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The Matrix
by yo go re

Known, as I am, as a supporter of articulation over sculpt, some folks wonder how I can possibly like the Neo and Trinity figures from McFarlane's first Matrix series. It's true that as toys, they suck. One of the worst things ever produced by a major company. Utter pieces of crap.

But they're not toys - McFarlane stopped making toys about five years ago, because modern toymaking standards were swiftly progressing beyond their ability. So instead of trying to keep up, they retreated to the safety of the one area where they were still strong, the sculpt, making statues since they couldn't make toys.

As statues, Neo and Trinity are pretty good. They're iconic representations of a certain moment, a moment that is really very cool. Some figures you own because they're good toys, and some you own as an endorsement of what they represent. Neo and Trinity fall into this second category, as does their captain and mentor, Morpheus.

Morpheus Leader of the ragtag crew of the Nebuchadnezzar, Morpheus is part of a group of humans actively resisting the machine-dominated world. The Oracle told Morpheus that his destiny was to find the One, the leader who was prophesized to free humanity from the Matrix. He believes that new recruit Neo is the One, and is willing to give his life to protect him.

When Matrix Series 2 was revealed, everyone scoffed at Morpheus - he's just sitting in a chair, not doing any cool backflips or anything. But as soon as I saw him, I knew he'd be mine: Morpheus, introduced for the first time sitting in a big leather chair, was just cool, and this was an iconic moment for him.

Think of Morpheus, and you think of him sitting in that chair. Sure, he was the first person in the film to stand and fight against an Agent, and he was rescued in the cool helicopter stunt, but none of that is what comes to mind - Morpheus is the calm cool, the seated Buddha whose finger points not at the moon, but at a red or blue pill. Hell, you even have to climb a mountain (or at least a staircase) to get to him.

Of course, as soon as Cracker McWhitey shows up, Morpheus's only role becomes one of servitude, but that doesn't matter here.

Action-figure Morpheus doesn't move much, since he's just designed to sit. He's articulated at the neck, elbows and wrists, but from the waist down he's a solid piece. The sculpt is very good - it's hard to capture a natural, relaxed pose, but McFarlane has managed.

Lawrence Fishburne Detail on the sculpt is, as always, very skilled. The weird texture of Morph's long coat is handled well, and even the stitches on his shoes look right. Lawrence Fishburne's face, if anything, looks too smooth - if he'd had the same lumpy, pimply appearance as the variant T3 figures, it would have better suited Fishburne's notoriously craggy visage. Regardless, this is a much better effort than N2's all those years ago.

Morpheus signed up for the Do Not Call registry Morpheus has a few accessories: the chair, of course, as well as a two-piece end table and nice phone. The phone's receiver can be removed from its cradle, and the cord trails away to... well, nowhere, but you can tuck it out of sight. The only thing it's lacking is a movable rotary dial. The three-legged table is 2 1/2" tall and has an octagonal top.

The chair is the biggest piece, as it should be. 4 1/2" tall, 3 1/4" wide and 3" deep, it's a big heavy lump of plastic. The detailing is great, with the worn red leather of the chair showing its age in every crease and rip. The back really looks padded, and you'll have to touch it to believe it's solid. The wooden bits are dark and grainy, and even the upholstery nails look as if they were hammered into its surface by hand.

The only problem with the chair is the big black asspeg that sticks up out of the seat to help hold Morpheus in place - couldn't McToys have just counted on their great sculpt to keep him from falling on the floor? As it is, poor Morph's feet don't touch the floor when he's plugged in place.

Series 2 is the end of McFarlane's run with The Matrix, and I think we can all agree they dropped the ball big time. No superposeable versions, only one real-world character, no Woman in Red, etc. Of course, they did give us a few good offerings, and maybe if the sequels had been better, the toys would have had more of a chance.

What Matrix figures did you hope McFarlane would make? Tell us on our message board, the Loafing Lounge.


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