Alpha on a GameObject?

Is it possible to define the master visibility of a GameObject/mesh renderer? I am vaguely aware that fading a mesh out can be done by getting its material and changing the alpha value of it. However, perhaps my Blitz Basic 3D legacy has spoilt me with this feature, but I like the idea of an object opacity variable. Is there anything like this in Unity? For example, if I have a hypothetic complex object with dozens of materials it seems clumsy getting them all and fiddling with the alpha.

Is there a much better way to fade out a mesh that I am overlooking?

Changing the material’s alpha is the appropriate way to do this. Some shaders use other data do drive translucency, like vertex color - anything, really, but I think all the stock trans shaders use material color and/or texture alpha.

I guess it’s worth mentioning that the RenderWithShader pro feature kind of allows this all-at-once behavior, though not in the way you describe.