Transformers Timelines: "Invasion" Ultra Magnus Toy Review

in 2012, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Botcon, Deluxe, Generation One, Timelines

Timelines

General Information:
Release Date: April 26, 2012
Price Point: $340 (In a boxed set with Metalhawk, Turbo Tracks, Treadshot, Soundwave & Gigatron), $250 for loose sets
Retailer: Botcon Exclusive
Accessories: Sword

Images:

In 2008, the "Shattered Glass" universe was introduced to Transformers fans everywhere. This alternate universe featured evil Autobots fighting against heroic Decepticons. In 2012's "Invasion" story, the feature villain is not the "evil" Optimus Prime as you'd expect. Instead, Prime's "brother" Ultra Magnus is the one with the dastardly plan that must be stopped!

The "Invasion" version of Shattered Glass Ultra Magnus is based on the "Reveal the Shield" Optimus Prime, who in turn was based on the Generation 2 "Laser" Optimus Prime figure. This sculpt was used twice for Botcon 2012, once for this release and once for Optimus Prime. This version included with the boxed set and it includes a new head sculpt. I recommend checking out that review for a detailed look at the figure. This review will focus on the changes made to the toy for this release.

Vehicle Mode:
Ultra Magnus does not have any mold modifications in vehicle mode. He retains the same "long nose" tractor trailer cab mode as his predecessors "Reveal the Shield" Optimus Prime and "Shattered Glass" Optimus Prime. What is different is his deco, which is drawn from a somewhat obscure source in Transformers lore.

Long before the Transformers were sentient robots in disguise, may of the figures were part of a line known as "Diaclone". This line consisted of Transformers being more traditional Japanese mecha controlled by drivers defending the Earth. When the toys were brought over to the United States however, it was decided to make the machines themselves sentient characters, and thus was born "Transformers" as we know it. However, while many Transformers figures were based on Diaclone sculpts, there were many cases where Diaclone color schemes on these figures did not carry over to the "Transformers" toy line. One such instance was Ultra Magnus, who was released as a "Transformers" in his now famous "Red/White/Blue" colors, but in the Diaclone series, he had been colored with a much darker color scheme consisting of a darker blue, silver and red. Years later a version of Ultra Magnus would be released as an "E-Hobby" exclusive.

It was the Diaclone color scheme that was chosen as the base for Ultra Magnus. It's a color scheme that was associated with the character but also brought a darker, more sinister looking edge to him. This time out, the sculpt is done almost entirely in a dark metallic blue, matching up nicely in appearance with the Diaclone Ultra Magnus. The other two plastic colors used are black and clear plastic. The black is found on his wheels and on some of the smaller joints and panels on the back of the vehicle. The clear plastic is used on the windshield area as well as the headlights. While a really nice shade of blue, that alone doesn't make for a "Diaclone" Ultra Magnus. That's where the paint applications come in!

The paint colors used on Magnus are red, silver and yellow, all colors found on Diaclone Ultra Magnus. The red and silver are the most heavily used. The silver is found on the front grille and running along the sides with a horizontal stripe. This is directly inspired by the deco on the cab from the Diaclone Ultra Magnus figure, which had a chrome grille and horizontal lines running down the middle on the sides. His smokestacks are also painted silver, as are the small light details on the top of the vehicle. Another nice touch is the use of silver on the sides of his wheels, another touch used on the Diaclone figure. Red comes into play on the tanks on either side of the vehicle and on tribal tatto style patterns on the top of the front end. He also has a touch of red inside the row of lights running along the top of the vehicle. Yellow is used on the small lights along the front of the vehicle (another detail borrowed from Diaclone Ultra Magnus). These little touches really help remind me how special the Botcon exclusives are, as they often try to take decos to another level with such intricate details.

The final touch on the deco are two Autobot symbols tampographed on the side windows. This is inspired by the placement of Autobot symbols on the original Optimus Prime/Ultra Magnus toy, which had symbols near the smokestacks in vehicle mode. This symbol is not red and white however, but is instead purple with a white outline, representing the "alternate universe" of "Shattered Glass".

Since this figure came from the "Reveal the Shield" toy line, a heat sensitive rub symbol has been added to the top of the figure. Rub it and you'll see an Autobot symbol inside, which is appropriate but a bit twisted too since the original purpose of these symbols was to see if a character was "good" or "evil". Now its meaning has been reversed!

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the panels on the sides of the vehicle up.
  2. Swing the panels at the very back of the vehicle down.
  3. Swing the grey foot pieces down.
  4. Flip the vehicle over to get a better perspective of the robot mode.
  5. Split the legs apart from each other and remove the sword accessory.
  6. Swing the handle at the end of the sword out.
  7. Slide the curved piece on the sword down to form the hilt of the sword and set it aside for now.
  8. Swing the arms out to the sides and split the shoulder armor areas apart (these form the front of the vehicle mode).
  9. Swing each arm down to create a clearance in the center.
  10. From inside the cabin section, push the robot head out, flip it out, then swing the panel back into place.
  11. Swing the two window panels on the sides in.
  12. Swing the chest piece with the head attached to it down to form the robot chest.
  13. Swing the curved panels from the sides of the vehicle up, then connect them together on the back.
  14. On each leg, swing the panels that are in the center to the sides.
  15. On each leg, swing the wheels up and into the gaps on his legs.
  16. Slide the sword into one of the hands.

Robot Mode:
Aside from Ultra Magnus' deco, the biggest change to this figure is the head sculpt. At first glance from a distance, the head sculpt my look the same as Optimus Prime's, but in fact it is a very different take on the character. Originally, Fun Publications and I were thinking of having this be a more "G1" Ultra Magnus head sculpt, complete with a broken antennae on one side with a more "mean" look overall. However, in the end a twisted version of Optimus Prime's head was used instead. The sides are more organic looking and the parts of the helmet that cover his face are sharper, more creepy looking. It looks almost like a bat folded itself onto his head. The face is the big selling point however. Instead of a regular face or even Optimus Prime's "mouthplate and eyes" design, this is a skeletal face, looking more like it would fit in with the live action movie universe. The face represents Magnus after his mouthplate was torn off by his "brother" Shattered Glass Optimus Prime, and keeping the terrifying visage is perfectly appropriate to the damaged and insane character. It's a really nice head sculpt that takes a basic character design and twists it a bit, something that "Shattered Glass" was intended to do since the beginning!

As with the vehicle mode, the deco on this figure is based heavily on Diaclone Ultra Magnus. All the same colors from the vehicle mode appear in this mode, but in terms of plastic we now get to see more blac plastic on the shoulders, legs and feet. The sword accessory is revealed to have a blue handle and clear plastic blade. Red paint is used more extensively as well. What's awesome about the paint decos on this figure is the way they are arranged. Several paint applications are designed to pay homage to equivalent designs on Diaclone Ultra Magnus. These include:

  • The helmet section of the head is painted red, just like the helmet section of Diaclone Magnus.
  • The arms are mostly an alternating set of colors between black and red (except for the upper arm).
  • His chest is painted with silver and blue paint roughly aligning the blue to look like a triangular shape. This roughly matches the triangular chest plate that Ultra Magnus uses in his robot mode.
  • On each knee is a distinctive paint design with silver in the background and two triangles pointed at each other. This is inspired from a sticker used on Diaclone Ultra Magnus' legs.
  • Similar to the design above, the lower legs are painted with a red area outlined by silver. This too is inspired by a sticker on Diaclone Magnus' legs.

The care that went into creating so many deco points that match up with the original Diaclone Magnus are really a joy to see. Also, there is a bit of detail unique to this figure such as silver on his thighs and silver bieng used to paint the Matrix inside his chest.

All of Ultra Magnus' joints are nice and tight. You do need a be a bit careful with placing the sword in his hands. I noticed when the temperature was a bit colder, the weapon was not sliding into his hands as readily as it did once temperatures hit the 70's in my area. If you force it, you could potentially crack the hand or stress the plastic. Plastic contracts and expands, even if you can't see it, so keep that in mind.

Final Thoughts:
Ultra Magnus is a fantastic looking exclusive. The figure pays homage to something that came before while putting a new (and evil) spin on it. It's not going to be cheap if you want him (probably four to five times the retail price of the "Reveal the Shield" Optimus Prime figure) but if you're a hardcore collector, it's worth it! I'm only "subtracting" a few points for the potential issues with getting the weapon in his hands.