I’ve been reading quite a number of Transformers comics lately.

No, none of the movie adaptations. I’m sorry, Michael Bay’s versions just don’t work for me. I also never became a fan of Marvel’s take on the “original” story. After all, the Transformers were always toys first, storyline later. However, I always wanted to see something actually done right (or, right by me, I guess) with those little biographies that the toys came with.

The answer for me was IDW Publishing. I’ve been eating up All Hail MegatronTransformers: More Than Meets The Eye and Transformers: Robots in Disguise (later just renamed to Transformers) since October and I not only love the story, the characters and the humour, but the design is something to be amazed by. Which brings us to this guy.

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Okey, let’s start from the beginning. You’re looking at Perfect Effect DX-03 Warden. That’s a third party transformer (not Hasbro, not Takara) in its “Cannon Tank” alternate mode. Colorful, inventive but as a tank mode it’s not aesthetically pleasing. You want something with a less challenging balancing and a low center of gravity.

It’s his robot mode that sold me. Because, when you change him to robot mode he looks very familiar to IDW Transformers fans. It’s a highly accurate depiction of Fort Max! It’s Garrus 9’s very own warden, Fortress Maximus. (Note: Yes, I also got the Expansion Weapon package PE DX-03 EW almost exclusively for the cool rifle)

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He also changes into a head for the original G1 Fortress Maximus, which is also not a big selling point for me. However, he has so many points of articulation, so many twists and turns to his arms, legs and removable head (that transforms into a small bot – he’s a Headmaster technically) that although he’s already a triple changer, you can get away with some badass looking fan modes.

Dare I say, some fan modes can actually look better than the official modes. This is basically almost a LEGO version of a Transformer. So, I experimented for a bit and came up with my own version of a tank. Still looks very Cybertronian, but definitely a lot more pleasing to me. You tell me if this doesn’t look amazing:

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To make full use of the Expansion Weapon package, I have used the leg extensions as bigger missiles launches on top, while the guns on its legs are pointing forward when opened. More to the point, the best part of the toy’s paint is now in full view instead of hidden and the tank tracks don’t even need to be disconnected. I can even put the two missile launchers on the tank nose where the small ports are for the official transformation. They’re not super solid, but they will survive.

Because of the joined arms, the treads don’t rest completely flush on top of the tracks. The treads still work as good as before, which means they don’t – they will not really roll but they can move. You can also raise the whole thing atop the treads to simulate rough terrain handling. Plus you can open the covers on top of the leg extensions to simulate heat dispersion or heat shields on launch.

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On the back there’s even a small flatbed-like ledge for the head-bot to ride:

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You can still hook up the rifle to the side of the treads, but it kinda drags a bit. Even without the PE DX-03 EW package, this alt mode looks and works a lot better. Plus, I get to leave the huge cannon in the box because frankly it’s too big for the figure.

I also dreamed up a flight mode. This one doesn’t use the tank treads backpack which leaves a hole, but one that is only seen from underneath. The hook arm left behind from taking the backpack off can turn the opening, but can also be used as a landing gear, stabilizing the craft. I call this the “infiltrator” mode due to the TIE-looking wings giving it more than a passing resemblance to Darth Maul’s Sith Infiltrator from Star Wars:

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I added the missile launchers atop the TIE-like wings to give it some offensive power. There are no thrusters per se, but if you open up the leg guns they’re angled backwards. You can consider those the actual thrusters or imply the ship has TIE-like propulsion.

With so many modes, that makes me want an updated version of Sixshot. I still have the G1 figure but it’s a brick bot. Mind you, still a very good looking one. As for Fortress Maximus, as much tempted I am to get some repro labels I don’t want to cover the ruby-looking gem on the chest.

And now, a robot selfie from Fort Max himself.

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PE DX-03 Warden is a very nicely done rendition of the IDW version of Fortress Maximus. If you are not crazy about the official alt modes, here’s something to consider: The robot is more than flexible enough to make your own. I’ve focused mine on being colourful and not mind-numbingly complicated as long as they still looked good. Even without the alt modes, the figure is amazingly detailed.

I won’t hide it from you, it’s expensive. If you have to import it, shipping and customs will add more to what is already an expensive item. It’s up to you to decide if you want it, but hopefully I’ve added a little more value (or dissuade you altogether, who knows) to this wishlist-worthy item.

That will do for now.