I wrote once about how in 1986 my mom bought a Matchbox Lion Voltron and hid it in my sister's closet, only to tell me after I found it that my cousin would be getting it instead because I did not deserve it. What I don't think I ever revealed was that along with Voltron she'd also bought a Jazz. A pristine 1984 era possibly pre-rub Jazz. Ever since then Jazz and Voltron have been the physical toy incarnations of unworthiness and shame for me. Psychologically I could never get over my label of being undeserving of those two toys and that has followed me all my life. Even 30 years later I've never bought myself a combining Voltron toy of any kind. Although I must admit that in my rebellious teens I did buy myself a G2 Jazz when it came out in a Hasbro fueled wanton act of teenage defiance. Yeah I was a wild one in the nineties.
IF I HAD A JAZZ BOX HE WOULD LOOK LIKE THIS
Well now that I've started my new old ad restoration project I found need for a G1 Jazz box. There's a certain ad from Target that I am trying to recreate but in it is a boxed G1 Jazz. My unworthiness be damned, I had to finally get one and move on with my life. Unfortunately, nice Jazz boxes are expensive even in this age where prices for loose G1 on the secondary market are totally in the gutter. But I did find one auction for a busted up Jazz and its horribly mutilated box. It was as if destiny united me not with the Jazz I wanted, but with the Jazz I could afford. Although it looked like it had been run over by a garbage truck, when I saw the auction photos I figured two things: 1) that even with a gigantic tear in the corner and all smashed up, I could still probably make that box look good enough for what I needed, and 2) considering how I treated my childhood toys, that old 1984 Jazz in my sister's closet was better off without me.
POOR POOR PORSCHE
The Jazz in my $28 box-and-Jazz auction was in the shape you'd expect for a Jazz that came with a box for 28 dollars. If you know how G1 Jazzes are made, you know that pin lying alongside the body means only one thing-major structural damage. That's the pin that the chest swivels on, so it being outside is a clue that this Jazz had a lot in common with Jazz in Michael Bay's movie. It was actually kind of fun to hold the two halves in my hands and say 'Aww, Jazz' over and over again. One odd thing I noticed was how the obligatory broken windshield was broken. Usually they're broken at the neck, but this one looks like it was deliberately cut at the roof, as if someone were trying to make Jazz a convertible!
I researched online about flattening old documents and adapted a technique used to unroll rolled up photographs. I put an inch of water in a plastic tub, suspended the Jazz box above it on a platform built from a tv dinner tray and a stack of CD covers, and snapped the lid on. I took the box out after two days. The humidity inside the container caused the paper fibers to relax so the box was really soft and limp.
THE WEIGHT OF A THOUSAND GUNDAM ARMIES
Getting the box flat enough so that it would photograph well was a little bit of a challenge. I've got a couple of messed up Transformer boxes but I've never really tried flattening them out. In Jazz's case I pretty much had to do something because the box wouldn't sit square due to some massive bowing out of the top and bottom panels. It had to be flattened and I had to figure out how to do undo 30 years of whatever forces smashed it into such sorry shape. But I tried a technique involving a mini humidifier and a couple days of drying and flattening and the box flattened nicely. You basically have to get the box fibers to relax by keeping it in a humid environment for a couple days, then you have to flatten it in layers of tissue paper and grocery bags for a couple more. Of course there has to be some weight applied while drying, so I used an entire year's worth of Hobby Japans from 1997. I figured nothing on earth is heavier than a couple thousand pages of super robots.
Now that's flat! I've tried flattening out similar materials before without applying humidity but I never got results this flat this fast.
Here's the before & after on the box's most damaged corner. It's still total garbage but at least now it's square and flat garbage. Note how the bowing on the top was completely eliminated and the crushed flap edge has totally smoothed out.
The rest of the box doesn't look too bad, either. Waviness and major curving have been almost completely eliminated. The worst of the bowing on the bottom panel has disappeared enough so that the box sits square. I can't do much about the whitening on the creases as they will remain even after the bends are straightened out, but this is good enough for physical reality. The rest can be cleaned up digitally when it's time to recreate the ad.
The final touches. I determined that the rear quarter panel decals are not factory applied from studying actual sealed Jazzes and the ad I am attempting to recreate. So I removed the one that will show most prominently through the bubble. Speaking of bubble, I bought a reprobubble and insert materials from ebay seller reprobubbles. I had to cut and fold things to fit how I needed them but they worked well.
JAZZED UP BOX FOR A BOXED UP JAZZ
The car ends up looking good enough for my purposes after just a little cleaning and some hot glue to get that roof back together. I was pretty happy with how the box turned out as well. Lucky for me the ad I am attempting to recreate positions Trailbreaker in such a way that he covers the majority of the most damaged box front. At this point a little GIMP photo manipulation will go a long way. So in the end this beat up 28 dollar Jazz will be a good enough stand in for the day a Target photographer shot one case fresh back in 1984. Now if I could only get Trailbreaker to smile...