With my Xbox still on the repair heap, I haven’t progressed past the first four levels of Fall of Cybertron. At this rate, I may just Red Box the PS3 version so I can do it. In the meantime, I continue to experience the game vicariously through the toys. Today, we’re checking out Jazz, who was a pretty cool character in the game… at least what I’ve been able to play of it.
Jazz is branded as part of the return of the Generations line. We last saw this packaging when we looked at Fall of Cybertron Shockwave, and I still love it to pieces. I fully approve anytime Hasbro uses the old G1-style grid pattern on their packages and the character art is pretty great. Jazz comes carded in his robot mode with his blaster pistol beside him. The back of the card has a little bit about his character and Tech Specs. Hurray for Tech Specs! Everything about this packaging is love, so much so, that it almost made me buy that shitty new dumbed down version of Cybertronian Optimus Prime. Almost. Instead, I just ran home and hugged my beautiful but overly complicated War for Cybertron Optimus.
Let’s start with Jazz’s alt mode. I really dig the various Autobot Cybertonian modes in these games. They walk the fine line of being sort of alien and yet still reminiscent of the Earth style alt modes that we associate with these characters. I’m not crazy about the way the unpainted white plastic looks, but I do appreciate all the sculpted panel lines in the mold. Jazz’s weapon plugs into the top of his vehicle mode, allowing him to dish out a symphony of hurt even when he’s not in bot form.
Transforming Jazz into robot mode is pretty simple in theory. Swiveling around his torso into the right configuration is kind of fidgety at first, but everything else is woefully simple for a Deluxe Class figure. I’m pretty sure I could come up with a handful of recent Scout/Basic Class toys that have more involved engineering. That could be good or bad, depending on how much you want your Transformers to challenge you.
In robot mode Jazz is… ok. I’m still not at all happy with the look and feel of the bare white plastic. It kind of feels cheap, although again the detailed panel lining in the mold helps a bit. The biggest flaw with the figure is the way Jazz’s head just kind of hangs there in midair. It just looks odd. Also, I really don’t get what Hasbro is doing with the extra fake wheels in the robot modes these days. I just saw this in TF Prime Cliffjumper and Bulkhead, and here it is again. The only difference is these are actually painted and more obvious. Why have three pairs of wheels showing on the robot when the vehicle only has two pairs? Why, Hasbro? WHY? Hang on, I need a sip of Jameson. Whiskey makes everything better… let’s move on.
Jazz features serviceable articulation, and a brand new style of ratcheting joints that I have not seen in Deluxe Transformers before, nor do I really see the point. They’re not as versatile as ball joints, and considering how small the figure is, I don’t see the need for the stronger ratchets.
I think what disappoints me the most about Jazz is his size. In the game, he’s paired up with Cliffjumper and he’s a bit too small when standing next to my War for Cybertron Cliffjumper. To be fair, the problem lies more with the WFC Bumblebee and Cliffjumper molds being too large when compared to the other Deluxes, like Optimus Prime and Megatron. So it’s not all Jazz’s fault and the two bots certainly look great hanging together on my shelf.
One might argue this could be a conspiracy to sell collectors a new Cliffjumper figure, but I doubt he’ll be remade in the Fall of Cybertron line. I don’t think Hasbro could possibly make that design work with the cuts they’ve been making to the Deluxe figures these days. Even if they did, I wouldn’t pay more money for an inferior figure, and that’s why you won’t see me feature the Fall of Cybertron Optimus Prime here anytime soon. That figure is a joke compared to the War for Cybertron version. I know what you’re saying, you’ll buy him when he’s repainted as Ultra Magnus, won’t you? Shut up!
In fact, while we’re on the subject, it’s interesting to stand Jazz and Cliffjumper together and compare them to see just how many cuts Hasbro has had to make in the line as of late. Cliffjumper isn’t quite two years old (I bought him in December of 2010) and at the time he was about $13 at Walmart. He’s bigger, his plastic feels better, the paint apps are more intricate, he uses some translucent plastic parts, including two built in retractable energon blades, the engineering is far more complex, and he has far more articulation, and he came with a gun. Even if we write off the two dollar price difference to inflation, you were still getting a lot more toy back then for the same price.
It should also be considered that no one really expected War for Cybertron to be the runaway success that it was and Hasbro never really committed to backing the game with a lot of figures. It was something of an experimental side line and only produced a handful of Deluxes. The success of Fall of Cybertron was all but guaranteed and Hasbro expanded the line with a lot more figures. And yet still, the limited, experimental line of figures, from two years ago, is far superior.
Sorry, Jazz, I didn’t mean to use your spotlight to get on my soapbox, but I thought it was an interesting illustration of just how much toy companies, particularly Hasbro, have to cut back on what we’re getting. There’s a reason Hasbro is pushing the Cyberverse line so much, because the figures use less plastic and less engineering. Of course, we’ve also seen it in the articulation in lines like GI Joe Retaliation and Avengers, and it seems particularly obvious in lines like Transformers where you can’t reuse parts like you can with Marvel Legends, Marvel Universe, or DC Universe Classics. All that having been said, Jazz is a solid enough figure. I don’t hate him, but he certainly has his issues, probably the biggest of which is his price tag. At $15, he’s just not a terribly good value.