Transformers Universe Treadshot vs. Ultra Magnus Review

in 2004, Action Figure Review, Generation One, Kohl's Exclusive, Transformers Universe

Transformers Universe

General Information:
Release Year: October 2004
Retailer: Meijers/Menards/Kohls Exclusive
Price: $15.99
Transformation Difficulty Level: 3
Accessories: Wrist blasters (Ultra Magnus) x 2, Gun (Treadshot), Blade (Treadshot), Over-Run Mini-Con, Nightbeat Mini-Con

General Images:

Story from packaging:
In more peaceful times the powerful ULTRA MAGNUS and the cunning TREADSHOT were friends and rivals, often engaging in good-natured contests of speed and strength. During the rise of MEGATRON and the beginning of the Second Great War on Cybertron, the two former friends became the most bitter of enemies, taking every opporunity to attack one another, even to the point of the dereliction of their duties. Now with the new power granted by UNICRON, a bitter TREADSHOT has once again tracked his old enemy with the help of his MINI-CON, NIGHTBEAT, this time planning the final destruction of ULTRA MAGNUS and his MINI-CON companion OVER-RUN!

In 2004, it's hard to deny that Transformers is a hit toy line. Replicating the success of twenty years ago, the line has become a hot seller, so much so that stores have begun to ask for more and more exclusives. One of the ways Hasbro has decided to fill this need is with their "Battle in a Box" sub-line of Transformers Universe toys. These Transformers two packs feature one Autobot and one Decepticon, each of course a redeco of a previous figures. This pack was among the second wave of exclusive "Battle in a Box" packs exclusive to certain stores such as Kohl's and Meijer's.

Packaging:
This is a new type of packaging for Transformers. It was designed to maximize the view you get of the toys by placing a plastic box over a cardboard piece. The packaging looks fantastic, but be warned, when you open it you'll find it to be an extremely frustrating experience. First you have to remove the tabs from the cardboard, which are all taped, so that's a lot of cutting there. Then once you wrench the plastic off, you have to get through the army of twist ties and then you have to cut the Mini-Cons out of their own plastic bubbles. It's frustrating, but again, it displays well, and that is key in selling a toy in stores.

Treadshot Review

Treadshot & Nightbeat

Treadshot is a redeco of Oil slick. While his root mold is Armada Sideswipe, the mold was altered when it was released as Oil slick when the chest was changed to have a Decepticon symbol instead of an Autobot symbol. Nightbeat, the same Mini-Con included with the previous two incarnations of this figure is included this time as well.

The name "Treadshot" has its roots going back to Generation One when the Decepticon sharpshooting warrior of the same name made his debut. This review will focus on the changes made to this toy for this release. For a more detailed review, check out both Armada Sideswipe and Universe Oil Slick's reviews.

Nightbeat:
This is the third time this Mini-Con sculpt has been reused, and he's pretty much the same as before. The only color change really made is in the shade of yellow used for the exhaust pipes, which is slightly darker than his predecessors. While this color scheme certainly works with Treadshot's, it would have been nice to see something new since the last time this guy was released, he looked pretty much the same.

Vehicle Mode:
Contrary to early conjecture, Treadshot's vehicle mode is not just a re-release of Oil Slick with a slightly different paint job. The main color of the vehicle is a shade of dark red that border lines on purple. Black, grey and silver are used for detailing. Silver is used on the front with black used on the headlights and center grill. Grey comes into play on other details such as two stripes running on the right side of the car from the front to the back. The rear spoiler is colored grey, and along the top of the windshield is a grey strip with the word "Decepticon" in black letters. Taking a cue from the age of Generation 2, Treadshot's name is in grey on the left side of the car.

I honestly didn't see it at first, but after about the third time I transformed this toy I saw that this deco layout is actually inspired by the G1 Stunticon Dead End. He too was a dark reddish color with a double stripe design running down one side of the car (though I suspect the one I have has the stripe on the wrong side).

This deco looks good, but it is probably my least favorite out of the three versions seen so far. It's not bad by any means, it's just not as nice as the bold blue of the original or as funky as the purple of Oil Slick.

Robot Mode:
Treadshot's robot mode shares most of its colors (albeit in different shades) with Oil Slick. The upper body and head are silver, but a darker shade. His eyes are light blue instead of purple while black is still used on the head and as an outline for the visor eyes. The orange used on the chest and next to the feet is a darker shade than the previous version of the toy. The upper arms and legs are still yellow, but a darker shade, matching with Nightbeat.

This color scheme isn't particularly exciting unfortunately. So much is just a shift in shade from the previous version that it feels like little effort or imagination was put into it. This being the mold's third release (in two years), it would have been nice to see some extra effort put into creating a radically new and interesting color scheme.

Functionally, you can still Powerlink a Mini-Con to Treadshot and have him utilize his "quick draw" action, although interestingly enough, the packaging describes it as a punching action. I guess it can be either.

Ultra Magnus

Images:

Over-Run:
Over-Run is not much different from his original incarnation. Instead of a nice, metallic silver however, he is now a flat grey color, matching the grey on Ultra Magnus. The cockpit is painted red, and his shoulder joints and landing gear are white. This is quite plain, it would have been nice to see something more done with this, but as an accessory, the colors work.

Ultra Magnus is a redeco of the Supercon Optimus Prime from Armada. This is an especially appropriate choice since the G1 Ultra Magnus was a redeco/retool of the original G1 Optimus Prime.

Vehicle Mode:
To say that this vehicle uses a lot of white is an understatement. I'd say easily 85% of this vehicle mode is just white plastic. He's not devoid of other colors however. The front grill and the smokestacks are grey plastic. The front fender, windows and lights are blue. Red is used for details on the sides and the Autobot symbol on the hood. Yellow makes an appearance on the headlights. And really - that's it. If I sound disappointed, it's because I am.

You see, this sculpt has a lot of nice detail on it. The grill has nice vents, the back section has line details among other shapes giving some tech detail. But the white is just too plain to bring it out properly. This sculpt could have really, really used some black wash and spray ops to up the detail level.
The Supercon Optimus Prime toy had spray ops, which helped enhance the appearance of the toy. The same could have been done here.

What does work nicely is that the colors used are true to the iconic character. Red, white and blue are the "Ultra Magnus colors", and it was nice to see the designers didn't forget that Magnus had yellow as well.

The Mini-Con pegs are all present here, as is the hole that Over-Run can attach to in weapon mode. While I still would have liked to see more color detailing on this toy, I must admit that having the mostly white rear section allows you to attach almost any colored Mini-Con and have it "match" since the backdrop is just white!

Robot Mode:
You know, sometimes it's frustrating to review Transformers because some come soooo close to being really nice ones, even redecos, and something happens which just brings the house of cards tumbling down.

Ultra Magnus is assembled incorrectly. You read that right. The mis-assembled parts are the lower arms. Each arm piece is supposed to have a notch at the point where the arm bends at the elbow. This notch allowed you to move the lower arm up enough so that it was at a rough right angle with the upper arm. However, on Ultra Magnus the arms are reversed, so the notch is facing the other way, and thus serving no real purpose. And when you try to move the lower arm up the proper way, the lower arm casing slides over part of the hand, making him holding a weapon and bending his arm at the same time a bit difficult.

This is by no means an isolated incident. So many Magnuses have this problem that Captured Prey has actually set up a web page dedicated to fixing this problem. I have tried to do this fix, but for me the pins just won't come out so I've given up. However, many other fans have managed to do it, so it is possible.

The fact of the matter is, there's no excuse for this. This toy has already been released twice before, each time without such a problem. Obviously there was no quality assurance on this item or this simply would not have happened. Had this been just a first or second run, I'd understand an error, but a third run? That's just bad.

And the shame is that this is a really cool sculpt, one of the best to come out of Armada. It looks powerful thanks to the arms and legs. There's plenty of detailing from the head all the way to the feet. Even the colors are nice, with more grey appearing in on the chest and his mouthplate is even painted blue like G1 Ultra Magnus.

Ultra Magnus can utilize the same "punching" action as Optimus Prime when Powerlinked to Over-Run, so there's no loss of functionality here.

Final Thoughts:
I was really unhappy with this set. There was so much potential, but it was squandered by a lack of imagination and poor quality assurance. Treadshot is just dull in robot mode, and while Ultra Magnus has a really great color scheme that pays homage to his G1 incarnation, having parts misassembled is just sad to see after the toy has been released twice previous to this. This is one set I'd say is really just for completists.