#2748: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: KINGDOM (HASBRO)

“Ultra Magnus is all soldier. He is most comfortable when he is carrying out Optimus Prime’s orders – giving it all of his magnificent fighting skills, courage and gift for battlefield improvisation. And he is uncomfortable when the mantle of leadership is placed over his broad shoulders. He sees himself as a follower, not a commander, and is reluctant to assume authority until it is clear that he has no choice but to lead. And when he does finally lead, he is resolute, fair and courageous beyond reproach. He is ever-ready to sacrifice himself for the good of his companions and mission, and unstinting in his preparedness so that his ‘people’ will be as protected as possible.”

Oh, did you guys see this one coming?  I bet you didn’t!  Oh, yeah, it’s another Ultra Magnus!  What a crazy turn of events!  Who could have predicted this sudden and shocking twist?  …Okay, so, yeah, we’ve got another Magnus today.  I know, it’s very on-brand for me these days.  But hey, this one’s new!  It’s a much rarer occasion that I get to look at a new Magnus figure.  Now, as I’ve brought up in the Studio Series reviews, this year marks the 35th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie, and Hasbro’s been using that as a reason to give us updates on most of the film’s core cast, split between Studio Series and Kingdom.  Magnus found himself as a part of the Kingdom component, and, after a cameo appearance in this year’s April Fool’s Day post, I’m taking a look at that particular figure proper today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus is the new half of the second Leader Class assortment of the Kingdom line, packaged alongside a re-pack of the Beast Mode Megatron figure.  As I touched on above, he’s designed to be compatible with the Studio Series ’86 figures, and is as such quite a bit more G1-animation-inspired than the Siege Magnus was.  In his fully-armored robot mode, Magnus stands 7 1/4 inches tall and he has 20 workable points of articulation.  This version of Magnus shares much of his engineering, and a few of his parts outright, with the Siege Magnus.  Siege Magnus was one of that line’s best offerings, so it’s certainly not a bad starting point.  The internal stuff is where most of shared parts are, as well as a good chunk of the arms and legs.  The biggest changes are definitely on the figure’s upper half, which grants him an all-new head and shoulders, and well as a rather reworked chest piece, and an adjusted pelvis piece.  The end result crafts the far more animation accurate exterior of the figure.  It’s quite a bit cleaner, lacking most of the greebliness of the Siege sculpt.  I appreciated the Siege set-up for what it was, but there’s definitely something that really works about the much cleaner animation-styled look.  I also really like that they’ve adjusted the head sculpt to give Magnus the lenses over his eyes that he gained in animation, further differentiating him from the vintage toy style eyes on the prior release.  The paint work does it’s fair part in continuing the animation look, as it strays from Siege‘s battle-damaged look entirely, crafting again a much cleaner appearance for the character.  I also really dig the light piping added to this one’s head sculpt; it adds an extra bit of pop.  Magnus is packed with the same larger rifle as both Siege releases (in a shade of silver between those two), as well as a revamped pair of shoulder rockets to match the cleaned up design.  Mine actually came with two right rockets, rather than a matched set, but Max was nice enough to loan me his for the purposes of the photos.  It doesn’t really bum me out too much, however, as I kind of like him a bit more without them on.

Much like his Siege counterpart, Magnus gets the inner robot mode underneath of his full armored appearance.  For the most part, it’s not too far removed from the Siege figure’s inner robot mode.  All of the sculptural changes are confined to the figure’s torso, which is the element that’s been most frequently changed on this guy.  Since his torso is more or less just the cab from his vehicle mode, it showcases to change to the more Earth-mode set-up.  Also, while the stock shots of this figure had the front end of the truck still all the way down on his back, giving him a rather unfortunately-sized back end, it does still slide up onto his back like the Siege version, which helps things look a little less awkward for him.  The inner robot gets some subtle changes to his coloring, shifting to a starker white and a slightly darker blue, as well as losing the silver brushing.  It’s a good look, but as with any Magnus, this one’s not going to be getting much time as the inner robot on my shelf.

Magnus’s vehicle mode borrows a lot from the Siege figure, but does try to change things up as much as possible in order to grant him a more G1-esque Earth-mode vehicle look.  For the core cab, it works out okay for the most part.  The actual cab follows the classic design fairly closely, and the front portion of it looks pretty good.  The back end of it’s kind of just Magnus’s arms and legs just sort of sitting there, but that was true of the Siege version as well, and I wasn’t really expecting it to change here.  Magnus’s armor still transforms into a trailer for the cab, and in fact changes into almost the same trailer that the Siege armor turned into.  Some of the surface details are slightly adjusted, but the general set-up is identical.  They’ve changed the exact connection to the cab, so it sits a bit further back, but it’s otherwise not really adjusted, and it doesn’t really look much like the G1 car carrier mode.  In their defense, it’s kind of a necessary trade off, given how the armor up feature works, and how much of the armored up bot is the same as the inner bot.  There’s just only so much you can do with those pieces, which is probably part of why the Siege figure went with the RiD style vehicle mode in the first place.  I was initially a bit put off by this sort of slapdash feeling vehicle mode, especially in contrast to how spot-on the robot mode feels, but as I’ve had some time to mess around with it, the vehicle mode has grown on me a little bit.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I absolutely love the Siege Magnus, and he remains my favorite figure from that particular line-up, but with all that said, I did sort of have this nagging for perhaps a slightly more cartoon-accurate version of the character.  With Earthrise redoing a lot of the Siege figures in slightly more accurate Earth-modes, I did sort of hope we might see a Magnus, but I knew it was a long shot.  When Earthrise wrapped without an updated Magnus, I figured that was it, and was consigned to just be content with the Magnus I got.  But, then the Studio Series 86 figures were leaked, and I was kind of hoping there might be a Magnus there…and then I got it on good word not too long after that this particular release would be coming.  And, oh boy was I excited.  He was initially slated for release over the summer, so that’s when I was expecting him, but All Time happened to get a couple of cases of him a little on the earlier side, and I happened to get mine from one of those cases, which I certainly wasn’t going to complain about.  I think this guy’s my new favorite Magnus.  He’s just really nice.  The robot mode is definitely the real winning portion here, because man is it spot-on.  The vehicle mode’s maybe not quite as strong, I suppose, but I definitely like it more than I’d expected to, and the overall package is just a really nice set-up.  To me, this really feels as close to a definitive Magnus as we’ve gotten.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2746: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: ANIMATED (HASBRO)

“Commander of the Cybertron Elite Guard, Ultra Magnus is the most powerful Autobot warrior in the galaxy. He has trained for hundreds of years in all forms of fighting known on Cybertron, and several other planets. No Autobot is more courageous, or more dedicated to the protection of life and freedom. He is a master tactician who has never been beaten on the battlefield, and was instrumental in driving the Decepticons from Cybertron and into deep space.”

Yesterday, I took a glimpse at the G1-inspired Transformers: Classics, which was a lead-in, but on the flip-side of the live action Transformers movie in 2007, was another reinvention of the franchise, this one, much like the movies, aiming at updating the G1 core cast into an all-new universe.  The result was Transformers: Animated, perhaps one of the franchise’s most popular incarnations, at least as far as the fanbase goes.  Despite not being part of the movies, Ultra Magnus never the less found himself with a fairly well-sized role in the show, and, by extension, it’s toyline.  Dig it.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was released in the second Leader Class wave of the Transformers: Animated tie-in line, which hit in 2008.  He’s quite a sizable fellow, standing just shy of 9 inches tall in his robot mode.  He’s also got 19 workable points of articulation in that form.  Like the rest of the line, Magnus was pretty closely patterned upon his in-show animation model.  Magnus’s Animated design does a lot to keep the most classically “Magnus” elements present for the character, while at the same time, trying to remove him a bit more from Optimus’s design, as well as making the robot mode one self-contained thing, rather than the armor up type thing of the G1 figure.  I’ve always found it to be one of the strongest designs to come out of Animated but I’m admittedly a little bit biased on that front.  I mean, sure, there could be more presence to the shoulders, because that’s really where the most Magnus-y elements lie, but I suppose what he’s got going on here will do.  Obviously, when it comes to the sculpt for this figure, there are some concessions made in order to translate a 2D character model into a 3D toy, but for the most part he stays quite faithful.  Mostly, he gets a few more squared off angles than in the cartoon, as well as getting a few additional details that aren’t seen on the animation model.  These extra details aren’t enough to overcrowd the design, however, so they’ve been pretty well placed; mostly, they just make the larger canvas of the figure a little more interesting to look at.  Magnus had an action feature that allowed him to “talk.”  Pressing the insignia on his chest plays one of three clips of him speaking, as well as lighting the eyes up, and moving the mouth and brow a bit to make it look like he’s actually talking.  It’s certainly gimmicky, but it’s pretty fun, and, most impressively, it doesn’t really take away from the figure when it’s not in use.  Unobtrusive action features are always the best, really.  In addition to the talking thing, Magnus can also make use of his various built-in weaponry, in his shoulders and on his back, granting him all sorts of fire power.  Or, if you’re a fan of Magnus with a hammer (and why wouldn’t you be?  That’s, like, peak Magnus), he also includes his Magnus Hammer, which is quite an impressive piece.

In the cartoon, Magnus’s alt-mode got an update, going from the previous car-carrier set-up to a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck, which I guess better fits with his “I’m just a soldier” ideology?  I don’t know.  It looks pretty cool, so I can’t really complain.  The figure, predictably, follows suit with the alt-mode change-up, and does a pretty alright job of translating the animation design for the vehicle into toy form, albeit with a lot of the same caveats as the robot mode.  The transformation sequence isn’t too rough on this guy, and even gets its own set of sound effects, which are, again, gimmicky, but not in the way of the actual functionality, so that’s alright by me.  The Magnus Hammer gets its own spot in the transformation, and he still has access to all of the built in weaponry in this mode as well, which is pretty fun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I wasn’t really doing Transformers when Animated was around.  Which is a shame, really, because there’s a lot of cool stuff surrounding it, this guy included.  After getting into the franchise, and especially after I started delving into the older Magnuses, this guy was very high on my wants list, but I was really just patiently waiting for the right one to show up.  The same collection that had yesterday’s Classics Magnus also had this one, and Max gave me the heads up on him as well.  I wound up getting him right in the middle of a somewhat stressful week last summer, and I sort of reset myself a bit by sitting down and transforming him back and forth a few times.  It was actually really nice.  This figure’s really just a fantastic piece, and definitely the height of the Animated line for me, though, again, I may be a touch biased.

#2719: Autobot Elita-1

AUTOBOT ELITA-1

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

“Search for Alpha Trion” introduced a radical new concept to Transformers: women!  Okay, actually, it introduced gender in general, since previously they were just robots, and technically genderless.  Then these supposed “fem-bots” came along, and everything got kinda gendered…I guess.  The episode reveals that not only are there a force of female Autobots running around on Cybertron, but also that they had their own equivalent to Optimus Prime in his female counterpart, Elita-1 (whose name even has a similar root translation of “Best First”.  Pretty clever, right?).  Though central to “Search” and a fixture throughout the franchise’s various incarnations, Elita has remained a slightly less frequent choice for toys, which is really a shame.  Like Bumblebee, she was a character given a rather sizable role in Netflix’s War For Cybertron adaptation even before getting a toy in the accompanying toyline, and also like Bumblebee, she got her first War figure courtesy of the Walmart-exclusive tie-in to the show.  I’m taking a look at that particular figure today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Elita-1 was released as part of the second Deluxe Class assortment of Walmart’s exclusive War For Cybertron tie-in line, alongside Bumblebee and re-decos of Wheeljack, Red Alert, and Impactor.  In her robot mode, Elita stands roughly 5 1/2 inches tall and she has 24 workable points of articulation.  While these figures are theoretically meant to be more show accurate, Elita joins Bumblebee in being, well, not.  I mean, she’s not *incredibly* far off, I suppose.  The basics are there, but as I touched on in Bumblebee’s review, it’s a case of Elita’s show model being one of the few that didn’t have a pre-existing toy CAD file to work from, meaning it’s not quite as play-tested and ready to go as some of the others.  So, she is instead built on the underlying structure of the Earthrise Arcee mold.  It’s not an awful choice, since they’re supposed to be rather similar in design, and they did just tool up the Arcee mold and everything.  She does get a fair portion of new parts to differentiate, with a new head, torso, pelvis, and shoulders.  They do quite a respectable job of changing up the look, especially the silhouette.  I quite like the new head sculpt, and I do like how the new torso actually gives Elita a slightly different body shape than Arcee.  There was some confusion regarding the shoulders for this figure; initial renders showed unique shoulders, but early production samples had Arcee’s more simplified shoulders.  In hand, however, she’s back to the unique ones.  Also the subject of some changes was Elita’s paint scheme.  The exact placement of the darker red and tan sections changed around a bit between renders and then the final product, with the final settling on full red for the lower arms and tan for the lower legs, as opposed to the reverse.  It’s a pretty nice set-up, and what’s actually painted is nice and clean.  Elita is packed with the same weapon that was included with Arcee, molded in a darker transparent blue.

Elita-1’s alt-mode is exactly the same as Arcee’s.  Now, as you may recall, I was not much of a fan of Arcee’s alt-mode.  I didn’t actually refer to it as “garbage,” but I certainly thought it.  I thought it a lot.  With that in mind, prospects weren’t high for this figure. If I’m entirely honest, it didn’t bug me quite as much as I expected it to.  I don’t really think it’s because I like it any more, but more because I just knew what I was getting this time, and didn’t really get let-down by it this time around.  The transformation scheme’s still kind of involved and not super fun, and I’m still not really convinced by the final product or its playability.  But, I suppose it could be worse.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I’ve been watching the admittedly less than stellar Netflix show’s two seasons, one of the few things I didn’t hate was Elita and her Cybertronian crew.  So, I was definitely looking to get her for my collection.  With Max’s help, I was able to get both Soundwave and Bumblebee from this round back before the new year, but I wasn’t able to snag and Elita quite as quickly.  I happened to mention to Max just the other week that I was still looking so if he *happened* to see her, I’d still be interested, and as luck would have it, he found her about 10 minutes later.  I’m certainly not complaining.  Elita’s got a cool design, and she makes for a decent toy.  Yes, she inherits the same issues Arcee had, but she’s also got the same strengths.  That means she’s got a kick-ass robot mode, and I’m not gonna knock that.

#2699: Grimlock & Autobot Wheelie

GRIMLOCK & AUTOBOT WHEELIE

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

“Grimlock, Wheelie, and the Dinobots storm the Quintesson Courtroom to save Hot Rod and Kup from Quintesson judgement”

2021’s line-up for the core Transformers product lines is split between Beast Wars and Transformers: The Movie.  How about something that’s a nice transitional ground between the two?  Yes, it’s Grimlock, leader of the Dinobots.  They’re notable for being a group of G1 bots that *aren’t* vehicles in their alt-modes, which was a bit of a switch, huh?  They proved to be rather popular, I guess.  I mean, I think people like robots, and people like dinosaurs, so I suppose robots that turn into dinosaurs are a safe enough bet.  Well, it got me in the door for at least one toy, so let’s look at this here Grimlock figure.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Grimlock is the entire Leader Class component of the ’86-branch of Transformers: Studio Series.  He’s officially numbeded 86-06, making him the last of the Transformers: The Movie figures….so far.  That won’t be sticking, though.  Whatever the case, he’s the last of the first batch, and is likewise the last of them to arrive on shelves, getting in a few weeks behind the rest.  In his robot mode, Grimlock stands a whopping 8 1/2 inches tall and he has 22 workable points of articulation.  Grimlock is the largest of the post-War For Cybertron Leader Class figures, going back to almost Prime Wars scaling for the Leaders, which works well for Grimlock’s typically much larger size.  And, despite being much larger scale, his construction is still pretty solid, with minimal hollowed out points, which I’m always glad to see.  The smaller-scale ’86 Studio Series figures are generally lifted pretty directly from the movie’s animation models, which were generally a little more detailed than the corresponding cartoon models.  Grimlock’s was a little more simplified, especially given how little of the film he actually spent in his robot mode.  This figure’s robot mode is very definitely G1-animation inspired, but it gains some additional smaller details which bring his design more in line with the Siege/Earthrise figures.  That, coupled with the presence of the 5mm ports that the Studio Series figures have by-and-large dropped, points to Grimlock being a figure that was possibly meant for the main trilogy line, before moved over into Studio Series.  Regardless of its original intended placement, the sculpt is a very nice piece of work.  It’s a nice, solid, chunky sculpt, and a great fit for the character’s design.  Like I said when I reviewed Optimus, this isn’t the toy you had as a kid, but it’s as cool as you remember that toy being as a kid.  Grimlock’s color scheme was subject to a few changes over the course of production.  Originally, he was shown with flat yellow and a clear window piece on the chest.  We then saw him with that same set-up, but changing the neck of his beast mode to a transparent yellow.  For the final product, however, the neck was back to opaque, the window on the chest is a smokey color, and the yellow was shifted to a metallic gold.  The final product’s honestly the best set-up in my mind.  Grimlock is packed with a rifle weapon, as well as an articulated figurine of Wheelie, whom he spends a good deal of time with in the movie.  Wheelie is a non-transforming figure, but he does get articulation at the neck, shoulders, waist, and hips, can peg into Grimlock’s shoulder, and has his own included slingshot accessory.

Grimlock’s alt-mode is, as it usually is, a robotic (and historically inaccurate) T-Rex.  It’s got a pretty nice transformation sequence, and one that’s pretty intuitive and doesn’t have any notable issues or misalignments on my copy.  The final product is just as bulky and solid as the robot mode, and features a similar styling to the detailing, going heavy on the G1-look, but with a little bit of extra detailing.  He’s fairly posable in this mode as well, with the smaller arms in particular having quite an impressive range on them.  In this mode, Wheelie can again be placed atop Grimlock, though he doesn’t plug in quite as securely this way.  Still, I doubt he’s really going anywhere in either mode, and Grimlock is certainly impressive in either of his two modes.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Grimlock is one of those G1 designs that has always kind of stuck in my head, even though my direct experienced with him have generally been pretty limited.  He’s certainly got a distinctive visual in both of his modes, and I’d definitely been hoping for some version of him to be included in the “modern” lines.  This guy’s really quite nice.  He’s just a really solidly put together figure, and I’m not sure they’ll be able to top him.  Definitely another fantastic addition to the line.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2670: Autobot Hot Rod

AUTOBOT HOT ROD

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

“Hot Rod embraces his destiny, becoming Rodimus Prime and defeating Unicron.”

Whoa, spoilers there guys.  We just picked up this Hot Rod figure and you’re already telling me he’s irrelevant?

Transformers: The Movie introduced a whole new slate of characters, and at the center of this new cast was the new planned lead for the franchise, Hot Rod, who would become Rodimus Prime before the film’s end.  Obviously, this didn’t stick, but that sure was the plan.  Even without being the franchise’s lead, Hot Rod’s made out pretty well on the toy front.  That being said, he has, as of yet, been absent from the latest incarnation of the line with all of its centralized scaling and such.  But, with it being the 35th anniversary of the movie where he’s definitely the lead, it’s hard to say that it was truly a shock that he was included in some sort of capacity this year, now was it?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Hot Rod makes up one half of the Voyager Class component for the ’86-inspired Studio Series line-up. He’s figure 86-04 (because 86-03 is the last of the Deluxes, which is Blurrr, and I didn’t wind up grabbing him…yet…).  In his robot mode, Hot Rod stands 5 3/4 inches tall and he has 28 practical points of articulation.  Given he’s a Voyager Class figure, Hot Rod does seem a little bit on the smaller side, being more in line with Deluxe scaling.  This is, however accurate for Hot Rod from a scaling standpoint, and more over, the higher price point of the figure comes less from sheer sizing of the figure, and more from the complexity of the tooling and engineering.  In particular, Hot Rod winds up with an articulation scheme far improved compared to his Deluxe Class companions.  He’s not only got more functioning joints when in his robot mode, but also has generally a greater range of motion on those joints.  Unlike the last pair of Hot Rods I looked at, he doesn’t suffer from any major points of restriction, which is a real plus.  He’s even got hinged hands, meaning it’s a Hot Rod that can finally hold a Matrix.  What a crazy concept.  The sculpt proper is a pretty spot-on recreation of the animation design, and is just a generally clean looking piece of work.  It’s got a nice, sleek feel to it that seems really right for Hot Rod.  Even his vehicle mode kibble has been streamlined further than prior releases, meaning he’s a Hot Rod that doesn’t have the whole top of his car mode hanging off his back for once.  In addition to the basic robot mode, Hot Rod also has a few cool built-in features, including a visor that drops down from the top of his head (in the same fashion as the Masterpiece version), as well as hands that flip out for his welder and a 5mm peg allowing the mounting of the saw hand for his right and left hands respectively.  It helps to really give him that all-encompassing feel.  Aiding in the all-encompassing feel are the aforementioned alternate saw hand, his two blasters, the Matrix of Leadership (borrowed from Earthrise Optimus, and capable of actually being held this time around), an effects piece for the Matrix, and two effects for his forearm blasters.

Hot Rod’s alt-mode remains consistent with the other G1-inspired versions of the character, being based on the futuristic sports car mode from the movie.  It’s sleek and, like Kup, presumably pretty easy to animate.  In the case of Hot Rod, it’s also pretty distinctive, since it’s stuck with the character over the years.  The transformation process is a fairly involved set up with a lot of moving parts, but even so I found it to be a little more intuitive than other, more fiddly Studio Series figures.  I guess it still counts as a little fiddly, but it just feels less so to me.  Also of note about this transformation is that it involves the arms flipping sides, replicating the one notable transformation pattern not done by the toys.  The final transformed product looks not unlike the car modes on the other two Hot Rods I have, with the caveat of, of course, still having that more posable robot mode.  In car mode, the two blasters can be mounted to the front, and the effects for the forearms now work as exhaust effects.  The saw attachment can *technically* go on top of the guns, but due to how the clearance on the parts works, it’s going to cause some paint chipping on the guns, so I didn’t push it.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

As I noted early last year when I reviewed the Power of the Primes Rodimus, I have definitely been wanting a Hot Rod to go with the rest of my updated cast.  The inner figure from that set was a decent place holder, in fact more than decent, so when this guy got announced I was intrigued but not certain how essential he’d be.  The short of it is that he’s *very* essential.  He’s undoubtedly the centerpiece of this particular set, and the most impressive Hot Rod figure I can think of.  He just does a lot and he does pretty much all of it very well.  He exemplifies the mini-Masterpiece thing that these figures have been doing since Siege in the best possible way.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2669: Kup

KUP

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

“Kup fights for his spark as a giant robot squid tears him apart.”

One of the main focuses of Transformers: The Movie was introducing a new cast of characters, and by extension, a new selection of toys for the audience to buy.  After disposing of the original cast in relatively quick fashion, the movie shifts its focus to the new cast, generally made up of younger ‘bots, but not entirely, as is the case with good ol’ Kup here, the cast’s perpetual old guy, defined equally by his old-ness and his guy-ness.  The split between the cast for the two plot-lines places Kup with Hot Rod for most of the film’s mid-section, so he certainly gets a decent chunk of screen time, and that makes him decently memorable.  It also makes him a good choice for inclusion in the Studio Series assortment, which I’m taking a look at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Kup is the another part of the Deluxe-class assortment for the ’86 tie-in Studio Series stuff.  He’s officially numbered 86-02, placing him just after Jazz.  Kup previously got figure treatment in the Titans Return line-up, but this one is more animation accurate, as is expected for this line.  In robot mode, he stands 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 20 workable points of articulation.  What’s rather curiously missing from the articulation are any sort of wrist joints; he looks like he’s got them, but it’s all a fabrication, I’m afraid.  Kup’s sculpt is all-new, and while it certainly aims for screen accuracy, it doesn’t *quite* get as close as some of the others in this assortment.  There are definitely parts that are really good, and I’m particularly a fan of that head sculpt.  However, the body seems to be a bit too broad across the shoulders for Kup, and the limbs are comparatively kind of scrawny.  On the whole, not atrocious, but not quite on the same level as the rest of the line.  Given that did seem to be some shuffling as to what was going in EarthriseKingdom, or Studio Series, I’d say it’s a definite possibility that Kup may have been intended for one of the other two lines, and just wound up in this line instead.  Whatever the case, the sculpt’s still pretty decent, and there are some pretty fun touches.  Most notably, the limbs are all mounted on 5mm ports, so Kup can be dismantled and put back together, just like in the movie.

Kup’s alt-mode, like many of the main characters in Transformers: The Movie, doesn’t have an actual real-world equivalent.  It’s instead a sci-fi, future-esque pick-up truck sort of thing.  It’s never been one of the more visually interesting vehicles, but I bet it sure was easy to animate!  The transformation to get him into the truck is a little bit on the fiddly side, and if you have a tendency to actually follow the directions (which I still do), they might slightly mislead you on a few spots.  I definitely had a little bit of back tracking.  That said, it still isn’t too much, and the end result ends up being pretty faithful both to what’s on screen and to his original toy’s alt-mode.  Kup is packed with a rifle and the little Energon dispenser he and Hot Rod use to calm the Quintessons.  Points for the very scene specific extra!

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Transformers: The Movie is kind of my go-to G1 representation for Transformers, owing a lot to its very distinctive visuals and soundtrack.  As such, my collecting now that I’m actually into Transformers tends to center around stuff from that movie.  I’ve been hoping for a nice Kup to help round out the film’s cast for a while.  Prior versions aren’t terrible, but I’m not much for the headmasters gimmick, and was definitely looking for one of him without.  This one has his own set of things going on, and I can’t say he’s the particular stand-out of the set or anything, but he’s a solid rendition of the character, and I’m glad to have him for the shelf.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2668: Autobot Jazz

AUTOBOT JAZZ

TRANSFORMERS: STUDIO SERIES (HASBRO)

“Autobot Jazz tries to escape Moonbase One before Unicron devours it, but he doesn’t make it and is swallowed up by the Planet Eater.”

2021 marks the 35th anniversary of Transformers: The Movie hitting theaters, and in an effort to celebrate it, Hasbro’s going totally crazy and releasing….cartoon based figures in their Studio Series line?  What!?!  Okay, it’s not really that crazy of a concept when you get right down to it.  Studio Series is a line of figures dedicated to getting as close to screen-accurate recreations of the characters from the Transformers movies as possible; it’s honestly not that crazy a concept that they might want to devote at least a little bit of the line to the actual first theatrical Transformers movie, especially in a year where the main line, Kingdom, isn’t looking to be *quite* as G1 heavy as the main line for the last two years.  So, Studio Series is effectively picking up where Earthrise left off, and giving us some more updates of classic G1 characters in this new cohesive style that Hasbro’s been working on crafting the last few years.  Kicking things off is perhaps the most prominent of the original ‘bots still missing from this new style, that guy with the oh-so-hard-to-copyright-name, Jazz!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Autobot Jazz is part of the Deluxe-class component for the Transformers: The Movie-inspired selection of Studio Series figures.  He is officially the first of the set, numbered 86-01 (they have re-started the numbering for these guys, and are using 86, the year the movie was released, as their prefix).  Though officially slated for a March 2021 release, these guys have hit a few places on the earlier side.  Of all of the figures in this 86-inspired line-up, Jazz is notable for being the only of the original Autobots present.  It’s fitting, since he’s one of three of the originals to make it through the film alive, though his role is certainly not as plot relevant as some of the others included here.  Of course, I’m hardly going to argue with getting a new Jazz.  We haven’t gotten one since Power of the Primes, and I’d honestly rather not talk about that one.  In his robot mode, this guy stands just shy of 5 1/4 inches tall and he has 20 practical points of articulation.  Jazz is an all-new mold, patterned on his G1 animation design, of course.  The most notable thing about that is that it means he lacks the door wing kibble that most G1-inspired Jazzes have included.  I’m not really that major one way or the other on whether or not he’s got them, but it’s cool that they went specifically animation-styled for this one.  Beyond that little detail, he’s just a generally nice recreation of the design on the cartoon.  It’s a clean looking design to be sure, which certainly fits the character.  No Siege greebliness to be found here.  I wasn’t quite as bothered by that as some people, but I will admit I do really like the clean lines on this guy.  In particular, I’m very fond of the head sculpt, which does quite a respectable job of getting Jazz’s signature design down.  He doesn’t really get many of the 5mm ports that the main lines have been getting, which means he’s not quite as customizable, but on the flip side, it continues his overall cleaner appearance.

Jazz’s alt-mode is pretty much the same as his original G1 counterpart, where he turned into a Porsche 935 racing car.  This one is essentially that, though he’s specifically based on the animation version of that car, meaning it’s not *quite* a Porshe.  Presumably, this means that he didn’t require licensing, which is a slight shift for Studio Series, but not entirely unheard of, especially given that the rest of Jazz’s compatriots in this line-up have completely made up alt-modes.  This one looks pretty good, and his transformation’s not quite as fiddly as Studio Series stuff tends to be, so I on the whole rather preferred it to a lot of the others I’ve messed with.  I did find it a little tricky to get his chest and head properly oriented upon returning him to robot mode, but it’s not too rough.  It holds together pretty well, and generally looks pretty good, too.  Jazz is packed with is usual Photon Rifle, which he can either hand-wield in his robot mode, or mount to the top of of his car mode.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Jazz is definitely on my short list of favorite Transformers.  He’s not quite at Soundwave or Ultra Magnus levels, or anything, but I definitely like him, and was very much waiting for him to get some sort of update in this modern era of Transformers figures.  It’s been a long wait, but I was very happy to hear he’d be in this assortment, and he’s certainly the one I was most looking forward to personally.  He’s a strong release, and certainly the best Jazz I own, though perhaps that’s not saying a lot.  Still, he’s really cool, and that works for me.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this guy for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#2657: Bumblebee

BUMBLEBEE

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON TRILOGY (HASBRO)

Despite his prominent placement in the franchise as a whole and in the tie-in media for the War For Cybertron Trilogy, mainstay Autobot Bumblebee has been completely absent from the main line for the first two parts of said trilogy.  It’s been a weird, almost gnawing omission, since we got Cliffjumper and a handful of other Bee-esque molds throughout the year, and he’s also had a fairly sizable role in Netflix’s tie-in animation.  Eventually, he surfaced, but rather than being a mainline release, he’s instead part of the previously repaints-only Walmart tie-in line for the animation.  Oh joy, another Walmart exclusive.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Bumblebee is part of the second round of Walmart’s War For Cybertron Trilogy line, and is part of the five piece deluxe-class assortment, alongside three repaints, and the similarly new offering of Elita-1.  In his robot mode, Bumblebee stands 4 inches tall and has 22 workable points of articulation.  In theory, he’s based on the cartoon, but…well, he’s not.  Bumblebee had no Siege figure, so while many of the characters featured in the cartoon used direct copies of the original CAD files, Bumblebee was an all new model created for the cartoon.  These two designs are certainly drawing from the same source (G1 Animation Bumblebee), but a spitting image of his cartoon counterpart, he is not.  Structurally, this figure is, as expected a re-tool of the Cliffjumper mold from early last year.  It was probably my favorite mold to come out of Earthrise, so it’s definitely a good starting point.  He gets a different head (shared with Bug Bite, but obviously designed for Bee), as well as new parts for his mid-section and feet.  Why the new parts for the mid-section and feet?  That’s because…

…he also gets a new alt-mode!  While Bug Bite and Hubcap both shared Cliffjumper’s generic sports car alt-mode, Bumblebee gets his exterior pieces replaced, allowing him to transform into an authentic, fully-licensed Volkswagon Beetle.  The general transformation sequence is the same as all prior uses of the CJ mold, so there’s still that little touch of parts-forming required with the back of the car, but I still really don’t mind.  It’s a decent transformation sequence, and ultimately it results in quite a nice alt-mode for the figure.  It’s clean, it holds together well, and it’s undeniably a Beetle.  It also means that Bee stands out a bit from the other uses of this mold, which feels appropriate for him.  Bumblebee gets the same accessory selection as all prior uses of the mold: the modular cannon thing.  It’s in the same colors as Cliffjumper’s.  It’s a fun piece, and adds a lot of variety to the figure, so I don’t mind getting it again.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Obviously, I, like a lot of people, have been waiting for a proper Bumblebee in this line since Siege launched.  Simply put, it’s stupid that they opted to make him a Walmart-exclusive, because it guarantees that he’s going the be hard to find and go for stupid amounts of money on the aftermarket.  They really need to stop making core looks exclusives, especially to Walmart.  Hopefully, the plethora of fiascos revolving around these exclusives in the last year will get Hasbro to ease up on them a bit moving forward.  As I’ve said on a lot of these exclusives, I hope that Hasbro finds a way to make these more readily available so that more people can get them, because Bumblebee is a very nice figure, and goes very well with the rest of the standard line.  Also, a shout out to Max for setting me up with this figure, so that I could, actually, you know, have him.  That was super dope.

#2633: Ultra Magnus Merchandise

ULTRA MAGNUS PULSATING LIGHT AM RADIO & ELECTRONIC VOICE SYNTHESIZER

TRANSFORMERS: POWER TRONIC (NASTA)

As we come into the second day of the Post-Christmas reviews, I’m heading into some slightly uncharted territory.  Firstly, I’m looking at something Transformers related which, while not completely a first for Christmas gifts for me, is still sort of new and fresh, seeing as I’ve only recently really gotten into it.  And secondly, and in fact most differently, I’m not actually looking at action figures at all, but rather some action figure adjacent product.  It’s not explicitly a first for me, I guess.  I mean, I did review a stapler that one time, and that’s not even action figure adjacent.  That’s just oddball is what that is.  What am I getting at here?  Well, more or less that I’m not really reviewing action figures for the day.  Hopefully this will be just as good…or at least up to whatever the quality of my usual output is, anyway.  Whatever the outcome, I guess we should look at this Ultra Magnus Merch I got, huh?

THE TOYS THEMSELVES

The two toys in question are the Ultra Magnus Pulsating Light AM Radio and the Electronic Voice Synthesizer, both of which were produced in 1986 by Nastra under their Power Tronic brand.  They were both released to coincide with Transformers: The Movie arriving in theaters that same year, and to capitalize on Ultra Magnus’s role therein.  I can dig it.  Let’s first discuss the “Pulsating Light AM Radio,” a somewhat perplexing item.  I mean, if you’re going to make a Transformers-themed radio, wouldn’t it make sense to at least pick one of the characters who actually turns into sound equipment?  Or am I talking the crazy talk.  Given that I’m arguing against there being another Ultra Magnus thing, I may very well be talking the crazy talk.  The actual item’s not that crazy, I suppose.  It measures 7 1/2 inches tall, and is pretty much just a scaled up replica of the G1 Ultra Magnus’s armored head.  It’s not quite as human-esque as later Magnuses, of course, but I think that works somewhat to this item’s favor, because it looks a little bit more artistic, and less like someone’s just decapitated Ultra Magnus.  It’s molded in the same shade of blue as the figure, and uses silver paint for the appropriate details, which honestly looks pretty good.  The radio runs on four AA batteries, which are loaded into the Magnus’s “antenna” on the sides of his head.  There are dials on the back of the head for turning on and adjusting the volume, as well as tuning the station.  I was quite happy to find that the radio function on mine still works, however the pulsating light function sadly is no more.  Oh well.

The second item featured here is the Electronic Voice Synthesizer, which is clearly Ultra Magnus, but is not actually named as such on the item’s packaging.  The item allows the owner to “talk like a robot” by mouthing words into the plastic straw that pops out of the figure’s back, and is essentially a simplified version of an electrolarynx device.  They were somewhat common amongst licensed products in the ’80s, so Transformers getting in on the game is perhaps not the biggest shock.  The item stands 4 1/2 inches tall and actually does have articulation, with joints at both shoulders, and some slight movement on the neck.  Much like the radio, this item is clearly patterned on the G1 toy’s mold, just scaled way down this time.  It’s rather crude and rudimentary, and has a distinct lack of Magnus’s shoulder towers, but is overall an okay piece.  Rather than apply any paint to this one, he’s instead just molded in three different colors of plastic, meaning he’s more an approximation of Magnus’s color scheme than an accurate depiction.  The Voice Synthesizer runs on a 9-Volt battery, which goes in the base of the feet.  I haven’t tested mine because I just don’t really want to put my mouth on it, so, you know, there it is, I guess.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Ultra Magnus is really becoming my main man when it comes to Transformers stuff, and I’ve picked up quite a healthy helping of Magnus-related stuff in the last year.  The stuff in the column of “what I don’t have” is becoming a bit more on the obscure side, and included these two, neither of which I expected to add to my collection quite this quickly.  I did add them to my collection quite this quickly, however, thanks to Jason from All Time Toys, who gave them both to me this year for Christmas.  They’re not standard action figure fare, but they are still a ton of fun, goofy fun, but fun to be sure!

#2607: Rotorstorm

ROTORSTORM

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: EARTHRISE (HASBRO)

Oh, we are just keeping these Transformers hits coming, aren’t we?  Well, if you guys were hoping things might angle back into slightly more known characters as we got further into the week, you were sadly mistaken.  It’s just the oddballs from here.  A while back, I brought up the concept of region-exclusive characters, and specifically talked about Impactor, a UK-comics-exclusive Transformer who led the UK-comics-exclusive Wreckers, who also incorporated some non-exclusive characters into their ranks.  The Wreckers have subsequently become not so region-exclusive, and in 2010 IDW published “Last Stand of the Wreckers,” a mini-series focused on them.  They were envisioned as a team on a suicide mission, so they needed a lot of expendable fodder.  And wouldn’t you know it, there was old Rotorstorm, just sitting there doing nothing.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Rotorstorm is Generations Select release for Earthrise.  He started showing up towards the tail end of July/beginning of August.  He’s patterned on the character’s G1 design, but also takes some very definite influence from his appearance in “Last Stand of the Wreckers.”  In his robot mode, the figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 26 workable points of articulation.  Structually, he’s mostly the same as the Siege Spinister figure.  That said, I never got a Siege Spinister, so he’s all-new to me.  The articulation on this mold in robot mode is pretty impressive, and certainly among the best I’ve gotten from this line.  Beyond that, it’s just a pretty impressive piece, albeit one that doesn’t *quite* line up with the character’s true G1 design, at least as far as the body is concerned.  His head, on the other hand, is all-new, something that Hasbro proudly advertised…before showing off a prototype that inexplicably had a repainted Spinister head.  It’s alright, though, because the final product has the proper head, and it’s a nice recreation of Nick Roche’s illustrations of the character from “Last Stand”.

With a name like “Rotorstorm”, it’s not all that hard to piece together the guy’s alt-mode.  Just like his mold-mate Spinister, he turns into a Cybertronian helicopter.  The transformation process is slightly more complicated on this guy, and definitely more than a little bit fiddly.  It’s not really one of my favorites. On the plus side, the end result is still a pretty cool helicopter mode, with a spinning rotor and everything.  Rotorstorm’s color scheme is a bit on the garish side, but it’s faithful to the original colors; what else would you expect from an early ’90s Transformer?  Rotorstorm includes two guns, which can be held in robot mode or mounted to his sides in helicopter mode.  They’re the same ones included with Spinister, which also means the layout of the molds makes them two different base colors.  They aren’t drastically different, but it’s still, you know, different.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I never made up my mind as to whether I actually wanted Spinister or not.  I didn’t really care for his renders, but seeing a figure in-hand has changed my mind about such things before.  Then I never actually did see him in-hand, and that kind of took the decision out of my hands, I suppose.  When All Time got in this guy, Max was nice enough to let me take a look at him and make the decision for myself.  Ultimately, I’m happy to have missed out on Spinister, because it means I was a bit more open to getting this guy, and I actually think I like his overall design just a bit better.

Thanks to my sponsors at All Time Toys for setting me up with this figure for review.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.