The third series of G1 in 1986 brought in the first waves of Transformers explicitly designed for the series. Many of the new robots featured gimmicks, such as a continuation of the Triple Changers including Sandstorm, who transforms into a orange and black sandrail dune buggy, or a Sikorsky SH-3 Sea King.
Sandstorm is one of the first designs not sourced from Diaclone, Microchange or other toylines. Early shots of Sandstorm seen in various catalogs show a design nearly unrecognizable from his production scheme, with a narrower body, movable shoulders, a blue head and arms, and a smoother jet mode. This design is conspicuously featured in the original Sunbow cartoon series. Sandstorm was designed by Daishirou Shibukawa. His US Patent, titled Reconfigurable toy vehicle (aka Transformers G1 Sandstorm) was filed on December 24, 1985 (U.S. Patent No. USD295299 S).
Sandstorm's automotive alt mode depicts an open-wheeled sand rail dune buggy. It features molded chromed wheel rims, a chrome rear-mounted engine, and stickered-on suspension details and driver silhouette. The helicopter's tailfin and rotor are clearly visible behind the car engine.
Sandstorm's helicopter mode is produced by sliding the engine and cockpit forward, and folding all four wheels upward to the centerline of the vehicles, partially concealing them, but allowing them to roll underneat the helicopter mode. The long orange tail-plate then rotates around to form the top of the tail, and unlock the main rotor blades. The Sea King helicopter mode is mostly an approximation to the real vehicle, mostly identifiable by its unique proportions.
From the sand rail mode, Sandstorm’s face rotates around from under the engine, the small sidepods unfold as his arms, and the front of the vehicle extends down to form the legs. The robot has unfortunate proportions, with the upper arms barely longer than the fists. He can wield his rifle in his stubby hands.
Sandstorm’s tail is a fairly fragile contraption, and prone to several kinds of breakage. The movable orange fin is frequently broken or removed; the black post holding the rotor is mounted by a single screw and can tear off, and the whole orange plate is sometimes snapped in half.
Early Sandstorm production featured metal-capped toes, while later in the year Sandstorm had all-plastic orange toes. The European re-release didn’t have a rubsign mounted on the car’s roof, but the indent remains. This version also has the feet molded in black plastic, painted orange on the toe section, resulting in a look similar to the two-tone die-cast feet.
Redecos & Retools
Sandstorm’s mold has never been re-used.