#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.

#2698: Bumblebee & Spike Witwicky

BUMBLEBEE & SPIKE WITWICKY

TRANSFORMERS: BUZZWORTHY BUMBLEBEE (HASBRO)

Despite his increased presence in the franchise in the last few years, Bumblebee has been without any major presence in the main core line of the toys since the beginning of the War For Cybertron Trilogy.  He’s gotten a couple of figures in Studio Series, of course, as well as the one notable exclusive figure from Walmart for the main line, but that’s admittedly kind of minor given how many Optimuses and Megatrons we’ve gotten in that same span of time.  Fortunately, Hasbro’s at least a little bit aware of the seeming lack of Bumblebees, and they’ve got a whole subline of stuff dedicated to him.  Isn’t that nice?  I mean, I think so.  Most of the line is re-releases, but there’s one new item in the starting line-up, a Bumblebee and Spike Witwicky two-pack, which I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURES THEMSELVES

Bumblebee and Spike Witwicky are part of the Target-exclusive Buzzworthy Bumblebee line, specifically under the War For Cybertron branding.  Though dubbed as a two-pack, the focus of the pack is really the Bumblebee figure.  He’s part of the newly launched core-class size, which is a slightly smaller scale at an appropriately smaller price point.  In his robot mode, Bumblebee stands about 3 1/2 inches tall and he has 9 practical points of articulation.  Design-wise, this Bumblebee is definitely G1-inspired, though not quite as 100% cartoon accurate as some of the larger scale WFC figures have been.  There’s a little more stylization to this mold, and it matches up pretty decently with the other G1 figures we’ve seen from the core-class line-up so far.  The kibble is a bit more intensive on this robot mode, since his smaller scale makes folding such things up a little more difficult.  He’s also got some more hollow and exposed portions in robot mode, again thanks to the smaller size.  Ultimately, he’s pretty impressive for the smaller size, and he’s a fun little figure.  Bee is packed with a small blaster pistol, styled after his G1 weapon, which is pretty nifty.  He’s also joined by Spike Witwicky…or at least Spike’s exo-suit from Transformers: The Movie.  Spike’s about 2 1/2 inches tall and he’s got movable arms, and that’s it.  The sculpt’s pretty rudimentary, and is designed in such a way that you can’t actually see anyone inside of the exo-suit.  Silver lining: that means it can just as easily be Daniel!

Bumblebee’s alt mode isn’t the usual G1 VW Beetle, and is instead a more generic tiny little car.  Given the lower price point on this guy, the VW licensing probably wasn’t going to be worth it.  This is an okay alternative.  It’s generic, but not a terrible look.  It’s also a pretty easy transformation, and pretty fun to swap back and forth.  Spike’s also got an alt-mode…in theory.  You lay him down on his front and flip one panel over.  Boom.  He’s a…thing?  It’s a different thing, I guess?  I don’t know.  Hey, he’s pretty much an accessory; anything extra’s cool.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Kudos go to Max for setting me up with this set.  I’m not in dire need of any of the Core Class stuff, and I was content with just the Walmart Bumblebee, but the inclusion of Spike’s exo-suit made this set a bit more worthwhile for me.  Ultimately, he’s not the star of the set, and he’s pretty basic, but the price point on this set is also low enough that it doesn’t really hurt too much to pick it up.  The Bumblebee being a nifty figure on his own helps things out too.

#2696: Cyclonus

CYCLONUS

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: KINGDOM (HASBRO)

Yesterday, I kicked things off in a decidedly not G1 fashion for this week’s Transformers reviews.  Today, however, I’m flipping the script, and going for the decidedly G1 fashion.  See, in addition to this year’s focus on Beast Wars, the main line is also splitting that focus to take a look at the other notable piece of media with halfway notable anniversary, Transformers: The Movie.  While most of the ’86 focus is in Studio Series, it’s overflowing a touch into Kingdom as well.  One of Galvatron’s two lieutenants, Scourge, made it into the Studio Series line-up, but his other secondary, and today’s focus, Cyclonus is instead part of the Kingdom line-up.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cyclonus makes up one half of the first Voyager Class assortment of Kingdom, alongside Optimus Primal.  He’s designed to be compatible with the Studio Series figures, so his design is generally closer to animation accuracy than prior main line figures.  In his robot mode, he stands about 7 inches tall and he has 25 usable points of articulation.  In contrast to the two Beast Wars figures I’ve looked at from the line, the articulation on this guy is pretty nicely designed and laid out.  The movement is pretty smooth, and he’s got a good range of motion.  The sculpt is very cleanly rendered, and followed the animation model very closely.  He’s appropriately sharp and angular, which is really how Cyclonus should be.  The kibble from his alt-mode folds up nicely into the robot mode, and doesn’t impede his movement.  Generally, it’s a nice, very solid sculpt, and the figure really has a nice heft to him.  Additionally, thanks to the design of the legs, it’s possible to adjust the height of the figure a little bit, thus replicating Cyclonus’ slightly variable size from the animation, which is certainly a cool touch.  Cyclonus is packed with his “Oxidating Laser” weapon, which is a pretty nifty looking sci-fi-esque gun.

Cyclonus’ alt-mode is a space jet fighter, just like it was in the movie.  It’s a pretty reasonable transformation process, that isn’t too difficult to get through.  It’s certainly not as fiddly as some of the Studio Series figures.  I did get a kick out of the Russian nesting doll-esque nature of unfolding the nose cone over and over again.  The end result is pretty decent, though I did have some trouble getting the mid-section to clip into place just right on mine.  I’m not sure if that’s an across the board thing, an issue with my figure thing, or an “Ethan’s not always great with Transformers” thing.  It’s certainly a minor thing, so there’s that.  Like the robot mode, the jet fighter mode is fairly animation accurate, and even has some fun little touches, such as fold out landing gear.  The Laser can be mounted to the top of the jet mode, for a more offensive set up.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

With the ’86 guys, I’m generally more of a heroes guy than a villains guy.  Because of that, I opted to pass on Scourge when he hit.  Cyclonus is a slightly different story for me.  He did have a tendency to get paired off against Ultra Magnus, and he’s also notable in the small handful of Transformers comics I’ve actually read.  Plus, there’s no denying that he’s got a pretty slick look.  All of that made it pretty hard for me to pass this guy up.  I’m glad I opted not to pass on him, because he’s quite a nice figure, and makes me feel not quite so bad about Kingdom as a whole.  Definitely my favorite piece of the figures from launch.

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.

#2695: Blackarachnia

BLACKARACHNIA

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: KINGDOM (HASBRO)

Okay, it’s a new month, and it feels like a good time to knock out some Transformers reviews, doesn’t it?  I happen to have this whole stack of them here, so I can just make a whole week out of it, can’t I?  Oh, yes I can!  We’re kicking things off in a decidedly not G1 fashion, and looking at one of this year’s big focusses for the line: Beast Wars.  I looked at Cheetor last month, and I’m finally getting the opportunity to follow that one up with another figure, this time from the opposing team (well, some of the time, anyway).  It’s Blackarachnia!

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Blackarachnia is part of Transformers War For Cybertron: Kingdom’s first Deluxe Class assortment.  She and Cheetor make up the Beast Wars-half of this particular assortment.  Like Cheetor, Blackarachnia has multiple designs over the course of the show, but this figure goes for her original look, meaning she matches everyone else so far.  In robot mode, she stands about 5 1/4 inches tall and she has 23 practical points of articulation.  Movement wise, Blackarachnia is a little bit better than Cheetor, but still ends up feeling a touch restricted compared to other recent figures from the line.  At least her elbows and knees have a fuller range of motion.  At least the sculpt does a respectable job of replicating her design from the show, with notably less transformation induced compromises than we saw with Cheetor.  There’s certainly less really obnoxious kibble this time around, and she doesn’t feel quite as slapdash as that release.  She does still feel a little bit more…I don’t know exactly how to phrase it, but she’s just not quite as fun to mess with as some of the more G1-inspired bots.  Blackarachnia includes her crossbow-looking weapon thing, which is actually kind of cool, and I do like how they implemented the hands to be 5mm compatible without looking it.  That’s admittedly one of the better elements here.

Blackarachnia’s alt-mode is a black widow spider, which isn’t too surprising with the name and all.  I’m not big on spiders myself, so I’m just gonna have that one single photo there to illustrate.  I changed her once for the photo and then changed her back, because, again, not big on spiders.  Her transformation’s a little fiddly for my taste, and I don’t feel super satisfied with the end result and how it all clicks together, but it’s an okay alt-mode overall.  It maintains a good deal of posability on the legs, and does stay pretty well balanced, so those are all plusses.  Not a plus?  Remember how Cheetor had that issue with that one breaking peg?  Well, I was able to avoid breaking that one on mine, but I was not so lucky on the recurring issue with Blackarachnia.  There’s a peg on her chest, which is another pretty much guaranteed break.  Unfortunately, unlike Cheetor, there’s nothing else to really hold this piece secure in the robot mode once it breaks, and it just swings up and down now, which is more than a little bit annoying.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Blackarachnia’s more of a pre-emptive addition to my collection than anything else.  I’m a huge fan of Silverbolt, and in the event of us getting an updated Silverbolt (hopefully soon), I’ll definitely want her to go with him.  So, I went ahead and picked her up.  After being kind of disappointed by Cheetor, I held off on opening her up for a while, which is rarely a good sign with my figures.  Ultimately, I opened her for this review, and she’s okay at best.  Her robot mode isn’t bad overall, and is certainly an improvement on older versions of the character, but the fact that her transformation is pretty much guaranteed to break the figure is a major point against it, and the fact that that’s the second instance of such an issue in the line’s not a great track record.

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.

#2671: Cheetor

CHEETOR

TRANSFORMERS WAR FOR CYBERTRON: KINGDOM (HASBRO)

Hey, did you guys know that there’s, like, Transformers that’s not G1 or G1 inspired?  I know, I thought it was a weird concept myself.  Like, are they allowed to do that?  In checking it out, apparently the answer is “Yes.”  Typical “Ethan’s being sarcastic, isn’t he oh so clever” opening aside, Beast Wars, which launched in 1996 was the third major incarnation of the franchise, and was also my first real introduction to Transformers, by virtue of me, you know, not really having been around for the prior two.  It’s actually the first Transformers for a good number of people, and has, over the years, picked up quite a following, even as the franchise keeps shifting its focus back to G1.  But, Beast Wars fans are getting thrown a deceased animal’s bone this year, as Hasbro celebrates its 25th Anniversary with Kingdom, the third part of the War For Cybertron Trilogy, which is heavily centered around the Beast Wars cast.  Heading off the charge is one of the show’s most prominent characters, Cheetor, who I’m taking a look at today.

THE FIGURE ITSELF

Cheetor is part of the first Deluxe Class assortment for Kingdom, and alongside Blackarachnia, makes it half-Beast Wars, which is the set-up for all of the starting line-ups.  At least this assortment doesn’t have anyone being repackaged from Earthrise, I guess.  Cheetor had a few different appearances over the course of the original Beast Wars, but this one is based on his original appearance.  In his robot mode, Cheetor stands about 5 1/2 inches tall and he has 24 workable points of articulation.  In contrast to some more recent efforts, the articulation on Cheetor is rather on the restricted side of things.  His movement just generally feels pretty stiff, and a lot of the joints get okay movement one direction, but not another.  Additionally, the movement on his elbows and knees in particular is rather restricted, making him just generally harder to pose than a lot of compatriots.  The figure’s sculpt does an alright job of capturing the animation model for the character, but there are definitely some compromises made for the sake of transformation.  He also winds up with a bit more kibble than he should in a few spots, notably the backs of his hands and the tops of his lower legs.  This ultimately makes him feel a little bit less refined, I think, then he maybe should.  He just generally feels a little bit more slapdash.  Cheetor is accessorized with one weapon, a whip made from his alt-mode’s tail.  It’s an okay looking piece, but notably not a weapon that was used by this incarnation of his design; the whip came with his Transmetals release.  This one should technically get the “gut gun”, but it isn’t present.

With a name like Cheetor, his alt-mode probably isn’t too hard to figure out.  He turns into, that’s right, a Cheetah.  The transformation sequence is a little stubborn in a few spots, and there’s a tab on the back of the cheetah head’s neck that is pretty much guaranteed to break.  It’s fortunately not super necessary for either mode, and I was able to avoid breaking mine (the stress marks are certainly there, though), but breaking during the first transformation’s not the kind of recurring issue you want to run into with a Transformers figure.  At the very least, the cheetah mode does end up looking pretty good.  It’s certainly an improvement over most of his older toys, I can say that much.

THE ME HALF OF THE EQUATION

Beast Wars was my first interaction with Transformers, and if I’m being entirely honest, it’s probably a contributing factor as to why it took my so long to get into Transformers.  There are parts of it I enjoyed as a kid, and am still nostalgic about, though, and I do like Cheetor alright as a character.  So, I’m sort of trying some stuff out with Kingdom, and Cheetor was the first one of them I had the chance to pick up.  Honestly, I don’t know that he’s a great place to start with the line.  He’s not terrible, but he’s also not super great, at least by my metrics.  I’m hoping that others prove to be a little bit better, especially considering the prior two entries in the trilogy had little trouble getting me to care about other characters in the franchise I previously had little attachment to.

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.