#3179: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: R.E.D. (HASBRO)

Okay, the Transformers reviews have certainly slowed down around here, I suppose.  I was trying for a once-a-month thing, but I couldn’t even do that.  Admittedly, I wasn’t really trying.  Well, hey, would you guys like a Transformers review?  Okay, but slight caveat: this one does not transform.  I know.  First Transformers review in three months.  Doesn’t even transform.  There’s some sort of cruel irony there.  Well, if it makes it any better, it’s at least an Ultra Magnus.  So, you know, it’s at least mostly on brand.  Mostly.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus is one of the two figures (the other being the Prime version of Knockout) that make up the fifth assortment of Transformers: R.E.D., which remains exclusive to Walmart.  The entire selling point of this line is that the transformations are sacrificed in the name of animation accuracy, a selling point that has been completely lost with this figure, because instead of being based on any animated appearance of Magnus, this figure is instead based on his G1 inner robot.  Why?  Re-use, that’s why.  I’ll get to that.  The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 34 points of articulation.  Magnus’s entire existence is reliant on one thing: he’s a 100% parts re-use.  Since he’s just the inner robot, rather than a proper armored Magnus, he’s just a complete repaint of the Series 1 Optimus Prime mold.  This is my first time messing with the mold.  It’s alright.  The movement is a little better than the Soundwave mold for the most part, and I found the angles to be a little sharper on this one.  It matches the Prime animation model, which is good for Prime.  For Magnus, it’s kind of neither here nor there whether it’s accurate to anything.  It’s generally a pretty fun sculpt removed from the source, and it plays pretty well, so I can’t really complain.  The mold still features Prime’s opening chest compartment, which on the first release allowed for storage of the included Matrix of Leadership.  The Matrix isn’t included here, so it’s kind of vestigial, but it’s still a cool feature.  The main change-up for this release is the paint scheme.  As with the G1 figure, he’s a largely white version of Prime, much like the inner bots for the Siege and Kingdom releases.  Not *actually* being an inner bot means he can follow the original color scheme a little bit more, specifically with the upper being silver, rather than just more white.  The application is clean, and he looks the part, so it all works out.  Magnus is packed with three sets of hands (fists, open gesture, and a grip/pointing combo), a rifle, and an alternate Energon axe hand (now in blue).  All of these are the same as those included with the standard Optimus, though, as noted above, this guy loses the Matrix.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I got this line’s Soundwave because he pretty much fell into my lap.  He was fine, but not really enough to make me jump into the line any further.  The announcement of a Magnus was exciting, but that was undercut by the reveal that he was just a Prime repaint.  Generally, I don’t tend to go for just inner-bot Magnuses, so I wasn’t really planning to get this one.  Ultimately, I got him because I needed to stop at Walmart for something else, he was there, and he was on sale.  He’s not a bad figure, but he’s also just sort of…lost?  Like, he’s not even true to the one thing the line had going for it, so, exactly what is his purpose?  I’d like to see a proper armored version later down the line, but honestly I feel like this figure’s existence is going to make getting another one more difficult.  I get Hasbro wanting to get extra mold re-uses, but for this specific line, I don’t feel like this is one that really works.  So, I’m glad to have another Magnus, as per usual, but I do wish he were better.

#2656: Soundwave

SOUNDWAVE

TRANSFORMERS: R.E.D. (HASBRO)

Ah, yes, non-Transforming Transformers.  A wonderful little oxymoronic concept that’s been rattling around ever since the introduction of Action Masters in 1990.  Over the years, it’s been something that Hasbro (and some of their licensees) have gravitated back to every so often, as a way of offering figures that are more accurate to what you see on the screen, thanks to not needing to have any sort of compromise for the sake of an alt-mode.  They’re newest stab at this venture is Transformers: R.E.D., short for “Robot Enhanced Design.”  It’s designed to pair off with the likes of The Black Series, being a highly-articulated line of collector-aimed Transformers figures…that don’t transform.  I’m giving the line a try with who else but Soundwave?

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Soundwave is one of the three figures in the debut assortment of R.E.D., which was exclusive to Walmart.  I know, everyone’s super-thrilled, right?  This version of Soundwave is heavily inspired by his original G1 cartoon design, taking into account all of the impossibilities of that design in regards to an actual transformation sequence.   The figure stands about 6 inches tall and he has 33 points of articulation.  In terms of sizing, he falls somewhere between and deluxe and a voyager class from the main line, meaning he fits in alright with the standard, actually transforming Transformers, if that’s something you’re interested in.  Despite being designed as a companion line to their other 6-inch stuff, he’s, of course, not even remotely in scale with Black Series or Legends.  Honestly, actual scaling aside, even just as a “hey wouldn’t he be cool robot figure to put with them” sort of thing, he seems a bit on the small side.  The articulation is overall pretty good on this guy.  It’s a slight step up from the Siege mold in its robot form, with more range in areas such as the shoulders and wrists in particular, but just a greater range of motion across the board, really.  The only area where I had any trouble was the ankles, which are just hard to get to move, I think in part due to the size of the joints.  They’re rather large joints, and prone to getting stuck.  In terms of sculpt, Soundwave is admittedly a pretty spot-on recreation of the G1 animation model.  They really got the proportions down pretty well, and the head and torso in particular really nail this particular look.  The torso even features the eject feature for the tape deck in his chest, although in the case of my figure, it does have a tendency to get stuck.  The articulation is pretty well worked in, and it all looks pretty clean.  For the most part, anyway. I do have one notable issue with the sculpt, and it circles back around the issue I had with the articulation: the ankles and feet.  They’ve given him these rather large ball-shaped universal joints, and they’re just kind of obtrusive and not very well worked into the sculpt.  They don’t follow the model, and they don’t look great.  But, from the ankles up, everything’s great.  The paint work on this figure goes for a flat color scheme to match the cel animation.  It’s a more muted appearance than other figures as of late, but it works out alright.  And hey, it’s a Soundwave with a red visor.  That’s cool!  Two of those from Hasbro in a year.  Not bad.  Soundwave is packed with a small version of Laserbeak in tape form, two sets of hands (gripping and fist/button pressing), his shoulder cannon, and his gun.  It hits all the basics, but it feels a bit light.  Couldn’t we at least get Ravage or Laserbeak in their robot modes?  Or perhaps the perpetual red-headed stepchild of the cassettes, Buzzsaw?

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

My interactions with Transformers in the last two years have sort of shifted my opinions on things, because in 2018, this is the kind of line that I probably would have been a bit more excited by, being a fan of the Transformers as cool robots, but not much else.  But, Siege and Earthrise have showcased to me that Hasbro can make some really good robot action figures that still have transformations, making the prospect of this line a harder sell.  When Prime and Megatron were the only two we knew about, it was an easy pass, especially with that bit about the Walmart exclusivity.  Then they had to go and show this guy, and my stupid love of stupid Soundwave dragged stupid old me back in.  The Soundwave that eventually became mine wasn’t originally meant for me at all, however.  Max found two of them at retail, but was unable to get a response from me, so only bought this one for himself.  After opening and messing with the figure, however, he ended up just asking if I wanted this one, because he wasn’t really feeling it.  I certainly wasn’t going to pass on a G1 Soundwave I didn’t have, so I was more than happy to take it off his hands.  Ultimately, getting him within a week or so of the Earthrise Soundwave, he feels a little redundant and out of place, but I can appreciate him for what he is, even if what he is winds up being a bit…counterintuitive?