The Transformers brand saw a pretty busy 2015 with more than a few awesome figures released in both the Combiner Wars and Masterpiece lines, but the figure that stood out to me the most was the leader class Combiner Wars Ultra Magnus because this figure hit every note I have been hoping for in a new, updated Ultra Magnus figure.
For years, Ultra Magnus has been screaming for an update that isn’t just a repainted Optimus Prime, and this year Hasbro and Takara finally gave us two of them, but I chose the Combiner Wars figure over the G1-faithful Masterpiece figure because it’s based on Ultra Magnus’ current look in the wonderful IDW More Than Meets the Eye comic. So maybe I’m approaching this with a firm bias in place, but so what? This is the Ultra Magnus figure I’ve been waiting years for, and I could kiss Hasbro right on the lips for giving it to me. It’s pretty much as perfect a representation I could reasonably expect from a retail-level Transformers figure.
The key feature that made this figure so great for me was the inclusion of the inner ‘bot Minimus Ambus. Loosly based on the “white Optimus Prime” figure within the original G1 Magnus, Minimus Ambus is a welcome departure from the white Prime we’ve come to know as Ultra Magnus’ inner ‘bot. Based on the character from the IDW comics, we learned through Ambus that the name “Ultra Magnus” is a title, and several ‘bots have worn the Ultra Magnus “armor” over the years — Minimus Ambus just happens to be the current occupant.
And I have to admit that I love the way Hasbro approached this and the way Ambus fits in Magnus’ chest. He’s got his own little control room and is able to wear Magnus’ head as a helmet, much like the old white Prime did. So this figure is something of a throwback and something new all at the same time — chocolate in my peanut butter and stuff. And the alt mode is immediately recognizable as the car carrier Transformers fans are familiar with, and while that mode may not be the smoothest alt mode ever, it’s good enough to produce plenty of warm fuzzies.
From an engineering/complexity standpoint, there were better Transformers figures released this year, but for my money, this Ultra Magnus hit all the right notes for me, so he is definitely my pick for the best of 2015.