Transformers Universe Magna Stampede & Stockade Review

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Beast Machines, Transformers Universe

Transformers Universe

General Information:
Price Point/Size: Ultra
Retailers: General (K-Mart, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart, Kay Bee)
Release Date: August 2004
Transformation Difficulty Level: 2 (Intermediate)
Accessories: Axe (Magna Stampede), Missile (Stockade)

Transformers four-packs have not been a common sight since the days of the Micromasters. Transformers Universe brings this back with a rather motley crew of
Autobots. In one pack you get Magna Stampede (a redeco of Battle Unicorn), Stockade (a redeco of the Tank Drone), Prowl (a redeco of Armada Prowl) and Terradive (a redeco of Armada Terradive). It is recommended you take a look at the reviews for the previous versions of these toys. Except for Stockade, this review will focus on the changes made to these toys since most have been reviewed fairly recently. Reviews will be listed in alphabetical order.

Magna Stampede

Once upon a time this was one of the hardest to find Beast Machines toys out there due to a low production run. However, online retailer Bigbadtoystore took up the task of putting this figure out in a special arrangement with Hasbro. Now, some did trickle out into regular stores, but sightings of him on pegs were rare. For th ose who do not do online shopping, you now have another chance to obtain this sculpt in the form of Magna Stampede.

Beast Mode:
Magna Stampede's beast mode is already impressive looking in design. Though he's a unicorn, this is not some cutesy critter. With the blade of an axe as a mane, a chain weapon for a tail and spikes on his legs, this is obviously one combat oriented fantasy creature!

While his original release featured a very dark color scheme, Magna Stampede gets a very light one. His primary color is a pearly white color that gives the toy a bit of a metallic look. The other primary colors are metallic flake gold and brown. Metallic blue-grey an black are used for detailing. While Battle Unicorn was more of a solid colored horse, here Magna Stampede seems to be of the zebra variety. Black stripes run down the back of the beast starting from the head down to the mid section.

The front two legs and the lower rear legs are metallic flake gold, but it seems like the level of metallic flake is a bit lower than other toys from the past, hopefully preventing any occurence of Gold Plastic Syndrome, where gold plastic easily becomes brittle and breaks apart. The Hasbro designers are aware of that flaw in gold plastic, so it is my hope in five years or so this guy won't suddenly fracture. While the legs have gold plastic pieces, gold paint is used on other portions of the beast mode, including the horn, mane and the rear legs. The most impressive coloring here is the mane. While its base is gold, black paint is used in a very rough spray op pattern that gives the weapon a beautifully worn look, like it has seen many, many battles. An excellent touch.

Magna Stampede's "Spark activated" action works just fine in this form. Push the tab on the left side with the Spark Crystal and the head moves down as if he is about to charge. The Spark Crystal itself is red with a tampographed Autobot symbol on top of it.

Robot Mode:
There aren't any surprises in robot mode. Magna Stampede is still mostly pearl white and gold. However, there is liberal use of the metallic blue-grey color on the head and arms. Plus, most of the weapon is that color except for the ends. The deco on the head is the nicest part of the robot mode (aside from the axe portion of the weapon discussed above). The fin on his head (it's really more a fin shape than a horn...) is metallic blue-gray, the helmet section is red and the eyes are light blue (nice touch) while the entire piece itself is gold plastic. Just as with the beast mode, Magna Stampede is very different visually from his predecessor, which works to the toys' advantage.

Prowl

Prowl's new color scheme is a really nice one. Consisting mostly of light grey and maroon, Prowl also has light yellow and orange paint details. Metallic flake black is used on the windows. I really like this color scheme's unconventional look. Few Transformers have used these colors in concert, and it's actually cool to see a color scheme that is not a homage of any sort. The orange line details in the vehicle mode look great, and the use of the light yellow on the headlights was a good idea as it makes them look like they're glowing.

In robot mode, the only extra coloring introduced is gold and red, used on the robot head and eyes respectively. The gold looks very nice as it is a rather bright, metallic shade. The red eyes are nice to see since they could have easily skipped that detail.

Prowl's color scheme is clearly meant to "partner" him with Stockade, who also uses maroon, orange and grey in his color scheme. This color continuity is nice to see, giving some uniformity to the set.

Stockade

Stockade is obviously the heavy hitter of the team. With his relative bulk and firepower, he is an interesting counterpoint to Magna Stampede's more swift and "martial arts" based figure.

Vehicle Mode:
In vehicle mode, Stockade is a Cybertronian tank. Like the other Vehicon sculpts, he is one of the few examples of Transformers that we know were definitively designed in and for use on Cybertron. Of course, this time he is an Autobot, not a Vehicon. Still, the sculpt is so distinctly associated with the character of Tankor that it looks like someone stole Tankor's body, stuck a new Spark in it and gave it a new deco rather than being the original design of an Autobot. Then again, Universe is about infinite universes and infinite possibilities.

When this toy was released as the Tank Drone, its primary strength in design was its show accuracy, which was several levels above that of the actual Tankor toy. However, taken as an original sculpt, it is still an interesting design. The design edict for Beast Machines Vehicons insisted upon having a personality element to the vehicle modes. The vehicle modes were not so much disguises as they were alternate expressions of the character's personality in physical form. Tankor (and the Tank Drones) were brutal enforcers, built for hardcore combat. Every
element of this design reflects that, but also points to an intent to create a fluid design.

From the front to the back, the tank mode essentially flows upward. The front portion is low, consisting of two treads and armor over them. This leads to the back which has armor plates sloping upwards, with hints of treads under them. Instead of a traditional turret, you have the robot head, which is a robotic, stylized skull. The tank's cannon is off to the right side, and the cannon is actually longer in length than the entire tank itself, giving it a powerful appearance.

While relatively bulky, the tank has quite a bit of sculpted detail. The front has small raised details that look like panels, the middle has tech detail in the middle and under the head. The cannon has everything from tubes to holes giving it a distinct appearance.

Stockade has an interesting missile firing feature in this form. Press down on the back of the cannon and the gear on the cannon connects to the gear on the main body of the tank. Push the tank along and the cannon rotates a bit before firing the missile. This is a carryover from a visual element from the Beast Machines television show, where a Tank Drone's cannon would rotate a bit as it powered up before firing.

The colors used here are very different from the Tank Drone the toy is based on. The primary colors are orange, maroon, grey and gold. Black is used for paint detail and gold is used in both plastic parts and as painted detail, most notably the end of the cannon. Orange is used for quite a few parts, including the missile, which is a bit unfortunate. If you look at the missile's design, it is actually molded to look like a burst of energy. Originally, the missile was translucent red with gold details when released with the Tank Drone. Making it a solid colorlike this detracts a bit from it, but it doesn't kill the overall appearance of the toy. For those curious, there is still a Spark Crystal in the cannon, a Vehicon one as a matter of fact. But it has an Autobot symbol tampographed over it.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Swing the grey and maroon sections in the front forward.
  2. Rotate the front portion around.
  3. Move the rear orange panels down to the sides.
  4. Swing the robot arms down.
  5. Flip out the claws.
  6. Swing the robot head/cannon section back.
  7. Swing the orange waist piece up, move the legs forward.
  8. Angle the front treads forward and flip the maroon armor pieces back to stand the figure.

Robot Mode:
As imposing as Stockade's tank mode may be, his robot mode ups the ante by a long shot. For a basic sized figure, this is about as strong and imposing as it gets. What makes this toy look impressive is its top heavy appearance. I stress appearance since weight wise, the toy is not top heavy at all. Starting at the very top, the cannon is now a shoulder mounted emplacement. You can swivel it up or have it point forward. Turning the gear in the back launches the missile. Then you get to the head, an imposing looking skull of a robot head. The narrow eye strip adds to its fierce appearance. The chest and arms are what really do the trick. The chest is boxy, but choc full of details such as guns on the right side and missile ports on the left. The arms are huge and actually quite long, reaching down to where his ankles would be. The orange armor pieces add to the appearance of bulk. Then you get to the "tread legs" and they just scream "walking tank".

Virtually every part of the robot mode is visible in tank mode, so there are no real surprises here. A bit more grey is revealed on the arms and lower body, but overall the color scheme works well. It is dark and looks somewhat militaristic in a Cybertronian sort of way. The black patterns on his shoulder/arm armor give it an appropriately alien appearance.

Stockade has twelve points of articulation, not surprising for a Beast era toy. This includes the odd "chicken leg" articulation of the legs, but I personally find that they make the toy rather distinct looking. Love it or hate it, the Tank Drone (and now Stockade) design is a very unique design in Transformers history.

Terradive

Terradive's new color scheme is extremely simple, yet effective. In vehicle mode, he primarily uses plain white. But the white basically just serves as a canvas for other colors to be used in reserved amounts. The biggest splash of color is the middle cockpit section, which is painted gold (a color that recurs through each figure in this set). Some metallic blue-grey is used on the fins on the side and the tip of the nosecone. At the rear, bright orange is used on the thrusters, giving them a glowing look. It's a simple color scheme that looks nice, and the fact that it is so different from previous color schemes makes it even nicer.

In robot mode, we see more of the same colors used, with the addition of black. Gold is used on the shoulders, while a small orange bit is on the upper body and eyes. Black comes into play on the robot head, waist and upper legs. Frankly, the black looks striking against so much white on the toy, and having his eyes be neon orange gives them excellent contrast against his black face. I'm actually surprised how much I like this color scheme considering how simple it is, but it's simply pleasing to my eye, and with most Universe toys, that's the key.

Terradive is colored to maintain some level of consistancy with Magna Stampede, who also uses white and gold as primary colors. This is cool since you can
imagine each Mini-Con pairing up with one of the regular sized Transformers in this set.

Final Thoughts:
I think Hasbro is pushing it a bit by charging twenty dollars for two $5 toys and two toys worth roughly $3 each. Still, one of those molds is one that wasn't easy to find before, and the decos are really nice and unified. Plus, each toy brings something distinct to the table, and that means a lot. If you don't have these sculpts already, or if you don't mind a bunch of new characters added to your Autobot army, this four pack is for you. Recommended.