Review by VF5SS
As I discussed in my review of the Titanium Series figure, Ultra Magnus has had many ups and downs on the long road to getting a cartoon accurate toy. After one middling success (and many, many Optimus Primes repainted white), the Masterpiece line lived up to its named and delivered what is quite possibly the best rendition of the Autobot City Commander as he appeared in the original series. While this is technically the second MP Ultra Magnus, it is the first to definitely execute the "all in one" transformation and put to rest any inkling of a "Prime in armor" design as per the original G1 toy. Interestingly enough, the debate was happening even among the staff at Takara Tomy with designer Shogo Hasui teasing the idea that MP-10 Optimus Prime could be armored up. In the end it was decided that the Masterpiece figure needed to represent the animated character and the design of Ultra Magnus was handed over to Hironori Kobayashi who proceeded to deal with it now.
Please check out my video review!
Masterpiece MP-22 Ultra Magnus is an imposing figure who stands a little over a foot tall. He has quite a bit of weight due thanks to three big chunks of diecast used in his construction. Each foot and the central core of his upper body is made out of sturdy metal. A lot of work was put into making this Ultra Magnus invoke the look of the animated character with the familiar light blue of the G1 toy being replaced with a much darker color. Details like his chest armor and shin guards have been altered from the old Powered Convoy to closely match the official artwork. While this Ultra Magnus is a bit bulkier than than his 2D counterpart, I feel that his overall design incorporates this extra mass in a way that fits the image of the character.
I want to point out that in my review, I clicked his shin guards in a bit father than they normally rest to minimize the gaps in his lower legs. This was shown in some early gray prototype and test shots but is not mentioned in the instructions. Doing this doesn't seem to affect the toy so it's a neat optional aesthetic tweak.
From the rear, the necessities of making a real life toy are more evident as the Masterpiece figure did an admirable job of emulating the cartoon magic of turning Ultra Magnus's white truck cab into the red portion of his back. One caveat of this design is that it moved his rear skirt armor downward to where it tends to blend in with his legs. From the front this is a good thing as the panel is white on one side and thus blends in with his thighs. When turned around, Magnus looks a bit more blocky with an almost Gundam-like appearance.
Also you may notice my figure is missing the rear panel on his left arm rocket launcher. This is an unfortunate factory error that I'm looking to getting fixed. Honestly though, this little hiccup hasn't diminished by opinion of the toy in the slightest.
Here is the Masterpiece figure with its two most direct predecessors. People who are used the old G1 and more recent Titanium versions may be a little confused by the changes in Ultra Magnus's color scheme. Again this is all in service of cartoon accuracy.
While this Ultra Magnus is not an armored white Optimus Prime, the MP-10 toy still stipulated many things about his design. Having to carry a similarly sized truck cab within his body and meet the requirement of being able to haul four Masterpiece Autobot cars made MP-22 a bit larger than what was commonly shown in the cartoon and scale charts.
Again, I don't feel like this small increase in size really affects the figure as this Ultra Magnus wears his modernized look quite well. He still feels right even if has to look down when giving Optimus a handshake.
With a clean cartoon style, Ultra Magnus looks great next to his best bud, Rodimus Prime.
These two have been friends across generations of toys.
By default, Ultra Magnus has a stern look on his face as befitting the character. His head can rotate a full 360 degrees and he can look up and down. Also note that his dual white antenna are made of diecast metal to guard against breakages.
MP-22 also has a face change gimmick which can be accessed by popping the front half of his helmet off. Doing so will reveal a neat homage to the G1 toy in the form of a white Optimus Prime face. While it lacks the blue faceplate and red eyes of the original, the sculpt emulates the former Diaclone figure's squat proportions and tiny mouth vents.
Ultra Magnus extra faces can be kept in this panel on his back. They can peg onto the front half of his helmet or the storage area. He only comes with the two expressions seen here. Pictures of the prototype toy showed two additional face plates with more pronounced "sunglasses" but these did not make it to production.
So here is what the instructions call the "SCREAMING" face. This is useful for when you need Ultra Magnus to howl in anger about those dirty Decepticons.
You can forgo the humanoid visage entirely and just have tiny faced Magnus.
One of the more impressive gimmicks is the ability to open Ultra Magnus's chest the same way it does in the 1986 animated film. Inside if a bevvy of screen-accurate detail (albeit unpainted) and a spot to store the Matrix of Leadership that came with MP-10 Optimus Prime.
"Until the day... when all are one."
For a greater effect, the Matrix is still visible through Magnus's transparent red chest windows.
Ultra Magnus is armed with his twin shoulder rockets and a large Super Blaster Gun. The handle of the weapon tabs into either of his palms with movable fingers closing snugly around it. He features a similar setup to MP-10 with three fingers fused as one unit and a separate index finger.
The gun is colored purplish gray to match its animated appearance.
While not the most dynamic figure, Ultra Magnus has enough articulation to properly effect the look of the loyal Autobot soldier we all know and admire.
His elbows, hips, and knees have heavy ratchets to provide articulation and stability in posing. You can maneuver Ultra Magnus's arms around on an unimpeded shoulder joint that features a bit of ratcheting as it clicks up or down for inward or outward motion. Keeping his big metal feet on the ground is no problem thanks to a pair of very clean looking ankle tilts. The only major omission in Magnus's repertoire is a waist joint. This is partially due to the way he transforms and the fact that his groin and chest are basically one solid piece of diecast to ensure sturdiness.
Even without a waist joint, Ultra Magnus can pull off a number of very natural looking poses such as a cautious walk as he patrols the exterior of Metroplex.
He can still go beyond good, beyond evil, and beyond your wildest imagination...
And tell you to transform Autobot City!
Swapping out Ultra Magnus's articulated hands for a pair of soft plastic fixed posed ones lets him attempt to make the Matrix open damnit! Open! These replacement hands have a big slot in the fingers you can wedge the Matrix into. Overall it makes for a striking display and alleviates the problem of having to fit his huge fingers inside the tiny accessory.
"You can't escape, Rodimus! I CAN TRACK YOUR GAS FUMES ANYWHERE!!"
And thanks to this figure's amazing level of fidelity to the cartoon, Ultra Magnus is fully compatible with the aftermarket Hate Plague accessory.
The transformation on this toy strikes a wonderful balance between ingenuity and ease of use. While there are some similarities to Generation One Ultra Magnus, the Masterpiece uses a lot of clever tricks to arrive at the same alternate mode while servicing the more show accurate robot mode. You start off by flipping the tops of his shoulder stacks around so they plug into holes located on the sides.
Next, you can start to unfurl the truck cab by pulling out the white side panels so they can be rotated downward. These panels actually plug into the cab's front wheels so you'll need to start pulling from the bottom to unlock them. Magnus's head is rotated 180 degrees and moved towards his back on a small white plastic track. Moving the head unlocks the front chest plate.
The whole front portion of the cab then hinges upward to expose the folded up wheels underneath. It is here that the cartoon's revised transformation for Ultra Magnus is incorporated into the Masterpiece figure as the truck cab springs up out of his back and unfurls. The rear wheel panels actually tab into Magnus's torso to keep the cab in place as it forms the exterior of his upper body. As you flip these panels back out, the cab will start to move freely on its hitch.
Now the cab can be reassembled with big panels coming together to form a tidy vehicle. His chromed smokestacks rotate up and a pair of rear view mirrors flip out to complete the truck.
Unlike the G1 toy, MP-22 can keep his huge mitts attached by having the forearms split open and cover around the hands without having to make them small enough to retract directly into the wrists.
One area where the Masterpiece figure pulls an unexpected trick is how it manages to elongate Ultra Magnus's arms without using a sliding track setup. Here the back of the shoulder blocks can pop out, which allows the arm to unfold from itself and form the upper deck of the trailer. It's a neat bit of design that helps account for the blue blocks on the upper deck of the trailer. Also check out how the panels with the rocket launchers flip around to become the front of the trailer without the need for parts removal.
Magnus's abdomen folds up against the diecast core of his body and clears room for carrying Autobot cars.
Movable panels untab from the calves to allow his lower legs to form the rear of the trailer like the original toy.
Another clever bit of design is how the fake wheels from robot mode pull down and then flip over to bring out the real functional set. Like MP-10 Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus has a full set of rubber tires.
Check out how the shoulder assemblies are re-positioned for car carrier mode. This happily corrects the problem of the Titanium figure as his arms are in the right place for both forms. Everything on top plugs together to keep the upper deck feeling solid. Along the way, the calf panels rotate 90 degrees to form the lower sides of the trailer.
These panels unfurl and plug into the front. After tabbing his forearms into the legs, Ultra Magnus's vehicle mode is now complete.
As a car carrier, Masterpiece Ultra Magnus is a magnificent realization of a realistic truck with a huge rocket laucher armed sci-fi trailer. Out of all the Transformers re-purposed from Diaclone toys, Magnus kept the closest ties to his Takara SF Land roots. MP-22 takes all every bit of sincere absurdity and it makes everything more impressive and powerful.
Also let us take a moment to admire the majestic cartoon accurate red bumper which is something I never knew I wanted and now cannot live without.
The trailer is weird and ridiculous but that's what makes the Masterpiece a near perfect representation of the source material.
MP-22 shows that the third time can be a charm.
Magnus looks imposing even from the rear. Despite the all blue coloring, he still manages to have a lot of sculpted surface detail to spruce things up.
Even the insides of his legs have all kinds of pipes and mechanisms for effect.
If you flip the trailer on its side, you can see how Magnus has some tiny foot jets molded into his toes.
Ultra Magnus has several molded on Autobot symbols to proudly show his allegiance to the heroic faction.
His rocket launchers can swivel forward to emulate the G1 toy. This configuration also showed up in earlier character models.
Each rocket can be removed from the launcher to reveal some extra detailing. While they look like they can fire off, there is no mechanism to propel them.
For extra playability you get a pair of small figures representing Daniel and Spike Witwickey in their swanky outfits from the far off future year of 2005. These are about the same as the teenage Spike that came with MP-10 Optimus and feature movable arms and legs with working knees.
Daniel and his father can even ride inside the cab. Just open it up and fit their legs around the square pegs in the seat area. When placing the passengers inside, I find that using the extra transformation joint to pull the whole front out gives you a lot more room to work with than just lifting up the roof.
Here is the current line up of Witwickey figures which includes the two from Magnus, the younger Spike from MP-10 Optimus, and the Exo-Suit that came with Bumblebee. I appreciate that they made adult Spike a little bit larger than the teenage oil worker incarnation. The normal humans are almost in proper scale with the Exo-Suit too.
Ultra Magnus is very solid in vehicle mode and even the cab is designed to remain attached until you push a button near the hitch to release it.
On its own, Magnus's cab makes for a cool standalone vehicle even if it does not convert to a complete robot.
TakaraTomy designed Ultra Magnus's cab to imitate MP-10 Optimus Prime so that it would match in the same way the G1 toys do.
And again, it has a cartoon accurate red bumper.
From the rear this white and red semi is a neat and functional but does have a huge gap in the middle due to the transformation. Normally this is covered up by the trailer so this is one downside to having the cab separate.
There isn't a whole lot going on inside the cab but the Diaclone driver style gimmick with Spike and Daniel is enough to make it feel complete.
The rear of the truck is covered with authentic detailing albeit flattened out for his transformation.
Ultra Magnus and Optimus Prime looks great together. Thanks to the simpler transformation, Magnus's cab is much more attractive due to having far fewer obvious seam lines.
Optimus also has a bit more truck booty due to the fact he needs a pair of legs. Because of this, he cannot pull Ultra Magnus's trailer. Likewise, Magnus's different hitch setup means he cannot pull Prime's big box on wheels (yet).
One bit of the old toys that been sort of canonized by the Masterpiece figures is the silver stripes that go around Prime and Magnus's truck cabs. This detail was omitted in the cartoon but is still represented here.
Also you can place Spike and Daniel inside Optimus Prime for some brief season 4 type fun!
And now for Ultra Magnus's main vehicle mode gimmick. Just like the Generation One toy, he can lower the top deck of his trailer to "load" cars onto him. There are even a few divots and brackets molded into his arms that can hold a Masterpiece Autobot's wheels in place while they ride up top.
The trailer can be loaded with four Autobot cars. Much like with the original G1 toy, how well each vehicle fits is entirely dependent on who is being placed inside. Lamborghinis and Datsuns seem to work best on the lower deck while Stratos cars are best left up top.
Ultra Magnus makes for a mighty transport as he carries the troops into battle.
Optimus Prime and Bumblebee round out a great big convoy.
Ultra Magnus also looks fantastic when paired with Rodimus Prime. Their cartoony color palettes compliment each other very well.
It's been a long time since I first saw Transformers: The Movie and the subsequent season of the show. Now, I have a fantastic tribute to my favorite era of the Generation One cartoon.
Looking back on the lead up to this particular Masterpiece figure, I feel like the release of Ultra Magnus was truly an event for Transformers toys. He's got the look, the feel, the weight, the innovation, and the sheer style to make him one of the best entries in the line and a top class toy in general. While this Magnus was scrutinized and nitpicked all over the fandom, nothing could stop the sheer enthusiasm generated by his impending release. For me, finally getting a chance to hold it in my hands leaves me feeling completely satisfied.
And now, we can all deal with it thanks to the cartoon accurate red bumper.
It just looks so damn good.
Comments9 comments posted
I enjoyed how there was more writing than just "here is the vehicle more, here is the robot mode, go buy it from the advertisers kthx"
Very enjoyable read. I loved all the cartoon references you used, it shows that you put a lot of care into your writing. I especially liked the rage virus infected Magnus.
Wow that is an amazing toy, awesome they went with a complete transformation as to a Optimus Prime with Ultra Magus armor....Brilliant design work here!
Very nice review, I appreciate all the references to the original material and to the history of Ultra Magnus.
I have my own nostalgia for the original I had from Takara, Blue and red "armor" with magnetic pilot, ship and all.
Too bad they will never make that in MP, not even as a variation since they ditched the armor design.
As a kid I really "hated" the white cartoon UM... probably since I had the takara toy before watching UM in the show, and hated the colors. I won´t be getting it - but kudos to the MP line for making a new design that will surely make the fans happy!
I'm surprised they haven't done a special recolor of MP Optimus (original or MP-10) from when he had the special alloy sprayed on to repeal the hate plague. Imagine it all mirror chromed!
....I'll get my Krylon.
but seriously, I'm expecting at some point we'll get the Diaclone color edition. Maybe with a vintage style box like that "Other Guy" by KFC.
Ultra Magnus was a cool toy back when, but this new version really hits all the wish list items in MP style!
Very nice, warm review, as usual Andrew! Go Veef. Easy to tell who likes trucks, and planes around here, ;)
I had forgotten I'd taken a picture of Spike and Daniel with other Masterpiece human figures so please enjoy this tiny update.
I am selling an adapter that allows MP-22's cab to haul MP-10's trailer. You can find it on Shapeways.