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Kamen's review: Ultra Magnus upgrade kit

Name: FansProject’s City Commander Ultra Magnus Armour Set
Subgroup: Accessories

Ultra Magnus is perhaps best known for being a white redeco of Optimus Prime; indeed, his original toy was a white version of Optimus Prime, complete with trailer. However, unlike the parent mold, Magnus’ trailer spilt apart into armour for the figure to wear, and it was his armored appearance that the cartoon used and thus became associated with the character. Although he has had a few original molds since, he usually appears as a white redeco of a given line’s Optimus Prime, and his signature armour is not to be seen. Enter Fans Project. They have decided to correct this colossal wrong and have made some armour for Magnus to proudly wear.

Trailer

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this set is that the individual armour pieces assemble into a functional trailer that the figure may pull whilst in vehicle mode. While hardcore GeeWun fans may note that the trailer looks nothing like Ultra Magnus' trailer as depicted in the cartoon, others may note that despite being a puzzle box of parts it still manages to look like a functional trailer. About the only obvious armour pieces are the hands — visible on the top —and the feet and cod piece — visible on the rear. The trailer also has more than a few hollow spaces that makes its true nature apparent. However, this being an unofficial piece, and an extra function as well, complaining about these few drawbacks strikes me as a tad dickish.

The detailing on the individual pieces is scant here. Some grooves on the sides and top, but it's a trailer so not much is expected and more details will appear once the trailer is disassembled. More importantly, the colours blend well — mostly blue, with white and some red — especially when the trailer is attached to the rear of Classics Voyager Ultra Magnus, for whom the set was designed. Even the white and silver swoop on the side of the trailer mimics a similar design on the cab.

As far as functionality goes, the trailer sits nicely on the rear of the cab, and rolls well, though it cannot turn realistically. Still, the two together look very nice. Otherwise, the plastic quality — perhaps the most important quality of this set — is quite good. It does feel different from the plastic used in Ultra Magnus, but remains as solid now as it did when I first opened the set.

Armour

The trailer splits into seven armour pieces plus an eighth bit of kibble (remember that). Each piece has pretty nice detail work, not a whole lot, but enough grooves and angles to give it a very mechanical look. The codpiece in particular has a very intricate set of molding. Adding to the look are the colours. None actually new, but now out in the open, the reds and silvers, offer a nice contrast to the blue and white.

Although the armour fits very snugly onto the figure, it’s fairly nerve-wrecking put it on, particularly the boots. The robot foot has to be put in at an specific angle and then pushed fairly hard to snap into place, complete with a worrisome crack. Otherwise, the armour slips right on, and holy crap does he look awesome! Big and beefy, hardly anything of the robot beneath is left visible, like he’s an entirely new figure and that figure is a near perfect representation of G1 Ultra Magnus.

The bulky armour does limit Magnus' articulation in minor ways; he remains quite posable, however, and the set even adds a ball jointed neck. The hands can hold either of Magnus' guns, and both weapons can store on the shoulders. Remember that extra kibble? Well, it folds about in to another gun for Magnus. Talk about your BFGs... He can hold the weapon in two ways. Unfortunately, the gun is too heavy for him to brandish it. Bummer. As a consolation prize, there are holes on the sides of his shoulders that may be able to fit G1 Magnus’ missiles! (I say may, because I’ve seen pics, but don’t have the figure to confirm for myself).

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: From trailer to armour, armour to robot, everything fits together snugly. You may need the instructions the first time disassembling the trailer. Not difficult after that, though. 5/10
Durability: The plastic feels sturdy in most places. I certainly wouldn’t be doing stress tests or anything though. 6/10
Fun: Armour. For. Magnus. ‘Nuff said. 10/10
Price: Here’s the tricky part. I got City Commander for about $80 USD all told. However, as he’s fairly limited, you may be out of luck, barring E-Bay, which will likely be ludicrously expensive. Otherwise, look for the repaints (Shadow Commander, etc.) or hope fore a re-release. 4/10
Overall: Bloody Fantastic!The armour itself is great, the trailer is a fantastically done bonus. It does have a few flaws (on of which is that it taking the armour on and off will scuff the underlying figurer’s paint), likely to be addressed in further releases (probably not the paint thing though), but overall it is highly, highly recommended. 10/10

UPDATE:

Since the original writing of this review, FansProject has released an add-on set for City Commander. The add-on contains four pieces — two missile launchers, a rifle and three faces. I'll discuss each part briefly, then give my thoughts on the add-on as a whole.

Missile Launchers

The missile launchers are probably the biggest draw of this set. Ultra Magnus' shoulder missiles were iconic, and the lack of them in the original City Commander set was notable. Even though holes were provided for those who had the missiles from the original release, many of us were out of luck. The missile launchers provided here, are not exactly like the originals. Instead, they are designed with the rest of the City Commander armour in mind. That is, short and stocky. They don't have a lot of detail, and they are a uniform white with red missile heads. Simple, yes, but quite effective. The visual image they provide really breathes new life into the figure. In a, perhaps unintended, bonus, the launchers can rotate, giving Magnus access to various elevations to improve targeting.

The only problem with these is that they have no place to store on the trailer if and only if you have the original release of City Commander. Later releases have some extra peg holes.

Rifle

Although, the Classic Magnus' weapons worked with City Commander, FansProject has included a new rifle in the add-on. At default, the weapon is short and stocky. Shogun-ish, is you will. Flip a bit here, and another bit here, however, and the weapon looks more like a rifle. This second mode doesn't fit in the armoured figures hand, but will fit the unarmoured figure.

My only complaint here is with the colouring. The gun is a uniform white. There are some nice details on the barrel, but the white makes it all very plain.

Like the launchers, if you have the original release of City Commander, the rifle has no place to store in trailer mode.

Faces

The add-on includes one “screaming” face, one “somber” face, and one “masked” face. The former two are silver, the latter white with a silver mask. They look nice, but I'm not confident enough to start tearing the figure's head off to see how the new ones work.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Fun: These pieces are meant for a larger set, and as such they succeed in enhancing the original's appeal. X/10
Durability: No breakable parts here. The faces are small enough to loose should you get them out. 9/10
Price: 11.99 USD at BigBadToyStore. A reasonable price, me thinks.
Overall: If you have City Commander, then this add-on is well worth your money. If you don't have City Commander, this add-on gives you another reason to buy that as well. 10
 
 
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