Click the image above to see the alt mode, or view more photos here
First/Last Comic Appearance (US) - Issue 30, July 1987 / Issue 67, June 1990
First/Last Comic Appearance (UK) - Issue 88, November 22nd 1986 / Issue 283, August 18th 1990
First/Last Cartoon Appearance - Episode 36 (Season 2 #20), October 15th 1985 / Episode 93 (Season 3 #28)
First Toy Appearance - 1985
Click here to see Figure Details and review
Manufacturer - Hasbro
Toyline - Classics
- Added Decepticon symbols to the leg, covering the rubsign
- Added a Decepticon symbol to the back of the train roof
Mass-shifting is an poorly explained technique which several Transformers use to somehow explain away the enormous disparity between their robot and alternate mode sizes. Megatron is an obvious example who shrinks down to a weenie handgun, which even humans can wield. He's not alone though, with Cyclonus able to comfortably carry Galvatron in robot mode as a passenger, and a whole wealth of Autobots happily clambering into Jetfire. Then in the movie, Astrotrain is shown to easily accommodate the entire remainder of the Decepticon landing party, including a (briefly) combined Devastator! You might think then, that Astrotrain would be as large as Trypticon in robot mode, but for some reason he shrinks down to a lowly rank-and-file grunt. Other strange things about Astrotrain include the fact that one of his alternate modes was a Space Shuttle, while the other was an old-fashioned-looking locomotive. He also has a very strange voice in the cartoon, at least when the production team remembers. However, designing a toy which changed to a shuttle and train was an inspired move to my 9-year-old self, who thought that those 2 vehicles were about the best in the world. Hasbro would pick this figure as a surprisingly early addition to their burgeoning 'Classics' line, perhaps they wanted to prove to themselves that they could still make a decent triple changer. Were they right?
Appearance (Robot Mode) 6/10
Hoo boy. The kibble is very obvious on this figure, which is perhaps unsurprising given the issues of squeezing 3 modes into the one toy. It is most obvious on the forearms, where you can only see the hands from certain angles. If you can get over the kibble, there are elements to the figure which are really nice. Astrotrain retains his signature breastplate and his headsculpt is well defined and reminiscent of the figure of old. Unfortunately there is no light piping here, as is the case with quite a few Classics deluxes. The train kibble is actually utilised well to form the shoulders, giving Astrotrain a tough look, and the classic wing kibble is in the correct place.
Appearance (Alternate Mode) 6/10
One of the problems with 2 alt modes is where to stow the bits that obviously don't belong in the other mode? Hasbro seemingly scratched their heads on this one, and just kind of fudged it. The space shuttle is the more successful of the 2 modes, with only the 2 front halves of the train mode sitting over each wing giving the game away. Colour wise we have a homage to the earlier toy, not the animation model which famously deviated from the toy and was homaged by Takara in their Henkei line. Needless to say, the Henkei Astrotrain is much sought after and expensive to boot. Anyway, the predominantly white colour with purple and red accents works well. Moving onto train mode, the front half of the train looks great, and has received a much-needed update so that the two modes no longer look a century apart in terms of design. At the back half things fall apart somewhat but I suppose it is just about passable.
In a nod to the original toy, the upper legs retract into the lower lags and then they tab together to produce the shuttle cockpit. The head is secreted by first opening a panel at the back and swinging the head into position. The forearms are covered by the 'nose' of the train and the shoulder pads folded down to complete the train cockpit. Other than these key areas it is then just a matter of moving a few parts about to create either the shuttle or the train. Everything holds together very well in either mode, with several discrete tabs utilised to keep the various panels solid and aligned. Hasbro have done a great job.
This figure is reasonably articulated but some of the kibble really reduces the range of movement possible. It's understandable given the triple-changing nature of this toy, but still a little annoying. Astrotrain has head swivel, but no waist articulation. He has lateral and side-to-side movement in the shoulder, as well as ball-jointed elbows which offer a nice range of movement. His tiny upper legs have decent hip articultion but unfortunately no hip swivel, but the far less useful lower leg swivel is provided. There are also knee joints. Poseability is further impeded by this figure just not looking great from certain angles.
Especially when compared with more recent figures, you appreciate the build quality of this figure. The plastic used is tough, and allows just enough flex to ensure that you can't make a mess of things. There are ball-joints in strategic places, minimizing the risk of breakage, and all of the joints and tabs used in transformation still feel tight several years on.
Overall - 34/50
I guess that making a triple changer which looks great in all 3 modes is a real challenge, and perhaps a step too far for the engineers of the time. What we have instead is a figure which makes a decent fist of all 3 modes, with the compromises glaringly obvious. Not that I would class this figure as a failure though, Hasbro have built in enough design cues of the original figure for you to immediately identify this figure as Astrotrain, and he still looks pretty good on a shelf.