Cliffbee.com: Sandstorm Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Sandstorm
Series: Generation 1
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Reconnaissance
Alternate Mode: Dune Buggy/Helicopter



HELICOPTER MODE
Height: 8cm Length: 16cm Width: 7.5cm (12cm rotorspan)

   An orange and black naval helicopter (S-6Z to be exact), Sandstorm is light orange at the front and deep orange at the back with some black at the base of his tail and on the sides near the back. He has four deep orange rotors and blue window stickers. The colour scheme is quite simple, relying on stickers for colour, and I'm not so sure that orange would be the first choice of many navies. Still, the two oranges and black work well enough together.

   The rotors spin, although you have to be careful since they'll fold up if you apply too much force. The light orange tail rotor also spins - better than the main rotor since it doesn't collapse for the transformation. There are four plastic tyres underneath, allowing Sandstorm to roll better than you might expect of a helicopter. While the majority of Triple Changers are armed in at least one alternate mode, Sandstorm lacks a weapon in either chopper or buggy mode.

   While this isn't the most accurate chopper mode, I don't mind so much. There are some gaps here and there, but nothing glaringly obvious. Considering that this has to convert into a buggy, it's a pretty good chopper. He has pontoons on either side, indented windows (which sport the stickers I've already mentioned) and some moulded seams here and there. There's surprisingly little buggy visible here, which is an achievement in itself.

TRANSFORMATION TO BUGGY MODE

   Collapse the rotors, slot into a gap on the roof, fold up the tailfin, fold the entire tail plate forward over the rotors. Fold up the black panels at the rear, swing back the pontoons then fold them up. Turn the toy over revealing a more or less complete buggy, fold out the rear tyres. Pull out the engineblock, slide back the cockpit and you're done. While this transformation is reasonably simple, the difference is marked, and the visible elements in both mode are almost completely mutually exclusive.

BUGGY MODE
Height: 4.5cm Length: 15.5cm Width: 7cm

   Again mainly orange and black, with black dominant at the front, a darker, persimmon orange around the centre and the deeper of the two oranges from the chopper mode towards the back. The new orange introduced here is far darker than those of the chopper mode, and with a lot more black around, the overall colour scheme is a lot bolder. The buggy itself has an enclosed roll cage around the driver, with black stickers on the windows (complete with mesh patterns on the sides and a driver behind it). There's a rubsign and indent on the roof, complex black stickers on the hood with some vaguely enginelike silver details and a chrome silver engineblock behind the cabin. All four black plastic tyres have chrome hubcaps painted on the sides, the larger tyres are larger. The colour scheme works and makes more sense than it did on a naval helicopter. The more vibrant orange works well against the black, and makes for an attractive buggy.

   The folded up tail of the chopper is visible, hanging off the back of the buggy - but otherwise Sandstorm is pure buggy here. There are a few hinges visible along the sides and some clips on the hood, but nothing especially chopper-like in front of the engineblock. The sculpt doesn't really do a lot, most of the detail is provided by stickers - but then I'm struggling to think what else the sculpt _needs_ aside from an engine - which Sandstorm has.

   There's not much play value here - the wheels roll and that's it. I would have liked to see his handgun attach somewhere, and this wouldn't have been at all difficult. The buggy comes together quite well, and I'm happy with that, especially when Sandstorm is compared to some of the other triple changer vehicle modes (especially Broadside).

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Easy from buggy mode. Extend the front to form the boots, flip up the tip to form feet. Rotate the engineblock to reveal his head. Lift up the sides and open out to form arms. Give Sandstorm his gun.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 16cm Width: 7cm

   Sandstorm's robot mode has essentially the same colours as the buggy mode. The chest is the persimmon orange cabin, the boots are black with orange feet, his upper arms and thighs are light orange and the forearms and head black. His face is white, with eyes and a mouthplate that come out quite distinct considering the entire face is white. The rubsign is now central on his chest. There are three oranges and black on this mode, although the mid orange of the chopper's tail is only visible on that tail which floats above his head.

   About 80% of this robot is buggy, 5% chopper and 15% new. The floating tail above his head is the only solid clue to his aerial mode in fact - the sandtyres are visible on his ankles and behind the shoulders, while the cabin is his chest. Sandstorm's chest protrudes more than it should, since it's the roof and the legs are the hood - the lack of a groin accentuates this problem (although it's not a major flaw). The kibble overhead is almost a feature - the cartoon version shrunk it and made a feature out of it.

   The poseability here is pretty poor. The elbows are hinged as part of the transformation and that's it. The shoulders don't attach to the sides of the torso, since arms open out at the elbows (which are the attachment points) as he transforms.The black handgun can fit in either hand, adding as much as you'd expect it to. Sandstorm looks nice enough but that's really all he does.

   While there are some proportion flaws here and a little bit of kibble, good colours and some nice vehicle feature placement makes this a fairly attractive robot mode. Most of it is buggy stuff, but that works well enough. I'm impressed that this robot mode manages to become a passable S-63 helicopter.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of as such, although Sandstorm was released both in 1986 and 1991 (the latter as a Classic).

OVERALL

   Probably the most ambitious Triple Changer - and Sandstorm succeeds quite well. Both vehicle modes are convincing enough without getting in each other's way at all. The robot mode looks decent but lacks any real play value - and that is the main shortcoming of a good toy. The colours work fairly well but it's the clever integration of two very diverse vehicle modes into a decent robot mode that make this toy worthwhile - 8.5/10

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