Drawing funny faces is always fun. I’ve got no particular horse in the Mass Effect: Andromeda race, but like many people Robert has an investment that runs three games deep, and I can understand the feeling.
It’s been a long time since I updated this toy review section! And almost as long since I actually wrote this review, and intended to post it – because the original opening line was, “someone knows what I like for christmas!” Yes, I wrote this back in January. Whoever drew my name out of the hat in my family’s kris-kringle got me Titans Return Sentinel Prime. I was really digging this figure for its colourscheme, which is even more lurid and beautiful in person than I can possibly capture with my meagre lighting setup. It’s like a Weiss bar, if the white part was the colour of a blood grapefruit.
Being a triple-changer covered in panels, I was expecting transformation to be a fiddly pain that I’d rarely bother attempting, but amazingly the exact opposite is true. He’s so easy to transform! You can swap between each mode in about thirty seconds flat, and it’s fun to do. Everything locks into place without struggling to align tabs or needing to re-jigger anything around.
Each mode works well on its own, and feels relatively kibble-free. The shuttle technically suffers from a bit of Universe Silverbolt syndrome, with an obvious robot torso forming the underside; however, it blends in well and it’s not something you’re going to notice. The train mode works a lot better than I was expecting it to – it looks a lot better in real life than in pictures and video reviews. My eye was immediately drawn to the folded-up-shuttle-bits on the top in those, but in hand, the thing is so long and the train detailing so attention-grabbing that my eye just slides past it. A lot of the detailing goes to tiny windows, doors and safety rails to indicate the size of the thing, which is completely at odds with the transparent yellow cockpit that Sentinel’s Headmaster partner sits in to fly the thing.
The robot mode has that classic-Optimus-Prime feel to it, which is actually pretty impressive when you remember that this is a straight-up repaint of Astrotrain. I actually wasn’t sold on this figure as Astrotrain, but now I have Sentinel Prime in hand… I kinda want the Astrotrain version as well. You can significantly change the figure’s silhouette by changing the angle of the back kibble (the shuttle wings and Headmaster cockpit), which locks into place in a few different configurations. The new paint scheme breaks up the mold in a completely different way, and it works impressively well. I didn’t realise this was a repaint of Astrotrain just from seeing the robot mode – I assumed it was a new Optimus mold they’d used.
There’s also a neat bit of engineering to give Astrotrain his distinctive shoulder-neck-nubbins while still letting him turn his head. As well as the standard Headmaster-head-doubles-as-main-figure-neck-joint-thing that’s standard on the Titans Return figures, the whole nubbins-and-head assembly sits on a swivelling piece in a recess into the torso. It’s tricky to describe, but you’ll see what I mean immediately from pictures. You can click the nubbins down to give Sentinel a more Optimus Primeish look, and flicking a lever on his torso pops them back into place. They’re spring loaded, so if you don’t have the head looking precisely straight forwards, the Headmaster’s legs get sproinged up when the nubbins pop out. This is funny, so I consider it less of a flaw and more of an added feature.
Sidenote: why can the nubbins be retracted? It doesn’t effect transformation, and they made a play feature out of shooting them back into place. Was Astrotrain sometimes depicted without them? I don’t remember that, but in fairness I haven’t watched the G1 cartoon in a while.
Ultimately, Sentinel Prime is just a really solid figure and borderline amazing as a triple-changer. Even if you’ve got this version of Astrotrain, your shelf won’t look doubled-up if you add him to it. Every time I think I’ve collected all the Transformers I could conceivably ever want, they do something to pull me back in.