This figure, created for a display in the Disneyland Showcase preview center on Main Street in 1985, was the public's first view of Michael Jackson in his role as Captain Eo. The sculptures of Eo and his "ragtag band", displayed in a miniature setting from the film, were all made and painted by an enthusiastic young artist, Jason Bahret, of the Disneyland Entertainment Art Department.
In the early 1980s, Jason was the undisputed whiz-kid of the Art Department, creating character art, building scale models for parades and shows, and constructing full-sized set pieces. When I was hired into the department in 1988, Jason had already transferred to the Disney Stores design group, designing all those big fiberglass Disney characters that populated the first new store interiors. I didn't really get to know Jason until 1991, when we both sculpted characters for the "Beauty and the Beast" Emporium windows, but his name was legendary to me.
For the Captain Eo figures, Jason recalls that there was not much reference available to him. No one had seen the fim, which was still in post-production, and the Studio was reluctant to release any photos so early, so he referred to a handful of color slides that had been shot on the set. "The biggest challenge for me was figuring out all the layers, buckles and straps on Michael Jackson's costume," Jason recalls. "I must have just made up about 40 to 50 percent of it since I couldn't see it in the slides."
Thanks to Jason for generously sharing these images from his personal portfolio. After 27 years at Disney, he left in 2006 to explore more interests (he's also an actor!) but you can enjoy more of Jason Bahret's creative work here.