Tuesday, 26 July 2011

TransFormers (Movie) Jazz

Jazz got a seriously raw deal in the live-action TransFormers movie. Optimus Prime's stylish, brilliant Special Operations Agent was reduced to a wannabe Gangsta whose saving grace was that he only had about three lines of (terrible) dialogue before he died at Megatron's hands. Not only that, but the fans poured scorn on the choice of car for his alternate mode - the Pontiac Solstice - and the filmmakers' choice of colour scheme... Not the best way to start, so... "What's crackin' li'l bitches?"


Vehicle Mode:
There's not denying there's something essentially bland about the Solstice. On paper, it ticks all the right boxes - sporty, compact, sleek, curvy, bold... and yet the way it comes together makes it seem more like Ford's attempt at a 'safe' sports car than the latest in a long line of high performance street cars by one of the most prestigious names in the automotive industry.

And it doesn't help that Hasbro decided up use plain grey plastic (albeit with subtle metallic flake) rather than going the extra mile and painting him silver. A silver Solstice might have been a little bit more impressive. A grey Solstice is just dull. What little paint there is brings out the headlights, indicators and tail-lights. Straight out of the packaging, a good deal of the rear of the car is bare black plastic, which I swiftly painted over in silver.

But it's a reasonably good representation of the car, with mostly sensible use of natural seams for transformation, so it looks about as smooth and sleek as it possibly could. The spoiler on the back is a bit of an oddity, in that it tilts. Partly, this is to better accommodate Jazz's weapon - the lance including with this original version, or the crescent gun that was packaged with 'Final Battle Jazz'.

Transparent blue plastic is used for most of the windows though, because of certain aspects of the transformation, there's no rear windscreen - it's the same flat grey of the rest of the car body, not even painted. Inside the car, there are shallowly molded seat and dashboard details though, since neither of the doors open, that struck me as a little redundant.
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Robot Mode:
Jazz just had the worst luck in the first TransFormers movie, and his Deluxe robot mode piles on still further ignominy. Everything up to the groin looks OK, and in proportion... but then, what happened to his torso? His body goes straight from his hips to his chest, with no waist in between.

If that wasn't bad enough, he doesn't even really have arms... The upper arms are stubby blocks, and lower arms are the bonnet folded back on itself, with strange horn things protruding from the wrists. OK, fine, Jazz in the movie had four fingered claws rather than 'proper' hands, but I count three digits on these... things.

The 'logic' behind the floppy 'sandwich' forearms is that his weapon plugs into the top half, leaving the bottom half hanging on his inner wrist but, frankly, they don't look like proper forearms with or without the weapons. And the fact that Final Battle Jazz's crescent gun fits just as well as the packaged lance goes to show how little was actually modified between the two molds.

Legs aside, there's barely a single part of this model that looks like Movie Jazz from any angle. Side views only emphasise the squat form and empty forearms, and the rear not only shows off far too many car parts but also that the whole spoiler section of the car is essentially superfluous to the robot. The idea - for whatever reason - was that it could plug into either shoulder to become a shield, or connect with the lance to create the crescent gun. Sadly, the combination of the lance and the car's spoiler section looks absolutely nothing like the crescent gun.

He's not even a particularly poseable robot, despite having all the necessary joints. The knees are limited by the car doors, which remain attached to the thighs (some clever kitbashers fixed this, so that Movie Jazz had something akin to the G1 model's door-wings) and the arms, while mobile, just can't do anything that makes them look like arms.

Worse still, the point job is just as bad in robot mode as it was in vehicle mode. There are a few more colours, but far too much black. The face was painted black, the feet were black, the knees were black... and the applications of coppery paint were pretty inadequate... Yet again, I pulled out my paintbrushes and gave Jazz's robot mode something like the paint job he deserved.

The head mold is so bad it's difficult to tell how much of it is down to the its size, and how much is down to yet more useless pre-production artwork. On the upside, it's on a ball joint (albeit resting on a very floppy platform) and the light piping is excellent.
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The best description I can come up with for the transformation is that it's novel. Technically, Movie Jazz is the most similar to his G1 ancestor, in that the chest is basically the front of the car with very little alteration (unlike Bumblebee, Ratchet and Ironhide), and the legs are the back of the car, though the arms form from the bonnet rather than rotating out from beneath it.

The stubby look of this figure really ruins it and, even though Jazz turned out to be a very minor character in the film, it's disappointing that this was all there was until the Human Alliance version that came out three years later, following Revenge of the Fallen. For completists, and those who are keen on having the full set of movie characters, Jazz may be a necessary disappointment... for everyone else, the Human Alliance model is a much better investment.

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