TRANSFORMERS: ROBOTS IN DISGUISE (HASBRO)
Faithful readers will probably know that today marks my eighth anniversary of this humble little toy review site. As with all of my anniversary reviews, I like to take a look at something that’s not quite your average day’s sort of significance, but is rather a little more special to me. I’ve covered all sorts of various lines in these posts, mostly exploring my earliest days of collecting. Because of this focus, Transformers is kind of out in the cold, since they’re mostly a recent addition to these collecting habits. Today, however, I give them some time in the spotlight with, unsurprisingly, an Ultra Magnus. Look, I like what I like, alright?
THE FIGURE ITSELF
Ultra Magnus was a Super Class scale release in Hasbro’s Transformers: Robots In Disguise line, hitting retail in 2001, alongside the similarly Super Class scale Optimus Prime (with whom he could combine to form Omega Prime). In his robot mode, Magnus stands 10 1/2 inches tall and he has 21 workable points of articulation. The legs are generally rather restricted, largely due to there not being any articulation until the knee, which is about 6 inches up the leg. On the plus side, the arms get quite a bit of mobility, in classic Magnus fashion, really. Magnus’s molds were repurposed from Takara’s Car Robots God Magnus figure, based on the animation of the same name, which was adapted into RiD‘s own cartoon equivalent here in the US. As with the smaller scale Spy Changers version of the character, this Magnus is just all legs. Just the absolute epitome of legs. ZZ Tops “Legs,” but in Transformers form. Guy’s got long legs is what I’m getting at, really. Given his much larger scale, this release is, of course, a far more complex take on the same design, allowing for a lot more detail work, as well as the already mentioned improved articulation. It marked a pretty radical change-up from the likes of the G1 line, where larger figures tended to be much more immobile. At this scale, the kibble from his vehicle mode is also a lot less of an issue, making for a generally cleaner look for Magnus. Magnus is packed with his “Blue Bolts” cannon, which can be configured into a few different layouts. There are supposed to be two missiles for it as well, but they’re missing from mine.
Magnus’s alt-mode is an updated, more sci-fi-esque take on his G1-version’s car carrier mode. The transformation sequence is quite involved, with a lot of moving parts, as well as some old-school partsforming, which requires the legs to be removed and reassembled as the actual car-carrier parts. You definitely need to take some time to figure this one out, and I actually outsourced it to Max for the first transformation out of a paranoid fear of breaking the thing. In his vehicle mode, he’s quite sizable, about 11 inches in length. He’s large enough to hold three of the deluxe class cars from the line. And hey, all of the wheels are actually working wheels on this version. With proper rubber tires and everything. All in all, it’s pretty cool.
THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION
This figure is very special to me, for a lot of intersecting reasons. While I was never a Beast Wars kid, something about the 2001 Robots In Disguise, and especially Ultra Magnus really stuck with me. I very much wanted this figure as a kid, but at the time, I didn’t quite have the ability to articulate that to my parents, who mostly stuck to getting me the things they knew I liked, rather than the outliers (that’s not a knock against them, by the way; they were genuinely really good at getting me gifts I really appreciated, and I was also enough of a go-with-the-flow kind of person that I probably never once mentioned to them wanting this toy). So, I never had this has a kid. I didn’t have any Ultra Magnuses at all, until Siege, when the use of this guy’s alt-mode as a G1-style Magnus’s Cybertronian design was enough to get me in the door and create something of a monster. For 20 years, this guy was on the back of my mind.
During the period where he was on the back of my mind, he was, at least at some point, on the forefront of the mind of Jason, owner of All Time Toys. When Jason fought for custody of his oldest son Chance, he wanted Chance to have his own collection of things that the two of them could bond over. For Chance’s first Christmas, Jason made it a point to go all out and get him some of the best Transformers he could. This Ultra Magnus was included. When things got complicated with the custody battle, Jason couldn’t spend Christmas with Chance, and those gifts had to wait. But Jason won that battle, and Chance got that Christmas, even if it was a little late.
Fifteen years or so later, my crappy IT job that was slowly killing me laid me off in the middle of a pandemic, and I found myself needing full time job, which Jason gave me. A month later, Jess and I got the news of her cancer, meaning that just as I left a situation that was slowly killing me, Jess was in one of her own. The next year was unquestionably the hardest of my life, but Jason, Max, and Chance (who was now my coworker) were all there to help me. In the midst of all that hardship, Chance decided to part with his Ultra Magnus, and gave it to me. If I’d gotten it all those years ago, it would have never meant this much to me. But now it’s got so much meaning behind it. This is my very favorite Ultra Magnus.