Transformers Masterpiece Ultra Magnus
We all said it would never happen. For thirty years, people have begged for a movie-accurate version of Autobot city commander Ultra Magnus, and for thirty years the toy designers in Japan have shrugged their shoulders and gone “Meh.”
You see, the original toy, for reasons best left unsaid, was little more than an albino Optimus Prime with additional armour. You’d stand him up inside the trailer and clip on a few additional parts and a helmet to make Ultra Magnus. It was okay at the time, but like all the 1986 toys, in terms of detail, design and articulation it was a far cry from the powerful warrior shown in the animated film.
We’ve had toys that payed homage to the original, but that’s a bit like when granny would get you a Go-Bot for Christmas, and you had to just squint a bit and pretend that he was a proper Transformer. But it’s just not the same. Silly Grandma. Now you know why we put you in a home.
Anyway, to cut a long story short (and it would be a long story) Takara finally tapped into the magical wellspring from which all good toys come and produced a magnificent version of Ultra Magnus. I can say that it is without question one of the finest Transformer toys yet produced, and sets a new standard for the Masterpiece series and for Transformers as a whole.
He looks like he jumped straight off the screen. He has just enough detail to make him look realistic, but not so much that he has that “Gundam” look that Transformers seem to be getting these days, where their bodies become an indecipherable mess of facets and panels. He’s wonderfully painted and really, really heavy. His feet and chest are die-cast metal, and together with the high-quality plastic and strong ratcheting joints this lends him a ‘premium’ feel that has been missing from Transformers for a long time.
He comes with a couple accessories; a rifle, some alternate hands, and two humans (Spike and Daniel) that can sit in his cab and drive him. Rather hilariously, he doesn’t come with the Matrix (passed to him by Optimus Prime in the movie). He has a nifty opening chest with a socket for it, though. Poor guy, he never seems to catch a break. Still, if you have the Masterpiece Prime or Hot Rod, you can re-enact all your favourite scenes from the film.
He also has an interchangeable face for a total of two expressions; one is the standard stoic pout and another is locked in a primal, blood-curdling scream. More horrifying is the method of removal. You literally pull the front half of his head off and then scoop out his face from the inside. Strangely, doing so reveals the vestiges of an Optimus Prime-styled head within Magnus’s own. Probably a nod to the original toy, and not meant to be taken literally.
Ultra Magnus is extremely solid in robot mode, and has a decent amount of articulation. Not quite on par with other Masterpiece toys, it must be said, but this is only because of his bulk. His giant feet mean that he can’t do very much with his legs – too extreme an angle and his feet won’t touch the ground so he’ll fall over. His ankles can swing outward, though. While it doesn’t increase his poseability by a great deal, it looks cool. A neat feature is the way his wheels tuck away for robot mode:
They end up on the side of his feet, so to match the animation model, and just because it’s cool, they fold in to be replaced by metal hubs.
His transformation is nothing short of genius. He bends and folds in ways you’d just never expect. It makes the original toy look like something a caveman made out of rocks. Brilliantly, nothing needs to be removed for his transformation. His rocket launchers are on a bizarre omni-directional hinge, so go from being on the side of his arms to the tops of his shoulders without needing to be detached.
Of exceptional note is that his cab doesn’t need to be detached either. It remains articulated, yet folds and unfolds in such a way that it’s absorbed into his torso for robot mode, and pulls the trailer in vehicle mode. There’s a button on the underside that can be used to detach the cab if you wish, though. It has chromed parts and rubber wheels, and the ramp unfolds at the back of his trailer to allow him to carry other Transformers around.
In summary, Magnus is a brilliant, brilliant toy. Thanks to the low Yen, you can pick him up for a steal, around £85. If he ever gets a western release through Hasbro, he’ll likely be nearly double that price, so deny them the satisfaction and import one now.
TMW Rating: 4.8/5 – Ultra Magnus is just that; ultra. This toy has set the bar pretty high in terms of design and engineering, and I doubt we’ll see better for a long, long time. The only downside is that he’s not quite as poseable as other toys of his kind.
“Scoop out his face”