Picked this mofo up at TRU yesterday:
Transformers Classics Astrotrain - fun but not up to the "Classics" level and falls short of the G1 original. Colors are a major problem here, the white plastic used once again washes out all the sculpted details, while the purple and red stripes feel very out of place like straight out of the 1970s, the bot ends up bland rather than threatening. Shuttle mode is pretty nifty, I can almost forgive the bullet train halves on the sides - if the colors lined up better it would have worked - but I don't like the train wheels and bot chest on the upper back; the shuttle's tail is far too small as well, and I don't like the permanently-deployed landing gear under the wings, though at least the nose wheel folds up some. I know this is heresy, but I would have preferred the rubsign be moved from its G1 location in the top of the cargo bay door to one of the wings. Train mode is abysmal and is the element that hurts the set the most, the transformation to it is trying to be more clever than it is but the end result is a gappy, ugly bullet train that I feel safe in saying is the worst Transformer train I've ever seen - even over Energon Omega Supreme's crane train. Why would a bullet train be so hard to get out of a space shuttle when they're not shaped all that differently??? They should have gone for a modern US train engine instead, it would have been more impressive even if they failed. G1 Astrotrain worked so well in part because of how little his shuttle mode suffered from his train mode and vice-versa, this Classics version fails miserably in both regards.
Transformation to bot mode from shuttle mode is simple, if not for the various little things it'd be downright boring. Bot mode has ok articulation with a ball-jointed head that can look upright (although the loose panel behind it often just lets the head partly transform back in), ball-jointed shoulders on vertical hinges (both loose), ball-jointed elbows that are limited in turning range, side-hinged hips with front-hinged upper thighs pretending to be hips, hinged knees, and rotating boots - I really wish there was more range of motion in the arms, a rotating mid-thigh, and waist articulation, with them he feels limited and plain. Astrotrain's head sculpt doesn't work for me, the original has a tough look but the designers went to the cartoon head and shrunk the face so he just looks like a plain, expressionless dimwit. The body is alright, not much new detail revealed and what little sculpted detailing is new gets lost in the white plastic. The wings on the chest are small and floppy and make me kinda cheesed off - they have no character, the paint looks awful, and they flop about. The kibble on the forearms has nothing to lock it into place so it often gets in the way. I don't like the long boots-short thighs situation and they work poorly with the articulation provided. The rifle is purple with a (non-moving) shotgun-style slide underneath, scope, and diagonally-cut aft which accomodates the low fists; the rifle also can peg flat under the shuttle or on top of the train. The end result is that he doesn't have many poses and feels very static, which sucks because he has a cool rifle that deserves better. He's a bland figure who is neither menacing nor cool but isn't exactly awful, just not good enough; at least with his nose wheel halves folded down he has long heelspurs that keep him well-balanced.
Ultimately, this is another Classics Decepticon figure that almost gets the update right but fumbles at the 20, Astrotrain isn't awful but definitely doesn't measure up to modern quality or his G1 namesake. Grade: C+