"Timelines" Ultra Mammoth Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: November 2013
Price Point: $47.00 (pre-order price), $79.00 (after release price)
Retailer: "Transformers Collector's Club" Subscription Exclusive
Accessories: Missiles x 2, Crescent missiles x 2, Cannon/trunk, Matrix

Profile from The Transformers Collector's Club web site:
For eons before, ULTRA MAMMOTH had been known as ULTRA MAGNUS ® - Director of AUTOBOT ® covert operations and, most recently, Commander of the star ship Graviton. However, what started with a distress signal sent from Ironworks on Earth led to an event that changed everything. And ended everything. As ULTRA MAGNUS and his crew neared the glowing blue orb many Cybertronians had come to know as home, the fabric of space tore before them and cast the vessel through a temporal wormhole. The momentum from the distortion’s pull heaved the Graviton towards a planet. An Earth. But not the Earth with which they were familiar. Having to abandon their vehicle alt modes for forms that could both function in this hostile new environment as well as withstand the strange energy fields that seem to affect their robot modes, ULTRA MAGNUS and his crew are no longer the AUTOBOTS they once were. Through contact with a strange visitor, his crew is now known as the MAXIMALS ®, and ULTRA MAMMOTH now roars into battle!

Back in the late 90's, the "Beast War Transformers" toy line had proved itself a success in countries outside Japan. When Takara decided to bring "Beast Wars" to Japan, they didn't just repackage figures released in the US and Europe, they also created entire storylines and figures exclusive to Japan. One of these lines was "Beast Wars Neo", a series that featured many new sculpts with older ones mixed in. A centerpiece of this line was "Big Convoy", a figure that answered the question: what would Optimus Prime look like if he was a wooly mammoth with a gigantic cannon? Of course, Big Convoy wasn't "the" Optimus Prime (or "Convoy" as the name went at the time). Instead, he was part of a "Convoy Council", a group of Transformers that looked like Optimus Prime.

I did review many of the "Beast Wars Neo" figures back in the day, but I haven't quite gotten around to restoring those reviews yet. That means this review won't be your typical "read the previous review" type. Instead, this review will be a normal one taking a look at the figure from the ground up. It's a worthwhile exercise since even with that original review would be over ten years old by this point.

Beast Mode:
Ultra Mammoth lives up to his name. In beast mode he is a large scale mammoth, measuring about 10.75 inches (about 27.3 centimeters) from trunk to tail. He's also big and solid. This is not a modern day light weight Transformer. Back in this age, Transformers figures in general were very solid. The sculpting on him is also big and bold with his ears wide to the sides, large curved trunks sweeping forward and a trunk that sticks out in front. The sculpting on this figure is fantastic. His "fur" has a multi-layered set of lines carved out from front to back. His tail even has a little extra "puff" of "fur" on the end. His trunk has small nostril openings in the front and the tusks have grooves carved into them from front to back. He has two small eyes on the sides of the head and each foot has thick toe nails on them. There's no mistaking what creature Ultra Mammoth is intended to be (name aside).

While the sculpt is impressive, there are limitations to what can be done with a figure that has to form a robot. First, you're going to notice a lot of lines and grooves separating the various panels that make up this beast mode. That's because the Big Convoy sculpt is a "shellformer", a fan term for a Transformer that turns into a robot buy having parts of its alternate mode in separate panels covering up the robot mode. The other limitation is on the trunk, which has some deep grooves running down the top part horizontally. These are there because the trunk is made to be flexible. Pulling the tab on the top of the head will make the trunk move up. It's actually a really cool effect and I like it a lot.

Ultra Mammoth doesn't really have much in the way of articulation in this form. His trunk can move up and down and you can move the ears back and forth. His tail is on a hinge and can move up and down. Aside from the aforementioned trunk feature, his tusks can also move. Slide the ears back and the tusks move up and down. They're fun action figures and for me they make up for the lack of leg articulation. Frankly I'd rather have the head full of functionality since I wouldn't do much with leg articulation for a mammoth anyhow.

But wait, there's more! If you want to give Ultra Mammoth some firepower in this mode, you can. Pull the side panels of the head out, lift up the panels on the top of the beast and lift up the tail panel. This allows you to reveal and raise the cannon underneath and turn it around. Want even more? Pull out the round panels on his flank to point those launchers forward as well. It's kind of wacky, but it fits the theme of the "Beast Wars Neo" line where this mold came from. In that line, many of the characters were able to form some type of weapon as a third mode. It's also a reminder that underneath this very organic looking beast is a robot in disguise!

Unlike Big Convoy who was mostly brown in color to look like the traditional view of a mammoth, liberties were taken with this figure to evoke Ultra Magnus' colors. The primary plastic colors used on this figure are light blue and white - two iconic Ultra Magnus colors. The blue makes up most of the body with the tusks done in white. The eyes are painted red - another iconic Ultra Magnus color. The bottom half of each leg and the sides of the beast are painted white with a really nice spray pattern blending into the blue. The toe nails are still blue however. The spray pattern is particularly nice as the way it leads to the blue evokes snow, appropriate for the colors that make up this figure.

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Pull the head panels out to the sides a bit.
  2. Lift all the panels on the back up.
  3. Swing the panel on the back with the tail up.
  4. Pull the cannon off the back of the figure.
  5. Swing the robot legs down and straighten them out.
  6. On each leg, swing out the front and back halves of each foot.
  7. Swing the beast mode legs on the lower legs back and up.
  8. On the hips, swing the beast mode legs back.
  9. On the upper body, swing the robot arms out.
  10. Rotate each robot arm around and swing it down.
  11. Push the upper body down.
  12. On the head, swing out the two horns on the top of the head.
  13. Swing the halves of the beast mode head back, revealing the rocket launchers.

Robot Mode:
Right up front I'm going to say that the Big Convoy/Ultra Mammoth robot mode is one of my favorites from the "Beast Era" of figures. In my opinion, it is one of the most regal and combat oriented "good guys" to come out of the line. The character of Big Convoy was known as "the One-Man Army" in the series and this shows in the sheer amount of weaponry on this figure. Coupled with other cool designs and features this is one of the most intricate figures of its time. These features include:

  • The giant cannon Ultra Mammoth wields can be held up with the arm pointing straight thanks to very tight joints. Turn the circular dial on the cannon and the two missiles will fire.
  • The insides of each half of the head are rocket launchers sculpted into the panels.
  • Sculpted into each side of the waist are three barreled cannons (non-functional).
  • On each forearm is a panel that can swing down to reveal a toonfa. Swing them out and attach them to the underside of each fist for him to use the melee weapons.
  • Toonfas not enough? Each of his crescent projectiles can be held in one of his hands as a blade weapon!
  • Each lower leg has a panel that has a curved projectile in it. Press the button on the side and it fires the projectile.
  • The bottom of the beast mode legs on the hips are sculpted with thruster details.
  • The chest panel can open up to reveal a Matrix chamber. The Matrix can be removed and held in both hands. At the time this was the only transformable and well articulated figure out there that could do this.

There are other awesome details on this figure. The head sculpt is a stylized version of the iconic Optimus Prime head with a large central crest, a mouthplate and horns on the sides taking the place of the traditional antennae. If you look at the top of the chest section, there are four lights running along the edge inspired by similar details on the top of G1 Optimus Prime's chest. The center of the chest has a circular design with a Maximal symbol inside. There's some interesting design continuity here. The general "three sided" shape of the head is reflected in this chest design and again on circular designs on the thighs with "Y" shaped designs inside. Other cool details include tubes sculpted into the arms (giving them a techno-organic feel) and (non-working) pistons sculpted into the lower legs. When the Big Convoy sculpt first came out it was one of my favorite sculpts of the era and even after all these years it remains so.

It is in this mode that Ultra Mammoth gets to show off his "Ultra Magnus" color influences. Plenty of the blue panels from the beast mode show here on his back, arms, hips and the sides of his legs, but other parts are cast in white and red - with white being the dominant color. Some translucent blue comes into play on the upper arms and his chest panel. All his missiles are cast in red. The red, white and blue color scheme is inspired by G1 Ultra Magnus and the colors are brilliant and eye catching. There's even some color design continuity with the G1 Ultra Magnus design. Like that version of the character, the "T" shaped chest piece is blue and his lower legs have white on them. Red is used on the main body including the upper legs. I'm really loving how much continuity Fun Publications has established between the original Ultra Magnus and this incarnation.

Moving beyond the plastic colors, there are plenty of paint applications on this figure. White, silver, black, blue, red and metallic blue all come together to form an impressive color scheme. The colors are distributed throughout the figure. Silver and metallic blue on the head, silver on the edges of the chest and center section, white on the mid-body etc. I could go on and on but the pictures speak for themselves. What impresses me the most is how many different colors there are and how widely distributed they are.

On this own, Ultra Mammoth has twenty two points of articulation. This includes two ball joints on each arm and strong ratchet joints on the hips. The joints on this figure have to be strong since it's a fairly large figure, measuring almost 7.5 inches (approximately 19 centimeters) and has to hold a comparatively large weapon. By today's standard this would be an Ultra Class figure (and I bet at retail he would cost right around what the Club charged for him).

Final Thoughts:
Back in 1999, Big Convoy was one of my favorite action figures in the line. To this day this remains the case. I love this sculpt and all the features it contains. The colors used for this interpretation of Ultra Magnus make perfect sense, but have a certain silly sense of humor when applied to this sculpt. It's kind of wacky, and if you aren't into beast based Transformers or more eccentric color schemes on them, then this won't be for you. For others who do like that sort of thing I'd say this is a "must have" in your collection!

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