Cliffbee.com: Movie Jazz Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Jazz
Series: Movie Tie-Ins
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Pontiac Solstice Sports Car



SPORTS CAR MODE
Height: 4.5cm Length: 13.5cm Width: 6.5cm

   A silver Pontiac Solstice sports car with transparent blue windows and black wheels, Jazz doesn't look much like his G1 namesake, in colour or style. The plastic used feels more grey than silver too me - despite swirls in the plastic. The end result is a greyish sports car, almost as if someone walked away after applying the primer. Anyway, the headlights are painted metallic blue, the foglights metallic yellow while the taillights and crest on the hood are bright red, the grille is painted black. If the foglights are metallic, why couldn't the rest of the car be metallic? The colour scheme isn't awful, but it's a couple of shades off being nice, in my opinion.

   The general level of detail here is good - the air intakes on his front fenders, grille lattice, door seams, doorhandles and side mirrors are testament to that. The front is a little squarer than it should be, but overall Jazz is a pretty realistic Pontiac. Some of his seams are more visible than I'd like - there are a couple of notches on the bonnet which stand out far more than they should - but otherwise this is a well sculpted car mode.

   As seems to be the trend with Movie Autobots, Jazz doesn't have much play value in this mode. The wheels turn but no doors open - the spoiler can lift up and down, but this isn't really play value. Jazz's "sword" can attach to the spoiler, giving him a ranged weapon. I say that because it's a sword in name only - it's a silver gun with a collapsable black harpoon sticking out the front. This gun does look cool riding over the top of the roof, although I'm somewhat disappointed that this weapon cannot be stowed in car mode - it either sits on the spoiler or is left aside completely.

   I'd like to be more enthusiastic about Jazz's car mode - it's by no means bad, but there are enough annoyances that I don't really enjoy it. The mounted gun is nice, the sculpt is quite good and the basic idea of the colour scheme works well, but I hate the actual shade used and some of the seams really detract for me. Still, this is Jazz's better mode, and is better than many car modes in recent years.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Remove and set aside his weapon - if you haven't already. Lift up the rear, extend and rotate the legs, flip out his boots and heelspurs, rotate down the false tyres on the his ankles. Fold up his waist and clip underneath the engine section, pull the front fenders out to either side. Fold down the roof, which sets of an automorph - Jazz's head lifts up and the grille section pops forward, away from the foglights, slightly. The fenders rotate around to form his arms, with the halves of his bonnet folding under the fenders to form his forearms, while the hand flip out from underneath the bonnet. The backplate detaches to form a shield of sorts.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 16cm Width: 10cm

   A silver robot with extensive black highlights and a big blue eyepiece (which allows for a kickass lightpipe). The grille sits on his chest while the fenders are his forearms. There's a white Autobot logo visible on Jazz's waist. Much has been made of the fact that the head is "Not Jazz" - which doesn't particularly bother me. It is worth noting that while the mouthplate and large antennae don't fit the name, the eyepiece is very close that of the G1 cartoon Jazz. The colour scheme here is quite nice, the black and silver (well, grey) combine really well.

   The legs are complex, detailed and chunky, the torso looks nice and despite the controversy about its visual elements, the head is nice enough. The arms, however, are awful. Sure, the chunky legs are a little unusual, but they're well designed - even if the false tyres don't quite latch onto the pegs designed to keep them in place (the stiffness of joints overcomes this). The torso is well formed, the grille works on his chest. But all of this is pretty much undone by Jazz's awful arms. I will concede some credit - the designer has tried something new in his arm transformation - but it fails spectacularly. The front panels (fenders) and rear panels (hood) cannot connect to each other - instead they float around on the double hinged joint between them. The hands attach to the rear panels, too, so as these panels float, Jazz's fists move with them, and they can easily float outside the edges of the front panels. Remember those notches I mentioned on the hood? Well they now sit on the inside of the back panels, and get in the way of the arms swinging - and contribute to the floating. The upper arms aren't so bad - they do sit too far forward relative to the shoulder attachment points, but are close enough to flush with his chest.

   Jazz's play value is stunted. The gun can clip under the fenders, which basically means you have to open the rear panels right back - so to hold his gun, Jazz has to lose his hands. The shield formed from the backplate of the car is a good idea, but it's designed to only attach to the tyre on his left shoulder, which is a little limiting (and doesn't showcase the shield at all). The gun can attach to either shoulder tyre, but its weight will cause them to sag. The gun's best option is to attach to the shield on his left shoulder - it can clip over the spoiler or has a hinge of sorts, allowing it to attach to the transformation hinge on the front of the shield (where it attaches to the roof of the car). For all the bad design flaws of this toy, I really like the hinge on the gun - it's thoughtful and works just as the designer intended. You can also leave the shield on his back, attach the gun to the spoiler and lift it over his head if you feel inclined. The shield might not be the best idea, but combined with the gun, it makes for a decent weapon.

   I'd also like point out to whoever at Hasbro decided that this thing is a "sword", swords do not have handles at right angles, and are never shoulder mounted. No matter, it's a cool harpoon gun, and is actually quite versatile in robot mode, so long as it stays out of Jazz's hands.

   Jazz's poseability is fairly disappointing. The head turns, the shoulders rotate and lift out to the sides, although the notches get in the way of the arms swinging, as mentioned. His elbows are hinged, but any movement will likely bring the unstable forearms out of shape. Jazz's hips swing and lift out sideways while the knees have hinges and rotators. His feet and heelspurs both fold down - the leg poseability is quite good, but the arm motion is bad. Jazz's range of cool poses ends up quite limited since you're probably going to leave the ranged weapon as a side-cannon and the arms can't really do much.

   Jazz's robot mode is dominated by his arms in many ways, and that's not a good thing. They hamper his visual appeal and poseability, which is a shame since most of the robot mode looks great and the leg articulation is good. The weapons acquit themselves quite well considering the forearms are so dysfunctional and the lightpipe is awesome. Had the designer abandoned the overly ambitious arm transformation, this could have been a great robot mode.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. There is a later G1 themed repaint and a Final Battle retool, featuring battle damage - which comes with a much cooler weapon. The two latter toys both have significantly improved forearms.

OVERALL

   There are some really nice elements to this toy, but the overall toy is quite poor thanks to some bad design choices. The vehicle mode comes out relatively unscathed - sure the colour isn't quite silver - but the detail and realism are good and the weapon works well enough, even if it can't stow. The robot mode has some really nice aspects that aren't enough to offset the mess that is his arms. I want to like this toy, since there are some aspects I really like, but even with credit given for innovation, Jazz is my least favourite movie toy - 4.5/10

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