Have you heard the news that we’re getting a fourth Matrix movie? Yeah, I don’t get it either, but I’m not surprised. The Matrix trilogy was red hot back in the day (1999-2003), despite the films progessively declining in story quality as the series dragged on (though I LOVE that Sentinel battle in Revolutions). With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for Hollywood to revisit the brand.
Plus, you have a Keanu Reeves in his prime. While I think he’s far from the greatest actor alive, his one-note portrayal of Neo worked. With his current role as hitman extreme John Wick, Keanu Reeves has perfected his less-said-is-more acting approach. Of course it helps when you have two kickass, fan-favorite franchises to back up that so-so acting, but you get my point: Keanu can still sell movies. That said, I AM very curious to what The Matrix 4 brings to the table.
Regardless of the mediocre follow-ups and questionable future of the franchise, 1999’s original THE MATRIX was a mind-blowing movie. The Matrix is one of those rare films that totally floored me with its crazy sci-fi premise. The “real world” is a computer programmed illusion?! I left the theater that day dazed, confused and very, very excited.
Capitalizing on the success of The Matrix, a new toy company named N2 Toys entered the scene. Having recently discovered the joy of collecting action figures again, my urge to own Matrix movie toys was strong in 1999. That year also happened to be my first New York Toy Fair, so the combination of wanting – and actually meeting the company making these action figures – was intoxicating.
N2 Toys launched their Matrix series with action figures of a trench coat wearing Neo dual wielding MP-5s; a shotgun, Uzi-packing Morpheus; bare armed, leather clad Trinity; computerized villain Agent Smith, along with deep-dive Nebuchadnezzar crew members such as short-lived Switch and betrayer Cypher. I bought the first three figures and held off on the secondary characters as I eagerily awaited the release of Series 2’s Sentinel squid.
Joining the Sentinel in 2000 was an eccletic assortment of memorable Matrix moments, including “Mr. Anderson” where Neo hacks up a squirming tracking machine; a Neo vs. Agent Smith 2-pack; Tank with his lightning rifle; and Trinity doing her iconic “air leap”. Several Matrix figure exclusives rounded out the assortment, including a “coded” Agent Smith and Trinity with trench coat.
Looking back on the toy line today, N2 Toys’ The Matrix action figures weren’t the worse thing ever made, but they certainly weren’t groundbreaking either. Instead, N2 Toys’ strength rested solely on The Matrix toy license itself. When you have nothing else to compare to, you take what you can get. It wouldn’t be until 2003 when McFarlane Toys would significantly amp up The Matrix license with their mostly static, but superior-sculpted Matrix diorama figure series.
The sculpts on N2 Toys’ Matrix figures are soft, but adequate. And while articulation on these figures is rather stiff and limited, some poses, such as Neo unloading with his twin submachine guns, still holds some charm on display. I also absolutely adore my simple N2 Toys Sentinel squid (a joke compared to McFarlane’s later beast of a figure), if for nothing else its awesome mechanical movie design.
N2 Toys’ run with The Matrix was short, but sweet. The license succeeded in placing N2 Toys on the toy collecting map. Even as interest in the Matrix line wound down in 2000, N2 Toys was already preparing the launch of a totally unexpected, fan-requested toy license: Mad Max! Ah, but that’s a Figure Flashback for another day…
For those wanting to track down N2 Toys’ Matrix figures, many can easily be found reasonably priced via Amazon (check out all our hyper links above). Figures like Neo and the Sentinel, however, are extremely hard to find these days (hey, they are the coolest characters!), so your best bet there is the secondary market, such as eBay. Happy hunting!
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