Transformers Titans Return: Fortress Maximus by Hasbro, Part 1

Well, I’ve been saving this big bot for a while now and with Toy Fair getting my toy collecting juices flowing (I’m talking about you, Trypticon… Lotion and tissues were involved!), I thought this week would be a good time to open him up. In order to give Fort Max his due, I’m going to take a couple days to look at him and that means no DC Friday tomorrow. Sorry, but it takes me a long time, and some serious DIY bullshit, to rig up my sad little photo stage so that it’s big enough to shoot something like this. So, while I’m on the subject, let me apologize in advance for the lighting in this review. My set up is designed mostly for figures in the 4-inch to the 12-inch range, so I had to just do the best I could and I can’t say I’m terribly pleased with the results. Anyway, today I’m going to check out the packaging and his robot mode and tomorrow I’ll have a look at his two alt modes. And with that out of the way, I think I would be remiss if I didn’t state what most of us have been thinking ever since this toy was first shown… OMFG, FORTRESS MAXIMUS GOT A MODERN UPDATE AND HE’S ABSOLUTELY FREAKING HUGE!!!!

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Hell yeah, he is! This isn’t so much a love letter from Hasbro as it is a giant, heavy package of sex in plastic transforming robot form. The last time I saw a Transformer this big he was in a Generations box and his name was Metroplex. Well, the deco may be different, but the box is right about the same size as we saw with Metro. Alas, the artwork here is landscape, whereas Metro’s was landscape on one side and portrait on the other. Why does that make any difference? Because I have Metro displayed standing on top of his box and I use the box itself to store other Transformers. Yeah, I can still do that here, but the artwork just won’t be orientated right. It’s fine, I’m about to start mixing up my Transformers display anyhow and see if I can find a shelf for these two Titans. Besides, here we have another Transformers figure clocking in at over 2-feet tall and I’m complaining about the box, so I’ll just shut the hell up now so we can open it and see what’s inside…

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Fort Max is built using some parts shared with Metroplex, so there are going to be some general similarities here. The first of which is how he comes in the box with one arm detached. Unlike Metroplex, Fort Max’s arm actually detaches again, so if you want to store him in the box, that’s do-able this time. Mercifully, Hasbro used the regular string to secure him (with the exception of two invisible elastic bands), so getting him off the cardboard tray is as easy as snip, snip, snip.

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Also included in the box is a folded instruction sheet, a profile card, and a glorious foil sheet of stickers! STICKERS!!! I love putting on stickers. At least for the first five or ten minutes and then I’m ready to be done with it. It doesn’t help that putting stickers on Fort Max is like trying to dress a large fussy child for church. If this is going to be anything like it was with Metroplex, I’ll start with him standing on the table and soon have him across my lap, over my shoulder, and just all over the place. Well, wish me luck. I’m off to sticker him up, and after a lot of teeth grinding and a few expletives, I’ll be back to try to get this review rolling…

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Aaaand back! The stickers didn’t seem as bad as with Metroplex and I think they go a long way to spice up the look of the toy. There are a few strips I left off, which I may decide to put on later. But before looking at the big bot, let’s check out his Titan Masters. Yes, Fort Max has not one, but two Titan Masters. Yo mama so fat even her Titan Master has a Titan Master! Seriously, this is like one of those Russian nesting dolls. I’m going to start small and work my way up!

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First, you have Emissary, feel free to call him Spike if you want, and I don’t have a whole lot to say about this tiny bot. He’s basically similar to your average Titan Masters, featuring the same level of articulation with ball joints in the shoulders and neck and hinges in the hips and knees of his fused legs. He’s molded in the same dark gray, light gray, and blue plastics as the big guy himself and he does have some paint on his face, which really goes a long way to make these little bots look better. Like the Titan Masters we got in the first wave of Deluxe’s this one just feels a bit more premium than what we’ve been getting since.

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And in case you were wondering, he is indeed compatible with the other figures in the line. Here he is with Hot Rod standing in for Firedrive. Of course, Emissary is intended to transform into the head for…

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Cerebros, who transforms into Fort Max’s head. This guy is roughly Deluxe-sized and he’s a damn cool looking robot. He’s got great proportions and a nice boxy G1 look that I just love to death. His chest is a silver grill that conceals some lights and a speaker. Connecting Emissary’s head mode to him causes his chest to light up, fires off some start up noises and he says his name in a cool synthesized voice. Pressing the head down again will activate some firing sounds. The deco uses most of the colored plastics used on Fort Max himself and yet Cerebros manages to look rather distinctive.

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I particularly dig how he has a shroud on his back to cover up the Fort Max face. Having a giant face on your back may be alright if your a tiny Titan Master, but I don’t think it would have been very excusable for this guy. The articulation here is pretty much spot on for a Deluxe-sized figure too. He’s a very solid figure and loads of fun to play with all on his own.

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The head sculpt is fantastic. He’s got a rounded black “helmet,” a prominent mouth plate, and a blue visor. And yup, you can pop any Titan Master you want on there if you want to change out his noggin.

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Cerebros has a gun, which is stored in Fort Max’s clear chest compartment when you take him out of the box. It also has room to seat a Titan Master, but I’ll get to that tomorrow when we look at the alt modes! Transforming Cerebros into Fort Max’s head isn’t much more sophisticated than transforming the little Titan Masters. You fold his arms in front of him, fold the legs up to the sides, and flip up the face shield. Doing this activates the familiar G1 transforming sound and with him in his head mode and plugging the noggin into Fort Max’s body makes the ancient Titan speak his name. And with that, we can finally have a look at Fort Max himself!

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Ooooh YEAH! If this doesn’t get you hard, there’s something wrong with you. Or maybe that’s the other way around. Either way, I’ll confess that by reusing parts, I was afraid this guy was going to come off as a Metroplex masquerading as Fort Max, but it doesn’t at all. Yes, if I look carefully I can see some of the same features in the forearms and lower legs, and the hands are the same, but if I didn’t already know about parts sharing, I’m not sure I would have identified it until I stood the two together and really scrutinized them. Nope, when I look at this beauty all I see is a fantastic modern update to the Fort Max toy I wanted so badly as a kid. I think the thing that strikes me as most immediately impressive is how great one of these Titans looks with some color. No offense, Metro, I still love you, but the blue, red, and gray plastic, coupled with some lovely silver paint apps all looks so damn good here, and it really picks out all that wonderful sculpted detail in the mold. And there are a ton of details! This guy just wears it well.

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The back shows off more of those amazing details. It also shows the two ramps that drop behind his arms. These are easily the only awkward thing about the robot design, as I guess you could call them base mode kibble. They don’t really get in the way much when I’m posing him, but they can look a little awkward when his arms are up. That having been said, the original G1 mold had them too, so who am I to complain?

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In fact, if I were to complain about anything it would be that Max is rather light on the ordinance, at least as far as the Hasbro release is concerned. Metroplex came sporting a massive shoulder cannon and a pair of hand guns, which could mount on his shoulders. Max has knee guns. And that’s pretty much it. Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some knee guns, and I get that they were going for an exclusive enticement with the sword, but I would have really liked his rifle, and I kind of miss the flip out hip cannons that the original toy had. At least, you can take Cerebros’ gun and mount it to various ports on Max, including his left shoulder, which looks pretty good. OK, that’s enough griping… that’s really all I’ve got for the griping.

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Cerebros forms a truly fantastic head sculpt. Max looks quite the noble bad ass and if you press the button on his chest his eyes will light up and he’ll make all sorts of battle noises, powering up noises, and he’ll even utter “Autobots” and “Decepticons” from time to time. Fort Max is not much of a conversationalist, and I always thought it odd, at least in the Sunbow cartoon, that the bigger the robots got, the dumber they sounded. In addition to the great head, you can really see some of the amazing sculpted detail in this closeup. From panel lines to gears, to sculpted turrets, they really decked him out. I dig the translucent plastic they used for his chest compartment too. This toy just looks so amazing!

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There’s no doubt that Max is happiest when he’s standing at attention. He’s quite stable that way and, like Metroplex, I know I can stand him on the shelf like that and not worry about him toppling over. Of course, there’s also plenty of articulation to play with too. Max features some heavy ratcheting joints, similar to what we saw with Metro, and the arms can hold whatever pose I put them in and the legs do a pretty good job of holding Max’s substantial bulk if you don’t get too crazy.

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With that having been said, I’m pretty pleased with some of the wide stances and action poses I’m able to get out of him. It does take some work, finding that sweet spot where he will balance. And if you give him too wide a stance, his legs are inclined to slide outwards and do the splits. I wouldn’t be comfortable posing him like this for a long period of time, but it does make him surprisingly fun for such a large and bulky figure, let alone one that transforms into two alt modes.

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If any part of Fortress Maximus isn’t totally blowing my brain out the side of my skull, it’s just because Metroplex came first and stole some of his thunder. But that shouldn’t take anything away from him. In fact, and I’m going to get a little sappy here, playing around with this figure really made me feel like a kid again. There’s something about a toy like this that is just so grand and so magical that it personifies that perfect Christmas morning or that especially amazing birthday. It literally fills me with joy to know that there are companies out there like Hasbro that are willing to take risks and say, “Who cares if kids these days just want Apple Watches and tablets and XboxStationWiiUs? We’re going to make a goddamn giant robot and we’re going to convince retailers who are already crazy stingy about their retail space to put it on their shelves. Not only that, but we’re also going to do it again at the end of the year with a giant robot dinosaur.” It makes me want to stand up and applaud. Now, I have absolutely zero insider information when it comes to my hobby. I’m just a guy that runs a silly toy blog. I don’t go to Toy Fairs and talk to Hasbro reps, and I don’t own any of their stock. But I’m willing to bet that they know that this thing is aimed at us collectors and they do it anyway. It’s something that Mattel had to set up a subsidiary mail order company called Matty Collector to do. It’s really something special and a little part of me has to believe that somewhere out there a kid actually asked for this for Christmas, got it, and had the time of his life opening it.

And with that, I’m going to break today so I can come back tomorrow and look at his alt modes.

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