Alternate Mode: Crane
Height: 5.5cm Length: 11.5cm Width: 3.5cm
A twotone blue crane with red windows, Duststorm has one of the stranger colour schemes we've seen for a construction vehicle. Navy blue dominates, but the driver's cabin and wheels are baby blue along with a few sections of the rear platform. While I can agree with the baby blue on the cabin, and the choice of navy blue as his primary colour, the red windows look bad and the idea of baby blue blue tyres with silver hubcaps is downright ridiculous. There's some silver paint on the rear platform (the base of the crane arm), and some yellow paint serving as headlights, which really should have been silver. This colour scheme has too many strong colours and some dumb placings, the end result is that Duststorm looks like a knock-off.
There's a spark crystal on top of the crane arm, reminding us that this toy in fact a genuine Transformer - which is kind of depressing. Duststorm is your standard truck-crane, with a rotating platform at the rear which houses the crane arm. The crane arm sits on the right hand side and the control cabin on the left, and directly below this cabin is his robot head. The face isn't visible, but it's still quite obviously his head. There's a navy blue supporting bracket underneath the arm, just behind the driver's cabin. For the record, this crane has two sets of (baby blue) wheels at the front and a single set at the back, which is believable although unusual.
At least there's some play value here. The crane arm can sit firmly on it's supporting bracket, or lift up and extend to 15.5cm in length. The hook at the end is solid moulded, which I can accept on a basic, but I wish they'd painted the damn thing silver. The platform at the rear rotates 360°, and while the arm ratchets this moves smoothly. The ratcheting joint allows the arm to stay in the air, so even on a worn toy you should find it won't slump. The real letdown in all of this is the unsecured nature of the robot hips, just behind the middle of the vehicle. There's nothing keeping these ball joints from moving, so doing anything with the crane arm will almost certainly result in Duststorm's truck base flexing up or down - as trucks are _not_ known to do. The wheels roll smoothly, although if the arm isn't folded down holding the hips steady the truck itself will sag.
His blue Energon weapon is a giant claw which attaches to either side of the hook. It looks okay and can open and shut manually, but doesn't look terribly menacing. A ranged weapon would have been a lot more useful here.
I'd like to be more positive about this crane mode, but the sad fact is that the hip joints and bad colour choices really drag him down. Wideload has a better colour scheme. The annoying thing about the colour scheme is that the problems were so inherently avoidable. And don't even get me started on how inappropriate the name is...
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Unclip the arm from it's bracket and fold the bracket down. Swing the front bumper down to form his heels, swing up the front windows to form his feet and separate the legs. Rotate the platform 180°, fold down the head and swing it backwards so it's in the centre of his shoulders. The control cabin unfolds to become his right arm while the crane arm becomes the left arm. The claw can either fit into his right hand or onto the end of his long left arm.
Height: 12cm Width: 7cm
Again twotone blue, Duststorm is again mainly navy with baby blue shoulders, head, feet and shins. The red windows are now his toes while he has a red face with transparent blue eyes - and a fairly effective lightpipe. The red face on this baby blue head looks downright silly, especially over a navy blue torso. The chest itself is devoid of any other colour, so the decent sculpt of his chest is pretty much lost in the dark blue. His waist is baby blue and he has a purple Decepticon symbol on his groin, outlined in white. This symbol should have been on the chest, giving it some colour. Again the colours here are disappointing. Blues usually work together, but the plain chest and bad use of red paint really hurt Duststorm. The lightpipe is a plus, but it's embedded in a fugly head.
The right hand is buried within the shell of the control cabin, which I can accept, but I wish the forearm wasn't hollow. The left arm forearm is ridiculously long and ends in an underhanded hook that doesn't move. There are some instances of weapon-hands that work really well (Shockwave, Inferno), which are clearly stylistic choices. But in Duststorm's case it's a case of lazy design. I can accept that they had to put the crane arm somewhere, but they could have taken the Car Robots approach and moulded a fist in somewhere. Sure, I don't expect that much of a basic in engineering terms, but a moulded fist would have gone a long way in turning this kibble into a decent arm.
The plus is that the claw now makes for a useable weapon. OK, a shortish melee weapon might seem silly on a robot with such a long arm - which would be great for swinging at foes - but it works as intended, so I'm happy.
Considering that his hip joints are the weakest point in vehicle mode, I was really disappointed when I first transformed Duststorm and discovered he has gimpy, narrow thighs - there's no good reason for the thighs to be so poorly designed that they suck in both modes. His head sits on it's own little platform, towards the back of his shoulderblades, which looks a little odd and compounds the gimpy thighs.
Poseability is in theory quite good but in practice a little hampered. The head turns, the right shoulder is a ball joint with a swivel below and a hinged elbow while the left shoulder and elbows are double hinged. The waist rotates, the hips are ball joints and the knees hinged. The feet and sizeable heelspurs are hinged, but the hinges really only serve the transformation. The weak hips mean that his legs have to be places fairly close together (or he'll collapse under his own weight and do the splits), while the left arm has to be fairly close to his body or he'll keel over. While it doesn't have to be stuck to his side, swing it out to the side is pretty much out, since doing so requires spreading the legs, which causes the hips to give.
The scariest thing about Duststorm's robot mode is that it's probably his better mode. The weapon is now worthwhile and the poseability gives it more play value that the bendy crane mode. Having said that he's the worst of all thirteen Energon combiners I have so far (as it stands, only Wideload could be worse!). Again, the most annoying thing for me is that quite a few problems were avoidable - some paint on his chest, a silver face and a moulded fist on his kibble arm would really make a difference. The thighs also needed a re-design before this toy left the prototype stage, and really I can't see why this wasn't possible (budget aside).
None that I know of, although as mentioned Wideload is a far superior repaint.
The Energon combiners are generally of a very high standard, but they really dropped the ball here. The colours are terrible, the hips hurt both modes and the robot mode is gimpy. While the robot _is_ the better mode, it's not really a good mode. I'm glad I got Duststorm at 1/4 of his regular price (not in the store's computer and the supervisor was too lazy to check). I'd only recommend him if you're after Constructicon Maximus. If the mould appeals, get Wideload instead. If you're not getting the set, this is a toy I'd recommend _against_ - 3/10