Monday, 5 September 2011
A is for Astrotrain
The Winning Toy
"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 to once again quake in fear."
Generation: Generation One
Size Class: Deluxe
Function: Psy-Ops Warrior
Quote: "The enemy's weakness is his uncertainty."
Astrotrain's body is very well designed, it both emulates the original character and his toy, yet also updates the figure to modern standards (ie allows for standard weapons to be held in either hand)
His colour-scheme, whilst NOT the same as the original character's (who was mostly purple) still looks good. The bulk of his body is white with several red, purple, black and gold highlights and is symmetrical in appearance. His upper-arms are both purple, however his legs are multicoloured (and look odd) with the main part of the leg being white with the hinges (for articulation) are purple, leading me to believe that the legs may have originally been meant to be purple as well. Oddly, the back of his body is mostly white, despite the various colours on the figure
Astrotrain's articulation is, without any doubt, one of the best around. His arms are able to move in any direction with the help of his ball-joints on his elbow and shoulder socket. He can't rotate his wrists, but then again, why would he? His arms are restricted in movement by the wing kibble on his back. However the wings are able to be folded back slightly, allowing his arms their full potential of movement. His legs are able to bend at the top of the legs (when the hips are) and the knees, enabling him to be posed in a seating position. Astrotrain's legs can also be raised at the sides into a horizontal split. Also Astrotrain can also rotate his lower legs on a pivot.
A few nice aesthetic touches in this figure include his knees being visible (however they don't actually do anything) Astrotrain's hands are also molded to show fingers (which is also standard in most new figures anyway)
Astrotrain's shuttle mode fin can also split into a chest plate for his robot mode, complete with red, purple and white decals. Astrotrain's helmet resembles his original character model's and includes a red "head light" on top making it resemble a workman's helmet. His face is also silver, complimenting his white helmet and yellow eyes (rather than Decepticon red)
Astrotrain is very fun to play with because h has two alternate modes, a High Speed Train and Space Shuttle. Updating his original character's alternate modes from a steam engine (which is rarely used nowadays beyond in shows) The vehicles are coloured white and purple, to make them look more realistic (admit it, how often do you see fully purple space shuttles?)
Alright then...Astrotrain's land mode is a very long train with a rocket booster on the back (guess he goes very fast then) He has very visible windows molded into the sides and the driver's compartment (however he's missing some windows in the middle due to the way the toy was designed) He has wheels on the bottom, however only some of them can actually work (as in many small multi-wheeled vehicles) The gun can be mounted in this mode at the rear of the vehicle by plugging the handle into a hole found towards the back
The space shuttle mode is probably the stronger of the two modes, however it has some very visible train parts on the sides (above the wings) that spoils the alternate slightly. Astrotrain can flip out some landing struts at the front (however the rear landing wheels are permanently deployed) and are actually able to move freely. The gun can also be mounted on the bottom of the vehicle, just for storage, but has to be moved slightly in order to deploy the landing gear. The cockpit has molded windows painted gold on it, that are obviously present just for aesthetic purposes
Astrotrain is one of those character who have been in the franchise since the early days (being introduced during the second season of the animated television series, however he was never really utilized to his full potential, he was mostly used as a shuttle for the Decepticons, much to his char-grin I'd assume. However he did have a couple of focus episodes, namely "The God Gambit" and "Triple Takeover". In the former he travels to the moon Titan where he claims to be a sky god to the primitive inhabitants, however he seems to act quite out of character in this episode (he even orders around Starscream) which has led to people believing that his role was actually meant for Megatron originally, and was just changed at the last moment. In the latter episode he and Blitzwing take over the Decepticons after disabling Starscream and Blitzwing where our A character ends up trying to create an army of train troops to transport Energon and the such, but fails as soon as he discovers that his "troops" lack any real intelligence
Astrotrain was also introduced in the comics in issue 29 of the Marvel US run where he and his fellow Decepticon Triple Changers are working for Ratbat and are sent to Earth to recover a ship that had crashed there, however all of them get infected by Scraplets. In the end though they all make it out okay and he continues to act on Earth until Starscream kills him in the Underbase Sage (issue 50)
Since the 80's Astrotrain has appeared sporadically, but mostly as a crowd cameo or a warrior. His most prominent role however has been in IDW's take on the Transformers mythos, where he was part of Starscream's team on Earth since the start and has even survived to this very day, even getting a new redesign to look more like his original character model since All Hail Megatron began
Several alternate Astrotrain's have also made some appearances in several pieces of club fiction (including Cybertron and Shattered Glass) and even has an Animated head design made (seemingly based on the Omega Supreme design). Also, this very toy mold has been used in fiction as an upgrade for the Combaticon Blast-Off in "The Coming Storm"
This Decepticon is also very prominently shown to utilize the Mass-Shifting technology in most fiction (being able to change his size) however he is probably the most frequent user, since he is able to carry most of the Decepticon fleet inside himself (even having Devastator formed inside himself comfortably one time!)
Is he cool?
Despite any faults that the character has in fiction he is most definitely a worthy holder of the "A" vote for this series. His featured toy here (the Classics version) is fantastic by itself, but when added with the history of the character and his abilities, he is clearly the obvious choice, as the people voted for