Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Springer Awakening

What’s better than a robot that could transform into an alternate mode? Why, a robot that could transform into TWO alternate modes of course! This is eactly what the Transformers guys thought of coming into the 3rd year of the toyline. So in 1985, the new Transformer “triple-changer” concept was born! The concept turned out to be quite a hit despite the fact that limited technology (and creativity?) actually just delivered another “brick” that transformed into 2 different looking bricks.

Anyway the first year of triple changers brought us 2 Decepticons, Blitzwing, who transformed into a tank or a jet, and Astrotrain, as his name suggested, transformed into a space shuttle and a train. And they have gone on to be two of the more recognizable Decepticon characters (at least to the casual fan). A year later, the Autobots followed suit with 3 of their own triple changers, Springer, who transformed into a car & helicopter, Sandstorm, another helicopter & dunebuggy, and finally Broadside, who was a jet and an aircraft carrier.

Maybe it was because he was the only one included in the first animated Transformers movie, or maybe it was the fact that he was the only decent looking toy among the three, but only Springer managed to gain any semblance of popularity while his to fellow bots simply faded into obscurity.

In the movie, Springer was introduced as some bad-ass warrior with a huge sword. Many say the first Transformers movie’s plot was a blatant rip-off of Star Wars. If it was, then they tried to peg Springer as the Han Solo to Hot Rod’s Luke & Arcee’s Leia….the 3rd corner of the robot love triangle if you will. Well whatever the case would be, he managed to make a lasting impression on many fans including myself and so Springer the character has continued to maintain a respectable presence in the various Transformer comic iterations and in the toyshelf as well.

Since the original toy, Springer has had quite a few “newer” toys released, unfortunately pretty much all of them have ditched the whole triple changer gimmick and have kept him mostly as a helicopter, although every now and then a car and even once an osprey I believe. And to make matters worse, most of these “new” toys were actually other characters that the designers decided to paint green & yellow and rename Springer…just for the easy buck.

Instant Springer.....just add green

So its quite ironic that the best modern rendition of Springer isn’t actually officially a Transformer. Meet Warbot Defender from Fansproject. I think I touched upon Fansproject in an older post. Anyway Fansproject was one of the first “third party” groups made of Transformers fans who took it upon themselves to make Transformer toys that they were not getting from Hasbro. They first started with accessories to compliment existing official Transformers, but eventually they figured they could do a lot more.

Warbot Defender…or “not” Springer was their first official FULL transformable robot and it was one hell of a debut. While they couldn’t market this dude as Springer, for obvious legal reason..for all intents and purposes the guy IS Springer, in all his original triple changing glory. And unlike his original toy, he looks amazing in all THREE modes, although I have to say the transformation is a bit figity, the end result however is pretty close to perfection. Just slap on an Autobot sticker on his chest and you’re good to go!

The really nice thing about this toy is that it is pretty obvious the guys at Fansproject put a LOT of thought into his design. And they added a few extra features that weren’t really necessary but ultimately make him so much cooler. Case in point, aside from his trademark sword (that turn into his helicopter blades), he’s got twin pistols that he can tuck in neatly into holsters on his legs. And when he decides to wield them, his arms have just enough articulation for you to actually get him to draw out his pistols from his holsters on his own!

This year Hasbro finally introduced a new upcoming Springer toy. He’s an all original mold, and a triple changer that actually looks decent in all three modes. Unfortunately it’s a little too late for them. Warbot Defender has taken his place on my toyshelf as my official Springer. And I don’t see him relinquishing his spot any time soon.

Just slap on an Autobot sticker and you're good to go!