Saturday, 3 October 2015

Make sure your Badge is straight.

Umhead
One day a long time ago, Ultra Magnus was released in the Masterpiece line.  I bought him, but he was just a white Optimus.  That sucked a bit.  Then many years later, he was released again in the Masterpiece line.  This is not a blog post about that toy.  This is a post about a cheaper and better toy.


Okay, I might have been a bit harsh on the MP Magnus, as it did look nice and when it was first announced I would have sold my soul to get one but as the weeks went on, I just found myself slowly going off that design.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that as nice as the MP Magnus is, the inclusion to make him look like the G1 TV show actually became a gimmick I didn’t like so much.  He just looked a bit too puffy for my liking.

Luckily the Legends/Combiner Wars line came to the rescue with a nice rendition of the comic book style Ultra Magnus.  This is what I like. since most of my Magnus dealings were through the UK G1 comic and IDW, which both portrayed Magnus as a pretty tough arse-kicking dude.

Let’s check him out shall we?

Man Legends boxes are super-duper nice!
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I was curious to see that unlike Chromia, Arcee and Windblade, Magnus has a vehicle mode toy picture on the side.  This is because he is packed in robot mode.  When he first arrived, I was impressed with the heft of the box.  Felt good man.  I have no idea what his size class is, so um.  There we go. I don’t care really, is the toy good or not?  That’s all I care about.
He has a little blurb on the back of the box, which says a bit of this;
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The ever popular Second in Command, is of course Ultra Magnus.  A perfect new by-the-books mould is unveiled!
Similar to Masterpiece Ultra Magnus, the front cab doesn't separate, making a newly constructed single body transformation possible, along with that the recent weapons of various Ultra Magnus’s can be made by reforming the classic weapons into the Magnus Hammer.
Included is Alpha Trion, with a vehicle mode. In robot mode, he can be housed within to control Ultra Magnus for perfect activation! 

The rest is very nice with some little bit of artwork you can see on the side and toys shots.
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Okay. so after getting the box open and having a looksee, I was most impressed with the result!!

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In the IDW comic, they made a change to the character from what one would expect.  Ultra Magnus has now become a legendary figure, and to keep the legend going, he has essentially become a suit of armour for other Transformers.  In a way, he is much like the Phantom persona, or even Batman (well, it’s  hinted at anyway) in that Ultra Magnus is an icon and when defeated, another Transformer just takes over the place of the one controlling him.  So for all intents and purposes, Ultra Magnus is an exosuit. 

In the IDW comics, the most recent Magnus is a chap called Minimus Ambus, who rather nicely is a white robot (in a suit of armour).  The Combiner Wars release of Ultra Magnus comes with a small Minimus Ambus figure, which makes sense since that is the character reference Hasbro are going for.  I you have a close look at the Japanese Legends packaging though, you’ll find that Magnus is piloted by none other than Alpha Trion.  Well, not exactly that one…. but hey same character.
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Alpha Trion to me has always been a character that is apart from the war in a way.   He supports the Autobots, but only because the Decepticons are nasty people.   Plus, I liked the idea of him being ancient enough to not have a vehicle/beast mode.  So to see him slapped into Magnus I fond a bit, irking….  I can understand why it was done, after all, Ambus and Trion both share similar facial designs (i.e a beard) and since US comics are ridiculously expensive in Japan and in English, your average Japanese dude might not know what/who Ambus is, BUT they mentioned the overseas  side of Gelshark/Skybyte and since Ambus is a white robot, it could easily be explained away that the small inner robot of Ultra Magnus has always been Ambus….

Long story short, I would have preferred an attempt to explain Minimus Ambus to Japan rather than see Alpha Trion suddenly drawn directly into the conflict between the Autobots and Decepticons as a major player.  As in the end, Alpha Trion is now Ultra Magnus. 

So with this in mind, I jumped into the actual bio section of Magnus’ instructions to see if they shed some light on the situation, or at last had a nice justification for Alpha Trion going from bystander, to active war hero.

They don’t:
backinstructionsUltra Magnus, who was killed in action on Earth was revived by the power of the Matrix.
Once a leader who briefly housed the matrix, Ultra Magnus' body was reborn as a guardian avatar from the residual data contained within the matrix by Alpha Trion.
His revival has a heavy influence on all aspect/dimensions, and could provide the chance to make new history.
Now Ultra Magnus is not just Alpha Trion, but Cybertron's hero for peace, who has a second chance to take his place on the battlefield once more.
It does have some nice artwork, it looks tough and sexy!!
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Anyway regardless, let’s start with a look at Alpha Trion.
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I can see the usage and they’ve done well with colouring.  Even to the point of making him a faux cape with the roof of the vehicle mode.  Well done.  The moustache is off though. Sigh, my Minimus theory would have worked well…. He is nicely articulated for such a small guy, that I will say!
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Trion now transforms into a future hover/space car thing.  He is a really small figure and the moving of the back panel is a bit of a pain in the arse, but it is a nice vehicle mode with no wheels.   I am going to assume he forms some sort of future anti-grav car.  Man, I wish I had one!
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Robot mode is pretty obvious on the bottom, but for such a small figure, that’s a fine trade off methinks. 
Enough of Tiny McLittlepants,  Let’s have a look at Magnus now hey?

He’s GLORIOUS!

Even without Trion sitting in his chest it’s a great robot.  He is void of the puffy chubbiness that I disliked on the Masterpiece and looks like a buff, tough-bot!
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Big and chunky, he looks like he has articulation in all the right spots, and as well as being an updated toy of the old one, it also keeps the same colouration going as well.  There is a lot of talk about the thigh colour, but I prefer the red over the white personally.

Let’s have Alpha Trion climb inside the cockpit.  The blue chest piece folds down and the front of the truck opens up.  Trion sits rather neatly in the cockpit, complete with little foot pedals and a couple of handles for him to hold.  A very cool touch is the inclusion of screens inside the cockpit and other “control room” like details!  Then close the front of the cab and fold the blue chest piece up and you can drop the helmet over Trion’s head.  There is a little bit of space where you can see Trion’s shoulders, so how they managed to hide that from people for so long, I don’t know (in the comic).
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Magnus is suitably imposing. 
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The colours are great and there’s heaps of detail all over the place.  Even in the gaps, there is a kind of piston sculpted in the gap on the reverse side of his thigh!  I also like that they kept the cab orientated the same way as the G1 toy, so you still have the windows behind the armour chest and the smokestacks still stick up next to his head.  Full points for tickling my nostalgia TakTom!

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Impressive!   I like the chest too, although I see a bit of Dancouga in there with an angry elephant on his chest.
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Even the shoulders are pretty nice with a hinged panel so that the shoulder missile launchers don’t hinder the outward movement of the arms! 

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The head sculpt is great and the paint work very nice too!  They have a slightly different pain colour over his eyes, which is cool.  It’s very subtle, but enough to make you have a close look!  Naturally it looks pretty damn good as Ultra Magnus’ head!
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Head movement isn’t bed either considering that
  1. There is a small robot head in there.
  2. Its on a bar for raising/lowering.

Magnus comes with two guns and two missile pods.  Sadly he has his fingers in a hinged clump making his grip on his guns a bit weak.  One gun I really dig, it looks a lot like Magnus’ original rifle.  The other one, I don’t like so much….  It’s mainly there to form the hammer and as a result looks the least gun-like.
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He doesn't have any storing of the weapons in robot mode that doesn’t look tacked on, but I did discover a rather loose way to store the uglier gun on his back.

Oh and you may notice the articulation is pretty good for such a big fellow.  His ankles are on double hinges and the base of the feet has been angled for that heroic stance, but he doesn’t have ankle tilts, which I would have really liked.  That would have been the icing on the cake for this guy!
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To make the now (requisite it seems) Magnus hammer, pop the two missile pods off his shoulders and join them together with the guns.  It looks a bit like this.
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The way it’s held is interesting, as they blue fore arm bits get in the way a little and this has been gotten around by having the handle slide into it, so the actual hand isn’t what is holding the hammer.  He is however, unable to hold the hammer with two hands effectively which sucks.  The shoulders do afford a lot of movement mainly due to the transformation joint.

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Personally though I’m happy to leave him hammerless as it’s nowhere near as tough looking as Animated Magnus’ hammer and since it’s parts formed, the bottom half looks stupidly like a rifle.  The biggest issue in regards to Mr Magnus is that he has articulated fingers, much like the Masterpieces.  All the fingers are on a hinge.  While I like this idea in theory, practically though….  without any pins in the gun and hands he can only loosely hold the rifles.  The hammery rifle is by far the worst and I have pretty much given up using it as a gun.
OK. Time for some random action pose pictures, and pics with like-minded bots. It took me a while to work out how to make him crouch, I had a feeling he could do it, but just couldn’t wing it until a day or so after I finished the main photos, hence the different background!  Let’s go!

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With a bit of arm cheating, you can have him reach down and pick up Alpha Trion.
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I love the articulation, even though he’s chunky looking, and lacks ankle pivots, you can get along without them (generally) pretty well.  The Magnus’ balance is just about right and you can make him bend quite far over and balance him in a HUGE amount of poses.  I’ve been fiddling with him for the past week and he hasn’t disappointed me yet!
Woo, although the robot mode is BEASTLY fun and fifty bucks of awesomeness, there is another mode to him, of course it’s his truck mode.

Transformation is fun and satisfying.  I think it’s at just the right level to be complex enough for an initial challenge, but not irritatingly fiddly.  It hits that just about right balance at first I found the cab and chest plate a little bit fiddly, but soon enough it makes sense and you can have him jumping between forms quickly enough!
So, TRANSFORM

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HOOOLY CRAP!  That my friends is one beefy looking awesome truck!  I love it, the colours are total G1 sex in a basket.  In fact, about the only thing I don’t like is the axe gun and rifle storage is them simply plugged onto the side.  It is very Orion Pax, so…. um, intentional homage…?  I don’t think so, but hey.  I can just leave them off.

When you transform Magnus though, Alpha Trion can’t stay in his cockpit as Magnus’ head goes in there.  I wonder what everyone in the comics thought, Alpha Trion never around while Magnus is about in robot mode, but the moment he transforms…..  Like Superman and Clark Kent…..
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Must admit though, they do look pretty good together.  What a cute couple.  Although Alpha Trion is a tad too small to sit securely on the trailer.
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While there is the truck and trailer, the two are permanently attached but there is an articulated joint between the two, which is nice.
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There’s a lot of nice detail on the truck, and much like I see an angry elephant on the chest, I see a scowling face in the windows and grill of the truck.  You can still open the cab and if you took out Magnus’ head, you could fit in Alpha Trion too!

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The ambient sculpting is nice, with ladders, rivets and stuff all over the place and the paint work is pretty nice with painted smokestacks and wheel rims.  I do find one thing very interesting though….
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Look at the size of that ladder, and the door it leads to.

There’s more on the trailer as well.  So much sculpting just all over him, it’s glorious!

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Even the back of the cab has a bit of something on it and it’s bloody hard to see.   Great stuff!

Okay, so after having a look at the ladders and doors, I notice one thing.  If this is to some kind of scale, Ultra Magnus must be a truck that is the size of BUILDINGS. 

So with that in mind, I measured up a little paper stick man to the size of the door frame, just to get a human to Ultra Magnus sense of scale.

A door, no human, but I assume Human sizeA human in the door!!

BLOODY HELL!
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Big Tyres!
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Σ (  Д )ﻌﻌﻌﻌ⊙ ⊙         COR BLIMEY!  Now Alpha Trion doesn’t look so small!!

Wow, just wow.  I wonder if Ultra Magnus was originally a plan for the mysterious Titan Wars and he has a hidden base mode or something……..

Interesting, yes……

As well as Magnus works with other recent Legends/Generations/wahtevars Transformers in robot mode, he also works really well with other vehicle mode Transformers. 
YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!
The back of the truck can drop down for a ramp and the tope level can also be dropped to “drive” up, but there is a rather large bump on the way.

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Man, I just love this truck mode!

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He’s just sooooo awesome on many levels.

That’s about all I have  to say about Ultra Magnus here.  I really love this toy.  Despite the box having a nice heft, you can feel the toy is lighter than earlier figures of the same size, but the design is so great and everything just seems to feel right.  Do yourself a favour, go out and get yourself an Ultra Trion.  Alpha Magnus.  Um, this guy, just DO IT! You won’t regret it.

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