Tuesday 7 July 2015

Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus Review

combiner wars leader ultra magnus

Hasbro have continued to whack out toys influenced by IDW with perhaps the strongest example so far - Ultra Magnus. A leader class figure, not only is his design lifted straight from the pages of More Than Meets The Eye ,but it is the first time since Generation 1 that Hasbro have produced an Ultra Magnus toy the way it should be - a car carrier that turns into a giant armoured robot.

Read on to see if Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus can live up to the hopes and dreams of millions of fanbots (like me)

combiner wars minimus ambus

Before we get into the meat of the review with the main course of the Magnus figure, there is something a teensy bit special to talk about.

If you are a fan of the comics, you will know that controversially (see:fanboy whinge-inducing) IDW have made Ultra Magnus more of Halloween costume with a smaller robot lurking within. Not a White Optimus Prime, as is Hasbros usual trick, but a tiny moustached fella by the name of Minimus Ambus - who Hasbro have included in the box.

The current enforcer of the Tyrest Accord transforms into a tiny flying car and  design wise, it is cool but looks like it would make a great Micromaster Rodimus. The vents on the front echo the flame pattern on Rodimus, as does the spoiler on the back.

Has to be on the repaint list at some point? Surely?

This toy is tiny, and not in a legends class way - much smaller. Think of the Headmaster figures and you are on the right lines.

combiner wars minimus ambus

Worry will kick in during transformation, as even though it is simple and tidy, it also has some microscopic joints and the double hinge on the back is really tight. Combined with the small parts, that joint feels like it wants to break and ruin your day.

Ambus is a tiny little guy, the smallest thing ever aside from dust and Nolberto Solano, but he looks great. There is no kibble, so it is extremely clean and Hasbros painters (be they robots or woefully underpaid Humans) have made a real effort to keep all of the paint apps neat and tidy.
My eyes struggle to see them, so they must have laser assisted sight. No idea what that is, but it sounds cool.

Ambus is a great figure, and one I would gladly buy again as different characters. In this mode, the curved torso could easily pass as MTMTE Rodimus and the spoiler winds up in the correct place too. Takara have inexplicably repainted him into Alpha Trion for their release, but I would happily give them money for it.

combiner wars minimus ambus

He is super articulated for such a little guy, with ball jointed hips and shoulders helping to give him a lot of movement. Peg holes are present in his fists, little but maybe they can hold that damn gun that came with Lonewolf

Where is his front facing Autobot badge? Not having one is a touch ironic given his obsession with badge placement in the comics.

Minimus Ambus is a great bonus and I applaud Hasbro for doing so, even if his destiny is to remain stuffed inside the chest of Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus for the rest of his life.

combiner wars ultra magnus alt mode

We would not be here if it was not for the star of the show - Optimus Prime. HA! You thought I was going to say Ultra Magnus didn't you?

This Magnus finally gets to break out on his own and be the toy he was always meant to be - not be a repaint of Optimus Prime. He has all of the hallmarks of the original toy, but jazzed up into something way more beefy.

combiner wars ultra magnus cab

Seriously, Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus truck cab looks angry. Is it scowling?

The detailing is pretty cool with a tiny Autobot badge on enormous grill (just can't escape those Optimus homages) and the large bumper with Yellow headlights.

But I am drawn back to the way the cab windows look like angry eyes. Angry Cat eyes.

Hasbro have opted to make statement about scale, in the most cock-eyed way they could possible have done so. There is a ladder molded onto the side of the cab which implies what the human scale would be and yes it suggests Magnus has more in common with the bridge of a Star Destroyer than a humble car carrier.
Disguise eh?

Anyway, all of that is fine but Hasbro made a point of saying it was intentional to put it into a specific scale - but it it doesn't work?
So what is wrong? Well, that is easy - it would be out of scale with every other toy in the line. If you you pop say Legends Groove next to him, in that scale it would be a comically over sized Motorcycle that could seat dozens of people.
It gets even more ridiculous when you think of it being larger than the likes of Concorde wearing Silverbot.

So why bother with implementing scale to just this one toy? Dunno, my only idea involves Vodka...lots of Vodka.

combiner wars leader class ultra magnus

Masterpiece this is not, but it is all very G1 and you will recognise it instantly. The familiar Red, White and Blue are all placed in the same places- it is a nostalgia grenade.

Even the stabiliser is molded into the exact same place on the base of the trailer.

It is not all sunshine and space rainbows though, as the daft scale is back with molded ladders that...don't appear to serve a purpose. Then there is my biggest bug bear, he is covered in holes.

Arrrrrrgh why you hate me Hasbro?

Yes, cost cutting rears its ugly head with holes peppering the sides of the truck and it looks unsightly. I have railed against it on other figures, but here it is that bit more egregious because they are just there for the sake of it.

combiner wars ultra magnus deluxe car

As a car carrier, Magnus can store vehicles in his trailer and whilst he can squeeze a deluxe in there, Legends class figures are a better size for it. His arms can rotate down, to allow cars to drive up and live on the top deck - if you were wondering.
There are peg holes on the side to store his weapons, but as it looks so ridiculous and would not even bother. In fact, it is a bit of a shame they did not leave so space so you could store them under the hollow underside of the cab. Then they'd have somewhere to store in robot mode too.

This is a great update to a classic alt mode. It is faithful, but updated to just be different and add some extra character. Let's be honest with ourselves, no one is going to display him in this mode (okay, I know someone will just to be awkward) but it is still great and crucially is an excellent toy for those pesky kids Hasbro seems to favour instead of us nerds.

mtmte ultra magnus combiner wars

Shifting from truck to giant robot is a familiar affair if you have ever transformed the G1 toy or the Masterpiece.
It is not the same process as either of them, but you just automatically know where most things are supposed to move and go, by instinct.
In that sense it is a very instinctive transformation, with some interesting tricks such as the front of the cab rotating to slot into place. I love that, it is ingenious and I hope the future of Magnus transformations-no butt flap

Folding the shins into place is a scary procedure, as you have to bend plastic around other parts and it feels like unless you are really careful - that could break.

combiner wars ultra magnus chest

Exploding chest gimmick is the new thing, as Magnus torso splits open to reveal a small cockpit for Minimus Ambus to sit inside. There are tiny little joysticks that his hands can peg into just to hold him even more securely.

He can only store in there in robot mode though, which is a massive shame. It would have been great to have the option to leave him always inside to behave like the comic.
Alas it is not to be,

You kinda need to have him in there for bot mode, as otherwise it leaves a large hole around Magnus head.
But when it is all closed up, with Ambus inside and the head pulled down it makes Ambus shoulders look like little neck gears which is neat.

combiner wars ultra magnus head

The head sculpt is fantastic, it looks awesome. Epithets out the way, it is the perfect Ultra Magnus face, and actually eclipses the Masterpiece toy in my innocently honest opinion.

Curiously the antenna are made of plastic and NOT rubber, are we in some sort of bizarro world Hasbro?

Lots of words could be used to describe how gorgeous this toy looks, but I think I will settle with stunning. Not sure I have used it yet (or further on) in this review, so may as well keep things varied, but it is quite apt for this figure.
There is so much detail pulled from the comics, and the original Magnus design by default.
Only his Autobot badge stands out as being odd, as it looks awkwardly placed. Reason for this is because in MTMTE Magnus does not appear to have a visible Autobot badge and the places it would normally live (the shoulder) have other detailing instead.
Hasbro have been left just trying to find a spot, and oh yeah - it is a movie Autobot badge.

His chest does look like an angry bird face, and now I have pointed it out you will not be able to unsee it.
You're welcome.

It is a truly awesome look bot mode, from the front and the designers have done an outstanding job capturing the comic book design and giving me a three dimensional plastic version to cuddle at night. Because that is what I will do with the duly appointed hugger of the Tyrest accord.

combiner wars ultra magnus feet

Articulation is pretty good on this dude. His arms can swing outwards, with the launchers are mounted on a hinged panel to move out of the way.

Chunky thighs are attached to tight ratchets and on mine this poses a bit of a problem as both ratchets detente (that is the word right?It just makes me think of World War 2 and History class) in different places. What this means is you cannot get the legs to look symmetrical, or him to stand straight up-one of his legs will always been in a different position to the other and it looks weird.

You still get good articulation out of it, which is aided by the feet which are hinged so can move about all over the place....forwards and backwards.
No side to side movement sadly, and yes Hasbro continue to mold their figures with inexplicably slanty feet.

Articulation is really good, and it allows Magnus to pull off some brilliant "doing stuff urgently" poses.

There is no wrist swivel (which we will discuss more in a moment) or waist swivel which is stranger as the waist looks like it was intended to originally rotate.
Could not afford to include it I guess, come on guys - just cut another hole.
Magnus won't mind.

combiner wars ultra magnus back

The Hasbro cost cutting hatchet mostly hits the hardest on the toys back. There are loads of holes, gaps and bits that are designed not to be seen on a shelf. Magnus looks like he is a chronic self harmer there are so many on the inside of the forearm

Perhaps I am being dramatic, but I just really dislike this theme Hasbro have had for years where their toys are only designed to look good from the front, and any other angle suffers.
I am not buying two thirds of a figure, I want it to feel complete and finished. A figure that looks as nice as this deserves to be whole.

The plastic used is quite thick, but can give the illusion of being thin because there are so many hollow parts and you can see through them making it appear worse than it is.

Paint work is unusually clean with no blemishes at all anywhere. The Red paint on the chest is a slightly different shade to the Red of the truck, but it has taken me over a week to notice that.
Literally, I only noticed it as I am typing this right now.

combiner wars ultra magnus gun

Weaponry is not an issue, as Magnus comes heavily armed. He has his iconic rocket launchers which are now each doubled up. They look great - from a distance.

Up close, they are a real disappointment. The sculpt is nice, that is not an issue, but they are hollow Turtle shells.
If you unplug them you notice straight away that they are just a hollow shell. That annoys me as it is another irritating example of cost cutting which makes the toy feel cheap, and knocks an otherwise fantastic looking figure.
At this price point, care should be taken to make sure it looks great in a premium fashion - sadly again Magnus struggles with that.

He also comes with two guns, the first of which is his traditional rifle, but for reasons unknown it is molded in black. Also, the gun handle is a flat piece of plastic which his hands cannot clutch securely.
If the gun is in his hand, and you move the arm, then it will fall out. It needed a peg that could lock it into the hand, as the opening hand just cannot stay shut.

He does come with another gun, but it looks daft and clearly only exists to facilitate this other mode...

combiner wars magnus hammer

...the Magnus hammer. Yes his guns can combine with the rocket launchers to form a giant, brutal looking hammer. The missiles look like blood drenched spikes!
The figures forearm has a cut in it, for the express purpose of allowing Magnus to hold his hammer which is cool, but in combined form it falls flat. Without wrist swivel, it makes it touch getting Magnus to grip it with both hands, and with the bottom half being the rifle which makes no concession at all for a second life as a hammer handle - it just does not work.
If you split them and use it as a smaller mace, then it works much better so it is not all doom and gloom.
But hey, I have no interest in Ultra Magnus having a hammer, so for me it is no problem at all. But if you are a big Animated fan, and want that violent robo Captain America look - I'm sorry pal, you all outta luck.

Leader Ultra Magnus is a brilliant figure. It is the toy we have been crying out for since Generation One. He has (mostly) great articulation, a (mostly) amazing looking sculpt and is really fun to play with. There are some small grumbles, but all of them can be easily ignored because are they are so specific.

At its core this is a great toy, which is again a shining example of Hasbro striking the balance between its chief kids market and the adult collectors. For that I can forgive the holes, and some of the other areas of cost cutting because it is so fun.

Hasbro dealt with it (sorry, had to get a reference to that in here somewhere).

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