What do you do if you’re Hasbro and you just turned out one of the best Transformers figures you’ve put out in years? You milk that mold, that’s what! Take the amazing Triple-Changer, Springer… a little recolored plastic, a
little lot of retooling, and voila… You have Sandstorm! The question is can you take a toy that is so distinctively and undeniably Springer and make it work as a completely different character? Let’s find out, peeps!
The packaging is the same window box we saw for Springer and Blitzwing. I like the G1-inspired deco, but I’m getting tired of the artsy-fartsy diagonal edge. You’re a box! Be squared off, be boxy! Don’t be ashamed of what you are!!
The back of the box shows the figure and the alt modes. In G1, Sandstorm’s alt modes were a Dune Buggy and a helicopter, so using the Springer mold certainly makes sense, although his helicopter mode has been upgraded to a VTOL gunship. I can’t say as I’ve ever been a big fan of this guy from the old days. I never had the G1 toy and I don’t recall him featuring prominently in the cartoon or comic. Fortunately, I don’t require familiarity with a character to enjoy my Transformers toys. Since, he’s a Triple-Changer, we’re going to break tradition and start with Sandstorm’s robot mode.
Ok, so to call Sandstorm a remold seems hardly fair. I mean, it is, but Hasbro has shown some ridiculously clever abilities with their remolding talents (just look back to Tracks and Wheeljack for a great example of that) and Sandstorm is the next great example of that genius. He may be built on the same body and he may transform mostly the same, but stand him next to Springer and there’s no doubt that he is his own bot. And you know what? I dig him more than Springer. Sacrilege? Maybe, but it’s the truth… I absolutely adore this figure!
Where to begin? The new head sculpt is really nice. It’s a very traditional Autobot look and features fantastic light piping for his blue eyes. Sandstorm is a lot bulkier than Springer in his upper body. Besides the additional VTOL wings behind his shoulders, his upper arms are beefier and he has a completely new remolded chest. His legs are also redesigned, as they don’t have the back wheels and they have more traditional knee plates over Springer’s knee fins. If Springer looks more like a lithe and agile fighter, Sandstorm looks more like an armored powerhouse and the contrast is certainly welcome. I must say I also find the yellow, orange and black color scheme very satisfying. As with Springer, Sandstorm’s deco is mostly from colored plastic over paint apps and he looks stellar.
Moving on to the Dune Buggy mode, the similarities between the two molds are more apparent here, but there are still plenty of tweaks to make them worthy of being displayed side by side. Sandstorm has a new ramming bar piece over his front gril, he’s got armor plating that cover his side windows, and new sculpted pieces for the front quarter-panels. He’s also got massively huge back wheels. If there’s anything about this toy that fans may take issue with it’s probably going to be those huge back wheels, but the sculpt is impressive and they add to the overall rugged battle wagon look of the vehicle. As with Springer, you can peg Sandstorm’s gun into the roof. It’s kind of big, but I like the way it can turn and angle so it can fire independently of whatever direction Sandstorm is driving. This is a seriously bitchin’ alt mode.
The Gunship mode also shows a lot of similarities to Springer’s chopper form, but makes nice use of the largest remolded pieces… those VTOL engines. It’s definitely a cool looking mode, but it also has the same cobbled together look as the Dune Buggy and it works better for that mode than this one. I’m not saying I don’t dig the Gunship, I actually love it, but it does lack the cleaner charm of Springer’s more familiar helicopter mode. In terms of personal appeal, this mode is the only aspect of Sandstorm that loses out to Springer, and it’s still pretty close.
While Springer came with a sword and a gun, Sandstorm just comes with his missile firing gun. You can still mount it under his chin in VTOL mode, and as already mentioned it will peg into the roof of his Dune Buggy form. You can also peg it into his back for storage when he’s in robot mode.
Sandstorm is probably the biggest surprise my Transformers collection has had in a long while. I knew he was coming, and I expected very little from him. I wasn’t even going to actively hunt for him. Nonetheless, in hand I think he’s the best Transformer I’ve picked up this year. He’s not only an amazing stand-alone figure, but I can’t help but appreciate and respect the engineering and planning that went into building him off of Springer’s body. Taking a figure as loved and distinctive as Springer and building another totally unique and equally amazing figure from it is a work of toy-crafting genius that deserves to be recognized.