Phil's
Transformers Rotorstorm,
Machine Wars Sandstorm
and
Universe Autobot Whirl
Review


Rotorstorm

If you asked any UK Transformers fan which year was best for Transformers in the UK then I think 1992 would be an answer you'd hear quite a lot. 1992 was a bad year for me personally - car crashes, two timing girl friends, damaged backs and appendicitis featured (and that was just the first two weeks of February !) - which meant I spent more time at home in Kingston than at University. It's while out in Kingston trying to walk a bit one day that I first encountered the Predators and Turbomasters.

There aren't any other toys quite like the Predators & Turbomasters, which represent a back to basics approach for Transformers - Autobots are ground vehicles, Decepticons are jets. The exception are the two mega sized toys - and they are the first Mega sized toys - which features a flying Autobot - a Helicopter, more common as an Autobot than a Decepticon - and a ground based but military Decepticon - a tank.

Rotorstorm is the Autobot Helicopter, who is cast in varying shades of blue - we'll try and sort out what is what colour in the robot mode but most of the body is the palest blue used including the surround for the windshield which is painted silver. The windshield and rotor blades are cast in clear neon pink plastic - an odd shade that appears on all this year's toys. Of particular note on the windshield is an Autobot symbol moulded into the top. The rotors turn, but there is no mechanism to power them.

He comes with six of the yellow Turbomaster missiles - two mount on each landing ski (each missile has a slot in the side matching a notch on the ski, unlike the Predator missiles which have a hole matching a pin) - with the remaining two missiles mounting in the launchers either side of the rotor mount. These launchers can't be fired from here - there's a button behind the rotor mount which drops the launchers out to the sides exposing the triggers - previously flush with the rotor mount, now on top of the launcher - which allows the missiles to be fired. The launchers for the missile are quite powerful by the standards of Transformer missile launchers - probably due to them not having to be neutered for the US market.

Transformation - deploy the launchers, then remove the launchers themselves and fold the mechanism back up. Turn the rotor blades round so that they are together. Separate the tail in the middle and fold both halves forward till they are round the cockpit. Fold the undercarriage down so it's pointing out the back of the helicopter to form the robot legs. Fold the landing skis back round the legs and fold the feet up. Fold the cockpit down onto the chest. Stand. Fold the rear of the tail back behind the robot head. Fold the arms down to the sides. Place a launcher in each hand.

Rotorstorm's robot mode is quite tall, thin and straight up & down - we've got nothing sticking out the sides unless you leave the skis folded out. Most of the light blue is gone, what's left is round the shoulders and the chest. A darker grey/blue forms the upper limbs & feet and a darker blue form the forelimbs and head. The head is notable - the eyes are a clear pink lightpipe, the first time this gimmick is used on a Transformer toy is on the Predator & Turbomaster releases. As well as the missile launchers being used as hand weapons the rotor blades can be removed and used as a sword of sorts.

His articulation is in advance of many TFs of the time - his elbows bend, his arms fold out to the sides at the shoulders and the knee & hips bend. Unfortunately the knees are bolted together which limits the hip movement but the knees can still turn independently. It wouldn't take that much work with remoulding to make the knees independent and to make the shoulders turn which would bring the toy close to modern articulation standards.

Rotorstorm's not a bad toy and stands up significantly well today. A testament to his quality is that he was re-released 12 years later with a new paint scheme !


Sandstorm

Rotorstorm resurfaced five years later in Machine Wars, rechristened Sandstorm - G1 Sandstorm had a helicopter mode and both have related names. For this release the helicopter body - previously pale blue - becomes olive green with darker tiger strip camouflage. The grey blue for the upper limbs becomes a bronzey yellow, the darker blue of the lower limbs becomes a darker olive green and the clear pink becomes clear light blue. Gone is the silver paint.

Missing from this release are the missiles - if memory serves the launchers are also neutered so they can't fire any previously released Turbomaster missiles.

While not accurate to the G1 Sandstorm colour scheme this is reminiscent of it in places and makes a decent and realistic repaint of the earlier mould.


Whirl

Seven years later Rotorstorm is back again as Transformers Universe Whirl. I'd never owned the Rotorstorm mould before and for a 92 toy it's rather good. Looks like a helicopter, nice flip down weapon gimmick, decent looking robot mode with slightly limited articulation yes..... The light blue is swapped for a darker blue, the grey blue for beigey grey, the darker blue for grey and the pink translucent plastic becomes a fabulous clear yellow colour which looks great through the lightpipe in the head

Unlike the previous US release he has missiles. These aren't the Turbomaster missile, rather a new mould featuring a + shaped end with corresponding modification to the launchers - they won;t work with the original launchers on Rotorstorm or another Turbomaster toy. The missiles are moulded in burgundy, a popular colour in the Universe toys. They would have been nicer in transparent red - a little hobby horse of mine about missiles - I think missiles in transparent colours look more like laser blasts. The missiles don't include slots so can't be mounted on the existing missile storage points on the landing struts.

Whirl was available with two recoloured Minicons: new versions of Gunbarrel (from the Air Military Team) and Makeshift (from the Emergency Team)...... which is possibly a mistake - from these two Minicon teams Prowl, the Police Car from the Emergency Team, should have come with him as Whirl is the only one of the Universe toys that the Minicon teams were repackaged with that can hold Prowl in his weapon mode. Which leads me on to a little moan ......

One of the best things about the Armada Beast was that they'd all been slightly remoulded to accommodate dead Minicon ports. Here there's no remoulding in sight. Now with the Beast Machines toys recycled in universe a minor bit of remoulding (especially for Stockade and Fireflight) could have replaced their spark crystals with Minicon hard points. Whirl's still got the old missile holders on his wings - not used for anything on this version as I mentioned above - which would be an ideal place to put hardpoints. I'm all for repackaging Minicons in different colours with older toys but a little work on the older toy can enhance it's play value with it's new counterparts a great deal.

Rant over.

Another decent repaint, Rotorstorm has been served well on the versions subsequent to his initial release.


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