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StryderK's Review: MP-22 Ultra Magnus

Name: Ultra Magnus
Allegiance: Autobots
Function: Autobots City Commander/Chief XO
Alternate Mode: Semi with futuristic vehicle transporter trailer with rocket launchers

"Consistency is victory."

Undisciplined thinking can make even the simplest task impossible

Quote:
Ultra Magnus feels he is a soldier and nothing more. He very much prefers taking orders to giving them, and even avoids opportunities for higher responsibility. But when he is forced into those opportunities, he betrays his real talent for the job. He's strong, resolute, dependable, selfless, and courageous. Sadly, Ultra Magnus is the only Autobot who doesn't realize this.

Believing he is nothing but a soldier, Ultra Magnus is perfectly willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good if need be. He knows he's more powerful than the average Autobot, and will throw himself at larger threats accordingly. He is respected by both the Autobots and Decepticons, due to his courage and self-sacrifice. There is a special enmity between him and Galvatron for this reason, for Galvatron may be the most deadly foe of all. (Also, Galvatron, given his mental state, probably doesn't approve of people he's had blown up getting back up afterward. This can be seen as a sore point for Magnus, too.)
This basically sums up Ultra in a nutshell. Not much is known about him before 2005 (cartoon timeline). But many (if you believe the rumors) believe he was created out of Dion, brother to Orion Pax, who became Optimus Prime. By the time 2005 rolled around, Ultra was second in command of the Autobots behind Optimus and commander of Autobot City. After Optimus died in the "Great Toy Wipeout", the Matrix of Leadership was originally passed to him but the Matrix had other ideas (bad, very bad, ultra bad ultra stupid bad move Matrix!). When he got blown up and then reassembled back together (Now, why can't that happen to Optimus, hrmmm? Ohh yes, the Great Toy Wipeout thing again), he realized that the Matrix had someone else in mind, namely Hotrod/Rodimus Prime (pssh.......I've seen a kid with an IQ of 75 that had more leadership qualities than this guy). In the end, he was just content being a soldier and second in command, and in the process, made quite the enemy out of Galvatron and especially the Decepticons' second in command, Cyclonus. He was almost wiped in the "second great toy wipeout" after season three's poor showing (I wonder why) but survived to see the New Cybertron Golden Age.

Now, for me, I could care less about any characters in season 3 of the cartoon simply because I STILL think all of them are red-headed stepchildren of season 1 and 2. However, since I made a promise to at least try and get all large sized Masterpieces, I broke down and bought Mag from BBTS for $200. Yes, it's far expensive than getting it from the source but again, I do it because I'm 100% certain to get it, rather than having it stuck in custom for say, 8 months....

So, does Magnus belong in the same pedestal as Optimus, Soundwave, and Grimlock, residing in the Masterpiece Hall of Fame? Or is he down into the nadir, residing with Megatron and especially "Roddy-Mouse" in Masterpiece Hall of Shame? Lets find out.

Packaging
Ok, again, lets start with packaging. The box is big but guess what? It's NOT nearly as big as that that came with Soundwave and Grimlock so I guess Takara laid off the "Masterpiece packaging, or how Takara is ripping you off" a little. Inside, yes there is still a lot of air. But unlike say 80% air, 20% content, it's now 60% air, 40% contents so we do win some. Magnus is in his robot mode to save space. There are no accessories on the top or bottom to "stretch" things out and make the box bigger. The air pockets in front and back is also lessened. But it's still plenty big to attract your attention and make sure you will plunk down at least $180 for this figure!

Accessories
A lot of people like the accessories included in this kit. But coming from this guy, I do not. Maybe it's because I got too "drunk" on accessories for Optimus,, Megatron and Grimlock, but Magnus's are disappointing. Other than his "Super Blaster", the rest are pretty hoo hum.

The first set are extra fists to hold the Matrix if you have MP-10 Optimus...Unfortunately, for a guy who already have MP-04 Optimus, that make these rather redundant. The second is the father and son combo of Spike and Daniel. They have good resolution and detail fidelity (even though still eye and lip-less) and you can insert them into the cab in vehicle mode. But the thing is, otherwise, they are rather redundant as well. And being so small, you can easily loose them....Or your 1 year old can easily choke on them as well so be careful with them! And as can be imagined, to go along with the "Trying to pull the Matrix apart but can't" scene from the movie, a second face plate, a "screaming face" is provided. However, as I've said, if you do not have MP-10, then it's practically useless. Thank God you can store it in a compartment in the back (in fact, you can store both face plates there. When this happens you can just see the "Albino Optimus" face in the hole left).

Now for the main accessory, his gun, the Super Blaster. It's BIG and well detailed. Now the big gimmick here is the gun handle can fold in and there are attachment points so you can insert it and hide it on the upper trailer parts. Now, before you think that is redundant, it is not! Not only does the gun help holds both halves of the upper trailer together, but it also has a "bumper" to prevent any vehicles on there from sliding backwards and off so I guess it is needed. Still, the only thing I can't handle is, PURPLE? Now, I know it's probably cartoon accurate but I'm now trying to find some time to do the same like Optimus's Fusion Rifle, stuff the screw hole with putty, sand it smooth then take it to the paint shop and paint it gunmetal....

Score: 7.0 Not much higher cause the accessories including are not many and not very exciting....

But than again, we do not buy these things for the accessories and I can't fault Takara too much because there are just not much things associated with Ultra Magnus during his cartoon days...We get it for the man himself so here he is in all his glory!

Alternate Mode:
Now, Ultra Magnus' alternate mode is a futuristic tractor and vehicle transporter trailer combo.....With a 1980's style Freightliner cab....The same as Optimus's. GO FIGURE!

Now, as you know, before all this, to take advantage of previous molding, Takara simply took advantage of the MP-1 Optimus Masterpiece and gave us MP-2, the "albino" Ultra Magnus....Yeah, I know, repaint. Like Hasbro/Takara hasn't done that since....I don't know, the 1980's? But still, everyone who liked Magus wants the "real" one, the one from the cartoons where the cab combined with trailer to form the "super armored Optimus" from the toyline. Well, here it is! MP-22 finally gave us that. But is it worth it?

In short, it's a resounding YES! And that yes is upper case for a reason! Now, yes, the tractor part share some common molding with MP-10 Optimus. But the differences simply outweigh the similarities. And no. the tractor part DOES NOT change into an albino Optimus. The transformation is complicated...but than again, which Masterpiece figure transformation isn't? Even simple ones like Grimlock and Soundwave are much more involving than your usual mainline Transformers. But the good thing is, like Grimlock and Soundwave, it's complicated but not confusing. Fortunately, it's simple enough unlike Megatron or Rodimus, who might at time be so confusing you just want to chuck them against a wall!

The only two points to watch out for are
1. again, insert that rifle between the upper trailer since it helps hold them together and
2. the two wheels for the tractor part. Since they lock the cab compartment into place for robot mode, untabbing them can cause the entire cab piece to swing loosely from side to side.

Other than these, even if you don't understand Japanese, you should transform Magnus in 10 minutes or less...Unlike the 1 hour and 30 minute fiasco that was both Megatron and Rodimus in my case!

Once transformed, you will be stunned at how good Magnus looks. He is a dead ringer for his tractor and trailer. Yes, there are his legs as the bottom ramp and you can indeed see the bottom of his head through a hole in the tractor but that does not detract from how good and how show accurate he looks. The big gimmick of course, like the original toy is you can carry a maximum of four of the smaller MP Autobot vehicles on the trailer. Also, the missile launchers can be put either on the side or attached directly in front of the trailer arms. Also, as mentioned, both Spike and Daniel can be put into the cab through the roof to appear that they driving Magnus.

Detailing is stunning to say the least. The trailer and cab have details from the original toy and cartoons. On top of that, it's a huge nice vehicle too. Not as big as MP-04 Optimus mind you, but it will still definitely catch people's eyes in this mode. And on top of THAT, as said, despite my worries because of the robot mode, the cab can rotate and turn and there is a tab on the underside that when presssed, you can separate the cab from the trailer (although don't even bother trying to get it hitched up to Optimus's trailer. The wheel-well of the two figures is different and they are not compatible). All in all, great job to Taraka for making this mode! It's truly worthy of the Masterpiece name.

Score-9.5

Now on to the robot.

Main Mode:
Well, in main mode, Ultra Magnus is well...Ultra! Like so many things, he is instantly recognizable in his robot mode to any transformers fans, what with his patriotic red, white and blue paint job, super high shoulder pauldrons, two shoulder mounted missile launchers and the long elbow/wrist armor.

Like in vehicle mode, once again, Ultra Magnus is stunning! The attention to detail is top notch. Every inch of the figure is detailed. There is a very detailed matrix compartment in the chest area that could have been omitted, but it's ever so present. On top of that, Mag is as close to his toy counterpart as possible, just much better proportioned. The only slight fault is the rear of the toy. Since the tractor part folds in and is stored in the back, it tends to throw Magnus off from the sides, making him look like a hunchback in some cases. Also, the cab's roof hangs down like a butt flap. Other than that the robot figure is an awesome representation of a cartoon accurate Ultra Magnus.

And when it comes to metal, Magnus has a lot of it. His weight is a real clue for this. This is great news cause some figures, **AHEM Meg**, **AHEM, Rodimus** could've really used it. Most of the metal parts are in the legs/feet area. His toes are definitely painted metal and so is his waist. This means he stand still a lot better than say Megatron or Rodimus (helped by two huge wide footpads also). Now his legs, they are indeed plastics (you can see a plastic sprue pour gate spot on the legs. See below for a description of these) However, me thinks the metals are inside of him cause when I dropped a magnet once, it stuck right onto his leg...This means there are probably metal inserts into at least his legs for strength and stability. Also, the polystyrene that was used to make Magnus is the hard tough kind. Not the soft brittle kind like used on Rodimus (first one I bought, Roddy's knee pad broke off. Send it in, got another one, guess what? It broke again. Super glued it on and just left Rodimus on the shelf...). This is welcome news as it makes the figure even tougher to handling.

As for articulation, Ultra Magnus is well articulated. His head swings and swivels, arms, shoulders, legs and feet are all articulated and can be posed in various poses, such as elbow joints can swing up and down, hands rotate, and shoulder can swing out (although mainly due to the fact it is part of the transformation). Now, for the hand, his thumb is locked in place, but rest of his fingers can swing out at the finger to wrist joint but he can't "point" at anything (even though his forefinger is separate from the rest of the hand, it can't go all the way). This is actually good news as I swear there's probably more than one person who owned Soundwave and lost his index finger tips cause those were designed to "point" all the way at something, with the end result being even the slightest pressure knock them out of their mountings and send them flying to feed the "carpet monster".

However, despite his articulation, there is one annoying thing, which is that his waist cannot move. This was the great compromise done in order to provide great playability for his alternate mode, specifically his tractor and trailer and the fact the tractor can turn and can get separated from the trailer. Because of this, the waist is a huge cavity to store most of the tractor parts in there, leaving very little room for a good waist joint, hence why the waist is all metal in order to support the heavy upper body and to give the correct fidelity. All in all, Takara had to forgo waist articulation. This seriously limits Magnus' poseability to a degree.

Another annoyance are all the pour gate marks/sprue marks. Anyone who make models know what I'm talking about. These are the spots where they pour liquefied plastic down into the mold to solidify and becomes the "tree" or "sprue" of parts necessary for assembly. Now, for us modelers, we cut the parts from the tree or sprue, clean the pour spot off with a X-Acto, sand them smooth, putty them up, more sanding and polishing before committing to paint for a nice smooth finish. However, toy manufactures don't do this and on Ultra, it's quite too obvious, especially since the colors are already added during the molding process. The end results are you can see plenty of pour gate marks all over him. His elbow/wrists armor being the most prominent, with two massive spots on each. There is also one right below his chin and more on his legs. Even for people who are not serious modelers, they are quite distracting and annoying. It's basically the major fault with the figure and kept Magnus down just below Soundwave despite the fact he is at least 25% bigger than him and much heavier.

Score: 9.5 Pour gate mark issues notwithstanding, this is still a great figure to have and more than worth the Masterpiece name.

Final Scores:
Transformation: 6.0
Little harder than Grimlock but still not nearly as bad as Megatron and Rodimus
Durability 9.0 Lots of metal in him. Don't let the look fool you. One heft at his weight will tell you so. Most of the metal is in his leg. They don't look like it cause they are plastic casing with metal inserts. This not only make Mag ultra tough, but also provide him with great stability. The only way to break him is if you take it, and I mean really REALLY take it to him. Otherwise, he will last you a long while.[/B]
Fun: 9.0 fun transformation, cool main and alternate modes. If you have a few small Autobot MP vehicles, he's even more fun!
Playability: 9.0. Could've been a 9.5 but brought down by a lack of waist articulation
Price: 8.5. Again, I probably paid more from BBtS but again, I did it so I can get it on time and on schedule. You can at least knock $50 off the sticker price if you import directly from Japan but again, good luck if yours get stuck in customs!
Overall: 9.3 The only reason Ultra Magnus could just not take Soundwave off of the 3rd spot is because his lack of waist articulation, done to in order not to compromise the alternate mode and all those annoying pour gate spots that are all over him. Yes, I do know some manufactures don't even bother to smooth those spots, which leaves a nice wide seam down the middle after assembly but still, they are too prominent and too annoying, ruining otherwise a perfect figure. Other than those, if you got around $190, then don't wait. If you don't, save it, earn it, or steal it because Ultra is THAT good of a figure!
 
 
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