Count yourself lucky I’m bad at ongoing rhyming.
Photober is about different things. One is simply the challenge of producing a delivering content to cover every day of a full month. On that score, I’m seeing many ways I could have done this better, but that’s mostly water under the bridge at this point. But another purpose is an excuse to give some attention to things that are in some way personally significant to me, and that’s more where we are today.
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The Jazz mold released in the 2010 Generations-parallel sub-branding “Reveal The Shield” is unhesitatingly one of my very favorite Transformers molds ever. It has imperfections, but it was such a hit on so many points in its interpretation of one of the variations of the standard Autobot Car archetype. I own most of the different versions released since. In fact, I can think of only three I don’t own: The Takara release of Jazz, which had a distinct deco but didn’t feel important enough to me to try to import it; the Botcon 20…14, I wanna say? SG Ricochet. Or was it Stepper?; and a Botcon customization class project figure meant to be finished as a Shockwave based somewhat on the convention fiction, but also a little on Alternators Shockwave who shared a mold with that line’s Jazz. That last one is one I’m virtually certain never to own, and the other two probably won’t happen because price and interest will probably never crossover closely enough to facilitate it. But it doesn’t mean there wasn’t an off the wall use of the mold that ended up being pretty accessible. Meet GDO Wheelie.
So, GDO is generally accepted as meaning “Generations Done Overseas.” In late 2012 a small line of redecoed and mildly retooled molds from Generations and other contemporary lines was announced, intended for the Chinese market that was greatly expanding at the time. A little later, it was announced Toys R Us had picked up distribution of the toys as exclusives for the US and probably Canada, much to the relief of fans on this side of the world that might not have had a clear idea how they’d get some of these toys otherwise. For my money, the weirdest thing that actually came out of this** So, one toy was designed for GDO and solicited, but went unproduced. It was a Voyager size Brawn using the mold for First Edition TF Prime Bulkhead with a new head. It looked like… you know in Pinky and The Brain, Brain had the robot tuxedo? It looked like Brawn had one of those in his colors. It was absurd. While this went unreleased in GDO, it would eventually be released in the slightly later Cloud Transformers series. But that’s another episode… was that Jazz mold with a new head and weapon, decoed to be Wheelie. Just… what even the hell? But, it was a highly ranked favorite mold, in my favorite color, as an absolutely ridiculous character choice. I HAD TO HAVE IT.
Now obviously in functional terms, if you’ve had the original Jazz or any variation, this isn’t really any different in how the fundamentals work. The only meaningful change of any kind is having the main weapon swapped out. Instead of Jazz’s honestly awesome looking rifle, Wheelie has a character-appropriate slingshot. Which can also be held as if it were a gun, if you prefer. It stores under the hood the same way Jazz’s gun did. Sadly it has no interaction with the still-included clip-on speaker accessories.
The new head is pretty good. It feels like a really good go at Wheelie’s cartoon look, especially for the time and circumstances this was made. Based on the surrounding helmet I’m sure the entire sculpt is very good. But the face is coated a bit thick in silver paint, which really dulls the facial details. Very much a shame, but often unavoidable.
The car mode looks genuinely lovely, and I’m not just saying that because I love orange and this is 80% orange by volume. RTS Jazz suffered for having a kind of sparing deco. There was an online exclusive multi-pack that came with a G2-inspired Jazz that did better, but for something you could theoretically go in a store and find on a shelf or peg outside of Japan? This was the best available deco for this mold. I will take this moment to note that elements of transformation are among the small flaws I assess this mold. There’s pegs that are probably only barely necessary, but their presence makes transforming in either direction awkward and a little worrying. Wheelie actually feels a little better than my original Jazz on this score, but main offenders like the roof tabs are still an issue.
Of course we’ve since gotten a Wheelie that’s “better” in terms of character accuracy and relative scale, and I like that toy a lot. But obviously I keep both. This weird, stupid thing is special to me. Not just for what’s it’s made from, but for being a snapshot to an interesting time with the toyline, and something that feels very unlikely to happen again in the at all near future. As much as I do love what we have now for a lot of reasons, this is far more what comes to mind when I think of Generations. This is something I’m nostalgic for.
Next time on Photober: …well, I can’t just tell you, can I? It’ll be a little different than the past two Sundays since I didn’t have a patron preview gallery waiting to be published, but it’ll be something good, just the same! See you tomorrow for Photober the 18th!