Wednesday, 6 November 2013

TransFormers Collectors' Club 2013 (Timelines) Jackpot

And so we approach the end of the first year of Fun Publications' TransFormers Collectors' Club Subscription Service. Jackpot, the penultimate figure, is yet another Action Master turned into a 'true' TransFormer... And, just to make things as inconsistent as possible, rather than taking his form from Classics or TF Prime or any number of other sources that would fit with the rest of the Subscription Service, they went and adapted a mold from TF Animated, even going so far as to give it a (largely unnecessary) new head sculpt.

You might almost get the impression I don't like this one...

Vehicle Mode:
Based on the Jazz mold, this could just as easily be a TF Animated Ricochet/Stepper with this colourscheme. All it would need is gold rather than orange and a flame pattern on the bonnet, and you'd have the perfect homage to an existing (if fringe) 'proper' TransFormer, rather than a weird Action Master.

This is a nice mold, harking back to the super-stylish American roadsters of the 1950s with its sensual, sweeping curves, its bold, fin-like protrusions, it's bullet-like wing mirrors and the enormous exhaust pipes. In an ideal world, this mold would have had chrome on the bumpers and exhaust pipes... Instead we have to put up with dull grey plastic. On the upside, the spoke-filled wheels are nicely painted silver. The use of red for the windows is interesting, considering this is an Autobot - normally that kind of thing would be the preserve of the few Decepticon cars - but, considering the same plastic is used for the headlights, signal lights and tail lights, it was a good decision.

Jackpot has a decent, solid vehicle mode, though some of the side panels are difficult to align, leaving odd gaps. Thankfully, this is disguised somewhat by the fact that the seams match those of the car door where visible, and the lower part is covered over by the exhaust pipes, so most of the mold's shortcomings are hidden.

Robot Mode:
Considering the Action Master appeared to be based largely on the G1 Omnibot Overdrive, it fits the TF Animated Jazz mold remarklably well. The head sculpt is based on the artwork - prepared for the Club - by Greg Sepelak, though the end result, frankly, is similar enough to TF Animated Jazz that they could have got away without remolding it. The biggest disappointment is that there's no longer any light piping, so Jackpot's visor is just painted sky blue. It's still a two-part head, screwed together, so with a bit more thought, they could have kept the light piping... though, I guess it would have had to be red, so perhaps that wouldn't have been so good after all...

An oddity of the sculpt is that, in trying to mimic the original artwork, his smirk sits right on one side of his face, wrapping around a sharp corner... It almost looks like a mold defect because the face is so angular. On the upside, and unlike the Club's Animated Cheetor, the neck joint is in the right place, towards the back of the head, rather than right under the chin. On the downside, due to the way the neck and the back of the head are molded, Jackpot can look down very well... but can't look up and can only just look forward. To be fair, it's not that different to Jazz but, with curvier molding on the back of his head, he had that little bit more clearance for looking forward, and the shortcomings only became clear as his head turned.

The mainly-black colourscheme of the vehicle mode is nicely broken up in robot mode. With the lower legs being made up of the top and rear of the car, there are patches of red, orange and grey on show. The arms, thighs and waist are molded in yellow plastic and, while the arms only have a touch of silver around the top of the biceps, the waist features black, red and orange paint. There is a very slight mismatch in plastic colours in the yellow parts - the thighs and arms are one colour, while the knee joints, elbow hinges and hands are a slightly warmer shade.

His weapons are identical to those of Jazz - the exhaust pipes detach from his forearms and become curvy nunchucks, connected by a short piece of nylon string. This string on both nunchucks was all twisted up on mine, so they don't always fit into their mountings very well.

Transformation and articulation are identical to TF Animated Jazz other than the minute reduction in mobility for the head. The most frustrating part is getting the legs to fold into place. Squeezing them past the windscreen to get Jackpot into vehicle mode is a real pain, and getting them back out again to transform him back to robot mode always makes me worry that I'm about to break him.

Weirdly, he probably has the best bio of the entire Subscription Service set, and quite possibly one of the best the Club has ever produced, because it's like the bios that were written for G1 toys - it's all about who Jackpot is, and what his abilities are, as opposed to filling in the backstory that they can't be bothered writing into the Club comic (like that of Ultra Mammoth, from what I've seen). It doesn't quite explain how he manages to hold the lofty rank of 'Strategist' (particularly since it seems his idea of 'strategy' tends to be 'rely on blind luck'), but at least it's a fun read and contains vaguely useful information.

As you may have gathered, I really think the head sculpt could have been done better - wider, not so angular of face or quite so long of chin - without losing either the basic Animated aesthetic, and keeping it closer to Sepelak's original artwork.

This definitely isn't one of the best in the first year of the Subscription Service and I'm basically ambivalent about the character - he turned up in some Club fiction (which I didn't read) but, like the other figures in this year's set, has yet to appear in any significant way in this year's comic. The mold is adequate - on Jazz, it looks cool... but that's largely because Jazz is a cool character. It certainly suits Jackpot... I just can't understand why they went the TF Animated route, other than because of his - relatively minor - appearances in the Club's own TF Animated fiction a couple of years ago.

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