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with Cerebros & Emissary

Series: Titans Return
Allegiance: Autobot
Categories: Titan Headmaster City Convention Exclusive
Year: 2016

Prelude: Fortress Maximus, aka the Big Guy, the standard against which all citybots need to be measured, largest G1 toy ever, and long-time record holder for largest Transformers toy period. Well, in terms of mass he’s still the biggest, I believe, but he is no longer the tallest. That distinction now goes to Thrilling 30 Metroplex, who has been remolded to serve as the Titans Return version of Fortress Maximus. This one here is actually the San Diego Comic Con exclusive version, which I got for a very good price from my buddy Reyjin. Let’s see how he measures up to the all-time champ of citybots.

Robot Mode: Let us start by comparing this figure to its G1 predecessor. TR FortMax is a good deal leaner and about half a head taller than his older counterpart, who is pretty boxy and heavyset. Naturally the newer figure is quite an improvement in terms of articulation. While G1 FortMax was pretty bendy for a G1 figure, he still lacked knees and couldn’t turn his head. TR FortMax has just about all the joints one would expect from a current-day figure, so no complaints here. His hands even have individual fingers. Look-wise there is no problem here, lots of detailing, and the character recognition is present and accounted for. This is Fortress Maximus, no doubt about it.

While the articulation is a definite improvement, TR FortMax falls short in several other categories. One, he is a remold of Metroplex, but hasn’t really been remolded enough. The right arm is still able to slide around onto the robot’s chest, a requirement for Metroplex’ transformation into city mode, but utterly superfluous here. The right arm also contains a huge empty compartment, where Metroplex had an additional gun. There are several more areas where more changes to the Metroplex mold would have been welcome, but I’ll go into those when I get to the city mode.

Two, of the truly insane amount of weapons G1 FortMax carried, only the leg guns and gun module on the left leg have made it into the Titans Return version. No hip guns and no guns in the forearms or hands (there is an upgrade set for most of that), no rifle (there is one here, too, yes), no smaller twin-barreled gun. The SDCC exclusive version at least comes with a big sword, referencing the sword that came with the Takara version of FortMax. The sword looks pretty cool, but you can’t close his fist too tightly around it, lest the hilt slides out of the slot in his palm.

So bottom line for the robot mode: not bad, but not nearly as much fun as the G1 original due to the lack of gimmicks/weapons.

Partners / Add-Ons: Fortress Maximus is still a Headmaster. A Double Headmaster, to be exact. His head detaches and transforms into the Deluxe-sized robot Cerebros, whose head detaches and becomes the Titan Master Emissary. Cerebros is a pretty good-looking Deluxe-sized figure and while the retail version has him with the face of G1 cartoon Cerebros (mouth guard and all), the SDCC version instead has him with the humanoid face he wore in the Japanese Headmasters cartoon. Whichever you prefer. Cerebros is surprisingly lean and well-articulated, considering that he has the sound module for FortMax in his torso. He carries a double-barreled laser gun (which can also be mounted in various places on the larger robot) and the tip of the larger sword, which becomes a smaller sword in its own right. Overall Cerebros is a pretty good figure, no complaints here at all.

Emissary, Cerebros’ head, takes his name from the Robots in Disguise version of the character and is your typical Titan Master, no surprises here. Emissary can sit inside Cerebros’ double gun. Said gun can be mounted on top of a drone vehicle that doubles as FortMax’ leg-mounted cannon module.

Though not officially part of the Fortress Maximus set, one must mention Siege Cog, who should definitely be part of your collection. Cog and FortMax simply belong together. Cog can even replace some of FortMax’ missing weapons. If you got a FortMax, go get a Cog! And even if you don’t have a FortMax, go get a Cog!

Alternate Modes: Fortress Maximus is a kind of triple changer, having both a city/base mode and a battle ship mode. Much like with the original toy, the two modes don’t really differ that much. The battle ship mode, which is FortMax’ better alternate mode, is basically the robot lying on his back. Parts of the hip fold out to become a control tower, which is filled with Cerebros (who is also kind of a triple changer, now that I think about it) in an intermediary mode between head and robot. The battle ship mode looks pretty good, though the fact that the control tower is pretty much an empty shell without Cerebros bugs me a bit. Still, it looks pretty cool from most angles and there is yet another upgrade set available to further disguise the fact that he’s a robot lying on his back.

Then we get to the city mode, though, and the somewhat lackluster remolding from Metroplex becomes apparent once again. So many of the gimmicks and features present in the G1 FortMax city mode are missing here. The side ramps don’t unfold. There is no actual entry into the city, just a central ramp leading nowhere. The robot legs, despite being hollow and capable of opening up, can’t fold together into proper towers and don’t have the compartments of the original, either. The central tower is a good deal smaller with no spinning antenna. Sure, I wasn’t expecting an exact copy of everything the G1 city mode offered, but in direct comparison the TR version really falls short in terms of play value.

Also, the official layout of the city mode with the robot legs spread out sideways really doesn’t look good. It kind of reminds me of the city mode of G1 Scorponok, who has the worst city mode of the original G1 citybots. There is a fan mode (several, probably) that makes use of the legs’ ability to open up and gives you actual towers. It looks tons better, but it’s very wobbly and still doesn’t approach the brilliance of the G1 city mode. Which is a shame, really, as I think the potential is there, but again, too little was changed from the original Metroplex mold. So bottom line: better leave FortMax in robot or battle ship mode.

Remarks: Who and how big Fortress Maximus is varies from continuity to continuity. In the G1 cartoon and toy line he was a huge citybot, controlled by Cerebros and Spike. In Headmasters he was a lifeless transector for the normal-sized Fortress. In the comic books he’s also a normal-sized Transformer (though among the bigger ones), while the atrocious Titans Return cartoon once again showed him as a huge citybot. So... yeah, it varies. Most people remember the toy more than the character, though, and the toy is really, really big. So naturally any update of said toy should be really, really big, too.

Being a huge Fortress Maximus fan, it was hard for me to hold off on buying TR Max for so long, but I am rather glad I did. For the very good price I paid, he’s fine. But had I paid full price, I would probably have been a bit disappointed. It’s not that he’s a bad figure, it’s just that, given his size and how great the G1 original was, he should be better. Many of the lost gimmicks and features could have been added without too much trouble, I think. Instead this seems to be a case of wanting to get the maximum amount of bucks out of an existing mold without putting in too much work.

Bottom line: recommended only if you’re a FortMax fan and can get him cheap enough to have cash left over for the upgrade sets. Without them and at full price, I really can’t recommend him.

Rating: C+
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