Timelines: Botcon 2013 Sandstorm Toy Review

in 2013, Action Figure Review, Autobot, Botcon, Machine Wars, Timelines, Voyager


General Information:
Release Date: July 27, 2013
Price Point: $92 (In a two pack with Sandstorm)
Retailer: Botcon Exclusive
Accessories: Missile Pods x 2, "Mech Tech" Laser Cannon


When "Machine Wars" was released in 1997, toys were released at three price points: Basic, Mega and Ultra, roughly matching up to the size and cost of the "Beast Wars" line at the time. One of the "Mega" price point figures released was Sandstorm. Previously, this figure had been released in Europe as "Rotorstorm" (and just "Storm" in other parts). For safety (and possible cost) reasons, the missile launching feature was removed, but it was kind of exciting as fans finally had a chance to own this sculpt in the U.S.

Years later as part of the Botcon 2013 "Machine Wars" theme, Sandstorm is part of the set once again. Like his 1997 counterpart he is a redeco of a previous figure. In this case the "Dark of the Moon" Skyhammer sculpt as used to bring this "Machine Wars" character into a new age. I recommend reading both of my previous reviews as this one will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.

The "Dark of the Moon" Skyhammer toy was released during a phase in the "Transformers" line where two play patterns were being used in the toy line: "Mech Tech" weapons and "C Clips". "Mech Tech" weapons were weapons that transformed, usually from a ballistic weapon to a melee weapon. "C-Clips" involved just that, a clip which would hook on to a rod located somewhere on the toy or another weapon to provide more weaponry to your character. Skyhammer's sculpt (and thus Sandstorm) has both of these features, which is why his weapons get a small section of this review all to themselves.

First up is the large "Mech Tech" laser cannon. In its regular form, this looks like a heavy duty weapon, with a large middle section with layers of detailing that give it a very industrial feel. There are two barrels on the figure, each with a targeting scope-like piece sculpted onto the top of the barrel ends. It's a formidable looking weapon for sure. The back has a piece that you push to activate its transformation into a sword weapon - which looks great. Unlike a majority of Mech Tech weapons, this one can be locked into place by turning the back end. However, be sure there isn't any resistance, if there is you could break the end piece! This can happen if there is still some plastic that wasn't shaved off properly in the manufacturing process. The weapon is mostly black with gold barrels and a teal piece in the back to activate the transformation. The sides have additional holes that allow you to attach more 5mm pegged weapons.

The other accessories included with Sandstorm are two missile pods. These each have 5mm pegs on them and are one solid piece, they don't launch anything but they look awesome. Also, each has a "C-Clip" rod on top, allowing you to attach additional weaponry.

Overall, Sandstorm packs quite the arsenal for a character who is supposed to be peaceful (this is even commented on in his tech specs.

Vehicle Mode:
Sandstorm's new vehicle mode is roughly based on a combination of a Mil Mi 24 and the Eurocopter Tiger. This is a very modern looking style of helicopter compared to 1997's Sandstorm

Transformation to Robot Mode:

  1. Detach all weapons and set them aside for now.
  2. Pull the tail section back a bit and swing it down.
  3. Split the tail section in the middle.
  4. On each half of the tail section, swing the stabilizers back, then swing the rear parts up against the middle sections.
  5. Swing out each foot and heel piece to finish the robot legs.
  6. Swing the wings section down.
  7. Split the front of the vehicle and pull out the thrusters on the sides (these form the shoulders and arms).
  8. Each thruster contains a robot fist, swing them out.
  9. Swing all the various thruster sections in and collapse them into the robot arms.
  10. Swing the cockpit halves out and down to form the shoulders, swing up each of the sections with the "M" and "P" on them.
  11. Swing the wing piece up onto the back, then swing down each wing so they are properly tucked on the back.
  12. Swin each of the rotor blades back and push the center in.
  13. On each rotor is a tab. These align with notches on the wings, connect them together so the rotors don't go flopping all over.
  14. Attach the weapons to the forearms and/or fists.

Robot Mode:
Unlike the vehicle mode which has some thematic ties to the 1997 Sandstorm's vehicle mode, this robot mode is pretty much a straight up redeco of another character with little besides the color scheme connecting it with Sandstorm. That's perfectly okay since the Skyhammer sculpt is a pretty awesome one. Everthing about the way the sculpt looks screams "I am a warrior!" whether it's his wide shoulder armor, his bulky looking forearms (complete with thrusters on the forearms that look like cannons) and even rather sharp looking toes that look like they'd slice anyone he kicks with those feet. Add to that his chest mounted rotor which you can splay out and spin in front of him and Sandstorm is one dangerous looking 'bot in robot mode!

The color scheme from the vehicle mode largely carries over here, and Fun publications had an interesting challenge in crating a color scheme that would not only pay homage to the 1997 Sandstorm in broad terms, but also down to some smaller details. Given how different the "Rotorstorm" and "Skyhammer" sculpts are from each other, this was a challenge to say the least.

As you'd expect, most of the color in this form is green. Between the chest, legs, forearms and parts of the back green plastic is everywhere. Other parts such as his feet, head and elbows are cast in gold. Parts of his forearms and smaller pieces seen from the back are black plastic. These colors all draw inspiration from the 1997 Sandstorm. His rotor blades give a bright visual splash on the middle of the figure thanks to the teal color. Another nice touch are translucent blue eyes on the head, which looks nice and is a reminder of the Autobots having blue eyes (most of the time).

Paint colors are done in green (matching the plastic), black, light blue, gold and silver. The green is mostly focused on the shoulders where they fill in details made up of translucent blue plastic. The black is used as a backdrop for the two Autobot symbols which wind up on his shoulders in this form. This is a direct callback to the 1997 Sandstorm which had Autobot symbols in the same place. Another callback to 1997 Sandstorm is light blue paint used on the torso, right in the center in a narrow pattern. This is roughly analagous to where the 1997 Sandstorm had his cockpit, which formed a chunk of the torso and was colored blue. This is one of my favorite touches because the area would have been fine without the detail or another color could have been used, but the point was made to reference that detail and it is detailing like this that Fun Publications exclusives have delivered before.

Other details include gold paint on the sides of the forearms, the hip joints and the waist. The black tiger style stripes continue to run along the ody of the robot, carrying over the crucial detail from the vehicle mode. More light blue appears on the thrusters on his forearms (which I like to think of as blasters in this form). A tiny bit of silver is used for his face which is nice to see since it's pretty much the only major silver paint application in this form.

All the joints on Sandstorm are nice and tight, and his weapons connect to his various points such as the forearms and fists without a problem. The clips on his forearms for "C-Clip" weapons are also nice and clean, allowing weapons to snap on and stay on.

Final Thoughts: