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Bandai – S.H. Figuarts “Smooth Criminal” Michael Jackson

IMG_1314 (1024x623)I’ve already gone on about my Michael Jackson fandom (here), so I won’t do it again. The short version is I’ve been waiting for this figure since the first teaser images were released. I hope Bandai pumps out more Michael Jackson figures down the road. But for now, let’s take a look at their first salvo and see how he shapes up as a toy.

This is “Bad-era” Michael Jackson. “Smooth Criminal” related a home invasion story where a woman is found bleeding and the narrator repeats over and over the iconic refrain “Annie are you OK?” Annie being a reference to CPR dummies and the popular terminology that the resuscitators are taught to repeat while performing CPR. The music video features a nattily attired Michael Jackson in a seedy nightclub thwarting evildoers with his usual signature dance moves and near effortless ’80s cool.

The figure is a great representation of Michael’s image in the music video. It’s a lithe, fully poseable figure with several extra hands and other parts so you can replicate many of his dance moves and poses. The Figuarts style trends towards lithe figures, which fits Michael very well. Both of his head sculpts could not be said to be photorealistic interpretations, but they’re both recognizably Michael Jackson, albeit with a slightly cartoony edge.

Unfortunately, the stern face on mine, the “default,” has a gouge taken out of his chin. I haven’t seen any other reviews to know if this is a trend or I just got unlucky. I’m going to say it’s the latter (sad trombone), but it’s something to be aware of. Not sure what I’m going to do about it because I like the serious expression more than the slightly smiling one. Oh well.

The hat seats snugly onto either head and can be worn normally or pushed down as he wore it throughout most of the video.

The heads pop off easily on a ball joint, and the ponytail is both poseable and swappable as well, so you can switch it from head to head depending on the one you’re using. Neat!

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He comes with an alternate torso featuring a flared jacket and upraised arms for his raised-arm dance moves. His tie is also detachable, so you can switch it from regular torso to flared/upraised torso. This means the tie is also poseable for blowing in the wind or for motion effects as well.

He comes with several alternate hands with various hand expressions that replicate iconic or random poses from the music video. You can mix and match them as much as you want for whatever desired look you want to get across. They all feature the wrappings on his fingers that are specific to the music video.

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He comes with a second pair of non-articulated feet that peg into his legs that are for replicating the single most iconic image in the music video, Michael’s gravity-defying forward lean. He comes with a “shadow” stand to complete the effect.

With so many options and accessories, Michael ends up being a hugely fun toy. The only thing he doesn’t come with (and not really expected) is a Tommy Gun (music video accurate), but I’m sure resourceful buyers can find one to equip him with.

Michael poses well and freely. The poses pictured are all without display stands, but the judicious use of a stand will amplify his ability to pull off any number of music-video-accurate poses or just plain MJ-accurate poses and dance moves. He’s a pretty light figure and has great balance despite the relatively small footprint of his feet, but I couldn’t get him up on tiptoe for “that” pose — you know the one I’m talking about. However, I’m sure with a stand you can get him to do it indefinitely without problem.

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For articulation, he has what I believe is a fairly standard Figuarts breakdown, which is:

  • Ball-jointed neck
  • Ball-jointed shoulders
  • Ball-jointed elbows
  • Ball-jointed wrists with wrist swivels
  • Ball-jointed torso
  • Ball-jointed waist
  • Ball-jointed hips
  • Ball-jointed knees
  • Ball-jointed ankles
  • Toe Hinge

All of which add up to a very fun figure that looks good and moves well. Add in the extra body parts and no Michael fan should do without. Hopefully this chin thing is just an isolated occurrence and not a trend. Because that sucks.

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