Review by VF5SS
The Transformers brand's history of being built from existing toy lines has had an interesting and lasting effect on the property as a whole. When Hasbro and the folks at Marvel Productions took to redesigning the form changing robots into identifiable characters, some features of the Diaclone and Microchange figures were refined, simplified, or omitted. Two well known examples are Ratchet and Ironhide, whose simple power loader style Car Robot toys were heavily re-imagined into the more humanized machine men seen in the cartoon and comic.
Over time, Hasbro worked with Takara to develop more original Transformers. The 1986 movie marked a turning point where almost every character from here on would be made specifically for the brand. However, even with a new cast featuring all new toys there was still one major player based on an existing Diaclone figure. The world was soon introduced to Ultra Magnus, a strong and most excellent Autobot.
Here is Ultra Magnus in his greatest adventure...
Ultra Magnus began his life as the Diaclone Powered Convoy, which was meant to be an upgraded version of Battle Convoy (Optimus Prime). The toy for Ultra Magnus was mostly unaltered from its progenitor and retained the repainted Optimus Prime component that would combine with the trailer to form a larger robot. To the comics and cartoons, Ultra Magnus was just the big robot with the cab never separating into a white Optimus. Even his official model sheet shows the cab just folding away to become a part of his back like in the illustration above. Over the years this discrepancy caused much debate among fans and became particularly heated when Takara and Hasbro started releasing a bevvy of white Optimus repaints marketed as Ultra Magnus. While the white inner robot started to show up more in the fiction, many could not deal with this idea and hoped for a true "all-in-one" Ultra Magnus toy.
Although I am not sure they expected Galoob of all people to answer their prayers.
Please watch my video review!
And so here is Ultra Magnus from the short lived Transformers Titanium series. The line started in 2006 and attempted to deliver a more collector oriented product much like the existing Star Wars Titanium vehicle toys. These were all developed in house by Galoob (now a subdivision of Hasbro) and represent an almost wholly western initiative at making new Transformers toys.
While most of the Titanium figures were based on the then current War Within comics, a few were re-imaginings of classics character with this Ultra Magnus being one of the most notable. Overall he's a fairly authentic take on the G1 cartoon design with some extra flourishes and a much chunkier build. Ultra Magnus stands almost seven inches tall and feels quite hefty thanks to the diecast used in his chest and lower legs. I must say from the front he looks pretty good despite the extra white on his body taking away from the intended Ultra Magnus look. He was packaged in robot mode so this is mostly what you saw when you bought the figure.
As you start to look at the toy from other angles, things go slightly awry. To its credit, the Titanium Ultra Magnus follows the general design of the G1 toy quite closely but did not compensate for the difference in proportions so his shoulders end up a ways back from where they should be.
Like seriously, you could walk a mile to get from his neck to his arms. It's a kind of a shame as the rest of the toy looks the part. Interestingly, there is a Kabaya model kit based on this figure that rectifies the arm issue by placing Magnus's shoulders more in line with his head.
From the back you can actually see his truck cab folded away in a similar manner to what his character model intended. It would be many years before we saw the Masterpiece Ultra Magnus manage to replicate the cartoon magic of turning a white box into the red part of his back.
The cab becomes more visible once you unlock the blue shoulder panels as part of his transformation. Its tiny gray smokestacks can be rotated around to give Ultra Magnus some proper truck robot flair.
The instructions don't mention this but the cab can be separated from Ultra Magnus.
Aside from a gap in his upper back, Ultra Magnus is not really any worse for wear without the little white truck.
This tiny rendition of what was once a full on Optimus Prime toy carries the basic details of its progenitor but is a lot more compact. It is also adorable.
The cab plugs into the rest of Magnus with a large circle connector that resembles a trailer hitch. Sadly, the cab does not articulate the way a real 18-wheeler would so Ultra Magnus can only drive in straight lines.
"This is my 'dealin' with it' face."
Getting back to the main figure, Ultra Magnus has a nicely detailed head that is a bit undersized compared to his body. It can move around on a ball-jointed neck.
The blue chest plate can flip up like in the animated movie to reveal a faux Matrix chamber. I'm sure there are a few small Matrix of Leadership accessories that could fit in here such as the one from Mega SCF Rodimus Convoy.
His arms sport tampo printed Autobot symbols that look worn enough to resemble stickers. Magnus's ever present rocket launchers are represented with a non functional pair of accessories. Due to the asymmetrical design of his shoulders, one launcher plugs into a hole while the other goes over an existing peg. It's been noted elsewhere that the launchers can only be attached "upside-down" with the flat side on top. The instructions show Ultra Magnus's shoulders assembled a bit differently which suggests his arms were swapped around some point during production. I presume this was done so he could have a flat surface for applying the Autobot symbols to his shoulders as the other side is an angled vent looking structure.
The big white shin guards that folded down on the G1 toy to form ramps for his car carrier mode are just painted details on the Titanium Ultra Magnus. A pair of flip out winglike protrusions also mimic the classic figure in a purely cosmetic way. One curious addition with the Titanium Ultra Magnus is a pair of tiny toes that don't match the animated version and look a bit out of place.
Articulation wise, Magnus is on par for a Transformer from 2007. Save for the ball-joints in his neck and shoulders, practically everything else moves on a very stiff ratcheted joint. In fact some joints like his waist are so tight you feel like you might break the toy due to how much effort is required to move it one click. The tightness is present in other places but not to such a severe degree. Some parts like his swiveling thighs cannot be move unless his hips are splayed outward a bit due to his design. Overall the toy feels a bit amateurish which given its rather unique development is not a surprise. Still you can make Ultra Magnus pose fairly well even if it highlights things like his small head and weird shoulders.
Ultra Magnus comes with a laser rifle that is good imitation of the original design. It fits somewhat loosely into his hands and is a bit undersized. Note that his wrists do swivel but due to the protruding forearm parts, moving his hands can be difficult and they get stuck about 90 degrees each way.
With gun in hand, Magnus can patrol around for Decepticons. The weapon helps his overall appearance but again you really have to look at him from certain angles so he doesn't appear awkward.
Strangely, Ultra Magnus lacks proper bicep swivels but does have rotating forearms. These joints are especially tight and difficult to move.
Where this toy truly shines is in the transformation. The Titanium figure emulates the G1 Ultra Magnus toy but makes a few changes to make it almost entirely self-contained. While the rocket launchers have to be removed and put back on later, the rest of the figure unfolds into a car carrier just like he did in the show. One cool bit of engineering is how his inner shins travel downward on a small track and click in place to form the floor of his trailer.
In truck mode, Ultra Magnus is about six and a half inches long. While he looks nice, a lot of parts do not lock together as they did with the G1 toy. For instance his arms just sort of rest on the back of his legs as the little white wings do not create a means to join his forearms to his shins as they did originally. While this Magnus will mostly stay together as a vehicle, it again feels like a toy designed by an inexperienced team.
Regardless of the engineering, the Titanium toy makes for a good representation of this fan favorite character as a roughly deluxe class sized figure.
He has a full set of rolling wheels even though a few appear to be off the ground.
The instructions say you are supposed to flip up his chest plate for truck mode but this seems to push the cab forward in an unnatural way.
This does give you a tiny bit of extra space for storing cars, but I prefer to leave the chest plate down.
At first I thought Spychanger or Legends type Transformers would fit in Ultra Magnus but they look a bit too big with him.
Probably the best match would be Micromasters or Minicons. It's kind of ironic that Hasbro created the former in part to compete with Galoob's highly successful Micro Machines only to eventually buy their competitor and reuse the brand for more Transformers. There's kind of a weird bit of synergy here with a Micro Machines branded Ultra Magnus working so well with Micromasters.
Detaching the cab while Magnus is in carrier carrier mode leaves him stranded as a trailer.
The cab can then go on to become a fancy chair for Micromasters.
Here is the original G1 toy with its Titanium descendant. One thing that becomes immediately apparent about the newer figure is how it lacks almost all the red seen on the 80's toy.
Now for some hot Magnus on Magnus action! It's car carriers carrying other car carriers in an ultra way.
G1 Ultra Magnus is quite large compared to the Titanium although he isn't nearly as heavy.
"I am Ultra Magnus."
"How can you be Ultra Magnus when you're nothing like him? I am the real Ultra Magnus!"
I find it amusing that the newer Ultra Magnus is about the size of the old toy's inner cab robot. Despite being a part of every 80's toy of the character, the white "Optimus" component was never seen in either the original cartoon or the old Marvel comics. To many fans, the true Ultra Magnus can only be represented as a full all-in-one design like the Titanium figure.
"ＹＯＵ ＤＡＲＥ ＴＯ ＣＨＡＬＬＥＮＧＥ ＭＹ ＡＵＴＨＯＲＩＴＹ ＡＳ ＵＬＴＲＡ ＭＡＧＮＵＳ？！"
"Ahhhh!! I can't deal with this now!"
The Titanium Series Ultra Magnus is an interesting curiosity in the world of Transformers. It represents the first time an Ultra Magnus toy attempted to emulate the self-contained transformation seen in the cartoon and the comics. While the overall design of this figure is sound, the execution and engineering on the part of Galoob is lacking which makes the whole toy feel a bit underwhelming. However, the sheer novelty of a compact all-in-one Ultra Magnus makes the Titanium rendition a desirable piece and I find the act of transforming it to be a lot of fun. It is a shame that both the robot and car carrier modes are less refined than a typical Transformer, especially for his era. Still I have to give Hasbro and Galoob credit for essentially creating their own homegrown chogokin toys.
Due to this figure's age and notoriety, I find that it can be hard to track one down for under $100 on the aftermarket. I was fortunate enough to find a used one with a beat up box for for around $40 and I feel anywhere from $40-$50 is a reasonable price for the Titanium Ultra Magnus. It is definitely a unique figure in the Transformers pantheon and fans of the character or weird TF toys may want to check him out.
|Posted 17 November, 2014 - 13:38 by VF5SS|