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Blackjack's Review: Beast Hunters Ultra Magnus

Name: Ultra Magnus
Allegiance: Autobot
Series: Transformers Prime: Beast Hunters Voyager Class
Accessories: Jetpack, Forge of Solus

I’ve never had an Ultra Magnus toy before, and it’s for some time a character which I really want a toy of, yet no iteration of the character could satisfy me. I’ve always liked Ultra Magnus’ no-nonsense attitude from the first time I saw him in the IDW comics, and my later introductions to other incarnations of the character – the 1986 Movie, Animated, Prime and the MTMTE comic series in particular – did little to make me dislike the character. He’s a strict, by-the-book commander that alternate acts as the ‘serious guy’ in Rodimus’ little merry band.

Of course, the original toy of Ultra Magnus was a white repaint of the original Optimus Prime toy (a fact which I was not aware of until spending some time in the fandom) with a tractor trailer that went all around it and acted as an armor. The concept was ridiculous to me, who was introduced to fiction first and toys much, much later. White Optimus Prime? And armor? Preposterous. The legion of white Optimus Prime repaints masquerading as Ultra Magnus did nothing to warm me up to the concept. Sure, I’ve gotten used to it, but it’s something I would ignore whenever possible.

So, I looked for a toy that would satiate the large, Ultra Magnus shaped gap in my collection. The original toy and its reissues aren’t what I want exactly, they’re not that great in robot mode, and expensive to boot. Robots in Disguise gave us someone else called ‘Ultra Magnus’, but his fictional incarnation is a bit of a dick and he doesn’t really look like my mental image of Ultra Magnus anyway. Transformers: Animated had a rather awesome Magnus toy, but it was massive, full of electronics and is frankly out of my budget. The Titanium toy was problematic and not an easy feat to locate either. And the less said about the little army of white Optimus Primes out there the better.

Then come the Transformers: Prime toyline, and in the first ‘Robots in Disguise’ subline, a Voyager Class Ultra Magnus – one who is not a repaint of Optimus Prime in any form – was announced, and I was excited. It was based on a concept design that did not make it into the Prime TV show. When it was eventually shown… I was less than impressed, and seeing the toy in person doesn’t do much to make me like the character. The mold looks… not terrible, but it doesn’t look quite good in my opinion. He looks ridiculously top-heavy, looks like he has rather sub-par plastic and his boxy fire-truck alternate mode doesn’t scream ‘Magnus’ to me. Not to mention that the Voyager class toys of that subline is plagued with ridiculous spring-loaded bullshit weapons, poor quality control, and the two RID toys I owned – Megatron and Dreadwing – doesn’t exactly instill confidence either.

Around this time another Ultra Magnus was released in the Generations line, this time representing G1 Ultra Magnus. He’s a retool of that’s line’s Optimus and the mold is apparently pretty horrid, as nice as the plastic looks on this version of him.

So instead of settling for sub-par releases… well, if Hasbro made nobodies like Straxus into awesome toys, it really shouldn’t be long for a relatively A-lister like Ultra Magnus to get the proper Classics treatment, maybe in two years? Five? Who knows, maybe we would get a white cab Optimus and a car carrier trailer which transforms into a super robot, satisfying everybody.

But no, in the very first episode of Transformers Prime’s Season Three, an incarnation of Ultra Magnus graces us with an appearance. And he’s a wonderful by-the-book badass general. His character model is basically Optimus Prime’s original character model (the big guy was upgraded into a new body), albeit with a modified chest, head and those extra shoulder-things. At first I was reluctant to accept yet another Optimus Prime retool, but then I saw him on screen and all my doubts disappeared. Ultra Magnus is, in essence, a buffed-up Optimus Prime, and this design they settled with certainly hits all my right buttons. Plus he carries a big golden hammer! (Since Animated, hammers have kind of been Ultra Magnus’ thing) So thus I set out in search of this verson of Magnus.

There are two in the market – a Voyager class toy, and a Platinum Class retool of the giant Weaponizer Optimus Prime toy. Since I do not want Magnus positively towering over the rest of my Transformers Prime collection, I opted for the Voyager one. The Voyager is a retool of the Prime: RID mold (all these sublines are confusing) which I had passed over because Optimus’ chest-windows (which are coincidentally retooled here) look horrid in robot mode. Also, the accessory included is a giant chunk of autotransforming waste of plastic.

Does this toy fill the Ultra Magnus shaped gap in my collection? Oh yes.

Alternate Mode:
Being retooled from Optimus Prime, Ultra Magnus naturally transforms into the exact same make of semi-truck cab, which can be described as basically the now-iconic Peterbilt truck from the Bay movies with the windbreaker roof thing from the Classics incarnation. Ultra Magnus himself is a retooled version of said truck. In addition to being painted blue, Ultra Magnus has two giant… things jutting out of his back. Those pillar-like things from his shoulders. The show doesn’t make any attempt to hide it either, however, and it really can’t be faulted. Of course, in-show it’s justified since at that point they’re foregoing disguise, and Ultra Magnus never ventures out of the base other than to kill Decepticons, so he probably just picked an alternate mode that was proven to work by Optimus, who used to share the same bodyframe as he did.

Paint-scheme and giant pillars aside, there are some changes to this mold as well. The windshield has been changed to reflect Ultra Magnus’ iconic G1 chest, and I’ve never realized how well it worked as an upside-down truck windshield until now. It’s really very amazing how they worked it in. On the sides of the truck nose are 5mm ports coming from the Arms Micron retool made by Takara… which means that while retooling the mold, Takara permanently disfigured them by adding random pegholes like these. Seriously? On Ultra Magnus, at least, he looks pretty busy compared to Prime, and the pegholes don’t look out of place.

He’s also missing his smokestacks (despite what stock photography may indicate) and I can’t remember if his show model had smokestacks either.

Ultra Magnus is primarily a shade of light blue, with stark red colouring his windshield and parts of the shoulder pillar things. His wheels and windows are black, and detailings are either cast in gray, or painted over in metallic silver. His headlights are yellow. His windbreaker and some parts of the pillar things are dark blue. All in all, a rather aesthetically pleasing paint scheme, and yet not too loud as to make Ultra Magnus look unprofessional.

There’s a visible gap between the main body of the truck cab and the two pairs of wheels on the back, where some robot spiky kibble can be seen. In this case, Ultra Magnus’ ugly pillar things actually help, since it busies up the area and makes Ultra Magnus’ general look much better. He rolls pretty well in vehicle mode, naturally.

The pillars can be tilted upwards and/or sideways if you choose to, and considering that he comes with a little trailer of his own, you’d probably choose to. Ultra Magnus comes with a simplified yet accurate version of Optimus Prime’s second body’s jetpack, even though it never leaves Optimus’ body. Of course, an accessory that actually makes sense is far superior than random beast-cosplay bras or whatever, so more power to whoever thought of it. The jetpack folds up pretty nicely similar to Optimus Prime’s, forming a compact trailer thing which hitches onto three pegholes on Ultra Magnus’ back.

Magnus also comes with a nice Forge of Solus Prime. Sadly it’s silver and rather short compared to the show version, but it’s not that bad. And like its show counterpart, while in vehicle mode Ultra Magnus carries it on his trailer hitch, although the toy needs help from the jetpack to make this possible due to the lengths of the pegholes and whatnot.

Magnus comes with super-long missiles that can clip in some places throughout his body, but since these look ridiculous I have placed them in a box I know not where.

All through his frame, Magnus has got pretty awesome sculpting, and holds together relatively well, other than the fact that if you press too hard on the trailer the feet halves that make up the hitch tend to pop off. But otherwise, a pretty nice rendition of what a ‘weaponized’ alternate mode’ should ideally be, none of the rather outrageous selections we had for the rest of the Beast Hunters line. (Wheeljack and Bumblebee were awesome, though)

All in all, I find myself really agreeable to this vehicle mode, even though I had expected not to like it before.

Robot Mode:
Ultra Magnus’ transformation is rather complex on first go, and features several rather unorthodox ROTF-esque manipulation of the shoulder kibbles and the shoulders themselves. It’s a pretty nice contrast to the different transformation of the First Edition mold, even though they’re essentially the same design. The RID mold, and by extension Ultra Magnus, relies on moving the real windshield onto the robot’s chest as opposed to using fake kibble like the First Edition toy. It works better as Ultra Magnus than as RID Optimus Prime, though, and I have to say that without the eyesore that was RID Optimus’ chest windows, the mould certainly looks quite nice, perhaps on par with First Edition Optimus Prime.

He’s pretty show-accurate as toys go. While he looks a little top heavy, he’s more tall than wide, and the end result looks pretty imposing. He’s got a great stern expression, and looks every bit as heroic as Optimus Prime does. Magnus is mainly gray and blue in root mode, and he’s got a fair bit more silver and dark blue as well. The end result still looks pretty much like how Magnus is supposed to look. The changes here from Optimus Prime are the obvious shoulder retooling, the new head (with a great stern expression) and a new chestplate which looks pretty neat. Some great sculpted detail went into the robot mode, replicating the character model pretty accurately.

Articulation-wise, Magnus regrettably lacks that elusive waist joint, and his wrist are only hinged upwards and downwards. The rest of him are pretty well-articulated, though. His head turns on a pin joint, his shoulder is on a ball joint, his elbows are double-jointed, his thighs are double-jointed, his knees are hinged and his feet are ball-jointed. It’s not the most articulated toy out there, but Magnus doesn’t really need to pull off karate moves like Springer does. It’s a bit lacking, certainly, but not that terrible.

Magnus comes with the Forge of Solus Prime, a giant hammer which is some sort of holy artifact able to transform any raw material into whatever the wielder (so long as it’s the hand of a Prime) wills it to be. It runs on some kind of cosmic energy, however, and when the Forge runs out, Ultra Magnus appropriates it. He may not be a Prime, and the Forge may be out of power, but it’s still a big-ass sledgehammer, and Ultra Magnus can use the big-ass sledgehammer to murderkill a lot of Decepticons. Sadly, the Forge included with Voyager class Magnus is coloured silver instead of gold, and it’s a good deal smaller than what the Forge should be. I’d actually rather they forego the jetpack entirely and craft a good Forge, but I find myself not bothered really much. After all, anything bigger than this and the toy won’t be able to lift it up, not without tightening up some of the shoulder and elbow joints. No excuse for the paint, though.

Magnus can strike some pretty awesome poses with the Forge, which, colour aside, is pretty accurate to its screen portrayal. And there is something just… well, seeing someone with a hammer is a refreshing break from all those cannons and swords.

The jetpack included is based on the one which is integrated into Optimus Prime Mark 2, except that the engine section is a little bit flatter and the engine exhausts aren’t quite that apparent. The butterfly wings are still there, although on Magnus it’s kind of obscured somewhat by the big shoulders he has. The jetpack clicks on very, very securely on the area behind Magnus’s head. If you don’t mind a small chunk of light blue, the jetpack accessory also works well with other versions of Optimus Prime as well, even the First Edition toy… watch the smokestacks, though. I wager this jetpack is the reason why the smokestacks were dummied out in this retool. The wings are surprisingly articulated, able to be hinged to jut out horizontally or vertically from the jetpack body, and swing sideways or downwards. Pretty great accessory which I ended up really, really liking. You can just imagine Ultra Magnus swooping down on his jetpack, holding his hammer, ready to deliver righteous judgment onto any Decepticons unlucky enough to be in his way.

Yet because apparently being an already pretty good toy and having a pretty good accessory isn’t enough, Hasbro decided to add more features into this toy. See, those giant shoulder pillar things are actually pressure-triggered missile launchers. And they can bend forwards so Magnus can shoot people in front of him with his shoulders. It’s a pretty nifty concept, although the included missiles are so ridiculously long that inserting them simply looks silly. Magnus has multiple clips on his wings and shoulders to hold these missiles, but they still look silly no matter what. The thought is pretty nice, though, and it’s unobtrusive, unlike many gimmicks I could name.

Also, as a final note, Ultra Magnus’ leg pieces are switched in assembly. I never even noticed this until I was informed of it. This doesn’t make much of a difference, since the leg pieces are pretty stable even when misassembled, but if you fix it they hold on even more securely due to a couple of extra tabs.

All in all, a pretty solid robot mode that I like a lot more because of his accessories.

Marks out of ten for the following:
Transformation Design: 7/10 Ultra Magnus’ transformation isn’t the most elegant thing ever, nor is it seamless – there’s quite a bit of fiddling nd adjusting to do when folding him up into a truck. However, it’s still pretty good, pretty quick, and once you get the hang of it probably only the shoulders will annoy you. I really like this mold’s take on the Optimus Prime transformation.

Durability: 9/10 Don’t see any part on Magnus that seem like it might break. No loose joints, no rubbery plastic, no thin spikes… he seems pretty solid to me.

Aesthetics: 8/10 I surprisingly like Ultra Magnus a lot. I mean, yeah, the truck has shoulder pillars sticking out of the back, but that is show-accurate, and he’s a pretty good rendition of the show’s character model, all things considered. Probably the most show-accurate, considering the Weaponizer-class toy has random stuff strapped onto it. Shame the Forge of Solus isn’t gold, though.

Articulation: 7/10 Ultra Magnus isn’t very well articulated for a voyager class. The amount of joints he has barely passes the average for a deluxe. He’s pretty stable, however, and the addition of a hammer gives him quite a bit of posing choices to boot.

Fun: 8/10 I had loads of fun with Ultra Magnus, for sure. He’s a pretty fun toy to transform, pose, and muck around with. And he comes with a jetpack and a hammer.

Price/Value: 7/10 Bought him at retail price alongside Shockwave. I don’t regret it. Of the two, despite my expectations otherwise, I ended up liking Ultra Magnus much, much more.

Overall: 8/10 I didn’t expect I’d like Ultra Magnus this much, but I suppose it can’t be helped. Ultra Magnus is a pretty solid toy all around. His moulding isn’t that bad, which is a pleasant surprise. Sure, he’s not without his flaws, but I really like him as a toy. He’s show-accurate, he’s to scale with the other characters, and he actually looks like my mental image of Ultra Magnus from that helmet to those pillar shoulders to that characteristic chestpiece. He’s a great representation of the show model, although if that’s not your piece of cake, then you probably won’t like this toy much.
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