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          TOY REVIEW

Name: Ultra Magnus
Allegiance: Cybertron
Function: City Commander
Vehicular Mode: Car carrier

VEHICLE MODE

Height: 6cm cab, 12cm trailer
Length: 12cm cab, 23 trailer, 30cm combined
Width: 5cm cab, 9cm trailer
Instead of Convoy's red color, Ultra Magnus' cab is white and silver. The detail strip running along the middle of the cab is actually a silver sticker while the other silver details such as the hubcaps, smokestacks and front grill are all vacuum metallized. On either side of the cab are Autobot/Cybertron symbols, just like the ones that Convoy has.
The detail level on this toy is fantastic. The cab is full of subtle details that show the realism Takara was trying to achieve so many years ago. The top of the cab has detailing resembling horns and lights. Underneath the two front windows are window wipers and the sides have details which are meant to be ladders for the "driver" to climb into the cab. The smoke stacks on the back of the cab have spotted details like the vents on real trucks. Since this toy was originally a Diaclone toy, the front of the cab can fold down to allow two Diaclone pilot figures to sit in the vehicle.

The trailer is a very nice piece. Since this trailer is meant to be able to hold vehicles on it, note that the top section of the trailer has ridges to allow for traction while the lower level has cross hatches running along the space where cars can fit. Since the Car Robot brothers were made in a very similar scale to the original Autobot cars, they fit into Ultra Magnus just fine. Running along the lower part of the toy are details resembling tubes and control panels. The rear of the trailer has some cool detailing too such as tail lights, vents and stickers which help to add a splash of color.

Something important to note are the materials used to make this toy. Most of the first series of Transformer toys had die cast metal and rubber tires (for cars/vehicles). This practice became too expensive later on, and Transformers became all plastic shortly after the second year of Transformers toys. In being faithful to the original toy, Generation One Ultra Magnus has both rubber tires and die cast metal. The die cast metal is used for a good part of the cab section. The rubber tires run all along the toy. When Ultra Magnus was originally released, he also had rubber tires, but later versions would have plastic tires instead. It is nice to see Takara decided to go back to the very first release, and not the cheaper alternative.

Related to being faithful to the original toy, the sticker at the top of the cab section is a "rub sticker". These are heat sensitive stickers that reveal the allegiance of the character when rubbed or exposed to a heat source. Smaller versions of these stickers were used for some Beast Wars toys, but those stickers had Maximal and Predacon symbols on them.

In terms of play value, the new trailer adds a lot to the toy. Mounted above the cab on the trailer are two spring loaded missile launchers. As mentioned before, you can place vehicles on the top and bottom levels of the trailer. The two white flaps at the rear of the trailer can be moved down to form a ramp for vehicles on the first level to exit. If you want to get the vehicles on the top to move down, flip the white pieces on the side of the rear section outward so the upper section can be adjusted to move down. Traditionally, one would expect only ground based vehicles to be on a trailer of this sort, but the toy packaging shows a jet (actually the Aerialbot Silverbolt from the original Transformers) on the top, angled upwards, suggesting that the trailer can act as a launching pad for aerial vehicles as well.

Overall this is one fun vehicle mode. The added functionality of having a trailer that can hold other vehicles is a big plus. Add to that some nice detailing, and Ultra Magnus' vehicle mode is one of the best to come out of the Generation One toy line.

TRANSFORMATION TO BASE MODE (Trailer)

This transformation does not involve the cab, so you can set that aside. Detach the missile launchers from the front of the trailer. Push the rear blue sections of the trailer down and lock them into place. Split the top level into its halves and swing each half down completely. Lock that into place and then swing the arms forward. Push the lower arms in and attach the missile launchers into the pegs. Place the robot mode chest piece (the triangular blue piece) on the red, mid-section of the vehicle. The base mode is now complete.

BASE MODE (Trailer)

Ultra Magnus' base is not something that is obvious right away, but this form does carry over from the days when this toy was a Diaclone. Since the trailer forms a rectangular box, one can use their imagination to see the open space at the front of the base as a loading area or entrance area. In fact, some of the Transformers vehicles do fit nicely into that opening. The missiles provide an interesting "base defense" mechanism.

As a carry over from the age when this toy was a Diaclone, the robot chest piece can actually be used as a vehicle for Diaclone pilots. The center even looks like a seat/cockpit area. For additional firepower, connect Ultra Magnus' head to this piece to create what look like two large cannons at the top. With this in mind, one can imagine the top part of the base being a runway or launching pad for aerial vehicles.


Although it may look odd, the base mode has play value and is imaginative.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE: CAB

Separate the cab from the trailer. Swing down the white section which connected to the trailer. Flip the ends of that section up, forming the robot legs and feet. Swing out the headlights the sides, then swing the upper rear portion of the cab forward. Flip the middle of the cab's top around to reveal the robot head. Now fit the robot fists into the headlight sections and place Ultra Magnus' gun into one of the hands. The cab is now in robot mode.

CAB ROBOT MODE

Although at first glance this robot appears to be a clone of Convoy, some details set it apart. Most of these are due to the stickers. Convoy and Ultra Magnus both have stickers on their lower arms, legs and feet, but the stickers used for Ultra Magnus are different than those used for Convoy. Of course, the paint scheme is very different. Ultra Magnus is mostly white in this mode. The crest on the robot head and the faceplate are light blue. The robot eyes are red. Also different is the hand held weapon. This gun is made be function with both the cab robot mode and the larger, combined robot mode. In many ways, this gun is nicer than the one used for Convoy since it is large enough to be slightly above the lower arm rather than being right up against it.
Ultra Magnus has twelve points of articulation in this form. This is above average for a toy from the Generation One era. A lot of this articulation is due in part to the way the toy transforms, but that makes it all the more impressive. In this mode, Ultra Magnus stands at 15 centimeters in height.

TRANSFORMATION TO REPAIR MODE

While having the cab in robot mode, the trailer can also be converted to another mode. This mode is a "repair" mode. With the trailer detached, swing out the halves of the top level. Push the rear most blue section up to form the repair arms. Fold up the rear parts (where the white ramp pieces are). Now attach the robot mode's chest piece to where it would belong in robot mode. Rather than have it completely against the chest however, only have the upper section of that piece connect to the chest. Attach Ultra Magnus' head to this by connecting the crest to the rectangular shape in the center of the chest piece. The repair mode is finished.

REPAIR MODE

Calling this a separate mode is a bit of a stretch. However, it is shown on the packaging as an official mode. Essentially the idea is that you place any Transformer (that can fit) next to the repair mode and the arms repair the robot as it stands there. This looks odd, but is creative in its own way.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE (Cab and Trailer combined)

This transformation instruction assumes that you have the cab in robot mode and the trailer still in vehicle mode. Begin by detaching the fists from the cab. Swing the arms back and the lower arms forward, as if you are transforming it back to vehicle mode. Straighten out the feet and set this piece aside. Remove the missile launchers from the trailer and set them aside. Swing out the halves of the trailer's upper section. Snap them into place and push the rear blue sections up. This will push the white sections upwards. Swing up the rear section of the trailer and snap it into place. Remove the white piece which is used to connect the cab and trailer in vehicle mode. This will expose two pegs. Attach the cab piece to the trailer piece by connecting these pegs with the headlights on the cab (where the robot fists would go). Place the larger Ultra Magnus head over the cab's robot head. Plug the larger fists into the pegs at the end of each arm. Fit the gun into one of the fists. Attach the white piece you removed previously to the mid section of the robot (effectively forming a "waist"). Now attach the blue chest piece. Finally, attach the missile launchers to Ultra Magnus' shoulders and he is now in robot mode.

ROBOT MODE

Height: 24 cm (up to head)
Width: 15cm
This is the form that most people have seen Ultra Magnus in. This form utilizes the three main colors of Ultra Magnus in a nice blend: red, white and blue. The arms are blue and white while the main body is mostly red with a blue chest piece. The lower legs are blue with white on what could be called the front of the lower legs. Combined with molded details and the stickers, Ultra Magnus looks nice in this mode.

Unfortunately, in terms of play factor, this mode does not have a whole lot to offer. You may have heard many post-Generation 2 era fans complaining about how pre-Generation 2 was filled with "unposable bricks" for robot modes. In this case, they are right. Ultra Magnus only has three points of articulation on each arm for this mode. The legs are completely straight since they basically make up the trailer. In a move that almost makes up for this, the robot mode can roll along so there is mobility to the toy.

Taken in perspective, this is not a fatal problem with the toy. Many other original/Generation One toys had even less mobility, yet were fun to play with. However, for a toy this size, it would have been nice to have more posability.

ALTERATIONS

To help distinguish this (and its pieces) from the original (solely to prevent bad dealers from passing it off as "original"), and just to make some improvements, there are changes.

Cab: First, the front wheels are held on by long axles, longer than the original axles which held these on. Second, the top of the trailer has a small pit for the rub sticker (most Transformers had rub sticker pits, except for year 1 releases, which had their rub sticker placed on top as they had no pits when they were sold during year 2). Also, each knee has two raised areas around the joint, and the area where the knee sticker fits on seems to be a bit shorter (as the knee sticker sticks out over top....though they may have cut the sticker wrong).

Trailer: The shade of red is slightly darker than on the original. The shade of white is also slightly different (really only matters if you place the two next to each other, I guess). Also, the armpit tabs have small  braces molded onto them, which should help keep them from breaking as easily.

Parts: The small fists are repaints of Generation One Convoy, and as a result, have the long cylinder sticking up (meant for Convoy to hold his gun straight, which as we all know, his original hands can't do). The plug-in tabs are also small rounded bumps, not the long cylinders. The large fists have small rings around the attachment holes. The trailer hitches are the altered shade of white as the trailer uses, and the missiles also have the darker red. And the launchers include springs and they fire. Quite far. Holding one about a meter above the floor, the missile flew about 2 meters before it landed and bounced.

OVERALL

The toy that would become Convoy was part of Takara's "Diaclone" line. In a move to save costs while still using part of the mold from this toy, the cab of the truck was reused with a new trailer and new parts to be a new toy, sometimes called "Powered Convoy". It is this toy that would eventually be repainted and released in the Transformers toy line as Ultra Magnus.
Although Ultra Magnus utilized the cab portion of the Convoy toy, that part of the toy never appeared in the television series or movie. Rather, the combined form of the cab and trailer was used as Ultra Magnus' robot mode.

Overall, this is a fun toy. The almost non-posable robot mode is a bit discouraging, but the fact that you can use the cab's robot mode is nice. Also, the extra functionality of having the trailer carry other vehicles is a great feature. Overall, this toy is recommended if you missed out on the original Ultra Magnus and cannot get him any cheaper. B.

Supplementary: POWERED CONVOY

As mentioned in the review, Ultra Magnus was derived from Takara's Diaclone line as part of the Car Robot sub group. Unlike Transformers, Diaclone robots were piloted mecha and also came with small human Diaclone pilots that had magnetic feet (which is why Ultra Magnus has driver compartments).
 

Powered Convoys in vehicle mode. 

Unlike Transformers, Diaclone mecha were 
portrayed as mass produced war machines.


Powered Convoy's cab section in robot mode.
Unlike Ultra Magnus, Powered Convoy came with a red 
roller car....

.....which could then transform into a robot!

Powered Convoy in combined robot mode.

Ever wondered why Ultra Magnus has a pilot's 
compartment? It's because Powered Convoy had 
pilots! Although all Diaclone mecha that became 
Transformers were stripped of their human pilots, 
they retained their cockpits, a visible sign of their 
Diaclone heritage!
Interestingly enough, Takara reused the Powered Convoy name in the "Beast Wars Metals" line for Optimal Optimus (in other words, Optimal Optimus' Japanese name is Powered Convoy!). And as soon as the Beast Wars Metals line ended in Japan, Takara released a line of Transformers called "Car Robot" (which at the time I'm writing this, is scheduled to be released in English as "Transformers Robots In Disguise"), which was the same group of Diaclone mecha that not only Ultra Magnus, but Optimus Prime and the Autobot cars were also taken from the Diaclone Car Robot series!

This toy review was written by Benson Yee.
"Alterations" written by Justin Anderson. Diaclone supplementary written by Goktimus Prime
Diaclone images courtesy of Taguchida
Editted by Goktimus Prime

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