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Series: War for Cybertron: Earthrise
Allegiance: Decepticon
Categories: Leader
Year: 2020

Review by guest reviewer Bulkhead:

Prelude: Since the 80s we haven’t gotten a new (official, not counting 3rd party figures) Astrotrain that actually transforms into a steam locomotive. A space shuttle is always included, though. The first new Astrotrain was the Classics figure, whose train mode resembled a Japanese Shinkansen high speed train. After endless repaints of this and the G1 figure, we finally got a new one in the Titans Return series. This Astrotrain transformed into a… yeah, what was it, really? The front portion of it did resemble a modern US-American Diesel train and with the many wheels, sure, it might have been a train.

But now we have the Siege/Earthrise version that finally beomes a steam train again (or something closely resembling it at least). And just in case you didn’t know: the Siege and Earthrise versions are completely identical except for the box, so buying him once is enough.

Robot Mode: The robot mode is very well done and close to its G1 predecessor. The space shuttle fin on the chest has vanished and the colors are finally cartoon accurate on a Hasbro version. So far it was always the slightly more expensive Takara version that sported the cartoon paintjob. Articulation is also nicely done, but like most Siege/Earthrise figures its feet can twist sideways for a broader stance, but I think ball joints would have worked better here for more dynamic walking poses.

The weapon load can be spread out on multiple ports all over his body For all his guns, though, I do miss a big rifle like his G1 version had. All the added guns look cool, but don’t really scream ‘Astrotrain’ to me. The added “Leader class plastic pile”, which most of the Siege Leader-class figures have – actually making them Voyager class figures with add-ons – is pretty superfluous in robot mode. Astrotrain merely gets a huge rucksack and oversized clown shoes.

Train Mode: G1 Astrotrain was presumably modelled after a Japanese D51 steam locomotive, a so-called Mikado 1’D1’ (in Germany one counts the axels – running wheels get numbers and driving wheels get letters), or 2-8-2 (in America, Japan, and most of the rest of the world you simply count the wheels). G1 Astrotrain showed us a pretty accurate linkage assembly, the Siege/Earthrise version on the other hand just has a wild assortment of rods. Also, some small cylinders are hinted at between the four big driving wheels. This would mean Siege/Earthrise Astrotrain is not a Mikdao, but rather a Mallet with a moving front engine, called (1’B)B1’ or 2-4-4-2, or maybe a Duplex, whose engines is in a fixed frame, meaning 1’BB1’ or 2-4-4-2 as well.

What bugs me is that the front running wheel under the front part of the steam boiler – where the G1 figure had the shuttle nose on the back – is farther in than the driving wheels. Which means that Astrotrain’s front wheels would not run on the tracks and thus serve no function at all. Would have been better to either leave them aside or put them in line with the other wheels. Bonus points, though, for the wheels of the locomotive itself, which has sculted spokes and counter weights.

The “Leader class plastic pile” actually serves somewhat of a function in train mode. He becomes a tender for the locomotive, storing coal (or Energon, probably). A three-peg connection goes into Astrotrain’s jet exhaust. He doesn’t quite fit visually with the locomotive, both because of the color and because he has what look more like tank tracks than train wheels. Only the front part has two tiny wheels, reminding me of the big coal tenders of the US Super-Power steam trains (I’m thinking of the Big Boy).

Shuttle Mode: The space shuttle mode is Astrotrain’s better mode, no matter how it hurts this train fan to admit it. He does have the often criticized somewhat narrow and open rear half, but the front and the wings look fabulous. It would have been helpful had the “Leader class plastic pile” been used to fill out the gaps here a bit.

Sadly the pile merely becomes a launch pad, where you click Astrotrain into place with the same three-peg connection. Or you can turn it into a shuttle transporter, which doesn’t really look very good. You simply put the shuttle loosely on top.

Remarks: For me as a train fan, Astrotrain is a must, especially if he becomes a steam locomotive (kind of). In train mode the “Leader Class plastic pile” serves a purpose, more or less, seeing as you can store all of Astrotrain’s guns (two different blasters, two mirrored blasters, and one missile launcher, where a mirrored version would have been nice, too) inside of it.

Sadly the “Leader class plastic pile” is mostly useless. It would have make more sense to release Astrotrain without it as a Voyager figure or to invest all that plastic into making him larger; he is a good deal smaller than Megatron or Optimus and even his Titans Return predecessor is a head taller. Even so, it’s nice to have an affordable steam train Astrotrain, so I don’t have to head into expensive third party Masterpiece territory.

Rating: B-

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