Cliffbee.com: Universe Springer Toy Review

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Individual Review




Name: Springer
Series: Universe
Allegiance: Autobot
Alternate Mode: Eurocopter Dauphin Rescue Helicopter (thanks to Fit For Natalie for the model)

Thanks to kup for loaning me Springer for this review.



CHOPPER MODE
Height: 8cm Length: 26cm Width: 6.5cm (propspan is 20cm)

   A green rescue chopper with a grey underbelly and grey rotors, Springer has hints of pale yellow here and there, a transparent blue canopy and some light grey here and there. The main rotor has four blades while there are twin tri-blade stabiliser rotors encased in the tail. There's a red stamped Autobot logo on the roof, just in front of the rotor. The colours are a good match for G1 Springer, and the character is easy to pick here, even if the chopper mode is very different to the that futuristic chopper. The colours work fairly well, although they're not especially realistic. There's a green winch unit on the starboard side with a light grey hook, rounding out the rescue theme quite nicely.

   With a bottlenose, aerodynamic shape and four moulded wheels underneath, Springer looks quite realistic, even if there are some kibbly connections underneath the engines (which are themselves missile launchers). The red Planet Key plugs into the back of the engine unit, and doesn't fit into Springer's colours at all. There are enough seams, vents and such on this toy to sell the illusion of a real chopper, even in these colours.

   The wheels can all retract (well, the rear pair fold out to the sides), and he'll happily sit on his belly. The main rotor spins freely and while the tail rotors are a little hard to access, they also spin well. There's a yellow plunging button on the port side just below the main rotor, pressing it in repeatedly (it's spring loaded and will automatically spring out) will cause the rotor to spin - as long as you keep plunging. This works well and looks really cool, so long as you have all four blades. The blades detach very easily and the entire rotor can also detach - I can see the rotors missing on most second hand Springers in a few years time.

   Pushing the Planet key all the way in will release the engines, which swing forward as missile launchers, and reveals the yellow triggers. The missiles will fire a couple of feet, which is far enough to make them fun without you having to locate them across the room afterwards. Considering that we don't get spare missiles (we never seem to anymore, mind you), this is a good thing. The hook on his winch can be pulled out, it's on a cord maybe 8cm long, and the hook and cord are strong enough to hold light items - such as basics/scouts. There's a yellow button on the winch itself which retracts the cord, and it spring back quickly.

   While the loose rotor blades are quite annoying, everything else about this chopper mode is great. The helicopter is well formed, the gimmicks are all effective so he's fun to play with - and I much prefer the simple winch to the crappy sound gimmicks we keep seeing. The tribute is well done, since Springer is quite recognisable here, although I'm not entirely sold on his particular helicopter in green - the model is realistic enough but the colours are not.

TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE

   Fold the rotor into a single, compound blade, retract the cord if it's out and fold up the landing gear, release the launchers. Unclip the nose and fold the bottom of the chopper (including the windshield back), clipping the waist together. Rotate the waist, split the legs and rotate the boots, fold the nose halves forward to form his feet and flip out his heelspurs. Split the rotor base and fold the halves out to form arms, then split the tail out to the sides to form wings. Swing back the engine assembly to form a backpack, slide it up to reveal his head. Swing the arms in, rotate the winch (right forearm) and rotor assembly (left forearm), open the forearms, flip his fists out and close again. Swing the rear wheels on his hips down as hip plates.

   This is a satisfying transformation that's involved without being difficult or awkward. While many megas tends to have simple transformations, Springer's is nice and complex despite the fact that he incorporates three successful gimmicks.

ROBOT MODE
Height: 17cm (22.5 if missiles pointing up) Width: 14cm (22 with wings deployed)

   Again based on green, although there's a lot more grey here. His lower legs and forearms are grey while the upper arms and thighs are light grey. His face is painted white with blue eyes - Springer also gets an effective lightpipe. The tail forms green wings. The colour scheme is a little more complex but still works. The chest has a detailed paintmark but I'm not sure why it's not painted yellow - there's not enough yellow here to really sell this robot mode as Springer. The rotor attaches to the outside of the left forearm, and now has restricted movement, while the winch is on the back of his other forearm.

   We have a couple of options here. The wings can actually fold down, the missile assembly can sit flush on his back or lift up over his head, thanks to two hinges. The wings, which I guess qualify as kibble, can get in the way of the rotor spinning (and by extension, the left arm's articulation), so I'm not sure why Hasbro prefer the wings out - the hinges involved became redundant. But hey, choose what works for you.

   There's some more kibble in the form of the windshield halves, which sit on the outsides of his ankles. They look fine and don't get in the way of anything so I'm not going to complain. If anything they're a feature, as much as the melee weapon that his rotors have become. The missile launchers are also a dominant feature, and one that really adds to the majesty of the toy (something the wings also do, if you want them out). Mind you, the majesty here is reduced in these colours, when compared to Evac, the original version of this mould.

   All three gimmicks are again available, although some functionality is lost on two gimmicks. The winch is unaffected, but the rotors will only spin in one direction (forward, if you think of them as a wheel), the limitation is actually affected by the angle - it'll only spin "backwards" when horizontal. The plunger still works, although you'll need to have the wings down to really make use of it. The missile launcher gimmick is more or less intact, although there's now nothing covering the triggers when the launchers are stowed - he'll fire his missiles at the table if you're not careful. Of course the entire rack is now able to move, giving him a ground-to-air/ground-to-ground option, which is a plus. While he lacks handheld weapons, he does have standard fistholes. Mind you, with the missiles and rotor of death, Springer doesn't really need some silly gun. The melee weapon is quite appropriate for the character, even if it's not a sword.

   Considering how lifelike the alt mode is and how many gimmicks we have, Springer's articulation is impressive. The head rotates, the knees, hips, elbows and shoulders are all hinged with rotators, giving him full movement (so long as the wings aren't in the way). The feet and heelspurs fold down, giving him some meaningful leg poseability. The toy is somewhat topheavy, but with a little effort, most poses are stable.

   While the 'wow' factor of his gimmicks isn't as obvious, the robot mode has better play value overall. The blades now sit in pairs and are more solid as a result. The poseability and detail are good, and the gimmicks all work which is not always the case with Cybertron moulds - even for key gimmicks. The colours here don't work quite as well in terms of the tribute as they did in vehicle mode, although visually Springer still works fairly well - although I do prefer Evac's colours.

VARIATIONS

   As mentioned, Springer is a repaint of Evac. He was sold exclusively in a two-pack with Ratbat.

OVERALL

   While the mega/voyager size class has produced a lot of poor toys over the years - a lot of deluxes with large wingspans and the like - Springer is a good mega. The chopper works well and has great gimmicks that really enhance it, the robot mode is almost as much fun, while the transformation is clever and satisfying. I'm not convinced by this repaint - the tribute is fairly obvious in chopper mode, but the realism of the mould is lost in these colours, and the robot mode just doesn't end up looking much like Springer. It's not a terrible colour scheme, but it's not a great tribute colour scheme, nor does it improve on Evac. The easily detached rotor blades are a little annoying - and will make complete Springers somewhat rare on the second hand market in years to come. The mould is worth getting, even if it's in these colours, but I'm not sure I'd recommend this guy if you have Evac already - 7.5/10

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