#2844: ARC Trooper Echo

ARC TROOPER ECHO

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

First introduced in the first season episode “Rookies,” Domino Squad is a group that The Clone Wars uses to really showcase the general progression of the clones throughout the wars, as well as also hitting home just how bad war can be, seeing as the Squad has a tendency to fall like, well, dominos.  Central to the squad’s early stories are Fives and Echo, the two that have the most advancement of any clones in the show, starting off as mere cadets, and eventually becoming full-fledged ARC Troopers.  Echo himself has gone even further, becoming one of the few Regs to continue his story post-Order 66 as part of Clone Force 99, aka the titular team from The Bad Batch.  This kid’s got some range, let me tell you.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

ARC Trooper Echo is another of the four figures in the Target-exclusive Clone Wars-retro assortment of Star Wars: The Black Series.  He’s the first figure of Echo in the line, though it would be an incredible shock if he were the last, given the incredible prominence of Echo’s updated Bad Batch gear.  As the name signifies, this figure is based on Echo’s ARC Trooper look, which he sported in the “Citadel” arc of the show, which is notably the story that “killed” him, before the final season brought him back.  It’s the look that had the most appearances within the show (prior to The Bad Batch, of course), and it’s his coolest look as a Reg.  Plus, they haven’t done any actual ARC troopers in this scale, so he’s a good reason to introduce the tooling.  It does mean that he doesn’t actually go with any other figures in the line, of course, since he doesn’t match up with the Batch, and he also doesn’t match up with Rex, since Rex was in his Phase I armor still when Echo died, but there are worse things to have to deal with.  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Remember how I mentioned the weird mix-up of Hawk retooling Rex’s body into a more basic clone body, rather than using the newly introduced basic clone?  So, you might assume that Echo, with his ARC Trooper gear, would naturally be using the Rex body as well, right?  Nope.  Echo’s on the new basic clone body, with a bunch of stuff tacked onto it.  I know.  It’s weird.  I mean, it’s still a nice body, so I’m not complaining.  I’m just confused, that’s all.  In order to update that standard clone armor into a full ARC Trooper set-up, Echo gets a new set of forearms and lower legs, as well as new add-on pieces for his additional torso gear, as well as his belt, kama, and holsters.  He’s also got a brand new head and helmet to complete the whole set-up.  It’s interesting that he’s got a rubber kama, as opposed to the cloth we’ve gotten for the commanders thus far, but I don’t hate the look, and it doesn’t hold back the articulation too badly.  The unmasked head continues the trend of the unmasked clones not looking all that much like Temuera Morrison, though this one does at least seem to be heading a bit more in the right direction, I suppose.  The helmet sits well on the head, though, which is a definite plus, as some of the others have had a little bit of trouble with that fit.  The rest of the new parts mesh well with the old, and the end result is a quite nicely put together ARC Trooper set-up.  The paint work on Echo is generally pretty decent.  There’s a good deal of variety to it, but the application is generally pretty cleanly handled.  There are some fuzzier edges on a few of the blue lines, but it can be written off to a little bit of wear, to be honest.  He’s got the face printing on the unmasked head, which definitely helps with the likeness, at least a little bit.  And, just to make him properly Echo, he’s got the hand print graffiti, which is always a fun touch.  Echo is pretty well accessorized, getting a long blaster rifle, a short blaster rifle, and two blaster pistols.  He still can’t properly hold both pistols at once, of course, since only the right hand has a trigger finger, but at least you have some options.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

“Rookies” was the first episode of Clone Wars that really spoke to me, and I’ve long since had a soft spot for Domino Squad, and Echo in particular.  I always liked his story, and I was sad when he was killed off in the “Citadel” arc.  I was very glad to see him brought back in Season 7, and he’s thus far been one of my favorite parts of The Bad Batch.  I hope to get a Batch version of him soon, but I’m also glad to have gotten him in his peak form here.  Sure, he doesn’t match up with anyone at the moment, but hopefully we can at the very least get a Fives to go with him.  Once again, thanks to Max for setting me up with this one.  I wasn’t expecting him to be quite as easily acquired, but I’m happy he was.

#2843: Clone Pilot Hawk

CLONE PILOT HAWK

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

Store exclusives have been the bane of pretty much every collector’s existence for the last year, because not only has the number of things that are exclusive jumped, but so has the number of people trying to scalp them in order to make a quick buck.  Not helping matters is the general lack of quality distribution when it comes to actually getting them out there, making for an all around just unpleasant experience.  So, there’s definitely a little twinge of anxiety that hits every time a new item is announced, and then also confirmed as an exclusive.  In the case of Star Wars: The Black Series, there’s a whole sub-set of throwback Clone Wars figures, which seemed poised to be the worst thing ever to get, but which now seem to be significantly less so, which I suppose is a good thing.  For me personally, I was most invested in getting the clones, which I have.  I’m starting things off today, with a look at Clone Pilot Hawk.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Clone Pilot Hawk is one of the four figures in Target’s exclusive assortment of Clone Wars-retro carded Black Series figures.  He’s the most obscure character in the bunch, to be sure, notably being the only one included who has never had a figure, even in the days of Hasbro’s far more expansive Clone Wars toy line.  Not only did we not get Hawk, we never even got one of the pilots with this specific helmet design, which does feel kind of baffling when you get right down to it.  The figure stands just over 6 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  Now, the fact that Hasbro very recently introduced an all-new basic clone body into the line might lead you to believe that Hawk might, you know, be built on it, what with being kind of a basic clone and all.  However, you’d in fact be a fool to think that, because he’s absolutely not built on that body.  Neither is he built on the old clone body, though, so don’t think that either.  Instead, he’s actually built on the Captain Rex body, for some reason.  I mean, I’m not knocking it.  It’s a good body in its own right, and certainly an improvement on the old clone body, meaning his movement isn’t really restricted like it would have been on that older body.  In fact, his movement’s pretty darn great, so that’s cool.  He gets an all-new head for his unique helmet, as well as a connected breathing device, to signify his pilot nature.  Also, in a far more minor touch, he also gets a new belt, sans the kama and the holsters.  The new parts are nicely crafted, with the helmet in particular being the real star piece here.  It does a quite respectable job of walking the line between animated faithfulness and merging with the realistic style of the line.  I definitely like it a lot.  Hawk’s paintwork is generally pretty nicely handled.  There’s a little bit of slop on the hands on my figure, but he otherwise turned out pretty nicely.  I like the extra markings on the armor, as well as how they’ve weathered them a bit to show that his armor’s been in use.  Hawk is packed with a standard small Clone Trooper blaster.  It’s a little light, but it’s also fairly standard set-up for a pilot figure in this line, so it’s hard to say it’s a surprise.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Hawk was my only “must have” figure in this set, largely because I’ve just always liked this particular pilot design and it’s literally never gotten a figure before.  I was happy he got a figure, but not so happy that it wound up as an exclusive.  Fortunately, Max was able to help me out with this one, as it wound up being literally the first of the four he saw at retail.  He turned out really nicely, and I’m curious to see if we might actually get some of the other Clone Pilots in the main line now.  Time will tell.

There’s also a bit of a post-Jess segment to this one as well.  This figure is the last figure added to my collection before Jess died.  Max brought him to me during her last week in the hospital, and I had him with me those last few days.  He’s the last new figure I got to show her, and the last figure she got to be excited about me adding to my collection.  I didn’t know that when I got him, but those are the sorts of things you never do know, I guess.  I do know that showing off my new figures to her was one of my very favorite things about collecting in the last eight years, and the items I gotten since all feel a little different, since something’s very definitely missing.  He gets to be my last contact to that feeling, and the last true part of that collection.  My collection post-Jess will be a different one, and I’ll have to figure out how as I move forward.  But this guy’s not going anywhere, I can tell you that much.

#2818: Elite Praetorian Guard with Heavy Blade

ELITE PRAETORIAN GUARD with HEAVY BLADE

STAR WARS: THE BLACK SERIES (HASBRO)

“As the Supreme Leader of the First Order, Snoke was flanked by crimson-clad guardians, loyal protectors encased in ornate armor ready to defend the Supreme Leader from any thread.”

The Last Jedi‘s Praetorian Guards may not be on the screen for long, but they make the most of their time, and participate in the very coolest fight scene in the whole sequel trilogy.  Plus, they’ve just got a very cool look.  Actually, they have three slightly different, but all very cool looks, due to their three differing helmet designs mixed in amongst them.  Hasbro opted for completely separate figures for each of these three helmets, something they delivered through a few different avenues.  For The Black Series, I had two of the three, but was waiting on the last one.  I wait no more.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Elite Praetorian Guard with Heavy Blade was an Amazon-exclusive Star Wars: The Black Series offering, which they placed up for order in the fall of 2017, in anticipation of the movie.  It was the third of the three figures to be released.  This one is the “underbite” helmet, which is the only one I haven’t looked at in any style here on the site (largely due to him being an exclusive in every case).  The figure stands 6 1/4 inches tall and he has 29 points of articulation.  From the neck down, this figure is identical to the #50 Guard, which makes sense, since they were all the same.  It’s interesting, of course, because it makes the one from the Guardians of Evil pack the outlier on exactly how he handled the skirt, since this one is sculpted, not cloth.  The posability’s not there as much, but it does look better.  This guy gets a new head sculpt in order to replicate the third helmet design.  It meshes just as well with the body as the other two, and fits the styling of the rest of the armor quite well.  It’s fairly easy to tell it’s a new piece, so that’s good.  The paint work on this figure truly is just identical to the standard release figure, which is to say it’s basic, but it looks good.  Apart from the helmet change-up, the other new piece for this guy was the weapon selection.  He gets the larger Heavy Blade weapon, which is mentioned in his name. It’s a larger, and certainly impressive piece.  He also gets a second weapon, which is more of a sword thing.  Not my preferred of the two, but it’s nice to get the options.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

The slightly higher base retail on this release was enough for me to hold off on buying him right away.  Unfortunately, he wound up selling out through Amazon, and that meant I missed out on him entirely.  It always bummed me out, because this was my favorite of the three helmets, and I had missed out on both his Hasbro figures.  Fortunately for me, Max had picked one up a while back, and while downsizing his Star Wars collection, he was kind enough to set me up with the one I was missing.  I’ve reviewed the majority of this guy before, so it’s not like he’s doing a whole lot new for me, but it is nice to finish the set, and he really is the best of the three, so I’m glad to have him.

#2813: Emperor’s Royal Guard

EMPEROR’S ROYAL GUARD

STAR WARS: POWER OF THE FORCE II (KENNER)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Only the most promising soldiers are chosen to serve as Emperor Palpatine’s personal guards. Experts in many forms of combat, both armed and unarmed, they are conditioned to automatically react to the Emperor’s will.”

Introduced in Return of the Jedi, the Emperor’s Royal Guards don’t really do much of anything on the screen.  The just stand there.  They look cool and all while doing it, but still, it’s just standing.  Then they reappeared in Revenge of the Sith, and did some more standing.  Also got force thrown around by Yoda a bit, which is something, I suppose.  But mostly still with the standing.  The toys, at least early ones, kind of go along with this, being built mostly for said standing.  Behold, a figure that stands!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

The Emperor’s Royal Guard was added to Kenner’s Power of the Force line in 1997.  This marked the second figure of the design, following up on the vintage release from 1983.  The figure stands just shy of 4 inches tall and has a whopping two points of articulation.  Okay, technically three, I suppose, because the neck is sort of jointed.  Doesn’t really move, but they tried.  The Royal Guard was the type of figure referred to as a “salt shaker” by the fanbase, due to his skirted design meaning that his torso was all one immobile piece, much like a common table salt shaker.  While the original figure had placed a whole body beneath the figure’s cloth cape, the cloth pieces weren’t really a thing at this point in the line, and so Kenner just made the underlying body one solid block.  The red cloak is still a separate piece, so you can lift it up and see that they’re nothing impressive beneath it, if you so choose, but it hardly seems worth it.  At the very least, the helmet’s pretty cool.  It’s nice and sharply defined, and just looks pretty clean.  The arms, on the other hand, look kind of chunky for some reason.  Odd choice there.  The paint is virtually non-existent on this figure, apart from the black on his visor.  That was it, with nothing more.  I mean, I guess it works, but it’s not terribly exciting.  The Guard is packed with his little poking stick, and, if you were lucky, a Freeze Frame slide.  I was not lucky.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Seeing as they only really stand there, I never had much attachment to the Royal Guards.  They look cool, but that’s it.  And, when it came to this figure, that really was it.  There’s virtually no play value at all here.  He stands real good, because, well, there’s not actual legs, so it would be hard for him to fall over, now wouldn’t it.  This figure wound up coming to me through a trade I did with Max a couple of years ago.  Mostly I got it because I’m getting all of the Power of the Force figures, and I kind have to get this one, now don’t I?  Honestly the sturdiness is nice from a display standpoint.  If you just want an army of them to stand behind Palpatine at attention, as in the movie, this is honestly your best bet.  So, maybe he’s not without value.  But he’s still not a great toy on his own.

#2804: Zodac

ZODAC

MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE ORIGINS (MATTEL)

NOTE: This review was written before June 6th.

“Cosmic Enforcer!”

Action figures are like potato chips: you can’t have just one.  Or maybe that’s just me.  But only with action figures.  Because I’m actually not that big on potato chips…so I don’t even tend to have the one.  But I do have a lot of action figures.  So, there’s that.  What was the point of all this?  Oh, right, I’m looking at another Masters of the Universe Origins figure.  That’s pretty nifty.  And even niftier, it’s a character I haven’t looked at before, because I don’t actually own him in any other form.  Yes, it’s MotU‘s own resident Cosmic Enforcer (who is no longer “Evil”), Zodac!  Zodac’s actually one of the franchise’s original characters, debuting in the original line-up, and originally being billed as an “Evil Cosmic Enforcer,” so as to keep the numbers equal between both sides.  Outside media generally stuck to a neutral alignment for the character, though, and as the line progressed, “Evil” was removed from his packaging, helping to cement his status as not-a-bad-guy.  Let’s have a look at this not-a-bad-guy.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Zodac is another figure from Wave 3 of Masters of the Universe Origins, right alongside yesterday’s Roboto.  The figure stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 23 points of articulation.  His articulation scheme is effectively the same as Roboto’s, though he gets the extra movement on his right wrist joint.  Like his original figure, Zodac is largely built from shared parts. He’s got the Beast Man torso (because he’s got a lot of back hair, I guess), and the reptilian forearms and boots, as well as the standard upper-arms, upper-legs, and waist.  It’s all topped off with a new head and armor piece.  They do a respectable job of recreating his original, as goofy and silly as it’s supposed to be.  Since his torso is a different set-up, he winds up a little sturdier than Roboto, so he’s less prone to wobbling.  Zodac has a little more in the way of paint than Roboto, but it’s still pretty well applied, on my figure at least.  There’s a slight discrepancy on the painted flesh of the face compared to the molded plastic body, but that’s been an issue with Zodac pretty much since day one.  It’s also not as bad in person as it looks in the photos.  Zodac is packed with his blaster, or, as Tim would like me to point out, his L-shaped mace, seeing as it looks more like that than it does a gun.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I was sold on Roboto as soon as he was announced, I wasn’t really planning to pick up Zodac.  However, Max got his earlier, and I got to mess around with it, which was enough to convince me I kind of wanted one of my own.  He’s a fun little figure, and a nice change of pace for my collection at this point.  Here’s to hoping me might get a Zodak redeco at some point!

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

#2776: Ultimate Mech Suit Captain America

ULTIMATE MECH SUIT CAPTAIN AMERICA

AVENGERS: MECH STRIKE (HASBRO)

“Captain America gears up in a massive, high-powered mech strike suit combat the evil Thanos!”

With a lack of actual Avengers movies to tie into at the moment, as well as a general lack of other Avengers things to really go for (since the game didn’t exactly do the business that they were hoping for), this year, the Avengers are getting a more specifically toy-geared push, with the Mech Strike branding.  It’s a pretty simple concept, really: the Avengers are all getting big robo-suits.  I know.  It’s a real high-art concept, to be sure.  I like the Avengers, and I also like big robo-suits, so I don’t hate the idea.  I’m looking at one of the resulting toys today, with Ultimate Mech Suit Captain America!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultimate Mech Suit Captain America is part of Hasbro’s wider-range Avengers: Mech Strike line, which starting showing up at retail in the last month or so.  There are a few different price points for the figures, with Cap and the corresponding Iron Man both being at the mid-range $20 price point.  These figures are a whole figure and mech-suit set-up, which really gives the whole intended experience, I feel.  The core Captain America figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 15 points of articulation.  He’s a pretty basic Captain America, following the general look of the “house style Cap” we’ve been seeing since the MCU took off.  It’s pretty decently designed, and there are a lot of smaller details on the uniform that make him pretty fun.  He’s also pretty posable.  Obviously, he’s not quite Legends material or anything, but all of the basics are covered.  The only thing I could really drag him on is the lack of waist joint, but that’s fairly minor.  There are a few ports worked into the sculpt, as well, which are mainly used for giving him spots to attach the included shield.  They’re not too jarring, and generally fit well with the overall aesthetic of the core design.  His paint’s on the rather basic side, but it’s enough to get the job done.  The basic red, white, and blue is all there, and the application’s mostly pretty clean.  The reds are a little sloppier, but it’s admittedly a more difficult color to get consistent.  There are definitely some sculpted details that get left unpainted, especially on the blue sections, but this is kind of expected, what with the style and price point.  This core figure’s primary function, of course, isn’t really to be seen.  Instead, he’s supposed to be the pilot of the aforementioned “Ultimate Mech Suit.”  The fully suited up figure stands about 7 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation, all of which are contained in the arms.  It’s not exceedingly posable, largely due to it being more or less a shell that folds over the main Cap figure.  The arms are, at least, able to get some movement, but he’s otherwise a rather static, and also rather chunk boi.  The design’s honestly pretty appealing, at least to me.  It’s a big, bulky, and appropriately spangle-y mecha, with very clean line-work.  It feels a little bit Ultra Magnus-y to me, but that may be me filling in some things I want to see.  Wouldn’t mind him getting some killer shoulder pylons, though.  The only slight trouble to how the design of the thing works is that there’s nothing to be done with Cap’s arms once he’s in the mecha; they just kind of hang there, which looks a little silly.  Fortunately, they do blend in alright with the sides of the mecha’s torso, if you just wrap them around.  Still, it would have been nice to see them come up with something a little bit more clever.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I had only a passing familiarity with this line when I got a text from Max a few weeks ago, informing me that he had been in a Captain America mood, which had led him to pick this figure up.  It certainly looked nifty, but I wasn’t in a major rush to get one of my own.  Upon talking to Max a little more about it, it turned out he wasn’t really feeling it as much as he’d hoped to, so he asked if I wanted it for a good deal.  I had just put together a whole shelf of my Captain America stuff, so I had a place to put it, which I guess was as good a reason as any to take it off Max’s hands.  Ultimately, it’s still not something I think I would have picked up for myself, largely due to not really being in the main target market for this line.  That being said, I do like it now that I have it, and I can’t really knock it’s cool factor.  And how many times are we going to get a cool Captain America Mecha?  Okay, probably a lot going forward, but this one’s still cool.

#2760: Mechagodzilla

MECHAGODZILLA

GODZILLA VS KONG (PLAYMATES)

“A robotic apex predator with unstoppable powers of laser destruction, Mechagodzilla was created in secret to destroy Godzilla and end the reign of monsters.”

On March 31st, we finally got the conclusion to what Legendary’s Monsterverse has been building up to for a few years, Godzilla vs Kong, which was a movie that was, unsurprisingly, about Godzilla and Kong having a little bit of a spat.  It’s a big, fun action movie, which very much delivers on the promise of the title, and I really quite enjoyed it.  After being rather on the quiet side in terms of merchandising, this movie was a Monsterverse film that actually got a pretty well-formed tie-in line of toys, giving us a couple of variants of the two title characters, as well as some of the more antagonistic threats that they face within the movie.  The film’s biggest antagonist is definitely Godzilla’s robotic doppelgänger, Mechagodzilla!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Mechagodzilla is part of Playmates’ basic Godzilla vs Kong line, which is, as of right now, a Walmart-exclusive line of figures, which started hitting shelves a couple of weeks before the film’s release.  He was one of two items that leaked the character’s appearance prior to the film’s release, although we all had a sneaking suspicion even before that.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 14 points of articulation.  He’s actually one of the best articulated figures in the line, with most of the basics covered, as well as a few extra joints.  I was a little bummed by the lack of elbow joints, but otherwise he’s pretty posable, especially given the price point.  The figure’s sculpt is so far unique to him, although it’s possible it might be picked for a repaint later down the line, like the basic Godzilla and Kong sculpts got.  Whatever the case, it’s a pretty decent one.  It’s not quite to the level of Bandai Japan or NECA, with the general detailing being a little on the softer side than the more collector-oriented stuff, but there’s still a lot of detailing going on there.  Like the rest of the line, he boasts “Battle Damage Reveal!” which in his case means that the panel on the center of his torso comes off, revealing some more mechanical details beneath.  It doesn’t really track directly with anything from the film, but it’s still kind of a cool gimmick.  Additionally, while it doesn’t do much for the figure on his own, the interior of the mouth has a spot that’s compatible with the atomic breath effects piece designed for the standard Godzilla.  We still don’t have said piece in red, of course, but it’s still nice from a cross-compatibility stand-point.  Mechagodzilla is rather basic on the paint work stand point, mostly being molded in the proper colors.  There’s a few small spots of red, but that’s really it.  It’s not particularly involved, and does look somewhat devoid of detail in some spots, but, again, for the price point, it does make some sense.  While Mechagodzilla doesn’t include any sort of effects pieces of his own, he does include a miniature version of the HEAV, or Hollow Earth Anti-Gravity Vehicle. Mechagodzilla doesn’t actually ever directly interact with the HEAV, but it’s a nice way of at least getting the piece out there.  It’s also just a pretty nifty little piece all on its own.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

While I’m hit and miss with Godzilla himself in regards to the toy world, I do like me some giant robots, and as such, Mechagodzilla is very definitely a thing that makes me go “wow, I want that.”  That’s ultimately what I said when, after Max picked up one of these for himself.  Thankfully, he was more than happy to keep an eye out for a second one for me, and boom, here we are.  Mechagodzilla is a really fun figure, and very hard to beat for the $10 asking price.  Playmates did a great job with this line, and I’m very seriously tempted to pick up a few of the others.

#2747: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: PLATINUM EDITION (HASBRO)

“Ultra Magnus is an inspiration to the Autobots under his command, and a source of terror for the Decepticons who fight against him. His ancient hammer – a mighty artifact known as the Forge of Solus – is a symbol of strength with which he defends Autobot ideals. The thunderous strike of this incredible hammer has been known to topple even the greatest Decepticon warriors.”

While Transformers: Animated was certainly a success, the cartoon proper was partially financed by, and therefore partially owned by, Cartoon Network.  Hasbro was, at the time, looking to get into their own side of the media thing, launching their own television network, the Hub.  Along with re-runs of some of the older Hasbro-based shows, they also had some original programming, including a new animated series, Transformers: Prime.  Joining the show in its third season was my boy Ultra Magnus, voiced therein by veteran actor Michael Ironside.  I looked at one of Magnus’s show-based figures already, but today, I’m looking at one more.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was released, not as part of Prime‘s direct tie-in toyline, but instead as part of the Transformers: Platinum Edition line, as well as part of Hasbro’s “Thrilling 30” initiative celebrating the franchise’s 30th anniversary, where he was numbered 3 of 30.  He was released in 2013, through both Big Bad Toy Store and Toys R Us.  In his robot mode, Magnus stands 9 inches tall and he has 21 points of articulation.  As a post-show-appearance Prime Magnus figure, he’s actually based on the character’s show design, rather than the earlier toyline-exclusive design.  Much like the Voyager Class version of the character I looked at last year, this guy is built largely from Optimus parts, specifically the Weaponizer Class Optimus from the Prime line’s first year.  He’s got a new head, shoulders, and chest plate, which bring him in line with the changes to the Optimus model made for Magnus in the show.  The new parts go well with the old, and he certainly looks the part.  He keeps Optimus’ internal weaponry gimmick.  Pressing the button on his left side, launches two spinning guns over his shoulders.  They’re pretty cool, though one of them spins just a bit longer than the other, which is somewhat amusing.  Magnus includes the Forge of Solus Hammer, which is quite a sizable piece of plastic on its own.  I definitely dig it.  He’s also got a small white gun piece, which is alright, but not quite as Magnus-y.  His color scheme departs from the Beast Hunters version, which was itself not super cartoon-accurate.  This one changes the blue to a better match, and changes the hands to a proper red, but swaps white for the sections that should be grey.  It’s not a terrible set-up, though.

Ultra Magnus’s alt-mode, much like the smaller figure, is a truck mode, very much similar to the one that Optimus had.  It’s notably a little differently handled from how the smaller version did things.  Rather than the extra plastic added by the new shoulders being shifted to the top and back of the truck cab, it’s now be changed into some additional armoring around the sides.  It’s honestly not as convincing from the front, but it’s really just as much of a trade off as the other one in the grand scheme of things.  The weapons gimmick is still usable in his vehicle mode, now launching from beneath the front grill of the truck.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This particular copy of this particular Ultra Magnus is nifty, because he’s actually been owned by three separate All Time Toys employees over the years.  He was first owned by Pat, who traded him in 2019 when downsizing his Transformers collection.  I was planning on snagging it then, but Max wound up snagging it first (this was before we’d really established the precedent of me getting first dibs on Magnuses, so we were still operating on him getting first dibs on Transformers), and then Max ultimately brought him back in last year, at which point I got him, and boom, here we are.  It’s funny, because I actually got this figure before a bunch of the other Magnuses I’ve picked up, but he got set to the side for a while, and now he almost feels kind of quaint, I suppose.  He’s certainly fun, and also one of the largest Magnus figures I own, which I suppose is pretty neat.

#2745: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

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.

#2744: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

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?