"Generations" Titans Return Astrotrain Toy Review

in 2016, Action Figure Review, Decepticon, Generation One, Generations, Titans Return, Triple Changer, Voyager

Generations
Titans Return

Astrotrain General Information:
Release Date: November 2016
Price Point: $24.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Darkmoon Titan Master figure, Blasters x 2

Official images and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
The Transformers battle explodes into uncharted territory when the Titans Return. To control an ancient race of giant, city-sized warriors -- the Titans -- the Transformers must harness the power of Titan Masters, smaller bots that give bigger bots increased abilities in battle. Join the battle with Transformers Generations Titans Return figures.

Astrotrain is a master at keeping his enemies guessing. He uses his Triple Changer ability to spread confusion. He shifts so rapidly between modes the Autobots can't tell if they're being attacked by one Decepticon or three. The Titan Master Darkmoon gives Astrotrain an even greater advantage: he has a cloaking mode that makes Astrotrain undetectable to Autobot sensors. This Titans Return Voyager Class Decepticon Astrotrain figure comes with a Titan Master Darkmoon figure. The Darkmoon figure becomes the head of the Astrotrain figure. Unite them and power up for battle. Titan Master figure can become the head for Deluxe Class, Voyager Class, or Leader Class Titans Return figures. Unite this Titan Master Darkmoon figure with other bots to create different combinations, or unite other Titan Master figures with this Astrotrain figure. Find the best team ups and join the battle. Additional figures are each sold separately. Subject to availability. Titans Return Voyager Class figures feature three modes. This Triple Changer Astrotrain figure converts between robot, space shuttle, and train modes. It converts from robot to jet in 11 steps, then from jet to train in 20 steps. The Titan Master Darkmoon figure converts from robot to head and back in 1 step. When the Astrotrain figure is in shuttle mode, the Darkmoon figure fits inside. Also includes 2 accessories and a collectible character card with tech specs. Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.

Very early on in the life of the Transformers line the toy line began to move away from the sole gimmick of transformation. Once figures like Combiners were introduced it became clear Transformers could be more than just a robot that changed from one form to another. In 1987 Hasbro and Takara took a bold step into a new play pattern by introducing Headmasters. Headmasters were Transformers whose heads detached and became smaller figures that could then pilot or ride the Transformers in beast and vehicle forms (or in a couple cases, their battle station or city forms!). Now almost thirty years after they were originally introduced the Headmaster gimmick has returned in a new form: Titan Masters!

Titan Masters focuses on the return of small robots to Cybertron that can unlock incredible power, and it is up to the Transformers to merge with them and harness those abilities and strengths. In some ways the story resembles "Armada" which had a similar conceit for the Mini-Cons. In true "Generations" fashion, Titans Return gives us characters from the G1 era of Transformers in new forms that incorporate this gimmick.

Astrotrain was a prominent Decepticon in the Generation One era. He was featured in several episodes of the original series and he played a part in key scenes of the 1986 "Transformers: The Movie" animated film. Astrotrain was notable for his ability to turn into both a space shuttle and a locomotive train. While he is not exactly plastered all over the Transformers toy line's history the character has not been ignored. A new version of the character appeared in the "Classics" line and his G1 figure has been reissued a couple of times including a 2015 Platinum Edition release.

However when the Autobot Triple Changers Springer and Sandstorm were released as Voyager Class figures fans wondered why Astrotrain had not received the same treatment. Well, the time has finally come with Astrotrain being released as a Voyager Class figure in "Titans Return".

This figure is a retool and redeco of the wave one Sentinel Prime figure. I recommend checking out that review for details on this figure. This review will focus on the changes made for this release.

Packaging:
The Voyager Class packaging for "Titans Return" is very similar to the "Combiner Wars" packaging. The background of the box is black and the right side of the box (if you are facing the box) has the vertical Transformers logo on it with the "Generations" logo above that. The figure is packaged in robot mode in the center and off to the side you can see the Tech Specs card. The lower left side has a bit of Galvatron's artwork with the "Titans Return" logo under it. On the upper left hand corner you'll see a symbol with a robot, jet and car indicating the figure is a triple changer. Some fans have noted that it is odd that an Autobot symbol seems plastered all over this box when Astrotrain is a Decepticon. Rather than indicating affiliation it would seem these symbols are used more to differentiate waves in this line. It is a curious choice, I admit.

The side of the box features a more extensive look at the artwork. The back features all three of Astrotrain's modes with Darkmoon in both modes. The right side of the back features the "eco system" for the Titan Master system, illustrating that the Titan Masters can work with various size classes. Sentinel prime's co-sells are Apeface, Wolfwire, Alpha Trion and Soundwave.

Titans Return figures come with a collector card, similar to last year's "Combiner Wars" series. However these cards are shaped differently, with corners cut out on two sides. The front features the character's artwork, giving you a better look at the full body. The back features something fans have wanted since last year: tech specs! These are not traditional specs with a full motto and so on, but instead there are four qualities reflected here (via icons). The four icons are: A robot flexing arms (strength), a character running (speed), a brain (intelligence) and a missile (firepower). These are laid out on the X axis of a bar chart with lines going across from a scale of one through twenty. Traditional tech specs only go from one to ten, but these tech specs take into account the Titan Master being combined with the Transformer. This extends the line into the zone past the number ten. I'm really glad these were added in as I think it was a missed opportunity not to do so last year. I also appreciate the bright and colorful icons and lines used on the back of the cards.

Accessories:
Astrotrain includes the same weapons as Sentinel Prime. One is a rifle/blaster with some really beautiful sculpted detail on it. Among my favorite details are some of the tubes on the sides towards the back. I also like the way even the handles have some nicely sculpted line detail instead of just being flat. This piece has two 5mm pegs, one on the top and the other on the bottom. This weapon is cast in purple plastic and is unpainted.

The other weapon is different. Sure it is still a rifle/blaster, but this one is wider because the top of the weapon also doubles as a place for a Titan Master to sit! Like other accessories included with the likes of Blurr, this accessory basically becomes a weapons turret that can be attached to 5mm ports on Transformers figures. In this case there are two 5mm pegs on the sides and one on the bottom, giving you multiple ways to attach this weapon to Astrotrain. Even better? There is a 5mm port on top of the weapon, allowing you to attach another weapon! This weapon is also cast in purple plastic with no paint applications. This is a fun accessory and I love how it helps open interactivity among all the different figures and Titan Master mini-figures.

Darkmoon

Darkmoon is a new character created for this line. The name works well for a character paired up with someone who is evil (the "Dark" part) and who can transform into a space shuttle (the "Moon" part).

Head Mode:
Darkmoon's head mode is based off the design of Astrotrain's head as it appeared in the G1 comic book and cartoon. Key details include a round helmet section with a large central crest, thin eyes and a nose and mouth. The parts of the helmet that flank the lower part of the face have rectangular notches in them that recall similar details on G1 Astrotrain. The face/helmet plate is painted light grey. The crest is painted yellow and his eyes are red, though it's a bit hard to see since they're pretty thin. Interestingly enough, this color layout is more in line with the G1 action figure than the G1 animation model, which had a purple "helmet" section (but did have a yellow crest). This seems to follow the tradition of Hasbro releases adhering more to G1 toy colors while Takara Tomy goes with animation accuracy.

Transformation to Robot Mode:
Holding the front of the head, unfold the back half to reveal the robot mode.

Robot Mode:
Darkmoon is a retool and redeco of Infinitus, the Titan Master for Sentinel Prime. Infinitus' design is directly based off of Sentinel Prime's appearance in the IDW Publishing "Megatron Origin" series. Some of the features borrowed from the comic book include:

  • The head sculpt is a small version of Sentinel Prime's head sculpt, down to the crest on the top of his head and the unique mouthplate.
  • The sides of each arm feature two blasters on them.
  • The chest features a raised, curved section on top and a cuved window towards the mid-body area.
  • The knee armor is a similar shape to the way Sentinel Prime was drawn in the comic.
  • The lower legs feature tread-like designs on them, similar to Sentinel Prime's in the comic.

While many of the Titan Masters in this line call back to previous Headmaster designs, Astrotrain was never a Headmaster in G1 so it's pretty open season in terms of what design his Titan Mater would have. This design looks good and works just as well as any other in my book.

Darkmoon is cast in light grey and purple plastic with no painted parts. The head, arms and legs are purple while the torso is grey.

There are five points of articulation on this figure. The legs are connected together so they move at the same time when you move the hips or knees. The hip joint on my copy of Darkmoon is noticably more loose than those on my copy of Infinitus. The figure can still stand, but requires a bit more fiddling to do so.

Astrotrain

Robot Mode:
For many this release represents what this sculpt was meant to be. It was obvious when Sentinel Prime was first solicited that he would be given a retool and redeco as Astrotrain. The body structure features many key elemnts of that character's designs. These include the pylons that come up on either side of the head, the wings on the back and the blocky sections on the torso. That said, this figure has a lot of extra details that did not appear on G1 Astrotrain including turrets on his forearms and tiny details like a series of cables around the enter of the chest. Hasbro and Takara Tomy have been working hard to up the amount of sculpted detail in the "Generations" segment of the line and so far they are doing a great job.

Astrotrain is cast in light grey, purple and black plastic. These colors appear mostly based off the G1 action figure, though the animation model also had these colors. Much of the deco in robot mode is black paint which is found mostly on the shoulders, forearms and the legs. Red and purple lines can be found on the torso, a detail inspired by stickers on the original figure (which also appeared on the animation model in G1). Normally it would be very easy to go on and on about how the deco could be better but truth be told, Astrotrain's G1 design was never exactly the most colorful. If you look at his animation model, he's just a whole lot of grey and purple. There are some minor details they could have added based on stickers form the G1 figure, but I feel like that's almost nit picking at this point.

There are twenty points of articulation on this figure. That includes four in each arm and five in each leg. The head area has some functionality aside from the Titan Master connecting to the body. The mechanism that Darkmoon connects to is actually a small platform that can turn. Since Darkmoon can also turn the result are two different ways of turning the robot head. The pylons on either side of the head might turn some folks off but they are actually based on a design element from G1 Astrotrain's design. If they really bother you, push them down and you can get them out of the way, leaving only Sentinel's head to move free on its own. If you want to get the pylons back, press the grey switch on the torso and they'll pop right back up!

My main concern with this mode is looseness in the legs. The swivel joint on the thigh and the knee joints are more loose than I think a sculpt should be on its third use (I'm counting both releases of Sentinel Prime as the first two). If you hold the torso and move the figure back and forth the knees actually "kick" a little. Now mind you, the joints are tight enough that he stands and poses just fine, but that is a quality issue that I feel should be caught during quality control checks. At least one friend reports his is the same way, so it's not just mine.

Transformation to Shuttle Mode:

  1. Detach Darkmoon and convert him into robot mode.
  2. Push the pylons that flanked the head down. They should lock in place.
  3. Detach the weapons and set them aside for now.
  4. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  5. Swing the fists into the forearms.
  6. Point the robot feet down.
  7. Rotate the lower legs so you can connect them together.
  8. Lift the section with the wings on them up.
  9. Swing the panels on the lower legs back, hiding the thighs on the top and bottom of the shuttle.
  10. Push the wing section down.
  11. Swing the wings out, and connect them to the arms.
  12. Swing the vertical stabilizers out at angles.
  13. The weapons can be attached to the sides, top or wings.
  14. Darkmoon can sit in the cockpit on the top of the vehicle.

Shuttle Mode:
This mode is the same as it was when the base sculpt was used for Sentinel Prime. Instead of a traditional, tube shaped shuttle with wings, this is a flat shuttle reminiscent of Lockheed Martin's proposed Venture Star shuttle. It has the same details as Sentinel It's a bit of a shame they cannot be positioned independently for play value, but I do love the idea that Sentinel is a flying arsenal even before you attach extra weapons to him.

Unlike his garish predecessor, Astrotrain is a relatively sedate set of colors. The light grey is still there of course, but thanks to the way the purple panels fold out to form this mode you get to see a lot more purple. The way the panels are laid out offers an interesting contrast between the two types of purple plastic used on the figure. The wings are a smooth, almost shiny purple plastic. Meanwhile the panels in the middle of the shuttle are more textured in their finish and do not have the same "shine". Black plastic is found in the middle of the vehicle while translucent purple is used for the cockpit section in the back. Like the robot mode, this form uses black paint heavily. You'll find it on the turrets on the sides and several sections of the vehicle's middle and front end. The finishing touch are metallic silver and purple Decepticon symbols on the wings. Overall the deco looks great partly thanks to the black color breaking up the light grey and purple.

There are six 5mm ports in this modoe. Two under the wings, two on the sides and two that flank the cockpit in the back. Since several of the Titans Return weapons and accessories can become turrets (including one of Sentinel's own weapons) you can attach those weapons on the sides and add on extra Titan Masters as gunners. Add on enough weapons and Astrotrain winds up being an very heavy armed shuttle. This functionality also encourages interaction with other Titan Masters figures, thus linking him to the rest of the Titans Return line with more than just the Titan Master head gimmick.

Transformation to Train Mode (from Shuttle Mode)

  1. Be sure Darkmoon is detached or sitting in the cockpit.
  2. Detach the weapons for now and set them aside.
  3. Swing the robot arms out to the sides and up.
  4. Swing the panels from the robot legs back against the robot legs on the top and bottom of the figure.
  5. Separate the waist/hip sections and swing the legs up.
  6. Open up the panels on the top of the lower robot legs and swing the feet in so the train sections face outward.
  7. Connect the arms and legs.
  8. Swing the panels on each leg out to form the sides of the train mode.
  9. Attach the weapons to the sides of the train.

Train Mode:
In G1 Astrotrain's ground based form was a train and thus his train mode makes perfect sense along with the robot and shuttle forms. Unlike Astrotrain's G1 counterpart however this train looks like several cars of a train connected together, with either end able to serve as the front of the vehicle. The ends of the train look very much inspired by a current day Earth-based train with an angled top section and a window for conductors and drivers to sit inside. The front has an angled Cow catcher/Pilot section sculpted into it as well. The sides feature a wonderful example of taking details in one context and changing them up in another form. The sides feature the same panels from the top and bottom of the shuttle mode but here they wind up revealing themselves as train wheel and window details.

This mode shows off a healthy mix of the grey, purple and black colors that make up the other forms. The train parts revealed in the front and back of this figure are light grey plastic with shiny purple paint on the top half. The small dual barreled turrets are painted black so they offer nice contrast against the light grey on the top of the vehicle. I much prefer the colors on this figure compared to Sentinel Prime. The black breaks things up nicely and the colors are true to the character.

This mode rolls on drums on the underside of the train. The cockpit winds up in the middle section where you can also attach four weapons via 5mm ports. It sounds odd at first (attaching weapons to a train) but when you consider he also has small turrets pointing both ways (from the robot arms) what's a couple extra weapons? I love putting weapons on the sides that can accomodate Titan Masters. It adds a level of play to the train that I find fun. The only problem here is the 5mm port on the right side, which is a tad more loose than the one on my Sentinel Prime figures.

Final Thoughts:
Astrotrain is the version of this sculpt fans have been waiting for. The sculpt clearly was meant to be for him and he finally has the Voyager Class treatment he deserves. It's not a perfect figure, but it represents the character well and it's fun to play with. Recommended!

Pros:

  • Detailed sculpt.
  • Great design callbacks to G1 Astrotrain.
  • Good color scheme.
  • Lots of play value.

Cons:

  • Loose knees indicate inadequate quality control.
  • 5mm ports in train mode are slightly more loose than those on Sentinel Prime.