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Toy Review - Masterpiece Ultra Magnus

Updated: Mar 12, 2023


There, that was a quick review.

But since we’re not into the whole brevity thing here, man…and, let’s face it, all I did there was crib from the name, no, let’s get a little more in-depth as to why Masterpiece Ultra Magnus, like many others of Takara’s Masterpiece line, is worth every single penny you’re going to drop into him.

And it’s a lot of pennies too.

Now, full disclosure here, Ultra Magnus was my favorite Transformer growing up…for several reasons. First, as I’m sure I’ll get into more detail on at some point on this website, for reasons nefarious or otherwise, I never got the original Optimus Prime when I was growing up. I was practically the only kid in the neighborhood that didn’t. Well, in all fairness, I was the only kid in the neighborhood that wanted him that didn’t get him. So when a white version came out that could combine with his trailer to make an even cooler robot? Yeah, my childhood beg-o-meter went into overdrive. Oh yes, he would be mine.

Having successfully scored him for my birthday, well, sadly, I got him 2 months before my birthday…which meant that he was in the house (and since mom wasn’t particularly clever, I knew exactly where he was stashed) and I was forbidden to open him till the old birthday finally came around. Scoff. Right. Sure, there are disadvantages to growing up in a single parent household, especially one where your babysitter is your elderly grandmother, but that doesn’t apply to hidden gifts, be they birthday or Christmas (that’s another story for another time about my other favorite childhood toy…Fortress Maximus). So, upon coming home from school each day, I’d duck into mom’s closet, grab Magnus’ box and, while ducking into the bathroom, inform grandma that I’d only be looking at the box…which, given all the stuff on Transformers boxes back in the day, was actually fairly legit…just a shame that wasn’t what I was


Yes, it’s rather sad. Most kids hole up in the bathroom to…ahem…discover themselves. I played with a Transformer that I wasn’t supposed to. You know, now that I think about it, this really explains a lot…none of it positive.

I guess the point of all that was that it was here that I’d read Magnus’ tech specs for the first time and I felt the character fit me to a T. And, as was the case for many of us that were around for Generation 1, while the toys were awesome in their own right, the fact they had personalities that we could identify with…THAT was the foundation of the brand’s staying power.

See? As usual, I just took over half a page to tell you that this review’s going to

be biased…isn’t writing for the internet great???

Starting off in robot mode, which he comes packaged in, it’s clear that the cartoon model was the inspiration for the toys design…and they nailed it. Articulation is pretty good, with only two minor quibbles. First, the shoulders…you can get a little bit of lateral movement from them, but not a whole lot. It would have been nice if they’d used a mechanism similar to those used in the shoulders of both MP-01 and MP-10 (the two Optimuses), but alas. My second minor quibble is the lack of waist articulation. The only real impact this has is in posing the toy, which, given all the other articulation as well as the involved transformation, isn’t that big of a deal…hence why it’s only a minor quibble and nowhere near being a deal-breaker. Magnus comes with two interchangeable faceplates…one calm expression and another shouting face. Now, the thing about these isn’t the faceplates themselves, I mean, they’re cool and all, but the awesome thing is that when you remove the front half of Magnus’ head, you see the white Optimus face underneath! He also comes with a pair of hands specially designed to hold the Matrix that came with MP-10 (the smaller-scaled Optimus)…and yeah, here’s where you feel the pain of the shoulder articulation issue. Still, fool with it all enough and you can recreate the classic scene from the animated movie well enough.

The transformation is involved and yet harkens back to the original in enough ways where you only really need the instructions in a few spots here and there…mainly in dealing with the transformation of the cab. Which is good…because the instructions kinda suck. And while gone is the ability for Ultra Magnus’ cab to turn into a white Optimus…well, the engineering of what parts of Magnus do become the cab is really stinking impressive. Magnus’ head and part of his chest (essentially the blue ‘ship’ and Matrix chamber) fold up with a bit of his backpack to become the cab…and again, the instructions are only going to help you about halfway with this conversion. Changing the remains of the chest, legs and arms into the car-carrier trailer has the typical foldy-thin bits that’s pretty common in larger Masterpiece TFs and the way the arms transform is also pretty nifty, but the legs are EXACTLY as you remember from the old toy. The only flaw you might run into is that, well, as any long time Transformer collector will tell you, sometimes additional articulation isn’t always good…as getting the legs to line up juuuust right for car-carrier mode can be a little bit of a pain. Oh, and the variation in how you can place the missiles is pretty cool too. The picture on the front has them sticking out of the sides whereas the old toy had them sticking off the front. Since the missile launchers are permanently attached to Magnus, how this variation is accomplished really isn’t all that difficult to imagine…but it’s still pretty spiffy in the execution. Oh…and the instructions say the missiles do indeed launch, but I wasn’t willing to find out. When you pay $200 for a toy, your “pull hard here” instincts are pretty much at a minimum.

Once in vehicle mode, well, again, Takara nails it. Hell, the cab will even detach from the trailer…AND is damn near the same size as MP-10’s cab too! The turning radius between cab and trailer is a little tight but nothing that a little fiddling with can’t figure out. My only beef with this mode is that looking inside the trailer, well, the legs are plainly visible and given Takara’s use (sometimes overuse) of thin foldy parts, I don’t think it’d have been much of a stretch to have something fold over the robot mode thighs to complete the illusion. Still, since you’re supposed to have cars in there…well, I imagine it’d be less noticeable on a full Magnus. What can I say…I got lazy while doing the pictures and didn’t want to get down all my Masterpiece Autobot cars…so even I’ll have to take the internet’s word for it on this one.

So yeah, I’ve listed some minor quibbles with the toy above, but honestly? This

thing’s damn near perfect. It’s everything I could’ve hoped for in a toy named Masterpiece Ultra Magnus. It’s EXACTLY that.

Dammit…now this means I HAVE TO preorder Masterpiece Star Saber.


Now head over to our Toys section and check out more pics!

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