That low rumble you can feel in your chest cavity can only mean one thing constant reader, the Omnibus is pulling back into Manifesto station to take you on another guided exploration of a single building theme. In the past you’ve enjoyed tours devoted to board games, Captain America, Owls and an exhaustive (some say torturous) look at float-planes and the men who love them. In this latest edition we’ll be gawking appreciatively at models inspired by the 1999 ground breaking sci-fi extravaganza, The Matrix and it’s two unfortunate sequels, “Reloaded” and Revolutions“. It’s the movie that brought us bullet-time, a soundtrack for the ages and Laurence Fishburne in tiny legless sunglasses. So call for an operator, it’s time to see what the Matrix has to offer.
Just like the opening scenes of the film, I’d like to get things started with a bang. Let’s begin our examination of Neo’s Lego journey with my favorite offering in this rogues gallery of great Matrix models. “…See your enemy…” is the single most impactful mosaic I’ve encountered to date and that includes a slew of more technically complex lenticular examples that are out there. As with most great Lego creations, seeing the mosaic in person adds a whole new level of appreciation, the trans orange has the power to draw spectators from across a convention floor. Simply put the mosaic is stunning and I’d be willing to wager that builder Brandon Griffith has been offered some serious cash for the piece since it’s posting in 2009. On more than one occasion I’ve been tempted to copy it for my Legoratory wall, since my multiple efforts to abscond with it have not gone as planned.
Perhaps the most obvious and popular choice for the Lego treatment is the tunnel-running hover-ships that populate all three movies. Although it is my assertion that we have not yet seen the definitive Lego-built Nebuchadnezzar, some might argue that Adrian Drake got the closest way back in 2002. While his version was certainly very popular at the time of release and featured a full interior, it hasn’t aged well, the available photos are tiny and The Drake such an overbearing lurch in person that I don’t want to promote his stuff beyond a link for historical value.
The Nebuchadnezzar-inspired hover-ship on the left is called “Novalis”, and it was designed by the criminally underrated Paul Meissner along with the “Cerberus” on the right. For my money “Novalis” is the best model in this very specific hover-ship sub-category. The angles are just right, the hover-pads are plentiful and it looks ready to fight off a swarm of robotic Sentinels. I even dig the blunt nose, it looks both mean purposeful. The “Cerberus” is a strong effort as well, but I don’t particularly care for the trans-yellow bits and the lines feel more choppy and almost pixellated to me. I’m also not a fan of the tiled-over dorsal section, I think there was a missed opportunity for more shaping or texture. Both vehicles are fine examples though and it would be interesting to see Paul revisit the form.
Chris White took a shot at the Nebuchadnezzar and while I don’t particularly like the undersized hover-pads, I do like the decision to go with trans blue and I think he nailed the challenging shape of the fuselage better than most. If imitation is a form of success, Chris was successfully selling reproductions for several years, at a time when such an endeavor wasn’t as common as it is today with everyone and their mother pitching designs for Lego Ideas and selling models on Bricklink or Ebay.
Friend of the blog and long time crony Andrew Lee also had the Matrix fever back in the day and his “Ganesha” definitely makes the cut for the Omnibus. I like how he changed up the color scheme and the nose holds up quite well in the intervening 9 years. It’s also got a bitchin’ ramp right under the cockpit and a detailed (if sort of stunted) interior. As with everything Lee builds, it somehow looks infused with heavy metal, booze and a hard to quantify “fuck it” attitude.
The once and future “Porn King of Utah”, Ryan Wood tried his hand at a hover-ship with pretty good results considering it is 13 years old. Ryan pioneered this particularly effective style of hover-pad which elicited more than a few exclamations of “NPU!” back in the day. It’s kind of a chibi-version of the Nebuchadnezzar called “The Nacon“, with distorted proportions, but it is important because it inspired quite a few builders to take a shot at their own hovership and that minifig visor technique was widely copied in a number of sci-fi applications. Unfortunately we’ve pretty much lost Ryan Wood the builder to the Merlin entertainment group, where he presides over the construction of massive projects for the many Lego theme parks around the world and that’s a shame because I miss his creativity and boundless enthusiasm for the action. He’s is one more example of how that job basically kills a person’s desire to build for fun.
Unfortunately only a tiny photo remains of the “Logos” hover-ship from former wunderkind Bruce Lowell but you can still make out the enticing curves and unique shape. I’m pretty sure this a microscale creation but I can’t tell for certain.
This 2012 microscale version of the Neb is easy on the eyes, and greatly enhanced by the minimalist background diorama and typically impeccable photography. It was constructed 5 years ago by the always reliable SPARKART! and it almost seems to float with a View-Master quality to the image. It’s no mean trick to make a dark gray model pop against a dark gray background but the builder manages the task in style.
Staying small for the moment, enjoy this 2009 microscale Neb from Frankus!. The proportions might be a little wonky and the tail section seems a little thick, but some people like big butst, and they cannot lie. It’s too bad Frankus! (I love any screen name with an exclamation mark) stopped building after a short but promising run, he was just hitting his stride when he wandered off.