Saturday, January 31, 2015

Toy Review: Transformers Age of Extinction One-Step Changers Slash

Review:  #214
Name:  Slash
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Age of Extinction
Year of Release:  2014
Size Class:  One-Step Changers (Wave 2)
Variations:  none but shares the engineering with One-Step Changers Grimlock


Slash is an original Dinobot which did not appear in the Age of Extinction movie, he transforms into a robotic velociraptor.

Sharing a similar design with his Deluxe toy, there are some fantastic sculpting on this figure.

In particular, the dinosaur head is impressive with the amount of detail.

He is mostly aquamarine and green with some silver detailing.  This is a really well formed dinosaur mode with no robot kibble sticking out and no proportion issues at all.

He is bigger than a Scout but smaller than a Deluxe.

A good dinosaur mode that looks fantastic with no flaws whatsoever.


Being a one-step, Slash's transformation is very simple.  It is geared so that when you pull the dinosaur legs out, he automatically unfolds into robot mode.  It's quick, easy and fun, not to mention well engineered.


Slash's robot mode isn't as good as his dinosaur mode, there are some terrible proportion issues here, particular the way his arms curve and the awkwardly looking and close legs.

He has some kibble situated around the place, the dinosaur head acts as heel spurs but it doesn't work too well because Slash still wobbles while standing.

The headsculpt is good but it is fixed in place.  I am surprised at how well it replicated some of the finer details of the Deluxe figure such as the frills on either side of the head and above his knees.

He's a little bit taller than a Scout now as well but still well shorter than a Deluxe.

His poseability is limited to swinging his arms forward, I guess that's more than you would expect considering that everything will be compromised for the one-step transformation.

An okay robot mode which doesn't look that great.


In order to like Slash, you would either like the gimmick (which is well executed here) or you like the dinosaur mode.  If either, then Slash is well worth getting.  However, considering his price is near a Deluxe yet provides less plastic for your money and less poseability, only recommended if you like the gimmick because he is quite fun to transform from mode to mode.


For other Transformers reviews, have a look here.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Book Review: Screwed

Review:  #464
Title:  Screwed
Series:  Daniel McEvoy (not official name) - 2nd book
Author:  Eoin Colfer
Read Before:  no
Comments:  I didn’t find Plugged to be good enough for a sequel but Screwed actually improved upon the story and gives us more laughs and a better plot this time around.  Granted, a lot of things happen but by the epilogue you feel as if some of those might be redundant.  The story arc involved Daniel’s aunt doesn’t seem that important in the grand scheme of things and seemed just like a side project strung along for the ride rather than an intricately intertwined tale.  It also seems to wander aimlessly at times, particularly during the middle of the book where it’s hard to see where it is all going.  The resolution wasn’t exactly the best but what was good about the book is the humor.  It is bigger, better and although can be crude, some of the gags and dialogue are clever.  Daniel becomes a very likeable character in an anti-hero kind of way and I wouldn’t mind if there will be a third book in the series.
Rating:  6/10

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Men in Black 3

An overdue sequel but at least it happened.  One shocking thing is how old Tommy Lee Jones (Agent K) looks, much older than you would expect.  The whole plot revolves around time travel, with Agent J travelling back in time to save Agent K’s life.  The younger version of Agent K (by nearly 40 years) is played by a different actor and they did a pretty good job, both in terms of appearance and mannerisms.  It is passable and you can see more than just a slight resemblance between the older and younger K.  That’s probably all the positives of the movie because while it was still entertaining, it doesn’t stop you from realizing it has a decent amount of flaws.  It relied heavily on special effects and those effects weren’t very realistic.  I had to double check to make sure that the poor special effects weren’t done on purpose but alas, that was not true.  It even feels inferior to that point where the first two films felt better (relatively at that time).  It really breaks the immersion.  There is still some humour but it’s spaced much more sparsely.  The time travel element was okay, some effort has gone into making it more interesting and thought provoking.  The ending was heart enduring but the retcon felt forced.  It was a better movie than expected but wasn’t as fun as the last two movies.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Toy Review: Transformers Masterpiece MP-22 Ultra Magnus

Review:  #213
Name:  Ultra Magnus
Brand:  Transformers
Allegiance:  Autobot
Line:  Masterpiece
Year of Release:  2014
Size Class:  Masterpiece (MP-22)
Variations:  none as of this date


The 22nd flagship figure in the Masterpiece line, it came as a surprise when it was revealed to be Ultra Magnus and not just a white Optimus Prime either, but a proper G1-inspired Ultra Magnus.

He comes in a fancy box like the rest of the line but the thing that will jump out at you is the sheer size of it.  This is one of the biggest boxes (if not the biggest) since MP-10 Optimus Prime.

Ultra Magnus, to be honest, is a bit light on meaningful accessories.  Apart from the main figure (of which we will get to later), you get an instruction booklet, a collector card, two fists, one faceplate, and figures of Spike and Daniel.

Ultra Magnus' instructions feature an impressive piece of artwork, it's fantastic and looks amazing.

The back of the instructions show the many toy incarnations of Ultra Magnus, it is not a complete set though but more like the highlights.

The card has the same artwork as the instructions on the front.

While the back shows the toy, tech specs and some bio information.

If you bought your figure from Asia (excluding Japan), it comes with a collector coin.

The design of the coin holder isn't as clever, you just flip open the front flap to reveal the die-cast coin.  And that's it for this section, onto the figure now!


It only took them ten years but we get a Masterpiece Ultra Magnus that isn't just a repaint of the Optimus cab.  Ultra Magnus is a full car carrier this time around based on his G1 toy / cartoon model.

He is faithful to the G1 model although I find that they could have put some more painted detailing like taillights at the rear of the vehicle.  It looks a bit bare with the solid chunk of blue and white with nothing else to break it.

Ultra Magnus is extremely massive, whereas MP-10's trailer is hollow, the bulk of Ultra Magnus' robot mode is in the trailer, he is really hefty.

The trailer latches onto the cab such that you can pick up the whole figure by just lifting the trailer.  You can release the trailer by pressing a spring loaded button on the bottom of the cab, this is a nice design.

Ultra Magnus looks great next to Optimus Prime, note the red bumper which is pure red plastic, it would have been better if they could have chromed the bumper (either silver to match Optimus or red if they really wanted to be faithful to the cartoon) or painted it a deeper red.  As it stands, it looks out of place.

Ultra Magnus also looks fantastic with the rest of the MP cars.

He has ten rolling wheels with chromed bumper and rubber tires.

The missiles are defaulted to sit outside the upper platform but they are on hinges such that if you prefer, you can place it in front like the G1 toy.

This mode is based on a fictional vehicle but that still doesn't stop them from giving Ultra Magnus some generic sculpting, which really enhances the figure.

If only adding in silver paint to bring out the details wouldn't have blown the budget because there are some nice sculpting.

It is not all good points though.  While he may look great from the front and the sides, looking at an angle down towards him means you can clearly see his robot thighs which is the biggest complaint that I have.

The robot gun has a storage point on the upper decks, filling in the gap in the middle.

The ramps at the back can fold down.

Which means cars can ride up ready to be transported.

The upper decks works as in real life, able to be folded down as a ramp.

Note that due to robot mode requirements (the robot forearms), it does not sit flush against the floor, meaning you can't roll a vehicle up there, only make it look like it does.

In total, Ultra Magnus can carry four MP cars and this provides his biggest play value.

That said, the surface is uneven and depending on which cars you use, you might be able to fit some on the same level as others.

Nevertheless, you can make for some nice display poses in this mode and really gives the impression of cohesiveness of the MP line.

I find that folding the upper deck down as a ramp tends to slightly destabilize the vehicle mode since Ultra Magnus relies heavily on tabs in this mode to keep it in one piece.

Ultra Magnus comes with two figurines, one of Spike and one of Daniel.  We'll get to them more later but they are in scale to the car carrier mode.

Overall, this is a fantastic vehicle mode, there are some minor gripes but all it's great to finally have a proper G1 Ultra Magnus in Masterpiece form.


Apologies but we're not done yet.  As mentioned earlier, the trailer attaches via the hitch and this implies that the cab can detach and displayed separately.

While he looks great from the front and sides, look at him from behind (which, admittedly is not going to happen very often) and you'll see the hollowness of the cab.

He is the same model and has extremely similar sculpting to Masterpiece Optimus Prime but is much lighter due to the hollowness.

Also mentioned earlier is the red bumper which clashes with the rest of the white but it is cartoon accurate so I can't really complain there.

Flipping him over reveals his head.  One of the annoying things is that you can see the through the gap on his hitch area.

You cannot swap trailers with Optimus Prime either because the height of the hitch area are different between the two figures, with Ultra Magnus being thinner and more realistic.

The reason for the cab being so hollow is that it forms part of the torso of the robot mode and also for it it house the Spike and Daniel figures.

They're painted well but I would have rather they used that budget to give more paint to Ultra Magnus, particularly since we already got a Spike figure with MP10.

Speaking of which, Spike here is a bigger version of his MP10 self, which is surprising.

You can place them in seats behind the window and what's neat is that there is a piece of plastic that slots between their legs so that they don't sit loose within the vehicle.

You can just make out them out behind the smokey transparent plastic.

It is a neat feature that they allow the detaching the cab as a standalone unit.


Contrary to expectations, Ultra Magnus does not partsform, not does he transform into a white Optimus Prime.  Instead, they went with the route of having the cab transform with the trailer, without a need for detaching it.

As you can see above, the cab forms the torso and the head.  It pretty much unfolds and then the panels compact together tightly in a clever way.

The rest of the trailer forms his legs, arms and a shell for the cab to clip in.  The transformation isn't hard such that you don't want to transform him again but also complex enough for it to be interesting and clever.  The designer did a fantastic job and it's satisfying manipulating big pieces of plastic around without them feel flimsy or whatnot.  Ultra Magnus has impressive engineering.


Onto the star of the show, Ultra Magnus' robot mode is near perfect.  Gone is the blocky brickness of the original G1 figure, we get good proportions and cartoon accuracy here.

He is relatively kibble free, he has a lot of panels which are compacted together so it isn't too bad.  The biggest offender (and something that annoys a lot of people) is the "butt flap" which is the cab's roof.  There really was nowhere else to put it but designer could have tried to fold it in half or something.  As it is, it gets in the way of holding the figure.

Ultra Magnus has gigantic and thick legs, which is to be expected.  He looks good from many angles.

The head sculpt is good.  As typical of Masterpiece figures, not only his head can turn from side to side, it also has a separate joint for looking upwards.

This is a gigantic toy.  While still within the focus of smaller toys in scale with each other of the rebooted Masterpiece line, this is the biggest figure since MP01 , almost being on par in terms of height.

Naturally, this means he absolutely towers over MP10 Optimus.

He looks great with the other rebooted Masterpiece figures though.

And here he is with Hot Rod, his successor for Prime (well... not that Ultra Magnus was ever Prime but you know what I mean).

He towers over the Spike and Daniel figurines now, which is somewhat amusing actually.

Another surprising fact is that while his figures are individually jointed, unlike Optimus and Soundwave, his index finger doesn't have a second joint.  Although this does mean that you don't lose the tip of the finger.

Given the blockiness, it's safe to assume that there will be concessions made in terms of articulation and you'll be right.

However, even what the designers had to work with, Ultra Magnus is surprisingly nimble with the main joint holding him back being the shoulders.

The shoulders are on ratchets and you only get three positions (neutral, one click up and one click down).  Two of which requires you to untab the shoulders, it would have been nice if they could have found a better way to design these joints but they're not horrible.

His feet are a different story, they have pivots which allow it to stand flat in a variety of poses.

His knees doesn't bend to a full 90 degrees and his hips doesn't swing out that much (forward and backward motion is find though) but all in all, I think articulation is decent.

Apart from his shoulder missiles, Ultra Magnus' only other weapon is a gun.

It is a bit short and stubby though.  The gun pegs into a slot in his hands to keep it securely in place.

The balljointed wrists comes in handy for some gun-wielding poses.

Now, onto other gimmicks.  First off is that he comes with a second face, this can store in both modes by pegging onto a panel that becomes part of the cab.

Once you remove the face you get a surprise... a white Optimus face in homage to the original core toy being a white Optimus!  Too bad part of the faceplate had to be omitted to make the neck joint work.

Anyway, his second face is a screaming one.

Which actually makes for some nice berserk action poses.

Or to show that Ultra Magnus means business and is very angry with you...

However, the official reason for the second face is to replicate the matrix opening scene from the 1986 movie.  You have to use his second set of fists which has slots to slide MP10's matrix.  Ultra Magnus does not come with his own matrix.

Speaking of the matrix, Ultra Magnus has a matrix chamber... however it is empty.

You will need to get MP10's matrix to fit in there (if you want a tip on how to get it out easily, just push in on one side).

Closing the panels you can just make out the matrix through the smokey windows.

You can kind of replicate the scene from the movie if you like.

Ultra Magnus is quite heavy, weighing at nearly 1kg.  This is thanks to numerous die-cast pieces.  Most notably, his feet is die-cast, and that is a big big piece.  I think his antenna and parts of his torso is also die-cast.

All these gimmicks are nice and all but they're pretty much something you'll only do once, Ultra Magnus is one of those figures that just looks impressive standing among your collection.

The paint scheme is nice and I liked how they painted the inside of his legs to match the blue and white instead of leaving it red like initial photos, it makes him much more color coherent.

This is a fantastic robot mode which is hampered by some limited articulation but is otherwise perfectness!


Masterpiece Ultra Magnus is another highlight of the Masterpiece line.  This is a fantastic mode and I loved how they managed to integrate the cab into the transformation without detaching it or making him partsform (although there is still a certain appeal of the trailer forming a separate set of armor).  The transformation is fun and intuitive while the robot mode is amazingly good, perfectly capturing the character.  Highly recommended, even at US$200+ he's fetching for right now.


For other Transformers reviews, check out this page.

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