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By Thomas Wheeler

In 1982, Disney stunned the movie world with the very first motion picture to ever make significant use of computer animation. Blending live-action with a then very, very young form of computer animation, the movie was called TRON. In it, a man from the "real" world was "digitized" into the computer world by the Master Control Program, who had designs on conquering the world. The movie was recently re-released on VHS and DVD in a special 20th anniversary format. It still holds up pretty well from a story standpoint, and even from a visual standpoint.

There was, for whatever reason, never a sequel movie. And of course CGI animation is so advanced these days that it's entirely possible to create entire CGI landscapes to blend in with an otherwise real-life (if fantasy environment) adventure, such as the Star Wars movies have proven, or create a CGI character that can interact with live actors in an otherwise plausible setting incredibly seamlessly, as Gollum from the Lord of the Rings movies has shown. Even entirely computer-animated movies, such as Toy Story, Monsters Inc, or Shrek, are far beyond anything that TRON ever produced.

Still, one would've thought there was potential for a return visit to the digital world. And somebody finally did something about it. But not as a movie. No -- TRON 2.0 is a video game. And seeing as how I'm pretty dismal at playing video games, I don't really know that much about the game. But I know cool action figures when I see them.

The original TRON action figures were pretty cool items when they came out on the heels of the original movie. Molded in colored transparent plastic, they were given paint details fairly close to the "circuitry" look of the characters in the movie, and glow in the dark accessories.

The TRON 2.0 figures, while lacking the glow in the dark accessories or the transparent plastic, are nonetheless extremely cool items.

Produced by NECA, there are four figures in the line, and the toys can be found most easily at video shops such as Suncoast Video, and probably video game shops, as well.

The figures are surprisingly sturdy pieces of plastic, standing roughly 7 inches in height -- give or take a bit. The detail work is astounding, and the articulation on most of them is excellent, far beyond the average action figure. They all come with accessories of one sort or another, generally discs that are clearly more advanced versions of the ones from the original movie.

All I can tell you about the concept is what's on the package back. Jet Bradley, who is the son of Alan Bradley, one of the characters from the first movie, is a young computer engineer working for ENCOM, the computer company also from the first film. Jet must step into the digital workd in search of answers, and uncovers a sinister plot spinning out of control that threatens to corrupt one reality and forever transform another.

Rather cryptic, I know, but it's the best I can do.

The four figures include, obviously, Jet Bradley himself; a young female named Mercury; a generic soldier type called "IC Regular"; and a weird character called Thorne, that has to be the main bad guy and looks like what you'd get if you merged a human with a load of cooling volcanic lava. His body is dark grey and has all of these rock-like cracks across it, but the interior, instead of a lava orange, is neon yellow-green. He doesn't look especially computer-like, unlike the other three.

The IC Regular is an inetresting fellow, too. Apparently he's a multi-sectioned figure in the game, and to compensate for this in the figure, certain parts have been molded in clear plastic, so he sill manages to look multi-sectioned.

Jet Bradley and Mecury look relatively humanoid, with the requisite computer details, obviously "upgraded" from the original movie.

I mainly bought these figures because I always liked the TRON concept, and frankly, these are cool figures. Thorne's a bit weird, but if you're going to get the other three, you might as well have him, as well.

The workmanship is superb on all four figures. Detail level and paint accuracy is excellent. Jet also has a nice metallic sheen to him.

The only other matter worth commenting on is the copyright information on the back. I'm no legal expert, but I can't make sense of this mess. It reads, "Copyright Disney. TRON is a registrered trademark of Cooper Industries, Inc." And the figures all have "Copyright Disney" sculpted onto them.

So -- who owns TRON? Disney? Cooper? Somebody wanna explain this one to me?

Anyway, that little bit of legalese aside, these are exceptionally cool figures from what I imagine is a very impressive video game based on one of the earliest attempts at cinematic computer animation, and a concept that holds up very nicely even to this day. I definitely recommend the TRON 2.0 figures!