Ultra Magnus… The Big Guy… Muchacho Ultramissio… Even his name oozes gravitas. He was voiced by the great Robert Stack in the 1986 movie and he deals with things on his own timetable. I can still remember seeing Transformers: The Movie in the theater. I was 14 years old and when The Matrix chose Hot Rod over Ultra Magnus I stood up, threw my large cola at the screen and screamed: “This is f’cking bullshit!” and stormed out. I may be misremembering that day. It might not have really went down like that, but either way, I’m certain that emotions ran high. Even at 14, I couldn’t comprehend why the gestalt of Autobot Wisdom would make Hot Rod the leader of the Autobots over Magnus. Magnus was bigger, more mature, clearly smarter, he didn’t whine. He didn’t go fishing with little boys either. Maybe it was a message to kids about how being a douchebag will get you ahead in life. Maybe not. Either way, I was convinced Magnus was “the man” and he got cheated. Of course, all this waxing nostalgic over Magnus is just a prelude for a look at a figure that hardly needs any introduction. We’ve all been wowed by pictures of MP-22 for a long while now and he’s finally out. I’ve had a couple of weeks to get to know him, so let’s give this bad boy his due. I’m going to do this all in one shot, so it’s going to be a long one!
The box is big and crazy heavy. I think there’s diecast in there… I can smell it! Well, maybe not, but I can certainly feel it. The box is exactly the same size as the one used for MP Soundwave, but don’t let that fool you about Magnus’ size. The presentation here should hold no surprises for collectors of the line as the deco is the same as we’ve been getting all along. There are lots of great pictures of the toy and the text is most definitely not friendly to us Western dopes who can only read one language. Inside the box Magnus comes packaged in his robot form and secured between two clear plastic trays. You also get an extra pair of fists, an alternate faceplate, his gun, and the teeny tiny Spike and Daniel figures. The only change to the presentation here is the instruction booklet. Yup, you get an actual booklet and not a folded sheet. Takara gave it a redesign with some lovely art on the cover. Let’s kick things off with Magnus’s alt mode.
Yessiree, that sure is Magnus in his alt mode! His car carrier mode has always been one that stressed fuction over form. It’s certainly more utilitarian than sexy, and that hasn’t changed for the Masterpiece version. You basically get a cab pulling a red, white, and blue framework with two platforms for carrying his Autobot chums into battle. The frame contains some beautifully sculpted detail work, but it’s a bit at odds with the hollow portions on the beams and some exposed screw holes. There are sculpted Autobot insignia on the sides and his two missile launchers rest comfortably at the front “shoulders” of the trailer and can each rotate 360-degrees. This mode is satisfyingly large and faithful to the original, but to me it isn’t all that impressive to look at unless it’s loaded with cars. That’s not a slight against this toy, but just my general feeling about Magnus’ alt mode by its very nature. That having been said, Takara certainly did a fine job with what they had to work with and I’m particularly thrilled with the way the coloring on the figure turned out.
Speaking of being loaded with cars… Magnus’ trailer can fit four of the MP cars. I refrain from using the term “comfortably fit” because they are definitely bumper to bumper, but it works and I’m cool with that. The rear tailgate drops down to form a ramp and you can even angle down the top platform so they can drive up there. All you have to do is untab both sides at the top to fold it down and it’ll even angle downward with a car in the front. This kind of thing goes a long way to make this a fun and worthwhile alt mode.
Having stayed away from all reviews and previews, I was surprised to find that Magnus’ cab is indeed detachable. Turn him over and you find a button which releases the cab from its hitching post. Can I also say how damn impressive it is to see such intricately sculpted detailing in a plate underneath the cab that will hardly ever be visible? Of course, you can also see Magnus’ head staring right back at you. Hi, there! Thankfully, there’s enough clearance so Magnus doesn’t scrape his face on the pavement while driving.
Magnus’ cab is a spot-on recreation of the MP-10 cab, minus a lot of the seams from Prime’s transformation and a differently configured back half. All the sculpted rivets and panel lines are there and the chrome grill and headlamps are dang near identical. The only major difference is the coloring, which includes Magnus’ red, animation accurate front bumper. Yeah… it’s red! suck it haterz!!! Ahem, suffice it to say Magnus’ cab is a winner and the two look great when parked side by side. And while MP-22’s cab is detachable, you do not have to detach it for the transformation.
Why “Roll Out” When You Can Ride?
So, speaking of transformations, let’s check out Magnus’ robot mode. While I’m going from alt mode to robot mode in this feature, the first time Magnus’ transformation is experienced is while going the other way around. I didn’t try to intuit the process, but rather went step-by-step with the instructions. If you don’t know already, MP-22 is not built around a core MP-10 figure and I know at least a few people who find that blasphemous. I can see their point, but I’m rather pleased with the creativity and freshness at work in this figure’s new engineering. The transformation is fairly clean and simple with excellent tolerances, although there are a few hinged plates that definitely require caution. Getting the gist of the way the change works was pretty easy for me, but actually squaring off the car carrier and locking everything into place at the end took me a few tries. You really need to have Magnus’ hips and knees perfectly positioned to make it all go together and there really aren’t any guides to do it. I did, however find that it was much easier to feel my way through the trailer’s final steps with subsequent transformations. In the end there were at least a few of those lovely “gee whiz” moments when I saw how certain things worked.
In robot mode, Ultra Magnus lives up to his name and big time. He’s taller than MP-10 and he absolutely towers over the MP Autobot cars. He also needs to watch where he steps when he’s around Bumblebee. As someone who has had to do some adjusting to the MP scale between Optimus and the other Autobots, I’m actually pretty fine with MP-22’s giant frame. I’ll throw it out there that Magnus’s robot mode is not as streamlined or clean as MP-10’s, but then there’s a lot more going on here as he absorbs his trailer into his robot mode, and all without a bit of parts-forming or even having to separate from the cab. With that being the case, I’m perfectly fine with some visible hinges on the figure. In fact, the only other negative thing I have to say about Magnus (I come to praise Magnus, not bury him!) is that there’s some mold flashing on the front of his forearms and in a few less conspicuous places. It’s not terrible, but on a $190 toy, I could have done without it.
With minor quibbles out of the way, I can get to the good stuff, and the fact is that I love this figure so much it’s hard to know where to begin, so let me just meander in my adulation. The proportions are absolutely epic. I love the giant, powerful legs and the lateral rockers in the feet. He’s as solid and stable a figure as they come, mostly thanks to the clever placement of the diecast and the satisfyingly strong ratcheting joints. The powerful arms feature the same contoured forearms seen in the Sunbow animated Magnus and the shoulder-mounted rocket launchers can be angled forward (my preference) or up or down. I’m also very happy with the length of the extended shoulder pylons. Despite being rather iconic to the character’s designs, the height of these varied a lot in the cartoon, but they look absolutely perfect on the figure. He also features a crisp, sculpted Autobot insignia on his right shoulder. And the colors! I mentioned how much I love the coloring on this figure while discussing the alt mode, but it bears repeating here. The red, blue, and white plastics are all so vibrant and fresh looking.
Even from the back, Magnus looks good. Yeah, he’s got an open gap behind his head, but this is me not caring about that. There’s also a fold down hatch to store the extra faceplate on the figure, which is a wonderful little touch and a spot to store a second faceplate, which I presume was included with an exclusive. The cab forms a pretty solid backpack that isn’t too bulky. Some have complained about Magnus’ butt-flap, but I can’t deal with that right now.
The head sculpt? Pure love! I had a little shock when I took my figure out of the box and saw a huge blemish on the crest of his helmet, but it turned out to be just fluff that wiped right off. I think the eyes are just right and I like the stoic expression of his stock face. Swapping in the screaming face is super easy. You just lift the front of the head off, unpeg the face plate and peg in the new one. The white Prime face hidden behind the face was a cool surprise and also kind of creepy because it’s missing the bottom part of the mouth plate. The extra face is pretty good, particularly with action poses, but I will likely stick with the stock expression for display.
Magnus’ chest opens up by hinging up the blue bar and swinging out the doors. Inside it reveals a beautifully detailed Matrix Chamber, which comfortably fits the Matrix included with MP-10. The extra pair of hands are designed specifically for Magnus to hold the Matrix. I dunno, maybe it’s just me, but at $190, you couldn’t toss in another Matrix, Takara? I mean, I realize that most people investing in this figure probably have MP-10 also, but c’mon guys. You’re including accessories designed to work with an accessory not included in the box. Give us a little something-something.
Yeah, you also get the Spike and Daniel figures, but Daniel looks weird and I really don’t care about them as accessories. The paintwork on their future outfits looks good, but Takara still couldn’t spring for some paint to detail the faces. I would have happily traded this pair for a second Matrix packed in, if only because it would have saved me the hassle of opening up my MP-10 box to fetch his out of his trailer to include in the photos.
Lastly, Magnus comes with his trusty rifle. It’s got a tab on the handle to help him hold it in his articulated fingers. Pretty standard Masterpiece Transformer stuff. I have absolutely no memory of Magnus’ weapon in the G1 cartoon, so this isn’t really an iconic accessory to me, but a nice looking gun, nonetheless.
If you can’t tell, MP-22 turned out to be everything I could have hoped and dreamed for. He’s an absolutely superb figure and well worthy of the name “Masterpiece.” Just looking at him up there on my rapidly growing MP shelves, he is certainly vying for my favorite spot in this line so far. And yet, I almost didn’t get him. He retails for $189.99. That seemed really steep to me at first, although a lot of that gut reaction may have come from timing. This guy was due to ship right around the time I was beginning to make Flex Pays on about $1,000 worth of Hot Toys figures as well as expecting some rather pricey pre-orders to come due. As always, I was trying to be fiscally responsible and not go the credit card route. Remember, kids, don’t use plastic to buy plastic… that road leads to ruin! Anyway, the price tag was high enough that I decided to cancel my pre-order and gamble on the likelihood that he would be around long enough to pick him up later. As it happened, I got some Christmas monies and decided to use it to make Magnus a Christmas present. In hindsight, the price is probably not as bad as the initial sticker shock. Afterall, MP Soundwave originally retailed at $159 and there are still e-tailers asking $199 for MP Grimlock. But 200 bucks is still 200 bucks… know what I’m saying? My point is, yes it’s a lot of money, but for how big and hefty and beautifully done this figure is, I can’t complain about the price, at least not when you put it into the proper context of other Masterpiece figures. He’s still readily available at most retailers, so had I waited I probably wouldn’t have missed out, but I’m just mighty happy to have him on my shelf right now.
I am one of those that was hoping for an inner robot too. But it’s not a deal-breaker. The inner robot never showed up in any fiction that I follow so I can let it go. It was just the price that prevented me from getting Magnus. Too many MP cars coming out for me to get him.