Cliffbee.com: Astrotrain Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Astrotrain
Series: Generation 1
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Military Transport
Alternate Mode: Locomotive / Space Shuttle



LOCOMOTIVE MODE
Height: 4.5cm Length: 12cm Width: 2.5cm

   A black and purple steam locomotive, Astrotrain is predominantly purple in this mode. He has a die-cast black boiler, as well as black shafts painted onto the wheels, and rather conspicuous black rockets on the back, obviously there for the shuttle mode. Having said that, they do give him a rather souped up look in this mode, and he's got them in the show, too.

   Astrotrain has a very small driver's compartment and a small smokestack, so he'd be quite a large loco, pretty powerful - moreso with rockets on the back! He's got front and rear rolling wheels, as well as a set of wheels on top of the driver's cabin (for shuttle mode).

   Not a bad train mode, although it's somewhat devoid of detail. The moulding itself is actually quite complex, with hoops around the boiler, and moulded wheels along the sides. But being mainly dark colours with scant colour changes hurts the look a little. The black paint on the boiler has a tendency to chip, also.

TRANSFORMATION TO SHUTTLE MODE

   Basically turn it upside down and unfold it. In fact, the first step is to turn him over, the second fold down the wings. Next fold down the side panels at the front, folding the rear tips of them in first. Next lift up the grey panel on the front and fold out the cabin. Lastly lift up the tail.

SHUTTLE MODE
Height: 6cm Length: 15cm Width: 9cm

   Purple is still quite prominent in this mode, on the wings, cabin, rear and sides. He's got a black nose, black windows, black rockets and some black bits on the sides. The top, rear sides and tail are light grey, however, and being on top, this colour tends to dominate the shuttle mode.

   There are four wheels on his underside, so he can roll along if he likes. He can't reach orbit unassisted, but I'm not going to judge him on that. Having rolling wheels is really all you'd expect of a shuttle. Sky Lynx does have an opening cargo bay, but it's solid inside anyway. Astrotrain can stand upright - in launch position - on the desk, although he doesn't come with the fuel tank and rocket boosters seen on real shuttles.

   Probably Astrotrain's best mode, fairly accurate, and would have been designed before the Space Shuttles actually came into service!

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Lift up the front panel and fold in the cabin. Slide the front forward to form the legs. Fold the wingtips underneath. Lift the rear section out and fold underneath to reveal his head. Stand him up, lift the arms out from his sides. There there's the tail, which has three possible configurations. The original design allows you to split the tail and slide it down to form a breastplate. The show suggests you slide it down and into the chest (facing up), or you can simply fold it down into the chest (facing down), which leaves something of a gap below his chin. I prefer the slide down into his chest option, but it's really a personal thing.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 12cm Width: 7.5cm

   The light grey which was the dominant colour in the shuttle mode is even more so here. His wings form a purple cape and he's purple & black from behind, with some purple and black on the sides of his black, but otherwise he's grey. His forehead is red, face is yellow and he has black kneecaps. This reliance on grey works. It's worth noting that the cartoon Astrotrain is a darker grey, which was taken from a prototype toy (which is featured in the 1985 toy catalogue). But it still looks like the carton version, just paler.

   In this mode if becomes obvious that Astrotrain's three-mode scheme is basically working on the principal of bits folding around a central cylinder. His torso and lower legs are this cylinder (okay, it's closer to a rectangular prism). His thighs are really skinny, but also very short, since most of the space inside his shins is used up hiding the shuttle cabin. He also has shortish arms, since they've got to fold into the torso. But his shoulders _are_ ball joints - the first Transformer to use ball joints, in fact.

   Aside from a somewhat blocky look and some strange proportions, Astrotrain's robot mode does look fairly good. But he has one more flaw - the legs have a habit of sliding into themselves, making him sag to one side or squat. In fact this is more of a drawback than the proportion problems, which are easy to overlook.

VARIATIONS

   The original, covered here, was reissued as a Classic in 1991 (although this never reached North America). The Japanese market received a white version in 1986 and again in 2004, which Hasbro later released. 2004 also saw a limited edition "Anime" Astrotrain released in Japan as an eHobby exclusive.

OVERALL

   One of the better Triple Changers, Astrotrain has some flaws, but both vehicle modes look like what they're meant to be and none of his modes are a mess. Since he plays a fairly prominent part in the cartoon, he's a toy a lot of people will probably want anyway. A good toy, with some minor flaws - 7/10

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