Name: Fortress Maximus
Series: Generation 1
Function: Headmaster Leader
Alternate Mode: City
Thanks to Griffin for loaning me Fortress Maximus, making this review possible. I have since acquired one of my own (thanks Tiby!)
Height: 30cm Length: 55cm Width: 42cm
Easily the most massive Transformer ever made (along with Grand & Brave Maximi who share the mould), Fortress Maximus weighs in at 5 kilograms/11 pounds. The back of the city is mainly mid grey, there's some light grey in the middle while the front is a mix of white, blue, mid grey and red. The sheer scale of this thing is impressive, leaving Metroplex in its dust. The colours work quite well, and while they're drab this makes sense for a city. I do actually prefer Brave Maximus's colours, which have a "city at night" feel about them.
There are three grey towers at the back, the central one being the tallest at 30cm. There are three ramps at the front and lots of flat spaces for smaller Transformers to park - we're not talking Minicars, either, Jazz would fit on the outer ramps. Smaller Transformers such as the Minicars and SpyChangers also scale well, and toys of this size can use his action features (which I'll get to in a moment).
Cerebros, the head module, plugs into a large socket on the left side next to one of the city's ramps, forming a smallish building. There's a cockpit at the back of the large tower where Spike, the Headmaster for Cerebros, can sit. The transparent turqoise canopy doesn't match the rest of the toy perfectly, but doesn't stand out either (unlike the garish green used on Brave Max). The idea that Spike has his own control centre is nice. There's actually an intermediate Flying Fortress mode, which is essentially this city mode with the smaller towers point out towards the back and the weapons deployed. The control centre works as a cockpit for Flying Fortress mode. I'm not going to go into too much detail about this intermediate mode, since it's really just that, and the city mode is the real prize.
The two larger, white ramps, have red sliders at the back, if you grab hold of tabs on the outsides and push one of the sliders forward, you'll send whoever is on top of the slider rolling down the ramps - the SpyChangers work really well here. There's a little elevator at the base of the main tower, which is wound up and down by a little knob behind the tower itself. Once you've wound the elevator up, pressing a button next to Cerebros down will cause the payload (again a SpyChanger is ideal) out of the little garage and down the central ramp. And it doesn't end with the ramps. There's a series of red platforms and cavity at the base of the left side tower while the right side has a blue staircase leading up to a holding cell, complete with a red, barred, door. A SpyChanger or similar sized Decepticon can be held in this cell, and the door closes quite firmly, which I appreciate. There's a red radar array above the central garage, which can rotate through 360° thanks to a dial at its base, and two red guns on the right side that can lift up, or swing out to form part of a gunpod, complete with pilot's seat which is (you guessed it) perfect for a SpyChanger. Rounding things off, there are two parking bays, at the back of the city in which you can stow two more SpyChangers.
Fortress Maximus comes with two giant guns that can plug into either side of the big tower. Both are blue, a 21cm long single barrelled and a 10cm long double barrelled weapon. There are two simple mini vehicles included as well - a grey and blue car called Gasket and a blue half-track called Grommet. Neither are terribly impressive, they're really designed to work with the ramps and nothing more. Gasket has axles and works well with the slider ramps while the smaller Grommet can fit inside the lift and central ramp. They combine to form a companion robot called Cog, and the two halves look like robot halves lying down. I do appreciate that this figure comes with vehicles that can utilise the gimmicks, at the same time I can't really get excited about them. Brave Maximus comes without Cog and the handguns, and while I'll admit I wish my Brave Max had handguns, I can't say I miss the vehicles (the RiD SpyChangers are a better fit anyway).
This is a great city mode. The colours work nicely and there's a _lot_ of play value - only Omega Supreme has comparable play value amongst the base-sized Transformers. The accessories vary from useful Cerebros who actually had character development in the G1 cartoon to the almost superfluous Cog. The huge handguns are nice, the larger one is bigger than many Transformers. The simple fact is that the mass and dimensions alone are enough to make the city impressive - that it has so much play value is icing on the cake.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Fold away the side ramps, close the holding cell and fold away the stairs and various platforms. The central ramp actually folds underneath itself while the garage door lifts up from within the ramp. Detach Cerebros and the radar array, close Cerebros's cavity and swing the gunpod out to the side. Close the transparent green door up to form a box, fold the entire central ramp underneath the toy and lift it up.
Swing the smaller towers out to the sides and then back to form his legs. The leg joints are very stiff ratcheting joints, and with a toy this heavy tight joints are a good thing. Split the main tower, fold the halves back to form his waist, swing the silver ramps down to his sides, revealing the arms. At this stage we have a headless Fortress Maximus.
Transforming Cerebros into the head more or less involves rolling him up into a ball, with the legs on either side of the torso and the arms tucked away. You plug him head first into the socket (and there's even a cavity for Spike), which gives him somewhere to stow). The radar array and Cerebros's gun have nowhere to go now, although they'll easily store inside one of two large cavities in Fortress Maximus's chest.
The transformation is satisfying enough - there are lots of little things making it complex. The major pieces don't move all that much, but then at this scale simply holding him above the table takes some energy (for an adult), so you want to be able to do most of this without having to suspend him in the air.
Height: 54.5cm Width: 35cm
A hugely impressive robot no matter who he's standing next to, Fortress Maximus is a mix of greys, white, red and blue. The feet and arms are blue, the boots, groin, head and parts of the chest are grey while the thighs are white. Red is now a peripheral colour mainly limited to his integrated weaponry. The torso is a mixture of elements including a die cast blue central panel, the turquoise panel on his left chest, a smaller grey panel on his right chest and two huge red cannons. The eyes are red stickers with silver borders while his face is probably the most well sculpted face we'll ever see on a Transformer. There's a large Autobot logo on a sticker just below the face. The various stickers on this robot are silver with black, red and blue details. The colour scheme is again rather understated, but the colours work very well together. There's a rubsign (and indent) immediately) in front of his chin.
While the waist has some die-cast metal, this is hidden within the main tower in city mode. At first it might seem strange that such an expensive toy contains so little die cast metal, but when you think about it, it's quite logical. Despite being mostly plastic, Fortress Maximus weighs five kilograms - die cast could easily double that weight, making transforming him more awkward than it is, and lifting the thing impossible for many children. I'm perfectly happy with the plastic in this toy - he certainly feels solid in this mode.
The robot itself is tall, blocky and imposing. When I say imposing, I mean that the bodyshape is quite solid and powerful looking, rather than imposing because of scale (although the latter is also true). The boots are huge - almost the size of Prime's trailer, and most G1 gestalts can't headbutt him in the groin.
Fort Max has an attack mode, which bears a total of sixteen red barrels. I've already mentioned the gunpod, which swings out from behind the left boot. There are twin-barrelled guns that lift from his shins, the backs of his fists rotate to reveal twin-blasters while red panels on his forearms open to reveal another set of twin-barrelled guns. The last two are my favourite - the giant red barrels swing out from his hips (they're concealed in the large tower), forming big hip-blasters. The barrels are actually detachable and resemble cigars at 12cm (4") long. The giant blue guns are now handguns - I'm not sure that such a huge robot would need handguns - but he has them anyway. The scariest aspect of the 20cm long gun is that it no longer looks big - since Fort Max is so huge himself. Huge and very well armed, Fort Max is insanely imposing.
There's not really much play value here aside from the attack mode. The sheer weight of the toy makes leg posing impractical, although with the gunpod deployed Fort Maximus can actually sit down. The shoulders rotate, the elbows lift up 90° and the wrists rotate, giving Fort Max good poseability for either a Headmaster or a base. To be honest the articulation exceeds my expectations at this scale, without causing any problems.
My only real complaint about this mode is that the little winding knob for the elevator is now on his groin and looks rather phallic. There are a lot of pieces that can be lost, including Gasket & Grommet, the forearm covers, hip barrels, silver ramps (which can detach from behind the shoulders for some reason) and of course the head - which is probably the most crucial. There are lots of Cerebros-lacking Fortress Maximus toys out there, although I've never been able to work out how you lose an accessory the size of a Rubik's Cube.
As with the city mode, the sheer mass and scale make this an impressive robot - it towers over pretty much anything you put near it - including most pets and small children (in fact, it weighs more than our dog!). The colour scheme is good if unspectacular, while the large die cast belt buckle and huge, detailed face look good. Articulation is surprisingly good for such an enormously heavy toy, and the attack mode gives him a total of sixteen guns, before you add on the handguns. A worthy centrepiece of a G1 collection.
Height: 14.5cm Width: 6.5cm
A twotone grey robot, Cerebros has mid grey legs, arms, chestplate and a mid grey head while his torso and fists are light grey. There are some stickers here and there including one on his chest sporting an Autobot logo. He has yellow painted eyes, the only actual paint on this toy. There's a giant face on his back, which is covered by Fort Max's forehead, that can swing up and down. The stickers on his boots are the "crown" of Fort Max. The colour scheme is really simple to the point of being boring - this robot mode is only really a sideshow to the main event anyway, so as long as it doesn't stand out, the colours do their job.
While his head is the same size as other "large" Headmasters (Chromedome etc), the body is smaller, meaning Cerebros's head is larger than it really should be. While the proportions aren't horrible, his head doesn't quite feel right. The arms sit slightly in front of his chest, which looks a little strange.
As with other large Headmasters, there's a tech spec meter in his chest, tucked away underneath a black chestplate. When you plug in Spike, three barrels rotate revealing red bars that tell us that Fortress Maximus has strength speed and intelligence ratings of ten. This is probably the most notable play value here - the shoulders rotate so he can aim his light grey gun, providing some poseability.
There's not really much to this robot in truth, but for an accessory Cerebros is pretty good, and he easily beats the other psuedo Transformers that come with the G1 bases. His building and head modes are meaningless without something to attach to, but the robot is decent and he combines well, which is all he really needs to do.
Height: 5.5cm Width: 2cm
A mid grey and blue figure, Spike has blue limbs and a grey torso. Spike is a typical large Headmaster head, although his limbs are actually a different mould to those of the others with a very similar shape. The colours are more interesting that those of Cerebros and broadly match those of Fort Max. His face is painted silver, he has tiny moulded fingers and a face on his back that conceals thanks to a fold-up forehead.
His hips and knees bend, allowing him to sit while his shoulders swing. The poseability beats that of Cerebros, which isn't really difficult. As with Cerebros, the main point of this figure is to be an accessory for a larger figure, and he does a decent job of being a humanoid, which is all he needs to do.
The Japanese version came with two extra swords. one for Fort Max himself and one for the larger Headmaster. The mould was recoloured as Grand Maximus and Brave Maximus in Japan. Grand Max came with a Pretender shell for Grand (Cerebros) while Brave Max came without Cog & the large handguns.
An insanely huge Transformer that forms a centrepiece of any collection. With so many extra pieces which can be misplaced (especially Spike & Cerebros), a complete Fortress Maximus will be out of the price range of many fans. Assuming he's within your budget, Fort Max is a good toy. The colours are a little bland but the city mode is great. The overall play value of the set is great, the robot mode is fun despite being a huge statue in many ways. The sheer mass and scale of this toy are impressive on their own, no other Transformer comes close to this mould. The smaller figures are really just along for the ride, but they do what they have to. Gasket & Grommet are somewhat expendable and the Flying Fortress mode isn't much, but there's still plenty in this toy. If you're on a budget I might suggest the far cheaper Brave Max instead, although if you're looking to compete G1 you can't go past Fort Max. If you do have the funds and you're considering the mould, I'd recommend going ahead, since Fortress Maximus is a good toy - 7.5/10