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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Auntie Slag's review of: Astrotrain

Name: Astrotrain
Allegiance: Decepticon
Function: Military Transport
Sub-Group: Triple Changers
"In confusion there is opportunity."

Creating confusion is his specialty. As a Triple Changer, can switch from space shuttle to train to robot almost instantaneously. Thrives on foes' panic and fear. As shuttle, travels at 20,000mph in orbit, up to 50,000mph out of orbit... can launch weapons and satellites. Carries cargo. As a train, top speed is 400mph, range 1700 miles. As robot has great strength, carries powerful ionic displacer rifle.

Imagine having awful sex with Britney Spears. You totally fail in rising to the occasion. You think that she thinks its her with the problem, but she doesn't. She knows it's you. Wouldn't that be shocking? That's Astrotrain.

On the one hand, I was very happy with him. He bolsters my Decepticon ranks, is outrageously strong and carries a weapon of such size as to embarrass Dirk Diggler. On the other, he's rather lame. You see Blitzwing is the cool triple changer, being a fearsome tank, an impressive jet and a ferocious robot with a cool sword. Some guys have all the luck.

By comparison, Astrotrain got the decidedly conservative alt-modes, for instance, a train. Wait a second…a TRAIN?!?!?* Wow, he must really strike fear into the hearts of Autobots' who happen to be loitering around the tracks without the common sense to step sideways.

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Stupid Autobot: "Look out guys, here comes a heavily unarmed train, whatever shall we do?"

Sam Neil: "Stand perfectly still, his eyes are tuned to movement".

Stupid Autobot: "Great idea Sam, I'm glad we brought you along".

Corey Feldman: "Whatever happened to Corey Haim"?

Stupid Autobot: "Mary Mary you're on my mind. Folks are gone, and the place'll be mine…. AAAARRRGH!" *gets mown down*
-----------------------------------

Next up is the space shuttle mode. Now I suppose he might give Cosmos a run for his money, or nibble Omega Supreme's shins in an aggressive Decepticon manner. Very frightening I'm sure. I could just never work out how he could be anything of a threat to the Autobots floating around in space; they lived in a mountain on the ground. Astrotrain couldn't really get much further away.

Finally, there's the robot mode, which, overall is reasonable. There's not a huge amount to slag off here.

To go back to my original point: Astrotrain is Britney in the sense that he's a Decepticon triple changer (very sexy), but his alt-modes are cringe-worthy, his moniker is similarly so: 'AS-TRO-TRAIN'. How dull. Blitzwing has a great name, it sounds impressive, dangerous even. Astrotrain by comparison sounds like the Decepticon equivalent of a button-down nine-to-five, regular as clockwork Reggie Perrin type. "Goodbye darling, I'm off to shoot Autobots. Back at six o' clock sharp for dinner. Don't forget to walk the fish. Toodle-oo".

So yeah, Astrotrain… The uncool triple changer. The thunderous anti-climax with Britney that you pray the media never hears about. How sad, how tragic. Still, you came here. Be sure to wipe your monitor, because it will leave streaks. In my experience you were very quick. Maybe 'efficient' would be a better word? I'm sorry I can't lie, you were crap. I've personally never felt so let down. I won't call you. Don't expect an explanation.

Vehicle Mode:
Lets start with the Train mode. It's quite good, although I haven't seen that many purple trains in my life so he loses disguise points. There's also not many trains that sport three-prong rocket exhausts on the back either. Doc Brown's Back to the Future 3 train wasn't even that silly! I also never liked his fake train wheels, not looking at all convincing, especially with the dummy stabilisers on the very front to make him roll along the floor half-heartedly. The good-looking front of the train helped to dull that jarring image however. A nice locomotive front-end. For all other intents, the train is a pretty decent rendition. As a toy mould, Astrotrain sports a pleasing amount of die-cast metal, giving him a tangible, weighty quality most post-Movie toys don't share.

I like shiny metal too, shiny purple metal in particular. I don't know why, it's just cool looking. Astrotrain has a fair amount of this, placing him squarely in the 'real Decepticon' category. Now when I say that, I mean there are certain characters in Transfandom that a regular fan will associate as being in the core of the Decepticon army. Others tend to orbit the mythos protractedly, representing Hasbro's latest poor design, rather than a real character with substance and weight. Astrotrain featured in the second season of the TV show, and played an integral part in the Movie (arguably the height of the Transformer franchise in the Western world). He's earnt his right to sit at the table alongside Starscream, Ravage, Pauly, Tony Soprano and Joe Pesci.

Space shuttle mode is very good. Again, I am used to my space shuttles being white and cannot accept a purple one no matter how hard I try. The white Astrotrain variant is much better, because at least that way you get two good properly coloured modes. Apart from that, the shuttle is great. The wings are a little flimsy and can be easily snapped. Although he's a child's toy, don't give him to a child as they might break him. He's strong in some places and flimsy in others. And an Astrotrain without wings is like a Britney without the schoolgirl outfit.

On another note, I like the way the cockpit emerges from inside the body of the train (no that's not a euphemism), and the shuttle cone exhausts are excellent. His shuttle mode is identical to the movie depiction, unlike Hot Rod's decidedly more angular designs in said toy commercial.

Robot Mode:
First things first, the arms are crap. There's no getting around it, short, stubby little arms that are out of all proportion to anything. I always rest them atop his breastplates so he can accommodate the weight of his requisitioned BFG. The size of said weapon also tends to draw attention away from the stubby arms. Well, I would like to think so.

He also has a problem with his legs. Oversized shins and undersized thighs. In theory that might seem odd, but in practise its easily forgivable and he comes off looking solid and well built. Its more pedantry on my part simply because I prefer a robot to be as anatomically correct as possible, which is hard in a toy line like Transformers. Astrotrain's helmet and facial features are nicely detailed employing more than a single colour scheme. He also has trademark Decepticon 'wings'. It's always cool to see a bad guy with wings in robot mode, a bit like having a Dracula cape, its makes them seem all the more intimidating. Should I even be bothering about poseability? He's a G1 transformer, only his arms move. I suppose if you're sad you could try and make the wings flap, but not even his head swivels, which is a real shame. You're limited to holding him by the waist and having him swoop low over a platoon of Autobots. He can't fight them hand-to-hand because his arms can't go further than his chest. That would make him an equal fight to a Throttlebot I guess. Maybe they could just stand there and hiss at each other…

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Astrotrain: "You're not very articulate are you"?

Rollbar: "Oh yeah? Fall forward and say that"

Transformation: 6 - He's a triple-changer, which makes him a little awkward in the transformation stakes. On the plus side, the fun is in the transforming. I always enjoy transforming triple-changing robots. They are coolness.
Durability: 4 - Parts are stiff and clunky. The wings can easily snap off if too much force is applied and certain little components can actually work themselves free, resulting in a robot that actually falls apart! His arms pull out of their sockets too, just like Detective Riggs.
Fun: 6 - I find the joy rests in transforming him, rather than playing with him in the traditional sense i.e. army battles, skirmishes etc. If you prefer organising and alphabetising your DVD collection rather than actually watching them, you'll like Astrotrain.
Price: 7 - He's a mid-to above-mid carder in the Transformer world. People are likely to remember him from the shuttle movie sequence. That kind of exposure ups his value on eBay. I dunno… $40 loose on eBay?
Summary: 5 - I can think of many a better Transformer, and many worse. Astrotrain is a straight C-student with the potential to do better, but doesn't. Life is reasonable, not spectacular. He's a white picket fence robot living in a material world and I am a material girl, or Dinobot… as it were. The point is who wants to be average? There are great toys out there, so leave Astro tending to his cup of milky coffee and bland, inoffensive sitcoms. In the meantime, scream hell for leather. Live, shag, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die. Blaze a trail you dogs. I'm Kasey Kasem.

*Editor's Note: Trains are cool, Auntie Slag is not. One of the cleanest, most efficient methods of mass transit > Cross-dressing Dinobot.
 
 
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