We'll get this out of the way right at the start: yes, this toy is small. If it helps you feel better, pretend it's in scale with the small "Cyberverse" scale figures.
Ultra Magnus is legendary among Autobots and Decepticons alike. The mere sight of his armored form charging into battle is more than enough to inspire his troops to victory, and his strength as a warrior is more than enough to break any Decepticon army.
I loved Dreamwave's War Within series - the pre-Earth designs were just cool, and made for excellent toys. 2010's War for Cybertron also did the pre-Earth thing, but its designs weren't as good, and neither were the toys. Now we're on to Fall of Cybertron, and since there was enough time to properly engineer the toys this time, things are looking up. Since I already had WfC Prime I skipped FoC Prime - which meant that I wasn't excluded from buying the mold now that it's been repainted into Ultra Magnus.
For once, the repaint's head wasn't revealed in black and white photos on the instruction sheet - Hasbro told us ahead of time that Ultra Magnus was coming. The head is definitely an update of the classic look, with a pointy chin and a large helmet with a blocky crest in the center and double-antenna dealies rising up over the ears.
Optimus was redesigned for Fall of Cybertron, so Ultra Magnus is very blocky. His chest is angular and flattened, rather than
sleek and pointy, but the parallels between the two designs are strong. The new body has L-shaped armor on the shoulders, and three exhaust pipes that are meant to point toward the back of the figure, but if you leave them standing straight up, they do a nice gob od mimicking the original's shoulder-pylons. He has large forearms and shins, which make him look that much more intimidating - and also look like he's wearing external armor, which is another nice reference to G1. There are plenty of small technological details on the body as well, and fake tire kibble sculpted in his back.
Ultra Magnus comes with a black blaster
whose shape draws inspiration from G1. That gun also came with FoC Optimus Prime, but Magnus' second weapon didn't. He comes with a giant sword, which, amusingly, is used by OP in the game, so why does he come with it and the previous toy didn't? The sword is 4½" long and is as poorly proportioned as a Final Fantasy weapon. And like a Final Fantasy weapon, it gets bigger and meaner.
Instead of being a solid piece, the sword is built from three parts: the handle, and two pieces of the blade. You can take them apart and recombine them with the blaster to form a more threatening weapon. That's a fun feature, and actually helps make the inflated price of these figures worth it.
War for Cybertron Optimus Prime was one of the most complex Deluxe class figures ever made, but this mold is much easier to work. The downsizing of Transformers is evident here: the final product is 2" tall, 2¾" wide and not even 4" long - neither very "ultra" nor very "magnus."
While the robot mode had some parallels to the WfC design,
the vehicle has none (other than the need to look like a prototypical antecedent to this, of course). In fact, it seems to have more in common with War Within Prime, what with the three exhaust pipes coming almost directly behind the giant front wheel and the backwards-angled bumper and grill. This truck looks much sturdier and more armored than the last one, which is another reason we like it better as Ultra Magnus than as Optimus prime.
In keeping with tradition, the figure is blue and white,
with a few red accents. Of course, the blue is very dark, not as light as it used to be, and the red is limited to the windows and the lights, but there's no mistaking the intention. This isn't an attempt to force the old colors to perfectly fit a new toy, it's an homage. You can mount the gun on the back, pointing up over the cab, and the sword will plug in on either side, along the wheels.
Ultra Magnus doesn't appear in Fall of Cybertron, but he's available in a multi-player DLC bundle - at which point the robot mode looks like FansProject's City Commander and the vehicle mode looks nothing at all like this. But none of that really matters, because this is a nice toy, and definitely better than the Optimus Prime release. Hopefully you had the sense to ignore that one, because Ultra Magnus is the one you really want.