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.