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Series: Beast Wars Neo
Allegiance: Destron
Categories: Ultra
Year: 1999

Please note: The images above show Beast Machines Magmatron, the US-release of this figure. Desastron reviewed the Japanese release, but seeing as there are no differences worth mentioning between the two figures, we decided to be lazy and simply reuse the existing pictures. Hope you can forgive us.

Review by Tobias H.:

Prelude: Most fans will have heard of the series Beast Wars, which was one of the milestones in the history of the Transformers. What's not quite as widely known, though, is that "Beast Wars" spawned not just one, but two spin-off series.

First there was Beast Wars II, which was created mainly to bridge the gap for Japanese fans between seasons of Beast Wars. This series was never aired outside of Japan, but it was popular enough to pave the way for a second spin-off series.

Beast Wars Neo might just be the most extraordinary Transformers series ever produced. The characters especially were set up differently than one would expect. And what would a Transformers series be without a main bad guy? Here, too, Beast Wars Neo broke new ground.

Of course Magmatron, the leader of the Destrons, plans to conquer the universe as most of his predecessors did. In his case, though, it’s not strictly a matter of megalomania. Magmatron simply thinks that his way is the best way: All Transformers united under a strong leadership. What makes Magmatron different from his predecessors, though, is a sense of honor.

Magmatron deeply respects Big Convoy, who has already beaten him once previously to the series’ beginning. Magmatron also fights fair, something no top bad guy has ever done. Remember the time Megatron challenged Optimus Prime to a “fair fight” in the original series, which was to determine which party would be allowed to remain on Earth? Megatron cheated by transferring the special powers of all his subordinates into himself. Magmatron would never do such a thing.

In the sixth episode of Beast Wars Neo there is a one-on-one fight between him and Big Convoy. But it isn’t Magmatron who gets help from outside. As Big Convoy is in danger of losing, Rockbuster, an old ally from days gone by, comes to his rescue. And when Magmatron stands alone against Unicron, he doesn’t order his subordinates to come to his aid. They’re all present, but even though he is clearly outmatched, he continues his one-on-one battle.

His entire behavior towards his subordinates is also highly unusual. Magmatron does not punish his people for the occasional failure. He is always fair towards them, for which they respond with loyalty and faithfulness. He recognizes successes, doesn’t dwell on mistakes. Magmatron has all the inklings of a highly professional soldier.

What truly sets him apart, though, is his behavior at the end of the series. He lets go of his personal goals, conquest of the universe, and enters into a permanent peace with the Cybertrons in order to rebuild the devastated planet Seibertron and ensure a future for his people. That alone makes him what’s possibly the most interesting Destron of them all.

Robot Mode: Magmatron is an Ultra-class figure with a rather remarkable look. For one thing there are the big wings on his head. Big wings on a figure’s head might sound a bit strange at first, but they really look good on Magmatron. They feel like an ornate headdress of some kind, or maybe a samurai’s helmet. Which would fit the toy’s character.

Then there are the three heads of his alternate modes. These are spread out across his torso and give him an uncanny, almost demonic look.

The most unusual detail about this figure might well be the choice of colors, though. Most other head bad guys in Transformers are usually grey or maybe a dark green, but Magmatron is a rather colorful fellow. Legs and tail (yes, Magmatron has a tail) are colored a dark blue. The head and parts of his back are a bright red, while his arms, other parts of his back and the big defense mechanism on his left arm (I intentionally avoid the term ‘shield’, seeing as it’s more of a grappling weapon) are leaf green. Additionally he sports a few grey and yellow highlights.

Surprisingly this wild mix of colors works pretty well together und the detailing is done beautifully. In terms of looks Magmatron certainly couldn’t be any more extraordinary than he is, but this experiment succeeded.

Another interesting thing is Magmatron’s posability. In theory he is very posable. His legs, his feet, the hip, the arms, even the head can move. But the way he’s put together somewhat limits his movements. The wings on his head, for example, restrict how far his head can turn. His feet, too, can only move back and forth a little bit. Not that it matters, they are such that they give him plenty of stability. When I first transformed him I thought that his tail would be needed as an additional stabilizer, but it isn’t so. It’s just there for the visual.

Finally I’d like to mention his armament. For one thing Magmatron has a sword, the blade of which can be fired like a missile. You can load ‘normal’ missiles into the sword handle as well, though. Magmatron also has this shield-like grappling weapon on his left arm. If you press the upper extensions together, the lower perform a grabbing motion.

So all in all there isn’t a whole lot to complain about when it comes to Magmatron’s robot mode. His biggest strength, though, is his extraordinary look. A very good robot mode.

Alternate Mode: Magmatron’s alternate mode, too, is breaking new ground. He doesn’t just transform into a different shape. Magmatron’s robot mode splits into three components, each of which assumes a different alternate mode.

The lower half of his body becomes the so-called “Landsaur”. Scientifically it’s a Gigantosaurus, one of the biggest carnivorous dinosaurs of all time. The dinosaur walks on his hindlegs, which are pretty posable by the way and give him good stability, too. His arms are on ball joints, which makes them pretty bendy as well. Apart from that, though, he’s rather immobile. He can open and close his mouth, but that’s it. This dark blue Gigantosaurus is the weakest of the three dinosaurs in my opinion. But I do appreciate that they didn’t chose yet another Tyrannosaurus Rex for an alternate mode. And the Gigantosaurus isn’t bad, all things considered.

Magmatron’s head becomes a flying dinosaur called “Skysaur”. This one here’s a Quetzalcoatlus and amazingly well done. The legs are multi-jointed and fully posable, which opens up a number of different poses for this flying dinosaur. Head and neck are mobile, too. Even the jaw can open and close, but there’s a small mistake here. The Quetzalcoatlus didn’t have teeth, but you can write that one off under artistic freedom, I guess. One fun detail here: If you pull on his butt, the Skysaur flaps his wings. And even those have multiple joints for a halfway realistic series of movements.

Finally Magmatron’s third component form is a leaf green aquatic dinosaur, the so-called Seasaur. In this case it’s a Elasmosaurus. The body of this ancient water-dweller somewhat resembles a turtle. He’s got four fins and if you press the two rear ones together, you get a sort-of swimming motion. The highlight of this component is the long, whip-like neck, though. It consists of a number of fully articulate parts, which enables many, very natural looking poses.

Taken separately the three components aren’t bad, but there is a bonus round. Because the three dinosaurs can be combined. The resulting combination is called “Magmasaur” and is a chimera. The front part consists of the Landsaur, which form the head, arms and forelegs of Magmasaur. The rear parts consists of Seasaur, who contributes the rear legs and the whip-like tail. The Skysaur, finally, gives wings to Magmasaur. This fantasy beast kind of resembles a dragon.

This mode looks a bit cobbled-together, but was shown looking just like this in the accompanying TV series, where it posed a near-insurmountable challenge for every opponent. The proportions of this Magmasaur do seem a little strange, but one has to respect the fact that they managed to combine these three dinosaurs at all, and in a half-way harmonic-looking way, too.

So all in all Magmatron is no slouch when it comes to alternate modes. The three individual components are mostly well-thought-out and designed. The combined form isn’t perfect, but still interesting. It’s not easy giving any sort of final verdict here, because one has to keep in mind that Magmatron represented a completely novel concept back in the day. So I think one can honestly say that these modes are done pretty well as well.

Conclusion: It’s not easy to give a final rating to Magmatron, as this figure offers quite a few different aspects and one can easily lose track. The robot mode is very good and has but a few flaws in terms of posability, resulting from his design. These can be neglected, though, as Magmatron scores heavily with his unique and great look.

In terms of weapons I have nothing to complain about, either. The robot mode kind of reminds me of a very colorful, demonic Samurai warrior, a look I really like. Maybe not everyone’s cup of team, but mine.

The three-part alternate mode isn’t bad, but one does notice its experimental nature. So in this case I, for once, would like to rate each component separately in order to explain my final rating.

The Landsaur gets a straight B. The figure is solid, but could have been improved in certain aspects. The Skysaur gets a straight A. This component is highly posable, very nicely detailed and offers complex wing movement to boot. The Seasaur is also awarded an A. It, too, is very nice to look at and posable. The neck especially can be posed in numerous different ways thanks to its many joints and the body has a nice swimming gimmick. Nothing to complain about here.

The combined mode, the Magmasaur, is but an additional extra to me. It does look a bit cobbled-togther and so I can’t give it more than a B. So taking these into account, the final rating for the alternate mode(s) would be somewhere between A and B. Seeing as I’ve given the robot mode an A-, the final rating can only be a well-deserved…

Final Rating: A-
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