The good folks at NECA have been gracing us collectors with a new line of “Utlimate” figures based on various movie properties, mostly from the 80’s. I’ve already got a number of these releases under my belt, including Freddy Krueger, Leatherface, and the T-800 from T2: Judgement Day. Now it’s John Matrix’s turn!
One of the most distinctive features of this line has been the lovely packaging. You get a box with a front flap, secured with velcro, that opens to reveal a window to see the figure inside. The box features great art on the front, titles on the side panels, and a blurb on the back along with various shots of the figure in action. The box really reminds me of an oversized VHS tape sleeve, and considering the 80’s film property, it fits like a glove. Everything is collector friendly, and thank god for that, because I already have a shelf devoted to line these up on. I remember loving this film as a teenager and has remained a go-to pleasure ever since.
The figure represents Schwartzenegger in his most primal form. No science fiction tropes, just a Delta Force operative out for revenge in full combat gear. I have to admit, I was at first uneasy about the decision to use the type of unpainted plastic they did for the flesh areas, as it tends to look rather waxy. In execution, I think it was actually a great choice. Matrix goes through most of the movie either sweating like an animal or greased up for effect and the skin tone on the figure reflects that. Just comparing it to the art on the box tells me it was the right way to go.
The bulk of the attention to detail here lies in his vest, which is an entirely separate sculpt that is permanent layered onto the figure’s buck. He’s got enough pouches to make Deadpool jealous, with other details including shotgun shells, grenades, and a pair of non-removable combat knives hanging down off the back. The whole rig is “secured” with straps running down between his legs. The paint quality on the vest is off the charts. The pouches have camo patterns, each individual shotgun shell is painted, the tiny buttons and snaps are neatly painted, there’s some mix of matte and gloss black paint. That’s not to take away from the trouser fatigues as they also feature intricately sculpted stitching and various folds and wrinkles. Obviously, NECA is no stranger to Arnold’s likeness and that’s reflected here in a brilliant head sculpt right down to the individual bristles of hair. The face, chest, and arms are also adorned with grease paint.
Articulation has been a high point on these Ultimate figures and that continues to be the case here. The arms feature rotating hinges in the shoulders, elbows, and wrists. The legs are ball jointed at the hips and have rotating hinges in the knees and ankles. I don’t think there’s anything buried in the torso, but with the bulky vest, there isn’t a lot NECA could have done with it. The neck does feature a generous ball joint.
And then there’s the accessories! Arnold comes all kitted out as a one-man vengeance machine. For starters, he has his Desert Eagle that tucks neatly into the holster on his right leg. I have a little nit to pick here as I’m pretty sure the entire weapon should be stainless, whereas this one has some black accents. No biggie, though.
He also comes with a combat knife that slides into the sculpted sheath on the front of his vest.
Next up the firearms food chain is the Valmet M78/83. There’s some really nice detailing on this piece, right down to the collapsed bi-pod on the front.
You also get the M60E3 machine gun, complete with shoulder strap. Again, a wonderfully reproduced weapon for this scale, although the top grip is pretty fragile.
Finally, we get to the big mama, the M202A1 FLASH rocket launcher. I love this thing, as it’s just a big box that shoots rockets. The markings are all there and it even has the flip down grip and the shoulder strap. You get two rockets and a blast effect piece, so you can display it with a missile just about to leave the tube or with one having just left with the smoke trail behind it. Nice!
NECA’s Ultimates series has become one of my favorite lines of 2015 and continues to be one of the best values on the action figure pegs today. At around $21, you get iconic characters, collector grade packaging, phenomenal craftsmanship, and a bevy of accessories. And while this line has seen some great releases in the horror genre, it feels like it caters to Schwartzenegger’s films the best. Matrix doesn’t supplant the T-800 as my favorite Ultimate release so far, but he is certainly a very strong addition to this wonderfully eclectic collection of figures. Keep these coming, NECA, and I’ll keep on buying them!