TRANSFORMERS: CLASSICS (HASBRO)
“As commander of Autobot City on Earth, Ultra Magnus commands the most powerful forces ever assembled, of which he is among the greatest. He was given the honor of City Commander by Optimus Prime because of his superior intelligence and incredible might as a warrior.”
Man, I really enjoyed reviewing that Ultra Magnus figure yesterday. Perhaps I’ll review just one more. Okay, I’ll be up front with you: that’s a bald-faced lie. I’m not just reviewing one more Ultra Magnus. This is low-key gonna be a Magnus week. Okay, that was another lie; it’s not gonna be low-key. It’s just a Magnus week. Deal. I don’t have time for your complaining now. What I do have time for, however, is another Ultra Magnus review. Let’s get on that, huh? For today’s focus, we jump ahead from 2001 to 2007, just before the release of the first live-action Transformers movie. Ah, a simpler time. The movie was pushed back from 2006 to the summer of 2007, so Hasbro opted to fill this gap in the schedule with some G1-inspired re-imaginings, dubbed Classics. It’s not a huge line, and was driven at least in part by use of repaints. Hey, Ultra Magnus can be a repaint!
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Ultra Magnus was originally packed alongside Skywarp in the Target-exclusive “Battle for Autobot City”, a 2007 addition to the Transformers: Classics line. In an effort to keep with the whole “just doing repaints” thing they were going for to expand the line, Hasbro opted to neglect Magnus’s distinctive fully armored look, in favor of just recreating the inner bot what looked like an all white Optimus from the original release. I suppose that’s fair. In his robot mode, he stands about 6 inches tall and has 20 workable points of articulation. Unsurprisingly, his sculpt is a complete re-use of the Classics Voyager Class Optimus Prime figure. As far as Optimus sculpts go, this one certainly is one. Okay, fine, I’ll actually go into more detail, I suppose. This sculpt is a pretty good example of exactly what the Classics aim was, updating the classic G1 toy into something that felt more modern in the era of 2006, and definitely serves as the precursor to the likes of the War For Cybertron trilogy. It doesn’t strive so much for animation accuracy as later versions would, opting for actually updating the character’s design somewhat, while still keeping all of those touch stone elements. It’s an updated Optimus design that’s not just lifted from other media, and that’s honestly pretty cool. For the most part, it’s a pretty decent sculpt, but it does suffer from some rather awkward kibble, especially when it comes to the forearms. Effectively, the sides of the cab from the truck mode are just one flat piece, so they just have to hand there on the sides, and they never really look all that natural. It’s definitely the figure’s main flaw in robot mode. Magnus, of course, changes up the color scheme, going for his usual predominately while look. It does stray a little further than usual from his vintage equivalent, swapping out the white lower legs for blue, and giving him black hands. I think the lower legs thing was probably an attempt to give him more of Magnus’s usual color scheme, since they weren’t able to do a whole proper Magnus. Like the Optimus figure, Magnus included two gun pieces, which are also part of his transformation.
Said transformation has him turning into a more modernized (at least, circa 2006, anyway) style of truck cab. It definitely feels more like an Optimus alt-mode than a Magnus one, but I guess most Magnus alt-modes are an Optimus alt-mode first and a Magnus alt-mode second. It’s not a half bad design on it’s own, and it’s aided by the guns turning into his smoke stacks and the top of the truck respectively. The top of the cab does have a little trouble staying secured, but otherwise the transformation process works pretty well, and it’s not overly complicated. Even more of the blue is evident in the truck mode, and I actually think it works pretty well for the design. In general, the vehicle mode does seem more cohesive than the robot mode, so I’ll give it the win there.
THE UNOFFICIAL TOTALLY NON-SANCTIONED ADD-ON ITSELF
Transformers has a rather intensive and expansive third party market of all sorts of items to improve your official figures, or even outright new figures to accent your official figures. Or outright new figures to accent your other non-official figures, depending on how you go. In 2007, it was in a far more primitive, much less intense state, but Magnus played a rather sizable part in changing that. Classically, both Magnus and Optimus are trucks with a trailer of some sort, but for the purposes of Classics, neither of them got the trailer. For Optimus, he’s still the core bot, but for Magnus, that missing trailer means he lacks the robot mode that most people actually associate with the character. Enter Fansproject’s TFX-01: the City Commander. Right out of the box, it’s in trailer mode, measuring about 7 inches in length. It’s not really patterned on Magnus’s car carrier mode quite so much, relying a bit more on Prime’s usual trailer, again keeping the vehicle more tied to Prime than Magnus. That said, it does mesh pretty well with the cab of the truck, and they even managed to get the four extra wheels on the back end to match up pretty closely to the ones on the figure proper. The color scheme again sticks with a lot more blue than G1 Magnus in this mode, but I like it, and it continues the visual theme that Hasbro started nicely.
Of course, the main appeal of this set wasn’t so much giving Magnus a trailer, as much as it was giving Magnus that fully formed, armored appearance that we all know and love. The transformation process from trailer to armor is a rather involved set-up (I definitely made good use of the comic book-style instructions included), with a lot of partsforming and moving pieces. Ultimately, it’s not terribly far removed from the likes of the War For Cybertron Magnuses and how their respective armor up features work. You disassemble the trailer, reconfigure the smaller pieces, and clip them onto the Classics figure. The resulting armored up Magnus now stands about 8 1/2 inches tall, and is a big ol’ chunk of plastic, just like he should be. The armor’s definitely boxier and blocker than other Magnuses, taking things a slightly more divergent direction from the G1 toy than later official Hasbro pieces. You can very definitely feel the era of this item’s release creeping into the design, but I can really dig what they were going for, at it fits pretty seamlessly with the other Classics style figures. The head goes a bit more robotic for Magnus, which is different, but still not a bad look, definitely in keeping with that diverging from the G1 figure the other direction. He also at least slightly addresses the issue with the cab doors on the forearms, mostly by just making the forearms much larger in general, and thereby giving the doors somewhere to more properly sit. Rather amusingly, that portion’s really the only bit of the underlying robot you can still really see. The colors do a good job recalling the original Magnus, while also being a really good match for the colors used on the Classics figure, which is certainly a plus. While the original piece didn’t actually have any sort of official logos or anything, mine did get at least the one repro label Autobot insignia, making him feel a little more official. After you’ve got the whole armor set-up placed on the figure, you’re left with a chunk of the core trailer parts, which, again in keeping with the era of this release, can be folded up into an absurdly large gun/cannon thing. It’s so goofy, but I love it. There also were a few add-ons to this add-on, which is where mine got the shoulder mounted rockets, as well as the more G1-inspired rifle piece, both of which are pretty fantastic in their own right. There also exists a slightly more G1-based alternate head, but I don’t actually have that one.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
My love for Magnus is predominately linked to his full armored appearances, since that’s what I actually think of when I think of the character. With that in mind, I’ve been largely steering away from the “just a white Optimus” Magnuses as I’ve been tracking down older ones, and that meant Classics wasn’t high on my list. I knew of the City Commander add-on kit’s existence, of course, but it’s not the most easily found thing, and even the Classics Magnus isn’t exactly growing on trees, so getting them both seemed like a bit of a long shot. Boy, am I one for long shots, apparently. Last summer, Max gave me a heads up on a sizable Transformers collection that was coming into All Time, and said Classics Magnus was in there. I was about to pass, but then he followed it up with “and they also have the add-on set with the armor.” And that’s when he got me. Kinda hard to say no to getting the whole package all at once, isn’t it? As my first real venture into the whole third party thing, I will say this was certainly a fun piece, and is a nice sort of precursor to the sorts of things that Hasbro would begin doing in-house. I do really like him, quite a bit.