Let’s get straight to it, my tiddlypeeps. We all know the story of Fort Max – you’re just here to convince yourself that the toy is worth dropping some serious coinage on. In fact, you’ve probably made up your mind already. But whether or not you’re on the fence, read on!
First of all – what is “Encore” and does it make a difference? Yes. Yes it does.
He’s a reissue for the Japanese market. This works in our favour because it means the toy is affordable, and can be bought from proper retailers rather than some dodgy bloke on eBay. You also get two new accessories – the Master Sword and the Master Sword Jr. – and you get that swanky Japanese box.
Alas, there are a couple downsides. There’s a little bit of mold degradation going on. Max’s right chest compartment is a bit warped inside, and his centre ramp in city mode has a tendency to pop off. There’s also something really weird going on with Spike/Cerebros.
They look and feel like knockoffs. It’s as if they were made in a different factory. The plastic is feather-light and always feels like it’s going to break. Spike’s arms don’t look to be on straight either.
Fortress Maximus himself is a fabulous, gigantic lump of plastic. Nothing can prepare you for how big he is. Opening the box is like being a kid again, you’ll gasp and your jaw will hit the floor. When was the last time you got that excited over a toy? Over anything?
Let’s take a look at his base/battleship mode – It’s arguably the weakest of his three modes, but that’s not a criticism. It blows Generations Metroplex out of the water, anyway. For a start, it’s really, really long. You can put it down in the middle of a room and lie down next to it – you’ll have to shuffle back and forth around the room to reach everything.
There’s a nice selection of guns to flip out and play with, as well as docking bays and secret compartments. The control tower is really nice, and you can sit Spike inside. It’s great fun, and you can go “Pew! Pew! Pew!” for ages as you repel wave after wave of Decepticons.
The transformation to city mode, whether from robot or battle base, is a lot more complex than I was expecting. It’s fantastic fun, and parts move in surprising ways. There’s so many doors and flaps to play with, and the end result really looks like a proper city.
He’s full of nooks and crannies, he has catapults on his ramps and stairways to little rooms. He even has a working elevator! The elevator itself has a false floor that rises to launch a car out of the port in the centre at the push of a button. I actually missed a part of his transformation when I was taking the photos – he should have a platform on his right-hand side.
Like I said, the toy is more intricate than you might expect, and has so many more parts than others of its kind. It was easy to miss!
Fort Max is nicely scaled with Micromaster toys, which is odd as he predates them by three years or so. You don’t have to exclusively use tiny Transformers with him, though. Maximus dwarfs even the other city-bots like Metroplex and Trypticon, and is good fun to play with alongside larger toys like Sky Lynx.
Cerebros is supposed to dock into a port on the right-hand side, but he doesn’t fit very well at all due to mold degradation. It doesn’t really matter though, as it was a shit idea anyway.
Fort Max also comes with two cars, Gasket and Grommet, who can garage in his feet or patrol the perimeter. They can combine into a single humanoid robot called Cog, and I absolutely love him. He’s big, almost as big as Cerebros, and looks really good for a gimmicky ‘parts-former’.
As a robot, Fort Max is HUUUGE. It’s more than just height, though, he’s really heavy and chunky. I’ve never seen anything like it before.
Everything clicks into place so nicely. You’ll need all your He-Man strength to move his legs – the hinges are really strong. It’s rather impractical, really. There’s an arsenal of flip-out weaponry that is only accessible in robot mode; he has massive guns that flip out from his waist, compartments that open on his forearms and really cool panels that rotate around on the back of his hands to reveal double-barreled lasers.
You’ll have trouble finding someone for him to fight… His closest rival, Scorponok, barely comes up to his waist. Sky Lynx, one of the larger G1 Transformers, can perch on his shoulder like Polly the Parrot.
The Headmaster function is cool. I think most Transformer fans have fond memories of the gimmick. Spike, the smallest component of Fort Max, turns from a little man into a head for Cerebros. Plugging him in activates little tumblers in the chest which give a power readout. It’s wicked, even if they are all set to “10”.
His head looks nothing like the one in the cartoon, which is a little disappointing, unless you’re Japanese. Their cartoon gave Cerebros an extremely toy-accurate face, while changing everyone else’s so the designs didn’t match.
Cerebros himself has a pretty neat transformation from robot to head, and clicks securely onto Max’s shoulders. There’s no tumblers or anything this time, it just sort of clips on.
Maximus can wield the Master Sword, but it’s stupid. The sword is waaaaaay big, and it looks silly. If my toys are holding swords, I like them to go a bit Jedi and somersault around everywhere, chopping limbs off their foes. That obviously isn’t going to happen with Max; he’s too big to play with in that way.
You better hope you have a cabinet or something to keep him in, else he’ll be ruined by dust and sunlight before long. He comes packed in polystyrene, but in my case this was obliterated during shipping. Maximus came out covered from head to toe in thousands of little white specks of foam – I had to hoover it off. Anyway, he’s too nice to put away in the box like that. For most of us, he represents a once-in-a-lifetime purchase, and demands to be shown off and appreciated.
TMW Rating: 5/5 – I’m a hopeless optimist, and even I was impressed by this toy. I’ve had so much fun with him, and at the end of the proverbial day, that’s what it’s all about.
“Flaps to play with”