As the entire world is being gripped by the worldwide pandemic of the coronavirus, we’re all expected to sit at home and avoid contact with as many people as possible. Honestly, that’s fine by me. I have lots of junk at home that will allow me to bide my time while this is ongoing. I do hope things will turn to normalcy sooner more than later. But, until that happens, I do have a bunch of stuff that I can do at home.
One of those things is looking through my collection of Masterpiece Transformers figures that I have and, looking back now, I wonder why I haven’t really reviewed a lot of them. I’ve done reviews for the more recent ones but not for the figures that have been in my collection for ages. Well, since there is a lockdown and I have nothing but time on my hands, I will be breaking some of them out and doing a review on them. I’ve decided to start with one of my favorites, MP-22 Ultra Magnus.
Now, Ultra Magnus was not one of my favorite characters from the Transformers series. This is especially true with the way the animated movie depicted the character. He was very humble but too humble to be a good leader for the Autobots. He seemed to make a lot of bad decisions throughout the film and the way he died was one of the most unheroic deaths I’ve seen. Oh, he gets put back together almost immediately by the Junkions, which actually made me very upset because why didn’t the Autobots also bring Optimus Prime’s body to the Junkions for repairs? I would think Prime’s injuries weren’t as bad as Ultra Mangus who was blown to bits!
Anyway, as much as I didn’t like Ultra Mangus as a character, I always thought his design was fun. The original toy, however, wasn’t fun to play with as it was basically an Optimus Prime toy with a different trailer. The trailer could itself transform and you can plug in the Optimus Prime toy and turn him into Ultra Magnus. Basically, you were inserting a Prime figure into a shell with very little articulation. Credit definitely goes to Takara as they did a fantastic job of taking the original Ultra Mangus design and updating it to make it a toy worthy of the Masterpiece Transformers line. It’s a really large toy with some heft to it but it is a joy to bring around.
One thing that struck me as I was reviewing MP-22 now is how it looks and feels like a balance between how it looks like the original G1 toy but with some added elements that make it look like its animated counterpart. This is drastically different with the Masterpiece Transformers that are made today as Takara generally goes for a more cartoon accurate look. I honestly prefer the hybrid toy-cartoon look to the more cartoony designs of today’s Masterpiece Tranformers line. Not downplaying the figures Takara are making; I’m just expressing why I really like what they did with Masterpiece Ultra Magnus.
There is an impressive amount of articulation on MP-22, especially when you compare it to its G1 counterpart. For one, the legs actually have joints! They’re really stiff ones as well, which is important since its very top heavy. The feet are comically large but that’s how he looked like in the cartoon anyway. This does give Ultra Magnus a really wide base so you can plant him firmly without worrying he’ll topple over. He generally looks good from the front and the side. His back profile is also good but the rear butt flap, which turns into the roof of his truck cab, is stupid large. I kind of wish that Takara found a way to fold it into segments so it can tuck away in a much more neater configuration. It’s a minor quibble for an excellent looking robot mode.
MP-22 was produced during a time when Takara didn’t produce the overabundance of accessories into their Masterpiece Transformers figures. Masterpiece Ultra Magnus comes with only a few extra bits and pieces. Of course, he has his Super Blaster Gun, which fits snugly into his oversized hands. His chest can open up to reveal a compartment to store the Autobot Matrix of Leadership. Takara did give it a nice touch with all the details as well as how it opens up like it did in the animated film. He also comes with two extra fists that allows him to hold the Matrix over his head so you can do the exact same pose he did before he bit the dust in the movie.
However, in a weird oversight by Takara, MP-22 Ultra Magnus does not come with his very own Autobot Matrix of Leadership! You’ll have to borrow MP-10 Optimus Prime’s Matrix of Leadership! I guess it makes sense not to clutter the toyline with multiple Matrix of Leaderships. But what if you don’t have MP-10? All you have is an Ultra Magnus with an empty chamber in his chest and two hands with slits in the knuckles. It’s rather ridiculous!
Masterpiece Ultra Magnus comes with a couple of face plates as well. While they’re nothing special by themselves, I will say that they’re well sculpted. The “normal” face is rather plain looking but his “shocked” face looks almost exactly like he did before he was blown up in the movie! It’s stunningly accurate! Also, as a cute little Easter Egg, underneath the face plates, there is a nice sculpt of Ultra Magnus’ G1 face in the head area. It’s a nice touch that, while it doesn’t really add anything, is a cool callout to the original G1 toy. You can actually store the both face plates in his back for safekeeping, just in case you want that weird G1 face on your Ultra Magnus figure.
Despite how heavy Masterpiece Ultra Mangus is, there are shockingly a number of points on the figure that feels rather flimsy. The shoulder points are of particular interest as they’re basically thin pieces of plastic that are carrying the arms. There are also some panels in the elbow joint that are rather skimpy and could break during the transformation process if you forget to fold them in. I guess this shouldn’t be a problem for a collector who takes care of their figures but they are worth mentioning.
Transforming MP-22 does feel like a rather straightforward process when compared to the more intricate and complex instructions for the more modern Masterpiece Transformers. That’s because there isn’t any tricky double joints to fold up nor are there any panels to open up for Ultra Magnus. It’s like Takara used the original G1 toy as a basis and added a few things to round it out and fill in the gaps.
Ultra Magnus’ truck and trailer mode is both fantastic and somewhat disappointing at the same time. A lot of the disappointment stems from the original G1 toy design. It’s easy to see that Ultra Magnus is indeed a truck and trailer combo. Discerning what the trailer is supposed to be still is baffling at first glance. Basically, the trailer is supposed to be a futuristic vehicle transport. But it clashes with how ordinary the truck looks like! It looks like the truck is dragging some modern piece of art or some weirdly designed missile launcher! Like I said, that’s mostly the fault of the original toy but I just wondered if Takara could’ve done something to make it look like what it’s supposed to be.
I do have to mention that Ultra Magnus does come with two extra human figures, adult Spike and his son Daniel. I don’t have any issues with the Spike figure for the most part. But the Daniel figure, with his child-bearing hips looks off-putting. It is rather neat that, despite all of the innards in the truck, you can still have Spike and Daniel fit into both the driver and passenger sides. You do have to open up a panel on the top to fit them in as the doors don’t actually work, though. But it is a nice touch.
You can do pretty much everything you could do with Ultra Magnus’ vehicle mode with what he could do in the G1 toy. You can unfold a ramp to allow other vehicles to get into the trailer. The top portion also bends downward so you can pretend to load up vehicles from the ground. I say “pretend” because the parts that become the forearms are just too large to allow the top ramp to lay flush on the ground. But, hey! It’s a toy so let’s just imagine it does!
There are some other ingenious feats of engineering that I really like. The missiles on the trailer don’t detach but you can swivel them around so they can be placed in the front and not on the side like the original G1 toy. Ultra Magnus’ gun can be tabbed in between the two top pylons for safekeeping. You can even detach the truck portion from the trailer! Considering how solid the connection feels when it’s in robot mode, it’s very amazing how they worked that into the figure without needed to disconnect both pieces during transformation!
I guess it would’ve been too much to ask for the truck portion to transform into an Optimus Prime figure as that was one of the main features of the G1 toy. However, what would’ve been not too much to ask for would be to put a couple of extendable stands on the trailer! When you do detach the truck from the trailer, the latter just flops onto the floor! I can’t see why Takara couldn’t have had some tab flip downward from the waist portion to make a leg for the trailer to remain stable without the truck.
My biggest gripe with MP-22 vehicle mode comes from the fact that the two top pylons of the trailer don’t tab in securely into any of their holes. The arms are supposed to be stuck together but they come apart easily because the connection joints are too tight. They also doesn’t stick firmly into the posts located on the rear as they’re too small. It’s rather unfortunate that, for as good as the engineering is, these issues rear their ugly head.
All the issues I did mention do not make MP-22 a bad buy. Masterpiece Ultra Magnus is still a fantastic and solid figure to have. I don’t regret getting him despite my gripes. He’s not exactly my favorite among the Masterpiece Transformers that I have but he is a worthy addition.
Do you have an MP-22 Masterpiece Ultra Magnus? What do you think of him? Let me know in the comments section below!