Cliffbee.com: Anime Astrotrain Toy Review

Toy Reviews
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 bright purple steam locomotive, Astrotrain is almost entirely "Decepticon" purple - and the shade used is about as bright as it could be while still being defined as such. He has a die-cast boiler, the shade here is slightly different to the rest, very slightly lighter than the purple plastic. There are silver shafts painted onto the wheels, and rather conspicuous silver 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, although they're purple there. The colour scheme here is very show accurate otherwise - which makes sense since this toy is using the prototype colours on which the cartoon Astrotrain was based, and not the colours that ended up on the original.

   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). The stickers here are essentially the same as on the original, with a black and red stripe across the boiler and Decepticon logos on the sides towards the front.

   A good train mode is somewhat devoid of detail. The moulding itself is actually quite complex, with hoops around the boiler, and moulded wheels along the sides. This version easily has the brightest train mode amongst the three colour schemes Astrotrain had, and for those wanting him to be as in the cartoon, this purple train will please, even if the colours are very unrealistic.

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

   The purple gives way to a mainly dark grey shuttle now, with some vestigial purple, most notably on the nose and cockpit windows. The rockets are silver and for some odd reason the wheels on top of his engines are gold - you'd think these would be grey or at worst purple. This represents a misstep, but it's the only real issue I have with the shuttle mode. I'm not about to judge this mode on the fact that you don't see shuttles in this colour scheme, since this repaint is specifically trying to be the cartoon Astrotrain. On that count, this colour scheme works very well here.

   The stickers are again similar to those of the original, with "NOT A STEP" stickers added to the back edge of his wings. Not that you'd be likely to step on the wings - and in weightlessness it wouldn't matter anyway. Still, the idea is nifty.

   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.

   A good shuttle mode, the colours work very well in the context of a show accurate toy, even if they're somewhat garish together. It's a decent mould for the time and this repaint really fulfils its purpose here.

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. The cartoon went with the slide down option. So for this version, at least, I'd recommend that.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 12cm Width: 7.5cm

   The dark grey which was the dominant colour in the shuttle mode is just as dominant here. His wings form a grey cape with Decepticon logos and he's purple from behind. There are some purple elements here and there but he's all about dark grey here - there's more grey here than lighter grey on the original. There are a few differences to the animated robot, mainly because the paintmask wasn't changed here. His face is grey, not white, while the eyes are yellow and forehead red, as on the original toy - the cartoon swapped these over (since it gave most Decepticons red eyes). Still, this is a very good representation of that version of the character, and is far more satisfying as the animated character than either the original or while versions. The colour scheme isn't as garish as the shuttle - there's less purple. It's the darkest colour scheme in robot mode seen on any Astrotrain toy, but works the best for a fan who grew up watching the cartoon like myself.

   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 colours here work better for me than on either general release version. While I wouldn't say they're aesthetically any better or worse than the others, the fact is that they fit the colours used in the show which gave the character life.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, the general release toy came in light grey (original, Japan 1985, Classics 1991). There was a white general release toy (Japan 1986, 2004 reissues by both Takara and Hasbro). This version is an e-Hobby exclusive released concurrently with Takara's reissue, and being limited he was likely produced in a single production run. There are no variants of this version, as far as I know.

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. If you're after Astrotrain the character, this is the version you'd most likely want to get. I was quite surprised that Takara released this version in limited numbers and the white one en masse (they did the opposite with Galvatron), since this one fits into the memory of what Astrotrain is meant to be for many fans. If you're after Astrotrain strictly as a toy and not a character, I'd recommend the white one, but this is a great version for cartoon fans. His limited numbers and high demand make this a pricey figure (he's much more expensive than most of the e-Hobby G1 toys, and only Megaplex comes close). If you can afford him, this is a worthwhile repaint, but I'm not sure if he's worth the going rate if you're on a budget so I'll stop short of recommending him unless you can get him for something like the original price (as I did) - 8.5/10

"Transformers" and other indica trademarks of Hasbro and/or Takara.