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Review of Michael Jackson - Billie Jean
Action Figure

Playmates Toys
Date Published:
Written By:
Overall Average Rating: 3 out of 4

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Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Introduction

The King of Pop is a huge cultural icon, with a tremendous global appeal. Hot Toys has produced several versions of him with more to come, and now Playmates Toys has jumped into the fray with their own versions.

There's a couple main differences that set them apart, however. First, these are 10" figures, not 12". While they are articulated and dressed in sixth scale fashion, the smaller size makes them fairly unique.

The other big differentiator is price. While Hot Toys figures run $150 - $200, these are intended to be $40 or less, depending on the retailer. They are a 'limited edition' and numbered, but I haven't seen an actual number yet on how many will be produced in each style.

There are several styles as well. I'm looking at their Billie Jean version tonight, but they are also releasing a Thriller version at the same time, with plans for several more.

Playmates sent this over to me, so this is a bit of an early review. You should be seeing these hit retailers very soon, however.

Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Packaging - **
These packages are really designed to display the figure, best for the MIBers out there. The figure is posed, with a large view window. However, the box is NOT collector friendly.

Getting the figure out is going to require tearing things up, with lots of damage. Once he's out...he's out and he's not going back.

On top of that, I found it very difficult to avoid damaging the background. It would have been nice to use the cardboard cityscape as part of the open display, but I managed to do too much damage.

While these are a limited edition, there's no edition number printed on the box exterior itself.

I'm grading this as an opener, but the MIBers will mot likely be happier than I.

Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Sculpting - ***
If you're expecting a Hot Toys sculpt, then your expectations might be a tad out of whack. Remember, this figure costs about 25% of a HT version.

Still, you want the best looking sculpt you can get for the money. This is a decent representation of a young Michael, about half way between his original nose and that weird thing he had at the end. The jeri-curl hair style looks good, and there's lots of fine detail in the strands. There's no skin texture, and the eyes are a bit anime-ish in size, lending a slightly unnatural look to the face, but I'm betting fans hungry for an affordable figure will be willing to overlook the minor issues.

The hands are sculpted for the fairly specific pose that is most associated with this outfit. The left hand is flat and open, designed to fit in the left pocket. The right is supposed to appear as though he is snapping his fingers, although it looks a little odd because the thumb and first finger are together, not the thumb and second finger. Most folks I know use the middle finger to snap, but maybe Michael was a bit different in more than one way.

The size of the hands and head is good, with no bobble head look and no goofy oven mitt sized paws.

Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Paint - ***
Again, this isn't a Hot Toys figure, so it would be unreasonable to expect a HT level of quality with the paint ops. Let's be honest - most companies charging as much or almost as much for their sixth scale figures can't touch their paint ops.

But there's very little slop here. The skin tone is even, and like the nose, it's someplace in between the darkest and lightest colors he sported during his lifetime. The lips are even, the teeth show little bleed, and the eyes are relatively straight.

My biggest complaint here is with the slightly glossy look to the skin. The head was probably cast in this color, and that slightly glossy look gives the figure a bit too much of a toyish appearance.

Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Articulation - ***1/2
Since this is a new articulated body, I thought it was worthwhile to strip him down and show you the underlying structure.

The package claims 37 points of articulation, but most collectors know it's not the number, but the design that truly matters.

As I mentioned earlier, the figure stand almost exactly 10" tall. The neck post is fairly long, but that works with most outfits. One of the biggest failure for many sixth scale bodies is a neck post designed to be the right length nude. This ends up a fail once the figure is dressed, because the thick clothing ends up giving the figure a stumpy look. That's not the case here.

The neck also has a joint at the top and bottom of the post, giving him quite a bit of mobility. The body has specially designed shoulders that allow an extremely wide range of movement, double pin elbows and knees, ball hips, ankles and wrists, cut biceps, a cut wrist and a chest crunch.

The design of these joints allows for a fairly realistic flow to most stances, although I couldn't get him into the more extreme leg poses that MJ was capable of. To be fair, I had that same issue with the exceptional TrueType body from Hot Toys. Let's face it - Michael could do some pretty amazing things.

Another reason I felt it was important to strip him down for a photo was that this body has some real potential for customizers. At 10" tall, it would be ideal for short characters like kids (around 5' tall) in sixth scale. The neck post would take some effort to adapt, but it might be worth it for certain licenses.

Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Accessories - **
We don't get much in the way of accessories. There's the display stand, which you'll only need if you go for a more complex stance. On the base is MJ's signature, as well as the edition number.

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Outfit - ***1/2
While most folks would first think of the sparkly outfit for Billie Jean, this outfit was also key.

When I saw these figures at Comic Con, I clearly didn't pay enough attention. I thought they were fully sculpted, so you can imagine how surprised I was when I found the cloth outfits. The tailoring is good, and the materials are very high quality considering the price point.

The jacket and pants are leather (faux of course), and the material is thicker than I expected. Still, it hangs extremely well on the figure, and looks much more in scale than expected. The high water pants look great, and the jacket even has the fabric collar with the same pattern as the real deal.

Underneath is the white shirt, complete with buttons and red tie. The tie is close to scale, something that's difficult to manage for most companies.

There's also a pair of white socks, and a pair of very nicely sculpted white shoes. This is a very classy tux with that special MJ influence, and Playmates did a very nice job with it.

The clothing comes off easily, particularly after you pop off the hands. Each piece is held in place with very thin but very sticky Velcro.

Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Fun Factor - ***
If you're looking for a Michael Jackson toy that your 9 year old can play with, then this is a good bet. It's sturdy, the outfit will hold up to some abuse, and the body is quite solid.

There probably aren't a lot of nine year olds looking for a Michael Jackson toy though, making it more likely these will end up in the hands of collectors and fans.

Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Value - **1/2
If this guy was 12" tall and $40, I'd add another half star here. At the slightly smaller size, he's still a solid value. It's a pity we aren't seeing more action figures like this in the 12" range.

Things to Watch Out For -
If you do pop the hands off, be sure to hold them by the ball of the wrist joint, not just the hand. You'll want to pull the post out of the forearm, and don't pull the hand off the wrist.

Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Overall - ***
This is Playmates first venture into this style figure in this scale, and I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised.

These aren't going to replace Hot Toys figures, but that's not the market they are going for. They are looking to make affordable collectible figures, with as much quality as possible considering the price point. American collectors may be confused by all the Jackson focus out there these days, but the international market is hot for anything Michael, and I suspect Playmates will do well with the fans of the singer.

Personally, I'm more interested in what future licenses we might see this style and this body used for, and whether Playmates will lean toward collectors with future concepts, rather than their more kid oriented approach the last couple years.

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

Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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Where to Buy 
Online options include these site sponsors:

- has them at $40.

- Entertainment Earth has them for $40.

- or you can search ebay for a deal.

Related Links -
If you are looking to spend a bit more cash, check out the Hot Toys Thriller and their other Billie Jean version of Michael.

You should also hit the Search Reviews page, in case any other applicable reviews were done after this one was published.

Discussion:
Want to chat about this review?  Try out one of these terrific forums where I'll be discussing it!

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Michael Jackson Billie Jean action figure by Playmates

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This product was provided for the review by the manufacturer. Photos and text by Michael Crawford.

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