The Matrix Mini Busts
1999 was an interesting year for a variety of reasons. For one, many thought it was the end of the millennium (actually, 2000 was) and the Y2K bug was still hovering in the future as a danger. It was time to party according to Prince (back when he was called Prince) and even part of the eponymous Space:1999 television show. It was also the year that the first chapter of a science fiction series was released. Your first guess might be Star Wars Episode 1, but the truth is that the winner of that honor belongs to The Matrix.
When Star Wars came out in the late 1970's it was revolutionary, and redefined science fiction in movies. The Matrix has a similar role for the 21st century with a combination of special effects and story. The story takes liberally of philosophy and technology to present a dystopic view of the future, but one that still has some hope. The special effects combined state of the art computer and motion effects with the ancient art of kung fu to present a unique experience inspired by Japanese Anime. The oft-copied 'bullet time' sequences are the ones that really stand out, enough to win the Academy Award for special effects (beating out Star Wars Episode 1). Plus everyone has really cool clothes and none of them smoke. What more could you want?
The original film did quite well at the box office, and has gained even more popularity on home video where the title is a must for any DVD library. The Matrix feels like a complete story, one that doesn't need further exploration; much like Star Wars, it can stand alone. However, only the tip of the iceberg (or the start of the rabbit hole) is glimpsed in The Matrix, and the men behind the film (the Wachowski Brothers) have crafted the sequel, albeit in two parts released a mere six months apart. Most of the same faces are back, but now the kung fu is better, the effects are bigger and the story is more complex, causing filmgoers to flex their minds in a move that runs counter to most summer popcorn flicks.
The Matrix combined cyberpunk with martial arts to produce a thought-provoking look at cyberspace and people in it. The gist of the film is that human beings are used as batteries in a giant machine that powers other machines and that we are slaves living in a dream world. That dream world is essentially a fully interactive computer generated construct, one that if it truly existed would probably be where most people would spend all their time! Some people would rather not be part of it, so they have escaped and are working to overthrow the computer control and they are making some progress. Add in some kung-fu and ultra-cool effects, and there you have it.
Gentle Giant Studios has life imitating art by using computer scanning on the actors from the Matrix films to create hyper-realistic computer versions of their likenesses. Then they output the computer data back into the real world, apply the talents of some of the best sculptors and artists in the business and create some of the most accurate visions of the characters available. After the touch-ups and approvals, they create stunning mini-busts perfectly scaled to display in your home (at 6.5 to 7 inches tall) with other lines they create, and even some other companies' products, like the Rogue's Gallery from Diamond Select Toys.
The second part of the saga (Matrix: Reloaded) is currently available on DVD and the final chapter is due in November 2003, to finish the story. Gentle Giant is supporting the other films in the series with mini-busts of Agent Smith, the Twins and there is even a Morpheus statue in the works along with more versions of Neo. Gentle Giant has the license for the Matrix, but this is just one of many in an impressive stable covering Star Wars and Terminator 3. Add in their work on many action figures for Toy Biz, Art Asylum, Play Along, JAKKS and McFarlane Toys and you have a company deep into the pop culture collectible industry.
For the Matrix busts, the design aesthetic is more of a classical influence with the omission of arms but concentrating on the face and upper body. All the busts use a common base and they all have sunglasses, though only Morpheus's can be removed due to their design. Atop those bases are the best likenesses of the actors short of kidnapping them and molding their faces in your damp basement. Oh, this last statement should not be taken as a challenge. The busts are individually numbered and come complete with certificates of authenticity. Or you might say the certificates come with busts of authenticity if you change your point of view. These three mini-busts are limited, with Neo and Trinity set at an 8000 piece run each and Morpheus at 7000. When they're gone, they're gone.
Keanu Reeves is well known to many people as Ted Theodore Logan from the pair of Bill & Ted movies, but lately all anyone can see is Neo. Yes, his acting isn't the greatest but he still says 'woah' better than anyone and if you went to see the Matrix movies for his acting then you might want to re-think your life.
Neo is the protagonist of The Matrix and the guy who starts out as a touchstone for the viewer. He's also 'The One' who will have special powers (the anomaly) in the Matrix to control it rather to being controlled by it, and 'one' in an anagram of Neo. He has become the template that other modern super-hero movies are using to present a cool character that still has a semblance of reality. Let's face it, every girl's crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man.
Carrie-Ann Moss is not only hot, but she's the person who introduces us to The Matrix and the cool effects to follow. Her work isn't as extensive as her co-stars, but she was very memorable in 'Momento' and strong and sexy again in 'Red Planet'. Now if only she'd let her hair grow out she'd be perfect!
Not only are viewers crazy about Trinity, apparently most men in the Matrix are. She loves Neo, but the turncoat Cypher has his eye on her. And the agents of the Matrix have a fondness for her, probably best described as stalking. The opening scene of the Matrix features Trinity, a phone, plenty of cops and then violence. Her hover is the subject of many imitators but there's only one original. She wears form fitting black leather, and fights, drives and flies helicopters like no man.
For every student there is a master, and Neo's teacher is Morpheus. Morpheus has the calm of a Zen Buddhist and an instinctive understanding of the Matrix. He also kicks about nine kinds of ass with mad skills in the martial arts. Combine that with the obsession to find The One, patience and an innate understanding of the world around him and you get a very potent figure. He's also one with his baldness, showing his fondness for Turtle Wax. The guy is Bruce Lee, Lao Tsu and Muhammad Ali rolled into one package.
Laurence Fishburne is Morpheus and his manner is perfectly suited to the character. One minute he's soft-spoken, the next controlled fury. Fishburne's early career included 'Apocalypse Now' and he graduated to roles in films like 'Boyz N the Hood' and 'What's Love Got To Do With It' where he was nominated for the best actor Academy Award. However, the popularity of the Matrix will probably always be the role for which he's instantly recognized.
Pictures of Neo
Pictures of Trinity
Pictures of Morpheus
No need to get uploaded when you can just go out in the real world/matrix and buy a set of these mini-busts! Here are some places to look:
|Where to buy the Matrix mini busts: These mini busts retail in the $40 to $50 USD price range. They are available at trend and specialty stores such as Tower Records and Suncoast, as well as various online toy and collectible retailers.
Several such online stores are RTM sponsors The Outer Reaches and Action Figure Xpress. (Be sure to check the other RTM sponsors, listed on the Shop Center.)