While we're still in Retro Month, I'm going to jump back a few weeks to take a look at my most cherished Christmas present (or maybe a few years to when this character was actually interesting) - the awesome Matrix Sentinel, the silver lining to McFarlane Toys' insanely terrible Matrix action figure line.
Let's not dwell on the bad - just because all of the basic figures were completely ridiculous ("Go long, MISTer Anderson!") and just because the other "deluxe" figure in the line, the stupid APU, fell apart in the box, that doesn't necessarily mean it was the worst line of 2003, does it? Even though both Morpheus and Trinity looked like they were straining to take a dump, and because Neo was frozen in a dancing pose, that doesn't mean that we should boycott McFarlane and their Sports Toys forever, does it? I mean, we shouldn't FIREBOMB THEM NOW, should we?
No, of course not, and this fella here is exactly the reason why! A reminder of how McFarlane became one of the best in the business in the first place, the huge and heavy Sentinel was one of the coolest toys of 2003, despite the monstrous disappointments from the sequel films that spawned it.
The first thing you notice about this toy in its box is that it's huge. No, really, it's bloody HUGE. Out of the box with its tentacles all stretched out, it's almost two foot long, and it's nice and heavy too.
The enormous head is perfectly sculpted with all of those terrifying eyes, the little robotic arms at the front and the bigger arms underneath, stretching back to where all of its squid-like tentacles emerge at the back. Count 'em, there are fifteen of them tentacles emerging from the back, all long and bendy with one of three types of claws at the end; a permanently closed claw, a permanently open claw, or an articulated claw that can open and shut nicely - there's even a part of the plastic sculpted in to keep them open if needed, very nice.
Not quite so nice is the detailing and paint, sadly. The entire Sentinel features a nice mix of dark metallic colors highlighted with those glowing red eyes at the front, which look awesome from a short distance but are very splotchy up close. There's also a bit of overspray with some of the lighter metals, but it doesn't spoil the overall effect of the toy, which is very nice.
The Sentinel fits into a nifty little base via a metal pole which jams into his heavy body and then into the base, designed to hold him up. Sadly, the enormous weight of the Sentinel himself wont hold him up for long, so you'll have to pose the tentacles a bit to keep him up, if at all.
The base looks like the machine walkway Neo stumbled blindly up during Revolutions and features a couple of nonsensical bendy tentacles which plug into it - you can just bin them instead. For all two of you who own the Real World Neo toy, you can plug this base into RWN's base to create a little diorama in which the Sentinel takes revenge on Keanu for making the terrible sequels.
As for articulation, those big bendy tentacles are very cool, especially with the moving claws (it's a shame all of the claws weren't articulated, but, then again, McToys is cheap!) - but the Sentinel also has moving arms underneath his body, connected via strange pop-out ball joints. These are pretty ineffective especially since there's no other joints in the arms, but ah well - those bendy tentacle arms kick ass!
What can I say about the Sentinel? It doesn't single-handedly save the piss-weak Matrix toyline, but it certainly is very cool, despite its flaws, which are kind of immense. I like the toy too much to go on about how poorly that metal pole holds it up, or to complain about the extra joints needed in those arms - it seems to me that this is the kind of toy that sits on the appeal-borders between action figure enthusiasts and movie memorabilia collectors; the Sentinel is not just any action figure, it's an awesome piece of Matrix memorabilia that looks good on any DVD shelf, not just a figure collection. It's for that reason that everyone should buy! Maybe if a lot of these are sold - more than his stupid Sports figures - then Mr Todd will notice that no one really wants his goofy sports mules and will go back to making the toys he became known for. Heil!
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