The Year of the Really Big Autobots, Part Two… Part the Second. Fortress Minimus! Fortress Maximus!

Part the Second is going to be less like a sequel and more like bookends for Part the First.

Sitting at work and watching the UPS Tracking link like a hawk, I was actually surprised how fast I got him. Sitting at work, I received a message from my wife,

“I have your box.”

Fortress Maximus Box

I contemplated coming down with a sudden bout of Sluggish Cognitive Tempo disorder (I’m pretty sure that’s the medical term for “Lazy”) and heading home, but stuck it out — that’s the selfless kind of person I am. Just to give a sense of the size of his box, I put it up next to my one and a half year old kid.

Fortress Maximus Wesley

He then dutifully and excitedly started pointing out the Autobot symbol, repeatedly saying “Ah-bot! Ah-bot! Ah-bot!” (I am quite proud of the fact that “Autobot” and “Optimus” were some of his first words). The box is huge. I was originally concerned that I didn’t know where I would store it, but have since decided the box itself is display worthy. I really, really, reeeeeeeally like the Takara boxart.

Fortress Maximus JPN Boxart

Not that Hasbro’s isn’t nice, it just lacks the dynamism of Takara’s.

Fortress Maximus US Boxart

As was widely reported, this release has put a little bit of a crimp in the style of the MISB collectors. Due to an undisclosed “QC Issue”, TakaraTomy was forced to open each box and then tape it back up, this lead to dreaded “double-taping” that sets most MISB collectors’ teeth on edge.

Fortress Maximus Double Tape

Not such an issue with me, I believe Transformers are meant to be transformed so I sliced right through that tape. Out slid what came to be something of another surprise with this Encore release. Long determined to be environmentally detrimental, the styrofoam used to pack many of the larger G1 toys has been all but removed from modern packaging. Fortress Maximus, however, comes packaged in a styrofoam coffin, similar to his original release.

The part that will be around long after all the Fortress Maximus' have crumbled into dust.

The part that will be around long after all the Fortress Maximus’ have crumbled into dust.

Finally, it was time to see my very own Fortress Maximus.

Pause!

First, we must go back in time for just a moment. Before there was a Fortress Maximus in my collection, there was Fortress Minimus.

When I was under the clear understanding that my acquisition of an actual Fortress Maximus was about as likely as a lasting Cybertronian peace treaty, I settled for the next closest thing I could find. By “closest” I mean “oddly well detailed at about one eighteenth the size”.

"Where's Scorponok? I'll kick his scrawny tail."

“Where’s Scorponok? I’ll kick his scrawny tail.”

This miniaturized knock-off version of Fortress Maximus actually fit in well with my shelf of Primus and Unicrons, but could now be retired because he had been rendered remarkably redundant.

"He's right behind me, isn't he?"]

“He’s right behind me, isn’t he?”

Meanwhile, back at the unboxing,

Cerebros: "Free at last! Let's get outta here, Cog."]

Cerebros: “Free at last! Let’s get outta here, Cog.”

I pulled everything out of the box and inspected it meticulously; transforming him between his three modes to make sure. From armless Spike/Cerebros to a defective hip ratchet on Fortress Maximus himself, there has been a smattering of serious quality problems being reported on the forums. I am quite pleased to say that I found none, serious or minor, on mine.

Having relieved that particular anxiety, I was ready to set up the camera and take some serious photos. Oh… wait. What’s that colossal sheet of shiny silver paper that’s almost the size of Fortress Maximus?

Fortress Maximus Stickers

Stickers. 55 of them to be precise.

Fuuuuuuuuu

Determined to push through my least favourite part of reissues, I actually found far fewer instances of needing to trim down improperly cut stickers than normal, which helped the process along. There’s been a couple posts on the forums about buyer’s remorse, but  — just short of needing the money for an unforeseen life-saving operation — I can’t fathom how that could be. He is magnificent.

Fortress Maximus Robot

Does he lack articulation? For a G1 toy, not particularly. There are those that can truly be called “bricks”, like Powermaster Optimus Prime or Star Convoy (two of my favourite Transformers toys), but Fortress Maximus’ limited articulation is on par with a good portion of the G1 ‘bots a fourth his size.

"Giving me knees would have been nice, though."

“Giving me knees would have been nice, though.”

For someone big enough to just step on most of his enemies, even without counting his handheld dual laser cannons and photon rifle he is fairly bristling with weaponry. Guns rotate out all over the place.

Fortress Maximus Guns

He also carries the massive Master Sword.

Fortress Maximus Link

No, not that Master Sword, this one.

Fortress Maximus Sword

An accessory exclusive to the Takara release, the Master Sword played a very prominent part in the Headmasters series as the weapon that allowed Fortress Maximus to finally defeat his rival, Scorponok. In the cartoon, they are roughly the same size, but in toy form, Maximus towers over Scorponok.

Fortress Maximus with Scorponok

Had this been the scale used in the show, Headmasters would have been a very short series indeed. Probably the worst offender of scale tomfoolery in all of Transformers history, writers just didn’t know what to do with an Autobot this big. His fictional appearances mostly bring him down in size; how far down varies between different fictions and something even varies within the same fiction. His most recent appearances in the IDW comics put him at just a little bit bigger than the average Transformer.

I really like the sculpt on Fortress’ head mode, I was surprised to find that Cerebros was not necessary when attaching Fortress to Fortress Maximus, with the instructions even showing that he can be placed in the shoulder compartment to the right of the head.

This means no one is actually controlling this behemoth right now.

This means no one is actually controlling this behemoth right now.

When in robot mode, Gasket and Grommet can be parked in his feet.

Fortress Maximus Feet

Now, Fortress Maximus may have been intended as a city ‘bot, but out of all his modes Headmasters uses his third mode most often. The somewhat indeterminate “battle station” in the Hasbro instructions or the space-faring Battleship Maximus of the Headmasters release (or “Spaceship Bruce” as the hilariously bad Omni Productions dub called it) is the least convincing of the modes, despite being the one with the most cartoon representation.

Fortress Maximus Battleship

All I can see is what looks like a passed out Fortress Maximus.

Though this is the mode that makes use of the little cockpit at the top of the tower.

Fortress Maximus Cockpit

I was quite surprised by how low the price was when the Encore release was announced, but even as reasonable as I found it, unfortunately it’s still prohibitively expensive for a number of fans. This makes me sad because I can finally understand why this has been a grail piece for so many. I know I have already written it once, but magnificent is really the only word I can use for him.

Fortress Maximus Sword Pose

Epilogue:

Playing with toys.

This is a concept that is natural while mostly inconceivable to your average toy collector. This is how these toys were meant to be used,

Fortress Maximus City Inhabited

But for a good portion of them, this is how they will be displayed,

Fortress Maximus City Mode

Almost seems a shame. Well. Almost, until something like this happens,

Fortress Maximus Tear

That is the tiniest of holes poked in the sticker on the main ramp — stickers that go over molded detail are one of the many areas that the original G1 stickers fail as a concept. It was done by my son because all he wants in the world is to drive “truck” (a.k.a. Gasket) up and down the main ramp.

Which I will allow him to do all he wants.

When he is eighteen…

Or older.

Or maybe never. The jury is still out on that one.

'Til All Are Mine.

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7 thoughts on “The Year of the Really Big Autobots, Part Two… Part the Second. Fortress Minimus! Fortress Maximus!

  1. Great post.
    I just got mine a few weeks ago and am very happy with it. Only figure I have that comes close in size is Matty Voltron, which its about the same height. Metroplex (2013) will be the third giant in my collection by the end of the year.

    It is amazing at how Ft. Max towers over Scorponok. I have them both and just a foot from one another and still your picture did more justice to show the difference in size.

    I am using Ft. Max as a base for all of the Head/Target/Power masters and for the Human Alliance humans. For now anyway. I can’t display Ft/ Max with my G-1 figures because it just can’t fit on the shelf. I’d have to reconfigure my entire collection just to display it with them. So much for that. One day I’ll be bored enough to do it…maybe when I do my annual toy dusting or something. For now, Ft. Max is just fine on the floor with Voltron and the other city bots, that all now look minuscule since he arrived.

  2. Very nice post. 🙂

    Also, I just got an email yesterday saying that mine was shipped. It was quite cool playing AC/DC’s “Shoot to Thrill” while finding an email saying the one piece of news that had me both stressed and worried as a collector. So now all I have to worry about is how careful FedEx is with it. Plus, I should note that this is a homage piece. As in one tied to a very “Heroic” collector and blogger whose April Fool post became a prediction. (But between you and me, I still hope they continue the Encore series with Ultra Magnus, Sixshot, and the remaining 1987 Headmasters.)

    As for my piece, I have no idea how I am going to categorize him now. It is more for my writing than display. But I am thinking “Cybertron Commander (Takara Exclusive: 1985-1987)” in the end, even though that would only be 3-4 characters. But we shall see, as I am looking at my list and wondering how I am going to be organizing this mess. :p But besides that, I am still keeping my promise in tact with you, so whatever pics I either get or take… I will show them to you. So that way, you know at least one piece will survive the Bay-mageddon (as in the era where people only think about his films and not G1). 😉

  3. You know, before this Encore Release I too thought I’d have to content myself with the downsized KO, which admittedly would’ve scaled better with everyone else. Either that or the purchase of a vintage Fort Max would signal my finally closing my collection. It would have been the cherry-on-top, etc. I may very well leave stickers unapplied as it’s also a bane of mine. That said, DANG. Gorgeous. Sorry the sticker bore the brunt of child’s play!

    Going to have to look for a new collection-closer / final Holy Grail. Dropshot robot-llama-jet prototype?

    Thanks for the great post, as per always.

  4. Pingback: I try not to go to pieces as my Megabolt does. Robots in Disguise Megabolt and Megabolt Megatron! | 'Til All Are Mine

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