Cliffbee.com: Binaltech Meister Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Meister (the Japanese name for Jazz)
Series: Binaltech
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Special Operations
Alternate Mode: Mazda RX-8 sports car



Note: While the packaging calls this toy "Meister", in English writing, it's clearly Jazz as we know him, since both names refer to the same character. I'm reviewing the white version - which I got first, so for the red version you can pretty much substitute red where I discuss white, unless otherwise mentioned.

RX-8 MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 18cm Width: 8cm

   A pearl white two door sports car, Meister has a slight metallic finish prevalent on both the die cast metal and plastic areas. This is a very realistic vehicle mode, complete with transparent windows, chrome hubcaps, rubber wheels and Mazda badging on the hood and boot. The grille on the front, windowseams and wipers are painted black, along with the bumpers. The headlights, taillights and side indicators on the front are transparent plastic, with red plastic underneath the taillights. The pearl white on my Meister looks really good, and the supporting blacks and chromes, along with the liberal use of transparent plastics make this a sweet looking sports car. There's an elegant simplicity to a white Binaltech vehicle mode that appeals to me. The red version sports a dark metallic red, with a very slight oily sheen to it, and actually works better for the RX-8, although it doesn't really look like it's meant to be Jazz.

   As mentioned, Meister's windows are clear plastic, and unlike previous BTs his front side windows are wound up. There are demister lines on the rear window, which wrap around this rather curved window. The wheels are five-spoked mag wheels, giving Meister a somewhat flashy look - like a luxury sports car. As usual, the insides of the lights are moulded with bulbs and parabolas, the side mirrors are chromed and the exhausts are chromed, along with the muffler underneath the rear of the car. He sports the word "Mazda" just to the left of the logo on the back, with "RX-8" on the right, both in silver. The Mazda Logos and other markings are a light copper colour on the red version and stand out a lot better against the darker background.

   Meister has a fuel cap cover above the rear left wheel, moulded doorhandles and a rear license plate bearing his name and an Autobot logo. There's even a handle on his boot, painted black. Like Tracks there are brake pads moulded inside his wheels, although unlike on Tracks they've been left an unpainted grey (which is appropriate anyway).

   The insane level of detail is continued inside this vehicle. Open one of the two doors and you'll see moulded seats - front and back - for the first time in this line. The insides of the doors have been moulded, along with the dashboard, steering wheel, trip meters, handbrake and stickstift. The adjustable steering column is right hand drive and unlike on the previous BTs the movement is not necessary for transformation. Lift the hood and you'll reveal some engine details. They're not as complex as some other BTs, since the engine block isn't his weapon as on most of the previous BTs. His boot also opens, revealing a small cavity.

   Meister has typical play value for a BT vehicle mode - the doors open, the wheels roll and the front wheels are on a rack and pinion mechanism. The boot and hood open and the steering column adjusts, as mentioned. The front seats can actually fold forward as on a real two door vehicle, which is impressive, even if it's needed for transformation.

   Binaltech is aiming for a level never before reached by the Transformers line, and Meister's car mode hits the mark. There are some lessons learned on previous toys that benefit him - notably the back seats, helping a visually appealing Mazda reach a great level of detail and making Meister a good RX-8 model in his own right. The realism is great, thanks to the extensive detailing, chrome and transparent plastic. The white shows up transformation seams, but they've done a great job of making sure that most of those are on natural car seams, so the white paint is an asset rather than a liability. The seams are far less obvious on the red version, and this is part of the reason it works better.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Quite similar to Smokescreen and Streak, with some changes for the better. While the rear of the vehicle becomes his feet, the formation of the waist makes for a more poseable robot mode, and his shins are done to resemble Jazz's rather than the two aforementioned Binaltechs. The arms fold out easier than on his predecessors, thanks to redesigned shoulders. Lastly, the gun is stowed as the muffler under his rear, rather than as the engine which is the norm for Binaltech.

   Amusingly, it's actually possible to entirely transforming him from the waist up and leave the legs in vehicle configuration. Fans of the cartoon might remember in Desertion of the Dinobots that Jazz was stuck in exactly this situation. It's even possible to seat him, again like the cartoon.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 18cm Width: 15cm
exact height depends on pose, width is his wingspan

   Meister is again white (or red), although now with considerable black sections. The head, fists, waist, groin, calves and elbows are black. His face is silver with a transparent blue eyevisor. This is very much Jazz's face, and now there's eyes moulded behind the visor. As a side note, the face is also a good match for Overdrive, and the red version works a lot better as Overdrive than Jazz. There are light copper patches on his hips, while his black groin has a light copper centre and the shinplates are painted silver as on the original Jazz. There are Autobot logos on either shoulder, bordered by silver. In white, this toy is unmistakably Jazz while in red it's a pretty good match for Overdrive.

   The front of the car is the robot chest, a feature retained from his Diaclone days, along with the door-wings and silver shins. The feet are no longer silver plates, rather they're the back edge of the car, akin to on Smokescreen, but since they've managed to stow the rear windshield on his back, the feet look more like those of G1 Jazz than those of Prowl. The legs are nothing like those of Overdrive, BTW. The front wheels sit on the back of his shoulders, like those of Smokescreen, rather than on top like the original Jazz, but the arm colours are again like the original arms. There are silver panels on his, deliberately mimicking the shins of Jazz, which are light copper on the red version.

   Not only does Binaltech incorporate scale model vehicle modes, it also features poseable robot modes. This is the most poseable yet, too. Meister's head is on a ball joint, his shoulders are double swivels, his elbows are double joints, his wrists are ball joints and his fingers open and close, the index finger by itself and the others as one unit (allowing him to grasp his gun). The ball jointed wrists are a marked improvement on G1 Jazz.

   The waist swivels for the transformation and is also available for posing. The ball jointed hips work slightly better than those on Streak and Smokescreen, thanks to some minor improvements in their design, while the loss of the rear window panels on the Subarus allows Meister to have double joints in his ankles - hinges and now swivels. The knees are ratcheting hinges. His toes (ie the car bumper) are poseable, lifting up and down and rotating so they can sit flat against the table in poses - again an improvement over the Subarus. Along with the heelspurs under his feet, his means his feet are stable in most poses, which a little work. I'm actually struggling to think of any joints that would realistically need extra movement - Meister seems to have all the options covered. After about two minutes of thinking, all I can come up with is swivels around the elbows that would allow him to point his gun out to the side.

   In terms of engineering, this robot mode is so close to perfect it's not funny. The heelspurs could have been a little sturdier and the elbows are slightly limited, but really this is clutching at straws compared to most Transformers. The colours work well, the layout of Mazda parts works and the toy is clearly Jazz. Considering the vehicle mode this emerges from it's a fantastic effort. In this mode I wouldn't really favour one colour scheme over the other, although the White is obviously a better match to Jazz.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, there are both white and red versions, of both the Binaltech and Alternators versions. I've written a profile for the red version as the Throttlebot Chase. Laserwave (Shockwave) is a repaint and retool of Meister.

OVERALL

   It seems the guy designing Binaltech is locked in a room or something, because he seems to keep churning out better and better toys. Both modes are fantastic and look great - at least in white. The pearl white is a great choice and the detail in both modes is great. The engineering is great and Meister has the best articulation seen in the BT line so far. If you're after Jazz, grab the white version, but if you're more interested in the toy than the character, the red's vehicle mode is slightly nicer. Either way, this is a fantastic toy - 10/10

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