Figure Friday: E.A. Henson is Jazzed About What Figures He Found in Stores

For this week’s installment of Figure Friday I actually got lucky and found some stuff in a store! What a concept! From 2020 onward I’ve leaned pretty heavily on online preorders, which really does take some of the fun out of getting out there and pounding the pavement, hunting for new toys.

I’m unsure what drives other collectors but, for me, part of the drive to get out there and search is from wanting to snag a new figure before anyone else has. A part of my brain is no doubt hardwired to hunt and gather but thousands of years of evolution has replaced wooly mammoths with plastic toy robots. There’s no escaping the thrill of the hunt, apparently.

Here’s what I found this week.

Transformers: Origin Autobot Jazz

Okay, I maybe clipped the full title of this figure for the subheading but for the sake of my word count I’ll drop it all right here: Transformers Legacy Evolution Buzzworthy Bumblee Origin Autobot Jazz Action Figure (Target Exclusive).

That seems excessive, yeah? 

Digging into the title a bit, the Buzzworthy line is a Target exclusive in the US and a Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive in Canada (because as we all know Target tried to make it in Canada but ended up taking Zeller’s down with them.) The line may also be available through the online Hasbro Pulse shop because I guess exclusive is a fairly loose term these days. 

Just over a week ago I saw online that Jazz was popping up in east coast Target stores and one of the next to useless bits over knowledge I’ve acquired in my decades of toy hunting lead me to believe that the figure would be hitting the Midwest shortly thereafter. Taking a chance, I popped into a local Target last Saturday and was pleased to find this figure and another I’ll be writing about shortly.

On to the figure itself, I’m similarly enamored with this figure like I was for the previously released Origin Autobot Bumblebee (and, no, I’m not typing out that figure’s full title). In brief, the Buzzworthy line has produced two of the three Autobots seen in the pilot episode as they appeared in their Cybertronian alt-modes. Wheeljack is all but confirmed at this point, we all know it.

Amazingly, this version of Jazz is somehow closer to the figure’s animation model than the Transformers: The Movie Studio Series Jazz from a couple of years ago. Most of that, I’m sure, is due to this figure being what’s commonly been referred to as a “shellformer” by Transformers collector. A shellformer is a figure in which the vehicle mode folds up around the robot parts. For Jazz, there’s no way a Cybertronian vehicle has the SAME front end as a Porsche 935 turbo (which also makes up Jazz’s chest) so the “shell” for this figure covers that up. And you know what? It totally works.

I’m continually in awe of the designers and engineers Hasbro must employ to get a small robot toy to transform into a space car that it rightfully should not be. Were I an uneducated person, I would almost certainly claim that dark magic was involved in this figure’s transformation. Snapping back to reality, the handle of the figure’s blaster doesn’t really fit in the hand unless a small amount of force is applied. 

All in all, Jazz is a cool Transformers curiosity and a lot of collectors, myself included, have been waiting 40 years for this version of the character. It’s truly impressive how they managed to pull this off. Now…where’s our Wheeljack?

Star Wars Retro Collection Luke Skywalker (Jedi Knight)

This year just so happens to be the 40th anniversary of Return of the Jedi and a reminder that time is fleeting and the memory of seeing this movie in the theater is still so clear to me that it can almost be touched. I also pulled a big, grey hair out of my neck the other day. So that’s pretty cool too.

I absolutely had to purchase this figure since it’s a replica of a figure I had 40 years ago and it’s also a replica a figure my mother threw out 30 years ago. I’ve written on numerous occasions that I believe toy collectors are trying to piecemeal their youth back together and I stand by that now more than ever. The figure now holds a place of honor on my bookshelf where I can gaze upon it and long for a time free from responsibility, when I still believed in a word that was inherently good.

Or it’s just a cool duplicate of an old toy. Believe whichever makes you more comfortable.

The figure comes with a cloak, blaster and lightsaber, I think it would have been cool to make a “blue lightsaber” chase or exclusive version as another homage to the original. The Jedi Knight Luke figures that were produced earlier in the run came with blue lightsabers since it was assumed he would be rocking that color once again. The color was changed to green prior to the film’s release and the toy’s colors were updated to match.

My only gripe with these is the box design which has been printed on a retro card that has been artificially distressed. Aesthetically, I would prefer it to be an “untouched” retro card since the original Kenner cards were advertising design perfection. I think it calls a little too much attention to the figure’s status as a replica…but not an EXACT one.

Still, none of that exactly stopped me from buying the figure. My issues with the design aside, I’m keeping mine on the card for now since it’s my favorite version of one of my favorite Star Wars characters. 

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