Cliffbee.com: Grand Maximus Toy Review

Toy Reviews
Individual Review




Name: Fortress Maximus
Series: Generation 1
Allegiance: Autobot
Function:
Alternate Mode: City

Thanks to Griffin for loaning me Grand Maximus for this review.



CITY MODE
Height: 30cm Length: 55cm Width: 42cm

   Easily the most massive Transformer ever made (along with Fortress & Brave Maximi who share the mould), Grand Maximus weighs in at 5 kilograms/11 pounds. The core of the city is white, joined by silver on the ramps. The tertiary colours are red, royal blue & dark turquoise. The sheer scale of this thing is impressive, leaving Metroplex in its dust. The colours are brighter than those of Fort Max, and with the inclusion of metallic silver & turquoise make this city more vibrant than Fort Max's city mode.

   There are three towers at the back, the white central one being the tallest at 30cm. There are three silver ramps at the front and lots of flat spaces for smaller Transformers to park. Smaller Transformers such as the Minicars and SpyChangers scale well, and toys of this size can use his action features (which I'll get to in a moment).

   Grand, 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 Gran, the Headmaster for Grand, can sit. The transparent blue 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 Gran 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 - this mode has a lot less silver & more turquoise. 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 silver ramps, have blue 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 Grand 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 blue 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 blue, 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 blue radar array above the central garage, which can rotate through 360 thanks to a dial at its base, and two blue 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.

   Grand Maximus comes with two giant guns that can plug into either side of the big tower. Both are red, a 21cm long single barrelled and a 10cm long double barrelled weapon. There are two simple mini vehicles included as well - a turquoise and red car and a blue half-track. Neither are terribly impressive, they're really designed to work with the ramps and nothing more. The first vehicle has axles and works well with the slider ramps while the smaller vehicle 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.

   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 Grand 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 Grand and the radar array, close Grands's cavity and swing the gunpod out to the side. Close the transparent blue 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 Grand Maximus.

   Transforming Grand 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 Grand's gun have nowhere to go now, although they'll easily store inside one of two large cavities in Grand 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.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 54.5cm Width: 35cm

   A hugely impressive robot no matter who he's standing next to, Grand Maximus is a mix of turquoise, silver, red, white and blue. The feet and arms are red, the boots, groin, head and parts of the chest are turquoise while the thighs are silver. The royal blue is now a peripheral colour mainly limited to his integrated weaponry. The torso is a mixture of elements including a die cast central panel, the blue panel on his left chest, a turquoise grey panel on his right chest and two huge blue cannons. The eyes are red stickers with silver borders while his white 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 a little more garish than Fort Max's, since there's a lot of turquoise and metallic silver here.

   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, Grand 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.

   Grand Max has an attack mode, which bears a total of sixteen royal blue 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 blue 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 red 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 Grand Max is so huge himself.

   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 Grand 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.

   Unique to Grand Maximus is the "Master Sword", a 44cm long black and silver sword which fits over his hand. It's a massive accessory that doesn't do a whole lot other than tower over most Transformers on its own & adds something unique to this version of the mould.

   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 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. While Spike is rare & expensive, I'd shudder to think how much a spare Gran would fetch.

   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. The colour scheme isn't as nice as Fort Max's, but the colours are distinctly different, at least. 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. An imposing centrepiece of a G1 collection.

GRAND
Height: 14.5cm Width: 6.5cm

   A turquoise robot with white torso & white hands, Grand has mid grey legs, arms, chestplate and a turquoise head with yellow eyes. There are some stickers here and there including one on his chest sporting an Autobot logo. There's a giant face on his back, which is covered by Grand Max's forehead, that can swing up and down. The stickers on his boots are the "crown" of the larger head. The colour scheme is quite simple but far less boring than the overly grey Cerebros - in fact he looks pretty good.

   While his head is the same size as other "large" Headmasters (Chromedome etc), the body is smaller, meaning Grand'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 Gran, three barrels rotate revealing red bars that tell us that Grand 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 white gun, providing some poseability.

   There's not really much to this robot in truth, but for an accessory Grand 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. While the main toy is probably a slight regression from Fort Max colourwise, Grand is more interesting that Cerebros.

GRAN
Height: 5.5cm Width: 2cm

   A turquoise and red figure, Gran has red limbs and a turquoise torso, making for one garish little figure. Gran 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 probably the worst in this set; but he does make a nice head for 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 Grand, which isn't really difficult. As with Grand, 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.

PRETENDER SHELL
Height: 18.5cm Width: 11.5cm

   A very bulky pine green robotic green shell, this figure has black arems and white thighs. His chest is painted yellow while the mouthpiece is white and eyes blue. The colours are quite disparate and don't really match the rest of Grand Maximus at all (not that Pretender Shells usually do match the inner robots). The massive silver backpack overwhelms this shell.

   This Pretender shell comes with its own black sword, like the shell itself it's unique to Grad Max. The arms swing, providing some play value. It's worth noting that Grand folds up into a ball to fit inside here - the mould wasn't designed as a Pretender, which is why the shell has a massive backpack.

VARIATIONS

   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.

OVERALL

   An insanely huge Transformer that forms a centrepiece of any collection. With so many extra pieces which can be misplaced, a complete Grand Maximus will be out of the price range of most fans. He's another level of rarity & price above the already pricey Fort Max. In all honesty I think that Fort Max's more subtle colours work better, so I'd only really recommend shelling out the cost of a small car if you're a Masterforce completist. On the upside, his colours are quite distinct from Fort or Brave Max - and this doesn't really come through in photos. The overall play value of the set is great, the sheer mass and scale of this toy are impressive on their own, and Grand Max comes with a Pretender Shell & the insanely huge Master Sword. Given the scarcity and cost, this isn't a toy I can recommend. I would have preferred the Pretender Shell to match the rest of the set here; to add to the overall majesty. Having said that I'd give it the same score as Fort Max, as the extra aspects are offset by the less city-like colours - 7.5/10

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