I got the new Titans Return Fortress Maximus this past week. Fortress Maximus is a heavy retool of Metroplex from a few years ago, and as such will definitely not fit in my little photo lighting studio. So let's focus on his head, Cerebros, instead. He's really the best part, anyway.
Unlike most of my childhood Transformers obsessions, I don't get my feel for Cerebros from the Marvel comics. That's because he was a complete nobody there. He was literally nothing more than an intermediate transformation step for Spike Witwicky to become Fortress Maximus's head. Instead, the Marvel stuff focused on Fortress Maximus, giving him character focus and shrinking him down a bunch so he could interact more easily with everyone else. I mean, he was still big, but not, like, Autobot City big. Not two-foot-tall-largest-Transformers-toy-of-all-time big.
No, Cerebros got all his character focus in the original cartoon, where they did the opposite. Cerebros was the character and he was forced to wear Fortress Maximus like a big mech suit. I say "forced" because Cerebros had had it up to here with 9 million years of war and had made a personal decision to never fight again ever ever ever, to the point that he threatened to shut himself down were he given a choice between oblivion and fighting. But Spike Witwicky was all "oh hey but what if i build you into a giant robot's head and i become your head and we murder everyone all at once so we don't HAVE to fight ever again, eh??? EHH???"
spike is a great non-monster and definitely not a horrible threat to all notions of personal agency y/n
Anyway, I was a little obsessed with him because he was (sort of) in my comics and he was on my VHS tape of "The Rebirth" and he was in my toy catalogs and I spent every single autumn session of my third grade "gifted and talented" class building Fortress Maximuses out of bristol board. Like, I am serious, I did no other real actual school work. They had giant sheets of paper at this special "gifted and talented" class location and only at this special location, and that meant I was going to make them into Fortress Maximuses, every single week. The only thing that stopped this was getting the real Fortress Maximus at Christmas. It was probably a relief felt all around by everyone, and likely worth the money paid just to put an end to my all-consuming obsession.
But I'll tell you one thing this new Cerebros has over the original one -- the right face. The animation/comics model gave him an entirely made-up head (maybe, some folks think they might have gotten him mixed up with Cog) that his toy definitely didn't have. Cerebros's toy head was just a smaller Fort Max head. But in the comics, he had this domed noggin with shades and a mouthplate. It was hard to think of Cerebros-the-character as Cerebros-the-toy, because the two were so different. And so it was a smaller disappointment buried in the otherwise endless jubiliation of owning a friggin' Fortress Maximus.
Titans Return was all heck no and gave him his animation face. They also gave him -- mostly -- his animation colors, going for black and gray instead of gray and lighter gray. Both the face and the color choices are important to me. The San Diego Comic-Con version of Fortress Maximus gives Cerebros a toy face, and fuck that! Fuck it right up its dumb Comic-Con asshole!
Cerebros is where Titans Return Fortress Maximus keeps his electronics. You can see the speakers in his chest, and by pressing down on Cerebros's head, he'll start making noises and flashing a tiny light at you. Mine, though, is a little fussy. Most of the time, the sound clip cuts out before it completes. This is pretty annoying! One of his sounds is even a really robotic delivery of "CE-RE-BROS" that I've heard exactly twice and which I cannot duplicate and this makes me mad. When you flip the cover for Fortress Maximus's face, Cerebros makes the classic transformation noise, and when you plug him into Fort Max as his head, he has some other different noises. I'm not sure what they all are because, again, sound clips cut off annoyingly.
New Cerebros transforms pretty dang similarly to the original! On the way to head mode, Cerebros's arms fold behind his torso, his legs fold onto either side of the torso, and the aforementioned cover flips up to reveal the face. The only notable difference is the feet now transform, with the toes and the heel folding up onto the shin.
Also like the original Cerebros has a third mode where he integrates into the city mode by becoming... some sort of structure. It's about as convincing now as it was then. In the old toy, you just sort of wad him up and cram him into a shoulder. In this new toy, you just sort of was him up and cram him down the top of the control tower. The only real difference now is that if you don't integrate him into the city mode you have this giant hole at the top of the control tower where he would otherwise be.
The new Cerebros also has a much larger gun than the original. Like, it's even double-barrelled. Just to stick it to Mr. I Don't Want To Fight Ever Again, I presume.
But really, the largest question here is, like, what was that "gifted and talented" class I went to, anyway, if I didn't actually have to do any real school work and they just let me do arts and crafts all day? I was allegedly supposed to be attending it because I was one of the top 20 students in the district -- or so my teachers and parents CLAIMED, even though I made a lot of Bs in the year beforehand -- but really I just used that time to fuck around. There was zero advanced learning involved on my part. They even sent some kids home from the program, and I know for a fact that they were shitting around less than me, and they were all also much more well-adjusted in their behavior. It raises a lot of questions I'm not sure I'll ever have answered.
.....oh they totally thought i was autistic, didn't they
i'm sure the repeated manufacturing of the same fictional robot over and over disabused them of this notion