“You say you want a revolution…”
― John Lennon, The Beatles
I’d be remiss in this review if I didn’t speak about the – to borrow another Beatles reference – “long and winding road” that was the M8 launch, the John Lennon figure announcement, and it’s eventual release.
M8 burst on the scene in spring of 2017 promising something of a revolution in one-sixth collectibles. They touted a list of dream artists/sculptors attached to licenses like Willie Wonka, Taxi Driver, Big Trouble in Little China, Lord of the Rings, Ghostbusters and more.
Among those, Lennon seemed a bit of an odd, niche choice to launch with but the preview sculpt looked amazing and the rundown of includes coupled with the promise of a newly developed body construct – whose structure had its own page on the site with chromed, Terminator-like renderings, made it intriguing even at the higher-than-average $299 price point.
Moreover, M8 was promising all this to ship in just a few months after pre-order. Surely they had been almost entirely developed and tested and were being refined at the time of the announcement? The answer to that was apparently, no. A little over a year after pre-orders went up – a timeline not unheard of in the realm of sixth-scale releases – Lennon was finally shipped. Again, a year is not a long lead time for any one-sixth manufacturer including the behemoth that is Hot Toys. The issues came with overpromising, under-delivering, and subsequent lack of communication on M8’s part. I do hope they have learned some tough lessons from the backlash this caused and their next release – the aforementioned Willie Wonka – will go more smoothly.
I’ll be disregarding the hype surrounding this figure and grading it as if it were any other offering from any one-sixth manufacturer. There are, of course, expectations based on the price point and they will factor into that section.
- John Lennon figure dressed in “Imagine” video clothes including; patterned jacket, blue shirt, black slacks, cowboy boots
- Neutral expression sculpt
- Singing expression sculpt
- Two pairs of glasses – clear and tinted
- Army shirt/jacket
- White slacks
- Sandaled feet
- Eight hands
- Magnetic stand
- Guitar with strap and three “JL” branded picks
- Button tool
- COA and booklets
Sculpted by the legendary K.A. Kim, the two sculpts included are on par with the fantastic past work of this artist. Though, as with other aspects of this figure, the original sculpt shown early on has lost a little detail – especially in the hair. Some of the finer detail in the hair disappeared with the casting and it looks to stand away from the face more than the original did. I agree with many other reviewers the head is undersized but not to the degree that many have stated. I think it’s more like 8-10% at most. This is a very thin, narrow-shouldered body though – John was a lanky guy – so it doesn’t scream out “undersized” to my eye especially with the sports jacket off.
The paint application is nice, above average with good skin-tones and excellent eyes.
The original sculpt was shown with a sculpted neck, which fit the figure better than the neck on the final body does with the neck-less sculpt. I’m not a fan of necked sculpts for posing reasons (it’s not natural-looking for many dynamic poses) but I know some collectors who are adamant about preferring them for their seamless look. I think this would look fine were it not for the too-skinny neck of the body. Many are sighting the neck as being too long as well, but this could have been remedied by recessing the neck plug (inside the sculpt) deeper. I’ve tried removing it to do just that, but it is glued in there but good and it’s going to be quite difficult. The neck length becomes more apparent without the collar of the Imagine outfit.
The only other problem is with the hand paint – it’s a little light and doesn’t match well with the arm skin tone.
Let’s start with the best parts. The boots are really well done. They look and even feel like leather and the stitching is nicely detailed. The soles have a nice leather appearance too (though not the heel where the magnet for the base is). The two pairs of glasses – tinted and clear – are probably the best I’ve seen on a stock figure. They are a far cry from the post-3D rendered version shown a few months after it was announced which were plasticky-looking and thick-framed. The guitar is also quite nicely done, with proper finishes and good detail. Unfortunately, it’s about 15% undersized.
The clothing overall is good, but not exceptional. Again, I’m trying not to grade this on a curve based on the initial hype M8 generated themselves. It’s definitely not custom-level (as I guess some were expecting), but I would say some – the pants, maybe the army shirt – are on par with Hot Toys quality (which isn’t the pinnacle of one-sixth tailoring either but is a standard of measurement). The Imagine jacket looks nice but is a bit bulky. It’s a tough material to emulate at this scale though, so I’ll cut it some slack – it looks pretty good on.
The cut is fine on the shirts and pants, the stitching is fairly in-scale. The collar on the blue shirt sits pretty well with some futzing. The lapels on the jacket don’t stay down and I would like to have seen them stitched in place. My least favorite piece is the black, wide-collar shirt – it just doesn’t look great on the body and really accentuates the neck, which is again a bit too skinny and long. I would rather they’d have included a t-shirt to go under the army jacket/shirt.
The belt is serviceable if a bit cheap-feeling, but it does adjust easily. The sandaled feet are good looking, but the bottoms aren’t finished – there is a visible magnet for use with the magnetic base and they don’t actually fit tightly on the ball joints. I wish you couldn’t see the magnet on the bottom of both the boots and the sandals, but covering them probably would have diminished the magnetic strength quite a bit.
Speaking of the base – I like it a lot! It’s a very strong magnet inside and it’s nice to not have a stick running up to the crotch of your figure. It’s very secure when using the boots – which fit solidly on the ball joints, but less so with the sandals which are a little loose on the joints. Some tack or reforming the socket with the super glue method (putting a little glue in, letting it dry a bit, then forming it by attaching it for a minute or so and then letting it dry) might help fix them, but they shouldn’t have gotten through this way especially considering the way the stand works and I wouldn’t leave it on the shelf without support with them on (he fell over twice while shooting with the sandals on).
I usually lump the hands in with articulation, my issue here, though, is not with mobility but quantity. There are four hands – two sets – that are open palmed. One pair is flatter with separated fingers (they fit well in a pocket) and the other slightly more cupped and closed. There is also a pair of what look to be piano-playing hands. My main nit is with the lack of a pick-holding hand. There are three picks included with the guitar, but no hand to hold them! One of the open hands works well as a “strumming” hand though. and the left piano hand works well enough for a fretting hand although the thumb should be tighter to hold the neck. I’ve heard that since the guitar was an add-on, they didn’t have time to go back and create hands specifically for them. Note to M8: I’d pay for 2-4 more hands as a separate product.
A couple of notes; you’ll need to apply the “patches” (which are strong stickers) to the army shirt yourself. Apparently, M8 was worried about shipping them applied as they might rub off in transit. also, dressing this figure is a challenge, to say the least, mainly due to the silicone skin material. Anyone who has dressed a Phicen knows what I mean. In this case, I wouldn’t recommend using the baby powder method (unless it’s a very small amount) as you’re dealing with dark and velour-like clothing, but you will need to be patient and somewhat dexterous to get things futzed and buttons buttoned. M8 should also have included some instructions for things like the button tool and guitar strap.
Molecule 8 touted a revolutionary new body when they debuted – a silicone body surrounding a metal frame they call the ‘Mark I Endoskeleton’. A short time after, they announced that the John Lennon figure would not sport this highly stylized frame, but a ‘lite’ version of it. Whether this was for practical or economic reasons (or both) is currently unknown.
The body is a similar construct as the popular Phicen bodies; silicone over a metal “skeleton”. It is heavy! Hand and foot pegs are built into the structure. Unlike ball joints on most plastic bodies though, the hand pegs here move from within the wrist silicone, giving it a more seamless look for most poses. I think the shape of the body is a good fit for Lennon – though maybe just a touch too “thick”. The aforementioned neck is, however, too skinny by about 10%.
In terms of articulation, it’s very flexible. You can get good sitting poses, knees and elbows bend nearly fully. Ams raise straight out around 40º above shoulder height. The neck has full motion. It does take some more effort to move than plastic bodies but it is quite poseable. I really liked the waist movement which I thought might be an issue.
Some have experienced splitting/cracking in the underarm area. Mine was fine and I twisted the arm pretty good getting clothes on. Time will tell how the silicone/rubber will hold up – none of these types of bodies have really been around long enough to know how age will affect them.
At this point in time, I would venture to say that $300 is pushing the upper limits of the average collector’s pain point for price. Yes, there are your outlier DXs and Hulbuster or Thanos proportioned figures, but they are few and far between currently and not within everyone’s budget anyway.
The Lennon figure is right at that point; $299. Again, when it debuted, the list of deliverables was pretty good, the later addition of the guitar and strap brought it a bit closer to a “DX” level package. But at the time, there was also the hype surrounding the body and the promised high level of quality to back up the price – if everything was as it was touted to be, it might seem like a bargain.
With the final release not quite hitting that high water mark…well, I feel it belongs maybe in the $260-270 range. But it’s close. I would imagine the licensing for Lenon’s likeness is high which is a factor. And this is a new company without the buying power of Hot Toys. You do get free worldwide shipping if you order directly from Molecule8, so if you deduct the average $15-20 shipping you pay for other figures from some resellers, it’s not far off that $270 price.
Overall, despite not reaching the high bar that was set for this figure, I really like it. The sculpt is excellent, the body is solid and very posable, clothes vary in quality a bit, but overall fine. There are issues as described above, some more glaring than others but nothing that takes this to a point that I would not recommend it. If you’re picky, you’ll want to fix things, if you’re not, you’ll be perfectly happy with it on the shelf.
If you are a casual fan, the price point may put you off owning this. But if you are a big Lennon fan or a collector of music-related figures (we need more music-related figures) you are likely looking at the only licensed Lennon figure, at any scale, with this kind of detail. It would make a great addition to a Beatles/Lennon display.
Trevor is a New York-based Creative Director and owner of The Brand Counselors. He has a growing collection of 150ish 1:6th scale stock and custom figures (and more and more Lego sets). Toy photography melds his childhood dreams of comic book illustration and film directing with his design talents and – in his mind – justifies the ridiculous money he spends on these things. When he’s not shooting, he enjoys kayaking, catching up on good TV and building seemingly endless custom figures.
Last modified: November 3, 2018