rush job for this week - just like the Stealth Predator, I just got these figures today. Unlike the Stealth Predator, I also went to see the movie right after work tonight, cutting out another couple hours of my day. That meant this was a late review, but I wanted to get it up tonight rather than a day late.

If you've been living under an extremely large boulder and not heard, there's a little film called the Matrix Reloaded opening today. Yes, Neo is the One (oooo - an anagram!), and this film is the second in the three part trilogy. I'm going to assume you know the general concept behind the film, since you wouldn't be interested in the action figures if you didn't. I'll hopefully have a review of the film itself up tomorrow.

There are five figures in the regular Matrix series - Neo, Trinity (both from the original Matrix film), and Morpheus and the two Twins (from the Parking Garage Scene in Matrix reloaded). I picked up only the latter three at this point, mostly because Gamestop is charging $13 each for them. I can wait for Neo and Trinity to hit a $10 retailer.

Packaging - ***1/2
The clamshell packages continue to rock my world. They are sturdy, small, easy to store, show off the figure and accessories, and look great. The only thing holding them back from four stars is the absence of any worthwhile text. There's almost nothing here about the figure or accessories, and even less about the movie or characters. I'm not asking for a novel, but at least some basic background info would spice things up.

Sculpting - ***1/2
Mcfarlane Toys sets the standard in sculpting 6-7" figures which all others are judged against, and they prove it once again with this set if three. The face sculpts are extremely good, even Fishburne, who is tough to capture just right. Even here there is something not quite exact about it...I can't quite put my finger on it, but something about the shape of the head doesn't quite jibe...but I doubt it could get any better in this scale. It looks like they've even tried to give him slight pock marks on his face, faint but clearly there.

Every detail of the clothing, skin and material is present. The Twins have alligator hide boots, rings on their fingers, and funky dreadlocks in their hair, and every dimple and contour is perfect. The sunglasses are sculpted on all around, and that's a good thing. They are perfectly sized this way, with nothing out of scale.

These are more statue than action figure, and as such, the sculpted poses are crucial. Here we see where this set really shines, as they avoided any stupid grimaces, weird facial contortions or constipated snarls, and went with deadly serious yet realistic facial expressions. The poses of the hands, arms, and legs are all very dynamic, giving the overall impression of movement and
action. All three stand fine on their own, but you'll have to get Morpheus' legs in just the right spot and keep them there.

So why less than four stars for the Twins? Because of the heavy amount of re-use between the figures. I tolerated it with the Predators, because with all the articulation you could pose them very differently. But these figures can't be posed differently, and from a quick inspection it looks like about 60-70% of the figure is absolutely identical. The head sculpts are *slightly* different, the right forearm and both hands definitely, and maybe the left arm, if only a squidge. The lower half of the body, the torso, 
the cape, and the upper right arm are all reused.

Yes, I get it, they are twins, work together, move together, etc. But that doesn't mean this set wouldn't have looked even better - and been a much better bang for the big bucks - if the dynamic pose of the Twins had been more different.

I did notice one detail that is absent, and surprisingly so.  Where's the connector on the back of Morpheus' head?  It's a pretty obvious thing in the movie, and while the collar of the coat would obscure most of it, I still find it odd that a company so hung up on detail would skip it.  EDIT - Duh.  As has been pointed out by a dozen people in the first half hour this review was up, Morpheus doesn't have the port because he's IN he Matrix.  He only has it when he's not there.  I should have known better!

Paint - ****
The paint ops are excellent all around, just as I've come to expect. There's no sign of sloppy work on any of the figures I picked up, and some of the detail work is really astounding. I was very impressed by the facial details, detail work on the ties, and especially the work on the alligator skin boots for the Twins. Notice how they made the high points of the boots appear worn? That type of work makes the figure look far more realistic, but can often be overlooked. It's always the little things that count when it comes to making a figure go from pretty good to excellent.

Articulation - *1/2
There's really no surprise here. If you're looking for 'action' figures, these aren't them. They've gone for the statue approach, but provided enough articulation in the arms to give you a little control over the appearance.

The Twins have limited neck movement, shoulders, a cut joint on the right elbow, wrists and waist. The waist and neck are pretty much useless, and the shoulders are limited as well. That means just the wrists and one cut elbow are doing much for you.

Morpheus has more articulation, but it's even less useful if that's possible. His neck can barely turn, he has shoulders, the cut right elbow, wrists, and hips. The hips have to be in just the right pose for Morpheus to stand, and since the bases don't have foot pegs, he has to stand on his own. That makes the hips pretty worthless, and the range of motion for the neck is almost zero. The right arm has some possibilities, but the weird, straight line left arm doesn't leave you many options.

Accessories - Morpheus ***1/2; Twins **1/2
There's a big difference in this category between the figures, although I'm not sure why. Each figure comes with a base, but it's isn't a traditional foot peg base. Rather, it's simply a piece of the concrete floor, and the Twins each come with a concrete pillar that sits on one corner. The bases do not snap together, but rather sit next to each other, and the pillars do not snap on either. While the bases look pretty good together, the design is fairly simple and straightforward.

The Twins then each come with only one more accessory. Twin 2 has an assault style hand gun with folding stock that fits nicely in his right hand. Twin 1 has a razor - isn't that just like a twin 1, bring a blade to a gun fight? - that also fits in his right hand. The razor is very tiny, with limited detail, but the gun that comes with Twin 2 is very nicely done. They've used a matte and gloss black paint, and there is some sloppy work with the application, but overall it looks pretty good. Still, only one accessory besides the base is pretty light at this price point.

Morpheus is the exact opposite - he's got more accessories than you can use! He comes with a sword and scabbard (katana style), two assault style automatics, two more semi-auto handguns, and a swappable right hand. The sculpting on all these accessories is excellent, although the handguns are a bit odd. The clips might appear removable when you look at them in the package, but in reality they are sculpted half out of the gun. He's ejecting both clips at the same time, which looks cool on the big screen but would create some logistically problems in real life. But what about the Matrix is 'real', anyway?  EDIT - as I've been told by a whole lot of readers today, these are extra long clips that hold a larger number of  rounds each.  You can actually see them in the film during the car fight with one of the Twins.

The extra hand for Morpheus works better with the sword/scabbard than the hand he comes with.  That hand is designed to hold one of the guns (and yes, I know I forgot to switch hands for the photo above).  The hands pop off and on easily, with little chance for breakage.

Quality - ***1/2
No quality problems at all with any of these figures. All the plastic is strong and sturdy, and even with the extreme poses it's unlikely we'll see any 'leg wilting'. I didn't have anything break when I was trying out the articulation, and even the accessories are nice and sturdy.

Value - Morpheus ***; Twins **1/2
I paid $13 for these, and I suspect that lots of folks will end up paying at least $12. I found a new term this week for something like this - it's a bit salty. That's a southern term for too expensive. You should be looking to find these for 
$10 each, and considering that some stores are carrying the other McToys offerings at that price point, you should be successful.

Overall - ***1/2
This is the fourth McFarlane review I've done in the past couple weeks, way more than usual, and every one has been in the top range. This set does not exhibit the kind of articulation many collectors want, and for those folks you can easily knock off another half star. For the folks that are more interested in the a reasonable statue of their favorite characters, these fit the bill perfectly.  I hadn't expected to like these this much - I expected the lack of articulation was going to hurt them more - but they were a pleasant surprise.

Where to Buy - 
I bought them at Gamestop, but at $13 a pop, I don't recommend it. Here's a couple on-line suggestions - 

- Aisle Sniper has them by the case for $110 plus shipping. Even with shipping, that's about the same as ten bucks plus tax at your local store. Only problem - what to do with the extras.

- Beans Toys has the case for $105 plus shipping, but they also set a set of the five for $50 plus shipping. That's a little more per figure than the case, but there's no hassle with the extra figures.

- EBGames has them for $12 each, but the advantage here is you can order individual figures in case you don't want the whole set.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

This page copyright 2003, Michael Crawford. All rights reserved. Hosted by 1 Hour