#2967: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: UNIVERSE (HASBRO)


Despite a prominent spot in 2001’s Robots in Disguise, Ultra Magnus was effectively absent from the Unicron Trilogy, at least as far as direct presence was concerned.  The name was used again for Energon, on a rather rare redeco of Armada Overload.  As far as any actual Armada coverage, the closest he would get would come two years after the Armada line, as part of the more all encompassing Universe line.  Since I’m in an Armada sort of mood, but I also gotta have some Magnus love, let’s take a look at that figure!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was released in the Transformers: Universe line, as half of one of Hasbro’s “Battle in a Box” sets, an run of market six (close out and department stores like Kohl’s) exclusive sets they tried with their in-house brands in ‘04.  His pack-mate was Treadshot, who isn’t an Ultra Magnus, so he’s not getting a review here.  In his robot mode, Magnus stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 15 workable points of articulation.  Structurally, this Magnus goes back to the tried and true method of making a Magnus by taking an Optimus and painting him white.  This one specifically is based on the Armada Prime mold.  It’s not a bad mold, apart from the forearm assembly being backwards, and has a decent update on the classic Optimus aesthetic.  The new color scheme works really well with it, and actually does look pretty suitably like a new character.  He’s got a set of forearm-mounted guns, which serve as his smokestacks in his alt-mode.  They were removable here for…reasons?  I don’t really know why.  Magnus is also packed with his own Mini-Con companion, Overrun, who was shared with the previous Optimus release.  He’s slightly redecoed here.  He’s got a kind of goofy robot mode, but he can also serve as a gun for Magnus.

Magnus’s alt-mode is a truck.  That’s it.  Okay, I mean, it’s like a sci-fi truck, I guess.  It’s not a bad alt-mode, especially for a Magnus, and the transformation sequence isn’t too complex or anything.  Those smokestacks fall off a lot, but it’s otherwise alright.  Overrun gets his own alt-mode, in addition to the gun mode, where he turns into a jet.  Right out of the box, his wings are reversed, but this can be easily corrected by popping them out and then back into the right spots.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I didn’t know of this set’s existence as a kid, or even until later into my adulthood, so I never did get around to looking for it.  Instead it rather came to me, as it was traded into All Time last summer.  I just wanted the Magnus, so Max wound up taking the Treadshot I didn’t want, and I had a sweet new Magnus.  He’s nothing phenomenal or anything, but he’s a Magnus that fits with my Armada collection, and that works for me.

#2960: Starscream

STARSCREAM

TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA (HASBRO)

“Starscream uses his speed and maneuverability as a jet to launch aerial attacks on the Autobots. No one can compete with him when it comes to speed and skill in the air. He slices through the sky, chasing the enemy and even endangering any Decpticon that gets in his way. As the second in command, he pretends to be loyal to Megatron, but is always looking for an opportunity to weaken his leader’s rule and take control of the Decepticons.”

Present in the franchise since its beginning, Starscream is a rather inescapable piece of the Transformers lexicon.  Other characters may come and go, but after Optimus and Megatron, the character next most likely to find himself in a given version of the story is Starscream, always Megatron’s lackey, always ready to betray him and take power for himself.  Transformers: Armada actually flipped the script on Starscream a little bit, though.  Rather than being purely motivated by his own self-interests, the Armada Starscream’s inevitable betrayal of Megatron saw him not taking power directly from Megatron, but rather switching to the side of the Autobots.  While still selfishly motivated on the surface, he would eventually find his own more valiant side, and even make a rather heroic sacrifice, something that no other version of Starscream would ever even consider in the slightest.  It was cool change-up, and a fun take on the character.  Helping even more on the fun/cool scale?  A pretty awesome toy, which I’ll be looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Starscream made up one half of the first Max-Con Class (the line’s equivalent to the modern Voyager Class) assortment of Hasbro’s Transformers: Armada line, released alongside the show’s debut in 2002.  In his robot mode, Starscream stands about 7 inches tall and he has 10 workable points of articulation.  As with most of the other figures in the line, Starscream’s articulation is rather restricted by the nature of his design.  There’s no neck movement, and the shoulders don’t move either.  He’s got some swivels near the shoulders, and some okay leg movement, but there’s not a ton of posing to be had here.  He’s good for one thing, and that’s standing.  The sculpt is a pretty impressive piece.  It matches up well with how he looks in the animation, and it’s got a solid bit of heft to it.  The boxy shapes definitely work well, and his robot mode is well-formed.  There’s a bit of kibble, especially when it comes to the back of the torso, but he generally makes it work.  He’s armed with a folding sword, which is actually his left wing removed and unfolded.  It’s not the most convincing thing, but it works in its own goofy sense.  Also included is his Mini-Con partner, Swindle.  Swindle’s robot mode isn’t quite as strong as Jolt or Blackout’s were.  It’s okay, but not great.  The R&D definitely went to Starscream on this one.  Swindle allows Starscream to unlock the two cannons on Starscream’s shoulders, which each shoot a missile.  The missiles are, sadly, missing from mine.  The cannons also have a tendency to unlatch themselves from time to time, and, if you’re not careful, the latches can wear out, causing them to be permanently be forward.  Fortunately, that’s not the case with mine.

Starscream’s alt-mode is a sci-fi jet.  The transformation is a little more involved than the other two, but he’s a more advanced class, so it makes sense.  It’s still not particularly difficult, and there are also a few spring-loaded components to the transformation.  The end result is a vehicle that’s a little awkward in some spots, but one that also lacks the major under the jet kibble left over from the robot mode, which is something that shows up a lot with the jets.  In his jet mode, there are some sound effects built in; they no longer work on mine, but there are a few jet related sounds.  They’re honestly more annoying than anything, so I can’t say I miss them.  Swindle has his own alt-mode as well; he turns into a racing car, and is honestly more convincing as a car than as a robot.  Now, why a race car robot is packed in with the big jet is anyone’s guess, but I try not to dwell too much.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Of the three Armada figures that my cousin owned for a very brief time and ultimately gave to me, Starscream was definitely his favorite.  When they were in his possession, I didn’t get to play with Starscream the way I did the other two.  So, when he was finally mine, that was a pretty big deal.  Unfortunately, he also wound up being the only one readily available to me to grab when I decided to get rid of a lot of my stuff at around 15 or so.  I wound up selling him off (to All Time Toys, actually, along with a bunch of junk that they honestly gave me more than they should have for), and it’s something I’ve regretted since.  I’ve been keeping my eye out for a replacement ever since.  Fortunately, I was able to snag one from a collection that came into All Time last January.  He was missing Swindle, but Max was nice enough to set me up with a replacement, and boom, here we are.  I really dig this figure.  He’s just a really good, solid toy, and I’m very glad to have him again.

#2953: Demolishor

DEMOLISHOR

TRANSFORMERS:ARMADA (HASBRO)

Demolishor fights ferociously in every battle to which he’s sent, regardless of the odds. If Megatron tells him to do something, he does it without hesitation. To Demolishor, a leader must always be obeyed at any cost. Megatron values the unswerving loyalty of his best soldier, but abandons him, when necessary, to save his own life. Demolishor has never resented any of these betrayals. But will there come a day when Demolishor questions the orders of his leader?”

Hey, remember when I was talking about Transformers: Armada a week ago?  Wanna here about it some more?  Well, you’re gonna, because it’s my site.  Sorry, I don’t make the rules.  Oh, wait, I actually do.  Well, there we are, I guess.  Last week, I looked at one of Armada’s heroic Autobots, so today, why not give the other side some coverage, with Decepticon Demolishor.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Demolishor was released alongside Hot Shot in the first wave of Super-Con Class Armada figures.  The assortment was the two of them and Cyclonus, who I don’t actually own.  In his robot mode, the figure stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 practical points of articulation.  Before we delve into the meat of the review, I want to address the elephant in the room: I am aware that Demolishor’s lower half is backwards in all of my photos of his robot mode.  I wasn’t aware when taking the photos, or for the nearly two decades I owned him prior to this review, but I’m aware now.  Honestly, he looks wrong to my eye in his correct configuration (I went for forward facing being the side that had the longer “feet” which seems more right to me), and this is genuinely how I’ve viewed him for almost 20 years, so I’ve decided to leave the photos as is.  For moral reasons, really.  Certainly not because I’m lazy and I didn’t want to have to reshoot and edit all of those photos.  Why would you even suggest that?  So, back to my morally correct version of Demolishor.  The robot mode on this guy does actually make for a pretty playable toy, much like Hot Shot.  Sure, he doesn’t have neck movement, but the arms are pretty solid, and they can even swivel forward and back, which not even Hot Shot could do.  Compared to Hot Shot, Demolishor’s kibble his also pretty minor. There are a few spots where extra details are present, but not really that many.  Demolishor also has a Mini-Con partner, Blackout, who, much like Jolt, is about 2 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  Blackout allows Demolishor to unlock the missile launching feature on his shoulder, though this does require flipping his arms around.

Demolishor’s vehicle mode is a big made up sci-fi tank thing.  It’s a pretty easy transformation process, and the end mode is a pretty cool tank.  It’s even got a little seat, where you can place Blackout or one of the other Mini-Cons, in order to man the tank.  Blackout himself has his own tank mode.  It’s much smaller and conservative in its design, but it looks cool too, and can even combine with Demolishor’s vehicle mode for a more complete front to the tank.  In this mode, Blackout can also combine with Demolishor’s robot mode to form an arm cannon of sorts.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I brought up in my Hot Shot review, I didn’t get my Armada figures new, but instead got them fairly quickly after their release when my cousin Patrick decided he didn’t want his anymore.  Demolishor was one of the three of them I got, and I got him mistransformed and without any instructions, so I just never knew.  Seriously, it kind of broke my mind you guys.  I found it out, and I had to text Max for emotional support and everything.  How could I be living this kind of lie all this time?  What else am I doing wrong?  Okay, it’s probably not that serious.  Demolishor may not have been my favorite of the three figures I had, but I did still really like him, and like Hot Shot, I still think he really holds up.

#2946: Hot Shot

HOT SHOT

TRANSFORMERS: ARMADA (HASBRO)

“Hot Shot is a young, heroic fighter who rushes into danger without regard to his own safety. He courageously charges into the middle of the fight to aid his friends in battle. He has taken charge in several battles, showing great leadership potential. But he needs the guidance of his elders before he can hope to lead the Autobots. Will he learn to be a leader who strives for good, or will his reckless nature ruin his promising future?”

As a child of the ’90s, as well as someone who sometimes dabbles in Transformers, it would be easy to assume that I’m into Beast Wars, but I’ve actually never had a particular attachment to it.  I mean, aside from Silverbolt.  That guy’s awesome.  Generally, I’ve tended to be more into the vehicle-based Transformers stuff.  I first dabbled with the franchise with 2001’s Robots in Disguise (which instilled in me a love of Ultra Magnus), but my first real investment in the franchise was during the show that followed in 2002, Transformers: Armada.  One of the central characters in Armada, and in fact the rest of the Unicron Trilogy, was Hot Shot, who I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Hot Shot was part of Transformers: Armada‘s first wave of Super-Con Class figures, which were the line’s Deluxe Class equivalent.  He was the only Autobot in the assortment (which also included Cyclonus and Demolisher), and they all hit alongside the launch of the show in 2002.  In his robot mode, Hot Shot stands about 5 inches tall and he has 10 working points of articulation, as well as a moving visor for his helmet.  Emphasis was still very much on the transformations and vehicle modes at this point, so Hot Shot’s movement is rather restricted.  The legs do alright, but his head doesn’t move, and his shoulders move side to side, but there’s no forward and back.  For the time, though, he remained remarkably mobile.  Hot Shot’s sculpt actually does an okay job of matching up with how he looked in the cartoon.  His race car driver design is carried over well.  There’s a fair bit of kibble from his alt mode, especially on the backs of the arms, but it at least folds up to be out of the way.  Hot Shot got his own Mini-Con partner, Jolt.  Jolt is a much smaller robot, standing about inches tall, and having a whole 6 points of articulation.  Using Jolt (or any Mini-Con, really, but Jolt’s the best one), you can unlock Hot Shot’s built-in weapon, affectionately referred to as his “axlezooka”, which is spring loaded to deploy.  The springs on mine are a little weak, so it needs a little extra help, but it’s still pretty cool.  There’s meant to be a missile, but it’s missing from mine.  Jolt also has a rather big gun piece which Hot Shot can wear as chest armor.

Hot Shot’s alt-mode is a modified Audi TT, which is a fairly generic looking sports car, really.  The transformation sequence is actually rather simple, so it makes it very easy to switch him back and forth without much trouble.  He also stays in the mode very securely.  In general, it just works very well.  Jolt has his own alt-mode; he transforms into a small helicopter through an even simpler transformation process.  Jolt’s gun can also be mounted to the front of Hot Shot’s hood, and Jolt can be mounted on one of the three Mini-Con ports on the vehicle mode.  The central one actually releases the springs on Hot Shot’s feet, to use as “driving claws.”  You know, as you do.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Despite how much I liked the show and kept up with it when it was new, I didn’t actually get any of the toys first hand when they were new.  Instead, my initial exposure to them was through my cousin Patrick, who had a small handful of them, and would frequently bring them over for both of us to play with.  During that time, Hot Shot was always my go-to.  Patrick decided fairly quickly that he didn’t need to keep them, so they were rather quickly gifted to me.  Hot Shot himself wound up getting lost at my grandparents’ house some time during my childhood, and it wasn’t until after I moved into their house a few years ago that I actually found him again.  He was missing all of his extra stuff, but fortunately for me, Max was able to help me out and get me set-up with Jolt and the gun.  I like this guy a lot, and he’s probably the most nostalgic I get about Transformers.