#2332: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

THE TRANSFORMERS: COMMEMORATIVE SERIES (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.”

Last March, after firmly jumping aboard the Transformers train, I decided to take a look at the very first figure of my favorite Decepticon, Soundwave.  Well, as I’ve touched on at least once before in the last year, my favorite character on the Autobots side is Ultra Magnus, so it’s only appropriate that I take a look at his beginnings…more or less.  See, in 2002, Hasbro partnered with Toys R Us (in the US, at least) to put out reissues of some of the vintage Transformers.  Among these reissues was not-Optimus himself, Ultra Magnus, who I’m looking at today!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was released in Series 1 of The Transformers Commemorative series, alongside Optimus and Rodimus.  He uses the original G1 molds, meaning like his original 1986 figure, Magnus is a re-deco of Diaclone‘s Powered Convoy figure.  Unlike the relatively unchanged Soundwave/Cassette Man, Magnus was granted a wholly original color scheme from Powered Convoy (though early animation for Transformers: The Movie showed him in the Powered Convoy colors, and they would later see use as the separate Delta Magnus).  In his “Super Robot” mode, Magnus stands 8 1/2 inches tall and he has 8 points of practical articulation.  As with Soundwave, the vintage Magnus sculpt is definitely more rudimentary and basic than later versions would be, perhaps even a little less advanced than Soundwave.  Comparatively, Magnus is rather stiff and limited in his poseablity, with his only actual articulation in the super robot mode being limited to the arms.  It’s a fair bit of movement, in his defense, but you’re kind of limited by what you can do with him.  The sculpt proper is certainly a product of its time, but if you’re a fan of old robots (which I am), he’s certainly got a sort of charm about him.

Since Powered Convoy was an ugrade for the figure that would become Optimus Prime, that means that his super robot mode was really a sort of armor for a smaller figure, as we saw replicated on the Siege figure.  That said, the transition from super robot to standard robot is a whole lot simpler on this guy than the Siege release; you just take off the helmet, pop him out of the back of the armor, and put his hands in place.  And boom, white Optimus–I mean Magnus, who stands 6 inches tall and has 10 practical points of articulation.  He’s a minor retool of the same figure that would become Optimus, and like the larger figure, is kind of rudimentary in design.  He’s a little more poseable, with some joints on his legs, but they don’t amount to a whole lot.  He’s not quite as nifty as the fully suited up version, but it’s hard to compete with the chonk that is fully armored Magnus.  Magnus’s core alt-mode is a Freightliner, much like Optimus, but in white, with his armor transforming into a car carrier (which is sized to carry 4 normal Autobot cars).  The transformation is sort of a mid-way point between the Combiner Wars and Siege Magnus’, with more of an actual transformation like the CW, but still a touch of Siege’s parts-forming.  Magnus is packed with a blaster rifle (designed to work with both of the robot modes), plus two missile launchers and four missiles (which have been lengthened for this release so as to meet safety standards).

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

A few weeks back, All Time Toys got the first piece of a rather sizable Transformers collection, which was heavy on the G1.  I didn’t think there’d be much for me in there, but I did think in the back of my mind that if there were a G1 Magnus in there, I’d probably have to buy him.  Well, you’ve probably pieced together what happened, haven’t you?  Yeah, I bought me a Magnus.  He’s pretty darn nifty, too, and he pairs well with my vintage Soundwave.  Plus, another Magnus for my Magnus collection.  Yay!

As I noted above,  I got this guy from my friends at All Time Toys, and a good chunk of the collection he came from is still available here.  If you’re looking for other cool toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay Store.

#2090: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS: COMBINER WARS (HASBRO)

The legend of Ultra Magnus is exceeded only by the legend of Optimus Prime. When Ultra Magnus was lost, the forces of justice would not let a warrior of his caliber fall. Minimus Ambus, using the power of his rare loadbearer spark, enables Ultra Magnus to fight on.”

As I am doing my very best to become a respectable Transformers fan, I’m working on doing what a respectable fan must do: picking out favorites.  There was no denying that Soundwave was my undisputed favorite Decepticon, because, I mean, look at him.  I mean, that dude’s just pretty cool, right?  But what of the Autobots?  There were a few potential choices, but I just can’t help but really dig Ultra Magnus.  He appeals to my ingrained dislike of main characters by checking off a lot of the boxes that Optimus does, while at the same time *not* being the actual main character.  He also has a tendency to get some pretty darn cool toys, even if they often start off as Optimus reworks.  Additionally, his Siege figure was really the one that sold me on the line as a whole, so I’m definitely developing a somewhat sentimental beat for the guy.  And what does Ethan do with characters he likes?  That’s right, he buys all of the toys.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus was the Wave 3 Leader Class release from Tranformers: Combiner Wars.  Combiner Wars, the first part of the “Prime Wars” trilogy, was unsurprisingly built around a combining gimmick.  That said, the Leader Class figures actually weren’t designed around said gimmick, so Magnus is really a stand-alone release.  Though clearly G1-inspired, Magnus takes more direct inspiration from his design from IDW’s retelling of the G1-verse.  In his robot mode, Magnus stands about 8 1/4 inches tall and he has 25 points of articulation.  He’s got more points of articulation than his Siege counterpart, but I ultimately found him to be slightly stiffer than that figure, largely due to his lack of movement at the waist and wrists.  Additionally, while the articulated fingers are cool, they don’t work out quite as well as you’d hope; getting them to grip his included weapons is rather difficult, and definitely not going to be a long-term thing, unless you find some way to affix them.  At the very least, some pegs on the insides of the hands to hold things in place would have been a nice fix.  While Magnus’s original figure (and his Siege update) had his main look as the result of armor clipped overtop of an all white Optimus-style bot, this figure instead just streamlines it into a single bot-mode…mostly.  I’ll get to that in a second.  The bot mode is a little sleeker than the Siege figure, mostly because it’s not the result of a lot of clip on parts.  Though not as boxy, he’s still quite boxy, though, as you would expect for the character.  He’s directly based on Nick Roche’s design for the character, which is itself drawing more directly from Magnus’s animated appearance.  For instance, his “eyes” are lenses, something not present on the Siege figure.  It’s a different look, and I definitely can dig it.  This figure ends up being about an inch taller than the Siege figure, but in order to facilitate this, he has to cheat some plastic use, resulting in some hollow spots.  The most notable ones are in the legs.  The backs are exposed, but otherwise not a huge issue.  The lower legs fold up to hide the hollowness, but have a tendency to pop apart, which can be a little frustrating.  I definitely prefer Siege‘s solid construction.  That being said, there’s one area where this figure’s hollow nature plays to his favor.  In the IDW series, they referenced Magnus’s inner-robot mode by revealing that the real Magnus had died some time back, and his name was subsequently carried on by a number of other bots, wearing Magnus armor.  The longest-serving replacement was Minimus Ambus, and this figure rounds out the IDW-reference by including a small Minimus Ambus figure, who stands 2 1/2 inches tall and has 6 points of articulation.  He can be placed in the empty chest cavity of the figure for the full effect, which is actually pretty cool.

Magnus’s alt-mode is a truck and trailer, a fairly classic choice for the character.  The transformation between the two modes is actually not too complicated, and I didn’t even have to consult any instructions to get him to the end result, so I’d say that’s a pretty good design implementation.  The final product isn’t a bad looking vehicle, though if you want to get into the relative scaling of everything, it’s worth noting that the trailer portion of the vehicle would stand roughly seven stories tall were it a real life vehicle.  I’m not sure how inconspicuous that would be, but then again, he’s a bright red, white, and blue truck with missile pods and two guns mounted on the back.  He may not be the best infiltrator just in general.  Minimus (who can’t remain in the main bot during the transformation) has an alt-mode as well, which is an even simpler transformation than the main bot.  He turns into a small car, which has a definite sci-fi bend to it, and is actually pretty cool.  In addition to the smaller Minimus figure, Magnus includes two blasters and two missile pods, which can also be combined into a pretty sweet looking hammer for Magnus to hold.  Additionally, thanks to the way his armor is implemented on his wrists, he can also hold the hammer a little more securely than he can the guns individually, making it by far the superior weapon choice.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

I’m less and less able to blame Max for my Transformers purchases.  I tried with this one, but he’s put in an official bid to reject it, so I guess he gets a pass.  In all of my research when I was reviewing the Siege Magnus, I came across this guy and thought he was pretty cool, and that I might like to track him down eventually.  Well, instead, he tracked me down.  Two large Transformers collections were traded into All Time Toys, and this Magnus was contained in one of them, so home with me he came.  As purely an action figure, the Siege version’s definitely superior, but there’s a lot I dig about this guy, and there’s enough to differentiate the two versions that I don’t feel so bad having them both in my collection.  Of course, now I want even more Ultra Magnuses, so that’s probably going to become my new thing.

As noted above, Magnus was purchased from my sponsors at All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.

#1960: Ultra Magnus

ULTRA MAGNUS

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: SIEGE

Well, I started this month off with a Transformers review; might as well finish it with one.  I know, another Transformers review, and so soon after the last one.  I’m blowing your minds, aren’t I?  Okay, probably not, because I’m a little bit predictable, and I very clearly spelled out at the end of my Optimus Prime review that I really wanted a bunch more.  Getting a bunch more was kind of inevitable.  At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.  Today, I’m looking at the inevitable counterpart to any Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus.  A prominent fixture of the brand since the G1 days, Magnus has many times been an easy way to get extra milage out of Optimus Prime/Convoy molds (and has, on one occasion, actually been related to Optimus in continuity).  And now, he’s my newest Transformer.  Yay!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Ultra Magnus is one of the two figures in the first Leader Class wave of War For Cybertron: Siege.  As with the others in this line, he’s very much G1 inspired, at least in his robot mode.  Said robot mode has Magnus standing 7 1/4 inches tall and gives him 20 practical points of articulation.  He may not be quite as mobile as Prime, but he sure is chunkier.  I mean, like a lot chunkier.  Magnus’s gimmick back in the G1 days was that his main look was the result of a bunch of armor pieces that all assembled over the much smaller inner-bot, a gimmick that this figure brings back, for the first time since the original, in fact.  The fully assembled look is what gives Magnus his more distinctive character, and clips in place and holds together like it were just a fixed part of the figure.  It’s also designed to attach in such a way that it doesn’t really hinder the figure’s movement all too much when he’s all kitted out.  Obviously, the sheer bulk causes a slight limiting factor, but he’s still quite posable.  Where Optimus’s main look was made up of lots of clean lines, Magnus is a little more complicated and fractured, which is ultimately pretty true to the two respective characters.  There’s plenty of small detail work going on here, and I particularly dig all of the little intricacies of the armored parts.  The armored-up look results in a very chunky silhouette, especially when viewing Magnus from the side, but this feels pretty true to the character.  It’s at the very least a consistent bulk, so there’s no random bits of his vehicle mode just jutting out of the back.

When it comes to alt-modes, Magnus has not one, not two, but three.  The first one (which you’ll need to transform him into in order get to the other two) strips him of his distinctive Ultra Magnus armor, revealing an almost all-white Optimus Prime-looking figure, with some blue accents, just like Magnus’ original figure.  It’s *not* the a re-use of the Voyager Class Optimus, which is somewhat surprising, and actually kind of cool.  How often does Magnus get to be the original?  The mold has already been tagged for a Leader Class Optimus, set to be released over the summer, but Magnus gets to be unique until then.  It’s a solid sculpt of its own.  I really appreciate the differences between this and the Voyager Optimus.  There are a few oddities I’m iffy about, like the front wheels just sticking off of the back, and there being a few rather obvious screws, but it’s still a pretty well-crafted figure.  Ultimately, I can’t see myself displaying him this way anyway, so it’s not like it’s a big deal.  Switching between armored and unarmored is pretty easy, and even a relative novice like me didn’t have any real trouble.

Ultra Magnus’ next mode is his primary vehicle mode, which, it should be noted, is the one bit of this figure that’s *not* G1-inspired.  He still turns into a truck cab, but this one is very clearly modeled on Magnus’ vehicle design from the 2001 Robots in Disguise cartoon.  Seeing as that cartoon was my introduction to Magnus, I can definitely dig it.  Magnus’ transformation into truck felt a lot easier to me than Optimus’, though I’d imagine that’s to prep you for what comes next.

After removing his armor and transforming him into a truck, the third alt-mode has you add the armor back on, this time in the form of the truck’s trailer.  This set-up also follows the RiD model, though it keeps the colors of the G1, obviously.  I found this portion of the transformation to be the most difficult, as there are a lot of bits that all need to clip together, and they had a tendency to fight me and not want to go where they were supposed to.  Fortunately, they come back apart without too much trouble.  Magnus is armed with three different styles of weapon.  He’s got his RT-15 Stethoscopic Detector (the rifle), a pair of C-30 Magnetic Inducer Launchers (the smaller guns), and a pair of W-HV-1000 Simulacrum Blasters (the rockets on his shoulders).  They’re all using the 5mm ports, so they can be held or plugged in various places, and they are also compatible with the effects included with the battle masters.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

This is Max’s fault again.  At first it was less Max’s fault, because how was he to know that I’ve always had a soft spot for Magnus, and specifically a soft spot for RiD Magnus, and that mentioning the RiD-inspired truck would lead me to want this figure.  Then it became more Max’s fault when he decided to buy his Magnus early from another store, and volunteered me to buy the one on order for him from All Time “since I was planning on grabbing one anyway.” I mean, yeah, I was, but is that really the point?  …Okay, yes it is, but, still.  Whatever the circumstances that led to me getting Magnus, I’m very happy to have him in my collection, and I even more look forward to getting more of these guys.

So, as you may have guessed, I picked up Magnus from All Time Toys.  If you’re looking for Transformers, or other toys both old and new, please check out their website and their eBay storefront.