Release Date: October 2012
Price Point: $9.99
Retailer: Asia & Toys R Us Exclusive
With an ever expanding market in Asia, Hasbro China announced last year the release of several Transformers redec os for the "Generations" line that (at the time) were intended for a purely Asian release. However, fans got one whiff of this and they wanted these toys on the spot! Many of these redecos were rather inspired, while others were head scratchers. Either way, Hasbro US saw fit to find a channel to bring these toys to the US, in new packaging to boot! In an ironic move, while the Chinese versions of these characters were released on purely English packaging, the US releases have Chinese characters on them, representing their "exclusive" origin. You may sometimes hear these figures referred to as "GDO" Transformers. For those curious, this is not a Transformers term, it is an economic one, standing for "Global Development Organization".
Among the four Scout Class figures released as part of this set is a redeco of the basic sculpt used for "Revenge of the Fallen" Dune Runner, Crankstart and Beachcomber. Check out those reviews for a more details on this sculpt. A note: this mold was also released as "Rollbar", exclusive to the Sainsbury chain in the UK, but I was never able to get my hands on that figure. This review will focus on the changes made to the figure for this release.
Sandstorm is one of those names whose origins lie in Generation One. In that series, Sandstorm was an Autobot "triple changer", who transformed into a robot, helicopter and dune buggy. The character (and name) was pretty much ignored for years, but popped up in Machine Wars and then again in "Revenge of the Fallen" and more recently in "Dark of the Moon".
At first, the use of this sculpt may seem like it was only useful as a Sandstorm homage in vehicle mode (a dune buggy), but in fact I was happy to see how many parallels this robot mode has with his Generation One namesake. His head design has a "mouthplate" based design much like the G1 Sandstorm figure (the animation model had a mouth) and his torso has the top part of his vehicle mode on it, windshield and all. Add to that the wheels winding up on the side of his lower legs and more than a few visual cues help associate this sculpt with Sandstorm, though I grant without the deco they could be any Transformer.
The deco is where this figure distinguishes itself greatly from its predecessors. The primary color on the figure is a really light orange plastic. This is used for most of the armor paneling including the armor on the arms, chest, waist, thighs and lower legs. In contrast, black plastic is used on parts of his arms, the head and smaller parts such as his heels and the joints connecting his arms to the weapons. The two colors offer a similar contrast to the G1 Sandstorm, though his orange was a lot darker in tone.
Paint colors add more of a G1 connection to this figure including orange paint (in a darker shade than the plastic), silver, metallic blue, white and black. The white is found on a small section of the face, matching G1 Sandstorm's use of the same color on his face. The eyes being metallic blue harkens back to G1 when the Autobots were mostly shown with blue eyes in the animated series. Silver makes up detailing on the torso panel and the weapons on his shoulders. Orange paint is used on most of the torso panel and the armor on his shoulders. Black is used on the front of the lower legs, which roughly matches the color distribution of G1 Sandstorm's legs. A nice, big Autobot symbol is tampographed onto the left side of Sandstorm's chest. I'm a fan of designs where characters proudly show off their affiliations so this brings a smile to my face.
Sandstorm's joints are all nice and tight. This is particularly important for the weapons on his shoulders as a lot of his play factor is built into positioning them in various ways. After so many uses of this sculpt, I'm glad to see the tooling is holding together nicely.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode:
- Swing the heel pieces up into the feet.
- Push the robot feet back.
- Connect the two lower legs together.
- Rotate the waist piece around.
- Swing each lower arm down so the panels on the forearms and upper arms meet.
- Push the robot head down so the panel with the circle on it covers it.
- Swing each arm in, which will bring up the rear wheels.
- Push each of the arms in to form the sides of the vehicle.
- Pull the central panel (with the windshield) forward.
- Swing up the weapons and position as desired.
In this form, a new set of details are revealed, mostly focused on the front of the vehicle. The hood section is painted black in the center with orange on the outer edges. The row of lights in the front are painted silver, offering quite a variety of colors to catch the eye on the front section. The back also has some colors that get new focus thanks to the vehicle mode. This includes a row of dark red lights in the back and a silver panel underneath the weapons. This is a lot of detail working together, and the result is a figure that is clearly based on G1 Sandstorm and it looks great!
The only thing that bugs me a bit on this figure is that one of the weapons is noticably curved/warped. It's not that the plastic is softer than the other releases, but it would appear more like something happened to the figure during packaging/creation. I saw two other Sandstorms on the shelf recently and neither of them had this issue. I got this one via mail order, so I had no chance to cherry pick my own, so I'd inspect this carefully if you buy one.
I realize that this is the fifth release of this sculpt, so it's really stretching it to say "Highly recommended, go buy it now!". However, the actual figure itself and the new deco are both excellent, and it deserves high praise as a toy and a G1 homage.