I was sitting down here plotting out my “Top Five Figures of 2014” post for the site the other day when some news came in. I got an email on Christmas day that my Masterpiece Ultra Magnus had shipped! Now I had a conundrum on my hands. I was under the impression I wasn’t going to attempt any more reviews this year. But now that Ultra Magnus came in yesterday I feel like I need to do at least one more before I bang out that “Top Five” list. Now is it fair to include a figure I just got a day ago in the running for a top spot for the entire year? Honestly, I think that is something I will have to struggle with a bit before I publish it. I always end up liking something a lot more right after having experienced it. On more than one occasion I’ve considered declaring some movie the “best ever” shortly after getting out of the theater: Star Wars Episode 1, Transformers 4, Congo, and the X-Files Movie. I still stand by Congo, but the rest I eventually came back down to earth on.
The problem with action figure collecting is that it’s a very “what have you done for me lately” hobby. Everything is amazing when you get it. Part of the addiction is looking forward to and eventually obtaining new stuff. The old stuff goes on display, then one day gets packed up, and then a little further down the road it gets sold or given away because you realize there is no point in having something packed away in a storage box indefinitely. It’s the vicious cycle of collecting. However, when you first get that thing you’ve been waiting months for it’s true euphoria. Especially if it meets or exceeds your expectations.
The Takara TOMY (and sometimes Hasbro) Masterpiece line is one I plan to stick with and enjoy for the long run. I’ll get caught up in new release hype and grab a few Generations or movie figures; especially if I see them in person. But I find that a lot of them find their way out of my collection within a fairly short period of time. In a way it works out because my son usually takes them. However, if I had been sans five year old to adopt these impulse purchases they would likely end up in a Wahlberg Bin.
We’ve technically had an Ultra Magnus in the MP line prior to this, however he was just a Convoy repaint at the pre-MP-10 scale. MP-22 Ultra Magnus is a legit attempt at capturing the G1 cartoon image of the character. He’s big, he’s chunky, and he was one of the more fun transformations I have seen in a while. It’s not quite as satisfying as Bumblebee, but for being such a large figure it’s pretty damn cool. In vehicle mode the white cab looks exactly like Optimus, but this is where the similarities end. Unlike the vintage figure you never have to detach the cab from the trailer to transform him either way. However they do give you the option to disconnect the cab from the trailer, so he can roll with Optimus and not carry all that baggage.
Ultra Magnus comes in a large box very close to the same size used for Soundwave and Soundblaster. While the other two had a good amount of space in their respective boxes, Ultra Magnus pretty much fills the entire thing. He’s also a heavy robot which means since he’s currently an import that shipping costs can be a concern. The figure cost me roughly $120, however EMS shipping came to about $35 so the total damage was $155 shipped (which really isn’t all that bad). I probably could have saved a few dollars using the SAL option, but I’d be waiting a few weeks and I prefer to have tracking on expensive purchases. Magnus is packed with a few fun accessories: a super blaster gun, screaming face, two alternate matrix-holding hands, Daniel, and Spike.
His fingers are too fat to get a convincing grip of the Matrix, so Takara included an alternate set of hands with strategically placed groves to make it look like he’s holding it. It should also be noted that he doesn’t actually come with a Matrix. I’m going assume most people who would spring for a MP Ultra Magnus most likely have a MP-10 Optimus Prime as well. I only have a gold “Year of the Horse” Prime because I’m a filthy casual. The hands are a nice gimmick, but they really only work well for one specific pose:
With this release Takara continues the proud tradition of not painting Daniel or Spike’s face. Humans are not a priority in this Transformers world, and I’m fine with that. Daniel and Spike do, however, have the ability to sit in his cab and look like that are driving or being transported. The clear plastic windows give a nice view of the duo when Magnus is in his alt-mode.
I mentioned previously that the transformation is fun, and I wasn’t kidding because it’s a blast. But it doesn’t come without its concerns. The biggest concern I have over the long run is his shoulders because they are placed on some very thin joints. Short term he looks to be fine after three to four transformations. However, I could see how they could degrade over time since all of his arm poses require you to carefully manipulate the shoulder-plate position. Of course this could just be another Soundwave’s hip scare and end up not being a big deal at all. To this day I have not seen a single person with a broken Soundwave hip … and those things looked scary as hell to mess with.
Ultra Magnus is a chunky robot, and damn I love a good fat Transformer. I know he’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think Takara succeeded in making a great modern version of the G1 cartoon character. He fits in beautifully with the rest of the post MP-10 collection. Actually I’ve even seen some pictures of him with Masterpiece Rodimus and I thought they looked great together too (I was half tempted to search out a Rodimus but I talked myself down). Right now the only option is to import him or pay domestic markup from your favorite state-side online retailer. Will he ever make it to Toys “R” Us? I’ve given up trying to guess. I’d rather just preorder my robots and let them arrive at release. This way I don’t need to stress over if I will ever get one.
Oh, and surprise face!
Ultra Magnus definitely gets my seal of approval though. There have been a few great MP releases this year, and I think the case could be made that Ultra Magnus and Bumblebee are some of the best Masterpiece Transformers ever made.