You wait thirty years for a new Ultra Magnus toy, and then two come along at once. It’s Ultra Madness, I tells ya! [Fired. – Adam]
If you ask us, it’s IDW comics who can take most of the credit for the boost in Maggie’s popularity. In their re-imagined Transformers universe, Ultra Magnus is a costumed character played by many different people over the years to carry on the legacy of an indestructible lawman. Kind of like when your class hamster died and the teacher replaced it with an identical-looking one on the sly.
It’s this modern version of the character Hasbro have delivered in the new Combiner Wars line of toys, in lieu of bringing over the expensive – and retro-tastic – Masterpiece figure released in Japan earlier this year. As such, the diminutive Minimus Ambus – the ‘real’ Transformer at the heart of the Magnus armour – is included in the box.
You open up Ultra Magnus’ chest to reveal a cockpit. It’s intricately detailed – it has little controls, monitors and even pedals. You can then sit Ambus snugly inside before closing it all up again. It’s a really nice feature and we can imagine kids having a lot of fun with that. By which we mean we had a lot of fun with that. Adam tried to fit inside the cockpit himself, but discovered he was several hundred times too large.
Standing erect (*splutter*) Magnus is about ten inches tall, including his giant shoulder tower thingies. We’d expect no less from a toy of this price, although it’s worth mentioning he’s not tall enough to look fellow ‘Leader Class’ figure Megatron in the eye. His fabulously complex torso is molded as one piece and slapped with a ton of paint to break it up, although the rest of the toy looks a bit bare as a result.
He’s got the usual articulation points; shoulders, knees and so on. But he lacks a waist swivel. C’mon guys – He-Man could do that in 1982. I suppose He-Man never had to turn into a truck – or at least never told anyone at Mattel about it – so that’s fair enough, I guess. Ultra Magnus makes up for it by having good ankles and shoulders that turn outwards.
His missile pods are on a hinge so he can strike cool poses, and they can be removed and combined with Magnus’ two guns to make a giant hammer. Well, it’s a hammer if you squint a bit. It’s worth mentioning that Magnus can’t really hold his guns very well – they fit perfectly in his hands, but because his fingers are on a hinge, he can’t possibly hold the handles tight enough to prevent them falling out when moved or wiggled.
The trailer truck mode is a little stubby, but gets mega bonus points for having the cab fold out as part of the transformation instead of being a separate piece. You do have to remove Minimus and place him aside when Magus is in trailer mode, though. A little frustrating, but compensated for by Minimus Ambus’ cute little hover-car mode of his own.
Ultra Magnus was definitely made to a budget. Most parts are held in place with little tabs, and there’s a lot of folding and pulling of thin panels involved in his transformation. I was worried about breaking him at first, but am pleased to say he stands up to rough play. He’s not fragile in any way, but some fans will no doubt take issue with the amount of empty space and the featherweight feel of the toy, especially when comparing him to the recently-released Megatron.
Minimus Ambus is great. It’s rare that Hasbro goes to these lengths for the fans, and the sculpting is spot on. He’s tiny, though. I mean, really tiny. He could sit on the back of a field mouse and ride it like Falcor from The Neverending Story. For scale, we’ve pictured him next to best friend Berk the Battery.
Both Magnus and Ambus are fantastic fun to play with, and a dream come true for fans of the IDW comic. The figure isn’t nearly as bad as the naysayers have been claiming. Reports of massive gaps and hollow pieces are rubbish. Ultra Magnus’ construction is no cheaper than any toy Hasbro has made in the last five years, and a lot of the hollow feel is down to the fact that he goes from being an empty flatbed trailer to a robot.
We do take issue with the price though. Our Magnus lightened the Toy Meets World piggybank to the tune of fifty-five quid, which might be good value for money on Cybertron but it sure as hell isn’t on Earth. We don’t know what kids get for pocket-money these days but we can imagine it’ll take quite some time to save up for one.
But if you love Ultra Magnus (and who doesn’t) then you’ll probably buy him anyway. We caved in like Lisa Riley’s patio furniture the second the toy came in stock. A smitten Adam has been tenderly stroking the toy for a few days now, so that’s money well spent.
TMW Rating:- 4/5 Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus is a fabulous and fun update of a classic character. Expensive and cheaply made, but great fun nonetheless. Hasbro had the sheer balls to include Minimus Ambus, and that’s gotta be worth something.