If you’re anything like me, there is an irresistible nostalgic pull that occurs around that “first figure” of a particular toy line. It’s like the center of a black hole, drawing all of the concentrated affection of a property inwards until it’s impossible for light to escape. You can get as many toys as you want from the line, but that first figure will always be the entrance figure.
When talking about Transformers, Jazz is one of those figures for me. The Christmas of 1984 was when I received my first Transformer figures. I got Jazz from the Autobot side, and the two pack of Rumble and Ravage from the Decepticon side. I was very aware of the Transformers throughout the earlier months of 1984, having bought the 4 issue comic series (that eventually became 80 issues), but I was already collecting a handful of other lines and my attention was diverted by those. But then a friend at school had produced his Ravage figure at the playground and it was as if he had just offered me a hit off of his freshly purchased crack pipe.
That’s how it starts. Get your hands on it just once. Just once. You need more after that.
Ravage was definitely on my list that year for Christmas, but not really having a preference for anything beyond that, I think I listed “any Autobot” since I needed a good guy to fight the bad guy. Makes sense, right? So that’s how Jazz ended up being the first Autobot figure I owned.
The Transformers Studio series has turned its attention from the Michael bay movies toward the far superior in every way 80s animated Transformers movie. While Jazz wasn’t what you would call a main focal point of the movie, he nevertheless had a few very important lines, delivered with the absolutely unmistakable voice of Scatman Crothers, otherwise known as the guy that Jack Nicholson kills with an axe in that movie about Simonizing. Despite being an alien robot from another planet, there is no way that Jazz could sound like anything other than Scatman Crothers.
Jazz features the heightened articulation that you expect in modern day Transformers, which is so different from the “this is mostly a brick” days of the G1 eighties that it makes you weep motor oil and various other fluids. He has bicep swivels, thigh swivels, jointed elbows and knees, a waist swivel, jointed head, even some motion in his ankles. He’s had other figures, but I actually haven’t had a Jazz figure since 1984, so this is the most mobile Jazz I’ve ever owned.
The “backpack” requires a bit of fixing when you get it, requiring you to stuff a part of the window section up into the roof section, so he’s streamlined. I didn’t realize this immediately, so he hasn’t been fixed in some of these pictures. You can have him with his “wings” out or in. Wings out is very toy-like, wings in is streamlined like the animation.
Transforming him into Porsche mode isn’t terribly difficult. I had a little trouble getting a few pieces to click into place correctly, which is a condition called “Why the hell isn’t this damn thing clicking into place, screw it, I’m never transforming him again, this is why I actually prefer non-transforming Transformers” syndrome. Those of us who suffer from WTHITDTCIPSIINTHATIWIAPNTT syndrome have an inability to hold regular jobs and occasionally trip over our own untied shoes, but we make up for it by being exceptionally good at turning gibberish into abbreviations.
Once he’s a car, he’s a good-looking car. Sure, you can tell he’s basically a puzzle box of a thing with all the breaks obvious segmenting, but it looks like the original toy and it looks like a Porsche, so that means it works.
Jazz comes with his photon rifle that is silver just like his original figure had. It fits securely into his hand, or pops onto his roof in car mode. Unfortunately, that means he has a hole in the roof if you don’t want the rifle there, which means the upholstery is going to get wet in a sudden downpour.
Overall, Jazz hits all those old notes that I remember from the Christmas of 84 but with the toynology of 2021. The Studio Series stuff really feels like it’s going to ding my nostalgia bells, and it’s already starting off strong.