Transformers Review: Fortress Maximus (Encore Titan)

Intro:
            For those who have been following the New Planet Cybertron webpage, you’ve probably have gotten used to the term Holy Grail. Of course, we’re not talking about the biblical Holy Grail, but rather those elusive action figure(s) wish list that all of us has.
            For most hardcore Transformers collectors, this usually means those hard-to-come-by G1 figures, and occasionally those from other series as well. For me personally, there have been so many figures from my personal Holy Grail that I managed to get so far – G1 Galvatron, G1 Omega Supreme, G1 Megatron, G1 Sixshot, G1 Overlord, G1 Predacons, Powermaster Optimus Prime a.k.a God Ginrai, Unicron, Primus and a few others.
            Unfortunately, having said all that, there are still several more that have been eluding me, even to this very day such as the G1 Dinobots, G1 Trypticon, G1 Scorponok, Victory Star Saber, Victory Deathsaurus, Masterforce Road Caesar and a few more others.
            Still, based on my experiences, I have learnt to never say never, and that there will always be opportunities. Opportunities to grab these Holy Grail-level figures have always presented themselves in the least expecting ways: the best example is how I managed to get my hands on Galvatron during a toy hunt, that even the shop owner himself didn’t realize that he had one.
            Anyways, when talking about Holy Grail figures, there have been many of them for me, in no particular order, but for as long as I could remember, there has always been a constant Number One. He has been there on the very top of my most wanted list for decades and has never budged from it. I also reckoned that this particular figure is also one of the most sought after figure, if not the most, amongst TransFans all over the world, due to its character depiction, as well as its reputation.
            Well, ladies and gentlemen, here he is, in the flesh, in all of its PVC glory – Fortress Maximus!
            Yes, finally after years of collecting and searching, I have finally come to this – the biggest official Transformers figure ever built. Standing at 2 feet tall, he is the biggest one there is.
            Some may not concur that Fortress Maximus should have the honor of having the biggest ever figure to his name. Technically, Metroplex should be bigger because he is said to transform into a city, while Fort Max only transforms into a base. So with that, a City should be bigger than a Base.
           Primus and Unicron, by all means should have bigger figures than Fort Max, because they are literally planets, but I guess those in HasTak probably thought that planets don’t make good play sets like bases do.
            Getting a Fort Max figure is never easy – anyone would tell you that. Those vintage Fort Max figures from the 80s, if you can find one, could easily cost you RM 3000. In fact, I’ve even seen the prices went up as high as RM 5000! I may be an avid Transformers collector, but I doubt that I will ever fork out that much money for a Transformer figure – at current financial status anyway.
            Anyways, as soon as Takara-Tomy announced that they will be re-releasing the Fort Max figure under the Encore line, I was ecstatic. I knew exactly that if there was that one Transformers figure that I had to have, Fortress Maximus would be it.
            Yes, it may be a tad expensive compared to your normal Transformers figure, but come on, this is Fort Max we’re talking about here. Look at the sheer size of that mother load!!!
            When I finally got him, carrying him back to my car was, oh how should we put it, eye-catching? When you’re carrying such a huge box in a crowd, you’re definitely going to be the center of attention.
            I remember how excited I was at the realization that I have finally attained my Number One Holy Grail figure of all time! That feeling was definitely surreal.
            So, enough with the yapping, and let’s get down to what would probably be New Planet Cybertron biggest review ever. This is definitely going to be a looooong one…

Box:
G1 Box Art
            I don’t normally review boxes, but since we are talking about Fort Max here, I thought I might as well give it a mention. The box itself follows the designs of vintage 1980’s G1 figure boxes – with the figure itself portrayed in the front, as well as a battle scene at the back.
            The box itself is pretty darn imposing.
            One other thing else that’s worth to mention, although it does really have anything to do with the current box – the old vintage boxes from the 80s itself may worth a fortune. I have seen the price of an empty box alone escalates up to RM 1000, prior to the re-release of the figure.
            I don’t know about, but to me, that is just plain crazy.

Spike:
            Now, whoever this little guy is is really opened to interpretation. If the animated series is anything to go by, this little guy is known as Spike Witwicky – the grown-up little kid that we used to see partnering Bumblebee frequently during the 1st and 2nd season of the show.
            However, if the comics are anything to go by, this little guy is instead named Galen Kord – the leader of the Nebulons. It was after his brave death that Spike took the role in Galen’s stead to form Cerebros’s head.
            The Japanese Headmasters series on the other hand have their own interpretation. The little guy was named Fortress instead, while the rest are only his upgrades – there were no more Cerebros or Spike.
            Anyways, the little guy is quite neat. It actually the size of any normal Headmaster figures out there.
            Articulation-wise, the arms rotate at the shoulders and they are severely hindered by the backpack; the hips and knees bend as well. Both legs however are jointed at the knees.
            Just in case if you didn’t know this by now, Spike (or Galen or Fortress or whoever he is) transforms into a head. The face of this head is actually carved onto the backpack, well hidden by a small panel.
Spike - Head Mode
            There’s not much you can do with this figure, but who are we kidding, we definitely didn’t buy this set for this figure, did we?

Cerebros:
            For goodness gracious me, to be honest with you, I have no idea what Cerebros is. In the original cartoon series, specifically in the 3-parter episode called “Rebirth”, Cerebros was seen inconsistently transforming into either a supercomputer or a smaller-scaled base mode that was supposed to be a computer.
            In the series, Cerebros was depicted as being totally against war and fighting – a pacifist
            In robot mode, once Spike is attached to the body, the Stats Meter on his chest depicts his Speed, Intelligence and Strength as being maximum, thus aptly naming him Fortress Maximus, I supposed.
            In this mode, Cerebros is the size of your normal Deluxe-class figures. The articulations are quite limited, as was the norm of most Transformers figures in its days. The shoulders rotate 360°; the hips swing forward and that is practically it.
Supercomputer or a building block, you decide...
            Having supposedly said that he is a supercomputer, I doubt that anybody would say that his alternate mode look like any conventional supercomputer. In fact, since he does attached to the main body in either the Flying Fortress or Base modes, he looks more like a building block to me than anything else.
Cerebros - Head Mode
            A few more twists and turns later reveals that he could be way bigger than he already is.

Fortress Mode:
Fort Max's Fortress Mode , alongside his Kabaya Candy Version
            Fortress mode – or rather, the base mode – itself is a huge monument. Back in the 80’s when Fort Max was first released; I reckoned that it was intended to be a play set.
Ramps to launch the Autobots into battles, as well as a prison
            The G1 Metroplex, G1 Scorponok, G1 Trypticon and to some extent, Omega Supreme, Overlord and God Ginrai were commendable efforts, but they were just too small to provide any real playing experience.
            Fort Max, however, is a whole new different ball game. He is huge and more importantly, fun!
Satellite Dish
Compartment underneath the fortress...
... with a functioning elevator...
... operated by a dial at the back of the fortress.
            There are just so many hidden chambers and trap doors all over this mode. Fort Max has prisons to lock up some renegade Decepticons; ramps to launch various Minicon/ Legends/ Minibot-sized figures; chambers for Autobots to run their errands; working elevators; turn-able satellite dish; and various guns and blasters all over him!
Gasket
Grommet
            To add to play value, Fort Max even comes with his very own drone – Gasket and Grommet mini vehicles – Gasket being the grey vehicle with 2 blasters on top and Grommet being the blue armored truck.
Cerebros and Cog
From left: Cerebros, Cog and Kabaya Fortress Maximus
            Together, Gasket and Grommet too can combine to form a robot ala Metroplex’s Sixgun called Cog.
            You will definitely have fun with this guy, especially if you have loads of Minicon/ Legends/ Minibot-sized figures.
Fortress Mode featuring Marvel Universe 3 3/4" Hulk and Colossus
            If you think that is all Fort Max got, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet…

Flying Fortress Mode (Spaceship Mode):
            Yep, like it or not, I am still going to call this mode Spaceship mode, despite what it is officially called.
            Frequent visitors to this blog must realize this by now, that I am not really a fan of 3rd modes. More often than not, they are merely afterthoughts.
            I reckoned that some people may not like this mode, and truth be told, I was once one of them. At first, I really didn’t dig this mode. Granted yes, he’s huge, and could easy take up space of most tables or desk, but it initially did look like an afterthought to me.
            Then I realize, in most of the older sci-fi cartoons that I’ve seen in the 80’s such as Macross, their motherships were definitely as blocky as Fort Max, even more so when this mode was heavily depicted in the Japanese Headmasters series.
            Again, this mode is also heavily armed and you couldn’t help but think that he could probably take out an entire Decepticon armada if he wanted to.
            Since I doubt that most kids would be able to pick him up and fly him like a normal jet plane, Fort Max does have wheels underneath that you could push him across any flat surfaces, but that’s not all boys and girls – there’s more…

Robot Mode:
Fort Max still in packaging
            This is why we bought this figure. He is freaking huge, tipping at 22-inches tall and weighed almost 5-kilograms.
Fortress Maximus in all his glory
            The guy is really blocky at best – square-ish in most parts.
            The head, formed by Cerebros is definitely show-accurate. One thing worth noting is that Cerebros, as the head, can be attached to his body, with or without Spike.
            When comparing its size with some of the larger figures in my collection, Fort Max clearly dwarves all of them. In fact, Fort Max is even the size of some 2 or 3 year-olds.
Fort Max and his Kabaya Counterpart
            While Fort Max does originate from the 1980s, his articulations are still quite good, though they were still far from modern standards.
Front row from left to right: ROTF Optimus Prime-Jetfire Combo; Kabaya Fortress Maximus; ROTF Devastator
Middle row from left to right: DOTM Dragon-year Ultimate Optimus Prime; Cybertron Primus; Universe Unicron
Back row: G1/ Encore Fortress Maximus
            The head does not rotate; the arms rotate at the shoulders, bend at the elbows and the fists rotates; the hips ratchets in all directions; and the ankles tilt forward.
            If you thought the fortress mode was heavily armed, then think again. more guns and blasters are revealed – on the waist, arms, fists and legs, and a friggin’ huge arm gun. Somehow, for some odd reasons, this mode kind of reminded of Ramrod, or Saber Rider’s fame, as it too is heavily armed.
            As if those guns weren’t enough, Fort Max also comes with his signature Master Sword, which was heavily depicted in the Japanese fiction, and for being a trigger for Fort Max to become big – transformation to the big guy would begin when Cerebros (or known in Japan as Fortress) pulls the sword out from his command console.
            Some of the hidden compartments not used in this mode, can be used to store some of the extra accessories.

Accessories:
            Just in case you haven’t noticed this by now; the set comes with 2 mini vehicles called Grommet and Gasket, 1 arm gun, 1 blaster, 1Master Sword, a bunch of stickers and weapons to be used by Cog and Cerebros.
            If you decide to put on all of Fort Max’s stickers on him, you are probably going to have loads of fun doing it.
Commemorative Coin Envelope 
            If you are lucky enough, you would probably get a release of Fortress Maximus figure that also comes with a commemorative coin and smartphone/ tablet earphone jack plug.

Coin Close-up
            The coin itself is kind of neat, although I do somewhat question the relevance of the latter.
Smartphone/ tablet earphone jack plug
            Anyways, all in all, the accessories are a welcome indeed. 
Overall:
            If you’re a Transformers fan or collector, there is definitely no reason whatsoever for you to not love this figure. In the world of Transformers Collecting, this figure boast various landmarks: for almost 29 years, he has held the title as being the tallest Transformers figure ever, only recently being outstripped of the title when HasTak announced the release of the Titan-class Fall of Cybertron Metroplex. Be that as it may, I reckoned that Fort Max still holds the record for being the heaviest Transformers ever – you should try picking him up to realize that he is even heavier than a newborn baby!!!
            For almost 25 years, Fort Max also held the title as the most expensive Transformers figures until the release of figures such as the Revenge of the Fallen (ROTF) Devastator, FOC Metroplex, Masterpiece Optimus Prime and many more!
            Fortress Maximus is definitely a piece of history worth having, and would definitely be the centerpiece of any collections!
            One thing that I’ve realized (though I have no kids of my own – yet), I realized that play sets such as this would definitely provide a good bonding time between parents and their kids. A figure as heavy as this would probably prevent kids from transforming him often – heck, even I have problems transforming him with his sheer weight! That is where their parents come in. They could sit together with their kids, playing and transforming this figure with them, while spending some real good quality family time.
            Yes, I admit, the price may be a bit steep, but honestly, if you have the dough, go get Fort Max. You will definitely love him, cuz he is just impossible not to love.
            Highly, superbly, and most definitely recommended.

            Final verdict: 10++/10


2 comments:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I was tempted to buy the Encore release, but I'd rather finish grabbing the last few pieces I need for my vintage piece.

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    Replies
    1. Mind if I know what are these "few pieces" that you're looking for?

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