"Generations" Combiner Wars Leader Class Ultra Magnus Toy Review
Release Date: May 2015
Price Point: $45.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blasters x 2, Rocket launchers x 2, Minimus Ambus figure
Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
The legend of Ultra Magnus is exceeded only by the legend of Optimus Prime®. When Ultra Magnus was lost, the forces of justice would not let a warrior of his caliber fall. Minimus Ambus, using the power of his rare loadbearer spark, enables Ultra Magnus to fight on.
The war between Autobot and Decepticon rages on, and with Ultra Magnus in the fight, the action gets more intense all the time! This awesome Ultra Magnus figure is a massive force for the Autobot cause in robot mode with a blaster on each arm and an appetite for justice. But when it's time for an rumbling ground assault, he converts to a supercharged semi truck! Get ready for a whole new generation of Transformers mayhem with this incredible Ultra Magnus figure!
While the Voyager, Deluxe and Legends Class figures in "Combiner Wars" focus on Combiners, the Leader Class has focused on bringing prominent characters from "Transformers" history into larger classes. Previously there was a wave including Megatron. Now another major "leader" figure has been brought into this class: Ultra Magnus! Aside from his Masterpiece counterpart, Ultra Magnus has not been an original figure all his own in a large scale in a while. One of the more recent unique molds for Ultra Magnus was the "Transformers Prime" version but a lot of the time Ultra Magnus winds up being a redeco/retool of Optimus Prime (like 2012's Deluxe Ultra Magnus.
Ultra Magnus is packaged in a large window box. The front mostly shows off the figure itself along with the Minimus Ambus figure and his weapons. The lower right hand corner of the packaging shows some cool package art and the left side has the vertical "Transformers" logo currently being used on most "Transformers" toy packaging. Above that is an Autobot symbol with the "Generations" line logo. A collector card is included with Magnus featuring the character holding his hammer weapon with Minimus Ambus charging in front. Unlike most of the "Combiner Wars" card art this is new art and not recycled from the "Transformers Legends" card game.
Minimus Ambus' vehicle mode is a small Cybertronian car. There are no visible wheels on the sides or bottom, so I conjecture this is a hovercar. The front end has some neat line designs and the rear has a spoiler reminiscent of Hot Rod's. While there are no wheels on the vehicle, the sides do have armor panels that extend out where you would expect to find wheels. This gives it a vaguely futuristic appearance as well. This figure is roughly Mini-Con sized, so he looks pretty small next to Ultra Magnus, but as you'll see later in this review Ultra Magnus isn't exactly a normal sized truck.
Minimus is cast in white plastic. His windows are painted metallic black. The hood has light green details on it and the top of the vehicle has an Autobot symbol on it. The deco is simple but effective.
Transformation to Robot Mode:
- Swing the front of the vehicle out.
- Swing the sides out.
- Swing the top panel down.
When fans were first introduced to Minimus Ambus we got to see him in his robot mode which looks less squared off and blocky than most Transformers. Indeed, he looks almost like a Transformer from another era. First, his head design is very distinctive, with a crest in the center and a face that includes a "mustache" and "beard". Then his body is a series of layered armor panels that both curve and angle at certain points. Other small details from the comic book drawing have been replicated including a circle in the middle of his hip area (which echoes a similar design on Magnus himself) as well as ridges running along the insides of his arms. Overall the sculpt on this figure looks great.
Minimus' white color continues to dominate in this form. The light green seen in vehicle mode now appears on the torso and face. His collar, mustache and beard are a darker shade of green and his eyes are red. All this is based off his comic book appearance and for such a tiny figure it looks good. He could use a tad more deco (particularly on the arms), but I'm not going to hold it against the figure.
There are six points of articulation on this figure. Four of these points (the shoulders and the hips) are ball joints, allowing for a wide range of movement. This articulation also allows him to sit inside the "control room" inside Ultra Magnus' torso.
Ultra Magnus includes an extra figure, two blasters and two missile launchers. The extra figure is Minimus Ambus (reviewed in more detail below). His blasters are two different designs. One is vertically flat with a thick barrel that narrows at the end. There is a magazine sculpted into the middle section and a handle in the back. The handle is rectangular since Ultra Magnus' hands don't use 5mm holes but rather open up to hold weapons. There is a 5mm peg on the right side of the weapon, allowing you to attach the weapon to Ultra Magnus in both modes. This blaster reminds me of Magnus' original weapon from Generation One.
The other weapon included with Magnus has a different design. The back has a flat horizontal section leading to a long barrel. The handle is flat just like the other weapon. There is a 5mm peg on top of the weapon, allowing other figures to use it. It also has 5mm holes on either side of the horizontal section. You can attach other weapons to this, but this is also used for creating Magnus' hammer weapon.
Magnus also includes two non-firing missile launchers. These normally attach to his shoulders in robot mode and the sides in vehicle mode. However if you connect them to the sides of the second weapon mentioned above, then connect the other weapon to the end of the first weapon you get a hammer weapon that Ultra Magnus can hold in both hands! This is a homage to previous incarnations of the character seen in both "Prime" and "Animated". I like this creative use of accessories. Giving them multiple functions really enhances the value of this figure and it looks cool to boot.
This figure is largely based on Ultra Magnus' appearances in the IDW Publishing comic books. Magnus' appearance has changed over time, but this figure is based on his current appearance in the "More than Meets the Eye" title. This form is partly based on his G1 appearance as well, so there are really two influences at work in one figure.
Generation One Design Elements:
- The basic outline of this figure is based on G1 Ultra Magnus, including the beams that extend out from the shoulders, a head with a high crest and antennae on the side along with missile launchers on the shoulders.
- The head design is based on the G1 head design including the high crest in the center, antennae on the side and eyes that look like he has large glasses on.
- The chest armor has three raised vertical sections connected by a horizontal section on top. This is inspired by G1 Magnus' chest armor accessory.
- There is a circle in the center of the hip area. This is a detail carried over from G1 Magnus' hip armor.
- The forearms have armor panels over them that extend underneath the hands in this form. This was a feature of G1 Magnus' arms as well.
- The legs on the figure use the same design theory as G1 Magnus, with the lower legs being significantly different than the thighs. The sides have sections of armor that lead to huge feet (relative to the rest of the figure).
IDW Design Elements:
Most of these design elements are variations on the existing G1 influenced designs. Here's a rundown:
- The beams that extend out of the shoulders have three five sided holes on top instead of the flat top found on G1 Magnus.
- The launchers on his shoulders are flat and contain two rockets each instead of one.
- The shoulder armor is angled upward instead of being strictly rectangular and straight.
- The chest area has angled armor panels that look like arrows pointing down.
- The waist area has two small lights inside an oval on both sides, a detail absent from G1 Magnus.
- The leg armor has raised, angled sections in front unlike the more flat panel found on the G1 design. The armor over the knees has two circles on the lower portion and two trapezoid designs underneath that. While inspired by G1 elements, these designs come straight from the IDW comic books.
Overall this is an awesome sculpt. I honestly just love looking at it. It has a retro design base with modern design sensibilities. He stays true to his source material both G1 and IDW and he looks powerful and imposing.
Almost all iterations of Ultra Magnus have three main colors: red, white and light metallic blue and those are the three basic plastic colors used on this figure. Most of the figure is white and light blue, with the two colors alternating. This is most evident on the arms where the beams extending out of the shoulders are white, leading to blue shoulders, then white upper arms and finally forearms with white hands and blue armor over them. Red fills in for smaller parts such as the panels that the arms are connected to on the sides and panels on the back of the legs. The distribution of these colors echo the G1 design but owe most of their layout to the IDW design. The biggest difference is perhaps the thighs, which are red in the IDW comic books.
The paint colors used on this figure include silver, red, yellow and light metallic blue. Silver is used heavily. You'll find it on the head, the torso and the lower legs. There are two shades of red on this figure. The brighter shade is used to paint the rockets on his shoulder launchers and the trapezoids on his lower legs. The darker red is used to fill in details on his torso. Yellow is used on the round light details on his waist area. The light blue is found on his eyes. The finishing touch is a tampographed Autobot symbol in red and silver on his chest. This mode looks great. I particularly like the overlapping decos on the torso section.
There are twenty one points of articulation in this mode including five in each arm and leg. As mentioned earlier you place the weapons in Magnus' hands by opening up the four fingers, placing the weapon in by its flat handle, then closing it. This design looks cool, but the problem is stability. Depending on how tight the finger joint is the weapons won't stay in the hands. Now, on my copy of this figure the fingers are pretty tight, so the weapons stay in hand even if I shake the figure a little. However, if you're going to be bashing this guy against Decepticon figures then it's likely the weapons will fall out. There are six attachment points for 5mm weapons. The shoulders have two (where the rocket launchers attach) and the other four are on the sides of the legs. I like to use the ones on the sides of the legs near the knees for weapon storage, but you could attach extra weapons to boost his firepower.
As mentioned above, you can connect all his accessories to create a hammer weapon. He can hold this in one hand or both. Again the design of the hand can be a problem here. If the finger hinge on the figure is too loose, the hammer falls out pretty easily.
In the G1 series the Ultra Magnus action figure was made up of a cab section that transformed into a robot and then put on an Exo Suit formed from the vehicle mode's trailer. The spirit of this remains intact with this figure. Swing the chest panel down, move the head up and then open the chest panels and you'll find a control chamber. Inside is a small seat, screens, control sticks and even pedals. This seat is for the Minimus Ambus figure to sit in and it reflect the storyline in the comic book where Ultra Magnus is not so much a person as a title. There was an Ultra Magnus in the distant past, but he fell in battle and was since replaced with a series of characters who wore an Ultra Magnus "exo suit". The current character doing this is Minimus Ambus. This is a cool way to pay homage to G1 Magnus and I love the design of the small control center inside the figure. A cool note: artist Andrew Griffith worked with Hasbro on the design of the control center, helping to add lots of nice detail.
While looking at various posts on Facebook about this figure, I saw a few folks complain about two things: first the gears that make up the knee joints supposedly cause some plastic stress on the back of the knee area. On my copy of the figure I moved the joint about ten times back and forth but nothing happened. No stress, no cracks. The other issue I've seen complaints about is the way the feet rest on hinges instead of a ball joint. Some folks have talked about stability issues but I've had zero issue with them. You have to learn to position the feet properly, but to me that's not a huge deal.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Detach all the accessories and remove the Minimus Ambus figure.
- Straighten out the arms and legs.
- Swing the forearm armor over the hands.
- Swing the panels on the front of the lower legs out.
- Swing the panels on the back of the lower legs out.
- Swing the robot feet up into the opening on the back of the lower legs.
- Holding the top of each panel from the back of the lower legs, rotate the panels outward.
- Swing the panels from the side of each lower leg up.
- Swing the chest plate forward.
- Swing the exposed cab section back.
- Swing the cab out and rotate it around.
- Swing open the front panels of the cab, push the head in and close the panels.
- Swing the robot legs up and push the two lower legs together.
- Push the two rear white panels up.
- Push the red panels in to form the sides.
- Swing the two robot arms together and connect them to form the top of the trailer section. There are tabs towards the back on the forearm armor that connects to the blue panels in the back.
- Pull the cab section forward.
- Attach the rocket launchers to the holes on the sides towards the front.
- The weapons can be attached to the holes on the side towards the back.
Taking a cue from his G1 vehicle mode (and several that came after that), Ultra Magnus' vehicle mode is a tractor trailer truck. Bringing him even closer to his G1 incarnation is him being a car carrier to boot! In many ways this looks like a vehicle you'd see on the highways now with some scifi embellishments. The front cab section looks like a typical truck cab with smokestacks, a flat front end with a large grille in the center and headlights on the side. However, if you take a closer look you'll see a ladder on either side with a door at the top. If that is meant to be scaled to human size that makes Ultra Magnus enormous in vehicle mode. Much larger than your typical truck. Interestingly this also means that the windshield wipers sculpted onto the windshield windows would also be almost the size of a door, which is kind of crazy if you think about it. It doesn't look ungainly or anything. In fact, the way the top of the cab slopes down and the curved edges of the cab give this figure a really sleek appearance.
The trailer section is the part that can act as a car carrier. The top has rails and the bottom has open space for vehicles to fit in. Some of the more fantastic design elements on this section include ridges on the top rails (presumably for any vehicles resting on there). Other awesome details are found on the sides towards the back. There you'll see a huge tube curving into an armored section. Below that is a platform with a ladder leading up to a door. There's another door on the sides towards the front. Again if you assume these doors are human sized, this again pushes the point as to how gigantic Magnus is!
This mode uses red, white and blue as its primary colors. This mode shows a lot of white. You'll see it in the cab section the rails on top, the doors at the back and some of the bottom section. Red makes up most of the frame on the sides towards the front and the middle of the lower section. The metallic blue is used on the front and back of the top rails and on the rear of the vehicle. Most of the paint in this mode is used on the cab section. There you'll find a ton of silver deco from the front grille to the smokestacks to strips on the sides. The windows are black and his headlights are yellow. Right at the top of the grille section is a red Autobot symbol. Unfortunately the trailer doesn't have as much deco lavished on it as the front end. The trailer is largely unpainted. Not only that, the wheels are unpainted as well. The plastic colors are really strong, but I really wish there was a bit more paint on the sides and on the rims of the wheels.
Ultra Magnus can roll on all ten wheels. You can attach 5mm post weapons to the panels on the sides towards the back and front (where the rocket launchers attach). The cab section extends forward a bit on a hinge, so you can move it side to side. Of course, the major feature of this vehicle is its ability to hold other vehicles. You can fit Deluxe scale vehicles on top and maybe squeeze some of the smaller ones into the bottom. However the vehicle is really designed to fit four modern day Legends Class figures (such as Windcharger and Warpath). The white panels in the back can swing out into a ramp to unload the vehicles in the bottom. Then you can move the top section down to let the vehicles on top roll off as well. I always loved this feature on G1 Ultra Magnus so having it available on this figure is awesome.
Ultra Magnus is a really fun figure. He's not perfect. The way he holds his weapons in robot mode and his vehicle mode deco could both be better but overall I really like this figure. Minimus Ambus is also a cool little figure and reminds me of Micromasters and Mini-Cons (which is awesome in my book). This is definitely one figure worth a place in your collection for sure.