"Reveal the Shield" Special Ops Jazz Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: November 2010
Price Point: $11.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blaster

*Text below and images from Transformers.com
AUTOBOT JAZZ falls in love with every world he visits. The tiniest hint of alien culture is enough to fascinate him for hours. His ability to immerse himself in a new civilization makes him an ideal undercover agent – he blends in with the environment, absorbing every bit of data he can, and looks for the anomaly that tells him DECEPTICONS are present.

Turn the tables on enemy forces when you throw this warrior into the fight! Press the button to reveal this figure’s robot allegiance and then prepare him for a battle. Your SPECIAL OPS JAZZ figure is dedicated to destroying any opponent and his deployable speakers and blaster will help you two get the job done. If robot combat turns into a car chase, convert your warrior into street rally vehicle mode and send him racing off to rule the “road”! Figure comes with blaster. Ages 5 and up.

Jazz is one of those characters that really helps drive home the point that the Transformers are alien robots with their own culture and their own way of living. Often, there are so many characterizations put upon them they feel like they are only human beings in big metal suits, but Jazz reminds us with his fascination with Earth culture that they had to learn our culture to adapt to our world. In Generation One, Jazz was the "cool Autobot" who spoke different lingo than many of the other Autobots and enjoyed rock music. To kids in the 80's he was definitely one cool 'bot to watch, especially with his Porche sports car vehicle mode. It was no surprise that he was introduced in the first Transformers live action movie as one of the feature Autobots in that film, and the character has received many toy treatments over the years.

The "Reveal the Shield" line has continued the thread of updating classic characters with new sculpts. Jazz (or "Autobot Jazz" as he's been known more recently) has now been released as "Special Ops Jazz", a reference to his Generation One function as a "Special Operations" Autobot.

Vehicle Mode:
The original Autobot Jazz transformed into a Porche sports car. However, the Porche company has not been affiliated with Transformers since then. Generally the "Classics/Universe" style interpretations of the characters take elements of real vehicles and try to create something evocative of the original but with modern touches. This vehicle mode appears to take inspiration from two sources: the original Porsche vehicle and the more recent Pontiac Solstice modes.

The overall shape of the vehicle has a long front end with a shortened back end, a feature both vehicles have in common. Like the Porsche vehicle the front end has two circular lights flanking a central grille. Unlike G1 Jazz, the front grille is set up with a cross hatch pattern instead of a grid, similar to the one on the Solstice. The headlights resemble the tear drop shaped headlights of the Solstice. Like the Porsche, there is a rather high spoiler mounted on the back. Finally, the back of the vehicle is curved, more like the Solstice than the Porsche. The vehicle is a really nice blend of the two vehicles and speaks to the lineage of the character from his oldest form to one of the most recent and I really appreciate that as a long time fan.

While his sculpt may have multiple influences, Jazz's colors have one: his Generation One form. This is quite appropriate as sometimes, colors are the most powerful identifiers of certain characters. Think of characters like Bumblebee and Optimus Prime who have iconic colors. Through their lineage of toys you'll find common color threads through all the figures representing those characters (whether the original sculpt was meant to be them or not). Even when the character of Jazz was put into different sculpts, you'll find his Generation One colors appearing eventually. This includes the Target exclusive 2007 version and the more recent Animated version. Generally this color scheme involves the vehicle being mostly white with blue and red stripe designs, and that's just what this figure has.

Jazz is cast in three primary colors: white, black and translucent blue. The white is the base color, with the windows and headlights cast in translucent blue. The wheels are cast in black. This is the perfect base canvas to serve as a homage to Generation One Jazz. On the front end of the vehicle is a thin red line that goes from one side of the vehicle well to the other, ending at the bottom of each wheel well. Then, running along the front to the back of the vehicle are two thick blue lines with a smaller red line in the middle. This detail is echoed on the sides of the vehicle, starting at the doors and curving over the rear wheel wells. On each door is a large number "4" printed in an outlined font while the hood has a number four printed in a similar fashion. All of these details have direct connections to similar details on G1 Jazz. Other paint applications such as the side view mirrors are done up in black. On the top of the vehicle is the heat sensitive rub symbol. If you've followed my site for a while, you know I loves me some G1 homage colors and these work wonderfully. He simply looks fantastic and he's instantly recognizable as Jazz.

Jazz has some functionality in this mode other than just rolling around on his wheels. The doors can open up, but that's not all! Located behind each door are speakers. For those wondering what that's all about, check out this screen capture from the Generation One cartoon. Back in the day, there was an effort to give many of the Transformers special abilities all their own. One of Jazz's features was the ability to utilize speakers to put on a disorienting sound (often in the form of rock music of some sort). To pay homage to this feature, this Jazz features more sleek looking speakers. Each speaker is roughly rectangular in shape, with one large circle in the center and a smaller one off to the side. The speakers are cast in black with the circles painted silver. This is one of the coolest homage designs I've seen in a long time, and I love the way the designers found a way for this feature to be used in vehicle like the character had done in the cartoon!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Flip the figure over and detach the blaster from underneath the front of the car.
  2. Extend the barrel of the blaster forward.
  3. Swing each door open.
  4. With the vehicle flipped over, swing out each robot arm.
  5. Extend the rear of the vehicle down to begin forming the robot legs.
  6. Separate the halves of the vehicles rear section.
  7. Swing out the robot feet and swing out the heel pieces.
  8. Swing each arm out to the sides, which creates an opening in the middle of the car hood.
  9. Swing the car hood piece down to form the robot chest. The head will swing up at the same time.
  10. Straighten out the arms.
  11. Place the blaster into one of the fists.

Robot Mode:
Like Jazz's vehicle mode, his robot mode is a blend of the old and the new. Instead of being a blend of some old Jazz design and a new one however, this is a blend of classic design with modern design sensibilities and technology. Any long time Transformers fan will instantly recognize this figure as Jazz. There are a ton of details directly carried over from both his Generation One toy and cartoon appearance:

  • The head sculpt is pure G1 Jazz. It features his iconic high central crest, antennae like protrusions sticking out at angles on the top of his head and his wide visor eyes. By each side of his face are vent like details with an extended chin piece, a carry over design from the G1 toy.
  • The wheels from the front of the car sit on the top of his shoulders.
  • Like the G1 figure, Jazz's doors wind up looking like "wings" on his back.
  • The forearms have a raised design with two grooves in them.
  • The waist section has several small details in them such as circles and rectangles that are inspired by similar designs and stickers on G1 Jazz.
  • His hip design is based on the G1 design including vents sculpted in the middle and on his sides.
  • He has rather large feet with horizontal grooves across the top, like the G1 figure.
  • The blaster has a circular section in the back extending forward to the barrel, similar to the G1 Jazz's rifle weapon.

Among all these classic designs are very modern design touches that help accentuate the larger sculpt. These include:

  • Details on the plate that his neck is attached to including tubes running across the small piece of plastic.
  • In the aforementioned grooves on his forearms are small details that look like pistons.
  • Each fist is meticulously sculpted including a circular hinge at the base of the thumb!
  • The very bottom of his feet have small designs etched into the perimeter, giving them the appearance of having grooves for traction.

Adding to the aforementioned colors in vehicle mode is silver plastic with a ton of new parts revealed in black plastic. For the most part, these colors match up to the analagous areas on his G1 figure. For instance, his upper arms are black while the lower arms are white, just like G1 Jazz. His waist is silver while the hips are black, like G1 Jazz and so on. Black, white and silver may seem rather boring as a color base, but on this sculpt they work very well and are loyal to the roots of the character. There aren't many paint details in this mode. The newly revealed colors are silver paint on his face and white on the forearms. That's really it, but amazingly you don't miss any other colors as these work perfectly for the character. You also get a big splash of red and blue on the chest thanks to the details carried over form the vehicle mode. I find myself almost surprised as I type this portion of the review as usually I like more paint details if possible, but for this character the clean look works perfectly.

Jazz has twenty eight point of articulation including six points on each arm and waist articulation. I point out waist articulation specifically because many recent Transformers have lacked this particular point of articulation. What's great is how many of these points allow you to move sections of the figure in many ways. His hip joints for instance have one hinge going out and the other up and down, allowing for good stability at the same time. However, he does have one more trick to offer: his speakers! With his doors on his back, the speakers can now flip out as they do in vehicle mode. Unlike the animated series that inspired this however, his speakers cannot attach to his hips, but I confess I don't mind since having them in this form at all is super cool. But wait, there's more! The speakers can then be detached from the doors and connected to the end of his blaster, forming a somewhat odd and fun "speaker blaster" weapon that I must confess made me laugh the first time I put it together.

Final Thoughts:
Special Ops Jazz is the perfect update of the original character. It is a very basic figure that doesn't rely on any crazy gimmicks. It is a Transformer with hidden/deployable weapons and seeing something so basic, but so well sculpted and designed is a joy. If you're a Generation One fan and liked Jazz at all, you simply need to own this figure. Highly recommended!

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