There is a mere handful characters who were first introduced in season 1 of the Generation 1 cartoon who are left to be produced in Masterpiece-style, whether by TakaraTomy themselves or by a third party. Depending on your preferences for different companies, Decepticons can now be considered done in one form or another. Perhaps naturally, the few remaining Autobots spots have left many collectors eager to see these characters represented on their shelves as soon as possible. Until recently, Trailbreaker was on that list, though now we have at least three versions of him on the horizon. Cliffjumper remains another. But perhaps no character has inspired such anticipation as Jazz.
There are many reasons that this particular Autobot is so popular. He’s often represented as a witty, likeable and above-all cool character in all of the original media, as well as being a senior member of Optimus Prime’s team. I also think that many people fondly remember the widely-available G1 toy and that rather amazing Porsche vehicle mode. Then there’re all the purveying rumours & debate about how difficult the license for recreating that mode in Masterpiece-form would be for TakaraTomy to achieve.
Step in Generation Toy, a third party that I will admit that I have no prior experience with, and J4ZZ, their interpretation of a more-modernised yet still-somehow-classic Jazz. Is this the answer for Masterpiece collectors eager to fill that spot on their shelf, or are the contemporary stylings of this figure simply at odds with the established aesthetic? Let’s take a look, thanks to the lovely folks over at TFS-Express.
Final note before we begin - this is a test shot. It goes without saying that the final retail version may vary, including things like tolerances etc.
PACKAGING & ACCESSORIES
This being a test shot, I wasn’t blessed with the final packaging or instructions, or indeed any of the accessories this time around... He does come with a gun and, er, that's about all I have to say in this section.
No doubt the first thing anyone will notice about this vehicle mode is that it’s not the classic 1980s’ Porsche 935 Turbo that the character traditionally sports, but a more contemporary model Porsche 911 (supposedly modelled after his appearance in the IDW comics, though with a few twists).
|Jazz's G1 animation model on the left, and his IDW comics appearance on the right|
Before we get to the rather obvious debate about how well this modern vehicle mode works as part of a larger “Masterpiece” collection, let’s start with talking about the merits of this figure of and unto itself. Let me kick off my simply say this: it’s bloody beautiful.
Wow. There’s something about realistic sports car alt’ modes on Transformers that really sing, and J4ZZ is certainly no exception. This thing is gorgeous to behold from every angle, and no mistake.
Stunning. Everything looks just as it should, and dare I say comes across as suitably “Masterpiece” in its own right. First thing to note is the colour scheme. The blue & red paint is so beautifully & crisply applied that it’s quite easy to find yourself marvelling at how good it looks for some time, and it’s accentuated by the otherwise quite monochrome colours employed here.
In truth the car itself is not actually the pure white that many might be expecting. If I had to choose a word, I’d probably describe it as “pearl”, especially as it does have a very shiny, almost luminescent quality. Regardless, it’s really rather attractive to the eye.
It helps that this vehicle mode bears up under closer scrutiny. Further inspection reveals a whole raft of lovely little details that just add to this thing being an overall joy. The headlights use a remarkably effective translucent plastic to decent effect, the front grill is impressively detailed, there are lots of very welcome little moulding touches such as the door handles and rear bumper & exhausts, and really the whole thing adds up to a really decent package.
So, he’s got the looks but does he have the touch? Fortunately, yes – J4ZZ more than lives up to the in-hand experience. The plastic quality feels really good, and everything is nicely tabbed together and solid. I didn’t detect much if anything in the way of diecast, but he does sport a set of rubber tyres that is sure to keep nostalgic enthusiasts happy.
I was actually surprised by just how nice it is in hand, having been one of those fans to doubt this figure’s potential relevancy amongst my own collection. I’ll admit that the updated vehicle mode meant that I had written J4ZZ off as something that I wouldn’t be interested in, especially with no previous experience of a Generation Toy release. Well, he’s certainly won me over.
But of course we do come back to the obvious question of exactly how well this guy fits in amongst a “Masterpiece” collection, even one with other 3P releases slotted in. Well, looking at him lined up next to some other figures, it’s hard to argue that the realistic alt’ mode doesn’t work at least a little well!
|With Masterpiece MP-12 Sideswipe|
|Also with Masterpiece MP-25 Tracks|
|With Masterpiece MP-10 Optimus Prime|
I guess it really boils down to a simple equation – if you like the modern vehicle mode, J4ZZ will absolutely line up well with your other figures. If you don’t like it and yearn for a purely “classic” Jazz, then it won’t. Pretty simple.
During an interesting debate about transformation schemes in the pub recently (as you do), I heard a good point made. Any figure can (in theory) be made to go through a particular set of convoluted, intricate steps to convert to another mode, but that doesn’t necessarily make it fun, intuitive or repeatable. I thought it was a fair point, as there have certainly been some third party Transformers that have pushed the boundaries in terms of mind-boggling transformations, though whilst impressive, many fans often find these frustrating in the long term.
Then there are figures like J4ZZ. Honestly, you can probably guess how this figure transforms mostly by looking at it. It’s one of few 3P figures that I have had to transform without instructions recently that hasn’t involved a single “head scratch” moment. Car to robot, robot to car, it’s all very straightforward.
Too easy? No, it’s fun to have some figures that can be converted quickly and with simplicity, and there are still some neat touches along the way (such as the way the abdomen folds out).
Overall though, this transformation is simply a breeze, and one that will have you converting this guy back and forth over and over I suspect.
At the danger of repeating my comments from the section about the vehicle mode, let’s put a pin in our judgement of this figure’s choice of aesthetic whilst first assessing the robot mode for one moment and start with the obvious point – it looks great.
Straight off the bat, you know that this is Jazz, even if an updated version. The overall design, the colours, the details and yes, that smirk all leave you in no doubt. I’m always a big fan of figures that completely encapsulate the intended character, and I have to hand in to Generation Toy here, they nailed it. I look at this thing and it’s him.
Again, without touching the modern design itself for the moment, there’s no doubt here that this is a well-designed and great-looking robot form. Everything is very tidy, at least for the most part, and it’s all generally in proportion. No matter what angle you look at him from, it’s all pretty good stuff.
There’s lots of nice little touches, too. I particularly like the translucent blue kneepads and the way they catch the light, the lovely detailing on his abdomen and crotch sections, and the speckled silver paint found on his forearms and thighs. There’s a lot of thought that’s gone into making him look pretty.
Then there's the headsculpt. My word. Whatever anyone might say about the rest of the body and how accurate it is to G1, there's no mistaking who that head is supposed to represent. The whole thing just oozes character, and the subtle smirk is absolutely sublime.
It also helps that he’s quite superbly poseable and certainly pretty dynamic. I had no trouble contorting him into any number of great-looking poses, all of which he could stand comfortably in. From top to bottom you have: an articulated head capable of a full range of motion; multiple-jointed shoulders, hinged elbows and a wrist swivel; waist swivel; ball-jointed hips that are unimpeded by moving hips flaps, knee bend and ankle tilt. Joints-wise, things were mostly very robust, and other that the slight hint that the odd joint could be a wee bit tighter I had absolutely no problems with him standing solidly. I suspect some of that is down to this simply being a test shot, but even then it wasn’t a problem.
So yes, a bit of a poser, and certainly a great looking figure overall, but what’s not to like? Well, I can’t not comment about the missiles on the arms, and I’m afraid it’s not going to be favourable. I guess they kind of look attractive in the sense that they use the same clear blue plastic as the knees, but they’re more just frustrating than anything else. I guess they don’t really impede anything, but it’s probably more for me that I don’t see the relevance of them and so would just rather they weren’t there.
Still, it’s perfectly possible to tuck them away behind his arms, although this does also push back the door wings a little. Fortunately you can also just pop them off at the ball joint and set them aside, as this won’t affect transformation in any way. You’ll still be left with the ball joint on the back of his biceps, but it’s not really a problem. This was my resolution in the end.
|With the missiles tucked beheind the arms|
So, that’s not much of a nitpick, is it? What else? Well, I guess if I am really reaching, I would have liked at least the option of tucking the door wings away, even if the “default” look was to have them out. The door wings are never something that Transfans are going to agree on with any interpretation of Jazz, so I do feel like it’s better if there’s a solution for them being displayed either way, but perhaps that wasn’t possible here. Just my personal preference.
Overall though, I have to say that I really like this figure’s look in robot mode. It’s clean, good-looking and articulated. However, I guess that brings us to the big question – how good a job does J4ZZ do at filling in for a Masterpiece Jazz? Well, there’s no doubt that this figure is a clear departure from the original character’s animation model, as you can see.
|Jazz's G1 animation model|
That said, it’s obviously not meant to be a direct recreation of that model either, so I think if that’s what you’re really after without exception, then it’s unlikely that this chap will scratch that itch. However, if you’re willing to bend the rules a little, or you simply love the character and would enjoy a more modern interpretation, or, quite frankly, you just love awesome-looking robots, then it’s perfectly possible that J4ZZ might take pride of place on your shelf. He does look pretty neat alongside his comrades, after all.
|With Masterpiece MP-21 Bumblebee|
|With Hasbro Masterpiece Optimus Prime|
|With Masterpiece MP-20 Wheeljack & MP-17 Prowl|
|With Masterpiece MP-27 Ironhide & MP-30 Ratchet|
|With Masterpiece MP-12 Sideswipe & Badcube Sunsurge|
|With Badcube Brawny, Masterpiece Bumblebee, X-Transbots Boost & Cubex Huff|
|With Ocular Max Sphinx, FansToys Willis & Badcube Sunsurge|
Once again, if you’re looking at those photos thinking that it just doesn’t work, then this figure is not for you. If you like what you see, then there really isn’t a lot bad that can be said about J4ZZ.
By now, I would imagine you’ve already drawn your own conclusions on whether this figure has a place in your collection or not, and really that debate should be settled by just one factor – do you like the modern look or not? If you do, I can’t really see much reason to not recommend him to you.
I’d also add that whilst we will inevitably see other versions of the character come to light (Maketoys have just dropped preview images of their prototype, after all), Generation Toy have offered up something quite unique here, that potentially can stand the test of time by at least being a little different. Either way, there’s no doubting that this is a really nice figure.
|What's HOT? |
Stunning vehicle mode chock full of lovely details & a nice finish. Robot mode is very good with a sublime headsculpt. Also the figure is well-made & (depending on your perspective) looks great in a Masterpiece display.
I don't like the missiles on the arms, though they can be hidden. Some fans will wish the door wings could also be hidden, but they can't. Oh yeah, and you might not like the modern styling.