Studio Series 86 Jazz
Had my eye on Jazz for a bit, and what a great figure he is! The robot mode is very tidy and he poses like a champ. Comes with his blaster thing and looks like a proper dude. Transformation is pretty inventive, taking what the original did and just fancying it up a bit. I like how there's so much car junk tucked up inside the roof, but it's so tidy on the robot's back you wouldn't notice. Vehicle mode is a good approximation of the Porsche and it rolls like a boss (or Boss, if you will) so instantly wins for me, given the failure of so many of Hasbro's recent Siege carbots to do just that. The only massive downside for me is the crappy minimal effort "cartoon accurate" paint job. With so much white, this really needs something to make the alt-mode pop, and this isn't enough.
Studio Series 86 Hot Rod
Yay Hot Rod! Love a good Hot Rod. Will this fancy new version be enough to replace my beloved Classics version...? Maybe. He is very, very good and Hasbro have even worked in a bit of pink to the usual red they give Hot Rod. Still not pink enough for my tastes, but it'll do. Robot is incredibly poseable and the opening fingers are nice, so he can do the whole 'Darkest Hour (tm)' thing with the Matrix. Only thing I don't like is the slightly messy looking legs - the bits of orange and yellow peeping out are unfortunate. Transformation's an involved affair, so I can instantly see why this attracted a Voyager price tag, but does feel a bit like showing off for the sake of it. Part of the reason Third Party toys are such are turn off are for silly fiddly clever-dick engineering like this. That said, after a few goes, I've found it enjoyable and appreciate what the designers were going for. Alt mode is really good, until you get to the rear. Like Jazz, the back is a bit of a mess of barely concealed robot leg parts. Again, the egregious yellow plastic on the roof spoils things (why couldn't this be magenta too?) but otherwise this is probably the nicest attempt yet at Hot Rod's alt mode. Apart from the guns and -at a push, the Matrix - all the accessories and rubbery bits of plastic are wasted on me. I must be the only Transformers fan who doesn't like blast effects. I find this toot annoying because I know I'm not going to get any use out of it and it's pushing the price up. It's a minor quibble, but I'd rather have had a Targetmaster...even if it is just the 94th repaint of the two Battlemaster robot moulds Hasbro are running into the ground.
Kingdom Ultra Magnus
Not as good as the Siege version, is my honest verdict. The robot mode is really good looking, but not really that much different from the Siege one. New head sculpt I think. Has the same sort of look as that SD Statue of Magnus dropping the Matrix has. Is that a good look? It's probably right for the character, but does underscore that Magnus is an also-ran. Most irritatingly, they've given him ankle tilts...but left him with the 'A' stance sculpted feet like the Siege version! Whyyyy?Stripping the armour off, White Prime is just as podgy as previously, but even more pigeon chested here, thanks to the Earth mode truck body. No effort to do something for the Transformation has been taken for the new toy, so you're stuck with a white cab with a pair of robot hands flapping about behind it. I'm sure if Hasbro wanted to, they could have made that Siege Optimus cab work for Magnus - it's just plugging on armour to him after all. Once the armour's all assembled into a trailer, the look is definitely less impressive than the Siege toy. The tractor cab really does look massive now and the trailer is just a gappy mess. It's fine and does the job, it's just not all that impressive for a figure with this price tag. Extra props for the moulded spots for an Autobot sigil and then not even bothering to sticker or tampograph them. All this isn't to say Magnus isn't a bad toy, he's just a bit perfunctory in his execution. And not as good as the Siege version.
I missed the Earthrise release somehow, so I'm glad she got a re-release in Kingdom. Not sure about the wisdom of that, truth be told as she's peg warming something rotten, along with the SS86 Autobot cars. Still at least it spares me aftermarket chancers ripping me off. Leaving aside the parts forming for a minute (General consensus of fandom - this was acceptable for Cliffjumper, but not Arcee. I despair), the robot mode is actually rather lovely - so long as you don't attach the back end of the car to her back. The Generations toy is arguably better, but I just can't get past that toy's weird hips that look like she couldn't stop a pig in an alley. It's nicely proportioned and she's got a sweet face and is incredibly posable. Not sure why her gun is transparent. I suppose I should be glad it's not pink. Transformation is what you'd expect for an Arcee toy - just tucking the robot mode up inside the shell of the car body. The car's alright. It looks a bit like something you'd see at a soapbox derby and isn't quite what I'd like. But then, when I think about it, if Arcee transformed as she should, she'd be more of a Voyager class Amazonian than the size zero supermodel we're all used to. That might be my preferred option. It'd certainly do away with parts forming of this extent. I think I'd prefer the parts forming if the back of the car did something more like Siege Shockwave and could be more of a proper flying platform thing, rather than, well, the back of a car folded out for her to stand on.