Autobot Jazz (Deluxe-class Premium Series)
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
A boy’s first car should be a special event in his life. Finding the right girl is also important, and to do that, he needs a special car. But for Sam Witwicky, he is completely unaware of how special his car really is… until it drives away from his house all by itself… and changes into a giant robot! Sam soon finds himself as the key to ending an intergalactic battle between two factions of a race of alien robots which can change shape at will- the peaceful Autobots and dangerous Decepticons- as they fight to find and retake the powerful AllSpark Cube that created their race. But enemies lie in wait on Earth as well. While the Decepticons are already on our planet looking for their long-lost leader Megatron, the United States secret government organization Sector 7 already knows about the alien robots, and will do anything to keep them hidden. It is not until the great & noble Optimus Prime and several other Autobots crash-land on Earth in their search for the god-like Cube that the 10,000 year-old stalemated war begins anew- with the fate of both races in the hands of these intelligent, powerful alien robots in disguise… and a boy and his car.
The Autobots have been searching long and hard for the AllSpark Cube since their leader, Optimus Prime, desperately cast it into space to prevent Megatron from getting his metallic claws on it and bringing a new order of domination and suffering to the already-demolished planet of Cybertron. Before then, both Autobots and Decepticons waged a long war against each other for possession of the Cube. Among the Autobots’ ranks, Jazz was noticed early on by the high command for his smooth style in both peace and war. In addition to being a smooth talker and sharp thinker, his small size also lent to his unique agility on the battlefield. Eventually, he was noticed by Optimus Prime as having leadership potential, since he could get along very easily with both fellow warriors and superiors. Though not particularly strong physically, Jazz- with his love of life and culture- was selected by Prime to stand by his side as they searched the galaxy for the AllSpark. Upon hard-landing on a planet thought to contain the ancient life-giving artifact, Jazz was quick to pick-up on the native culture, and assumed the disguised form of one of their smaller sports vehicles- certain to draw attention to himself even if they don’t know what he really is. At the time, only the similar-sized Bumblebee could match Jazz’s interest in the primitive biological species. Though the shortest of the Autobots- standing only 13’ (4.3m) tall- Jazz is also a brave and competent warrior- spotting a small plasma cannon hidden inside his shield, and adjustable magnetic grapplers on his arms for clinging and leaping from Cybertron’s metal-faceted towers and bridges. For his trip to Earth, he studied many of its languages through a planet-wide information network, and so he is fluent in English- even to the point of being able to understand and use the nuances & slang from the streets of America! Jazz’s voice is performed by the young and multi-talented Darius McCrary.
Jazz’s vehicle mode (back) is that of a Pontiac Solstice™ GXP street roadster designed and manufactured by General_Motors_Corporation™ under their Pontiac™ brand-name. Though it debuted as a convertible automobile with a retractable fabric roof in 2006, Pontiac’s first attempt at a roadster was rather small comparatively to other companies’ designs in the past. For its appearance in “Transformers”, several small modifications were made to the prop vehicle(s) used for Jazz’s disguised form, most notably the new hardtop cover for the passenger area, and a spoiler along the back. The 2009 production version- a coupe- will officially feature the hard top as well; though it was custom made by the production team for the stunt cars used at the time the film was being made before 2007. The toy version is very faithful to the real car, also seamlessly incorporating the [external] changes that the production team made to the stunt vehicle: rounded nose with low split front grills, and painted domes for both the parking and headlights; low-sitting passenger section with seat backs and steering wheel featured inside; and the thin spoiler hanging above the red painted brake lights above the merged back bumper, license plate, & exhaust ports. More for the sake of the transformation, the spoiler can be repositioned either raised up all the way, or flattened down. Also, because the hardtop was added to the stunt car(s), the raised shapes behind the passenger and driver’s seats remains.
Unlike the standard version of the Deluxe-class Autobot Jazz, for the Premium Series repaint, all silver-colored ABS parts have now been painted silver to give them a new-car shine like that of the real car seen in the movie! Additional details include a clean-up of the turn signals on the front bumper (they now look like the accurate half-circles rather than dot-like eyes), thin silver rims have been painted on, the back bumper has been painted silver as well to blend in better than the plain black ABS used, the two small triangular vents on either side of the car have been painted in black, and the inserted brake & reverse lights have been painted in with both red and white. A new paint apps that I completely missed the first time around was the non-existent back window (which the car has in the movie) has been painted in with a very subtle metallic-blue, though it still doesn’t match the quality of the transparent-blue windows in front. And finally, the silver ABS on the collapsible rifle (see below) has also been painted silver.
‘Automorph Technology’ is a new special feature that is fairly unique to the 2007 movie figures. What Automorph does is when one specific section moves, there is an internal system of gears and levers which moves another part in the same region. (Although, I’m sure a similar function has presented itself in the other lines from the various anime-inspired series. I do know for certain that the huge “Transformers Galaxy Force” Primus figure had such function(s) in his back armor, leg weapon units, and chest/head.) In the Deluxe-class Jazz figure, there is one Automorph function:
- As the windows and passenger section are flipped downwards, the head is flipped upwards 90-degrees. At the same time, the center section of the nose is nudged forward slightly, and the parking lights on either side slide inwards a little bit.
This moving of the three sections of the nose is so slight that it hardly makes any difference, and sometimes you even have to assist the Automorph function by helping those side sections move inwards since there doesn’t seem to be enough leverage via the internal mechanism for it to work properly. (And to be honest, it doesn’t really change the look of the nose that much, even though this is how it works on the movie’s CG character model as well.) The neck section is on a spring, but it doesn’t really come up that whole 90-degrees and just kinda hangs there. But fortunately, it isn’t that noticeable when all is said and done. Also, to start it all off, raising those hood panels out of the nose section is really hard to do since you have to twist the arm while it’s still transformed in vehicle mode… which it’s not designed to do! Even though they fit fairly well, you can’t just pry them out; you have to wiggle the retracted shoulders to get the arms released in order to change them.
Jazz’s robot mode (back) only partially resembles the awesome Autobot from the film. Like Optimus Prime from the movie, Jazz’s head perhaps best resembles his G1 counterpart’s from the original 1984 TV series, spotting a wide blue visor for his eyes, a black mouth, and small antenna-like ears (though these are pointed forward slightly instead of straight up). The visor is transparent-blue, and extends through to the back of his head, so that when light shines on it, his visor lights up. (Now, does this light-piping actually work...? Yes, it does! And very easily too, I might note.) For his torso, the lower front portion of the nose of the vehicle mode is more-or-less intact, while the windows and trunk cover are repositioned onto his back. His arms, however, are surprisingly small and disproportionate compared to other figures from the movie’s line-up; and nowhere near matching his on-screen counterpart’s. There are no elbows to speak of save for a pair of tiny black levers, and his forearms- composed of only the hood and headlights from the car- are flat and hollow; his three-fingered hands are tiny nubs themselves! (Oh, BTW, in the movie, Jazz has four fingers, not three.) The lower torso and legs have the majority of detail in the figure, spotting sharp angles, round paneling, and pipe details. (A small silver Autobot symbol- the only one to appear on the figure, BTW- is printed where a belt buckle might be.) To Takara’s credit, however, some of the details on the legs do match what appears in the film, so they get some points from me there.
Poseability is rather on the poor and uncoordinated side. So I’ll just get the one small good thing out of the way real quick: his head uses a ball-and-socket joint, and is very flexible; more-so than just about any other transformable figure in the line! There. Now for the rest… His elbows can only shift forwards about 45-degrees. Unfortunately, they can twist backwards further than they can forwards; and because of how bulky his shoulders are, it’s hard to tell (unless you own him) whether-or-not he’s bending his arms at all! His knees have a similar problem, though I can’t figure out why they did it this way. The lower legs can bend both forward and backwards about 45-degrees; all other transformable figures in the 2007 line- not including repaints from past lines- can bend their knees at least 90-degrees backwards. This makes posing him even more limiting. The shoulders, hips, and ankles, however, are helpful and more on the standard side of flexible.
In the movie, Jazz uses a small sub-machine gun merged within a horseshoe-shaped shield as his only weapon, in addition to his electromagnet-pulling capability. But for whatever reason, Takara decided to give the toy form of Jazz a telescoping rifle... which, oddly enough, is called a “sword” on the packaging and all promotional materials! However, the rifle is multi-functional. Primarily, the right (or left) forearm swings open to reveal a socket, into which the post on the rifle fits. For this to work, the associative hand does not grip or fit the rifle, and so it is folded backwards and hidden to make room for the rifle. The trunk cover & spoiler from the vehicle mode can separate from his back to make a shield [which does not appear in the film]. Since Jazz’s hands can’t hold it, there is a peg on the back of it that can fit into either of the wheels on the shoulders.
. . .
For the Premium Series repaint, significant changes have been made to the robot mode in terms of paint applications and plastic coloring only; all molds remain the same between it and the original Deluxe-class figure first released in 2007. With the original, the hood/arm panels were originally silver ABS, but that has been changed to black ABS, and then painted over with silver, while the inside of each hollow arm remains the new black coloring of the plastic. (Nice idea!) All areas in robot mode that have silver ABS- like in vehicle mode- have been painted silver as well! However, the lower torso and legs have been completely reworked to include brown, black, and new pale-gold paint; notably in the lower legs and feet.
What the Instructions *Don’t* Tell You
The Premium Series Deluxe-class Jazz set, fortunately, has only two small marks in this frustrating category:
- In the movie, two of Jazz’s car wheels move inside of his heels; however here, the back wheels end up on the back of his lower legs. To compensate for this, two small round parts are fitted under the back bumper which eventually come to end up on the outside of his ankles. What needs to be done- and I misunderstood this for quite a while- is both ‘wheels’ need to be flipped forward and down about 180°. Depending on how well the tooling was during manufacturing, they will gently snap into both positions. They don’t spin like wheels, but they give the illusion of wheels there, and they expand the appearance of the feet a little.
- The rifle is actually multi-functional in how it can be used. It can fit into the same slot on the shield that is used to connect it to his back, so now you can have Jazz armed with some kind of upper arm-mounted cannon. (Why? Beats me... But it’s ugly and don’t work very well.) The rifle can also fit onto the spoiler in vehicle mode, to give the car form a [non-functional] weapon.
But the instructions don’t tell you any of this...
The only reason I got this guy was because I wanted a standard-looking figure of the character to contrast the Final Battle version [I covered for CDX earlier]. But I delayed too long, and lost that chance. But with this new Premium Series release, I got a second chance, and I’m not sorry now that I waited. While I still find the poseability of the figure abhorrent, especially in the knees and elbows, and the workings & proportions of the arms, I have to say that the detailing on the figure is up to spec and has become a little more respectable. On the other hand, I wish that they had released a new and more movie-accurate version of his submachine gun (which the Final Battle ver. tried to recreate, but went too far beyond). In particular, I got this figure because the repaint corrected many of the complaints I had with the original, and the changes for the Premium Series also exceeded my expectations; it wasn’t just some wacky coloring, or some kind of nostalgic tribute to the original G1 character (which I found rather annoying and cheap). The features of this figure still are far from being my favorite in the movie’s line-up, but what drew me to it was the excellent paint detailing which brought it closer to his movie appearance than the original did. So, as a repaint, I recommend getting the Premium Series Deluxe-class Autobot Jazz figure.
--Renewing the Charge--
[DISCLAIMER: This last section is not supported, advertised, or endorsed by either Hasbro, DreamWorks, Paramount Pictures, or Warner Brothers Records. It is a fan-supported effort completely independent from all companies affiliates with the 2007 film "Transformers".]
Not even a week after "Transformers" entered theaters on July 3rd and became a blockbuster, scores of fans were clamoring for a copy of the original musical score by Steve Jablonsky. However, WB Records said in an official statement that the score would not be released for the foreseeable future. In protest, a fan-supported online petition was set-up to persuade the record company to reconsider. By the end of two months, over 5500 signatures had been recorded (your's truly at #1112).
Victory for the signers was claimed when “Transformers: The Score” was released in October that same year, containing just-shy of one hour of the original score. Jablonsky also personally wrote to the creators of the petition thanking them for their efforts. The CD would go on to become the 32nd best-selling soundtrack on Amazon.com at the time of its release.
However, victory was short lived. Because the CD was so popular, it disappeared from shelves rapidly, and was not restocked. By the end of 2007- a mere two-and-a-half months later- new CDs were no longer being produced, but were still being sought after. Reports of online price scalping were not uncommon when stores ran out, easily selling for double the original prices. (Don't worry- I got my own copy in October, and loved every minute of it!)
. . .
Well, the folks at The Knight Shift who brought you the first petition have come back, and they are saying "Give the people what they want". I recently learned that a new Petition 2.0 is now up, and is accepting signatures once more. This new effort is directed at Warner Brothers Records, and is asking for an extended reissue of "Transformers: The Score", with the potential for additional original tracks to be added.
(Yours truly is petition signer #563.)
If you signed the original petition, I both thank you and ask you to put forth your effort on this new petition as well. If you did not sign the original petition, but got the CD, please sign this new petition. If you are a fan of Steve Jablonsky, please sign this new petition. If you are long-time Trans-fan, or you simply enjoyed the film the movie, then please sign this new petition. I thoroughly appreciated and enjoyed the original CD release, and I want others to share in it as well.
|Posted 13 August, 2008 - 02:09 by EVA_Unit_4A|