Leader-class Autobot Ultra Magnus
Review by EVA_Unit_4A
Optimus was a young and optimistic recruit in the Autobot Academy, wanting to face off against real Decepticons in a battle as part of the Elite Guard. Unfortunately, he missed the war by a few million years, and eventually failed to pass the Academy. His ambitions and dreams crushed, Optimus was instead assigned command of a small maintenance crew for the tedious and boring duty of repairing and cleaning-up the Space Bridge network. But when the Autobot crew accidentally comes across the very powerful, life-giving All Spark which was lost at the end of the war, they are suddenly ambushed by the greatly-feared leader of the Decepticons, Megatron, and his own broken army of experienced soldiers in their search for the legendary artifact. The Autobots get away from the Decepticon warship, and Megatron is destroyed in a fluke explosion, but damage causes their ship to crash on an unknown planet. Optimus Prime and his crew go into emergency stasis lock for 50 years, and reactivate in the future underneath Lake Erie near Detroit, Michigan. The Autobots reformat their alternative forms to match those of Earth vehicles so as to blend in. As they begin to explore Detroit, they come across a human girl named Sari Sumdac, whose father owns the largest robot manufacturer on the planet. When she sneaks aboard their ship to see more of the transforming alien robots, Sari encounters the All Spark, and it rebuilds her electronic key card to carry many of its own powers. With Sari’s help in understanding Earth’s unusual cultures and customs, Ratchet, Prowl, Bumblebee, Bulkhead, and Optimus Prime swear to protect the All Spark from rogue Decepticons until Elite Guard reinforcements arrive.
Ultra Magnus is the Supreme Commander of the Autobot Elite Guard, and was so during the war against the Decepticons thousands of stellar cycles ago. He is everything anyone could want in a leader- command presence, a sense of justice, wise, fair, noble, strong-willed, compassionate, impartial, and cautious. Though usually commanding on Cybertron in the Elite Guard Metroplex, he is not afraid to also travel to different Autobot worlds and mix it up directly on the battlefield amongst his own troops either, even in his advanced age; which makes him even more endearing to both his army and the civilians on the Transformers’ homeworld. In fact, it was the discovery of the long-lost AllSpark by a small Space Bridge maintenance crew which eventually found him coming to Earth and interacting cautiously with its mostly-organic population along with Sentinel Prime and Jazz. There, he wanted to take command of the situation, but young Optimus Prime proved his worth and ability to handle the situation- having successfully adjusted to the human population and its culture. Though Sentinel Prime may frequently say otherwise, Ultra Magnus sees promise in Optimus, despite the fact that he was washed-out of the Elite Guard Academy…
As head of the Elite Guard, Ultra Magnus always carries with him the symbol of his office- the powerful Magnus Hammer, which is earned through dedication and bravery. It can alter local weather patterns (such as creating focused windstorms), and can throw powerful bolts of lightning at its victims.
The voice of Autobot Ultra Magnus is performed by cartoon-veteran actor Jeff Bennett, who also covers Prowl, Soundwave, Mixmaster, and several other semi-regular & guest characters in “Transformers Animated”. He has a wide-range of credits for TV, video games, and movies, including the title role for “Johnny Bravo”.
Though none are featured in the series, he has several fold-out weapons that can be accessed in both Vehicle and Robot Mode: a pair of non-moving multi-barrel machine guns behind the headlights, a set of three-barrel turrets that are stored inside/behind the control cabin, and a pair of energy cannons on the trailer section that also feature two smaller pop-up cannons. (None of these are activated by springs, and must be deployed & retracted manually.)
In Vehicle Mode only, the light-and-sound feature can be activated by pressing a button on the left side. This makes two yellow LEDs in the large cannons on the flatbed blink on-and-off several times, and you hear the sound of an energy cannon firing.
(Even though Ultra Magnus’ chest is still visible underneath the Vehicle Mode, the Robot Mode’s electronic effects cannot be activated even if the button is pressed. This also goes for the Vehicle Mode’s button when he is in Robot Mode.)
The Magnus Hammer can be placed in either hand, but it is typically seen in the right.
All three retractable weapons shown above can also be deployed in Robot Mode.
The light-and-sound effects change when switched to Robot Mode.
When you press the Elite Guard logo on his chest, the cannons on his back will still light up yellow, his chest will light-up red, and his eyes will light up green (even though his eyes are blue in the series). At the same time, his head and brow will raise slightly, giving him the appearance of talking. He says the three following phrases, all voiced by series-actor Jeff Bennett:
- “Ultra Magnus here.”
- “Don’t be a hero, Optimus- it’s not in your programming.”
- “We must return the AllSpark to Cybertron.”
(There are no additional effects in this mode.)
The Autobot Ultra Magnus set is also compatible with the Headmaster unit accessory provided with the Leader-class Autobot Bulkhead set, though it does not change/add any of the effects.
I have a confession to make: I nominated this toy as one of my pics for CollectionDX’s 2008 Holiday Buying Guide… before I had a chance to handle it. I suppose I wanted it so badly myself at the time that I was willing to overlook any possible errors and difficulties which could have voided it from the nomination to begin with. I apologize for being too ambitious.
I have never owned an Ultra Magnus figure before, but the story usually goes that he is a repaint of the Optimus Prime toy for that series, and is either his ‘brother’ or an Autobot commander of slightly-lower rank. But, since “Transformers Animated” has twisted things around a bit and changed Optimus into a young field commander with lost ambitions, he is no longer worthy of having a repaint made of him. This suits me just fine, because in return we get this awesomely armed ‘bot.
It never ceases to amaze me how screen-accurate these toys are from the series, it is unbelievable and awe-inspiring at the same time. I tend to use his ‘shooting’ armaments in Vehicle Mode only, saving the Magnus Hammer as his only practical weapon exclusively for Robot Mode (just to make things easier on myself). What struck me first as I transformed him was how friggin’ tight some of those joints can be! Some of the tolerances on the white shoulder armor and lower legs can be trying at times, but easily ignored in favor of the rest of the process. Something else caught me off-guard since I’ve never seen anything quite like it before… and for all the amazing design work that goes into these toys, it’s surprising. The toy’s forward-swinging shoulder joints are actually positioned far behind his head rather than in-line with it! With the arms positioned straight down, it’s not noticeable, but as soon as they start swinging forward, you immediately notice the error- that something is not right in how it poses. Ordinarily, for a Generation One/Two-era toy from the mid-to-late 1980s, I could have excused it. But with all the advancements in Transformers-design technology over the decades, it is a very unusual flaw. Fortunately, the misplaced shoulders are the only problem in Robot Mode. He looks, and is, solid in both modes. That the weapons- save for the spring-loaded Magnus Hammer (it’s only half as long as it is in the show, which is an actual staff)- can deploy in either mode is both a testament to the designers and a fine character statement: he may be old, but he’s still got it where it counts. (So, he has blasters that pop-out of his blasters for double the firepower…? Awesome.) I also thought the sound clips they used from the show were very character-appropriate & -focused, rather than some random generic garbage-phrases that Hasbro usually throws our way. Having his head bounce up-and-down was also odd, and I would have rather it be his mouth that moved down, because he looks like a ‘Canadian’ from “South Park” when that feature activates.
Other than the minor quibbles of the tight transformation joints and odd shoulder positioning, the Leader-class Autobot Ultra Magnus is certainly worthy of the title of supreme-commander of the Autobots, and is just as grand as Optimus Prime was in all past series. Highly recommended!
|Posted 20 January, 2010 - 04:01 by EVA_Unit_4A|