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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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numbat's review: Legends Jazz

Name: Jazz
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Special Ops Agent (G1 Bio)
Sub-Group: (2008) Universe Classic Series Legends Class

Jazz has had relatively few reincarnations since his original G1 character was introduced, compared to many of his compatriots. Yet he was something of a rather pivotal and popular character in that initial iteration of Transformers.

Jazz has, however, recently found himself the focus of a personal renaissance. Not only did he appear as Optimus Prime’s lieutenant in the 2007 live action film, but he has also found himself included in the recent Transformers Animated Series, heavily modeled on his G1 predecessor.

As much as I enjoyed his G1 character, I’ve never gotten in to the Jazz toys. My younger brother had the G1 figure, and I always thought it was rather, erm, poor compared to Smokescreen (ah, youth…), and he was later gifted with Pretender Jazz, who was even worse (I fared little better that Christmas with Pretender Grimlock… Although you always enjoy a Dinobot!). I wasn’t impressed by the Spychanger G1 Jazz KB exclusive repaint (2004) of RID Spychanger Sideburn (who I already had), but I picked up the Takara WST Jazz figure in the belief that my love of miniature Transformers would finally find me a compatible Jazz, only to be disappointed (yet I was cursed with receiving this figure as part of numerous ‘lots’ in my WST collecting…). I can’t say I was impressed with the terribly racially stereotypical Jazz in the 2007 live action film, but the design and alternate mode (Pontiac Solsitice) were very nice, and the Premium Deluxe figure really delivers well on the somewhat radical re-imagining of the character. Alas, the G1 repaint, offered exclusively through Target, did not quite match this mould.

Not being a fan of the stylized Animated designs, though, this latest (2008) Universe Classic Series Legends release offers the first chance of a new G1-esque Jazz mould in a long long time, and I was keen to pick it up – after all, I’m a big fan of Legends Class figures!

Even more exciting is the fact that this new series of Legends Class figures offers original moulds, as did the Movie Legends, with transformations more akin to the Cybertron Legends (which were far superior), while delivering original transformations, rather than miniature versions of larger figures (again, like the Movie Line), with the inclusion of some characters not available at another scale in the line (such as Jazz here).

I am quite taken with the Universe Legends Jazz figure, and, although Legends G2 Megatron is officially the best of the wave (and best Legends figure since LOC Starscream, in my opinion), Jazz is very accomplished in his own right.

[As a side note, while all previous single Legends Class releases from the inception during the Cybertron line through Classics and the 2007 live action film lines held consecutive series numbers, and so were effectively a long running sideline of their own – Legends of Cybertron. The Universe line seems to have broken this chain, and so, perhaps, these figures should just be referred to as ‘Legends Class’, as opposed to ‘Legends of Cybertron’ (LOC).]

Alternate Mode:

The original G1 Jazz was, of course, a Porsche Martini 935, and this latest offering is a nice homage to this car, whilst remaining modern and generic. Measuring 3” (7.5cm) long, the front end is rather elongated compared to the classic car, making the mode look stretched, but sleek. He keeps a corrugated spoiler, and the moulded detail is very ‘80’s – plain and futuristic, whilst maintaining interest. The mould really reminds me of Pretender Jazz more than anything else in this mode – although the carefully printed racing stripes, Autobot insignia, baby-blue headlights and metallic blue windows really outshine the execution of that decorative disaster!

Jazz is great fun in his racer mode – and plays and displays well alongside the Movie Legends car figures (such as Barricade and Bumblebee), bridging the gap with the more traditional Transformers design in Hound, somehow.

His only shortcoming is in his unpainted side windows. It’s a real shame these were omitted, as the vehicle mode fits together perfectly otherwise, and is a real triumph.

Robot Mode:

Jazz’s transformation is both simple and fun. This is largely a result of careful design and engineering. Being less complex whilst sharing the same model, this is what Movie Legends Barricade should have been like. The result would have been phenomenal.

That aside, we’re talking about Jazz here.

The robot mode is superb, with black stomach, waist and thighs being introduced to an otherwise white and blue colour scheme.

The moulded detail is reminiscent of the G1 figure, whilst being more proportionate – as the figure is as a whole. The head mould is particularly striking, with a simple yet G1 accurate angular mould with beautifully defined silver face and baby-blue visor.

The greatest departure from the G1 design has been the lower legs, which present the rear of the car, with the feet being formed by the roof of the car. Overall, this is more faithful to the animation model than any toy, although the racing stripes on the feet are original – and they work really well! The diminutive and angular wings feel considered and complimentary to the design – rather than the awkward G1 kibble.

Articulation is good – with ball joints at the hips, hinges at the knees, and ball and hinge joints at each shoulder allowing for a good degree of both stolid and relaxed stances.

The only design flaw in this mode is in the feet. The large toes do not have the range of motion necessary, or requisite counterbalance at the heel, to allow for stable natural posing. This seems a terrible shame, given the otherwise excellent execution of this mould.

All things considered, though, this is an absolutely superb mould, and the best incarnation of G1 inspired Jazz available, second only to Legends G2 Megatron in the Universe Legends line thus far.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 5 – Jazz’s transformation is simple, but well thought out. In many ways, it’s what Movie Legends Barricade should have been.
Durability: 9 – He feels very sturdy, with every piece made from solid plastic. Impressive construction for a Legends Class figure.
Fun:8 – Jazz is great fun, and displays well. It’s just a shame about his oversized feet and resultant balance issues, as well as the lack of paint applications on the side windows.
Price: 9 – Alas, Legends Class figures have increased in price a bit recently. Yet, at ~£3 ($6) in the UK, or ~$5(£2.50) in the US, they’re still excellent value, and must be about the only class of figure that is beginning to sell for around the same price on both sides of the pond!
Overall: 9 – In my opinion, this is the best version of G1 Jazz available (and far superior to WST Jazz), and a great Legends Class figure. He’d make a welcome addition to any collection!
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