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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
Robot Mode:
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The Reverend's review: KO Fortress Maximus

Name: Chinese-issued "Mini" Fortress Maximus ("Fortress Minimus")
Sub-Group: Knockoff (sometimes listed as "WST")

I bought this piece just for fun, as I never owned or ever played with the original Fort Max, and I don't know if I ever will. After seeing quite a few of them making the rounds on Ebay for cheap, I went ahead and plunked down the $11 for it.

Alternate Mode:

Transformation into city or battle station/star cruiser mode is simple, and as far as I can tell pretty much follows the same directions as the original toy. As Minimus comes with no directions sheet, I had to guess at it anyway and it wasn't difficult at all. He still has most of his compartments and features in these modes - the jail is missing, although its ramp is still present, the repair bay is still represented and the removable head can still sort of double as the "comm room" even though it doesn't actually transform. The slot in his "lookout tower" mode is still there even though there's no "Spike" to sit in it. Aside from that, both modes are great ringers for the original - enough to make me bemoan that there are very few TFs small enough to make use of it. There are molded wheels on the underside of the station/cruiser mode, but these do not roll. The double-barreled cannons at the front of the station/cruiser will still rise at a 45-degree angle (though not the full 90), and the holes on the main tower are still present if you can find other guns to fit in there. Although he doesn't have as many stickers as the original, the molding is still sharp, especially on the city "buildings". The central tower can be a pain to split apart during transformation to robot mode (the first few times, I had to use a knife blade to pry it loose), but it seems to work better after a few tries.

Sellers sometimes bill this piece as a "Worlds Smallest" Fortress Maximus - while it's not actually part of the WST "line", the city mode's ramps appear to be pretty close to in-scale with them. (I don't have any WSTs with vehicle alt modes, so I can't be 100% sure of the proportions.)

Robot Mode:

Fortress Minimus comes packaged in robot mode. He has no accessories - Gasket and Grommet are missing, and he has no weapons or the other detachable parts wielded by his big brother (although he does have holes in his fists). He's also not a Headmaster - the large Fortress head pulls off, revealing a small "Cerebros"-type head underneath, which in turn removes from the body as well (and you better not lose it, or the big head will never connect). Neither head transforms.

Now that the list of what he doesn't have is pretty much complete, Minimus is still a neat replica, featuring swiveling fists and basic elbow and shoulder joints, and the "hip" cannons that fold out from his sides. While he doesn't have Autobot symbols on his body, he does come with factory-applied labels that look nice for an unofficial piece. He can move at the hips and ankles, and also has sideways knees, but I'm not sure these are really mentionable. Opening panels on his arms allow for a peek at his miniaturized arm blasters, and he still has the swinging gun pod on his left leg.

Colorwise and in general appearance, Fortress Minimus is still a nice if cutesy version of the original Maximus. Reprolabels offers a set of stickers to add to him for more detail if you like. The plastic molding itself is very nice - they could have gotten away with cutting a LOT of corners here and they didn't - he has breathtakingly detailed forearms and a lot of etching all over the front and back of his body. Even the non-transforming heads surprised me with their detailing. The plastic quality and assembly is questionable, though. Some of the parts (such as the ramp behind his left arm and the small ramp just under his chin) are just held on with small pegs in holes and tend to pop off easily, though I haven't had one actually break. Plus, the trimming where parts were cut off of runners prior to assembly is pretty bad - I plan to take a knife to mine, along with a little glue and paint, and fix this boy up a little bit.

Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 5. I'd vote for three, but the fragility of the piece (especially the hinges for the small panels) makes it more difficult.
Durability: 1 - BE GENTLE. It's delicate.
Fun: 6. Sure, it would be twenty times cooler full sized. But some of the features retained are still awesome at this size...
Price: 10. I got it cheap, cheap, cheap. That alone justified it!
Overall: 6. You may not have use for it, but it's a cute little piece to own!
 
 
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