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Michael Jackson Thriller
Hot Toys

Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys


Last week, Michael Jackson's video "Thriller" was inducted into the National Film Registry at the Library of Congress, where original prints of films that are considered key to American culture are archived and preserved. This is the first music video to be included in the Registry, not surprising since this was a music video that redefined the art form. Directed by John Landis, it combined great zombie effects, some of Jackson's best choreography, and the narration of Vincent Price. Like the album itself, the music video had something for just about everybody.

Sadly, the video is currently the subject of a bitter legal dispute between Landis and the Jackson estate. Landis sued about a year ago, claiming that Jackson owed him royalties on the video, and the case continues to drag on.

I'm not a huge Michael Jackson fan, but I'm not a huge detractor either. I've always suspected that Michael's life long reality was not something any of us normal folks could even begin to comprehend, and that there was far more to the story than any of us know or will ever know. Yep, he was an odd duck, there's no doubt about that, but just what sort of duck I don't think we'll ever know.

I am a huge fan of zombies though, and when Hot Toys announced the Thriller version of Michael Jackson, complete with a full second outfit and portrait of him zombified, there was no way I could resist. My plans remain the same - I'll be displaying him in the undead costume, fronting the many other sixth scale zombies I have, all dancing together.
Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys

This guy wasn't priced too badly at first, pre-ordering at around $170 - $180. That's a little more than some of their other licensed products, but remember that this is like the DX-01 Joker - you're getting almost two complete figures here. All you need for the second is to pick up a Hot Toys TrueType African-American slim body, and you can display both versions at the same time.

However, prices are rising. You can still find this guy for around $170 if you're smart (and in fact, one of my sponsors still has him at that price), but that's not going to last. Other retailers are already charging $200 - $300, and I'm betting that with Michael's death, this figure will become quite scarce, at least for awhile.

Packaging - ***1/2
As usual, Hot Toys produces one mighty fine looking box. They use the foam interior again, but just a single layer this time. Both figures are side by side, one with a body under the clothes, one without. The foam insert is covered by a paper slip, and this cover is where I deducted a half star.

While Hot Toys packaging is always collector friendly, this paper insert tends to get in the way when opening and closing the box, and is likely to get torn up and wrinkled over time. I think simply printing this same info on the interior of the lid would have looked as good, and been less of an annoyance in the long run.

Sculpting - ****
Hot Toys has reached a zenith with their production portraits and paint jobs, and the consistent quality is just amazing.

Getting Michael's face perfect is no easy task - God knows he tried unsuccessfully enough times. This is pre-screwed up nose, and pre-bleached skin, back when I think most folks think Michael looked his best. They've captured his appearance perfectly, and my usual nits don't apply.

The hair is also very realistic, with just the right amount of detailed curl. The loose strands in front are a perfect touch, and the finely sculpted lips and slightly textured skin complete the look.

While the second portrait is technically an 'accessory', I'm going to discuss it here because of it's critical nature, especially to zombie fans like myself. 

The hair is similar in quality and detail, and the face has been given the deathly, corpse-like appearance. The skin is drawn and sagging around the eyes, and his pallor is Ghastly Grave by Mabelline.

The eyes are bugged out a bit too, much like when we (and his date) first see him in this altered state. This wide eyed stare works great with a number of poses, and his eyes are set looking straight but downward, working best when the head is tilted slightly back.

Although they've added the zombie effects, they haven't lost the Michael underneath. Fans of the singer will be extremely pleased with the final result.

If you're doing what I'm doing - using him with Sideshow zombies - fear not, his scale is just about perfect. I've included one shot of him with the latest Sideshow release, the punk zombie, so you can see the potential.

Paint - ****
I don't know how Hot Toys is doing it, but they are cranking out the exceptional paint jobs just about every release now.

In this scale, subtlety is the key. The lips are just a little darker than the skin. The eyebrows show just a hint of dark hair. The skin texture is highlighted with just a smidge of five o'clock shadow. On the zombie version, the dark circles under the eyes and darker patches on the cheeks are just a few shades darker. They avoid extreme differences, adding to the illusion.

The eyes are done with the glossy wet look as you'd expect, with very little bleed or slop. There's no catch lights added with the paint, and any you see in the photos are the real deal, created by the light bouncing off the glossy finish.

If you're a manufacturer of sixth scale action figures, and you want to run with the big dogs in that $100 - $200 figure range, then this is the quality you need to shoot for.

Articulation - ***
There are actually two bodies here that I'm grading this on - the one that came with the figure, and the second slim African American TrueType body I bought to display the zombie version. I'm including both because my results were about the same, indicating any issue wasn't merely a fluke.

Both bodies were a tad looser than I've come to expect from TrueTypes. This was particularly true in the critical knees and ankles, making it tougher than usual to get him to hold the poses I put him in.

I also had some breakage problems for the first time in quite awhile. One of the wrist pegs snapped, but fortunately Hot Toys has gotten in the habit of including a couple spares. Sadly, I also had an ankle peg snap, something Hot Toys does not supply extra. I'm going to pick up a second body to replace the post, and to also have a couple more extra wrist and ankle pegs just in case.

I'd suggest picking up one of the slim bodies soon though. When the DX-01 Joker hit, finding the Narrow Caucasian body got tricky, and I suspect the same will be true of the slim AA version now. Shop around and you can find it for as little as $25, but shipping can be a killer.

The core reason for the breakage is the much, much tighter fit on the feet, hands and even head. Have that hair dryer handy, even for swapping the hands. I found that the fisted hands were the tightest and most difficult to swap, and one of those is what caused the broken peg on mine.

Even with the few problems, the TrueType remains the best body on the market. All the joints you want and more are here, giving you a tremendous display potential. This body hangs naturally like no other, and it is another key in Hot Toys mastery of the scale.

Accessories - ****
I waffled around a bit on this one. Are the second head, second outfit, and second set of socks/shoes/feet all accessories, or is it really a second figure? I decided to count them as accessories, and that's why the score is so high.

I already discussed the extra head at length, and I'll be discussing the second outfit in the next section as well. Let's just say here that they are outstanding, and I'm really looking forward to getting this guy on a shelf in front of a couple dozen other zombies.

Along with the parts to make the second figure, there are also some additional hands that can be used with either one. There are eleven hands in total, including the two that the normal Michael figure comes wearing. There's quite an assortment of sculpted poses, and you'll be able to recreate a number of scenes right from the video using them.

Finally, there's the usual display stand with the Michael Jackson name on it. I don't use the stands, but if you do, it's a critical inclusion. It will also come in very handy if you're looking to do one of his trademark tip-toe poses.

Outfit - ***1/2
There are two complete outfits included - regular red and zombie red.

Regular red includes his leather jacket with black striping, red pants, red t-shirt, white socks and black loafers. The outfit is tailored to fit the slim body, and everything generally looks great.

The fit on the leather jacket is a little off around the shoulders and collar, bunching up a bit and tending to ride down his back. If you play with it enough, you'll get a look you like, but whether that's with sleeves up or sleeves down (it can have an effect) is up to you. I've done both in the photos, keeping the sleeves pushed up to his elbows on the regular version but leaving them down fully on the zombie. That'll give you some idea of the potential look in your display.

The jacket has two snaps near the bottom to keep it closed, and you can go fully closed or with one or both buttons opened up, depending on the look you're going for.

The zombie has the exact same shirt, pants, shoes and socks. The shoes and socks come pre-assembled with a foot already inside, but you'll have to remove the foot from your extra body and keep the ankle post. That's where I screwed up - the naked foot was attached VERY tightly, and instead of getting out the hair dryer I just applied pressure. Don't be as stupid as me - get some heat on those feet.

The zombie jacket is quite different, showing the wear, tear and dirt of some time in the grave. The damage matches the video version pretty well, at least as far as I can see in the dimly lit zombie scenes.

Fun Factor - **1/2
There's a joke in here about the irony of kid's getting to play with Michael Jackson, but I'm too classy to go there.

In fact, this is a pretty darn good toy, albeit one that's too expensive to ever see any real 'play'. I am deducting a bit here though because of the tight fitting hands and feet, which make it less enjoyable and more risky to swap the extras.

Value - ***
I'm assuming you're getting this guy for around $175. Add in a second TrueType body, and you're getting two versions of Michael Jackson in his Thriller red leather for about a Benny each. That's not bad, considering the exceptional portraits and outfits.

However, if you end up spending $225, $250 or even $300 for this guy, you can start slashing stars pretty liberally.

Things to Watch Out For -
Don't forget to take extreme care with the ankles and wrists. While you get a couple extra wrists with the figure, breaking an ankle joint will leave you crying.

And as I mentioned earlier, I'd jump on one of the slim African American TrueType bodies as soon as possible, because I bet the supply dries up for awhile now that the figure is shipping.

Overall - ***1/2
I'm very happy with the end result, although he does have a few nits holding him back from the top score for me. Bigger fans that I are likely to be more willing to overlook the minor issues, especially if they aren't regular buyers of Hot Toys products.

I'll stick the regular Michael figures some place, but I'm not really sure where yet. I don't have a lot of 'real' people in my action figure collection, and even fewer that are singers. Still, a figure this good needs to be on display somewhere.

But the zombie version is going to get plenty of love, front and center on the eventual overall undead display. He's going to fit in great with the bulk of my sixth scale zombie collection, and be the perfect leader of the pack!

Score Recap:
Packaging - ***1/2
Sculpting - ****
Paint - ****
Articulation - ***
Accessories - ****
Outfit - ***1/2
Fun Factor - **1/2
Value - ***
Overall - ***1/2

Where to Buy -
Online options include these site sponsors:

Alter Ego Comics  has him in stock at $170.

Big Bad Toy Store  has him at $225.

Clark Toys  has him at $250.

Forbidden Planet  has him at 180 GBP.

- or you can hunt Ebay for a deal.

If you're looking for the slim AA TrueType, my sponsors are currently out. I picked up mine through Alter Ego, and Big Bad Toy Store had them on pre-order but are also sold out already. In fact, the retailer I do know that's carrying them is Toys2.net, but if you pick one up there, let them know you heard it from me. I'd love to get them on the sponsor list, particularly since they carry so much of the Hot toys product.

Related Links -
You'll find plenty of zombie reviews in my overall Review Index, or you can check out this guest review of another Hot Toys Michael Jackson.

Discussion:
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Michael Jackson Thriller action figure by Hot Toys


This product was purchased for the review by the reviewer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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