"Generations" Platinum Edition Triple Changers Astrotrain & Blitzwing Toy Reviews
Release Date: Summer 2015
Price Point: $59.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: Online Shared Exclusive (Amazon, BigBadToyStore etc.)
Accessories: "Gyro-Blaster Rifle", "Electron Scimitar", 3 concussion missiles, "Ionic Displacer Rifle"
Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.comu:
Blitzwing and Astrotrain unleash multiple modes of mayhem on the ground, in the air, and in outer space. Can the Triple Changers be stopped? Gear up for triple Transformers action with these 3-in-1 Triple Changers! Your Blitzwing figure is a robot menace with a sword in one hand and a blaster in the other. He can take the battle over the ground in tank mode or to the sky in jet mode! He'll be the perfect ally for your Astrotrain figure, who can rumble to battle in train mode or take it off the ground in space shuttle mode! Can the Autobots hope to contend with this multi-mode menaces? It's all up to you! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.
During the Generation One era there was a huge emphasis on adding layers to the transformation gimmick to keep the toy line fresh. Early on in the toy line two characters were introduced who could transform into one of three modes instead of the traditional two. These two were called "Triple Changers" named Astrotrain and Blitzwing. A year later they would be joined by a third member named Octane. Over the years these guys have not been forgotten. In the "Classics" series fans had the chance to get an updated version of Astrotrain. Later in the "Universe 2.0" series a new version of Octane was released, now named "Tankor" for trademark reasons. More recently Blitzwing was given a new form as a triple changing Voyager Class figure in the "Generations" segment. Honorable mention goes to an Astrotrain released in "Timelines" though he only had two forms since he was a redeco of "Armada" Jetfire.
As part of their "Platinum Edition" releases, Hasbro went back in time and produced a two pack of the original two Triple Changers: Astrotrain and Blitzwing. However, instead of being direct reissues of the original figures, these figures featured all new decos. Both Triple Changers were packaged in their aerial modes so the reviews will start with those forms.
Astrotrain and Blitzwing are packaged in a rectangular box. It has the "Generations" style black design with a purple border and Decepticon symbols on it. The "Transformers" logo is set vertically on the right side with the "Generations" logo above it. The bottom strip indicates this is a "Platinum Edition" in foil print. The left side has the term "Decepticon Triple Changers" in white text. The middle of the box is one large window without the flap so often seen in Platinum Edition releases. There is new box art on the left side showing off both characters in their new colors overlapping the window. Inside you can see Blitzwing on the left and Astrotrain on the right along with their accessories. The background is a cardboard tray featuring several designs on them. Interestingly among these designs are Bumblebee and Unicron! The significance of this background has yet to be revealed. The back of the box has stock photography of the toy set against the familiar grey and black grid used for most "Generations" packaging. There is a small write up on the left in multiple languages. The bottom features a co-sell for the Insecticons Platinum Edition boxed set.
Space Shuttle Mode:
I think in 2016 the notion of a Space Shuttle form for a Transformer is rather quaint. The space shuttle program in the United States has been retired and the ships being developed by other countries and private organizations don't look like the traditional NASA shuttle, so in that respect Astrotrain is very much a product of his time (read: the 1980's). He features a lot of the traditional Space Shuttle design elements including:
- The general shape features a tube forming a bulk of the body with two curved wings on the side, a single rudder/fin at the back, a curved nosecone and propulsion engines in the back.
- The front section has a curved nose with a series of windows that wrap around to the sides.
- The wings are curved in the front and straight in the back (though the exact curves differ a bit from the real life shuttle).
- The rear has three huge propulsion engines with two smaller ones on the top.
Overall I'm very fond of this mode. It has some great detailing and looks great. It's instantly recognizable as a classic Space Shuttle and while they are visible, the wheel details from the Train Mode don't really distract from it at all.
In terms of colors, there has been a bit of discussion among fans as to just where these new colors come from. Some have suggested that he might be a homage to Machtackle (who is part space shuttle). When I asked Hasbro at Botcon 2015, they told me the designer who had come up with the colors had since left the team, but they believe it was based on some type of Chinese space ship (but take that with a huge grain of salt since it didn't come directly from the designer).
Astrotrain's new plastic colors are white and metallic flake orange. The front section is largely die-cast metal which has been painted a rich metallic blue. While the white plastic makes up more of the figure than the orange, the orange is rather bright and assertive featuring on parts like the rudder/fin and wing tips. Gunmetal grey is used to paint the nosecone and windows, adding a bit of darker color contrast to the figure. Are these colors a bit..."much"? I guess they can be seen as such, especially the orange. However it's not the eye sore that you'd think it would be just hearing about it. Indeed, I think the metallic blue color is gorgeous and the white offers a nice background color for the blue and orange.
Like many Generation One toys, a lot of Astrotrain's detailing comes from stickers. These have all been pre-applied so he comes out of the box ready to go. Some of the nicer stickers include a heat sensitive "rub symbol" on the right side (expose it to heat or rub it and a Decepticon symbol appears). The sides have stickers with mechanical details like tubes and lights printed on them. Looking at him from the top you'll see three Decepticon symbol stickers. Large symbols are found on each wing while the central body of the vehicle has a smaller one on the right side. I do find one omission unfortunate. G1 Astrotrain had black stickers that gave detailing to the edges of his rudder/fin. Those are not on this figure, and the result is the orange pieces in the back look a bit plain and unfinished.
Astrotrain's weapon does not attach to this form. Stowing away weapons in all modes is not something many G1 figures did so that isn't a shock.
Transformation to Train Mode (from Shuttle Mode):
- Swing the rudder/fin forward.
- Swing the wings up, then fold the wing tips in.
- Swing the orange panels towards the front up.
- Swing the nosecone pieces back and then push the orange panels back into place.
- Flip the vehicle over.
- Swing the wheel panels on the sides down, then flip out the small orange pieces to form the middle of the wheel sections.
In his Train Mode Astrotrain transforms into a classic locomotive, similar to the R Class. Being a shuttle in his alternate form works for this mode since the center body is a tube shape. He has a lot of the distinct details of a locomotive including:
- The front end has a large raised circle with smaller shapes raised in the center.
- Towards the front is a headlight mounted onto the top of the vehicle.
- The top of the vehicle has an stack towards the front.
- Towards the back is a cab section which you can see via the window details on the sides.
- Both sides have a row of wheels with connecting rods like you would see on a real life train.
The main detail that gives away Astrotrain's other-worldly nature are the propulsion rockets on the back, which are clearly visible. What's funny is I don't really mind them. They are so much a part of Astrotrain's design that even the animation model in the G1 cartoon integrated it into the design. As a kid I imagined the boosters just made him move faster in this form.
All the same colors from the shuttle mode carry over here. The metallic blue section forming a bulk of the vehicle still features very prominently. The wheels on the sides are a combination of white and orange plastic, but the wheels themselves have been painted with a beautiful gunmetal color. In this form all the G1 stickers have been applied at the factory. This includes Decepticon symbols on either side of the front end, a black and red strip that curves on top of the front end and rectangular stickers with mechanical details on the sides. While the G1 fan in me is still scratching his head over the deco, I have to admit the actual colors chosen work oddly well together.
Transformation to Robot Mode (from Train Mode)
- Swing the middle wheel panels back, then swing the rear wheel panels up.
- Split the front end of the train and pull the halves down to form the robot legs.
- Swing the shuttle wings out, straightening out the ends.
- Swing the section with the propulsion engines back.
- Swing the central rudder/fin up, the slide it up. Swing each half out to form the chest armor.
- On the sides use the small tabs to swing out the robot arms.
- Attach the orange rifle to Astrotrain's hand.
Astrotrain has a rather regal looking robot mode. This is thanks in part to the wings from the shuttle mode that wind up on his back. He almost looks like he is wearing some type of fancy cape or back pack. His head has a design with classic "Transformers" elements including a central crest, visor eyes and curved helmet section. The rudder forms a dramatic looking "V" shaped chest armor piece. The only drawback in the design are the arms, which are kind of short but that effect is blunted somewhat when he is holding his long rifle in one hand.
This mode breaks out the colors on this figure a bit. The uper body has most of the white and orange while the lower part has the blue color. Thanks to the way the colors are arranged this is the most visually appealing of the three modes from a color perspective. None of the colors are overwhelming each other. This mode introduces light blue paint on the eyes and orange on his crest. The rest of the detailing is mostly thanks to stickers. This includes angled stickers on his chest that include blue, silver and black colors. The right wing has a large Decepticon symbol on it and some of the stickers from the shuttle mode show up as part of his hips and legs. The stickers add quite a bit of visual appeal and I dare say he'd look really plain without them!
Articulation was not something that was emphasized in the G1 era, so it's no shock that Astrotrain has all of two points of articulation: his arms. They can move up and down as well as out to the sides. However, his chest armor can get in their way so you have to adjust accordingly. As old fashioned as it may sound, a lot of the play value of this mode came from one's imagination back in the day.
Jet Fighter Mode:
In his aerial mode Blitzwing is a MiG 25, a jet fighter most associated with the Soviet Union. Nowadays this seems like an anachronism, but in the 80's when tensions between the United States and Soviet Union were high (you can read about it here) it made perfect sense for Hasbro to take a sculpt that became this jet and designate it as a Decepticon since it was seen as a "bad guy jet" (it even made appearances in movies as such). However in the modern era it is simply a jet fighter which is also appropriate for a Decepticon. Among the details that appear inspired by the MiG are:
- The nosecone has a very pointed shape with a cockpit section that sits right up against the air intakes.
- The nosecone section is flanked by two air intakes.
- Each wing angles back and has small points at the ends (this is perhaps the most distinctive detail).
- The top of the vertical stabilizers are set at a downward angle.
Of course, since his other vehicle mode is a tank, his jet mode is pretty bulky. That means the back section in particular is really thick. If this were a modern sculpt I think I'd be more bothered by it than I am. However given the era this toy was made in (and given how many times I've seen this sculpt over the years) I guess I've gotten so used to Blitzwing looking like this that it doesn't bug me much at all, but your mileage will vary.
Like Astrotrain, Blitzwing was released in colors that this sculpt has never had before. The current theory among fans is that Blitzwing's new colors is that they are based on the Duocon Flywheels. There's something to be said for this theory. First, the base colors of red and brown are roughly the same in tone as Flywheels. Also, Bltizwing is a robot, jet and tank all in one. Flywheels was a robot formed from a jet and a tank. These are really interesting parallels and I had never made the association until now.
While there is red and brown plastic on this figure, there are some die-cast metal sections including the sides and the vertical fins. The fins are silver while the parts on the sides are painted brown to match the plastic. Gold paint is found on the cockpit windows. Most of his detailing comes from stickers. All the stickers have been applied at the factory. The stickers are all the same ones from the original figure. This includes large stickers on his wings with large arrows on them, vents in the middle and sides and other stickers that flank the cockpit section with triangles on them that remind me of stickers used on some of the G1 Seekers such as Starscream. The stickers mostly have silver backgrounds with yellow and red details on top. They add a lot of detail and I think it looks great.
When this sculpt was originally designed, the wings were intended to accommodate missiles. Blitzwing still includes these small missiles but they no longer fire. They can be inserted into the launch tubes but they hold in place. I'm glad the designers did not try to make longer, awkward looking missiles to keep the launching mechanism. That would've ruined the aesthetics in my book. Blitzwing has an extra bit of functionality: landing gear that can swing down from under the cockpit. If you flip the vehicle over you'll see the tank turret with two small semi-circles on it that are meant to be the rear landing wheels. As a kid, I used to imagine he could use the turret as a weapon in this form, blasting away at enemies below!
Transformation to Tank Mode (from Jet Mode):
- Swing the cockpit down.
- Push the vertical fins down.
- Swing the wing sections of the jet out and forward.
- Push the turret section back and extend the cannon barrel forward.
- Make sure the barrel is pointed in the same direction as the section you swung the cockpit section into.
The TF Wiki Page lists Blitzwing's tank mode as a Type 74 Tank. I can definitely see a resemblance including the curved turret section and the boxy shape of the tank's main body, but it is far more streamlined than the Type 74. Regardless it still has some nice detailing. That includes two hatches on the top of the turret section, sculpted treads and wheels and raised details that look like bolts.
This mode mostly shows off brown parts with some red bits here and there. Once again stickers make up a lot of the detailing including a large silver and purple Decepticon sticker on top and rectangular stickers with red and yellow designs on a silver background. The shame is in this mode the designers seemed to have held back a bit with the deco. G1 Blitzwing had color details on the sides of his treads and a heat sensitive rub symbol on top of the tank turret. This version has neither of them. Unfortunately the sculpt simply isn't detailed enough in this form to make up for those missing details so he winds up looking a bit unfinished in this form.
While he has sculpted treads, Blitzwing actually rolls on four small wheels on the bottom of this form. The tank turret can turn in a complete circle, which sounds mundane but consider there are a bunch of modern day "Transformers" tanks that cannot turn their turrets.
Transformation to Robot Mode (From Tank Mode):
- Swing the front tread panels out and back.
- Push the tank barrel in.
- Swing the sides of the tank/jet up.
- Flip the vehicle over and you'll see the robot head.
- On either side of the torso swing out the robot arms, then pull the robot hands out.
- Pull the robot legs down.
- Swing the vertical fins from the jet mode down to form the feet.
- Each weapon attaches to the side of one of his hands.
Blitzwing strikes an imposing shape in robot mode. The bulk of the vehicle mode parts wind up on the top half of this mode, giving him a bulky, imposing shape. At the same time the shape of the wings adds a bit of sleekness to this form, making it a nice visual summary of both his vehicle forms. His head has a cool design with a wide crest on top, a curved helmet and large visor eyes. Each of the fists have fingers sculpted into them. The area around his waist/hips is raised with a section in the middle forming a distinct waist area. While he does have some odd design elements (such as his feet) overall he's not a bad looking robot.
This mode emphasizes the red color more than the brown. His eyes are painted orange with his silver on the face. Most of his detailing comes from stickers (no shock there). This mode combines stickers from both vehicle modes. Most of the stickers on his torso come from the jet mode while the ones on his arms come from the tank mode.
Blitzwing has two points of articulation: his arms. They can move up and down (and hold his weapons of course). It's not a lot of functionality, I admit. However back in the day this was normal and like I said with Astrotrain you used your imagination to fuel a lot of the play.
I'm going to be up front and say this is a weird two pack and somewhat random. I think it's great that Hasbro is looking towards G1 sculpts to reissue as Platinum Edition figures. It makes them more special and tips a hat to the original series. I do find myself wishing they had been reissued in their "Generation One" colors since many fans did not have a chance to pick up the previous reissues. Still, if you just want the sculpts and the colors appeal to you this is a reasonably priced set in a nice looking package.