January 4, 2010

Bring Me the Head of Ultra Magnus - Collectible of the Week Pt. 1

Filed under: Collectible of the Week, Transformers — fairplaythings @ 3:37 am

Collectible of the Week Part 1


-Special Features: Pulsating Light, Working AM Radio
-Manufacturer and Year: Nasta, 1985
-Key Words: Transformers, Ultra Magnus, Radio

The Story So Far:

There is quite simply no better choice to begin the Collectible of the Week than the Transformers Pulsating Light AM Radio, simply because of the sheer effort it took to finally bring it into my collection.

(4" Munny Goldbug provided for size comparison.)

I honestly don’t know the origins of this particular artifact, other than it was manufactured by a company called Nasta in 1985,  as I don’t recall any pictures of it showing up in Canadian advertising. However, it first became known to me in August 2006 when, in the early days of myspace, I stumbled upon a picture of it in the blog of Screamer, she of Cosplay Soundwave and Wheeljack fame. The picture made the radio look impossibly large, and I was completely gaga over the idea of a radio moulded precisely like the toy rendition of one-time barrier of the matrix.

It became an obsession to own, and one that literally took almost four years to satisfy.

(Original 1986 Toy Head for comparison. Note the similar construction down to the small circles over the eyes.)

You see, for an item that seems to have been marketed in good quantities, it became incredible difficult to find, even using eVilBay. It just didn’t seem to turn up under multiple searches. The few times it did, I was also outbid at the last minute and left wanting. And then there was the farce of December 2006 where I actually won an absolutely pristine, mint in box version of the radio, only to have the seller provide contradictory information as to when and how it was shipped and leaving me going back through PayPal to get my money back. In fact, it was like the stars themselves were against me, for I even found a loose one on eVilbay at the beginning of the year, for US$50, for which I could not get a response out of the seller and which remains for sale to this day.

(Back of Radio. Note that Ultra Magnus requires 4 AA batteries to operate.)

(Just think. If he had actually answered his email, the seller would be rid of the item and have saved himself quite a bit of financial charges. It’s all quite funny when you think about it.)

Anyway, sometime after that, in the weeks leading up to Botcon, I found another boxed version of what by now had become the holy grail, but the seller was unwilling to ship to Canucktown. Fortunately, it was this site’s favourite Rhode Islander to the rescue, as Teresa agreed to receive the grail and ship it to me after the fact. And if things had been farcical before that, it really got downright silly after that, because shortly thereafter, what do you suppose I stumbled upon at Botcon, again prestine in box for about $70? Having not yet received the shipment of the eVilBay version, I almost bought it then and there (and of course when I decided to, just as a precaution, it was long gone.)

(Ironically, the opened speciment has a box in better condition.)

While the radio did in fact arrive, I am sad to report that while the radio functions, the pulsating lights do not. However, proof positive of the dangers of obsession, I subsequently found a second radio on eVilBay in fall 2009. Surprisingly, given all I went through, a casual bid in the mid $20s was enough to secure it for the collection, although I am sad to report that this time, neither the radio nor the lights work. Given that the box had clearly been opened at one time or another (to say nothing of the radio’s rattle), this is not actually surprising. Nonetheless, my kingdom for a bit of knowledge of AM radios…

So, in summary, I now have two Magnus radios. And while there is always the danger that the non-working version will suffer a repainting odyssey as Powered Convoy, the subject of at least one and possibly a second obsession, for now he rests comfortably.

(Back of package. Note the glowing forehead and eyes.)

One thing that you will notice in particular is, like the Optimus Prime cookie jar resembles the original Optimus Prime head, the radio very closely resembles the actual toy. The notable exception is the clear piece of plastic between the eyes, which, as demonstrated on the back of the package, is intended to light up. (You’ll also notice that, unlike the actual toy head, the radios have not discoloured to this point in their history.)

In any event, a gorgeous addition to any collection. Both times in my case, as it were. Makes you long for a Galvatron version.


  1. The one thing that stumps me about this piece is how could it have been released in 1985 yet feature a character whose toy would not see release until 1986? What’s really weird is it has a box that looks like it was produced for release during the 1984 line. The chronology of its release is a mystery to me.

    Are you absolutely sure the working one’s lights are dead? Maybe it’s just a matter of you tuning into a strong enough station. I have some friends who know a thing or two about this radio and they gave me some tips on how to get it working good. I’ll email them and see if they can come up with anything.

    Comment by Evil King Macrocranios — January 6, 2010 @ 9:10 am

  2. Well, now I’m not sure. I’ll try your advice and check the lights again this weekend. Would be awesome if it wroked.

    The vintage of the radio is odd to me too. I speculate that it is all wrapped up in the fact that there was a pre-existing toy for Magnus (which is why they went with him and not Rodimus) and they just used existing artwork, not knowing what the final box artwork from Hasbro would look like in advance. The date is probably when it was moulded and not actually released. But it is a mystery.

    Comment by fairplaythings — January 8, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

  3. [...] Addendum: Collectible of the Week Pt. 1: Bring Me the Head of Ultra Magnus [...]

    Pingback by fairplaythings.com » Addendum — January 12, 2010 @ 9:40 pm

  4. hello
    i’ve just won a ultra magnus radio off ebay, the radio works but the lights dont any clue how to get them working.

    Comment by matt — November 1, 2010 @ 3:26 pm

  5. hello
    its now working fully, just needed some better batteries and tuning in to a better station.

    Comment by matt — November 1, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  6. I’m glad to hear you got it working. It really is a gem of a collectible!

    Comment by fairplaythings — November 5, 2010 @ 12:14 am

  7. Funny that I just ran into this discussion, I have a Transformers Pulsating Light AM Radio, new in the box that fell into my hands in a lot of robots that I picked up from an auction for, I almost sold it for $ 30, now i’m holding on to it for dear life : ) thanks.

    Comment by Anthony P — September 5, 2012 @ 3:16 am

  8. Hi there,
    Incase you are interested i am selling one on Ebay Australia at the moment. It is in complete working order both radio and lights and is boxed with instruction leaflet. Happy to send O/S.
    Look at this on eBay http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/331894027408

    Comment by Lea — July 2, 2016 @ 2:25 am

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