Dark of the Moon Sandstorm with Private Dedcliff Toy Review
Release Date: April 2011
Price Point: $9.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Rifle, Private Dedcliff action figure
Images: Image gallery of Sandstorm with Private Dedcliff
As the "Dark of the Moon" toy line began to be revealed during the time frame of Toy Fair 2011, some interpreted the "Cyberverse" Commander series of figures as the heir apparent to the position held by the Scout Class figures, a major staple of the Transformers toy line since the days of "Beast Wars". However, Toy Fair 2011 revealed this to not be the case. Instead, the Scout Class is being enhanced and folded into the "Human Alliance" sub-line of Transformers figures. Originally this line focused on large scale "Alternators" style vehicles with human partners, all based on the movie universe. The concept has been expanded now to include new characters that work together on the battlefield. In some respects, this sub-line is a near realization of the "G.I. Joe and Transformers" toys fans have wanted for years.
Private Dedcliff is a new character in the Transformers universe. Whether or not he appears in "Dark of the Moon" I'm not sure, but it is cool to have another "Human Ally" based in the military. Fans should take note that the Human Alliance figures used in the "Dark of the Moon" series of toys are a different scale than those from "Revenge of the Fallen". They are much smaller, meaning the Sam Witwicky figure from last year's toy line is larger than Dedcliff even though I'm quite sure Dedcliff is meant to represent a larger and older character.
When comparing Dedcliff to his fellow Human Alliance member Major Tungsten, I have to say he has a much more distinctive sculpt. Whereas the Tungsten figure is rather generic looking in the face sculpt department, Dedcliff has a rather worn look on his face. Not the "bad" worn, but the type that shows he has a lot of experience and knows his stuff (which the tech specs mention as well). His hair is also a bit bigger and has a lot of texture sculpted onto it. I really appreciate the effort to make the figure look different from the other military human figures in the line so far.
The body sculpt definitely speaks of a military man who is more focused on survival than fighting. He has a standard looking uniform on with boots, but on the torso he has a vest on filled with pockets. You can imagine all sorts of survival items being stuffed in there including food rations and medicines (let's just pretend Sandstorm holds everything else). I really love the sculpting of the figure. The clothing has wrinkles on it in areas like the elbows and the shoes have laces intricately sculpted in. The vest has several distinctive pockets and even "buckles" sculpted in to show how the vest stays attached to Dedcliff.
Dedcliff is cast in dark green plastic. His boots and vest are painted light brown while his hands are painted dark brown to reprsent gloves. His skin tone is a very tan color, much darker than Tungsten and his hair (and eyebrows) are a bright blonde color, making him even more distinctive than he already was. Red paint is used for an Autobot symbol on his left arm.
There are eleven points of articulation on this figure including two on each shoulder joint and three on each leg. This gives him the ability to be set in a standing or sitting position to interact with larger Transformers figures.
Overall, the sculpt and paint scheme look fantastic when they come together. I appreciate the effort to give Dedcliff a distinctive appearance all his own that suits the Transformer he is paired with.
The character of Sandstorm has appeared before in the Transformers Movie universe, but only as a redeco of Beachcomber in the "Hunt for the Decepticons" line. This time out he's bigger with an all new sculpt. Sandstorm's vehicle mode is a rough and tumble dune buggy, which informs his robot mode design in interesting ways. For the most part, his limbs are rather thin and almost wirey looking, like something you would expect from a smaller Transformer that was built for speed. His arms and legs are tube shaped for the most part (though sculpted well with plenty of detailing). Other parts however are large and bulky looking. Most prominent are his vehicle mode wheels, which hang off his shoulders and feet, looking like giant shields against impact from the sides. Then there's his chest, a big squarish block that sticks out a bit in the front and really catches your eye. His feet are large as well, contrsting sharply in size to his legs. This disproportionate design may sound bad, but in fact it looks fantastic. It's not really what I would have expected of a "Movie universe" figure as its design looks more like something I would expect from a toy line like "Cybertron".
There are a couple of design elements that borrow more from the movie aesthetic however. His head sculpt has a very bird-like quality, with the "helmet" portion of the head shaped much like a bird's head, with lines that curve back and then out to the sides, looking almost like feathers. His nose and mouth plate come together looking like a beak more than a traditional Transformers mouth design. This use of an animal-like design for the head is present in many of the movie Transformers such as Ironhide and Bumblebee. Another design element that is inspired by the movie aesthetic are his feet, which each have three large "toes" sculpted into them. In general, non-movie Transformers don't really use digits on their feet, leaning towards more blocky designs.
Other cool designs include his chest plate, which looks like it is made up of parts of a vest he is wearing as body armor, especially the two breast plates. All over this figure you'll find nicely layered and sculpted designs from the arms to the legs. I was quite delighted at how intricate much of the sculpting was, from springs on his torso to pistons on his lower legs.
Sandstorm is cast in olive green, silver, black, beige and dark brown plastic. This variety of colors comes together well. The green and the beige offer up some nice Earth tones while the silver, black and dark brown drive home the robotic nature of the character. Thie thematic and visual contrast is very well thought out and I like it a lot. Paint applications are red, light blue, silver, black and olive green. For the most part, the colors are used to keep the contrasting colors consistent. For instance, the lower legs are cast in black, but the knee armor is painted olive green to keep the alternating color theme going. Exceptions to this are found on the head and feet. On the head, red is used to paint a brow line above the eyes. Silver is used on the "beak" portion of his face and his eyes are painted light blue. Also painted light blue are the headlights form the vehicle mode, which show prominently on his feet. Another exception is a bit of black paint used for an Autobot symbol on the top of his chest.
There are sixteen points of articulation on this figure in robot mode. This doesn't sound like a lot by today's standards, but it should be noted eight of these points are ball joints, including the shoulder and elbow joints, allowing for a wide range of motion. This also includes waist articulation, which is often the first point of articulation sacrificed for transformations so it's nice to see it all in one package in this figure.
While Sandstorm is under the "Human Alliance" sub-line, technically he is also a "Mech Tech" figure, so his weapon has a peg that is thick enough to allow larger figures to utilize the weapons. It also has a "C" clip on a ball joint at the end, allowing you to clip the weapon onto other figures as well. Considering this figure already has quite a bit of functionality by itself, it is cool to see the designers worked to find a way to keep the "Mech Tech" interchangeable weapon theme active in the weapon design.
Transformation to Vehicle Mode
- Remove the weapon if attached and set it aside for now.
- Push each of the robot feet up.
- Push the feet together.
- Rotate the upper body around.
- Swing the armor panel on the torso forward.
- Swing the black tubes on the torso forward.
- Swing the section on the back with the tubes up and over the robot head, covering it.
- Swing the upper body up, connecting the tubes that were connected to the torso to the ones tyou swung over the robot head.
- Swing each robot arm down.
- Push the fists into the forearms.
- Bend the arms at the elbow and connect the tab on the forearm to its matching hold on the olive green section of the vehicle's rear section. The exhaust pipes should now point back.
- Clip the weapon onto the top of the cage section.
- Raise the cage section to seat a Human Alliance figure in the driver's area then swing the cage back down and lock it into place.
Sandstorm delivers on his name in this form. Like the original Generation One Sandstorm, this guy transforms into a dune buggy in vehicle mode. This is not some sleek vehicle meant for horsing around however. The design of the vehicle is very military looking. The front end is angled and sleek in some ways, but it is chunky and thick as well. The same can be said for the rear section of the vehicle, which is basically made up of a thick block in the center (the robot torso) and then added machinery on the sides (the robot arms). I also really like the newly revealed details including a protective cage in the front of the vehicle, the rectangular steering wheel in the driver's section and the six exhaust pipes in the back. I also like the sculpting of extra lights on the seat. I can imagine this giving these guys extra visiblity in harsh, dark conditions. Combined with the bulky tires and his weapon on top, Sandstorm is a really cool looking dune buggy.
In this form, no new plastic colors are revealed, but the olive green and black colors do get a lot more attention thanks to green making up most of the front end and the back section. The black cage tubes and the black front end of the vehicle add a nice, striking contrast. No new paint applications are revealed either, but truth be told Sandstorm doesn't really need them. He has such a diversity of colors just in plastic alone that he works great here. Two paint details you could see in robot mode are featured here nicely. One are the silver exhaust pipes and the other is the Autobot symbol from the robot chest, which winds up on the top of the driver's seat in this mode.
Functionally, Sandstorm can roll nice and freely on his big ol' tires. The tubes that make up the top of his cage allow you to connect other C clip weapons, including some of those that come with Cyberverse figures since the C clip is a standard size. The Human Alliance figures sit nicely in the driver's seat and hold into place using the peg on the back of the seat.
Transformation to Artillery Platform Mode (from vehicle mode)
- On the back of the vehicle is a black peg. In vehicle mode it should be rotated up, rotate it down to begin this transformation.
- Swing the top part of the cage around the driver's area forward, including the robot head so you reveal the rocket tubes.
- Separate the forearms from the torso section and swing them up at the black hinge connected to the shoulders.
- Point the exhaust pipes forward (the same direction as the rocket tubes), connecting the silver tabs to the matching holes on the torso section.
- Swing the black handles on the robot arms up.
- Swing up the front end of the vehicle mode and connect the black clips to the small pegs sticking out on the sides of the black seat piece.
- Slide the seat back a bit, this pushes the rocket tubes forward.
- Clip Sandstorm's weapon to the cage sections that are angled up behind the arms.
- Connect a Human Alliance figure to the chair.
Artillery Platform Mode
I love the concept of any Transformer turning into a big bundle of weaponry. Add in a human "pilot" and it's just so much more cooler it makes the fanboy in me giddy. This form is a rather unusual looking one, but you can definitely see why Decepticons would not want to mess with it! All the parts come together and work nicely. The front of the vehicle is now higher up, allowing the steering wheel to look more like a radar dish in this mode. If you count the weapons included with this figure, he has thirteen potential weapons to figure. You've got to respect a loadout like that! Having six rocket tubes and six exhaust pipes/weapon tubes was a great idea as it offers a cool combination of weaponry. I'm also very fond of the use of the "handles" for a Human Alliance figure to hold on to in this form. It draws emphasis to the "manned artillery platform" feel and makes the human figure seem like less of an accessory an dmore of a critical part of this figures' play pattern.
The only newly revealed parts here are the rocket tubes. Each is silver with red paint on the end of each rocket. I would have personally liked a little more detail in thsl form, but the rockets are quite prominent and definitely draw your eye!
The large peg now on the underside of the Artllery Platform is the standard peg size for Mech Tech weapons, allowing you to have larger figures hold Sandstorm as a weapon. Due to his rather bulky design in this form, it helps to make sure the arm holding Sandstorm is well supported as he is relatively heavy for a weapon. In addition to his own weaponry, you can clip on additional weapons to the tubes that form the cage sections to make him even more heavily armed! I really like this mode. It's different than your average form and it fits in with the military theme perfectly.
Sandstorm is pure win from start to finish. The robot mode is dynamic looking, well sculpted with a good range of motion. The vehicle mode allows you to turly have the human figure and the robot interact while the artillery mode just promises to do damage to Decepticons. Add to that the inherent coolness of the "military with Transformer" theme and this two pack is highly recommended!