Sunday, 2 November 2008

FansProject TFX-01 City Commander Armour

A strange tradition has emerged in recent years where any halfway decent mold used for Optimus Prime gets reused in white and blue as Ultra Magnus.

All the more strange when you consider that 'Ultra Magnus' is traditionally depicted as an Optimus Prime-like truck/robot combined with a trailer that becomes armour, creating a much larger robot. It began back in Generation 1 days, with a car-carrier trailer that upgraded its cab into a robot with very limited articulation, carried on in Robots in Disguise, where Ultra Magnus was an entirely different mold, entirely legless without his trailer, and could combine with Optimus. Other than that, though, Ultra Magnus has tended to be a white repaint of Prime. Even 'Masterpiece' Ultra Magnus was just MP01 repainted, with no extras.

So when Classics Ultra Magnus was released, I was rather underwhelmed and only bought him because he was part of a two pack with Skywarp, and I was quite keen to have more than one of the original three Seekers.

Who knew that, a year or so later, a fan-made version of his Generation 1 armour upgrade would become available?

Furthermore, who knew that it would be so damned good?


Straight out of the box, packaged in trailer mode, it's fairly nondescript. Licensing issues mean that it has no Autobot insignia, painted or molded, but such things are easily added (as I have done!). The only disappointments with trailer mode are that it's completely fixed - Classics Optimus Prime/Ultra Magnus's connection peg is square, so making any corners is going to be tricky - and that, since every part of this trailer serves a purpose on the upgraded robot, it no longer functions as a car carrier. The rear still opens, but it doesn't form ramps that reach the ground, even if there was space in the back...
Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Still, who's going to show this thing off in trailer mode? Upgraded robot mode is where it's at...

Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket

Quite frankly, FansProject have done an astounding job of putting the Ultra back into Ultra Magnus. No more will Grimlock call this 'bot "Mini-Prime". While some might complain about this incarnation of Ultra Magnus being a parts-former, he's technically not that different from the original, albeit vastly more complicated. Generation 1 Ultra Magnus part-transformed the cab, then just plugged it into the bottom of the trailer and added a few pieces. This one requires the trailer to be taken apart completely, then added piece by piece to the Voyager Class 'Magnus'.

For the most part, the pieces clip on quite satisfactorily. Mine has a fairly weak connection between the chest and collar, which occasionally slips apart when posing him, and the crotch piece doesn't seem to fix in place too well. On the other hand, the lower legs can be a nightmare to connect. However good the plastic quality is, it does feel dangerously close to breaking point when you finally snap the basic robot's legs into position. Once they're there, they are a complete bugger to get out again, so I've only transformed him a couple of times. The head sculpt, while not particularly G1-accurate, is clearly that of Ultra Magnus, and fits the Classics aesthetic very well. It seems to be on a ball joint, too... but it's movement feels quite limited.

On the subject of movement, it's amazing how little impact this armour has on the poseability of the toy. The legs still move quite freely at the knee and the hip, the arms can still be quite expressive, and waist articulation is almost completely unaffected. Even better, the armoured robot has articulated wrists, enabling some quite dynamic posing with the core robot's two guns.

But this incarnation of Ultra Magnus has another weapon - a large portion of the trailer becomes a giant dual-purpose cannon, a veritable BFG. It kind of reminds me of the weapon wielded by RiD Ultra Magnus, Blue Bolts, which could be a kind of Gatling gun or a cannon, depending on which way round it's arranged.

Overall, while expensive (I got mine by preordering at TFSource.com, for just under $80), one must remember this is a very limited edition. As such, and considering the quality of the build, it's well worth the money. The only downside some people have experienced is that the BFG is slightly too heavy, and causes the arm to sag. This is a problem with the core robot more than it is with the upgrade, in that the shoulder is a non-ratcheting joint, and the ratcheting elbow is quite weak. Mine manages to be just about strong enough to hold the gun up, but the twisting bicep is too weak to hold the weapon too far off the upright.

Eventually, I'm aiming to get some comparison shots with the Generation 1 version but, for the moment, let's settle for proof that, with his BFG, Ultra Magnus can deal with it now...

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...