"Legends" Grand Maximus Toy Review

in 2018, Action Figure Review, Cybertron, Headmaster, Legends, TakaraTomyMall, Titan

Legends

General Information:
Release Date: May 2018
Price Point: 27,000 Yen (about $240 USD, Takara Tomy suggested retail price)
Retailer: Takara Tomy Mall Exclusive
Accessories: Gran Headmaster figure, Grand Transtector/Head, Sword/small sword, Dual barreled cannon, Leg cannons x 2

Grand Maximus

Translation below by Doug Dlin:
Solar System Commander
Grand's elder brother is Fortress Maximus, and he shares Fortress's appearance. Like his elder brother, he wields a champion's blade, the Master Sword, to keep the ambitions of the Destron space forces in check. Today, Grand Maximus is once again in space, accomplishing his duties as the commander who protects the Solar System.

In 1988 the Transformers: Masterforce series introduced several new characters to the Transformers universe. One of them was the younger brother of Fortress Maximus known as Grand Maximus. The Generation One Grand Maximus toy was a redeco of G1 Fortress Maximus which included an additional accessory: a Pretender shell for the Headmaster "Grand". This figure's sheer size and original cost quickly made this a very expensive item for fans to obtain on the aftermarket and despite a reissue of Fortress Maximus years ago, Grand Maximus was never re-released.

Fast forward to 2017 and Takara Tomy announced that it would be releasing a Takara Tomy Mall exclusive Grand Maximus! This figure was intended to be a redeco of the "Generations" Fortress Maximus figure that would include a redeco of an unproduced "Prime Armor/Pretender" shell. However, the shell being released was contingent on 3,000 preorders. The preorders did not meet this number so the shell was not produced, but official photos were released so I have included them above for posterity.

Ultimately, this figure wound up being a straight up redeco of Fortress Maximus. Check out my original review of the SDCC Fortress Maximus figure for my detailed thoughts on the base sculpt. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

Packaging:
Grand Maximus is packaged in a large box that is almost the same height as the original G1 Grand Maximus' box (but that figure was a lot bulkier so the box was deeper and the cardboard was significantly thicker). In an interesting design move, the box is meant to be viewed vertically on one side, and horizontally on the other. The vertical side shows the figure in its various modes. Meanwhile the back of the box features beautiful box art of the character with a pose based on the G1 box art. It is a really beautiful package. My only regret is that the cardboard used is relatively thin, which could allow it to tear easily if you are not careful. Fortunately the figure comes with a thicker, brown cardboard outer box that protects the box on the inside.

Gran

Gran is a redeco of the Headmaster sculpt that was used for the Japanese release and San Diego Comic-Con exclusive versions of Fortress Maximus. Instead of the more oval shaped Cerebros face used in the US based animation and Marvel comics from the 80's, this face is based on the actual face used in the original G1 Fortress Maximus toy and the Japanese "Headmasters" series. This also makes him more true to the original Japanese release of the character from 1988.

The original Gran figure was a combination of dark green and red plastic. However, the designers seemed to want to downplay the green color on this release, so instead this figure is cast in dark blue plastic. The face is painted silver with blue eyes while the inner arms are painted red. In head mode, the face is painted silver with light blue eyes. While this color combination does look good, I do like how unusual the green from the G1 figure is and I wish it had been used here.

The joints on my copy of this figure are remarkably tight, a theme which will continue throughout the various figures in this set.

Grand

Grand is a redeco of the Cerebros figure with no sculpting changes. Like Gran, this figure has moved away from using the green color from the original G1 figure and instead uses a dark blue color in its place. Other parts are cast in white, which is inspired by G1 Grand. There are significantly less stickers included with Grand Maximus than Fortress Maximus, so the head mode has no stickers or paint applications. It does wind up looking a bit plain and it would have been nice to at least have stickers on the "horns".

In robot mode we do get some paint applications to better match up this figure with its G1 source. Several parts are cast in white such as the chest and waist area, but white paint applications have been applied to the mid-body and fists to match up more with G1 Grand. There are silver paint applications on the arms and yellow on the lower legs (a nod to yellow stickers on G1 Grand's knees). The finishing touch is an Autobot symbol in red and silver tampographed onto the chest. Overall the robot mode looks great as a homage to G1 Grand.

All of Grand's joints are nice and tight. The tip of Grand Maximus' sword can be detached and given to this figure as a sword accessory. Meanwhile you can detach the dual barreled cannon from Grand Maximus' chest compartment for Grand to use as a blaster.

The other fun feature on this figure are sounds and lights! Press the silver buttons on either side of the head and lights activate (either the eyes in head mode or a light on the right side of the chest. Some sounds are just sound effects, others are English. The rest sound like phrases taken from the "Masterforce" TV show. Here's a rundown (translations courtesy of Doug Dlin):

  • The G1 transformation sound effect plays when you slide the top of Grand Maximus' helmet section in place.
  • "HEAD ON!"
  • A battle yell.
  • "Transform!"
  • Sound effect that sounds like metal hitting metal.
  • やってみる価値はありそうだ。 "Yatte miru kachi ha arisou da." ("It seems like it's worth a try.")
  • デストロンが接近中だ "Destron ga sekkinchuu da!" ("Destrons approaching!")
  • 後は私に任せてくれ。 "Ato ha watashi ni makasete kure." ("Leave the rest to me.")
  • グランドだが、デストロンが動き出したようだ。 "Grand da ga, Destron ga ugokidashita you da." ("This is Grand. It looks like the Destrons are on the move.")
  • ビッグトランスフォーム! "Big Transform!"
  • わかった。行くぞ! "Wakatta. Iku zo!" ("Got it. I'm off!")

I love the inclusion of sounds and phrases from the "Masterforce" cartoon. It adds a splash of life to the figure.

Grand Maximus

Robot Mode:
Grand Maximus is a straight forward redeco of Fortress Maximus featuring no retooling. The new deco takes its primary inspiration from the G1 Grand Maximus figure, though it substitutes the green color for a dark blue plastic (though in some lighting it almost looks like a very dark green). Here's a rundown on some of the deco highlights:

  • The arms, feet and heli-pad are all red plastic, just like G1 Grand Maximus.
  • The panel on the left side of the chest is grey, translucent plastic.
  • The right side of the chest is painted silver, a callback to the sticker on the same area on G1 Grand Maximus which has a silver background.
  • The middle of the chest is painted silver and the faux "wheel" detail on the side is painted blue, mirroring the deco on the G1 Grand Maximus figure.
  • The top of the forearms have sections that are painted blue, a call back to panels on G1 Grand Maximus that would open to reveal dual barreled blasters inside.
  • The mid-body and the waist area are white.
  • The mid-body features translucent blue plastic (painted white in front). This is a callback to the same section on G1 Grand Maximus which was solid blue.
  • The lower part of the thighs are painted silver, matching up with the silver plastic on G1 Grand Maximus' thighs.
  • Both G1 and "Legends" Grand Maximus have blue dual barreled cannons on their legs.
  • Both G1 and "Legends" Grand Maximus have red feet.
  • A large Autobot symbol sticker is found right under the chest. This is meant to call back to the Autobot symbol on G1 Grand Maximus' chest, but the design of the figure does not allow for a symbol that size to be placed there. This is a good compromise.

Interestingly, most of the stickers included with this figure wind up appearing on the back in this mode with only a few (such as the Autobot symbol) facing front. Many of these stickers are blue and silver circles for the "thrusters" on his back. The rest come into play in the other modes.

My copy of this figure has remarkably tight joints, thanks in part to the ratchet joints on parts like the arms and legs. As I posed the figure for my photos I was shocked how well the figure held poses without hand support. It was also cool to see how the deco pattern on the sword nicely matches with the G1 version, using silver and red paint to great effect. All the play features from Fortress Maximus carry over to this figure including the leg cannons detaching to form blasters he can hold and of course a bunch of pegs so Head/Prime/Titan Master figures can be attached to Grand Maximus himself.

When you attach Grand in head mode, the button on the chest activates lights and sounds. As the eyes light up, the sounds from Grand play but there are additional sounds! Here's a rundown (translations by Doug Dlin):

  • よくやったぞ。さすがは司令官! "Yoku yatta zo. Sasuga ha shireikan!" ("Well done. As I'd expect from a commander!")
  • あいつの地球侵入を許したら、デストロン宇宙軍が一挙に乗り込んでくるかもしれん。 "Aitsu no chikyuu shin'nyuu wo yurushitara, Destron uchuugun ga ikkyo ni norikonde kuru ka mo shiren." ("If we allow him to invade Earth, the Destron space force might all get in at once.")
  • お前の相手は私がする! "Omae no aite ha watashi ga suru!" ("Now you're dealing with me!")
  • 司令官、全宇宙の運命はあなたに掛ける! "Shireikan, zen-uchuu no unmei wo anata ni kakeru!" ("Commander, the fate of all the universe rests on you!")

Again, I love the "life" sound effects and lights bring to a Transformers figure, but having additional phrases in the combined "Grand Maximus" form is really a nice touch.

Transformation to City Mode:

  1. Detach the head and set it aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Swing the ramp on the back up and against the section where the head was located.
  4. On each hand swing the thumbs up, then swing the hands against the wrist.
  5. Rotate the forearm around so the fingers are pointed upward towards the ramps.
  6. Swing the cannon sections on the mid-body up and connect them together to begin forming the center tower.
  7. Swing each leg out to the sides.
  8. Pull the feet forward and down.
  9. Swing the translucent compartment door open and back, and then turn the gun emplacement around.
  10. Detach Gran from Grand. Transform Grand to robot mode but don't swing his arms out. Also swing Grand Maximus' horns the opposite way you would for his robot form. Then push him into the slots with the back of the forearms facing forward.

City Mode:
The City Mode shows off a lot of the robot mode parts, but there are some key parts that are newly revealed for this form. This includes the central tower, central ramp and the compartments in between them. The central tower is white with blue paint applications representing windows. The center has an Autobot symbol sticker with some detailing based on G1 Grand Maximus' stickers in the same place. Other cool details include a small Autobot symbol above the center ramp and a series of stickers on the edges and middle of all three ramps. There is also a nice series of yellow windows painted onto the left side of the City Mode near the left side ramp. Yellow is also used on the heli-pad, a nod to the yellow sticker on G1 Grand Maximus' heli-pad.

Those who have followed my reviews over the years know that I love base modes on Transformers figures and this is no exception. I still maintain this would have been a better "City Mode" if the legs had been able to form towers like G1 Fortress Maximus and Grand Maximus, but still, the ability to connect to other bases, the various ramps and the idea of having a playset that you can have your other Transformers figures inhabit is a super fun one in my book. Like Fortress Maximus this City Mode has plenty of ways to interact with smaller figures (mostly from the Titan Master to Legends Classes). Whether it is connecting smaller 'Master figures to parts like the cannons or the sides of the ramps or having various characters hang out around the entrances of the base I love the suggestion of a "living" environment for the Transformers.

Perhaps the most significant way Grand Maximus can interact with other figures is by connecting to them via ramps on figures from "Titans Return" and "Legends". As you can see in my "Cybertron City" pics above you can connect bases on the back or sides. If you have Fortress Maximus handy, the ramp connections on the back of each base mode line up so you can use a figure like Blaster to connect the two, forming a larger city mode. I do admit, some of the ramps are positioned in such a way that they wind up at a very steep angle when connected to other bases. Still, it is a very fun play pattern and I love it.

Transformation to Battle Station Mode (from City Mode):

  • Rotate the gun emplacement around on the translucent panel and then close it.
  • Make sure all the ramps are folded down.
  • Swing the robot legs together.
  • Slide each of the lower legs in, then connect them together.

Battle Station Mode:
The Battle Station Mode is really just a slight variation on the City Mode so there is not much to say about it beyond the fact that this is a really nice update of the G1 version. It has the same basic shape with cannons pointed forward, the ramps in the back and the central tower in the middle. Unfortunately he does not have weapons that can attach to the sides of the tower, so he loses a bit of firepower compared to his G1 counterpart.

The colors in this mode largely carry over from the City Mode. The cannons and robot legs in front of course get more focus with the ramps in back de-emphasized. This also brings focus to the part of the central tower that sticks out in front featuring an Autobot symbol to the side and windows painted light blue. The colors work together beautifully (even though I will say again, I would have loved to see the green from G1 Grand Maximus carried over).

Final Thoughts:
"Legends" Grand Maximus is a figure that I had wanted to see since "Generations" Fortress Maximus was announced a few years ago. However, I never thought it would actually get made thanks to the high price point. This release is special for that reason alone. This figure looks great and calls back to G1 Grand Maximus beautifully. I was very pleased to see how tight the joints were on my copy of this figure. Don't let my "pros and cons" list below fool you, I love this figure and wish every fan could own one!

Now, as to whether or not you should run to your browser and buy this right now largely depends on how attached you might be to the character and/or concept. He's not cheap either. As of July 2018 he is available on BigBadToyStore for $259.99, making him a higher end collectible than your typical Transformers figure.

Pros:

  • A relatively obscure character being brought into the modern age of Transformers figures.
  • Beautiful deco in each mode.
  • Love the sound clips from "Masterforce".

Cons:

  • It is a real shame that the Gran Pretender armor was not released. A piece feels "missing" from the set because of this.
  • Could have used some additional stickers for more detailing.
  • I would have preferred the green color from G1 Grand Maximus used instead of the dark blue.
  • Limited release and high price point will make this a tough sell for many fans.