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REVIEW: TRANSFORMERS ALTERNATORS MEISTER
By Thomas Wheeler

Let's get one thing clear right off. The title of this review is about the only time I'm going to call this toy "Meister". It's Jazz. Meister is the character's Japanese name (one might suppose that the name "Jazz" doesn't have a lot of meaning in Japan), and for whatever reason, Hasbro couldn't use it. There's a WWE wrestler named Jazz, which has been suspected for causing some legal problems for this popular Autobot character, but that's speculation. I don't know why they couldn't name the toy "Autobot Jazz", which they did with a Spychanger version of this character, and that prefix seems to help get through some of the legalities on others (Autobot Hound, Autobot Tracks...). But ultimately, whatever the toy's legal name is, to any knowledgable collector/fan of Transformers, this isn't Meister. It's Jazz. Want to make both worlds happy? Call him Jazzmeister. I've heard worse names. Maybe I'll use that for the review.

In the world of the Generation One Transformers, Jazz was one of Optimus Prime's most trusted associates. A fairly happy-go-lucky sort who was nonetheless very serious about his duties, Jazz loved Earth culture, especially its music. He was voiced in the cartoon, quite appropriately, by Scatman Crothers.

Now in the Transformers Alternators world, Jazzmeister is a MAZDA RX-8, a fairly sporty-looking vehicle. Early prototypes showed this toy as being mostly molded in red with a white head. One might assume that he was changed over to his proper color scheme about the same time as Tracks. Hopefully this sort of thing won't be necessary in the future, and I'd still like to think we'd get a yellow Dodge Viper Sunstreaker out of this at some point.

Curiously, my Jazzmeister toy seemed to be a little loosely articulated in car form, and in some of his automotive form. I don't know if that was intentional, some part of the overall design, or if I just got a slightly loose car. In any event, it wasn't so bad that it hindered any aspect of the toy in either car or robot mode, or in the process of getting the toy from one to the other. Just an observation. He was looser than other Alternators.

The detail level on these toys remains amazingly impressive. Clear plastic headlight and tail-light installed in the car mode, accurate automobile company logos, the works. One nice touch on this one -- the figure's robot head has a transparent blue visor, instead of just a painted band to represent its eyes. Seeing as how it's the only piece of transparent blue plastic anywhere on the toy, that was a nice bit of extra effort on somebody's part.

Jazzmeister's transformation is a little different than some of the others. He doesn't have the "little feet" situation that a number of other Alternators have, which to me detracts from the overall "anime" look of the toy. Basically, the rear of the car splits in half to become the robot's feet. It's probably worth mentioning that the rear tires don't retract, so Jazzmeister practically has built-in rollerblades. It's not too hard to wheel him across a smooth surface in robot mode, provided he doesn't lose his balance.

About the only oddity about the figure is that he's a little too slender in the lower torso area. I should mention that the photograph on the package box is not entirely accurate. There's more to his lower torso than you see there, but not by much. It's a rather odd look.

Still, as I've said all along, the amount of engineering and design that must go into these is staggering, and I'm not going to complain too loudly about structural matters like this. That a 1:24 scale model car can be built to transform into a well-articulated humanoid robot is abundantly impressive in and of itself regardless of any mild oddities in the final structure compared to his Generation One ancestor or the usual expectations of large Japanese robots.

Bottom line? Call him Meister, call him Jazz, call him Jazzmeister. Just be sure you call him part of your Transformers Alternators collection.