Sunday, 1 May 2016

TransFormers (Movie) Jazz (Target Exclusive G1 Repaint)

When Jazz was first revealed as a character in the first live action TransFormers movie, few people would have foreseen that, by the time the credits rolled, the issues with his alternate mode would be the least of our complaints. Sure, the Pontiac Solstice isn't a patch on the Porsche 935 of the original G1 character, and silver was a boring - yet predictable - choice of body colour (later misapplied to Sideswipe as well) but, seriously, movie Jazz was under-characterised and wasted in every sense of the word.

So here's a deep, philosophical question for you: Does a G1 repaint of an underwhelming toy of a wasted character make up for any of that? As the 'bot himself would surely say, "Do it with style, or don't bother doing it".

Vehicle Mode:
Well, I guess it's a reasonable attempt at replicating G1 Jazz's look, albeit with some horribly anaemic paint and without any of the Martini Racing details. That is to say, the roundel appears on his doors, but in only one colour - blue - and using Jazz's name rather than Martini, Martinii, or any other fictitious name they could have come up with as race sponsors. The paintwork on the body is also sadly incomplete - the doors feature a band of blue paint at the bottom, but it only covers that particular section of the toy, while the raised bar of detail extends the full distance between his front and rear wheel wells. The '4' on the doors is also in blue, meaning it lacks the impact of the original's stark black numbering.

On the upside, there's loads of supplemental paint that improves the overall look of the car - the headlights are all painted - silver for the main ones, pale cyan for the lower ones - the grille is painted matte black, the bottom of the bumper is painted red, the raise arrowhead of the Pontiac logo is picked out in red on the blue stripe... even the tail lights are painted. Adding the finishing touch, all the hubcaps are painted silver. The striping looks pretty good, and actually runs the full length of the car - bonnet, roof and boot - with the dark blue, red and pale cyan paints all used. Sadly, the rear end still has a large area of unpainted black plastic in service of robot mode, and the rear window still hasn't been painted in, nor have the vent details behind the front wheel wells and ahead of the rear. On a mold whose biggest advantage is that there just ain't that much molded detail to be lost in the stark white plastic, this is a glaring omission.

Some of the paintwork is a bit sloppy, and there was some wear and tear on mine straight out of the packaging, but that's very much 'luck of the draw'. The worst of it is a thin trail of white paint on the left side window and some scuffing on one of the doors, so it doesn't really bother me a great deal.

Probably the most disappointing aspect of this figure is that it's packaged with the awful 'lance' weapon of the original toy's release, now molded mostly in white plastic. As the part of the toy with the most detail, leaving it unpainted just gives the impression that nobody really cared about it... Which is probably very true.

Robot Mode:
Well, if the original version ended up looking podgy because if his extremely short, wide torso, this one makes it even worse because of the contrast in colours. The original was all grey, this one is black, white and silver. The limbs could have used a bit more paintwork - particularly something on the hips to bring out the molded detail - but the body looks pretty good (albeit like it's missing about an inch of waist) and the head looks decent - albeit no less rabbit-like - in Jazz's traditional colourscheme.

Probably the best part of this is the heavily G1-referential hip area, where silver paint brings out lots of panel detailing. It's sad that the silver paint wasn't added to the tiny sliver of belly he has just above the waist connection, but that's pretty much hidden by the chest anyway. It's a source of no end of amusement for me that the only Autobot insignia on the entire model is stamped front and centre on his groin.

While the boot/shield and 'lance' look a bit more interesting on this version, they're still poorly designed and underachieving accessories. I know it's unfair to expect new accessories for a simple, store-exclusive repaint, but the colourscheme really highlights how much this figure needed a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher.

Ultimately, this is a curiosity and a nostalgia piece. Like the myriad G1-inspired repaints of each iteration of movie Optimus Prime, it's interesting to see another of the so-called Bayformers in such a familiar colourscheme. It highlights - for better or worse - how different the designs are from those of our youth, yet gives us a glimpse of what could have been, had the design decisions not been part of a massive General Motors marketing campaign for their latest vehicles.

On balance, I kind of prefer this version to the original, and certainly over the Final Battle version. Perhaps it might have been better with the latter's Cresecent Gun, or with wholly new G1-styled weapon accessories, or simply with a slightly more extensive paint job for the robot mode. Having seen this, though, I'd probably buy a G1 repaint of the excellent Human Alliance model... Particularly if it was a WeiJiang release, to the same standard as their Commander.

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