In my never ending quest to only publish nice and easy posts on Tuesdays, I remember I had this weird Taiwanese Action Master Jazz KO sitting around. I’d never even opened it before yesterday. Since it’s a garish nightmare and a bootleg of a toy that came out in 1990, I figured it would be perfect for our purposes. And I was right!
This won’t be a full on review, but the combination of photos and brilliant prose should be enough to satisfy your needs.
This is another “gallery style” post, as I feel the images do a lot of the talking for this one. Anyway, put on some bootleg Ray Bans or whatever because this Transformers knockoff is BRIGHT.
Transformers Action Master Jazz KO (Taiwan) Gallery and Quick Review
I’m not sure when this toy was produced. I’m guessing it came around sometime in the 1990s. The packaging itself was pretty old and frail when I opened it. Also, I can’t imagine any bootleggers gave Action Masters the time of day after 1998 or so. If you know when this handsome fellow was released, please let me know in the comments and I’ll update the post.
So, here’s the packaging. This KO Jazz from Taiwan came in a somewhat-nice box. The text proclaims that he’s a “BOA METAMORPH” which sounds reasonable to me. The box you see here is pretty faded, but I love the terrible menagerie of colors. It’s like a kaleidoscope of hues from a college art film made in 1992. Except the movie wasn’t made for a film class– some group of knuckleheads made it for their College Algebra class to make a point about how Club MTV being canceled was “communism, actually.”
The packaging features artwork of our friend Jazz and his Turbo Board, but also of Rad and Lionizer. I’m not sure if Rad was bootlegged around the same time by this company, but it seems like a safe bet.
The instructions from 1990 Action Master Jazz are copied verbatim on the back of the box, which was probably a smart move.
The figure inside is encased in a nice plastic tray. Also, the box fell apart as soon as I opened it. It has since been recycled.
Now we get to the figure itself. It’s mainly cast in neon green and bright yellow plastic with a surprising amount of red, gold, silver, and blue paint. You’ll see a close comparison to the original Action Master Jazz in the next section, but this is more paint than I’d expect from a wacko bootleg. It seems like Taiwan really went the extra mile for KO toys in the 90s.
I think I’ve seen this Taiwanese Action Master Jazz KO in a couple of different color schemes, but this is the one I found on eBay a couple years ago. It was pretty affordable, too. Sometimes Transformers KOs go for bonkers prices these days. It makes sense in a way since they’re fun curiosities, but they’re also cheap and plentiful bootlegs.
Anyway, I got this figure at a time when I was trying to complete my domestic Action Master collection (I still need Sprocket and Gutcruncher, oh no) and was searching eBay for Action Masters almost daily. Jazz is my favorite of the 1984 Autobots (tied with Ratchet, perhaps) and this color scheme just called me by my name. It was a pretty easy purchase.
This KO from Taiwan uses the exact same mold as Action Master Jazz, including the accessories. The one “off” thing about it (other than the colors, but I consider those to be much more of a feature than a bug) is the sticker on the chest. It was applied terribly– it’s super off-center. I find it hilarious, though, so I haven’t tried to fix it.
There’s some paint slop, but it actually looks really good for the most part. I like that they painted the top of the torso gold, which you don’t see from a lot of different angles and they absolutely did not have to do. The paint on the face, eyes, chin, and helmet also looks pretty dang impressive.
Other than the silly sticker, this is a nice looking toy!
Surprisingly, the plastic quality is pretty nice. You can tell it’s a KO when you’re touching it, but it doesn’t feel weak, greasy, or brittle. All of the joints are tight and move as intended. There’s no creaking and I’m not scared I’m going to break anything. If you’re handling this toy and an actual Action Master, you can tell the difference. But, on its own, it feels pretty nice.
Action Masters use o-rings and t-hooks, similar to ARAH-era GI Joe figures. I’m not 100% sure this figure has an o-ring, but I think it does. And, if that’s the case, it’s held up very well over time. The legs work and move better than some of my Hasbro Action Masters, who are never quite the same after you replace their o-rings.
This KO Action Master Jazz comes with the same accessories as his Hasbro counterpart. He comes with his pistol (described as an Electromagnetizer Gun) and his Turbo Board, which functions as a Cybertronian skateboard and a giant cannon. Instead of the Hasbro version’s grey plastic, KO Jazz’s accessories are molded in some sort of fuchsia color.
The accessories work well, too. He holds his weapon perfectly, and it fits nicely both on its mounting point in Turbo Board mode and its mounting point in cannon mode. The figure’s feet easily fit in all four of the board’s foot pegs (which double as weapon handles, since they are all 3mm pegs) and it rolls effortlessly on smooth surfaces. This is one of the better and more functional action figure skateboard accessories I’ve ever handled, which is true for both Hasbro Jazz and Taiwanese Jazz.
If you press the purple switch on top of the Turbo Board, two gun barrels flip out from the front. Then you swivel the front portion of the board around so it’s perpendicular to the rest of the skateboard and attach Jazz’s Electromagnetizer Gun to the two new gun barrels. The spring-loaded trigger actually works just fine, which came as a surprise to me. And then you have an unwieldy giant cannon.
It’s funny, if nothing else.
The figure can hold the Turbo Board cannon and his pistol separately, of course, too. I’m kind of torn on the Turbo Board– a lot of Action Masters got either cute little animal or robot partners, or flight packs that attached to their back. I am all for cool space skateboards, but it doesn’t quite strike the same chord as a little robot alligator or lion.
Also, I find the pistol looks a little awkward when attached to the big cannon, but the cannon itself is super awkward so I don’t know how much it matters.
So now we’ll get to the comparisons. Whoever this Taiwanese bootleg company was, they didn’t change the size of the figure. He fits right in with other Action Masters and all accessories are interchangeable. They only changed the colors. Drastically changed them, but still.
For those of you who have never owned an Action Master, they are roughly the size of an ARAH-era GI Joe figure and were kind of Hasbro’s attempt to bring that style of action figure into the world of Transformers.
Their legs move exactly like a GI Joe’s legs (ball jointed hips made possible by a metal t-hook, along with hinged knees), their arms are on swivels, and their heads can turn from side to side. It’s much more articulation than a standard G1 Transformer has, but not nearly as much as a GI Joe figure has.
When you line him up with Hasbro’s Action Master Jazz, the paint applications don’t exactly translate. The faux tires on real Jazz’s lower legs and shoulders are painted black and his headlights and chest stripe are picked out in paint. The KO figure adds those gold paint apps to the chest, though. And they also leave the “backpack” detail alone, resulting in a very cool look when you view the figure from the back.
I just love that neon green.
Overall, this is a very nice KO. I thought it was going to crumble to dust as soon as I touched it, but it’s shockingly hardy. I think a kid could play with this toy without any problems.
And, for a collector or Action Master enthusiast, this is a very fun piece to have. It definitely adds some outlandish variety to any Action Master collection or display. My only regret about this figure is that I didn’t open it up earlier.
If you enjoy these very specific sorts of things, know this one gets my seal of approval.
Closing Thoughts on Transformers Action Master Jazz KO (Taiwan)
Thanks for reading!
This will be a GI Joe heavy month at The Dragon Fortress, so I want to break things up a little bit with my Tuesday posts. Even if you don’t love Action Masters, I hope you enjoyed this one anyway.
What’s the most garishly colored bootleg you’ve ever seen? Would you buy a repaint of the Studio Series 86 Jazz in these colors? Would this color scheme have been perfect for the European-only Action Master releases? Let me know in the comments!