Cliffbee.com: White 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 steam locomotive, and a repaint of the original, without the purple. He's essentially black in this mode with just a hint of white. He has a black die-cast boiler, white shafts painted onto the wheels, and rather conspicuous black rockets on the back, obviously there for the shuttle mode. There are some other hints of white in other places, but the shafts on the sides represent most of the colour here. The black doesn't really work here, since all it does is mask all the detail of a fairly boxy train mode.

   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 sports front and rear rolling wheels, as well as a set of wheels on top of the driver's cabin (for shuttle mode).

   The train mode is fairly simple, and the moulding is good for the time. There are fairly complex details such as hoops around the boiler and moulded wheels along the sides. The black on this version really makes his train mode a non-event - of the three colour schemes this toy has seen, this one is easily the least successful in rain mode.

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

   White the train is all black on this version, the shuttle is predominantly white - the obvious reason for this toy being redone in these colours. The windows, nose, boosters and some edges are black while there are purple Decepticon logo stickers on his wings. The colours are essentially those of an actual shuttle - certainly they're far more realistic than on either the original toy or the cartoon colours. While the windows aren't gold and there are no US flags, this is one of the most realistic colour schemes we've seen on a Transformer shuttle (Galaxy Shuttle being the main competition).

   The sticker set here is entirely different to that of the original, with a much heavier emphasis on the shuttle rather than the robot-centric stickers on the original (and Anime version, actually). There are "UNITED STATES" stickers on the sides of the fuselage and NASA style lettered "ASTR" stickers, which were "NASA" on the original - likely changed for legal reasons on the recent reissues. There's still a rubsign on the top right side of the fuselage and there are some plane-like text markings on two stickers behind the rubsign.

   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.

   This is Astrotrain's strongest mode, and this particular version of the toy focuses heavily on it. While it's not show realistic, it will satisfy those who want Astrotrain to look like an actual shuttle. The accuracy of the shuttle mode is good for a toy of this era, admirable when you consider that the mould 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. For the sake of differentiation between the toys, I prefer to open it on this version, although I think the slide down into his chest option suits the mould best.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 12cm Width: 7.5cm

   The white which was the dominant colour in the shuttle mode is just as dominant here. His wings form a white cape and he's black from behind. There are some black elements here and there but he's all about white here - there's more white here than grey on the original. His eyes are red (yellow on the original, which also has a red forehead). The stickers are again quite different - even the stickers inside the tail (if you open it out) are different, being mainly red with blue rather than blue with red. There are yellow stickers on his arms, also different from the original. The Decepticon stickers on his wings are essentially the same. This is a great colour scheme, it really fits a Transformer that turns into a space shuttle. It's not quite how Astrotrain was portrayed in the media, but for the toy in its own right it works well. Having said that, I have all three versions, so I'm not forced to settle for any single version.

   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. The legs on this one - the reissue - are a lot more stable than those on my original (well, Classic) Astrotrain, which is a plus. That one was loose out of the box, this version is nice and tight. Depending on what you want out of the figure, you may prefer the original, but this robot mode still works fairly well, and the space shuttle origin is more obvious in white that grey and purple.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, this is essentially a repaint of the original. Originally this version was produced in the Japanese market for his 1986 release (they got the "regular" version in 1985). When Takara decided to reissue Astrotrain in 2004 they went for the white. Hasbro ran with the white paint job and reissued Astrotrain themselves, even though this colour scheme was not previously released by Hasbro.

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. The black train mode is frankly boring, but the shuttle mode really work nicely in white and black. I wouldn't say that this version is superior to the original. Neither are quite show accurate although the original _is_ closer, so if you're after the character himself, this one might not be for you. If you want a white shuttle, this is the version for you. Leaving preferences aside, I'd say this one is slightly better since they fixed the thighs - 7.5/10

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