Could there be a more dutiful and honorable Transformer than Optimus Prime? Best known as the city commander of Autobot City in the classic 1986 “The Transformers: The Movie,” Ultra Magnus was even more by-the-book than Optimus Prime. The toy that would become Ultra Magnus began as Powered Convoy in the Diaclone toy line. When Hasbro repackaged the Diaclone (and Micro Change) as the Transformers, Convoy became Optimus Prime. Powered Convoy became Ultra Magnus (the armor painted red, white and blue, with the inner robot painted white) in 1986. The armor unfolded into a functioning car carrier. While huge and quite complex, the first Ultra Magnus toy was essentially a brick, with no real articulation beyond the arms.
Cool trivia: The G1 Ultra Magnus makes an appearance as one of the toys manipulated by Eleven in the first episode of the third season of Netflix’s “Stranger Things.”
Beyond the many recolors, Ultra Magnus is best represented by three incarnations, Takara Tomy’s 2014 MP-22 Masterpiece Ultra Magnus, 2008’s Transformers Animated Leader Class Ultra Magnus and 2015 Hasbro Transformers Combiner Wars Leader Class Ultra Magnus. But all those were compromises toy-wise; they didn’t ring true to the G1 original’s two-robots-in-one quality.
The good thing about Hasbro’s repeated reincarnations of G1 favorites in their modern lines is how modern toy technology is applied to old characters. This is why the Hasbro Transformers War for Cybertron: Siege Leader Class Ultra Magnus is the best toy version of the character.
Yes, the robot mode isn’t as cartoon-accurate as the Masterpiece version, but it’s also nowhere near that dizzying price point. Packaged in a tall window box, Ultra Magnus comes first in robot mode (the Transformers line’s switching the packaged toy from alt mode to robot mode is the best decision ever). It stands eight inches tall, and the dimensions are balanced. The head is smaller and the shoulders not overwhelmingly long. In armor robot mode, it has articulation on all the limbs, even the chunky legs as well as a waist swivel. It can be posed better than any previous Ultra Magnus toy. The toy comes with a large silver rifle that is an updated version of the original, two nonfiring shoulder rocket launchers and two additional black blasters. There are ports all over the robot mode and the alt mode for these to peg in. The paint job is magnificent, with a battle-damaged-looking silver wash, to go with the iconic red, white and blue. It’s a sterling example of the design ethos behind the Siege line.
The Siege Ultra Magnus comes through with its inner robot looking like a white Optimus Prime with all the right articulation and the ability to wield the larger robot’s weapons. Instead of one giant “overall” like the G1 version, various pieces of different sizes snap onto the inner robot to become the full-on Ultra Magnus.
The alt mode—a futuristic take on the seminal Freightliner car carrier—is smaller than G1 alt mode: It can’t carry Voyager Class vehicles. The transformation is a parts-forming party with tabs everywhere; the car carrier has to be compressed to become the armor and thus requires unfolding to do the reverse.
How good is this mold? Hasbro retooled and recolored it to produce the awesome 2019 Galaxy Upgrade Optimus Prime. There will surely be an even more G1-homaging Ultra Magnus in the future, but for this price and at this time, the War for Cybertron: Siege Ultra Magnus is the ultimate Ultra Magnus.