Name: Ultra Magnus
Series: Generation 1
Function: City Commander
Alternate Mode: Car Carrier
Height: 11cm Length: 30cm Width: 10cm
A red, white and blue car carrier, Magnus has a white cab while the single deck of the carrier trailer is red, the columns of the carrier are blue and the roof white and blue. As you'd expect, the trailer is mainly hollow, and the white rear door can fold down to act as a ramp. Magnus has ten black tyres with chrome hubcaps and depending on the version, clear plastic or wide open windows in the cabin. It's a good colour scheme, although on it's own the cabin looks a little bare. It does sport silver stickers, and the fueltanks and exhaust pipes are chromed. Rounding out his stickers are big Autobot symbols on either side of the trailer.
Before I go any further I should mention that Ultra Magnus' cab is identical mouldwise to that of Optimus Prime's - at least in the case of the first version of Ultra Magnus (later versions have plastic versions and no glass). The trailer is actually a Diaclone trailer - the same cab was used for two Diaclone trucks which later became Optimus Prime and Ultra Magnus.
The play value is pretty good for G1, and really good for a Diaclone toy. The ramps fold down, as mentioned, and most of the Diaclone cars can roll in and stow inside his trailer. There's room for two, if you like you can stack two more on the roof although they wont be stable. There are white clips below the back end of the roof, if you unclip them you can fold the roof down and drive Jazz (or whoever) onto his roof.
All ten wheels roll and the hitch swivels. There are two missile launchers at the front of the trailer, which sit over the cabin, sadly they hardly fire - the springs are really weak to conform to 1980s US safety laws. Still, the launchers look good and easily detach if you don't want them there.
All in all this is a good car carrier, the coolest part is that he can actually carry four Autobots. The colours work and he looks good overall. The play value is excellent for a Diaclone vehicle mode, so the non-firing missile launchers aren't enough to really hold this mode back at all.
TRANSFORMATION TO SMALL ROBOT MODE
Detach the trailer and set aside. Swing the rear of the rig down and the fold the feet down, stand Magnus up. Grab the headlights and swing them out to form the forearms, them fold out the rear of the cabin out to form the shoulders. There's a panel at the top, flip it over to reveal the head. Attach the fists into the holes in the headlights. You can actually store the fists in his chest cavity, the Diaclone pilot's cabin can open and the two seats are just the right size for the fists.
SMALL ROBOT MODE
Height: 16cm Width: 9.5cm
A white and silver robot that's pretty much a colourless version of Optimus Prime - see my Prime review for the finer details. Aside from the white, the chromed parts are still chromed, his crest and mouthplate are blue and the eyes red. It's a poseable robot, and unlike Prime, Magnus can actually hold his handgun - in this mode he's effectively holding it upside down.
This mode never featured in the G1 cartoon or Marvel comics, but did appear in the more recent Dreamwave comics - as an endoskeleton underneath his more familiar large robot mode. I agree with the marketing decision to showcase the larger mode during G1, since this robot mode bears such a strong resemblance to Prime's, which was already iconic by the time Ultra Magnus was released.
TRANSFORMATION TO LARGE ROBOT MODE
The smaller robot forms the core of this mode - start with the cabin and fold down it's legs. You'll have to transform the arms so you can get the head out, and then transform the arms back. Split the roof of the and fold the halves down to ether side to form his arms. Retract the roof support clips and rotate the rear section of the trailer through 90° to form his feet. Stand the headless robot up and remove the white hitch from underneath, then attach it to form his waist. Slide the forearms up, so that they're flush with the elbows, which will reveal posts onto which you can attach the hands. Slide the arms up through the shoulders so he has shoulder stacks, detach the missile launchers and attach them onto the sides of his shoulders. Attach the chestplate, clip the cab into the back and fit his head over the small head.
LARGE ROBOT MODE
Height: 25cm Width: 19cm
Again red, white and blue, Magnus's torso and thighs are red while his shoulders, forearms and boots are blue. The fists, elbows, shoulder stacks, shins and waist are white. Ultra Magnus has a blue head with sizeable silver antennae and a face that was silver on earlier versions and unpainted blue on later versions. His eyes are actually holes in the head, which gives them a dark look, the smaller head inside prevents this from being obvious at first glance. The white launchers with red missiles are mounted on the sides of the shoulders. It's a very nice colour scheme - the colour mix and placement is well done, giving Ultra Magnus a very noble sort of look.
Speaking of noble, the boxy look and big shoulder stacks give Magnus a stoic, almost unshakeable, look. The boots are a single piece and are quite solid, helping with the whole immovable look. Curiously, the rear wheels of the truck are under his feet and there's an extra plastic wheel under there also, so far from being unmovable, Magnus is actually on wheels, and you can roll him!
There is a distinct gap between his legs, although behind the shins we see that the heels are a solid piece, so the end result is distinct legs that are actually one piece. The arms are actually longer than they should be, they come down to his ankles - so I strongly recommend bending his elbows. While human arms come down to mid-thigh, most Transformer arms only reach the groin or top of the thighs.
The articulation is actually good for such a boxy toy - they shoulders rotate, the elbows bend and just above the hinges are swivels. The wrists can rotate, the missile launchers on his shoulders can rotate, so while you can't fire the missiles, you can aim them. The solid piece that is his legs doesn't move, but then I'm happy with the arm poseability. He's a statue, but a statue that has about as much articulation as is possible.
Considering this is an amalgamation of both trailer and cabin, it's a good robot mode with a unified colour scheme. I'd have preferred functional missile launchers, and it would be nice if it was to scale with the rest of the movie cast (only Blaster is on the same scale). Considering that the base of the trailer had to be in here somewhere, the play value is pretty good.
The original release had rubber tyres, painted faces, plastic windows and metal legs on the smaller robot. The second release lost the metal legs and the rubber tyres were replaced with plastic. The third version cut costs even more - the plastic in the windows was lost, the faces were left unpainted and of course there was no metal or rubber. I'm glad I have the original version, not the cheapskate second or third versions
The original version was rereleased in 2000 in Japan, followed closely by two limited edition - the first being a transparent yellow trailer and solid yellow cab - no doubt someone was high when they came up with this one. The second limited edition saw him released in his dark blue (red) black, (white) and red (blue) Diaclone "Powered Convoy" colours.
2002 saw him rereleased by Hasbro - based on the original version but this time with truncated smokestacks and the missiles were twice as long, thanks to overzealous US safety laws.
Got all that? No? That's OK, I had to refer to a list, and it's quite possible there are more than the seven versions I've mentioned above.
A central character in G1, Ultra Magnus is the type of toy most G1 fans will want to get, despite the flaws. Considering the age of this mould and what it has to do, Ultra Magnus is a good toy - the car carrier is fun, the larger robot mode is relatively poseable and both modes look good. The smaller robot mode is really just a bonus, and until recently was more or less ignored. I'd recommend avoiding the cheaper 1987 versions and the truncated 2002 reissue - seek out an original 1986 toy or a 2000 reissue - 7/10 for the classier versions, dropping to 6 for the Hasbro reissue and 1987 versions.