'Car Carrier' Truck Mode

‘Car Carrier’ Truck Mode of the original Ultra Magnus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I did the last Transformer report to do this one.

Let me clear up one thing right now before some angry Transformers/anime fan comes barging through the comments. NO, Robots In Disguise (1) Ultra Magnus did not get his name changed from his Car Robots non de plume, God Magnus, because they didn’t want to “upset Christians”. Please stop blaming us for changes in symbols and naming styles we were never even asked about or even care about. It was changed because a) the culture in the US and other Western countries, where the concept of a “god” in fiction is more powerful than it is in Japan (“people do what I say and I shoot a fancy laser beam, so I must be a god”–I think Goku is the first one who came close to the Western “god” concept in any anime I’ve ever watched), is different and calling a character “god” wouldn’t fly as well in a Western market and b) Hasbro wanted to keep “Ultra Magnus”, one of their famous G1 character names, under their copyright while reaching out to collectors who don’t follow what’s going on in Japan, or didn’t at the time. Why do you think Fire Convoy was renamed Optimus Prime for the first Robots In Disguise? They thought truckers didn’t want to think about their rigs being on fire?

That rant out of the way, Ultra God Magnus’s big toy-related gimmick is that he’s a replacement for Fire Optimus Convoy Prime’s usual armor. In the show he’s the jealous brother who thinks he should have been given the Matrix because he’s that awesome and is a huge jerk for most of his appearances. You know why you’re not Prime, Maggie? BECAUSE YOU ACT MORE LIKE A DECEPTICON! Anyway, back to his gimmick, because a good gimmick can help or hurt a toy, at least as a display piece if not as a play toy. Ultra Magnus works as a play toy. As a display piece, however, he has some huge problems and one of them even messes with his play status.

Imagine this coming through the drive-thru.

First to his vehicle mode. As a vehicle, God Magnus was an update of the original Ultra Magnus car carrier. And this is probably his best mode. He even carries Ultra the 1st’s color scheme of white and blue, my favorite combination if readers of BW Media Spotlight, my other site, hadn’t noticed. The golden Autobot symbol on his grill was part of the original toy, but Hasbro still included the tampographed Autobot symbol on the sides. Not shown here is that the grill, as part of his transformation and not an intended gimmick, can serve as a battering ram when positioned correctly or to protect his windshields when ramming into Predacons or Decepticons.

It’s like Uber for Autobots.

In addition Ultra God can carry his fellow Autobots into battle (if he wasn’t trying to use them to get to Optimus) or back to base for repairs (probably damages he caused in the first place). It’s a nice feature. The top ramp can come down like on a real car carrier and his back also opens into a ramp to get cars into the one lower spot or the two top spots. It’s a great play feature. I think the only problem I have with the vehicle is sometimes the cab won’t lock in place and you have to work the armor mode head back into place.

Because THAT’S what Ultra Magnus was missing: more firepower.

And he’s even forward-compatible with Mini-Cons, without the restrictions that his brother has. This can give him a little extra firepower going into battle. Up top, however, is his own firepower, a transformable cannon/machine gun combo he calls Blue Bolts. It also has a missile launcher on top and I know where the second missile is. I just didn’t feel like digging it out. Ultra Magnus’s vehicle mode is really very cool. And then you get to the robot mode and that’s where all the problems start.

I’d show you the articulation…if it wouldn’t fall over in any other position.

Robot mode is a mixed bag. Parts of him look pretty good, but you have easily spotted gaps in his chest, and there’s little paint on his arms. I’m kind of lucky right now that he’s standing because due to having very little back to his legs the sides of the car carrier are holding up the weight and thanks to his audio gimmick the top half of Magnus is very heavy. And it can’t be helped because of how Magnus forms the armor mode for Optimus. The legs are a partsformed while the upper half is a puzzle to get everything into place. Because of this he has no lower articulation worth mentioning. That’s too bad because his head, shoulders, arms, hands, and wrist work very well.

I lost a missile getting this. It wasn’t worth it!

And the Mini-Con compatibility continues. Two hardpoints on his right arm, one on his left, and the ones from his vehicle mode are now on his legs. However, it’s his own weaponry that’s the big problem. There are some hardpoints there but they’re not very accessible and look silly with a Mini-Con hanging from them. If this were my only complaint I wouldn’t care. It’s not like he was designed with Mini-Cons in mind after all. It’s the way Magnus holds Blue Bolts in robot mode that’s the problem.

He can also do this thing where the gun connects to both shoulders and he can use the launcher. Methinks he’s overcompensating.

The smart way would be holding it his hands, but some designer at Takara wanted to be clever. He failed. There are two pegs accessible in either “gun” configuration of Blue Bolts, one that uses the cannon and the other the machine gun. I don’t think it matters which side you hold which weapon, but each peg does change the “shooting” effect that’s part of Magnus’ sound gimmick. However, you can really have Magnus look like he’s holding the gun because there’s no position that you can even fake it. And if memory serves the gun doesn’t always stay put for long. I know you really like your sound gimmick pal but if it hurts the play features you shouldn’t do it.

I don’t like using others images for things I have and I think he missed a step but…just read on.

Here you see an image from TFU.Info…because after a half stinking hour of trying to get this stupid thing together I gave up! Pieces do not want to go together unless every single little part is not even a hair off. Things weren’t connecting for me and it’s not just how long it’s been since I’ve done this. It was fighting me the whole stupid time and I lost interest in even trying. The end result, if you can get it there, looks okay, but not worth the hassle getting it there! Prime’s head is a dominating feature as he usually takes over the combined form, which the next three Takara-designed Primes would also have an armor buddy to varying degrees of success. One of the problems is that Ultra’s top is so heavy (that useless sound gimmick again) that it’s a pain to even get him to stand and if things aren’t connecting right (and they weren’t) he just leans backward. This was marketed to kids, right? Does Takara hate kids or are the Japanese kids so amazing they can outdo Macgyver? Well this is one 43 year old American adult who has more important things to do with their life.

Decision: Goes

We knew one of these Transformers would be on the chopping block eventually and here’s the first one. There are some cool things about this figure but it’s buried under things that just frustrate the hell out of me to the point that I don’t need it. Optimus’ armor is just fine for me and I don’t need this thing making my life difficult. As soon as I get the chance to come up with a decent price I’ll add it to the Clutter For Sale page and decide where to go with it next. Maybe eBay. At any rate, one good mode doesn’t make up for one not-so-good mode and one mode that would be good if I could get the stupid thing combined!