Energon Toy Reviews: Ultra Magnus

in 2003, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Combiner / Gestalt, Energon, Superlink


General Information:
Release Year: December 2003
Retailer: General Release (Toys 'R' Us, Kay Bee, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $24.99 (Depending on Retailer)
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Accessories: Missiles x 2, Knockout cab/Mini-Con figure, Space Team (Payload, Sky Blast & Astroscope)


Wave one of Energon brought us new molds, but it also brought a mini-wave of redecos from Armada. Treadbolt and Rapid Run were among these limited, wave-one-only Energon figures. The most elusive of these is a redeco of Armada Overload now called (appropriately enough) Ultra Magnus. I say "appropriately" because back before fans knew who Overload was, pictures leaked onto the 'net of the Overload prototype, sans color. The appearance of the toy was very "Ultra Magnus" like, with a cab in front, a trailer, the big extensions on each shoulder etc. Some fans went so far as to take the prototype picture and digitally color it with Ultra Magnus colors (red, white and blue). Now fans can have the Overload mold as Ultra Magnus.

That's not all you'll get with this package however. Included with Ultra Magnus is a redeco of the Armada Space Team. However, if you look on the back of the box, it says that the team that was originally meant to be included with Magnus was the Street Speed Team, see the scan of that portion here. Interestingly enough, thought he Team would have retained its team name, all three member names were going to be changed. Backtrack was going to be called Override, Oval was going to be called Brakedown and Spiral's new name was Clocker.

This review will cover the changes made to these toys for this release, for a more detailed review (and how to connect him to Armada Optimus Prime) check out Overload's review. For reviews the Space Team, check out their Armada Review.

Space Team

The Space Team is not identified anywhere on the packaging for Ultra Magnus. Even the small blurbs on the side flaps of the box list the Street Speed Team. However, the instructions for the Space Team are included with the toy, listing the same names for the team as before.

Astroscope's new deco is primarily subdued colors. The main part of the space station (which become his robot arms) are gray. The robot waist, upper legs and missile are a lighter shade of gray. The solar panel sections are blue with the panels in the center painted gold. This blue appears more in the robot mode where it makes up the legs and head. In both the robot and space station modes, there are splashes of color added in by bright orange. This contrast works very well as it looks like the glow of energy emitting from the Mini-Con. In robot mode, the chest and upper back both have a really nice metallic blue paint on them. Though subtle, this really looks nice in certain lighting. Overall, Astroscope's new colors are a really nice contrast from the original.

Payload's new color scheme is based off the same colors as Astroscope. He is primarily gray, with lighter shades of gray used for the Requiem Blaster handle and upper legs in robot mode. The vehicle mode windshield and rear bumper are painted black, which is nice as it adds a touch of detail to the robot mode chest. The robot head is blue with an orange face and yellow eyes. The yellow eyes in particular surprised me since it's such a small detail that could have easily been left out. The top of the vehicle mode's front section as well as the sides towards the back have the same orange painted on that Astroscope has. These orange sections are also highly visible in robot mode, making the robot mode look a lot nicer than it would have if they had left out the orange paint. The contrast of colors just works really well.

Sky Blast:
Apparantly not one to go with the crowd, Sky Blast's color scheme is quite different than his fellow Space Team members. Sky Blast's primary color is black. While his other colors match those on the other two members of the team, the black is quite striking and makes up most of his parts. Another really nice detail in vehicle mode can be found on the underside of the nosecone. The underside is painted silver with bright yellow and orange streaks, looking like the underside is burning on re-entry into a planet's atmosphere. Also in this form, all four fin sections at the back of the vehicle have dark blue designs painted on.

In robot mode, Sky Blast reveals more of the colors he shares with his teammates. His left shoulder, waist and upper legs are all gray. The left arm and robot head are the same blue that makes up Payload's robot head. Like Payload, Sky Blast's face is painted orange with yellow eyes. The small "computer panel" with the sculpted mechanical details at his mid section is painted gold, a nice touch that could have easily been missed. Overall, Sky Blast's new deco pattern is my favorite out of the three.

Requiem Blaster:
The Requiem Blaster is a much darker looking weapon here. In contrast to the original, I think the name suits this version better. The original team was much brighter in color. Even Payload, who was primarily black in vehicle mode had a light blue and red which brightened him up a lot. Here, the colors are muted and dark, making the Blaster look much more like a weapon than three vehicles thrown together.

Overall, this Space Team redeco is a very nicely done one. It's almost a shame it's so limited because it would have been nice to have on its own.

Ultra Magnus

Vehicle Mode:
One of the goals of the Energon line seems to be to pay homage to classic Transformers characters in design and concept. While technically this figure was an Armada figure, the new deco is clearly a homage to the Generation One Ultra Magnus in more than just his name. It is also interesting to note that this toy was already called Ultra Magnus for its release in Japan for Micron Legend.

To distinguish this character from Overload beyond the "Ultra Magnus" name, the Mini-Con vehicle has been renamed Knock Out (from Rollout). This little guy (okay, not so little for a Mini-Con)is black, white and gray in vehicle mode. The main body of the toy is white, with black filling out details such as the windows and wheels. It would have been nice to see a bit more variety in color, but I think what the designers were going for was a solid white to sharply contrast with the blue trailer, and in that respect, it works very well. Knock Out still has his Mini-Con peg (which also connects him to the trailer) and it works just fine.

The trailer has a really impressive paint job. The base plastic is blue, but black and silver are combined to add scorch mark details, making this look like a battle hardened vehicle. The black wash also helps to accentuate some of the detail work such as the small, dual barrelled cannons sculpted into the side of the vehicle.

While it is missing a lot of red (which the classic Ultra Magnus did have), it is not that far of a stretch to imagine this as some alternate Universe Ultra Magnus (which it is) or a representation of Ultra Magnus' form before he took on an Earth based vehicle form.

Robot Mode:
As mentioned above, fans were speculating that Overload was Armada Ultra Magnus long before we had colors or an identity for the toy. Now fans get their wish. The robot mode for Ultra Magnus totally gives off an Ultra Magnus vibe. There are some red details in this form on the shoulders, chest and knees which balance out Magnus' classic "red, white and blue" color scheme. Toss in black and gray and you have one cool looking Transformer. The dark blue and black colors contrast sharply with the white, red and light gray, making for a subtle, yet attractive combination of colors. For those curious, the "missiles" inside Magnus' shoulders are painted gold (though making them red like G1 Magnus' shoulder missiles would have been neat). The Autobot symbols on the shoulders are painted red, but not in the blotchy style that Armada used, but rather each segment of the symbol is painted individually, allowing the background white to break it up - the result looks really nice.

Energon Ultra Magnus retains the same sound effect as Overload, the classic Generation One transformation sound. While this could be due to battery life, the sound seems a lot louder and sharper on Ultra Magnus than Overload. Your results will probably vary, but it's nice to see the sound kept intact.

Some people have questioned the decision to include the Space Team instead of the Street Speed Team with Magnus. The biggest complaint seems to be that while it's nice Magnus has a Requiem Blaster to use, he can't hold it in his hand, making it useless. While it is true the Blaster can't fit in his hand, you can twist around Payload at the end of the Blaster and attach his Powerlinx connector to the pegs on Magnus' lower arms. While not perfect, this still allows you to get the Mini-Cons to interact with the larger
figure in Requiem Blaster form.

Weapon Mode:
Interestingly enough, Hasbro chose not to leave out Magnus' weapon mode. Indeed, the instructions show that you can attach it to Armada Optimus Prime. This was a wise thing to do since the current trend of "weapon standardizations" allows interaction between Energon and Armada toy accessories as well as Mini-Cons.

As you can see from the pictures above, Optimus Prime has no problem combining with this version. There are no odd mold degradation anomalies preventing the combination. What's great about the color scheme is that in many ways, it fits with the Final Battle Optimus Prime better than Overload does. Prime and Powerlinx Jetfire both have a lot of blue gray coloring on them, so the blue and gray colors on Magnus fit along with that mixture.

Ultra Magnus was an extremely low run toy, only being released in the initial wave one assortments of Energon. So as a collectible, he's pretty highly sought after for a brand "new" toy. As a toy itself, it's a pretty neat package. The addition of the Space Team (or any team for that matter) makes a big difference since this is at a higher price point than Overload was. I recommend this to completists or hardcore collectors. If you already have the Space Team and Overload, then this may not be worth your while if you're pinching pennies.