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John Matrix

Commando
by yo go re

Remember when I promised to review you last? I lied.

Retired Delta Force operative Colonel John Matrix lives a secluded life with his daughter. When she is kidnapped by a brutal former team member seeking revenge, Matrix must travel to South America and get her back. Somewhere... somehow... someone's going to pay!

Okay, I don't know anything about Commando (or, if I do, I've conflated it with Predator because come on: it's Arnold Schwarzenegger in the jungle, and every "Arnold Schwarzenegger in the jungle" movie is Predator), but he plays a character named John-freaking-MATRIX?! That is the dumbest name a movie character has ever had - and yes, that's even counting architect Flipper Purify, nucular psychiatrist Dr. Christmas Jones, and high school jock/accomplished roboticist Cade Yeager. It's like they just picked a random word they barely remembered from school and slapped it at the end of a common first name. Kevin Dionym. Stephen Vortoscope. Ben Parietal. John Matrix. In fact, his name is so stupid, we're just going to steal a gag from Mike and the 'bots while talking about him. Slab Bulkhead! Punt Speedchunk!

A sane company, having made numerous Arnold Schwarzenegger toys in the past, would have just reused one of those heads and called it a day. But that wasn't good enough for NECA! Predator came out in 1987 vs. Commando's 1985, so they had to sculpt a new head that looked a full two years younger. Judging by the picture of Splint Chesthair on the front of the box, the head should be slightly more triangular, but maybe that's just an optical illusion. The important thing is that this really does look like an insignificantly younger version of Dutch.

While your face can change noticeably in two years, your body must not: Blast Hardcheese mostly uses the same body as Jungle Encounter Dutch (aka "vesty no-shirt"). Are we complaining that Fist Rockbone uses the same body as Dutch Nolastnamé? No, of course not - they're both Arnold Schwarzenegger, so it's not like the shape of his muscles or the placment of his veins would have changed in the intervening time, and who's to say the costume departments didn't get their jungle pants and jungle boots from the same manufacturer both times?

The holster strapped to his right thigh is a new piece, but the thing that really sets Dirk Hardpeck apart from Dutch is his vest. Yes, Dutch wore a (color-changing) vest, but Crud Bonemeal's is larger, provides more coverage, and is absolutely loaded down with deadly weaponry! There are two small knives over his kidneys, four M67 grenades dangling from his nipples [he has four nipples!? --ed.], a dozen shotgun shells, a large knife sheath, and six pockets that could all have ammo clips or Chapstick in them. There's a zippered hood folded down against his neck, in case it gets rainy. Two straps run under his legs, so you'll have to trim those if you want to admire Punch Sideiron's mighty torso.

Reusing Dutch's body means Buff Hardback has good articulation: a balljointed neck, peg and hinge shoulders, peg and hinge elbows, balljointed wrists, a balljointed torso, balljointed waist, peg and hinge hips, peg thighs, peg and hinge knees, and peg and hinge ankles. The vest keeps the torso from moving to its full extent, but what, do you think, are the odds that circa-1985 Schwarzenegger could really bend over far enough to tie his own shoes?

Slab Squatthrust gets the realistic skintone plastic that NECA uses for certain licenses - the ones that feature a lot of bare, sweaty skin. He's painted with brown camouflage smudges on his arms, face and chest. His pants are solid green, which is how we know they're not literally the same ones Dutch wore. His boots and vest are black, and the only real camo pattern is on the pockets of his vest.

A Schwarzenegger character without guns is like a day without sunshine, so Lump Beefbroth comes with a nice selection. In addition to a big knife that sheathes on his vest, he's got a Desert Eagle pistol that holsters on his right leg. There's also the Valmet M78/83 with the synthetic "thumbhole" Dragunov-style stock, the M60E3 machine gun with the shortened barrel, and the M202 FLASH rocket launcher. The launcher is missing its two protective caps, but the clip has a working handle and really slides in and out, and the set includes two missiles that can fit into the end of the launch tubes - but even better than that, it includes one exhaust plume that can fit between the tube and the rocket, making it look like the rocket is really flying out! What fun! It does have a fold-out handle for him to hold, but it's stiff as hell and hard to grab, so good luck ever getting it out.

Touch Rustrod is sold as one of NECA's "Ultimate" figures, which means he's sold in the fifth-panel window box packaging, with the movie poster image on the front flap and an insert tray that looks like a burning forest. Usually the Ultimate figures have been updates of existing figures, like Ultimate Freddy or the upcoming Ultimate T-800, but this is the first Commando toy NECA's made. There's no non-Ultimate John Matrix. Sorry, I mean Butch Deadlift!

I've never seen Commando, and I don't really have plans to - dumb '80s action movies really aren't that good (they just can't hold a candle to the dumb action movies of today). But like we always say, that doesn't stop NECA from making fun toys of it. Big McLargeHuge may be a repainted Dutch, but what's wrong with that? Get one, pair him with your Rambo, have them fight Aliens and call them the world's first Contra figures!

(Roll Fizzlebeef!)

-- 11/22/15


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