An Alternators logo? But Arcee only appeared in Binaltech! LOLOCAUST!!!!


Transformers Jazz
Transformers Jazz
Transformers Jazz
Transformers Jazz

I seem to be gradually thawing to Jazz, after some 25+ years, partly due to growing appreciation of him in the first live action film, partly through not having watched the original cartoon for a fairly long time, partly through enjoying his missions on the 2007 Activision game and partly through his shiny Movie Premium toy. The latter actually got me back into Alternators due to the silver Argent Meister Binaltech variant, which was so alluring I decided to give the series another go. Thanks to the inestimable Clay, I soon had one.

The silver version was a belated reissue, pitched to cash in on the buzz from the films in Japan in 2008. The mould itself dates back to 2004; after unsuccessful attempts to licence a Porsche alternate form Takara assigned Jazz to the Mazda RX-8 originally intended for Camshaft. Like most Mazdas, the RX-8 has no camshaft, instead using a Wankel engine; apparently the idea of one being called Camshaft is the most hilariously ironic thing ever, because all other Transformers names are 100% literal to the functions of their alternate modes. Anyway, the thing originally came out in white and red versions. A hideous pink/blue one-off was designed for a competition by model Mayuko Iwasa which wouldn't be worth mentioning but for the opportunity to link to this picture. The mould was later retooled as Shockwave (or Laserwave/Shockblast if you're sad) before Takara bought out the Argent Meister variant.


The RX-8 is probably the best alternate mode Jazz has ever had - the 935 is nice but a little dated, while the film's Solstice mode is just a squirt of putty left in a wind tunnel. The RX-8 on the other hand is pretty good looking - behind only the GT40 and maybe the RSX on the 'sexy Alternators vehicle' chart, especially as this version uses the spoiler added for Shockwave. The silver, capped off with just the right amount of black trim (including the wheel hubs), looks fantastic.

However, the mix of a light metallic colour with black internal parts and the mould ageing a little means there are some fairly prominent join lines on the car, which is a shame. There's also some sloppy quality control, notably on the painted rear bumper - the silver is poorly applied to the black plastic, jarring on such a high-quality vehicle. Aside from that, it's the usual Binaltech/Alternators show of detail - opening doors (including the RX-8's unusual suicide doors - whoops, sorry Mazda, I mean freestyle doors), detailed interior, rubber tyres and so on. Plus Jazz weighs about 16 tons, lending a pleasing feeling of solidity you don't often get from Transformers figures. Oh, and his number plate says RX-8 rather than some terrible in-joke. Thank Christ for that.


Because of the weight of the diecast it's quite hard to transform Jazz while smoking a cigarette, but I'll let him off. Despite appearances there are a few changes from the Impreza mould despite the similar layout - the arms, legs and roof are all different. About the only problems with Shockwave were the way the arms always fell off during transformation (they're that little bit more secure on the Binaltech figure) and the head being an awkward fit for the robot's collar (as the mould was designed as Jazz, this isn't a problem). Overall, the toy makes a good transformation a lot more fun, ironing out the frustrating parts. The only real fault is the roof hanging off the back with an inch of clear air between it and the rest of Jazz's body - allowing the windscreen section to hinge back a bit further would have been a nice touch.

As in car mode, Jazz looks very stylish in silver, accentuated by more prominent black, flat grey on the limbs and a few subtle dabs of gold paint. While looking good, it's also winningly understated and realistic - if this Jazz had appeared in the film, he wouldn't be far out of place. The toy has great articulation - if anything, it's improved by the metal in the feet, which gives the robot exceptional balance, especially with the flexible feet helping out, while (unlike Shockwave) you can actually pose the arms without them just popping out, which is always nice. The mould excels at pulling off the sort of flash yet languid poses Jazz tended to strike, making it a great homage. He's also got one of the better Alternators weapons, a machine-gun looking device formed from the RX-8's muffler. It only looks good from one side, however - viewed from the left, its' hollow nature is inescapable.


Good-looking and surprisingly fun in both modes, the updated Binaltech is the best of the three Jazz figures in the line, and pips Shockwave for the title of best RX-8 too. Add into that the quality of the basic figure in its' own right - it's in the top three, four moulds from the series - and you have a superb figure, one of the real essential Transformers releases of the past two-and-a-half decades.