There was a lotta stuff at Toy Fair this year, from the giant-ass Devastator to the Combiner Wars guys to a buttload of Kre-O stuff that'll never come out, but this friggin' Ultra Magnus was at the top of my list. This friggin' Ultra Magnus!
When we first got store listings that hinted at a Leader Class Ultra Magnus, there were a lot of different ways the toy could have panned out, and there were even a "he tell me" folks around who were insistant that this Magnus would go those ways. But naw, dudes, this guy ended up being everything I personally wanted. He's no strictly 1984/5ish redesign like the Megatron and Jetfire before him, he's a purposeful translation of Ultra Magnus as currently seen in the IDW comics, down to having a little tiny Minimus Ambus friend to go with him. That last part, especially, I wasn't expecting to see in a toy -- not only because production costs are rising and parts counts falling to match, but also because it's celebrating a very specifically current unorthodox treatment of Ultra Magnus. Sure, we get a lot of white cab Optimus Primes here and there in lieue of an Ultra Magnus, but actually getting our little mustachioed reimagining of that concept I thought was unlikely.
And so I am amazingly pleased.
Minimus Ambus himself is very very small. He's about half the size of a Legends Class figure, so he's amazingly dainty. Even at this size, though, he's not as simple as he could be. His car roof and robot backpack is on this hinged arrangement that seems too rich for this toy's size's blood. In Ultra Magnus's robot mode, he fits inside the chest, all mech pilot like, with his fistholes pegging onto control joysticks. Because this is where the larger robot's head fits into during car carrier mode, Minimus can't stay here when you transform Ultra Magnus, but Minimus transforms into a car, and so I think there might be a place for him in vehicle mode, if you think about it.
(Japan is apparently going to do him in white and purple and red and pretend he's Alpha Trion, while painting the larger Magnus robot more like how he is in the IDW comics, because I don't know why.)
The larger Ultra Magnus part of the toy's had a lot of thought put into it as well. His shoulder missile thingies and his two rifles combine into an axe, which is a callback to his Animated counterpart. (Which obviously also makes me amazingly pleased.) Articulation abounds, despite the way Ultra Magnus's design usually being a stumbling block to such. His head turns, despite it being part of a mask that goes over Minimus Ambus's head. His arms manage to articulate outward from the torso, despite those tall shoulder pylons. The shoulder missile launchers are even on hinged tabs so they can move out of the way of his outward bicep articulation. And Magnus has, like, has actual working thighs, despite that whole area needing to be a flat plane for cars to ride on in vehicle mode.
A lot of these ideas are shared by the Masterpiece Ultra Magnus that came out earlier this year, but concentrated in this less-expensive form. The walling of the trailer mode piling up on the back of his legs is another, as is the way his forearm armor accordions around his fists. The result is a very playable robot figure with a number of weapon configurations, who transforms into a vehicle mode that can carry your other Transformers, who also includes a little pilot guy. This toy goes down my list and checks everything off.
Surplus to all this is the little sculpting details all over him that suggest he transforms into a truck cab that's several stories tall. There's tiny ladders and tiny doors everywhere. Each of his wheels would be larger than my apartment. This doesn't distract from the toy at all, and really only creates a conversation starter, but what?