In the mid-80s, there were some films that played in the lounges of many birthday parties I attended. These included Back to the Future, Teen Wolf, and Transformers: The Movie. Especially Transformers: The Movie.
Yes, that heart-breaking piece of animation saw a ton of established Autobots (the good guys for those not in the know) killed off in the first act - including the well-loved Autobot leader, Optimus Prime in an all-out, one shall stand, one shall fall battle against his arch-enemy, Megatron.
Emotional scenes indeed, for pre-teens, at least, to find that even our favourite good guys can't last forever. Of course, this meant the Autobots needed a new leader and for a short time, that was Ultra Magnus.
Magnus is a brave soldier in the Autobot ranks, who is entrusted with the Matrix of Leadership on Optimus' death-bed. By the end of the movie, he relinquishes the matrix to one he believes more worthy than himself, but for a short time, he was the top dog.
The movie ushered in a raft of new characters and old characters in new forms (as Megatron is reassembled into Galvatron). In turn, this meant of course, a whole host of new action figures for the already swollen toy line.
When Christmas came, I unwrapped my first ever large Transformers toy - Ultra Magnus!
I think Ultra Magnus was sort of a compromise for those kids who couldn't get their hands on Optimus Prime. In other parts of this series, I have bemoaned the lack of choice we had in Alnwick and the need to get to Newcastle for a large toy store with a bigger range of characters to choose from. Anyway, Ultra Magnus took the form of a car transporter and the lorry cab was simply a white version of Optimus Prime, and the transformation was exactly the same. The major difference was though, that the transformed truck alone was not Ultra Magnus. That's where his trailer came in.
Whereas Optimus' trailer opened out into a little command centre, Magnus' trailer became part of him. The white Optimus figure clipped into the back of the opened trailer and with the addition of an outer head piece and some white fists, the transformation was complete.
Ultra Magnus towered over most of the other Transformers, but let's be fair, scale was never a concern for Hasbro with this particular line. Up until Ultra Magnus, I'd only owned a handful of the smaller figures like Bumblebee, who were very much pocket-money figures and incredible small when compared to characters such as Jazz and Starscream.
Transformers, of course, were not my top toys - I loved the cartoon, comics and books - but I was absolutely chuffed with Ultra Magnus and the main thing is, I got hours and hours of fun out of him.
Next up on Seven Figures for Life: Hooooooooooooooo!