Friday, August 9, 2013

The Perfect (Sand)Storm

In 2013, Hasbro released a proper modern update to the Transformer Springer. Unlike the past “updates” to the original G1 toy, this wasn’t just a simple repaint of another character. This was a true triple changing Springer with all three modes nicely executed. But more importantly, it was an all-new design that wasn’t previously used for an older character. This was 100% all Springer. Or so we thought….

About a month or two after the new Springer toy was unveiled, eagle-eyed collectors noticed a little orange-ish VTOL vehicle depicted in another Transformer’s box art. It sort of “looked” like Springer but was definitely not him, in fact, the orange color reminded people of another fellow triple changer. So with the cat out of the bag, Hasbro came clean and announced that they were indeed coming out with a remolded version of Springer that would be released as his fellow triple changer Sandstorm. Okay before we go any further, let me define some terms for non-toy collectors…

Same toy...different paint job
= different character
Making and designing toys costs a lot for toy companies, so in order to make the most out of their investments, they usually re-use parts to make new characters. In some cases, they simply repaint an existing figure in a different color scheme and call it another character or a special version of the old character like painting an existing Bumblebee mold (who is yellow) black and calling the new version “Night Strike” Bumblebee and so on.

STILL basically the same toy
...with a few aesthetic changes
A remold on the other hand is when they actually make and add new parts to an existing figure. It could be something as simple as sculpting an all new head to something more extensive where other body parts like a different chest piece or arms and feet are created. They can even add new parts like wings or bigger wheels etc. These are pretty much all aesthetic changes though, leaving the actual transforming engineering unchanged.

So…now that we got that out of the way, a few months after Springer was released, we got Sandstorm who turned out to be not just a repaint of Springer but an extensive remold as well. Just take a look at the comparison shots below to see what I’m talking about. While you can see a lot of differences like color, a different head, chest & weapon, you can still see that they are essentially the same toy….but at the same time, effectively different.

Like Springer, Sandstorm too was a triple changer. The original toy switched from robot to dune buggy to transport helicopter. This new version keeps the robot (duh) and dune buggy mode but trades in the helicopter for a sort of VTOL vehicle to further differentiate him from Springer. So as you can see, aside from the new head and different chest piece, a major modification they did was to add a couple of big ass wheels that could double up as well….humongous back wheels for the dune buggy mode, and as huge twin rotors/jets for the VTOL vehicle…pretty ingenious if you ask me.

Like I said in a previous post, as nice as the new Springer is, I actually decided to pass on it, since my “Springer slot” on my toy shelf was already occupied by the Warbot Defender from the third party company Fans Project, who actually made a really impressive version of the third even less popular third Autobot Triple Changer, Broadside (but let’s save that for another post). Having both “not” Springer & “not” Broadside from Fans Project, adding the newly released Hasbro Sandstorm was a no brainer to complete my Autobot Triple Changer Triumvirate ☺

Actually, Sandstorm is really my favourite of the three. While he wasn’t as popular as Springer, he did manage to be featured heavily in a couple of episodes of the cartoon which I remember quite well…ok so I cheated and did my research and rewatched his episodes on YouTube….

not quite Cybertron...
What’s interesting about the Sandstorm character in the cartoon was that although he was a Transformer, he wasn’t from Cybertron (the Transformers’ homeworld) but from another planet called Paradron. As the story goes, Sandstorm’s ancestors left Cybertron to escape the Autobot/Decepticon war and found a new planet where they could live in peace. Eventually though, the Decepticons find Paradron and conquer it and enslave its populace. Sandstorm manages to escape and goes to the Autobots for help. Unfortunately though, in order to defeat the Decepticons, the Autobots decide its best to just destroy the whole planet and relocate all the Paradronians to Cybertron. (Yeah Rodimus Prime, their leader was sort of a douche).

In another episode, Sandstorm actually befriended a Decepticon, another triple changer named Octane who was kicked out of the Decepticon ranks and was being hunted by them. He goes to the Autobots to seek asylum but despite Sandstorm’s best efforts is eventually recaptured by the Decepticons. Oh well…you can’t win ‘em all!

Finally, here’s the major kicker that just came to light literally a few days ago….

Remember how I said that the newly released Springer was great because it was an 100% original Springer mold? Turns out it probably wasn’t. So a few days ago, popular Transformers artist Nick Roche tweeted out a pic of a design concept for Sandstorm that he came up with and submitted to Hasbro around 2 years ago! Look familiar? Now it’s pretty well known that the average development time of a toy, from concept to actual production takes about 2 years. So while the jury is still out on this, it seems quite possible that the original mold design was actually Sandstorm and it was really Springer who was reverse engineered from that Sandstorm design! How crazy is that? Poor Springer just can’t catch a break! Always a repaint…never the original!

"unofficial" 4th mode....hovercraft