Monday, November 2, 2015

Action Figure Review: Ultimate John Matrix from Commando: 30th Anniversary by NECA

   Arnold Schwarzenegger pretty much defined the role of the big budget action movie star. Between 1982 and 1991, in a span of less than ten years, Arnold starred in a steady stream of box office hits that are stil revered in the upper echelon of the pantheon of action films. It's pretty awesome that over the past few years NECA has released action figures of Arnold as the iconic characeters from most of those films. Arnold's roles in Conan, The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Predator, and now Commando have now all been immortalized in plastic with action figures from NECA. Today I'm looking at the new Ultimate John Matrix figure from Commando. NECA has been doing a number of these cool Ultimate Editions over the past few years and they're definitely worth tracking down most of the time as they come in beautiful five panel boxes and are typically loaded with accessories. Is this version of John Matrix also worth your time to track down? Check out this review and find out, after the break...

 The Facts:

Height: 7 inches

Articulation: Ball jointed ankles, swivel/hinge knees, swivel thighs, swivel/hinge hips, a ball jointed abdomen, swivel/hinge shoulders, swivel/hinge elbows, ball jointed wrists, and a ball jointed head.

Accessories: Two machine guns, two rockets, pistol, knife, rocket launcher, and flame trail effect.

Non-Scalper Price: $22 dollars
The Positives:

* Overall, I really like the look of the figure. Something interesting about this figure, though, is that this figure is almost completely reused from the Jungle Patrol Dutch figure from Predator. It makes sense as both figures are based on a 1980s version of Arnold Schwarzenegger wearing camouflage pants and a vest. The only parts of this figure which are new are the head, the vest, and the holster. Still, you can't blame NECA for some reuse here as it works perfectly.

* The vest is definitely the sculptural highlight of the figure as it is large, well detailed, and covered with cool little doodads. There are seven pouches, four grenades, a sheathe for Arnie's knife, two daggers, twelve shotgun shells, and some tactical straps that hang down around his hips. This thing looks great!

 * To prep him for some CQB Matrix comes with the Desert Eagle Mark 1 and a combat knife. Both weapons are nicely sculpted, feature some nice paint applications, and can be stowed on Matrix. the pistol fits in the holster on his right hip while the knife slides into the sheathe on his vest.

  * When John Matrix needs to mow down lots of fools at once, he pulls out his handy M60E3 and lets loose. The First Blood Part 2 Rambo came with an M60E3 as well, but this one is actually a different sculpt! NECA didn't just reuse an accessory that was close enough; they went for authenticity. I can really respect that. This think looks awesome fits Arnold well.

 * Let's take a break from looking at John Matrix's arsenal to look at the box he comes packaged in. I don't usually talk about packaging unless it's really cool and fortunately it's really cool here. NECA has been doing a number of these really cool Ultimate Edition figures that come in five panel boxes and are really quite collector friendly. The front is basically a modified version of the standard Commando movie poster while the sides have a really nice black and red color scheme.

* All right- Let's jump back into the weapons. When he needs to mow down even more fools, Matrix pulls out another machine gun. This time it's a Valmet M78/83 light machine gun. Not only is this a nicely detailed weapon but it's pretty unique as well. I'm not sure I've seen any figure with this specific weapon before.

 * The M202A1 FLASH is definitely a pretty iconic weapon in Commando and it's rendered beautifully here. Well, as beautiful as a combat worn green metal hunk of destruction can be. It's stamped with the words "U.S. ARMY M202A1" on one side and "M202A1" on the bottom. There's a strap on it so Matrix can wear it over his shoulder. It gets better, though.

* The handle folds out of the launcher so that John can aim and fire it. One thing that is incredibly cool about the FLASH is that it comes with two missiles and a flame trail effect that can be attached to one of them to simulate the rocket flying away. It's a very neat feature and makes for an incredibly dynamic display. Really cool stuff.
 * The missile launcher really is an incredible piece of hardware. It might just be the highlight of this figure and one of the best accessories to come out all year. If you look at film stills you'll see that this thing really is quite authentic to the modified M202A1 Flash launcher seen in the film. I love how the rear barrels actually pull out of the launcher via the functional handle. The vintage Commando John Matrix figure I owned as a kid had a launcher that also had this feature and I still love it!

* One thing I love about this figure is that John Matrix can carry all of his weapons at one time. With the Desert Eagle goes in his thigh holster, the knife in his sheathe, the FLASH and M60E3 go over his left and right shoulders, and the Valmet in his hands, Matrix is ready to go to war. The only think he's missing is a giant piece of pipe. Seriously, any time a figure can hold all of his it's accessories I'm a pretty happy man.

 The Negatives:

*I do have a few complaints with this figure, one of those being that John has a tough time holding a few of his weapons. Both the Desert Eagle and the knife just don't fit well in the figure's hands. NECA has released a number of figures with swappable hands so it seems odd that John Matrix didn't get at least one extra hand.
* One thing that feels like a completely missed opportunity is that John Matrix's vest isn't removable. I never would have guessed that it wouldn't be. It seems like it should easily be able to come off but it's a solid, molded piece. I wonder why this decision was made? If there were a full fledged Commando line I would expect a shirtless version of John to be released but, since this seems to be a one-off Ultimate Edition, I figured it would just be removable. Arnold spends a lot of time in that movie without a shirt on. Just saying.

* Let me say that this is definitely a good Arnold likeness. There is no doubt as to who this is when you look at the figure. I'm not sure about the expression, however. The gaze looks a little soft to me. I expect a steelier, harder gaze from my Arnold figures. Here, Arnold looks like he's a little...bored maybe? The Predator and Terminator head sculpts from NECA have always nailed Arnold and I think this one is a bit weaker. Not bad, just weak.
 This figure has been on my most wanted list for quite some time. I flipping love Commando and I'm always looking for more heroes to stand on my 1980s action shelf. This is a well crafted, amazingly accessorized figure. While it's essentially a glorified repaint, it doesn't really feel like one. The only things that really bother me are the non-removable vest and the slightly off expression. Still, NECA gives you your money worth here and this is a Great figure to stand alongside other heroes like Rocky, Rambo, Dutch, Hicks, and Robocop. Now please give Die Hard another shot, NECA!

If you just can't get enough of Arnold, check out some more reviews I've done on this site:

Predator by NECA
Jungle Disguise Dutch
Jungle Extraction Dutch
Jungle Patrol Dutch

The Terminator ReAction by Funko (2014)
The Terminator

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