Sunday, 8 November 2015

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2008 (Timelines) Shattered Glass Jazz

There have been times when the Collectors' Club have produced a figure of a character as yet unavailable in Hasbro's mass-produced output. They generally come in for some flak whenever they do, normally because no-one can understand why a particular figure hadn't been produced by Hasbro (such as Classics Thundercracker, who remained exclusive to 2007's BotCon set, Games of Deception, until 2008, when he appeared in Takara Tomy's Henkei! Henkei! line, and then 2011, when he finally appeared in the Generations line). The only times they tend to get away with it is when the character is in some way not an interpretation of the hallowed G1 original, such as their take on Jazz for 2008's Botcon set, Shattered Glass...

Vehicle Mode:
The most curious thing is that, contrary to the rest of Shattered Glass, Jazz actually retains his G1 colourscheme and, within the stylings of the new vehicle - the sort-of Bugatti Veyron used for Galaxy Force Autovolt. - looks more like a Classics substitute than a proper part of the Shattered Glass continuity.

Molded predominantly in a pearlescent white plastic, the translucent windscreen/roof and door parts are painted with a dense layer of plain white that doesn't match the white plastic at all well. I've been trying to figure out if the paint was supposed to be pearlescent as well but, if so, it didn't turn out that way. Aside from the red and blue striping, Jazz's headlights are painted yellow, the bumper in blue and the front grilles in black. The bumper additionally features the 'Massacre Racing' logo where the numberplate should be, while the two angled features on the bonnet are picked out with more black paint. At the rear, the small vent things just behind the wheels have been painted as if they're indicators, while the actual rear lights - and the entire key slot area - have been left unpainted. It's also worth noting that the silver-painted hubcaps look very nice - it's a great shame that, these days, it takes the paint budget of a premium exclusive to get painted hubcaps. The colours work remarkably well and the layout of his striping has been designed cleverly, the ideal fit to the design of the vehicle. I'm not sure a Veyron-analogue could ever really look like a rally car, but this makes a damned good try of it.

The spoiler section is an entirely separate unit which becomes the robot's handgun and, unfortunately, it's been molded in black plastic and left unpainted aside from a couple of blue stripes on the jet engine block and the purplish Autobot logos on either side of the spoiler itself. I really wish this had been painted more extensively or molded in white, as it looks completely out of place on the back - just painting the spoiler white, leaving the jet engine black, would have made all the difference to its cohesiveness. Since the translucent plastic on this model is grey, the gunfire/afterburner flame/missile is also grey... which looks decidedly odd.

As with the original, plugging in a key deploys a pair of missile racks. The gimmick works just as well as it did on Autovolt, but I do find stowing them can be tricky, as one tends to want to pop out as the other is stowed.
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Robot Mode:
Since the Autovolt model was mostly a homage to the Datsun-type Diaclone-derived TransFormers of Generation 1, it's a reasonabe fit for Jazz - he had the same style of upper body, with the head popping up out of the bonnet and 'door wings', but his legs had the car parts on the backs rather than the fronts. That's largely irrelevant here, since the Autovolt mold uses most of the back of the car for the key-activated gimmick, but it does leave Jazz with the same rather ugly - and ridiculously large - backpack with two possibly-gun-things sticking out and up from behind the waist... Never one of the most elegant designs.

For the top half, his appearance is very G1-derived, with his upper arms and hands being black, the forearms being white, and the whole bonnet chest being very similar to the original. Below that, though, it's all a bit lacking. His waist area really could have used some silver paint to help it stand out, the blue patches bring out some of the detail of the groin area, but they're not exactly important in the grand scheme of things. Where this really breaks from the Jazz of old is the legs: the thighs are black, with white lower legs and black feet. The kneecaps have been painted black when silver might have been a better (or, at least, more G1-accurate) choice. It really looks as though the paint budget was basically blown on getting the vehicle mode to look like Jazz, as this is pretty disappointing for a premium exclusive, even if it was just part of a boxed set.

I complained that the spoiler/engine weapon looked plain and out of place in vehicle mode, and it's not much better in robot mode. It looked daft wielded by Autovolt. In Jazz's hands it looks ridiculous, and I doubt it would have looked any worse with white paint on the spoiler. On the plus side, the rack of four missiles which are deployed by the key gimmick onto each shoulder look excellent, the silver painted tips harking back to the chromed parts of the spring loaded launcher packaged with the G1 toy. The two gun things sticking out of his back can be swung round to face forward under his arms, but they don't look as good on Jazz as they did on Autovolt - with the stripes painted on the outside and the possible-guns left unpainted on the inside, they just look like parts of the car hanging off his hips.

The head sculpt is kind of odd... In some respects, it's excellent - all the usual 'Jazz' features are there, though they've gone for the very humanoid-face-behind-a-visor look. Something about it just doesn't fit together though - the visor seems far too wide within the helmet and the proportions of the head versus the body just seem strange. Particularly with the missile racks deployed, the head seems far too long though, admittedly, that's largely a symptom of the mold used - Autovolt is incredibly broad across the shoulders considering his height, and this larger head sculpt gives an overall effect that this is a large robot's upper body stuck on a shorter robot's legs (eerily like Deluxe class Movie Jazz). My main issue with the head is how flat it is - again, a limitation of the mold as the head has to fit in a certain place, and that requires a very flat head. Another issue is that, considering this is Shattered Glass Jazz, the expression on his face is very neutral. Given his characterisation, the face just doesn't fit... and it was even worse for the inevitable SG Ricochet repaint in comparison to the exaggerated toothiness of the character art, by Yuki Oshima of Kiss Players notoriety.
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The awkward interlocking panels down the side of vehicle mode are just as awkward on Jazz as they were on Autovolt and, with white paint rather than the dark grey, it's going to be that much more obvious if/when it starts to chip off. Other than that, it's neither a complicated nor an entirely satisfying transformation, as it feels as though far too much mass has been wasted due to the spring-loaded gimmick.

Being made largely of ball joints means this was always quite a poseable model, and the long heel pieces - longer than the toes - give him good balance even with his massive, protruding backpack affecting his balance. I was pleased to find that both the knees and hips on Jazz were far tighter than those on my Autovolt, so he doesn't tend to fall over quite so easily.

Back when Classics/Universe/Whatever was really starting to find its feet, this seemed like an excellent buy (individually, on eBay, rather than in the lacklustre BotCon set) to be a new interpretation of Jazz. I toyed with the idea of stripping off or otherwise altering the 'Massacre Racing' and 'Kill To Win' decals, but ended up not bothering and, of course, the official Classics version of Jazz came out soon after, making this fellow all but redundant in my collection. I've hung on to him largely as an oddity - a Shattered Glass figure who has the original paint job, rather than that of his Decepticon counterpart. With a better head sculpt, this could have been awesome... but the BotCon/Collectors' Club head sculpts do tend to be very hit-and-miss. As it stands, it's an interesting take on Jazz, and basically adequate as part of a boxed set, but probably not one to actively pursue (as I did) unless you're a massive fan of the character (which I'm not).

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