Height: 13cm head height in Robot Mode; 10cm long in Vehicle Mode.
Articulation: 16 points overall- ball-jointed neck; 3 joints each arm: ball-jointed shoulder, hinge elbow, swivel wrist; ball-jointed waist; 4 joints each leg; ball-jointed hips, thigh swivels, hinged knees, ball-jointed ankles.
Colors: Molded dark blue, white, dark grey; Painted white, red, silver.
Accessories: Rifle, giant sword
Release Data: Released in the United States in December 2012 at a retail price of US$14.99
Ultra Magnus is legendary among Autobots and Decepticons alike. The mere sight of his armored form charging in to battle is more than enough to inspire his troops to victory, and his strength as a warrior is more than enough to break any Decepticon army.
At Botcon 2012, before the first wave of Fall of Cybertron Generations toys was even close to hitting shelves, Hasbro revealed the first assortment of the 2013 series, including retools of the three figures from 2012's first wave. Having an Ultra Magnus made out of an Optimus Prime mold is not itself a shocking revelation. But the execution of this one was certainly atypical. And the added weapons compared to the original releases of the reused molds was just as much of an attention-getter.
Ultra Magnus is a redecoed Optimus Prime mold. This has long been one of those simple truths in Transformers. Exceptions exist, and more often than not they're for the benefit of all involved, but most typically it's recolors. But once in a while we get something a little more than typical. Rather than the mainly white body Ultra Magnus normally associated with the recolor take, FOC Magnus is based more on the G1 armored form, using dark blue as the primary color. It's appropriate as Fall of Cybertron's redesign of Optimus Prime is meant to reflect the character having added heavier armor to his body, and keeping that in mind brings a continuity of concept I end up really liking. To further distance from the lineage of repainted Primes, Ultra Magnus is granted his own face, and just like the colors, this reflects the trailer-armor form of Magnus. Where FOC Optimus had a wide helmet that might sometimes bump against the collar area, Magnus is more slim and has a more free range of movement. The face sculpt has a minimum of extraneous lines sculpted in, and the smooth face makes this Ultra Magnus look younger than what is typically associated with the character. The face is painted over in white, helping to accentuate the details that are present and stand in sharp contrast with the dark blue helmet. One caution - the antennae rising from the helmet are kind of thin, and the plastic is rigid. Might want to take care of those so nothing snaps off, and for storage I'd probably recommend vehicle mode.
Of course, there's no escaping that Ultra Magnus is pretty short. That fact alone is going to bother a certain range of people, because Ultra Magnus is supposed to be a big dude (about a decade ago some of the same people who now work on TFWiki started figuring "real world" heights for Transformers based on vehicle forms. G1 Ultra Magnus came in at nearly 46 feet tall!) and to an extent I agree with the thought. Especially if you want to incorporate this in to a shelf of Classics style toys, it's hard to figure out how to handle an Ultra Magnus who can look Bumblebee in the eye. Unfortunately, I don't have any direct answer to that challenge except to say keep reading the review because there's a major point later on that may help you try to find the justifications you need. I would suggest that the way the face looks, this might be a young Magnus before he was so Ultra, but I don't really think that helps the Bumblebee problem.
The toy has a pretty good overall range of movement. As noted in RAC's review of the original use of the mold, the toy uses a few tricks to get extended movement while using fewer moving parts, and this is a major benefit to the accessories Magnus includes much more than it ever was for Optimus. What the mold may have lost in size, it made up for by being superior in mobility to the toys it originally shipped with. Even such a simple thing as the play of a ball joint at the waist gives posing options that really put life in to some poses and makes the toy act more like the image it represents instead of a stack of rigid boxes. There are shortfalls. The shoulders get from moderate to really limited outward range depending how you have the arm positioned, mainly thanks to the exhaust pipes in the shoulders. The way the transformation works also can cause difficulty with moving the shoulders and not moving other parts as well. The elbows are tight thanks to the "unarmored" part of the upper arms being fully coated in white paint. This is probably gonna start to wear really badly around the elbow joint after a while, given how stiff the movement is. My instance of the toy has pretty loose thigh swivels, but it doesn't seem like a real problem for holding poses. Even if it should become one, it's the slide-out style swivel joint which can usually be easily tightened up.
One thing I won't complain about with this mold is how quick and simple it is to transform. Everything just simply folds and tabs in to its vehicle mode position and reverses to robot mode just as easily. I'm not sure you could pay me enough to transform the WFC Prime mold to vehicle mode again.
Of course where the robot mode was a bit small, the vehicle, folding in on itself as to does to transform, is kinda tiny. Besides which, the style doesn't seem as suited for Ultra Magnus as the robot did. The design looks like a truck cab reinforced with its own armor, which I'm sure is what it was going for as Optimus Prime. And that's the problem, it looks more like Optimus in vehicle mode because there's no clear Magnus-specific elements to change the perception of the overall whole. The robot escapes being White Optimus, but the vehicle form ends up coming across as Blue Optimus. Under the circumstances I'm not really sure what could have been done differently that I wouldn't have this problem, but something just seems like it's missing. I think I'm expecting, thanks mostly to Animated, for Ultra Magnus to be able to kill you with guns in vehicle mode. And while the rifle can peg in as a turret, it's just not there for me in how the vehicle mode is designed.
Which is not to say the deco isn't still very nice looking in vehicle mode. The dark blue really seems to play nicely with this mold in general, and the white from the upper arms flows in to the bumper pieces to really tie everything together structurally in a way I really dig. But pretty though it may be, I just can't see Ultra Magnus when I look at it.
So, you've probably been wondering about what I thought would help you justify this toy. What makes Magnus special, you may ask. Ultra Magnus introduces a great extra accessory system that I feel like is really the meat of this mold reuse and might be the thing to sway you to a purchase.
I did use the word "system" here, because the newly added weapon is more than just a large sword. It was evident since Botcon that the mold's existing gun would combine with the sword, but the execution goes well beyond what was expected.
The default state of the sword is as a large broadsword. The sculpt indicates it's edged on both sides, but the silver paint runs out just past the tip, making this form look like it's only sharp on the front. The sword is tech detailed to look suitable for robots, and has a thick block above the handle, which I can't help interpreting as a power pack, or maybe a diesel engine, because who doesn't want a gas-powered sword, right? From one side an extra 5mm peg projects to allow storage in vehicle or robot modes. Great touch there, making sure it could be carried on the figure's back in robot mode. The vehicle storage is less inspired, being meant to peg in above one of the rear tires and run straight along the length of the vehicle. But this can be overcome with a little free thinking. Just fold in the left-side exhaust pipes and plug the sword on to one of the gun hardpoints, and Ultra Magnus is now fully equipped for drive-by cutting!
So, from here, the sword disassembles. The majority of the blade separates, leaving what could by itself be another smaller sword. Though if you intend to use it as such I would suggest adding a little bit of silver just to emphasize that there are meant to be sharp edges. From here, the handle itself can be removed from the small sword, and now you've got some extra options by bringing the rifle in.
Most simply, you can plug the short sword piece in the side of the rifle to equip a bayonet. For proper bayonet action you'll need to use the rifle's angled peg meant for vehicle mode attachment, but the angle is slight enough that it won't look awkward or unnatural.
But the large blade and sword handle needn't be idle right now. No, in fact the handle can tab directly in to the blade to make a smaller giant sword which also can be carried on the back for storage. The only flaw with it is at least on my instance of the toy the tab connection is not as solid as I'd like to see it. It's not falling off under its own weight, but it's easier than I think it should be to disconnect the two pieces. But, super points for this functionality so there never needs to be a wasted weapon component hanging around.
Finally, the large blade and sword handle can be added to the bayonet. The handle clips on to the straight grip peg of the rifle, and the large blade snaps in the side of the barrel like the bayonet component. All of them together result in a sword taller than the head-height of the figure! The connection among the parts is very solid in this configuration, and while it's huge and ridiculous looking, the sword does a really good job at matching the aesthetic of the rifle, so everything still looks like it flows together as a unified piece rather than a bizarre collaboration of random pieces. While it may not be the Magnus Hammer that has become so popular since Animated, the sword system is a really engaging accessory, and builds up the personality of the toy. What's more, basically none of this is reflected in the instructions for the toy and the package only shows the fully built up giant sword mode. It would have been such a great call-out on the package if they'd mentioned the weapons could do this.
In some ways it really feels like this mold was made with Ultra Magnus in mind more than Optimus. The rifle had already been more in the style of the G1 toy's gun, but the heavy armor appearance, the shoulder extensions, the elements just are kind of there and don't really call out specifically to Optimus Prime at all. Had this existed independently of the game, I would conclude it was the case they made the toy for Magnus and just released it as Optimus first. The figure itself is a hard sell given the below average size and today's price tags. But if you skipped Optimus, Magnus is a better value for the money with the really awesome new weapon, and it's a well-designed toy. Between those two factors, I'm really satisfied with it. I have no idea how I'll reconcile it within my own collection, but I like the toy.
Ultra Magnus scores Excellent on the Figurereviews.com Non-Numeric Rating Scale. I wonder too just how tied in to the mold these sword parts are, because I'd love to see at least one more instance come with another toy. It really is the star of the show and takes a "nice" figure and turns it in to a really great total package.
|Date||December 17th 2012|
|Score||(9 out of 10)|
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