It feels like a while since I last did a proper Transformers Thursday, especially with my schedule change in January, but regular Thursday content is back in full swing, and while I can’t promise every Thursday will be about little plastic convertorobots, I’ll do my best to deliver where I can. Today, I’m checking out Titans Return Astrotrain, a figure that I’ve been looking forward to, because quite frankly the old Classics version just doesn’t cut it for me anymore and I recently unloaded it on Ebay to make way for this guy.
And he’s a Voyager. I love that! Astrotrain was the Decepticons’ go to mode of interplanetary mass transportation whenever the series forgot that they could all just fly through space on their own. And while you still couldn’t fit any of the other figures in here, it just makes sense to me that he should be bigger than a Deluxe. Naturally, Astrotrain is still a Triple Changer, and I’m going to kick things off with his shuttle mode first!
So, I really dig this mode. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t hoping for something more traditional, but I can get behind this design. This alt mode looks like a cross between a traditional NASA shuttle and a Cybertronian craft. It’s big and beefy and looks like it was made for battle rather than exploration. Part of that comes from the turret-like gun emplacements on the pylons under each wing. These really remind me of the ones on Armada’s Tidal Wave or even the ones on Energon Omega Supreme. In fact, this figure has a couple of call-backs that really bring that Omega Supreme toy to mind. The shuttle is absolutely loaded with sculpted detail, mostly in the form of panel lines. You also get sculpted windows, some flaps on the back, and what look like some kind of tiny doors on the dorsal surface. I’d like to think that these are missile bay doors. I can just picture an Itano Circus pouring out of the top and swarming toward poor Cosmos as he hauls ass to escape it.
The coloring here is pretty simple, but so much better than the white Classics version. The top of the shuttle is a beautiful shade of traditional Decepticon purple, while the main body of the craft is gray and black. There’s precious little here in the way of paint apps, as this toy mostly lets the colored plastic do the talking, but it’s still a nice looking toy and I can’t argue with these colors. You do get a pair of crisp Decepticon emblems stamped on the wings. It’s probably worth qualifying here that while I love the coloring on this figure, the Takara version is so much better. I decided a while back that I wasn’t going to pay more for Takara paint jobs, only new molds, but here was one release where I cam close to making an exception.
Astrotrain’s little Titan Master is called Darkmoon, which is a pretty bitchin’ name. He shares the same purple and gray plastic coloring as his big bot buddy. There’s no paint apps on him and he has the same articulation as the rest of the Titan Masters. That includes a ball jointed head, ball jointed shoulders, and hinges in the hips and knees, with the legs fused together. Astrotrain’s cockpit is at the top of the tail section and includes a purple tinted canopy, which again reminds me of the canopy on that Energon Omega Surpreme toy.
Astrotrain comes with two guns, which can mount in various places on the shuttle, one of which is designed to fit a Titan Master in a seated position like an outrigger. I’m sure I’ve said this before, but I kind of dig this gimmick, as it reminds me a bit of something I might have made with some of the old Micronauts toys. You can even plug the other gun into it to make a really obnoxious looking gunning station. On the downside, I would have really loved a pair of the other gun to plug into those sockets under the tail fins. Having two different guns goes against my love of symmetry in my Transformers armaments. OK, enough said about the shuttle, let’s check out the train mode.
Yeah, I’m not really loving this. While the shuttle mode took its share of liberties and worked, this futuristic bullet train just isn’t doing it for me. Frankly, it looks less like a train and more like it’s a few tweaks away from either being a battleship or a submarine. Once again, I’m going to go back to Energon Omega Supreme, because this really reminds me of the combined mode of his bizarre crane-train-and-battleship monstrosity. From the canopy at the top of the tower to the battleship-style turrets, I’d be hard pressed to believe that Energon Omega wasn’t the inspiration behind this mode. The only train elements I get off of this are the “cow catchers” on the front and back and the rather unconvincing rail wheels molded into the flip down panels. The deco remains very close to what we saw in the shuttle mode, and once again there’s plenty of sculpted detail like panel lines and tiny hatches and ladders, which give a good idea of how ginormous this thing is supposed to be. In the end, I think I’m going to forget this mode exists. So let’s deep six this choo-choo and check out the robot mode!
Now this is where it’s at! From the front, I’ve got precious little to complain about here. Yeah, I really wish they had given him the split tail fin chest shield. That tab there is just aching for it and it seems like it would have been easy to include it as just a piece that gets set aside when the figure is in his alt modes. Other then that, this guy is just fabulous. There’s something about him, and I can’t put my finger on it, that just makes him look a little above and beyond the usual Hasbro Voyagers. Maybe it’s the quality of plastic, maybe it’s the cut panel lines. Whatever it is, I’m at a loss for words. The front of the figure’s color palate dumps a lot of the purple, relegating it to the sides of the legs and fists, in favor of a largely gray and black deco.
From the back, we can see where most of that purple went. It’s also here that I have my biggest complaint about the figure and that’s his lower legs. They look with the train fronts sticking out, like they want to be heel spurs, but aren’t. Swivel cuts here would have done a world of good, not only aesthetically, but also to help balance the figure a little better. But I suppose these are minor complaints.
Astrotrain can make use of the turrets from his alt modes as extra armament when he’s in robot mode. I approve of this!
Darkmoon makes for a mighty fine head. Yeah, the face sculpt is a little soft, but I still like what they did here. You have the option of deploying two pylons on the sides of his head by pressing a lever below his chest. I don’t like these, I’m not even sure why they’re there, so I’m glad they’re optional.
Of course, Astrotrain can wield the two weapons we saw with vehicle mode as rifles. I’m sticking with just the one that isn’t designed to sit the Titan Master.
While it may sound like I have more than a few issues with Astrotrain, the good here certainly outweighs the bad. I love the robot mode, I like the shuttle mode, and the train mode… well, two out of three ain’t bad. There’s just a lot to love about this figure and he’s definitely a step up from the Classics version, which has been a sub-standard stand in for Astrotrain for quite a while. I’m certain glad I didn’t cave in and grab one of those pricey Third Party Astrotrain efforts. While they are definite improvements on this guy, I’m perfectly happy sticking with this toy for the money.