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Old 24th August 2008, 11:02 PM
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Default Animated Leader Ultra Magnus Review

Well, the third, and so far, final Animated Leader mould is available online and will soon be at retail.
The other two leaders are without a doubt quality toys, but are not without their drawbacks - a simple transformation for Megatron, and a no-thrills Bulkhead. How does Ultra Magnus fare? My review as promised!



Head



As has been the case with the other leaders, Ultra Magnus' head is a very close match to his cartoon counterpart. To my eye, it's only missing a blue paint application on the tips of his antennas. The design as a whole gives a very weathered, battle hardened image - Ultra Magnus is clearly a bit older than the other Autobots, and has seen his fair share of Cybertronian wars. I quite like how the brow is tilted slightly to one side, it seems to help convey this image well. As part of his electronics, the head tilts back (oddly, the mouth stays still!), and the brow tilts to the other side - a nicely done, if subtle effect. Also, as you can see in the photos, his eyes will light up as a green hue, though on mine it appears to be a bit misty inside his right eye; it's noticeably duller. Kyle got his Ultra Magnus at the same time as mine and his had clearer eyes, so your mileage may vary. His eyes are more of a turquoise in the show, which would have been preferable i think, but the green does contrast nicely with the dark and light blue face. On the whole, the head is an impressive homage to G1 Ultra Magnus, and apart from the longer chin, not as offensively "un-robot" in appearance as some other Animated toys. I actually think his proportions are better than the G1 toy's overly large antenna.

Going back to the electronics, pushing the Elite Guard Autobot symbol on his chest will activate 3 voice samples, which appear to be the actual voice actor again. The phrases are: "Don't be a hero Optimus - It's not in your programming", "Ultra Magnus here" and "We must return the All Spark to Cybertron". I guess Ultra Magnus hasn't had too many lines in the tv show (yet), but these lines didn't really jump out at me, although the sound quality is good. Perhaps i don't like him insulting Optimus a bit... or maybe a G1 line might have tickled my fancy? Though, come to think of it, "I can't deal with that right now" might not have suited this new personality!

Robot


Standing as the tallest of the Animated line, Ultra Magnus screams "authority figure". It seems no matter how you pose him, he always looks ready to stomp you into the ground. The colours deviate from the G1 look that the head followed - he's predominantly two tones of blue, without as much red as the original toy. It does appear, but in much smaller quantities; in a vibrant Elite Guard logo on his chest, and also on his thigh pads. I would have liked to see some splashes of white here and there to contrast a bit more with the darker blue, but it's not sorely missed. Some of the moulded detailing is quite nice. In some creases over the smooth surface, there's the same kind of technical looking lines as seen on Leader Bulkhead's forearms.

From the front, he appears well in proportion despite his hulking great shoulder guards. From the side, you can see his shoulders and thus arms actually hang behind the rest of his body. From the front, you really can't notice and as such, this doesn't bother me at all. Instead, i have a bit of an issue with the length of his forearms. They're quite short, despite his arms hanging down to his thighs like you'd expect. The only issue this brings is when posing with his hammer. You can still make a dual-handed hold, but he looks a bit stubby when doing so. His hands are much bigger than Leader Megatrons (about as big as a Masterpiece OP's hands), and hinge at the wrist. They clamp into a fist very sturdily, and can hold the hammer with ease. This is aided by a hole on the inside that fits a clip on the hammer. The clip is towards the top of the hammer, i would have liked another one lower down the hammer as well.



The hammer itself is very nicely done, carrying the same colours and transparent plastics across from the robot mode. It is spring loaded as well - the default position is closed, while pushing up from the handle end will extend the hammer for some serious... hammering! I quite like that he has this weapon rather than a typical hand gun. The transparent blue makes me imagine G1 Ultra Magnus might have once weilded an Energon Hammer alongside Optimus Prime and his Energon Axe! It would have been a very nice extra if the hammer lit up as well, but i guess there's only so much space in there!



The shoulders could count against the toy as kibble, as they can get in the way a bit whilst posing, however they very much appear as part of the design. I'm not sure if they were meant to evoke G1 Ultra Magnus' tower shoulders... in my opinion, the cannons on his back, when pointed upwards achieve this a bit better. The toy is very stable and well balanced, however the posing ability of his feet is hindered a bit by their large size and the fact that his toes are too simple - only clipping in at one point. The joints for knees and thighs are very strong though and don't feel like they will wear out anytime soon. He's lacking waist articulation - i'm not sure how much space the electronics are taking up inside there - perhaps they could have added it, but i don't miss it much regardless. Interesting to note, his groin area and thigh pads are very similar in shape to Leader Megatron's. After i noticed this, i also noticed the chest area is similar as well, right down to angled inwards lines as part of the design! It's one of the things Animated does well - a consistent aesthetic. It's more admirable to me in this case because of the different images the two toys project, despite similar stylings. Shows you how far some coloring and shapes can go! His arms have all the joints you'd expect, although the shoulders can limit things as i said. Also, his hammer when fully extended, requires his arms in certain positions so to not get in the way of his shoulder pads.

The most pleasing aspect of the toy for me is it's weaponry. I've already discussed the hammer, but Ultra Magnus also has a variety of guns around the place, many of them concealed nicely as well for those who prefer a cleaner look. On his shoulder guards, you can flip the front down and bring out 3 barrel guns (i've actually forgotten to extend them more via a tab on top, in my photos). At the very front, the yellow headlights flip out to reveal a machine gun on each side (this is a bit tight, the plastic sometimes bends oddly on mine while pulling them out). Most impressive is the back mounted cannons, which can be posed at various angles behind his head. As part of the electronics, they flash yellow (an odd choice considering the transparent turquoise plastic), together with his eyes as mentioned, and the Elite Guard symbol itself (which flashes red). As well as this, an L-shaped tab lets you extend up and out even more guns! He's definitely one of the most heavily armed transformers I can think of, and as Autobot Commander, the guns seem right at home. The only letdown is, he can only speak while in robot mode - i would have liked a gun firing sound for the shoulder cannons. None of guns actually launch anything either, but to some who easily lose accessories, this might be a plus!

Transformation
Ultra Magnus outdoes both Leaders in terms of transformation ingenuity. Like the other leaders, he holds together very well. His legs/back of truck are truly handled nicely; all four wheels (of decent realistic thickness) manage to collapse into the back of his lower leg! My only gripe is that the shoulder guards are on a comparatively tiny hinge, and coupled with a very tight connection, this makes them hard to maneuver into place. While transforming, moving the shoulders into position activates a classic transformation sound as on the other leaders, which is always nice to hear Overall, the transformation is not overly complex, or difficult - but definitely more involved than Leader Megatron. The legs of Ultra Magnus are more impressive to me than any aspect of Bulkhead's transformation.

Assault Carrier Mode



Continuing the theme of heavy artillery, Ultra Magnus transforms into what the box calls as an Assault Carrier Mode. However, i read somewhere else that he's actually based on a Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT), which probably makes him the most realistically sculpted Animated toy. I know this will please some! The design and colours however, are Animated through and through. Like the robot mode, dark and light blue are predominant, with hints of silver and turquoise. Again, some white at the front (possibly the roof guns) would have looked nice and been a nice throwback to G1 Ultra Magnus. The wheels are black plastic and he rolls nicely with plenty of clearance. The front windows are actually transparent turquoise, painted black - i think this works better than if they were unpainted, however i would have preferred transparent black plastic alone - as it is, you have to hold it up to a light to even realise it's transparent. The front has paint applications for headlights - two sets perhaps - one yellow and the other turquoise. There does seem to be a few missing paint apps however (premium release anyone?). On the front, there are moulded wing mirrors and windshield wipers that could have benefitted, while on the sides there are some doors with grating that would have looked nice as a silver.

The sculpting is quite detailed - in part resembling Leader Bulkhead with quite a number of rivets on the front portion. Towards the middle there's some fuel tanks and raised panels, and behind the wheels you can see moulded shocks? I'm not quite sure but the detail is appreciated. Also in the middle is a little blue & turquoise panel on a pin that hinges back and forth. In terms of transformation, this is the loosest piece and will sometimes move out of position while handling the truck - only a minor quibble.

The back of the truck is probably the most disappointing aspect of the toy. While there are transparent tail lights, the piece they're connected to, rests on an angle rather than flush, where it would have looked better. What's odd is, that piece is a simple knee panel in robot mode, and there's absolutely no reason why it couldn't have been moved a bit to sit flush in vehicle mode. Perhaps it was a design choice then - but an odd one nonetheless. Also odd are the robot mode 'knee claws'. The promo shots have these raised (although you can only do this with the hammer compressed), whereas the instructions have them poking backwards. Either way looks like the designer just forgot about these pieces and then didn't have time to find a nicer solution. Thankfully, this is just the back of the vehicle so it doesn't bother me too much - i'm sure none of us display our toys backwards! The back is also the place for weapon storage. With the back cannons laid back, you almost can't make out the hammer, but when they're armed and pointing forwards, it stands out like a sore thumb. Still, it's better than having a hammer on the table beside the toy i suppose! One note, the instructions suggest you wedge the hammer in from above whilst it's folded. I've found it a lot easier to keep the hammer straight, position it from above and then fold it into the back of the truck.

All of the armaments from robot mode extend out exactly as in robot mode, making for one powerful and imposing truck! A small red button, half way down his left side activates the electronics, only a single sound this time (with the lights as well). The sound is quite nice, a "Weapon Power Up" sound according to the box - there's an 80% chance i would have said something similar if it didn't tell me It sounds like a laser or particle cannon, certain to blast Decepticons in one hit! Oh, the sound will also loop if you hold the button down. I'd hoped it would eventually fire rather than constantly powering up!

Size wise, Ultra Magnus is just a bit longer than Leader Bulkhead, but also not as wide or tall. Overall i'd say they occupy about the same space, which definitely seems odd after seeing their robot modes together! That said, Ultra Magnus' size is definitely not disappointing.

Overall
One of the most solid figures in the Animated line, and the best of the Leader class toys. Not without faults - but they're minor and easily overlooked. I could see someone being disappointed if they were expecting a highly poseable toy, like some of the Animated Deluxes - but to my mind, Ultra Magnus looks so good just standing still, it doesn't really matter. His transformation is handled very well for the most part, and there's quite a lot of play value here as well. I think kids as well as collectors will have plenty to appreciate. I can only hope that if there are going to be more Animated Leader class figures, they continue on from this standard!

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  #2  
Old 24th August 2008, 11:25 PM
Pulse Pulse is offline
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A very thorough review! Thanks Kurdt!

To me, what gives TFA UM major props is that...

A/ He's not a white Prime &

B/ He doesn't s#%@

which equals - An excellent figure!
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Old 25th August 2008, 09:32 AM
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excellent review Kurdt! and nice pics!
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Old 25th August 2008, 10:09 AM
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Ultra Magnus is trully one of the best looking toys in the Animated line and its also better looking than many toys of the previous lines.

He seems to have a good balance between 'traditional' and stylized design aesthetics without the Stylized part overwhelming it like other toys in the line.

It would have been awesome if this sort of balance had been implemented in the whole Animated line.

Last edited by kup; 25th August 2008 at 10:18 AM.
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Old 25th August 2008, 10:11 AM
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Another excellent review! I really like my UM too.
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Old 25th August 2008, 10:53 AM
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i love reading this and hope to get Ultra Magnus soon too!
great stuff...
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Old 25th August 2008, 11:23 AM
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Great review. The toy sounds great. I think my ordering of this toy is going to happen sooner now.
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Old 25th August 2008, 11:35 AM
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i_amtrunks i_amtrunks is offline
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Excellent review, and he sounds like an excellent figure to boot.

I hope you dont start doing these reviews on figures I'm sitting on the fence over, or you'll convince me to buy them!
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Old 25th August 2008, 12:43 PM
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Great review! Can't wait to get my hands on this figure!
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Old 25th August 2008, 06:28 PM
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Another enjoyable and informative read kurdt, the quality and detail of your reviews is always excellent. Keep them rolling.
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