Sunday, 19 January 2014

Transformers Prime Voyager Ultra Magnus

I will let you in a little secret - I don't really like Transformers Prime.

Its not that I dislike it, but its a show and toy line that I am very indifferent too. I watched the show, all the way through to the end (including the movie), but it never really grabbed.

Yet somehow I have managed to end up with a shelf full of Prime figures, featuring the entire show cast minus, Predaking, Skyquake and Shockwave.

This implies that I must really like the toy line, but I don't. Most of it feels a bit rubbish, with figures being fragile, being overly complex, feeling cheap, and generally not being fun toys.

I will say there is one clear exception to this, which is Wheeljack, who is the best Wheeljack figure we have ever had. Starscream and Dreadwing are both cool Voyagers, and having a small army of Vehicons is of course awesome.

Those exceptions made, as a whole, its not a good line - the fun is missing.

So how did I end up with so many of them? Surely it must mean I do really like them, and somehow I have tricked myself into thinking otherwise? Well, it is actually thanks to them being on near permanent discount at almost every shop in the UK.

I think the only ones I have paid full price for are Wheeljack (who is the one figure I would say is awesome) and Ratchet (just....I dunno...because).

Ultra Magnus is one of those figures I have seen in pictures and on shop shelves for a long, long time, and sort of liked without ever being interested enough to buy him. Then when he came into the show, he had a different design to his toy, which then was translated into a brand new toy - which was a remold of the original Optimus Prime Voyager which has been clogging up shelves for well over a year.


Hit the button below, to see the complete review, and photo's, after the jump

Alt Mode

Ultra Magnus transforms into a big blue flat bed truck.

It looks like a truck you would think could turn into an Ultra Magnus, and is thankfully not just a repaint of an Optimus Prime figure, done in white.

There is a strong militaristic feel to this truck, and it looks like the sort of thing you could imagine either shifting some serious military hardware, like a giant missile or a tank - or ploughing through the side of buildings wrecking everything in sight. There is plenty of clearance underneath, so it can easily roll on its wheels through any suitably scaled toy wall.

Not sure why, but it feels like something from the Cold War Soviet era, which is probably a product of playing too many video games.

The front cab section has clear blue windows, through which you can see the 3 shoulder mounted missiles, and other squished up robot parts. Magnus grill grill is a flat grey plastic with a circular bit molded in, to look like a manufacturer logo. Nice, shiny silver paint covers the front bumper to give it a strong metallic feel.

Head lights, and other little lights are sculpted in, but all painted silver which is a shame. It could really have used a couple of extra paint apps to bring to life. Though I do like the red roof, but with such large areas all being painted, the little details are completely missing, and it stands out there is very little to break it up.

Hasbro have used a very nice, Magnus shade of blue on this figure. Its not paint, it is the colour of the plastic they have molded it in, but it screams Ultra Magnus when you look at it. Sadly, its hard to photograph as it shows up a lot lighter in pictures than it actually is.
A lovely red stripe goes along the side and through a white Autobot symbol...and that's it for your paint apps.

The wing mirrors and smoke stacks? No paint there, which is disappointing.

Magnus comes with a huge cannon, which the instructions tell you to peg into both of the grey peg mounts which fold out from the insides of his legs. The gun has 2 perfectly placed pegs just for this occasion, however the peg holes on the truck are misaligned -so they don't actually do the job they were intended to do

What this means is that you can only peg into one of them at a time. They actually slant outwards slightly as well, so the only way to have it as intended is to rest it on them. Its fine for display, but for play the gun will just tumble off.

A missile, that looks like one of Magnus G1 shoulder rockets is also included, so you can peg it on to the gun, or onto any of the peg holes.

Whilst there is not very much at all to the truck mode, what strikes me most about it is that it is very solid and compact. Everything is firmly held in place, there's not an overwhelming amount of detail, or bits hanging off - it just looks and feels solid.

Its a cool mode, and to me I much prefer it to his on screen design, and Beast Hunters toy of blue Prime.

Robot Mode

Now here is where Ultra really shines. This figure looks great in robot mode, and is very distinctly Ultra Magnus. It is so clean, with no unwanted truck parts dangling off his arms, or legs, everything folds away very nicely.

The transformation is very easy, probably the easiest of the Prime Voyagers, and all locks together neatly. I really like the simplicity of it, as it means kids are not spending ages trying to do it. My favourite bit, is the ingenious way in which his rear wheel sections fold around the upper legs to bulk them out.

The finished robot looks is great!

There are all sort of little quirks and homages here, from the way the shoulders homage Animated Ultra Magnus giant cab shoulders, to the fake chest doors on the chest like Movie Optimus Prime, to the T section on his chest that is a iconic feature of G1 Ultra Magnus.

He even has shoulder missiles at the tops of each shoulder, though sadly they do not point forwards to enable you to give him that iconic look. This is a shame, as the appear to be glued into a peg hole? If they had not glued them, you may have been able to take them off and peg them on the outsides of his shoulders - which would have made for a nice extra little feature.
But as it is, they still look nice and instead point to his original shoulder stacks in a way.

There are random bits of clear plastic all over the robot mode that do not appear to serve any purpose which to be fair is a standard feature of the Transformers Prime toy line. Behind his neck, there are molded Caterpillar tracks (at least that's what I think they are), and his forearms also have dark blue clear plastic on them.

Whilst this robot mode does look great, it could have benefited from a few more paint applications. Mostly on his legs where there is a bit of silver paint, and the feet are grey plastic, but any molded details just disappear into the dark blue plastic. This is also the same for the detail on his upper body, so much of it is just drowned out by the blue plastic.

His head fits very much into the TF Prime aesthetic, but still does a good job of conveying that is a version of Ultra Magnus. That's the key to this figure, so much of it calls back to other iterations of Magnus, that its impossible to think of him as anyone else. A lot of thought and love clearly went into designing him, that it seems so sad that they chucked it out of the window and went back to the classic Hasbro routine of just repainting an Optimus Prime figure into Ultra Magnus (remolds aside).

Blue light piping has been worked into the head....only for the eyes to be painted green. This actually ends up working, as the green eyes stand out nicely from the mass of blue all over the rest of the figure.

He also has a great frown, to show how stuffy he is, and the helmet makes him look like he has a beard - at least to me.

Poseability is all there, with swivels, ball joints, and even ratcheting knees. You can get some very good poses out of Magnus, and the reason I have not gone into more depth is that every bit of articulation you would expect to be there, is there. His backpack does look like it would limit the amount of swivel you get out of the waist, but actually it does not at all, as it moves out of the way.

However, there are flaws. Magnus comes with a huge gun, that he just cannot hold up. His shoulders are so loose, that any weight at all and his arms will just flop down. Sometimes, he does not even have to be holding anything, gravity will just cause them to flop down.

The problem is not something that is unique to mine either, as it appears to be a very common complaint judging by Internet message boards.

Its pretty terrible QC, as whilst its easily fixable for me and other collectors - most kids will probably be stuck with a dodgy toy.

This is especially brought to the fore, as his gun transforms into a giant hammer, but he cannot hold up it due to the weakness of his shoulders.

Fixing this was a simple case of taking the arms off, and applying clear nail polish then leaving it over night. Plugging the arms back on, they are nice and tight, and he can hold his weapons fine, but the point is they should not be like that in the first place.

Also, the plastic feels very cheap, so it does not feel great in your hands.

Going back to the gun, it looks great. The assault rifle section looks massive, and has some really nice sculpted detailing.

Its trick, is that it transforms, into a giant hammer.

Now, all the of the Prime Voyagers come with a transformation gimmick, and whilst most are not very good - this is hands down the best.


Because it is the only one that has a locking mechanism? Take Dreadwing, he comes with a cool looking Gatling gun, only he cannot hold it as such as it folds up into a box. Most of the mech tech weapons are also far too big for their bearers due to having to house batteries for the light up gimmick.

With this one, that is not a problem, as the battery is concealed within the barrel of the gun - so excellent job Hasbro. The actual light, activates when you transform it into hammer mode. Its a very small green light, but it looks nice behind the clear blue plastic of the hammer head.

3rd party accessory wizard, Dr Wu, is making a cool looking rifle for Ultra Magnus, based on one of the ones seen on his ship in the show. I will be purchasing it, as it will fit the figure so much better.

He also has one missile, which mounts on any of the peg holes, but looks a bit daft anywhere other than the forearm in my opinion.

I really like this figure, it is another one that suffers from a range of problems, like cheap feeling plastic, but it just makes for an awesome looking Ultra Magnus.

For my own display, it works better than being that same as the older Optimus Prime Voyager figure, as it provides a variation and gives the character far more character. Having a unique mold works much better for the character, and as a toy.

It makes him his own bot, which is handy as he has always struggled to get out from under Optimus shadow.

Do I recommend him? Yes, very much so, its a fun toy, that looks great in both modes and is extremely poseable. But it comes with the caveat that like pretty much all of the TF Prime line - he is only really worth buying at a discounted price. For £5 I feel like I have nabbed a brilliant bargain, so my opinion of the toy is coloured as such. If I had paid £25 or whatever RRP was - I would have been disappointed and expected much more.Especially with the really weak shoulders which meant he could not hold his huge gun/hammer.

You can find him propping up the discount shelves in most toy shops currently, for a round £15 - which is a good price.

But yeah, there is a lot to love about this figure, and it looks great. Now we just need Hasbro to do a proper Generations Ultra Magnus.

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