Cliffbee.com: BotCon Springer Toy Review

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Name: Springer
Series: Convention Exclusives
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Aerial Defence
Alternate Mode: Armoured Combat Truck



ARMOURED TRUCK MODE
Height: 7cm Length: 15cm Width: 6.5cm

   A silver armoured truck with big black wheels and two lime green cannons on the roof and some black elements here and there. The colours aren't that close to those of the original, not so much in terms of the actual colours but more the relative amounts. While that toy was predominantly lime green with some grey and yellow, this toy is mainly silver (close enough to the grey to work) with some green, while the yellow is alluded to only on the tops of his roof cannons. The colour scheme works very well aesthetically, but the tribute here is very understated as a result of the shift in colours. There's a red Autobot logo on the roof, some more gold on the front and some of the the darker green seen on the original Springer toy on the sides towards the bottom (a token element, which is appreciated even if it doesn't really impact overall). Springer's colours are more sedate than the original version of the mould (Cybertron Defence Hot Shot), and of the two I prefer these colours.

   While the colour scheme is kept simple, the sculpt is quite good, with rivets, survival packs, hatches and the like all over the vehicle. The four tyres are ridged and there are dead hardpoints on the runners on either side. There aren't any windows - merely slits on the front and sides, suitable for a combat vehicle such as this. There are blue spotlights mounted on the sides and the guns on top are quite detailed with silver tips.

   The truck itself is a compact, rhombic shaped affair, basically designed to be as difficult to wreck as possible. As a result Springer is quite solid compared to many other Transformer trucks (this is also partly due to a simple transformation). The shape of the truck doesn't look at all like Springer's car mode in G1 - not that we saw much of the car mode in the cartoon anyway. Fit For Natalie informs me that Springer is a M1117 'Guardian' Armoured Security Vehicle.

   The wheels roll, as you'd expect, and as with all Cybertron moulds, Springer a key gimmick. When you plug his transparent green Planet Key (code: d1o4) into the back of the cannon mount, the top of the cannons pop up revealing black missile bays inside, with red missile tips. To be honest, the truck looks better with the cannons closed. The bumper also opens out to the sides to give him an additional pair of cannons, and while this is done manually it looks better than the missile racks. The cannon mount turns through 360 while the cannons themselves can swing up and down - and do so independently. The key gimmick may not work, but the cannons are cool anyway. There's a little tray on the left side where you can store the planet key - it's actually meant for his blade in robot mode, but the key fits like a glove (thanks once again to FortMax Reed for this info). While the connection is too lose for robot mode, it'll happily stay in place on the truck. The key features a red Autobot logo on top and metallic cobalt blue paint on the fringes - I appreciate the fact that the repaint effort was extended to the planet key.

   While Springer's vehicle mode is uncomplicated in many ways, it's a great armoured truck. And for an uncomplicated character like Springer, this vehicle mode is actually quite fitting, even if it is a new form for the character. The sculpt is good, the cannons on top are a lot of fun and the colour scheme works well. There are some really nice touches such as the Autobot symbol badge, the hardpoints (which end up on his forearms) and the robot head peeking out from the vision slits (if you look carefully).

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Extent the rear, which will cause the groin to pivot while the thighs extend. Flip up the feet, split the boots and set aside the blade lodged between them. Fold the groinplates down, split the front and pull out to the sides to form his arms. Extend and pose the forearms, fold down his head. There are three sets of missileracks which can be revealed here - hidden under panels on his shins that rotate, hidden under panels that fold down on his shoulderpads and those exposed by the Planet Key. The cannons can be repositioned allowing the last set of missile bays to deploy behind his head - or the cannons themselves to sit on either side of his head. I find that placing the blade between his boots when transforming him back to truck mode is quite fidgety - it tends to fall out.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 16cm Width: 10cm

   The silver block opens up to reveal a robot that's largely green and black. His head and torso are black while the thighs and forearms are green, while there's a fair splash of both lime and darker green paint on his chest. There are a few hints of gold here and there, but no gold on his chest. Springer has a silver face and blue eyes, while the crown is painted to help the head of CD Hot Shot resemble the head of the original Hot Shot. Springer's boots are silver with black shinplates and feet, the upper arms are also silver with black plates covering the missileracks. While the colours aren't a close match for the G1 version of the character, this mode is more identifiable as Springer despite the increased prominence of black. Again the colours are an improvement over those of CD Hot Shot, although the gap is smaller.

   The shoulderpads are big blocks, as are the boots, giving Springer a powerful look which matches that of the truck mode - and the character. The cannons look good over his shoulders, and the blade can be held in either hand or plugged into either armguard - a nice bonus, and the holes that allow this are dedicated to this feature. If you have them all exposed, the six missile racks make Springer one very well armed robot - and with his stockiness the visual impact is quite marked.

   The poseability here is good but not great - the head turns, the shoulders and hips rotate and lift out to the sides while the knees and elbows bend. The poseable cannons can lift up and down although the shoulderpads get in the way of side to side movement. The shoulder panels, when folded out, get in the way of the forearms a little, and sort of hang out, so I prefer to leave them up unless I have him in a firing stance.

   The blade is really cool, and I love the added bonus of it plugging into the armplates. It's his only handheld weapon, but the hardpoints allow you to plug in Minicons as arm weapons. At any rate, with six missile racks, Springer doesn't really need more weaponry - the guy's a walking armoury. The blade is green which is a little odd, although one edge is painted silver, providing legitimacy.

   A good robot mode thanks to solid concepts and good execution. While the poseability isn't fantastic, his weapon options bring enough play value to make up for the limits to his articulation. The key gimmick comes into its own here, since the missile racks make more sense and are a dominant theme of this mode. The choice of Springer for this mould becomes clear in this mode, and while the tribute isn't immediately obvious, the decision is a good one when you look at the bodyshape.

VARIATIONS

   None that I'm aware of. Springer was sold exclusively at BotCon 2007 and as such was likely limited to a single production run. Surprisingly, this is only the second figure representing Springer - almost every other character in TF:TM has been revisited in some fashion (even Wheelie saw a reissue!).

OVERALL

   Conceptually this repaint is stronger that CD Hot Shot, both in name and colours. The tribute is understated yet appropriate - the more you think about the choice of character the more it makes sense. The figure is pretty good aside from being a clever repaint - the mould serves as proof that simple concepts can work well if done right, and the colours used are an improvement over this on the original. The poseability and transformation are fairly simple, but the vehicle mode is well detailed with a great set of cannons and the ridiculously well armed robot mode is a lot of fun. The key gimmick is almost a footnote, with the blade and missile racks stealing the limelight. A fun toy thanks to the effort put into the design process, although supply is limited making Springer quite pricey so I'll stop short of recommending him - 8.5/10

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