Masterpiece Ultra Magnus

 Originally posted at on May 19, 2009

For most collectors, there’s a trend toward more and more expensive things. For kids who collect Hot Wheels, there are RCs when they hit the big time, and then once they’re filthy rich, real cars. For guys who collect action figures, the push is usually towards the 1/6th scale, and then, high-end statues. For Transformers geeks, we have the Masterpiece line.

I resisted as long as I could, but I too gave into the Dark Side. Thanks to a fellow collector, I was able to score a Takara-Tomy MP-02 reissue at a fair price of about p5000. Nowadays, these guys fetch about P6000. MP-01 (Optimus Prime) can go as high as P10-12000. You can see how being a collector of this line can really ruin your credit standing.

Unfortunately, owning a hulking metal replica of a Generation One Transformer isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Of the two “Masterpiece” toys I purchased at the same time, this was the one that disappointed. It’s not that it’s bad. Far from it. It is possibly the most faithful reproduction of Prime from the original cartoons that has ever been released. Both vehicle and robot modes are dead accurate portrayals of the Autobot leader (or in this case, his “brother”), but there’s something lacking. It took me awhile to figure it out, but I finally put my finger on it.

He’s not FUN.

Yes, he looks good. Yes, he’s got die-cast metal up the wazoo. Yes, he’s got a lot of cool gadgetry and gear. But he’s not fun at all.

The main reason is that all that metal… well, it’s heavy. It makes him a bitch to set in any position for any length of time. Though he’s got very poseble feet and legs to give him a nice footprint, the joints are too weak to hold the prodigious weight of his boots. You don’t want to display him in any dynamic poses because he will wait for you to leave the room, then promptly fall down and split into tiny little pieces. Not good.

Secondly, because his chest is made of die-cast parts, there are no solid locks on it. The panels are supposed to snap to the plastic wheel wells, but the metal and plastic parts don’t match up perfectly, which means every time he bends over (or falls), he flashes you. If they had been cast in plastic, I’m sure a ratchet could have been included somewhere, or at the very least some kind of snap-lock.

I know a lot you collectors out there love die cast, and I’m sure you have your reasons, but let’s face it, it was left behind because of the limits of the material. And this is my review, so *raspberry*.

There are still a lot of great things about this toy, many of them good enough to justify his purchase if you’re more an open and display guy than a pose and play guy. He’s got two guns, something you just don’t see these days. One is a black version of Optimus Prime’s rifle. It’s really nice, but Magnus had his own rifle that was very nice too. I figure Takara-Tomy got lazy. The gun features a nifty green reflective lens in the barrel and if you look directly at it it looks like he’s about to blow your head off.

The other gun is a replica of Megatron’s rifle form. the silencer, scope and stock all detach, so you can have Magnus as Bond with his Walther if you wanted.

Problem with both of them is that they don’t fit snugly in his hand. Like his posing problems, the accessories tend to fall out right after you turn around to get your camera. Talk about aggravating.

He also comes with an energon axe (that thankfully fits) and a small matrix that fits in his chest.

The matrix lights up if you fit it into his chest cavity, which is a nice touch. Another nice touch is the inclusion of a cardboard trailer to display him with. With a little glue, some tape, and a nice collection of swear words, you can make your very own car carrier in about half a day. You’ll need to be careful with the thing. The cardboard is soft as paper and folds at the slightest pressure. Nice touch or no, I’d rather they included workable armor that differentiated him from the MP-01. Some hard-working fans have tried to create add-on armor for the MP-02, but none of the custom jobs I’ve seen are particularly good.

He does have a few other good qualities. His fingers are individually articulated, He has really great detail all around (check out those hydraulics!), and he has a movable mouth guard if you want to make him “talk”. The biggest rant about the MP line is scale. Because the Primes are so huge, they’re out of scale with everyone else. Or everyone else is out of scale with them. Depends on who you ask I guess. There is also a concern about the re-issued figures. If you’ll look closely, the hoods over the headlights are on backwards. I didn’t even noticed until someone told me that ALL the re-issues had the same problem.

If you want to spend P5000 on a nice Magnus figure, I suggest you find a Classics base figure and the Fans Project City Commander armor set. It’ll cost you the same and be a lot more enjoyable. I’d only recommend this one to collectors who are more into statues and display figures than they are into action figures.

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