There are a number of really expensive 80s Transformers out there, most of which a Transformers collector would give his first born son for. The Holy Grail, in most people's opinion, at least, is Fortress Maximus. The main, if not only reason (why would you need another?) is that he's big. REALLY big. The biggest Transformer EVER released (for the moment). So big that if you handed over your first born son you'd receive something several times larger in return. The cost varies, but I've seen them on ebay for £600-800 in the past. And then there are problems with ensuring all the pieces are there, yellowing on the white parts... etc etc.
Hasbro and Takara have re-released a number of 80s Transformers over the past decade. Fort Max was always assumed to be off the cards due to its immense size and there being not being a chance in Hell it'd pass Hasbro's Drop Test. It was G1 original or nothing. Os so we all thought...
Last year everyone went a bit nuts when Kabaya released a 'candy toy' version of Fort Max. It was a mini kit-type toy, but transformed into all three of big Fort Max's modes (in a very similar manner), was an official product, and most people figured it was as close as they'd get to ever owning the real thing.
And then Takara-Tomy announced the reissue.
Suddenly there was no need to worry about spending your life savings on a yellowing, battered, second hand toy with missing parts. Now all that was required was half your life savings to get a shiny brand new one!
And here it is!
Fort Max is a triple changer - transforming from robot to city to spaceship thingamajig. He's also a Headmaster - double headmaster in fact. Transforming between each mode is quick and easy. The joints are tight and require some definite force at a couple of points to get them to move. Overall the toy is very solid and of high quality plastic - none of your modern Hasbro nasty cheap plastic here, which is a relief.
First the robot. Did I mention Fort Max is big? Almost 2 feet tall big, which means that I have little idea where he's going to live. There's sitting him permanently in an armchair, but...actually that might do it. It's not like anyone sits there very often. To truly appreciate the scale you have to stand him next to some of the other Transformer 'biggies'. Metroplex is dwarfed. Poor old Metroplex, I once considered him 'big', but he looks simply pathetic stood next to Fort Max. Even Scorponok, supposedly Fort Max's main opponent, is tiny compared to the Big Guy.
Most Transformers being produced at the time Fort Max came out were bricks - large lumps of thick, solid plastic with basic transformations - safety requirements being the main cause for this. Fort Max is a brick - a GIANT brick - and it's a good thing he is as something more delicate would be rubbish at this size. Take Mattel's Voltron released only last year, which falls over when you breathe on it. No such tumbling fear with Fort Max - trying to knock him over is like fighting a house.
Articulation isn't extensive but, as I mentioned, his brick-like nature is a plus since more poseablity would only result in centre of gravity problems. You can get him to sit down (if you really wanted to), and pose the arms in a few different ways, but that's it.
As a headmaster, Fort Max's head detaches and transforms into a little robot of its own. This, in turn, is a headmaster, and requires another little robot to be its head. Pretty cool stuff. He's a tad smaller than the other headmasters, and looks a little like their baby brother when stood next to them. The 'head', however, is exactly the same size and connection as the other headmaster heads, so it's fully interchangable with them, should you desire.
Fort Max is armed with a couple of beefy guns plus - this being the Japanese version - it comes with a HUGE sword (which I haven't taken a photo off as I couldn't find the darn thing on photoshoot day). This can be held any way you like - the weapons are no where near heavy enough to cause Fort Max any balance issues.
Comparing Fort Max to the other city bots, the major plus - other than the size - is the lack of additional bits and pieces which you have to add on to form the city mode and store elsewhere in other modes (and subsequently lose). There are a couple of pieces with Fort Max - an antenna, couple of small guns for the smaller robots) but they are all easily stored within Fort Max in robot mode.
There have been a number of Transformers which turned into cities over the years, none of which have really had the bulk to pull off a convincing place where Transformers might live. Metroplex was cool, but lacked size. Trypticon and Scroponok were bigger, but their city modes were a bit pants. Fort Max, on the other hand has the size and complexity to be a convincing city. There's a lift, various launching ramps, bits to open, prison cell etc. Obviously it looks best when populated with smaller robots, but it still looks fine when you're using regular-sized G1 robots.
Spacecraft mode is an oddity. It's not terrible, but it does look a lot like a city variant rather than a spaceship. If you've ever watched the Japanese Headmasters cartoon (either with subtitles or the unintentionally hilarious dub) you'll know that spaceshippy mode is the most common one used by Fort Max and you may, therefore, have some attachment to it, however I suspect most people will mostly ignore this one - I know my children do.
Fort Max isn't cheap. He never has been and never will be. He is big and you get a lot of plastic for your money, but probably not enough plastic for anyone to claim they're getting their money's worth. But Fort Max isn't about value. He's a toy many, many Transformers fans have wanted since they were tiny and never dreamed they'd be able to own. That changes now. He's currently widely available (well, easily available through specialist retailers) and I would say that if you'd ever thought about owning this guy you should take the leap and do so now while you have the opportunity. Even if you're doubtful, I don't think he'll lose value so I'd take the plunge and then if you change your mind later and want to sell him on, you'll have lost nothing.
Personally, I think he's fab. I know his height crown is about to be snatched away by a new Metroplex later this year, but even then Fort Max is only going to be fractionally smaller and still a lot bulkier. Go on, buy him, you know you want to. Just don't tell your wife.
Do it, man!