"Transformers Classics" Astrotrain Toy Review

General Information:
Release Year: September 2006
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Price: $9.99 (Average depending on retailer)
Accessories: Rifle

Tech Specs:*
Motto: "The enemy's weakness is his uncertainty."
ASTROTRAIN thrives on panic and fear. Though he is mainly used as a transport vehicle for moving warriors and supplies, he only truly feels at home pounding AUTOBOT warriors into scrap metal. His ionic displacer rifle can scramble AUTOBOT sensors, causing confusion in the enemy ranks, and his huge bulk casts a terrifying shadow across a battlefield. Those AUTOBOTS who survive a fight with ASTROTRAIN often need only hear the echoing boom of his engines in the distance to once again quake in fear.

Strength: 9 Intelligence: 7 Speed: 9 Endurance: 8 Rank: 6 Courage: 6 Firepower: 7 Skill: 5

The Classics Transformers line seeks to return Transformers to basics. The idea was simple: take iconic Transformers characters from Generation One and update them as faithfully as possible using today's design aesthetics and engineering knowledge. One character gaining quite a bit of attention in recent time is Astrotrain. He was reissued both in Japan and the US and he is the subject of a fan club exclusive due later this year.

Shuttle Mode:
While G1 Astrotrain was able to transform into three forms in the original Transformers series, he was most often portrayed using the space shuttle mode. He often used this form to transport his fellow Decepticons, most notably in Transformers: The Movie. The revamped Astrotrain has a shuttle mode, but it is a much more sleek and futuristic looking one than the original. The first Astrotrain's shuttle mode was pretty much a replica of the real life space shuttle (to the degree most G1 toys were replicas of their "real life" forms).

The forward section of the shuttle mode is fairly standard, with a nosecone and a series of windows on the upper part of the front section. Behind that is the cargo bay section, and while the doors do not open you can clearly see the raised lines running vertically along the hull that show where the doors are. It is towards the back section that the shuttle mode looks a bit different than its real life counterpart. This is primarily due to the large sections of the front of the train mode mounted on the sides. It's pretty obvious what they are, so in a way it kind of hurts the disguise aspect. However, the other way you can look at it is that these are additional compartments modeled after the forward section of the vehicle. On the back are seven thrusters, three primaries and four secondaries. They are sculpted nicely with ridged details and lines running along the cones.

Astrotrain has landing gear on each of his wings. On the bottom of the front section is landing gear that can swing up out of the way. Also, you can attach his rifle onto the underside of the vehicle using the peg on the side of the rifle. With the landing gear extended the rifle does not wind up dragging on the ground at all.

The shuttle is primarily white as one would expect. The lower portion of the mian h ull and the top of the wings are black. The windows are painted gold. The sections on the sides towards the rear are black on top with red and purple lines running from the back and then sloping down. It seems to have been a point of design to not have obvious symbols in alternate forms, so the only symbol present here is the rub symbol on the top of the cargo section.

Transformation to Train Mode (from Shuttle Mode):

  1. Detach the rifle.
  2. Swing out each half of the central fin to flatten them against the main hull.
  3. Swing out the train sections on the sides of the vehicle.
  4. Swing the rear thrusters down.
  5. Swing the wings forward and then rotate the thrusters and swing them over the shuttle nosecone.
  6. Swing each wing down.
  7. Rotate the halves of the train's front section and then snap them together.
  8. Attach the rifle to the top of the train.

Train Mode:
Unlike his G1 incarnation that was a classic locomotive, Astrotrain's 21st century makeover has granted him a bullet train mode. From the front all the way to the middle the train is sleek and oval in shape. There are quite a few details from the front to the middle. On the front are a curved set of windows for the driver's compartment. Vents and rings around the front nosecone are also present. Running along the sides are small vents, compartments as well as windows, all rectangular in shape. Towards the front on each side are doors with a window in each. The wings from the shuttle mode fold over onto the sides here, so they have windows sculpted into them as well.

White plastic dominates this form. The top part of the section running from the front to the middle is painted black. Running along the sides are two lines sloping down then up before evening out on the sides. The top line is red (and angles upwards sharply towards the middle) and the line below it is thicker and painted purple.

The train mode rolls on six wheels, four towards the front of the vehicle and two on the back. There are wheels in the middle, but they are just solid sculpted pieces, not free rolling. The gun can mount on the back or be left off. It looks best unattached, but I thought it was cool to provide the option.

Transformation to Robot Mode (from Train Mode):

  1. Detach the rifle if attached.
  2. Swing each shuttle wing up.
  3. Splut the front half of the train and swing each half out to the sides.
  4. Rotate each half around.
  5. Swing the middle section of each half up and the lower parts out to reveal the robot hands.
  6. Swing open the panel on the back and flip the robot head up.
  7. Swing the wings up onto the back, then swing the thrusters against the back.
  8. Pull down the front section of the shuttle.
  9. Split the front shuttle section in half.
  10. Swing each half of the shuttle nosecone out to the side, then rotate them up against the side of each ankle.
  11. Swing up the halves that formed the cockpit windows.
  12. You can swing out the shuttle landing gear for added stability.
  13. Attach the rifle to either hand.

Robot Mode:
True to the nature of the Classics toy line theme, Astrotrain shares many elements with his G1 predecessor. His head sculpt is a good combination of elements from both his G1 figure and his animation model. This includes the crest on his head, the circles on the sides of his head and the dome shaped "helmet" section. Som eextra details were added to the head such as a series of lines on the top of his head and horizontal lines inside the circles on the sides of his head.

On the main body, the tail fin of the shuttle mode becomes a V shaped piece over his chest. The thrusters from the shuttle wind up on his back and the wings are mounted on the back as well. In addition, his lower legs are made up of the front of the shuttle/train section.

New details include the sides of the shuttle/train becoming shoulder armor. His central body is designed to give the impression of a body divided into sections. The chest sections are raised above the waist sections, and then at the hips the body raises again. There are four layers of detail here altogether, some cut at sleek angles. Between the landing gear forming his heels and the front of the shuttle forming his feet, his legs offer solid stability.

Astrotrain's deco colors carry over from the vehicle mode. His chest's "V" shaped piece has a black line on top and red line on the bottom. The center part of the crest on his head is painted red and the joints on his legs are cast in purple plastic. His upper arms are cast in purple plastic while the lower arms are white. Most of his other parts are visible in his vehicle modes such as the shoulder armor and the wings on his back. In this form the white color is broken up a lot by the small sections of color scattered throughout the robot mode.

Astrotrain has thirteen points of articulation in this form. That includes three points on each arm and three in each leg. His shoulder joints are on ball joints, allowing for a wide range of movement despite having the shoulder armor. The peg on the side of his rifle that allows for him to attach the gun in shuttle mode is the right size to attach an Energon weapon. He can also hold Energon weapons in his fists.

Final Thoughts:
In many ways the original Astrotrain achieved its disguises a bit better than the new version, specifically the train mode. The shuttle modes and robot modes look fantastic, and there is no denying that the sculpting and posability of this figure are superior. While the color scheme emulates the white and black scheme of the Japanese version (and recent reissue), I would have personally preferred the grey, purple and black scheme of the recent E-Hobby exclusive release. Recommended, but a different color scheme and more effective train form would have bumped it up to highly recommended.

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