Click the image above to see the alt mode, or view more photos here
First/Last Comic Appearance (US) - The Transformers: Headmasters Issue 1, July 1987 / Issue 79, June 1991
First/Last Comic Appearance (UK) - Issue 199, January 7th 1989 / Issue 205, February 18th 1989
First/Last Cartoon Appearance - Episode 98 (Season 4 #3), November 11th 1987
First Toy Appearance - 1987
Click here to see Figure Details and review
Manufacturer - Perfect Effect
- Added an Autobot symbol to the chest
- Added Autobot symbols to the front of the tank
I think it's fair to say that Fortress Maximus's size over the years have been somewhat inconsistent. And that's about the nicest way I can phrase it. As a kid growing up in a Maximus-less UK, the figure had achieved legendary status despite the fact that no-one had ever seen him. How we laughed as we were regaled with stories about how he was 2 feet tall. Nonsense, surely. I had Scorponok and I could barely conceive of a figure over twice his height. Turns out that the rumour-mongers were right. So tall was Fortress Maximus that it would take over 25 years for Hasbro to finally beat it (if not in bulk), with their rather glorious Metroplex. Outside of the physical world, his appearance in the cartoon was fleeting, he appeared for all of one episode in the US run and was vast, making the other Headmasters appear like ants next to him. In the comics, he was definitely big, but not beyond the size of, say, Powermaster Optimus Prime. In fact, some artists rendered him shorter. So we have a figure in one continuity who could crush Galvatron like a bug, and in another get beaten (and eaten!) to a pulp by the same antagonist. Perfect Effect decided to address (or add to) the confusion by creating a figure who could either stand in as a IDW or G1-esque Fort Max in its own right, or alternately act as a (rather large) Cerebros for the original G1 figure. I really hated the idea. "Too small as a standalone figure and too awkward as an enhancement to G1 Fort Max!" I thought. And then I saw the initial photos and I was smitten.
Appearance (Robot Mode) 10/10
"So why was I smitten?" you might ask. Simply because this is the finest looking robot I have seen. Let alone 3rd party or official Transformer, just robot in general. It's just a wonder to behold. The proportions are perfect, evoking a bulky and powerful figure who still manages to carry an underlying grace about him. This is not an overly-tall figure, somewhat shorter than Ultra Magnus in his FansProject finery, but he conveys a lot of power through his 'muscle'. Speaking of FansProject, Fort Max displays very well with their Headmasters, and also Toyworld's Hardhead. The headsculpt is perfect, and works equally well as a Cerebros and Fortress Maximus homage. For those who are interested, I use this as the latter. Some of the details do not evoke the G1 figure, with this more firmly replicating the IDW-verse character, but there are enough common details. I suppose the glaring omission are the hip-high red cannons, but I always felt these looked a little dumb anyway. The paint is the best I have seen on any Transformer, masterpieces included. It is just flawless, rich, shiny, resilient, beautiful. I hope that you're getting the sense I like the paint. It is quite the achievement for Perfect Effect who have been a bit hit-and-miss with some of their efforts, particularly the step up in size from Motobot which had a few flaws has impressed me immensely. This is a versatile figure with a couple of main display options. There is the 'minimalist' mode which is just the dude sans armour with a little sidearm, I imagine him employing this mode for chilling. Then there is the 'almighty thunderbastard' mode which comprises of extra armour, a massive back-pack resplendent with tank treads and a gun which speaks volumes about the (lack of) size of Fort Max's manhood. The fact he can wield the gun without it looking like he is about to fall over is testament to Perfect Effect's fine work. I would imagine this robot being highly useful in the Autobot front lines, using his almighty god-cannon to blow combiners back into their constituent parts. The gun also replicates and improves upon the G1 figures main weapon. This is really a figure without peer for me, I am utterly in awe of the fine work Perfect Effect have done. This chap also comes with a very large display stand which I have nicknamed the 'almighty discus', obviously they quite like it too.
Appearance (Alternate Mode) 7/10
You'd think with a robot so nice that the flip-side would be a less-than-stellar alternate mode, and in some ways, this is true. This is a difficult one to score or describe, really. The official alternate modes on offer are a gigantic head, and a tank. The head is great but I have entirely no use for it, choosing to use this as Fort Max itself as opposed to Cerebros. The tank mode is rather less sophisticated, and is less squat then you would hope. Nonetheless it is largely successful and imposing to boot. There's no escaping the fact it is pretty much the robot folded over with tank treads and a whopping great gun stuck on, however. There is also no articulation on the cannon itself, although the treads are amazing, they actually drive and can also pivot, making them suitable for any terrain. There are loads of fan modes popping up too - this has been made possible by the original figure having transformations such as 'robot lying down' and 'robot lying down a bit more' but it is great to see how versatile this figure is. I would score this higher if I was concerned with the head, but I'm not, so I can't. I also feel it looks a little daft plonked onto the G1 figures body, it is too large and doesn't quite work stylistically, a brand new mould unsurprisingly clashing with the aesthetics of a figure over 25 years old.
Anyone with experience of Perfect Effect will know that these guys specialise in parts-forming, which is obviously not to everyone's tastes. Their Reflector homage had a myriad of parts, all of which could be employed and/or stowed in all modes. This figure follows that pattern with most of the kibble set aside and combined to form the drone tank, which I suppose if you squint could be an up-sized Gasket/Grommet hybrid. When making the main tank mode, this kibble is dis-assembled and re-used in other ways. In terms of the robot, the fists are folded into the forearms, and the arms are rotated, lifted up to where the head would be after removing it, and the forearms tabbed together. The legs are similarly rotated and tabbed together - the feet need to be folded up but they collide a bit. You bend the waist and basically end up with the robot folded over double. Then the assembly begins, with one set of missile pods used to secure then 2 halves of the figure together. The shoulder/chest armour forms a cab area of sorts, which you are supposed to perch Cerebros/Spike on. For me, I can't fathom how to do it. The smaller gun form part of the cab too. The gun can be a pain to attach, being connected by a small black connector, and then held in place by slotting it into a chest cavity and sticking 2 more missile pods either side. The whole arrangement is a bit fiddly and can be annoying. The legs then stick to the tank treads by several tabs, which have to be aligned perfectly. It is all a bit of a fiddle, to be honest, and I don't think that the lot holds together as well as it should.
One of my acid tests with Headmasters in particular, is "can they take their own head off"? A bit of a weird test, granted, but one that Fortress Maximus passes with ease. Articulation-wise, he has a neck which can rotate and tilt, although the head has a tendency to move independently of it for some reason. The waist is on a swivel. The shoulders and lips have both lateral and side-to-side movement. The biceps and thighs both have the all-important swivel. The elbows and knees are also jointed. The ankles have tilt and swivel, and the heel and toe can be moved independently of each other. The hands are can rotate, and while the fingers are not independently-articulated they can open and close. This is a very heavy figure, thanks to use of Die Cast on parts of his legs, He is also back-heavy when the tank treads are attached, however he does not fall over due to his poseable feet and reassuringly-tight joints. Another sterling job from Perfect Effect.
I am greatly impressed with how Perfect Effect have evolved in this area. This was a real concern for me as soon as they started to gravitate towards larger figures, and then disappointed with their Motobot mould. Thankfully this effort shares none of the fragility of that figure and is finished to an extremely high standard. I really can't emphasize enough how good this feels in hand. The die-cast adds weight and prestige. The fact that the rubber tank treads not only move but also move very well is testament to the lengths these guys went to to produce a very high-end product.
Overall - 41/50
This is a thoroughly decent figure overall, which would score much higher were it not for the slightly unsatisfying alt mode and fiddly parts-forming transformation. In robot mode it deserves to be the centre-point of any collection, such is its beauty; and as I have mentioned the quality is thankfully top-notch, which represents a tangible improvement for Perfect Effect as a whole. This works great for me as a comics-scale Fortress Maximus, and now I urge Perfect Effect to give Scorponok the same treatment. Please!