Release Date: June 2013
Price Point: $22.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Missile Launcher, Missile
*Images above with asterisks and text below in italics are from Amazon.com:
Sandstorm lives for action. His only real fear is boredom. As a result he takes unnecessary risks, both in combat and out – risks that can sometimes threaten the success of his mission. He lives fast, loud and dangerously. While his traits that make him fun to hang out with most of the time, his fellow Autobots are getting a little sick of his habit of giving away his position to the Decepticons just so he has the opportunity to enjoy a fight. Get a triple changer for your Transformers adventures with this 3-in-1 Sandstorm figure! This Autobot warrior figure converts from dangerous robot mode to VTOL aircraft mode, where he can launch his assaults from above on his Decepticon enemies. But when the battle calls for it, he can change to dune buggy mode! He's a 3-way menace, so keep converting him from one mode to another so he can handle whatever his enemies dish out! Transformers and all related characters are trademarks of Hasbro.
In 2013, the "Generations" line broke new ground, introducing brand new sculpts into the "Voyager Class" price point (meaning not redecos and retools). To really make the most of this introduction, Hasbro and Takara Tomy presented us with new Triple Changers. In a time when sculpts have been shrinking and toys were becoming noticably lighter in all scales, this was a welcome relief. One of these figures was Springer. For years, Springer was mostly the subject of redecos, often confined to just two modes. This sculpt was based off of his G1 appearance, giving him three forms and an iconic look straight out of both the G1 cartoon series and the current IDW Publishing comic books.
Later in the year, another Autobot Triple Changer was reborn: Sandstorm! Like Springer, Sandstorm has popped up here and there over the years, most recently as a Scout Class figure in "Generations". This figure was an extensive retool of Springer and like Springer, brought Sandstorm back into full triple changing glory! This review will focus on the changes made to the Springer mold for this release, and they are signifcant so it's going to be much longer than the typical redeco/retool review.
Sandstorm is an unusual redeco/retool in that he has so many changes. The best approach here is to simply go top down, so here goes:
"Back Pack" is not an official term, it's just what I've chosen to call the wings on Sandstorm's back. To create the rear wheels and wings in his ground and aerial modes respectively Sandstorm has two wings on his back, each with large circular fans/wheels attached to them. These along give him a very different profile than Springer though they don't really act as a callback to the G1 version in any significant way.
The head sculpt on this figure is a completely new one, not a retool of Springer's head. In many ways, it bears strong resemblance to the Autobot symbol. He has a central crest leading to angled sections on top of his brow. The parts of the helmet section that overlap the cheeks angle downward like the Autobot symbol along with indented lines that are reminscent of those on the top half of the Autobot symbol. He has a regular face with two eyes, a nose and mouth (as opposed to the mouthplate of the G1 figure). You can, if you wish, consider the angled, indented lines a callback to similar details found on the G1 version's mouthplate. It's a nice head sculpt and in some ways looks like a more intricate version of his G1 animation model's head, which was quite basic in design.
At first glance Sandstorm's shoulder design doesn't look very different from Springer's, but the details really do make it distinctive. On top of each shoulder are halves of the front "cage" from the vehicle mode. The sections next to the wheels do not have the four beveled pieces on Springer's shoulders but instead have one solid beveled section. The piece right under the shoulder, leading to the elbow doesn't have a vent like design as Springer does but rather it has one long indentation in the middle and two smaller ones on the outer edges. What's impressive here is how subtle these changes are. They didn't really have to change these details but doing so makes the figure more distinctive than its predecessor.
The entire chest section has been redone for Sandstorm, which is key as Springer has a rather distinct upper body design. Instead, the center piece looks like a cockpit section with a protective bar curving over it. The pieces on either side of the main chest piece have vent like designs on them. Along with the head sculpt, this really helps sell the figure as a new incarnation of Sandstorm, and it also calls back to G1 Sandstorm who also had a vehicle cabin section on his chest.
Unlike Springer's sleek, blade like knee panels, Sandstorm has more traditional looking knee armor that is trapezoid in shape with three indented lines and one raised one at the top. You'll see smell sculpted but non-functional wheels on top, a part of the aerial mode.
On Springer, there were four wheels, two on the shoulders and two on the lower legs. Sandstorm however has two of the wheels on his back (see "Back Pack" above) so the lower legs have been redesigned. Each features a layered design, with each lower leg piece having an armor panel on top of it and a circular design on top of that. The circular design is a direct homage to a similar detail on the G1 Sandstorm action figure that was created using a sticker on its lower legs. I think it's super cool that a design that only once existed as a sticker became the source for a sculpted detail on the new version of a G1 character.
Springer came with two weapons, a blaster and a sword. With the extensive retooling and extra parts on his back, it's no shock that Sandstorm only comes with one - but it's an impressive looking one! His weapon is a large missile launcher which reaches a length that's almost as long as his arm. The weapon has a ton of detail including fins on the top, what looks like a targeting scope in the middle and lights on the sides. The weapon can fire a missile via pressure launch. Insert the missile, push the barrel back and the missile launches. It's a really neat weapon and I like the use of the pressure launcher. There's none of the finicky nature of spring based launchers and less likelihood of accidentally firing a missile into some nether region of your room.
Taking a cue from his G1 counterpart, Sandstorm's primary plastic colors are a deep yellow, orange and black. Yellow is the dominant color, with black coming in second and orange used for smaller parts like his chest panel, part of the back and his knee armor. Black is distributed throughout the figure, breaking up the lighter yellow color at the forearms, waist, head and lower legs. Translucent blue plastic is used on the head for light piping on the eyes, which works rather well. You can also see translucent blue here and there for the vehicle mode windows on his forearms and back.
The paint colors used on the figure include yellow, black, silver, gunmetal grey and white. The yellow is used on some parts to paint over the amor sections of the translucent sections. The black is used on certain sections to help break up the yellow such as the sides of the shoulders and the lower legs. White is used on the face and silver is found on the circular sections on the lower legs and the square details on the waist area. Gunmetal grey is used on the vent panels on the sides of the chest. An Autobot symbol is tampographed onto the right side of the chest panel, and it's done in red and silver instead of the usual red and white. Overall Sandstorm looks great and his colors instantly bring one's mind to the character of Sandstorm. I'm glad the yellow chosen is a darker one and not too bright.
Functionally speaking the figure's joints are every bit as tight as the Springer figure. The back pack does make him a bit back heavy, but thanks to the way his feet are designed his heel pieces supply ample support.
Transformation to Dune Buggy Mode (From Robot Mode):
- Detach the weapon if attached.
- Push the foot and heel pieces together and swing the complete piece back.
- Push the two legs together.
- Swing the lower legs forward.
- Swing the back panel down.
- Swing the orange piece on the back up.
- Rotate the wings around and swing them down to form the rear wheels.
- Swing the back armor down.
- Pull the arm/shoulder sections out a bit.
- Pushing the robot head down a bit, swing the chest piece up.
- Swing the robot head down into the cavity revealed by the chest panel.
- On the forearms, swing out the window section. Then swing the fist inward and the panel with the fin on it in.
- Push the arm in, you may have to adjust the lower leg section a bit to get it to fit.
- Rotate the panel from the side of the shoulder around and push it in.
- Swing the orange panel forward, swinging the angled pieces in the front down the sides.
- Attach the weapon to the top of the vehicle.
Dune Buggy Mode:
Just as the robot mode has some significant changes the Dune Buggy Mode compared to Springer's ground vehicle mode. Here are the major changes:
The sections that make up the sides and very front of the vehicle are all different than Springer's. The middle section is the chest panel from the robot mode, so there's a protective cage piece over the grille in the middle. The panels on the sides have raised sections that look like they could be weapon pods on the top and the front has extensions of the cage section in the middle along with three lights on each side. This alone changes the look and feel of the vehicle from the sleeker form Springer has.
Springer's ground vehicle mode had a cabin section without any additional armor on top. Sandstorm however has reinforced his armor with additional panels on top. This not only shields the top section but provides a section for the weapon to attach to and armor panels over the side windows. Combined with the weapon on top this really does a great job of distinguishing Sandstorm from Springer and it gives him a very rough and tumble appearance as well.
The wing pieces and rear wheels are the most significant reworking of this form. The base of the wings have sections with vertical lines designed to look like air intakes on either side. The rear wheels are huge, almost comically so compared the the front wheels. However, as a vehicle meant to traverse rough terrain, it looks like it would give him amazing traction (not saying it would, just saying it looks that way).
There are no surprises with the colors on the figure. However in this mode the orange takes much more of a central role. It makes up a large portion of the front of the vehicle and the panel on the top (which in turn means the armor over the side windows is orange). Gunmetal, black and silver details are the man colors used to fill in details in this mode. The lights in the front are silver, the extra details on the front end are black and gunmetal is found on the air intakes. The sides of the wheels all have silver painted in, which I'm very thankful to see as this has been a neglected detail on a lot of figures in recent time.
Transformation to VTOL (from Dune Buggy Mode):
- Detach the weapon.
- Swing the orange armor piece on top back.
- Swing the rear wheels up and rotate them around to form the hover fans.
- Swing the lower legs out and back, connecting them together.
- Connect the orange panel on the top to the legs using the tabs on the legs and the corresponding grooves on the orange piece.
- Pull the sides of the front end out and swing the window sections of the forearms back.
- Swing the arms all the way back. They connect to the panel on the top of the vehicle using tabs right under the air intake details.
- On the sides, pull out the middle panels, rotate them forward and push them in.
- Swing the forearm panels with the fins on them out so the fins are pointing out to the sides.
- Attach the weapon to the underside of the front end with the top of the weapon connecting to the section right under the cockpit.
One of the tough part of making any Transformer with more than two modes is ensuring that the vehicle modes don't just look like one vehicle with the part of another slapped on top. The designers managed to avoid this with Sandstorm and the results are fantastic. The VTOL mode is the modern day version of G1 Sandstorm's helicopter mode. There's a cockpit section in the front, wings that end in huge hover fans and a tail end with vertical stabilizers on the ends. The VTOL looks awesome, with losts of small details from front to back including vents at the base of the wings, lots of angled designs on the wings and a really sleek overall shape that starts with an angled cockpit window leading all the way to the back. This mode also gives you a good look at the fan details inside the hover fans which look fantastic.
Sandstorm is mostly yellow and orange in this form. Yellow is the primary color making up most of the vehicle with orange on the front and back. Black plastic is found here and there, helping to balance out the bright colors. Clear plastic is used on the front for the cockpit windows with some yellow paint to fill out the frame. The hover fan details are painted silver and the vents at the base of the wings are gunmetal grey. Black paint is use don smaller parts like the front end, the sides of the vertical stabilizers and the raised sections on the sides near the wings. No particular surprises here, but it's quite consistent with the other modes and just form the colors alone you can tell this is Sandstorm.
The missile launcher mounts in the front of the vehicle and you can launch the missile, but push too hard and the weapon can pop off so be careful. Even cooler, the wings can be rotated, allowing the fans to point in many different directions. There are two 5mm ports on the top of the vehicle, allowing you to attach additional weapons.
Springer was an amazing action figure and Sandstorm is an extraordinary redeco and retool. Any Transformers fan should have this guy in his collection. Highly recommended!