|Character Design||Nick Roche|
Review by Rob
The Autobot named Springer was a Generation One Triple Changer given the ability to “transform from armored car to helicopter to robot and back!” and one of the first new characters to be introduced in the 1986 animated film of “The Transformers.”
Unlike the other Triple Changers, Springer had a sleek and spacy vehicle design to coincide with the series’ time skip from ‘modern day’ 1984 to the ‘future’ of 2005.
Oh, how wrong we would be in reality…
Springer has been long overdue for an upgrade since the start of the “Classics/Generations” line but Hasbro and Takara have been slow to produce a new figure based on the character. While the manufacturers honored the fans’ demand for Springer with repaints using molds from the “Transformers Cybertron” and “Revenge of the Fallen” toy lines that shared Springer’s alternate modes, the figures were sold as exclusives for Botcon and other Store/Markets.
In absence of a new figure, the Third Party group FansProject created their Springer-inspired Warbot Defender and when Takara started the “Encore” line of reissued Generation One figures, Springer was the subject of a high quality knock-off that was almost unmistakable from the original.
As part of the “Generations Thrilling 30” collection, Springer has been given the modern day upgrade he deserves and is now possibly one of the best Transformers of this Generation.
“With a chest big enough to accommodate ten Matrixes and shoulders that would put Metroplex to shame, his entire upper body was a bold visual testament to the power of unchecked width.”
–First Aid, “Bullets”
In ‘The Transformers’ cartoon series, Springer was the action hero keeping the “Punch” in punch lines with his smug attitude among the do-gooder Autobots under the command of the newly anointed Rodimus Prime.
In the franchise’s comic book of the Marvel UK (and recent Regeneration One) universe, Springer was a member of “The Wreckers,” an Autobot Commando unit of hardcore heavy hitters whose actual toys were obscurities that nobody liked (Topspin and Twintwist) recycled from other toy lines (Roadbuster and Whirl), and other bots who never even had figures to begin with (RackN’Ruin and Impactor). As the comics were unencumbered by the censorship of Saturday Morning cartoons, The Wreckers were the bots that took on the most brutal missions with no chance of success… and succeeded by any means necessary and noticeable losses within their ranks.
When IDW Publishing was granted control of the ‘Transformers’ license, they reintroduced the robots in disguise we already know from Generation One in a new universe while paying many respects to their characters’ origins. Springer made his return in “Transformers: Stormbringer,” written by franchise veteran Simon Furman with artwork by Don Figueroa, once again as the leader of “The Wreckers” and the team was still populated by the characters from the UK comic plus or minus a few…
“So that’s the plan Wreckers, what could possibly go right?”
The “Transformers Generations” voyager class Autobot Springer is the first figure by Hasbro based on the characters in the IDW Publishing comic book universe rather than the franchise’s current trend focusing on the ‘Transformers’ video games, cartoons, and live action movies. Springer is clearly a figure designed to target the older audiences in both his origin and toy design.
The Generations Springer is based on the character’s design from the book, “Last Stand of the Wreckers” co-written by James Roberts and artist Nick Roche with additional art by Guido Guidi.
A story of sacrifice and betrayal, impossible odds, and weird brain bullet, “Last Stand” is a fantastic Must-read and it is appropriate that Hasbro has finally produced a figure of such caliber to go with it.
Autobot Springer (as he is named due to copyright concerns) comes packaged in robot mode in the now-standard pentagon shaped box with the classic G1-grid patterned background featuring character art drawn by Clayton Crain to the side of the box window. The bottom of the box is labeled with a stylized “Thrilling 30” mark for the 2014 Anniversary of the franchise while the back of the packaging features a biography for Springer, his tech specs, and stock photographs showing off his three modes.
Springer is modeled after Nick Roche’s design but Hasbro takes a few liberties that separate it from the artist’s interpretation that work to make it more balanced as an actual toy.
The figure pays many respects to Roche’s vision of Springer with his wide chest and thick chin. When you cock the figure’s head at an angle, it almost looks like he’s smirking and the clear blue plastic molded for the eyes shine with a Matrix blue glow.
If you’ve already read “Last Stand” in hardbound, you’ll know what that means.
Although ‘Transformers’ figures recently have been receiving a lot of criticism for being smaller and more expensive now, Springer strikes the balance in size and price range that makes me glad I skipped out on getting the Warbot Defender.
After a few rounds of producing figures with lackluster quality control, Hasbro has finally achieved a quality figure.
Springer is molded in the right colors of neon green, gray and yellow plastic with some nice details touched up with silver paint. Even the wheel hubs for his vehicle mode are painted green.
Springer measures 7 inches tall in robot mode with a broad shoulder measuring 4 inches wide. Standing upright, Springer has an inherent dynamic posture keeping his back and legs straight with his chest coming up to his chin.
On the subject of the proportions, the figure is not top heavy as it would seem with the bulky upper body and skinny leg design. The figure uses a fold out heel to help it stand up, and although it is not expressed in the instructions, repositioning the spoilers from Springer’s vehicle modes can also provide an even longer foot print.
Springer is articulated using swivel and ratcheting joints in the limbs, with the head and shoulders being the only parts on ball joints. The figure is well balanced and there are no points that seem delicate or fragile in the least.
The one distracting feature to the design of Springer’s robot mode is his ‘turtle shell’ back from the plate that makes the canopy his alternate modes. While it doesn’t limit the figure’s range of mobility, it would have been nice had they designed the plate to fold better onto Springer’s back and give more definition to the backside of the figure.
The figure comes packaged with two weapons; Springer’s sword and the double barreled cannon. Both weapons use 5mm pegs that fit them into the figure’s hands or allow them to be stored on its back and the cannon features a port underneath the gun barrels for the sword to peg into.
The cannon features pressure fired missiles that launch by pushing a plunger mechanism on the top of the weapon forward.
The mechanism is designed to fire the missiles one at a time by clicking half way down the shaft but it can launch both missiles at once with a single steady push.
Fans of spring-loaded missile ballistics will be mildly disappointed that the projectiles don’t fly very far and basically just hit the floor as soon as they exit the barrels.
The cannon grip is hinged to provide mobility for it to work as a turret in the figure’s armored car mode and the action gives it some additional range in Springer’s hands.
The sword has been Springer’s signature weapon since Generation One and it serves an important role as the rotor for Springer’s helicopter mode.
The sword transforms simply by unfolding the blade and unclipping the front guard piece will give the vehicle mode a spinning rotor.
Unlike the in-between repaint-figures mentioned earlier, Generations Springer is a Triple Changer once more with the ability to transform from robot to helicopter to armored car and back, again.
Transforming Springer could best be described as unfolding the figure into a box that uses tabs to hold it all together.
The canopy on Springer’s back and the shoulders are articulated to fold back and forth between the two modes. The arms unfold at the elbow to become the side windows and door panels for the armored car mode or fold to the robot’s shoulders to become the wings of Springer’s helicopter mode. Springer’s legs fold out below the knee for the rear wheels of the armored car mode, or remain straight out with the toes curled up for the tail end of the helicopter mode.
While the original Generation One toy had seemingly indistinguishable alternate modes, there is no mistaking the new Springer’s armored car mode from his helicopter form.
The weapons are designed to be integrated with the figure’s vehicle modes as well.
The cannon can dock under the nose of the helicopter mode in place of the front landing gear and the sword can be carried in the armored car’s undercarriage.
If there are any major problems with the figure, it comes from its transformation design.
The locking tabs have a tendency to lose their grip and it is a constant issue of getting them to line up and fit together properly.
There’s a slight clearance issue with how Springer’s head and chest plate clash together during the transformation. While it isn’t a structural issue, it just takes some getting used to. The head has to fold down into the stomach but it has to pass through the chest piece which folds up as the nose for the vehicle modes. Simply cock the head down against the neck and then bring the chest piece up over it.
Regardless of these issues, I’m having a hard time letting them bother me.
I’m sounding like Ironfist here, but personally I think whoever designed this figure deserves the Rodimus Star.
Overall, the Generations Autobot Springer is one of the best figures we’ve seen in years and well worth the wait for the character. Now if only Hasbro would be willing to do something more original about those missing Wreckers…
And since this is IDW’s Springer… this review be incomplete without a Prowl Punch.
"Wreck N' Rule!"
|Posted 28 May, 2013 - 21:19 by Rob|