Filtered By: Scitech

TOY REVIEW: ‘Transformers Masterpiece MP-22 Ultra Magnus’ is a work of art 

My single most enduring memory of Ultra Magnus is of him bursting the Cybertronian equivalent of a blood vessel in his attempt to open the Matrix of Leadership – only to get blasted into oblivion by Galvatron in 1986’s “The Transformers: The Movie.” Suffice it to say that, growing up, I was never a big fan of the Autobot commander. Still, he was resurrected thanks to the magic of superglue, and even managed to survive the ignominy of his defeat to become one of the most iconic bots in the Transformers universe.
His popularity explains Takara Tomy’s latest entry in their hallowed “Transformers Masterpiece” series. “MP-22 Ultra Magnus” is a marvel of toy engineering, at once beautiful to behold and fun to play with – not to mention he hits all the right geek spots for the nostalgia addicts out there.
Built like a fortress
Ultra Magnus in robot mode is huge. He’s the tallest of all the recent Masterpieces, putting him to scale with Soundwave, MP-10 Optimus Prime, and smaller soldiers like Prowl and Wheeljack.
He’s also the bulkiest. His shoulders and forearms are enormous, his chest broad, and his legs so thick a single kick would utterly obliterate a tinier bot like Bumblebee. Not that Ultra Magnus would do such a thing. He’s one of the most logical and self-restrained leaders in Transformers lore.
But that’s the wonderful thing about MP-22. He perfectly captures the essence of his original cartoon incarnation – as someone who’s built like a fortress, but also exudes an aura of discipline, rationality, and even gentleness. The latter quality is most evident in his face sculpt, in those tranquil blue eyes and nonbelligerent expression. It’s not an exact mirror of the cartoon’s; his face could have been wider, those eyes boxier and larger, his chin a little shorter. There’s still no denying whom we’re looking at, though.
Takara Tomy’s faithfulness to Magnus’ animated series appearance is also evident in their choice of colors for MP-22, which sports a darker blue, as opposed to the light blue of the original toy.
Elsewhere, the sculpt simulates the simpler design conventions of the 80s. His form is not sleek but boxy, uncluttered by the noisy, pointy garbage congesting some of the Michael Bay-inspired monstrosities that pass as Transformers these days. He’s got panels, grooves and exposed wirings here and there, enough to make him look interesting, but not so much that he’s a Jackson Pollock mess of unnecessary detail.
As a bonus, his chest piece can be opened, in the same fashion as in the cartoon, to reveal an intricately-detailed cavity for the Matrix. Sadly, he doesn’t come with this artifact; he’ll just have to borrow it from Optimus Prime.
He also sort of has the dreaded “backpack” – which in actuality is the cab, folded up. It doesn’t look obtrusive on Magnus at all, however, and is visually consistent with the overall idea of him being super stout. The problem is that Takara Tomy, for all their great work on this figure, failed to devise a way to conceal the roof of the cab in the transformation process. The result is that it becomes a huge flap that dangles behind his butt. You can fold the thing backwards, hiding it, but then it sticks out horizontally from his posterior, which looks awkward when Magnus is viewed from the side or back.
Transformation is initially intimidating, but all you need is one attempt to realize how much fun it is. Magnus’ upper torso is comprised of panels that unfold to become the cab. His arms form the upper part of the trailer, and his legs the lower and back parts.
We see more elaborate detailing in vehicle mode. The cab is studded with rivets and etched with lines. Similarly detailed, the front grill, headlights, and smoke stacks are also rendered in beautiful chrome. Aside from being mostly white, the cab looks exactly like Prime’s truck mode, minus the trailer.
Speaking of trailers, MP-22’s looks amazing. Closer inspection of its interior, however, will reveal his thighs, which breaks the illusion that it’s a real trailer, not a robot disguised as one. The smaller Autobots can fit inside said trailer, giving them a place to park while they wait for Decepticons to ambush.
Another bonus: you can separate the cab from the trailer! Conversely, you can separate Magnus’ upper torso from the rest of his body, but that just looks weird.
MP-22 is mostly plastic, but his feet and head antennae have the cold, hard feel of die cast metal.

This Autobot can’t dance
MP-22’s articulation suffers because of his bulk and transformation scheme. For one, he doesn’t have waist articulation. While he does come with the standard neck, shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, and knee joints, their range of motion is limited by the massiveness of his body parts. The tabs connecting his shoulders to his body can be extended, allowing him to improve his arm mobility – but he still has trouble raising those arms outwards towards the sides. Lastly, he has ankle pivots that let him rock his feet a few degrees inwards.
You can still get some good poses with Magnus, but don’t expect anything wild.

Spike Witwicky and son
Packaged with Magnus are Spike Witwicky and his dimwitted son, Daniel. They’re nothing spectacular, lacking sophisticated details and articulation. They can, however, be made to ride inside Magnus in cab mode. You just have to flip open the vehicle’s hood and rest them on the seats. The humans aren’t to scale, though; I know Magnus is a big truck, but his wheels reach up to Daniel’s shoulders, which is ridiculous. For some reason, Daniel, despite his sex and tender age, also has excellent birthing hips. Unless I’m mistaken and he’s actually a curvy, 18-year-old lady.
Magnus also has a second pair of hands. They are pre-posed and lack the first pair’s finger articulation, but do feature slots designed to hold the Matrix’s handles. Because that’s all these hands are for – to pose Magnus as if he’s opening the Matrix (and failing).
He has a light purple blaster that fits snugly in either of his articulate hands.
Lastly, Magnus has an extra face with an open mouth. In fact, he has a total of three faces. For those complaining about the absence of Magnus’ white Prime form, the figure actually hides a surprise. Lift off the face plate and the anterior portion of the helmet, and you’ll see tucked underneath a white Prime head. Without a jaw. Oh well, it’s better than nothing, right?

A work of art
Despite average articulation, the visibility of his thighs in trailer mode, and the annoying butt flap, MP-22 is easily one of the best Transformers figures to date. Gorgeously sculpted, he is cartoon-accurate in both robot and vehicle mode, effectively pulling into the present some of your most cherished childhood memories of the franchise. Combine this with an immensely satisfying transformation scheme, and “Transformers Masterpiece MP-22 Ultra Magnus” is a certified work of art. — TJD, GMA News