Transformer Report: Robots In Disguise 1 Ultra Magnus

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'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.

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Transformer Report: Robots In Disguise (2001) Optimus Fire Prime Convoy

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You could say he’s forward-compatible with Mini-Cons.

As part of last week’s Mini-Con article I broke out Fire Prime, the Optimus Prime version of Car Robot’s Fire Convoy. While “Robots In Disguise” probably fits the new toyline better, it’s confusing to have two toylines and a comic called Robots In Disguise that are so disconnected to each other. To avoid confusion, I’ll refer to the original RID line as RID1, and this take on Optimus Prime as Fire Prime, since this is the US toy and thus not Fire Convoy. It’s why I call this guy Fire Prime in my collection to begin with.

Car Robots was not intended to be a toyline and cartoon outside of Japan. It was a filler line as they waited for Beast Machines to gain enough episodes to properly promote the line. For a time you could only get Fire Convoy at Japanese import stores, and I really wanted to get him, at the height of my Transformer collecting, but the price was way too high, and I had bought Japanese Transformers in the past. I think he went for $80, but you have to factor in not only import prices from Japan but bringing them across the country to Connecticut and that the store needed to make a profit.

And it’s a good think I passed. The next intended Transformers toyline from Hasbro was dropped for whatever reason and Car Robot, redubbed Robots In Disguise, was given a US release to take its place before the next intended US line, which turned out to be Transformers Armada, where the Mini-Cons came from. So let’s take a look at Fire Prime to see if he is worth to be a Prime. Click on the images for a larger view of each mode, because he has quite a few.

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