TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE (HASBRO)
My personal experiences with Transformers are, admittedly, slightly different from most of those within my age bracket. I was exactly the right age for Beast Wars, and yet was never really all that enamored by Beast Wars, which I suppose is slightly odd. Ultimately, the first incarnation that really grabbed my attention was Armada, but before that one hit, I did have something of an appreciation for its immediate predecessor, 2001’s Robots in Disguise. Perhaps most notably, it proved my first exposure to the wonder that was Ultra Magnus, albeit in a slightly angstier form than usual. RiD‘s tie-ins were rather brief, since it was really just filler, but there were two Magnusi of note, one big, and one small. I’m looking at the small today!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Ultra Magnus was released in 2002, as part of the fourth and penultimate wave of the Basic Class-sized Spy Changers for the Robots in Disguise line. They are, effectively, equivalent to modern day Core Class figures, or, before that, Legion Class. Magnus and his wave-mates were notable for being new-to-the-line molds, based directly on the RiD characters, rather than being reissues of older G2 molds or releases of previously shelved molds. Magnus is, of course, based on his RiD design, which was something of a departure from his classic design (though not as far removed as some of the others, including Optimus himself). Pretty much, he trades in his shoulder pylons for extra leg height. That’s important thing really. This is a Magnus that does not, under any circumstances, skip leg day. In his robot mold, Magnus stands 3 1/2 inches tall and has 5 points of articulation. Yes, he can move at his neck and shoulders, as well as getting some weird side-kicks on the hips. This Magnus can do splits, and isn’t that what you’ve always wanted out of a Magnus. The sculpt’s not actually too bad, especially given the scale and style. It makes for a reasonable approximation of Magnus’ show model in robot mode, and while it’s got a fair bit of kibble hanging off the back of it, it’s not terrible looking from the front, or really even at a slight angle. Really, it’s just the arms, and the bit of the back with the front of his vehicle mode hanging off of it that are weird. Honestly, weird’s probably not even the right word; they’re more rudimentary than anything.
Rudimentary is generally an appropriate word for a lot of things about this figure, including his alt-mode, or more specifically, his transformation into it. You pretty much just collapse him down into his alternate car carrier mode. It’s not hard at all, and takes all of 30 seconds, and that’s if you take a break in the middle to stop your hands from getting all cramped and stuff. He turns into an okay approximation of his some what sci-fi looking truck mode from the show, albeit one that seems a little bit on the squat side. He’s got two sets of working wheels, and three sets of non-working wheels, which does seem a little wonky, but again, at the scale and price point, it’s not the weirdest thing. Probably the weirdest bit is that they painted one of the three non-working sets; why not just leave them all un-painted? I guess I shouldn’t complain too much about extra paint.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
RiD was my first exposure to Ultra Magnus as a kid, and I thought he was just the coolest thing. It’s amusing, in retrospect, because he’s a rather different take on the character, and not really the by the book Magnus I would come to love in later years. I never had any Magnuses as a kid, which seems an awful shame, really. I’ve been slowly amending that, and Max was here for the assist on this one in particular. He was clearing out two large totes of Transformers junk from his garage, and this guy was in one of them, so he passed him along to me. How thoughtful! He’s not technologically astounding or anything, but he’s a fun little piece, and I can definitely get behind that. Also, it’s another Magnus, so, you know, who am I to stop it, right?