Wednesday, 12 September 2012

#27: Astrotrain (1985)

If there is one fact of the 1980s that cannot be denied, it is this: kids in the 80s LOVED the Space Shuttle. Pre-1986, anyway. But before that, the Shuttle was everywhere, marketed like you wouldn't believe. Even in Japan, where they made a toy to look both like the Shuttle, and an old steam locotmotive, for some reason. Hey, Japan. There's your reason right there. Regardless, Hasbro execs thought this too good an opportunity to let slip, so they shifted the colours from white to grey, made him look a bit more Decepticon-ey (it's a word) and hey-ho, you have Astrotrain!

To be fair, the Triple Changer gimmick is still good, even today. To have what is essentially three toys in one is no mean feat, and a triumph of toy engineering that they even resemble what they're supposed to. The problem with them came with the fiction. How? Why? When? These questions didn't really get answered until the Dreamwave comics came around and told us that they were mostly Shockwave's experiments. In the cartoon, they just appeared from nowhere. Even then, the writers didn't seem to know what to do with them, especially Astrotrain. So they fixated on two particualr words; carries cargo. That's pretty much what he did. The only two episode where Astrotrain seemed to have something other to do than carry cargo were 'The God Gambit' where he seems quite imposing, and 'Triple Takeover' where he seems to think that normal run-of-the-mill trains can actually hear him. Not good.

The toy itself, like all of the early Triple Changers, is tiny. Really small. To be fair, his Classics version isn't exactly massive, but I always recall Astrotrain to be exceedingly tiny. In the words of Vic and Bob, almost too wee. Good, though. As I said, for it to even resemble both a shuttle and a train, nevermind a robot, is nothing short of superb. I salute the Takara toy engineering department.

As for Astrotrain himself, I demand more fiction. And a bigger toy. I demand both of these things. Don't get me to set Astrotrain and his massive gang of Intercity 125s on you.

No comments:

Post a Comment