Thursday, April 27, 2006

The Mystery Revealed

After more than a year of waiting for the Official Transformers Club to reveal their first club exclusive (not counting the ones you get free with your membership), a name and pictures have finally been announced. Click here to see a picture and brief description of the new Astrotrain.

For those who haven't followed Transformers since the 1980's, it's worth noting that the original Astrotrain was one of the very first "triple changers." A triple changer is, as the name might suggest, a Transformer with three modes instead of the conventional two. In this case, the original Astrotrain was a robot, a locomotive, and a space shuttle.

So, what's the verdict on the new exclusive? I want to like it. I really do. Members of the club have waited for a very long time for this. And if the note saying this won't actually be in our hands until the Fall is to be believed, that makes for a full year and a half of club membership before the toy is finally obtained. One can certainly hope that future exclusives come out on a now regular basis (the rumor is two per year).

The toy is a repaint (and slight remold for the head and faction symbol) of Armada Jetfire. The toy is sufficiently different from Jetfire that one can believe this toy is a different character. Also, the colors unmistakably work as an homage to the classic character, while not a slavish reproduction of the original. These are good things. Oddly enough, this color scheme seems not to have been selected with Astrotrain in mind. Click here to see pictures of the proposed Transformers: Universe toy "Spacewarp," which never made it to full production. While Spacewarp did not have the new head that will be made for Astrotrain, it otherwise appears to be the same toy we're now getting. A lot of fans who wanted this toy as "Spacewarp" will no doubt be pleased.

But this is a mold that, frankly, never impressed me when it first came out, and the idea of a toy named "Astrotrain" that doesn't turn into a train is somewhat off-putting. (Yeah, yeah... A train is a connected series of vehicles, and therefore the original Astrotrain wasn't a train either. Just a locomotive. You know what I mean...) Also, as a larger Transformers mold, and accounting for the usual need to price such limited exclusives higher than one would pay for the same mold on a store shelf, I'm afraid that the price will be astronomical.

Ultimately, I want to give Fun Publications credit where it's due. It's clear that a lot of time and effort went into this, and I hope that they are successful. A lot of the early buzz is quite positive, if admittedly not universally so. Also, we've been led to understand that this figure will also come with a Mini-Con figure (presumably a recolor of Commetor, the Mini-Con that came with Armada Jetfire), which could be cool. For myself, I'll be waiting for further information on price and looking for final pictures (including the recolored Mini-Con and Astrotrain's robot mode with the new head) before deciding whether or not I'll be buying this one myself. I'd be curious to hear other comments.

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