Rob's Pile of Transformers: Manic Ramblings

Manic Ramblings & Delirious Ranting
re: Autobot Jazz

I had an awful TF hunt yesterday -- two Targets, two Wal-Marts, a K-Mart and a TRU turned up absolutely nothing new. That was probably a key motivating factor in me getting my first-ever reissue TF.

I dunno. I've never really wanted Jazz or anything, yet somehow now I'm rather happy to have him. I've always liked the character but never had any of his toys. But I've already made up my mind to end twenty years of waffling and finally get Prowl this summer, and I figure Jazz will look good hanging out with him.

My friend who had Every Single TF Ever up through '87 or so was rather protective of the fragile Jazz (this guy had all three Prowlstreak molds and none of them had broken roofs), so I played with him maybe once, and that was back in '84. Hence I barely remember him at all. I do recall that he was regarded as one of the tougher toys to transform among the first year's line, and when I figured him out, in the very early days of being intersted in TFs, it was kind of an epiphany -- hey, I can handle these things too!

So anyway, this was my first time touching a Jazz toy in almost 20 years. Naturally I was surprised by a few details. The first was how floppy his roof is. Why are there no tabs to hold the rear windows up? They were inexplicably shaved off after G1 or something, weren't they? That said, his car mode's really sweet. It's a bit more cartoonishly proportioned than I remember -- maybe because real Porches are the same way? I don't know, but I like it. I've catalogued most of the 1984 cars as being very realistic and model kit-like in my mind, so this was a bit surprising.

The second thing is what a shellformer he is! You wanna complain about BW Neo's eggshell tranformations? They ain't got nothin' on old Jazz here. You look at him from the back and he's just like a car that's been taken apart and hung up on the wall. And given that all the panels -- roof, rear windows, doors -- hang from an edge point, rather than a center point like most of Neo's kibble, they're extremely fragile. I'm already worried I'm gonna snap the roof off trying to get his missile launcher in place.

I had some trouble with that launcher; it just doesn't wanna stay put. At first I was fooled by the delightfully complicated lower torso arrangement, which I'd not quite configured correctly, resulting in MidgetMaster Jazz. But now it's correct, and the launcher *still* wants to pop back off. It also makes the roof/neck panel not lay flat against his back.

The roof/neck, which slides down the back of Jazz's head, has a cubic plastic nob on the inside, which drops into a square hole in robot mode to let it lay flat. But the piece can slide further down than it needs to, and often does, meaning the roof tends to fly out from Jazz's back even more than it normally would, for extra added breakage factor.

Not sure about some of these stickers. I've always tended to leave off at least a few of the stickers from my TFs, since they often go overboard with 'em. Lately I've come to view stickers as an anachronism, a throwback to 1970s-style GIANT WARRIOR ROBOTS or something -- used to tart up an already simplistic, gaudy design. Jazz is largely slick enough that he doesn't need all that extra junk all over him, though I did add a number of his robot stickers -- he doesn't quite look right without them. Having a lot of trouble with the rear fender stickers, since applying a flat sticker to a double-curved surface, naturally, doesn't work well at all. The instructions show that rear fender with a very crisp, sharp edge that provides a base point to align the sticker with, but it's totally absent on the reissue. If you get them to lay flat, they curve from the outside of the fender to the inside, which looks very odd. If you put them an even distance from the fender edge, the inside sticks up a bit, and it also runs into that poorly-placed indentation near his doors. I still haven't put them down firmly, hoping that some solution will present itself.

His face has an odd smirk which I understand is a remold from the original. It looks kinda strange, being fat-lipped and a bit unclear as to which line is the actual mouth, but from certain angles it works. He's got a standard G1 articulation scheme: decent in the arms, nothing in the head and legs (Prowl and Inferno, and their remolds, shared the same approach.) This has long been a big turn-off for me. If Prowl had posable legs I'd have bought him years ago.

On a related note, regarding the recent decrease in posability... some people have defended it, saying that guys like Omega Prime could barely stand up. I finally realized the other night -- I'd rather have a posable guy who "can't stand up", than a brick who can. My reasoning is that I'm not buying the toy so I can have it stand on a shelf; I'm buying it so I can *play* with it. The toy is only fun for me when it's *in my hands*, and if all it can do is stand upright and wave its arms around, well, how much fun is *that*?? Also, I've never had a TF that simply wouldn't stand up at all; you just have to twiddle with 'em till they're properly balanced. Isn't it better to have a toy that can strike a particular pose but not stand up in that pose, than not being able to pose that way at all?

Finally, I don't mind the black gun at all. Sure, silver is bright and classy and totally in keeping with Jazz's character, but black looks good on him. And I remember how fragile those damn chrome guns were. Yuck. I think even my anal friend's Prowl molds had a broken gun or two...

Overall: Pricey for $30, but you won't find him cheaper, at least not in one piece. Definately worth it if you're a nostalgia-based fan. Might be a disappointment if you're used to Beast Era posability, but he's still a sleek little robot.

Back to Rob's Pile of Ramblings