Thursday, July 31, 2014

Transformers Prime: Ultra Magnus!

07.31.2014 – Ultra Magnus is military strategist and the leader of the Wreckers in Transformers Prime. He appears in the second episode ("Scattered") of the third season with a subtitle ‘Beast Hunters’ and voiced by Michael Ironside (Top Gun, Starship Troopers, SeaQuest DSV, X-Men: First Class).

It’s fitting for Ironside to take the voice role of Ultra Magnus once famously held by the great Robert Stack in the 1986 animated film. Of course this version of Magnus has more military background done just a soldier quite like his role in SeaQuest DSV taking the leadership role in the absence of Optimus.

The character of course wants to be addressed with a ‘Sir’ and the Wreckers in this series is not just a team but hardened soldiers. Ultra Magnus was second-in-command to Optimus Prime who gathered the divided Autobots, while the famous leader was missing after the end of second season where the Decepticons have succeeded in their plans.

In toy form Ultra Magnus was released as part of the third wave of Transformers Prim: Robots in Disguise assortment in late 2012 for the Voyager Class price point. Released in window-type box packaging with a light-up gimmick (more of that below) that allows you to ‘Try Me’ on the window cutaway. On the right side of the box contains the character description and Ultra Magnus’ tech specs, while on the other side is the artwork based from the series.

Behind the box is the product photo that was mis-transformed wheels that was supposed to be wrapped around his leg calves, and his weapon is placed facing front than aiming at the back. This is a usual problem for most Transformers toys and their final product photos.

Underneath the box you see another product that would reveal the next figure, which turns out to be Skyquake who appears in the first season of the series also in Voyager Class. Today you’ll see these figures now on clearance, but Ultra Magnus given that popularity of the character’s name is slowly being rare and hard to find.

Opening the packaging the usual figure is held up by paper wires made of rattan and the internal box background shows how Hasbro invests in the packaging too. But they changed using plastic wires to paper materials starting with the first wave Generations in 2010.

In robot mode Ultra Magnus in metallic blue and eyes are painted green with a serious mug that matches Michael Ironside’s character personality being a hardened military leader. This figure would have a light piping gimmick given that there’s a blue translucent plastic behind his head. But since the eyes were painted green it’s no longer functional. The final product is different from the production photos with regards to the paint application. This Ultra Magnus was more intimidating in the series in his animation model compared his toy form.

This figure is less muscular upon removing him out of the packaging and you’ll notice his shoulders would appear fragile due to being thin. His shoulder and thighs are ball jointed while his knees and elbows have ratchet joints.

The joints connecting his wrists via ball joint uses translucent blue plastic, which appears to have stress marks already that doesn't appear to be a good material to use in this figure. Hasbro should not use translucent plastic to connect ball joints unlike a solid plastic. It appears upon removing him out of the box he becomes slight flimsy. But it depends on how quality was put into these figures as assembly is not the same when its being done by a machine versus put together by hand in the factory. He also has a waist joint but is slightly hindered by the top cab part of his truck mode being the whole assembly of his back where the there’s nothing to see but a red roof.

Ultra Magnus comes with a ‘battle hammer’ that was inspired by the version from Transformers Animated and its proportion to the figure. Comparing this to the animated version the hammer from that Ultra Magnus appear to have shorter handle. This one was just right proportionally and way better than the Japanese release, which comes with an Arms Micron that did not appear in the series.

The ‘Battle Hammer’ can be stored at the back of the figure since he has 5mm peg in the forearms, shoulders, and back. Aside from his main weapon he also comes with a non-firing missile that can be attached to the hammer when in ‘rifle mode’ or on the pegs that was mentioned. When turning the rifle into his ‘Battle Hammer’ all you need is slide it into position until the blue translucent part becomes the head of that hammer and there’s a blue peg that locks it in place and where the light-up gimmick is activated. It permanently light-up but its bets not to have it in this position to conserve the battery.

Transformation designated Ultra Magnus as Level 2 that can easily turn him from robot to his alternate Earth mode vehicle without the use of the product manual that’s included upon opening the box. The figure is partially a shell-former meaning that his the entire top part of his cab in truck mode is his back. This just goes together with his shoulder that makes up the front wheels, side panel doors, and arms that turns into panels connection to his legs that turns into his rear wheels.

In alternate mode his chosen Earth vehicle is a missile truck similar to the Animated version, but with less weaponry unlike the Elite Guard Commander that have all the bells and whistles. The ‘battle hammer’ changes into the ‘rifle mode’ and you can mount the missile on a 5mm peg. You can also re-position his weapon to the other pegs in this vehicle form.

Hasbro has left out some parts of the truck not having details like the smoke stack, side mirrors, and rims of the tires unpainted. It appears less intimidating when it’s parked side-by-side with the animated version. But this is a better mode compared to the next version that borrows Optimus Prime’s truck mode and body or the one released under the Platinum Series. They should have included the ‘Forge of Solus Hammer’ in this figure, but given it this figure comes already with his basic weapon there’s no space for the other hammer to be stored. But it would be great if Ultra Magnus comes with an alternate weapon aside from the standard weapon he carries and another extra non-firing missile.

Overall Ultra Magnus isn't entirely a not-so good figure it just has issues due to those materials Hasbro used in making this one made it a little inferior. In all the iterations of Ultra Magnus this one had characteristics of Michael Ironside with that smug in his face.

The other version that preceded this figure is entirely recycling Optimus Prime’s body with a new sculpt based on Ultra Magnus’ head. If anyone’s getting a Transformers Prime character based on Ultra Magnus this is the definitive figure to get now on clearance for PhP 800.00 pesos ($18.40 US dollars). But this figure is slowly becoming rare now in the clearance bin that Ultra Magnus is getting hard to find in the Philippines.

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