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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Numbat's review of: Sandstorm

Name: Sandstorm
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Reconnaissance
Sub-Group: Triple-Changer

Quote: "When the smoke clears, I've cleared out."

Always takes death-defying risks. Anything less than dangerous is boring to him. In battle, gets close enough to count the bolts in Decepticon armor plates. As helicopter and buggy, he's adept at using rotors and exhaust to whip up blinding clouds of dust and sand. Extremely maneuverable. Carries sandblaster gun that shoots streams of silicate particles that can erode anything.

The advent of the Triple-Changers in 1985 was a grand event in Transformers history. By 1986, there were six (three Autobots and three Decepticons). During this original release period, I was given Astrotrain for Christmas, and man was I chuffed.

Skip on to the European Classics re-release series (1991), and I picked up Springer and Sandstorm.

Sandstorm originates in one of my favourite Transformers cartoons - “Fight or Flee”, from Season 3. It's got such a great story and pacing, and Sandstorm's character is superb. (Pity it smacks of unfinished animation...) He does pop up here and there – usually as an understanding fellow – and is one of the less disposable of the later Transformers characters.

I wouldn't say the bio really adds up to his TV persona, but how often do they truly?

Sandstorm as a name makes a few later appearances in the Transformers universe, although the most notable is without doubt the 1999 Botcon exclusive (BW Scorponok repaint), who, although a Predacon, hints at a connection between the two characters (in fact, that they may well be one and the same).


Alternate Mode 1:

Being a Triple-Changer, Sandstorm, of course, has two alternate modes, and a robot mode. It's really arbitrary how you class the alternate modes, as, unlike many more recent toys (e.g. Cybertron Megatron), neither of the modes is an afterthought or created at the expense of the other.

With that in mind, I have chosen the dune buggy mode to kick off with.

The vehicle measures around 5” (13cm), and looks pretty nifty. The rear wheels are large balloon tires, and there is a fin at the back. The engine is exposed towards the rear, and is nicely chromed.

The main colours consist of two shades of orange, and black. The front of the buggy, with exposed machinery (achieved through stickers) is based black, while there is an orange nose.

The use of stickers is extensive, with all manner of detailing, including the windows. Although this is a peel and wear danger, the stickers have been used well, creating a wire mesh effect on the side windows.

There is not much molded detail, but there is little opportunity for this with everything else that's going on here!

Alas, the wheels do not have rubber tires, but they are nicely molded.

All in all this is a great fun mode!


Alternate Mode 2:

Through a relatively simple, but fun, transformation, a helicopter unfolds!

As mentioned previously, the alternate modes are both great, and do not exist with too much compromise. This is clear with just how great this helicopter mode is!

Measuring roughly the same as the buggy, the helicopter shows gives very few clues as to the buggy's existence. Once again, two shades of orange and black dominate – although the black does take something of a back-seat this time round, resulting in what would look to be a large rescue copter.

(As a side note, you can choose to have the side boosters / panels folded down or across the body – I think it looks better with them down, but that's just personal opinion.)

All rotors move, and stickers bring out some nice details, but do not go overboard (as they threaten to in buggy mode). There is little molded detailing again, although it is upped slightly, highlighting the different panels. Interestingly, white is used to pick out a pattern along the top of the copter.

It's impossible for me to say which is my favourite mode, as they are both superb!


Robot Mode:

The route to the robot mode depends on which alternate mode you are going from. Either is quite simple, with the buggy to robot being the most straightforward (as you could probably guess). Still, it is fun, and very well thought out!

He stands around 5 1/2” (14cm) tall – although this is thanks to that load of kibble above the head!

The colour balance is almost identical to the dune buggy in this mode, although white rears its head again (literally), being used to colour the face.

The stickers look good, and I really like the fact that as the legs extend, they separate. The shaped Autobot symbol above the head is a touch of genius – as it hides a screw that could otherwise detract from that most important of specifics of robot anatomy – the head!

As you'd expect from the other two modes, there is little molded detail, but, as before, there is little opportunity for it.

The face, is, of course the exception to this, as well as the only thing which detracts from the excellence of the toy's likeness to his cartoon counterpart. The most unforgivable difference being, of course, the mouth-guard. Still, I personally prefer the toy's head – and think it's one of the best G1 heads around.

Articulation is poor, with the head (thanks to the transformation process) and arms moving. The arms, also, suffer from stumpiness when you come to try and move them. Still, these complaints are not unusual for the era – especially with Triple-Changers. In fact, I'd say Sandstorm ranks pretty well in the proportions stakes amongst his fellow Triple-Changers! (Octane aside, of course.)

I also really like the sandblaster gun – it looks like it means business.

There's not much left to add, other than you can apparently get a version with plastic toes, and one with metal. (The steelies must be for work purposes!)

All in all, Sandstorm is a great example of a Triple-Changer (and the best Autobot in my opinion), and would be a fine addition to any collection!


Marks out of ten for the following:

Transformation: 8 – Not overly complex, but exceedingly well thought out, allowing for two near perfect alternate modes.
Durability: 7 – He seems pretty solid, but the extensive use of stickers opens up wear possibilities, the large number of pin joints is a little worrying in the long-term, and the thin plastic rotors could easily snap. Still, this particular fellow seems to have stood up pretty well!
Fun: 8 – Sandstorm is great fun in all modes. The only thing that lest him down are those arms, really.
Price: 5 – Again we're in the realm of great randomness! You can get a loose Sandstorm, minus gun, from around £2.50 ($4.80), but should expect to pay around £8 ($15) realistically. Boxed is similarly diverse – from around £50 ($92) to over £100 ($172)! (There seems little rhyme or reason to whether it is an original G1 release or a European Classics release price-wise.)
Overall: 6 – He is a grand figure, and an excellent Triple-Changer, but you have to decide whether he's worth the price you find him at.

 
 
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