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Review : Ultimate John Matrix, Commando (NECA)

Commando is not one of films that initially springs to mind when you consider Arnie's repertoire in the 1980's. Fans will automatically go to Terminator, Running Man and probably Total Recall. Commando was released in 1985, and is now celebrating it's 30th Anniversary. And to commemorate this birthday, NECA have brought us a John Matrix figure, as played by Arnie. John is an Ultimate release from NECA, so that means it is presented in a larger than normal high gloss presentation box. The front of the box is taken straight from the movie poster with a torso shot of Schwarzenegger, with his surname position just above the Commando title text. Either side of the box repeats the Schwarzenegger & Command text along with the 30th Anniversary text. Round the back is a larger image of the figure itself, with three further inserts each showing a different configuration of the figure and it's assorted weaponry. A short paragraphs, in white text, gives a very loose overview of the films plot. All the Ultimate releases have a front panel that folds away from a Velcro fastener to reveal the figure via a window underneath. I am not convinced by this choice from NECA. As nice as it does I can't visualise how MIB collectors would display this - surely if you can't see the figure it could just be an empty box? The inner panel of the front cover contains another full length atmospheric shot of the actual figure, and in the window the figure is framed by a particularly nice orange backing card. Now let's get a couple of things clear before we start looking at the figure in any depth. First off, this figure ONLY saw the light of day because a large number of the parts could be re-used from the 2013 Predator Dutch Jungle Patrol figure. The trousers, boots and arms are all taken directly from Dutch, and the head sculpt is probably a minor tweak - although it does have a higher hair style.

The other point is that the other Ultimate figures announced or released so far have come with alternative heads to give you varying looks for the character. John Matrix does not, however he still qualifies for his Ultimate status with an armory of weapons. Looking at the sculpt, and even with the re-used pieces, this is a mighty impressive figure. The head sculpt captures John really well, all those Terminator figures have allowed NECA to perfect the Arnie look. The arms and the chest, what we can see of it, are well defined without looking cartoony or out of proportion. The vest is jam packed with detail from knives, grenades, shells as well as pockets and pouches. This continues round the reverse with a couple of hidden sheathed knives. The trousers are a little plainer, and as mentioned are simply the same ones used on Predator Dutch. That being said it will take a really really good eye to spot that these aren't screen accurate. John is packing a holster on his right thigh, and even though it would have been easy for NECA to re-use the Dutch piece again here, it is actually a different holster with different thigh straps. All of the pieces are painted really well and very neatly, something NECA is nailing at the moment. Across the vest every piece is painted and the lower pouches have a neat camouflage design. The base of the vest itself is coloured in two varying shades of black, one being a high gloss, and this allows for even more definition to the upper torso. The trousers are a little plainer, done in a ranger green finish and with no discernible wash to bring out the folds, not that it really needs it - although perhaps some weathering or dirt would have added to the realism. Unlike Dutch, the skin tone is a shinier finish made to represent John sweating in the South American jungle. Across the skin areas is camouflage paint. I am not usually a huge fan of this type of "sweaty" skin tone, having seen it tried on other figures - but here, particularly at a distance, it works really well and is aided by the camouflage paint which is applied subtly and slightly opaque rather than a flat solid colour. The eyes on John, which have got some criticism, are really nice on mine and capture that almost manic stare that Arnie used so well in many of his movies. Articulation wise, and John can do most things you need him to. The head is ball jointed to look up and down and to either side. The arms can be raised above his head or out to the side, and coupled with a swivel elbow joint and rotating wrists can ensure John can hold all the weaponry provided either one handed or in a natural looking two handed pose. The legs will allow Arnie to kneel but not sit fully, but I am not sure you would want to see him in any other position than a butch stance with weaponry in hand. John comes with a hand gun that can be slotted in the thigh holster, or put into the right hand - albeit the grip is a little tight. The hand knife also fits into the right hand, or can be balanced in the left. It also slots into a sheath on the front of the vest. There are two machine guns (M60E3 machine gun, Valmet M78/83 machine gun - I had to Google that), both of which fit into the right hand and can be cradled by the left - again it is quite tight getting them into the hand. My favourite piece though is the enormous rocket launcher which is stamped "US army" and can be shoulder slung, or by way of a swing out handle can be held in the right hand - supported by the left. The rear of the launcher also pulls out and there is a "launching" missile that slots into one of the four launcher holes to give that firing effect. If you are a fan of the movie, or Arnie in general or indeed of 1980's classic movie's (which is one of my collection focuses) then I can highly recommend the Ultimate Commando figure. At a shade over the normal RRP of a NECA 7" figure, you get a really nice box that can be repacked if you ever want to. You get a really great looking figure, that stands and poses really well and has an array of weapons to choose with to pose him with. Yes, some parts are re-used but it is a clever re-use to get a figure that no-one ever expected to market. I can't find any real fault with John Matrix and as such award another NECA release our top mark of 5 out of 5.


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