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This is it, this is the big show. This is Fortress Maximus! Like, literally, because this is the fortress mode we're looking at first. Or the base mode or battle station or whatever you most like to call it. And this is also my least favorite, and I think where it sharing a lot with Metroplex ends up hurting it.
Let's make no mistake, this body has had a lot of retooling and reworking of parts since Metroplex, but leaving a lot of the functional basics the same. That means that not everything gets to be all it could have. And so the base mode is just kind of splayed out, flat, and unimpressive.
The main guns can't even point forward. Regardless of which way you decide forward even is.
There are fan modes to try to build up the fortress mode some, and they have varying degrees of success. Mine involves rotating the waist joint, and resting part of the opened legs on the base of the runways.
It's less than perfect, but it's reasonably stable and gives an impression of the blockier structure of G1 Max's fortress mode. But even with this, it's only so much help.
What it has going for it is overall size. Get some Deluxes on it and you have an impressively scaled play base. And of course with Titan Masters it's even better for that sense of hugeness.
But even something like a combiner plays well, especially if you hold to the idea that a combiner should be bigger than the sum of its parts.
That can actually make them really nice for looking like the base is under major attack.
While not as diverse or mechanically involved as on an original Fortress Maximus, there are small compartments to be found here that Titan Masters can occupy. This one in particular appeals to me, having a second level looking like metal grating. It adds a neat dimensionality to the space.
And with the flip down hatch, it's easy to imagine as a place to deploy small ground vehicles out of.
Meanwhile the clear canopy above has a gun turret that a Titan Master can occupy while the compartment is opened.
There's even what I would characterize as hidden compartments. One below this runway, though there's not much to see in there besides the hollow interior of an arm.
For the other you have to go a little deeper. A holdover from Metroplex leaves the same runway/arm able to hinge up, and there's a decent little space that becomes available in the socket where the shoulder was. It's hard to tell how much space is available when the arm is closed up, but it might be a nice hiding spot for a Titan Master or two.
Cerebros is the source of electronics, and has a unique assortment of sounds for when it's combined in as the tower. It still carries the same function of randomly mixing sounds together as was seen in its robot mode.
If you want to remove Cerebros, you will lose some of the tower's mass. But you're not entirely left with an empty socket, as the overhanging bits of the tower can flip up and help make the structure look... well, less incomplete at least.
Once Cerebros is out on its own, you can remove the turret and let Cerebros carry it as a gun, finally giving it an accessory to play with.
Let's move to battleship mode. Handily, from the base mode virtually all you need to do is straighten the legs out. I'd also suggest putting Cerebros back in as well, but you don't specifically have to.
This is the alternate mode that most carries the spirit of the original toy. And that's kind of sad considering G1 Max's ship mode was considered the weaker, tacked on form. But I've always had a soft spot for this goofy ship design.
Sadly you don't get to discover any extra compartments or anything here. You can still use most of those found in the fortress mode, though. It's the tradeoff you end up making. This looks more like what it's meant to be, but it doesn't have any unique play features all to itself. I guess on the one hand it's okay since you can retain most everything the other alt mode offered. All you're even arguably losing is the shoulder socket space, and even then only if you care about not having part of the ship structure swinging free for a bit. But even Cerebros doesn't carry a distinct sound package for the ship mode. It's impressive enough I suppose that it even has three distinct electronics phases, but it still comes down to one mode or the other is getting left out of the features pool.
You're also going to find your first structural issue in this mode. I guess officially, Hasbro are not considering this as a spaceship or other flying vehicle - which apparently gives it an exemption from drop testing - but fans all know the origins, and there's nothing wrong with the desire to fly your huge Transformer starship around making wooshing noises. Except when you pick it up, it folds in half. The robot's hip joints don't have the strength to support the weight of the legs in this horizontal orientation. Now as long as you're supporting it at both ends, you can make do. And given the weight and size, that might be needed for some people anyway.
But a related problem is an absence of means to lock the robot mode legs together to tighten up the front end of the ship. Which I've become somewhat annoyed by just thanks to noticing some tabs and slots from Metroplex are still here, tabs that existed for the very purpose of attaching the legs together. Problem is? The way Fortress Maximus is built, they're on the wrong sides. It's not a misassembly, the legs are meant to be put together the way they are, but those connecting pieces are simply being ignored despite that if things were built slightly differently, they could serve here to strengthen things.
You know, I just thought of something. Where is Emissary meant to go in ship mode? With Cerebros integrated, it wouldn't be plugged in there, and there's no compartment on the tower for it like on G1 Max. I guess he could hang out in the vehicle bay, or maybe stand on one of the ramps, but that seems very... afterthought-ish. I'm surprised that element seems to have been overlooked.
Transforming to robot mode is the greatest bit of simplicity from ship mode. Clip the feet up, slide the shins apart from each other, stand it up, split the tower and fold it back. This is also where the movable parts of the tower are intended to be used. Bring down the arms and adjust the hands as needed. As we Head On!, Fortress Maximus is complete.
One thing I've been asked a few times is about the joint strength, in particular the knees. Reportedly Metroplex's knees tended to bend back under its weight, but Fortress Maximus feels good and solid in this respect. And the matter of the hips not being strong enough in the ship mode ceases to be an issue with holding the weight in this way. Posing is still gonna be a limited reward effort. I'm not one of those ankle tilt people, but in this case, the absence may be more harmful.
There's a ton of weight (well, not literally, actually just 4 kilograms), and so if you spread the legs even out to their first click on the hips, you end up on the edges of the feet. This puts all that downward force on a tiny amount of surface. Depending what it's standing on, like maybe carpet, it'd work fine. Anything smooth, and you'll have to work to find the point where it can both balance, and look dynamic. I'd never say Fortress Maximus is a toy that you can get major posing out of. To be honest outside the arms I think the G1 toy had it more right in terms of articulation. But with care and patience, and understanding of the forces you're working against, you can manage a fair bit here.
The arms don't have any major problems. I wish the ramp hinges were a little more solid to keep them from falling back when you raise the arms, but it's not a huge thing. The big joints in the arms are all good for holding up the weight they need to.
The head does turn. It's got a big swivel disk around the neck connection. It looks completely immobile when the head isn't attached, but Cerebros gives it the required leverage so you can turn it easily.
The electronics in this mode are controlled by the clear green button on the chest. That pushes tabs up in the neck, activating the electronics in Cerebros. This works regardless of swivel position. It also routinely pops the head off on at least my copy, so holding it in place is recommended.
This Fortress Maximus has not yet been stickered, so you can get a sense of how it looks just straight out of the box. I acknowledge that it's missing things like Autobot symbols, but on the whole, I don't really feel like it comes off super lacking this way. Basically, if you're not eager or comfortable trying to apply several dozen stickers, you can probably get by with skipping a lot of them. At least in my opinion, I know others will feel very strongly about how detailed Fortress Maximus looks, so here's what to expect before you go to work on it.
I don't have Metroplex, and I sold my Brave Maximus a few years ago, so I don't have anything quite as big as this. My next tallest Transformer is Devastator. It actually still looks pretty repsectably sized next to Fort Max.
I'll spare a massive size comparison dump, but here's a normal combiner.
And here's a couple Deluxes and recent Legends to show how the robot mode towers over all.
None of the opening compartments are really useful in robot mode. I had hopes for the clear hatch, but it won't sit level for a good gunner position. And the forearm door opens the wrong way to be good for anything much.
There's definitely a loss of interesting firepower versus a G1 Fortress Maximus.
No waist cannons, no guns in the hands or arms, and the classic hand held weapons are absent too.
What you end up getting is this turret unit that attaches to the leg.
It's able to stay put in all modes, but can be safely removed if you like. Though I don't see much point in it.
The main armament is those leg guns. With some amount of difficulty, you can slide them off the legs. There's really not a particular good way to do this, you kind of just have to pull straight up on them until one side comes loose, then it's easier to slide the other off.
Fold down the handle, and you can thread it under the thumb and tab it in to the palm to equip Fortress Maximus with hand weapons.
The hold is secure, and proportion-wise they fit pretty well. I'm a bit irritated at the thought that this gimmick might have prevented these cannons from maybe being able to swivel in place on the legs, though. At least there is an option for a hand carried weapon in this release, I think it would have been bad if it didn't have anything along that line.
So that's pretty much Fortress Maximus. There's minor functionality with the Leader Class toys to connect base modes together, but that demonstration will have to wait for another time. Overall, having handled a G1 Fortress Maximus body in the form of Brave Maximus, I think the old toy gets it more right. This one is harder to handle, and while it has more range of articulation, posing is not a general strength. In terms of a more direct comparison, I like this a lot more than Metroplex. The body proportions are better, it has colors, and based on the little bit of experience I had and talking with Metroplex owners, Fortress Maximus seems like a more stable robot. Plus with Cerebros and Emissary, you get a higher overall play value out of the package. I think the quality of the alt modes is basically a toss up between them.
If you missed out on Metroplex, this can probably fill that void and then some. For the $150 I think it's maybe not the best value it could be, especially compared to Devastator last year. But it's a great big robot that can spread out in a couple ways and let you pile your normal size and tiny size other robots on to it, and there is something super appealing to me about that concept. Of course it'd be made all the nicer if it played the theme from The Headmasters when I transform it. Come on, September...
|Date||July 2nd 2016|
|Score||(8 out of 10)|
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