Matrix Sentinel

With the final Matrix film now playing, there's countless discussions, arguments and debates over the films.  Even I reviewed both Reloaded and Revolutions here as part of my Living with Late Fees.

Mcfarlane Toys has produced their second set of Matrix figures based on all three films.  Tonight's review covers the deluxe Sentinel, one of the most anticipated figures of the year, and sure to be a popular one in the People's Choice Awards for best figure of 2003.

He just started hitting stores in the States in the last week.  Gamestop seems to be the first to get him this time around, although I'm sure other major retailers will eventually have him in stock.  He's $25 at Gamestop, who are always high, so I'm betting we'll see him at $20 if he hits stores like Meijers.

Packaging - ***
The graphics on the box, using a Sentinel to wrap around the front and sides, look terrific.  The box also is very misleading, as it is smaller than the usual deluxe figure packaging.  But once you pick it up and practically drop it, you'll realize you're getting more than meets the eye.  This bugger is heavy, and with such a small box that weight translates to a dense package.

I did see that many of them had a lot of paint rubbed off the 'eyes' and onto the plastic window.  The fit is very tight, and you know how McToys likes to pack these things when the paint is still fresh.  Be careful when you're picking yours out, and watch for red and gray rub marks.

Sculpting - ****
This is one of the best looking figures this year, and that's damn hard to do considering what we've seen.  It's easily the best figure in the entire Matrix series so far, although it might have some competition when the APU hits the shelves.

The claws and tentacles look both movie accurate and realistic as hell.  Sure, the tentacles are all pretty much the same, and they really only have three types of claws - closed, fully open, and articulated.  Even though they are repeating, and therefore more cost effective, they're still terrific sculpts.

The body of the beast is where the real beauty is.  Both the heft of the solid body and the excellent sculpting detail add realism to the metal monster.  There's a set of 10 large and many smaller arms underneath the body, all with tool-like ends.

This thing is huge, if you didn't notice.  Not only does it weigh a ton, the tentacles stretch out over two feet behind the body.  It's in scale with the figures, and is going to look truly amazing with the APU.

Paint - ***1/2
Mcfarlane manages some amazing paint applications. They managed a terrific job again of capturing a realistic metal appearance, with just the right rusty wash.

They lose some points though around the red light eyes.  These didn't work quite as well, with some sloppy definition between the colors, and some bleed onto the gray around them.

One of the advantages to this figure is the variety of color.  Often, McToys figures tend to blend together, but here there's enough shades of gray and brown, along with red and silver, to make the figure pop visually.  It's not exactly a chromatic smorgasbord, but it's better than it could have been.

Oh, and this figure stinks.  I mean REALLY stinks.  All of Todd's products smell up the place when you open them, but this one will make your eyes water.  I had the toy sitting in a room about 20x20, and I had to take it out to the garage to air out - it was stinking up the entire room.  Gotta love those fluorocarbons.

Articulation - ***
Let me start out by saying this figure couldn't have had more articulation, and actually could have used less.

Of course, every one of the tentacles, including the two extras in the base, are bendy.  They are  stiff enough to hold any position, and you can bend them at just about any angle.  They are also jointed at the body, so they can be turned in different directions.  Unfortunately, those joints tend to be loose, so it can be tough to get the upper tentacles to stay in positions above the body, but if you play with it for awhile, you'll get it to work just fine.

The little arms beneath the body - the ten medium sized ones, actually - are also articulated with a ball joint at the body.  That allows for some decent positioning, although they pop off pretty easily.  Mine was actually missing one of them right from the factory, so try to be sure that yours has all of them, and that you don't loose one after you've opened him up.

A handful of the claws are also articulated with two joints on each finger.  This is the one area where the joints could have been skipped.  They are too weak to actually hold anything, they come out of the package fairly bent up, and they are tough to get into any reasonably decent looking pose.  I would have prefered a different claw sculpt, something between the completely open and completely closed, that might have  been able to hold items.

Accessories - ***
There's only one - the base.  It's well sculpted, and is pretty critical to hold this puppy up.  I did have some trouble getting the metal bar to fit into the base, but once I did it seemed fairly sturdy and likely to last.  Make sure you get it deeply into both the body and the base to avoid fat-toy-droop over time.

Value - ***1/2
I'm scoring this at the $25 I paid.  If you manage to pick one up closer to $20, you can add another half star.  Even at five bucks more, this is a terrific deal.  This is a huge, heavy, detailed action figure, that looks like he just swam off the screen.

Overall - ***1/2
This should really be a four star figure.  It's that good - except.  There's those minor paint application issues around the 'eyes'.  And there's the rather clumsy articulated claws.  Still, this thing is so close to four stars it's almost a crime not to give it to him just on coolness factor alone.  And that coolness is what could make this figure the best of 2003, four stars or not.

Where to Buy - 
I picked this one up at Gamestop, but you have some on-line options as well:

- Killer Toys has the Sentinel in stock for $22.

- Entertainment Earth is charging $30.

Figure from the collection of Michael Crawford.

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