Michael Jackson - Beat It
Hot Toys 10th Anniversary

   "The following is a guest review.  The review and photos do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Michael Crawford or Michael's Review of the Week, and are the opinion and work of the guest author."

I'm a bit behind - okay, not a bit but a lot - on my guest reviews. Jeff sent over this review awhile ago, quite awhile ago, but better late than never! I covered this same figure here, but now you can get Jeff's thoughts on this version of the King of Pop - take it away, Jeff!

Just over six months ago Hot Toys celebrated their 10th year anniversary in style by holding a huge expo to showcase the companies’ achievements over the past decade. At the show they exhibited every figure they have produced to date (well, baring a few early “ahem” bootlegs and military ones) and also produced a limited run of 4 figures that were to be exclusives to the event in Tokyo. There were also a limited amount being made available on a first come first served basis from their showcase store (Toy Hunters) in Hong Kong, but at the time… that was it!

Of course many collectors in Europe and the Americas fretted that the exclusive nature of the release would lead to mucho disappointmento. And indeed it inevitably did, with the Demon Batman and Scarecrow set (reviewed here) proving to be by far and away the most in demand and popular!

However, after that initial scrum, and now that the dust has settled somewhat, Sideshow did manage to secure a few to sell through their site. Obviously the Batman Begins set sold out rather quickly, but this Michael Jackson ‘Beat It’ version is still available here, as indeed is the ‘cult’ Friend figure from 20th Century Boys here.

Both of these have already been reviewed already with Michael covering the MJ figure here and the Friend figure reviewed by myself here.

But as I had already given my thoughts on the first two sets, I figured it was only polite to round out the trilogy (well, that and the fact I had a few requests to do it on FB and various forums).

So with the figure being in stock again, if you did miss out in that first frenzy, now might be the time the act!

Packaging - ****
All of the 10th Anniversary figures came in stunning packaging, and this obviously continues the theme. We get a leather effect hardboard slipcase with an embossed logo and real metal badge. Inside the there is a bright red box with an image of MJ on the front. The top opens like a book cover to show the figure completely surrounded in foam, alongside his accessories, much like the DX and M-Icon range.

The whole thing is completely collector friendly and very luxurious, the very top end of high end.

Sculpting - ****
The relationship with the Michael Jackson estate seems to be going strong, with this their fourth release of the late troubled star, and a fifth one based on ‘Smooth Criminal’ is supposedly still under development. I’m thinking magnetic shoes and a metal plate for the famous lean are proving tricky to get right ;)

This is however one of, if not the strongest MJ portrait to date from the company, but with Yulli on sculpting duties you know you’re in safe hands. This is her first go at the ‘King of Pop’, as Inae Kang and Lee So Young executed the previous portraits respectively.

She’s gone for a relatively neutral expression but one that does have a look of focused concentration, making it ideal for any number of dance moves or general poses. The detailing of the skin texturization and the complex hairstyle are all executed with a tight degree of detail, but as we have been spoilt for so long we kind of expect that as a matter of course these days. However those key features aren’t worth jack if the likeness isn’t there, and as hard as Jackson’s constantly changing face seems to be to capture well, Yulli has done a great job of bringing him back to life here.

Paint - ****
Another master class is presented here in how to do a top-notch factory paint app. The African American flesh tones are rich deep and warm, showing the usual deft touches and subtle graduations as it passes over areas of darker and paler skin. The eyebrows and light indication of 5 o’clock shadow are as well applied as ever and the classic glossy ‘JC Hong’ eyes have lost none of their sparkle. The hair is painted a flat black colour but as I seem to say ‘ad nauseam’ when it is handled this way, the quality of the sculpt does all the work in catching light and creating shadows to give it a feeling of layered depth. The hands are tonally perfect to match the body and hands, and even have a slightly lighter palm and underside to the fingers, and that’s the kind of observation that separates the men from the boys.
There really is nothing to say negatively about this paint app, I just wish all manufacturers could attain this level of realistic perfection when required by the subject matter or style.

Outfit - ****
Michael Jackson was an entertainer from the age of six, living a life where he was performing to huge audiences while most of us would have still been learning to tie our shoe-laces. He lived in a world so very far removed from everyday reality that it is of little surprise he turned out to be… well, a little eccentric to say the least!

And part of the way he expressed his ‘otherness’ was through the clothes and outfits he chose to wear both in everyday life and when performing… but it is arguable he never actually stopped performing, hence why he was always dressed in such over the top outfits. I hope he had moments slobbing out on the couch at home wearing sweatpants and a stained T-shirt while slurping on a pot-noodle… but somehow I doubt it!

So basically he spent his life wearing outlandish clothes that were carefully fabricated for him by a succession of designers and stylists, with fashion consultant Faye Poliakin conceiving the specific look he sported in the ‘Beat It’ video. The video viewable here told a ‘West Side Storyesque’ tale of rival gangs having a good ol’fashioned face-off, but using the medium of music and contemporary dance Michael manages to unite the waring factions into a carefully coreographed finale. OK, I admit it hasn’t aged well, and viewed now it is campier than Elton John at a tent convention, but hey it was 1984!

The actual jacket can be seen in detail as it was well documented for a charity auction here, so by scrutinising both the video above, the photos in that link and the reference shots I put together here you can see just what a great job Pun Lo and Tam (the 1/6th tailors) did for Hot Toys in recreating it at this diminutive scale.

Although they are not working, it has every tiny zipped pocket (including the strangely placed ones on the rear) all replicated and positioned perfectly. The T-shirt has become something of an enigma for Jackson enthusiasts over the years, you can now get copies… but ‘copies’ is the word, they could never be called replicas. You can see a few on this website here, but the ‘real thing’ was actually far more detailed than those available there, and was actually sleeveless as can be seen here. So again by scrutinising these photos you can see that the details have been replicated very closely. Perhaps the block print behind the cherubs could do with being a tad pinker, but its still a fantastically researched and fabricated little garment. 

After getting the jacket and T-shirt right, the loafers, socks, pants and belts must have been a walk in the park. But still the details are note perfect. The skinny tight black jeans are worn at his traditional half-mast so as to give a large flash of his bright white socks (Jackson’s tribute to Fred Astaire’s spats) and also to ensure the eye follows his foot movements when performing on stage. Around his waist he has a leather effect belt and a chain… just so you don’t forget he is ‘bad’.

One of the important factors when putting together an out fit for Jackson, (be it in the real world or in 1/6th scale) always had to be his ease of movement. He had to be comfortable and able to throw some shapes with as little restriction as possible. Lets face it he was kind of as famous for his dancing as anything else. And so I’m glad to report this outfit hardly impacts on the base True-Type at all, and with a little work and futzing you should be able to achieve pretty much any pose you want to recreate.

Hot Toys have tackled more complex outfits in the past, but they have also done far simpler ones. Hence I am scoring purely on the ability to replicate the video seen outfit here… so for me the only very slight negative is the colour of the block print on the T… but I still feel that this much love and research deserve a full score!

Articulation - ****
All the figures of Jackson so far have been designed around the slim African-American True-Type, as seen here. So we all know the score in terms of articulation, and if you don’t you can pretty much find out what you need to know in my old breakdown of the joints here. And even though that spec is for the regular version, in terms of engineering it’s pretty much the same for the slim version utilized on Jackson. The only major difference is the ankles; these have different engineering, which can be seen here. So ultimately I have no problems here, it’s a joy to pose and the True-Type is still a pleasure to do business with!

Accessories - **
This is the one area that this figure is found more than a little lacking. He comes with a great selection of hands, but so have all the other Michael Jackson figures so far, and these are all re-used poses and gestures from the previous sets. The Thriller version had 11 different hands where as this one comes in with 10. A good selection, there’s no two ways about it, but when they are the only usable accessories (I’m a no stand man) then it seems a little under-equipped. As I just alluded there is also the classic black figure stand for those that like to use them. It’s of the usual spec, with the name and the ‘Beat it’ logo on the base, but sadly mine will be staying in its comfy foam surround.

I’m really not that sure what else he could have come with, but a simple re-use of the mic and stand that came with the first Billie Jean version would have added just a little more to the value for me, not video accurate perhaps, but a nice extra. Or perhaps the simple white T-shirt with the piano keyboard design he wears at the beginning of the video. Either way, what you see is what you get!

Fun Factor - ***1/2
This is one for the true devotees of Michael Jackson, of which I consider myself more of a passing fan rather than a hardcore follower. I’m certainly more into his early catalogue, as I have virtually no interest in his later work. Lets face it, as he got stranger his music got more convoluted and introspective… well, to my ears anyway!
However to the multitudinous legion of rabid Jackson fans out there, this is a must have shining beacon of MJ goodness, and one that a price tag of $225 and distinct lack of extras will probably matter diddly-sqat to!

Value for money - ***
This was intended as a very limited edition exclusive for the Tokyo event, and at the event it had an official RRP of JP¥ 18,000, which worked out as about US $220. However that price shot up to any where between $250 to $400 on the grey market as soon as the scalpers got their grubby little hands on them directly after the event.
So if you were one of the many ‘real fans’ that missed out, the price of $225 that Sideshow has this up for as of right now might seem like a bargain. However, with hindsight and a collector’s mentality that might seem like the case, but in the real world it has to be said that $225 is a hefty amount for a figure with so few accessories. Especially when compared with the ‘Friend’ figure that had a ton of stuff and three heads for the same price.

So basing my review in the real world I can only say that this is not a four star figure in terms of value. However, it’s likely to be the case that if you are reading this review in a couple of years from now… then it might have seemed like the sale of the century.
Only time will tell!

Overall- ***1/2
There’s no two ways about it, this is a rare figure that will only get rarer. The funny thing is though that the first ‘Billie Jean’ version still seems to be by far and away the rarest.  I would imagine the fact it was released just a few weeks before his untimely death (coupled with the low pre-order that resulted in a small edition size) means that although subsequent figures get better with each release, that original will remain a grail for many.
So, there is no way of knowing if this figure will ever demand the huge sums that one does, but if you are a fan, I’d recommend jumping earlier rather than later if you have the means to do so. Because once these are all gone from the ‘legitimate’ traders I can see the grey market pushing this guys price up higher and higher. And to be fair it is a very strong figure.

Where to buy
At this precise moment, your very best bet is to try and secure one with Sideshow before they are all gone.
They are listed as in stock with a price of $225. 

Of course if you are reading this as an archived review you may well find they are all sold… sorry. 

Try eBay… and good luck ;)

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This product was provided free for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Jeff Parker.

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