"Generations" Voyager Class Springer Toy Review


General Information:
Release Date: May 2013
Price Point: $24.99 (varies depending on retailer)
Retailer: General (Toys R Us, Target, Wal-Mart etc.)
Accessories: Blaster, Sword/Helicopter Rotors, Missiles x 2

Some characters are very prominent in particular sections of "Transformers" history only to fade away and pop back in now and then. Springer is one such character. Originally introduced in the 1986 animated "Transformers: The Movie" feature film, he would go on to be a central cast member during the third season of the "Transformers" television show. His Generation One action figure was an Autobot "triple changer", able to convert from a robot to a helicopter and a ground vehicle. Over the years, Springer would pop up here and there in the "Transformers" toy line including appearances in series such as Timelines, Universe 2.0, Generations (as a Deluxe) and most recently KREO.

Despite all these incarnations however, the character has not been a triple changer in toy form since Generation One! Without even so much as a reissue of the original toy, fans have wanted a Springer that transformed into both a ground vehicle (not just one or the other) for years - and now they have it! Voyager Class Springer represents what many consider the most "complete" Springer to be released since Generation One.

Robot Mode:
Springer is part of the "Thrilling 30" line of "Transformers" figures, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the "Transformers" toy line. Like many of the figures from this line, the designers chose designs from the current IDW Publishing comic books as the source for this toy's design. Specifically, they drew upon Springer as he appeared in the mini-series "The Last Stand of the Wreckers". Originally envisioned by awesome "Transformers" artist Nick Roche, Springer retained many classical elements of the G1 design in the IDW Universe including his transformations into a ground vehicle and helicopter. This figure is that design with very little compromise. Among the details it shares with G1 and "IDW" Springer are:

  • Springer retains his iconic head design, with a high, thin crest on top, an angled helmet section on top and a grim looking face to go with it. Extra design elements are added on in the back, where the helmet sweeps back in an upward direction starting form the vents on either side of his face.
  • The chest/torso section sticks out a bit in an angular, but somewhat boxy piece that has vents on it in the middle. This piece was pretty big (proportionally speaking) on G1 Springer, but here (like in the IDW comic) it has been sized down a bit to give the figure better proportions.
  • Each arm has a panel on it that swings out to the sides, this is similar to a panel that actually partly covers the upper arm in the comic (but it is unable to do this in the toy).
  • Each forearm has a small stabilizer wing sticking out of the side.
  • The waist design features rectangles right above each knee and beveled trapezoids on the sides, just like the drawing of the character from the comic.
  • Each leg features knee armor shaped like blades set at an upward angle.
  • The shoulders and lower legs each feature the wheels from the ground vehicle mode prominently.

The end result of all this? A ton of happy, that's what. Fans have enjoyed Roche's designs in print form for a while now, and to have it in an action figure is even more awesome. Even if you're not a fan of the comic book, it doesn't matter because the design looks dynamic and sleek all on its own. It also pays proper homage in design to the G1 character, particularly the upper body and head. The sculpt design on this robot mode is an all around success.

Springer is cast in green, yellow, grey, black and translucent blue plastic. No surprises here as most of these colors were found on G1 and "IDW" Springer. The tricky part is balancing out these colors. The yellow is bright, not neon bright but still not a subtle or toned down one as we've seen on many versions of Bumblebee in recent years. This is a yellow that is meant to be noticed. Much of the yellow is found on the torso and the panels on the back of the arms. The rest of the figure is a mixture of green and two shades of grey (light and dark). The balance struck here in terms of color works out very nicely. It's not visually overwhelming at all even though the green and yellow are both brighter shades of those respective colors. The black and translucent blue parts make up the wheels and window panels respectively.

It may not seem obvious at first, but there is quite a bit of paint work on Springer. Green, yellow, grey and silver paint are used to give the figure additional detailing. Much of this detail is an attempt to remain true to the comic book version of the character as well as enhancing the appearance of the figure. Examples of this include the rectangles on the waist being painted yellow and grey sections on the torso being painted green. Even his knee armor is painted green (the pieces are cast in grey) so it can match his comic book appearance. His face is painted light grey and the eyes are translucent light piping blue plastic. A nice final touch is an Autobot symbol tampographed onto his chest. It's in a lower position than it was in the comic book, but it works best where it is since that section is flat.

There are twenty two points of articulation on Springer in this mode. I'm emphasizing that because for a while, many "Transformers" figures have been downsized and made less complex to cut costs. This includes articulation, but not such reduction in quality happened on Springer. This articulation includes five on each arm and leg (I'm counting the foot and heel) as well as head and waist articulation, something that is seen less frequently in recent time. I am absolutely thrilled with the articulation on this figure, particularly since it gives him a good range of motion and even includes ratchet joints on the legs for additional stability.

Springer includes a dual missile launcher. This impressive looking weapon is about half the length of his arm and holds two "marble launcher" missiles which rely on pressure rather than springs to launch. Instead of just pushing them out from the back (as most "marble launchers" do) there is actually a slider on top that you push and the missiles fire one after another. The weapon is cast in green and silver with silver paint details. The missiles are silver. The launcher has two 5mm holes on it, allowing you to attach weapons on the top or bottom. The handle on the launcher pivots slightly back and forth, allowing you to adjust the grip the figure has on the weapon, a very unusual but welcome feature.

The figure also includes a sword (a weapon G1 Springer also had) formed from his helicopter rotors. This sword has a handle, but also a peg on the side of its base, allowing you to attach the sword to the missile launcher, making it a dual purpose (and much deadlier) weapon!

Springer doesn't have to constantly hold his weapon. He has a hole right in the middle of his back, allowing you to stow both weapons away on his back.

Transformation to Helicopter Mode:

  1. Detach the weapons if attached.
  2. Split the sword in the middle and swing each half out to the sides.
  3. Swing the peg that points to the side up and set the rotors aside for now.
  4. Swing the heel piece on each foot into the front of the feet, then swing the foot down and back.
  5. Angle each robot leg back slightly at the knees.
  6. On the back of each lower leg, swing the horizontal stabilizers out to the sides and flip the ends up to form the vertical stabilizers.
  7. Connect the legs together in the middle.
  8. On the back of the figure pull the cockpit section back and swing down the rear panel.
  9. On each arm, swing out the inner half of the forearms then swing the robot fists in.
  10. Pull each arm out at the shoulder and swing it down (along with the panels from the sides of the chest).
  11. Make sure the robot head is looking downward and push it down while swinging up the central chest panel.
  12. Straighten out each arm.
  13. On each arm, swing out the half of the forearm with the fin on it and then swing the other half forward and connect it to the tab sticking out the side of the upper arm.
  14. Push each arm in to connect to the tab on the panels that formed the sides of the robot mode chest.
  15. Attach the rotor to the top of the vehicle.
  16. Attach the missile launcher to the underside of the vehicle's nose, you'll wind up pushing in the landing gear to do this.

Helicopter Mode
Even with his Generation One incarnation, Springer's vehicle modes were "fantasy" vehicles (which many of my friends and I often considered the Cybertronian versions of Earth vehicles). This theme continues with this iteration of Springer. This helicopter form isn't based on any model of Earth vehicle, but rather has the general design elements you expect on a helicopter including a nose in front, stabilizers sticking out the sides and a big rotor on top. Unlike his G1 counterpart, Springer's latest helicopter mode appears to be much more of a war machine. Right in front is his missile launcher, now pointing missiles straight ahead at any foe dumb enough to get in the way. On either side, there are blasters sculpted into the panels near his horizontal fins. Think Springer can be taken down from the back? Nope. Mounted on the rear section of the vehicle are four blasters pointed to the back. In this incarnation, Springer truly owns the title of a "Wrecker"!

Other cool details include the vents in the front facing forward, a carry over design from the G1 version of the character. The headlights from the ground vehicle mode carry over nicely on the sides here, looking like spotlights. Another section I really like is the area at the base of the rotors, which have a lot of mechanical details that look like an engine. Other nice details are subtle such as the layers of armor panels on the vertical stabilizers in the back and vents on the sides near the horizontal wings/stabilizers.

Springer carries over the robot mode colors here, and they're all just as prominent. Green and yellow dominate the front end with the two shades of grey making up the rest of the vehicle. Yellow, green and silver paint help round out detailing. The yellow is used on the panels that form part of the front end and sides. Green is on the horizontal wings/stabilizers on the sides and silver is mostly found on the engine section of the rotors and on the sides of the wheels at the rear oof the vehicle. The Autobot symbol in front shows prominently here and translucent blue plastic forms the lights in front with yellow painted around the edges. The colors are all true to the Springer character and work very well together. The silver also has an almost gunmetal shade to it, giving him an industrial feel (bolstered by all his weaponry).

The rotor in this vehicle spins around nicely. The top of the rotor has a peg that you can attach weapons (or even Mini-Cons) to (though I confess that will look somewhat silly). The missile launcher in front is positioned such that the holes on the launcher are open for you to attach additional weaponry. On top of all that there is another hole right above the cockpit section where you can attach another weapon. On his own Springer already has a lot of weaponry, but he's a Wrecker so more never hurts! If you want to reveal Springer's landing gear, detach the missile launcher and swing out the front gear. His knee armor swings down to reveal the rear landing gear, which is a really smart dual-use of those parts.

Transformation to Ground Vehicle Mode (from robot mode):

  1. Detach the weapons if attached.
  2. Swing the heel piece on each foot into the front of the feet, then swing the foot down and back.
  3. Connect the legs together.
  4. Bend the knees forward one "click" at the knee joints.
  5. Push the robot head down into the chest cavity and pull up the chest panel.
  6. Pull the panel on the back of the figure with the windows in front back and push the rear panel down.
  7. On each arm, swing out the panel on the inside of the forearms then push the fist in. Rotate the forearm around so the clear panels face out to the sides.
  8. Push the arms in so the panels on the arms line up with the front of the vehicle.
  9. Swing the outer half of each forearm against the main body of the vehicle.
  10. On the sides of the upper arms, rotate the panel with the blaster on it back and over the fists peeking out on the sides.
  11. Swing the lower legs out and forward to form the rear wheel wells.
  12. Swing the rear stabilizers out and swing the stabilizers at the ends down so they are vertical.
  13. Using the knee armor/landing gear pieces slide the sword in with the hilt resting under the knee armor and the blade tucked on top of the cavity where the head is.
  14. Attach the missile launcher to the top of the vehicle.

Ground Vehicle Mode:
In the Generation One era Springer had a car mode that was not used quite as often as his aerial mode but it did feature prominently in at least one scene in "Transformers: The Movie" as he fought the Junkion leader Wreck Gar. The Generation One toy had a fairly chunky car mode since that form condensed parts from his other modes. This ground vehicle mode manages to do the same, condensing robot mode and helicopter parts into a condensed form - yet the bit of design genius here is that somehow the vehicle still winds up looking sleek and powerful all at the same time. His basic shape is a rectangle, but various details including the various mechanical and weapon details from the helicopter and robot modes line the sides of the vehicle, giving it an appearance of a vehicle that has been retrofitted for combat. The front end looks like a widened version of the helicopter's front end. From that description you would think this vehicle looks kind of like a Humvee, and you wouldn't be totally wrong, but it looks like a Humvee that someone extended in the front and back and squished in the center. Add in details like the angled lines on the front end and the spoiler "fins" created by the helicopter stabilizers in the back and he winds up looking like someone's idea of a sporty vehicle in a post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" like landscape. In other words, he looks awesome and very much like what you'd expect a "Wrecker" to look like in vehicle form.

A lot of the same color patterns seen in helicopter mode carry over here, except this time out the yellow is more condensed in the front and green primarily resides on the cabin cover section. The rest is mostly dark grey. Paint details are done in yellow, green and silver. The green is mostly used to paint parts of the translucent plastic pieces so the cabin sections all line up. Silver is most dominant on the top section of the cabin leading to the back. There's a bit of silver on the sides as well. Yellow is used to fill in detailing in the front so the front end winds up mostly being yellow. One paint detail which surprised me (in a good way) is green used on the sides of the wheels. More and more this particular detail is being left out of figures, often giving vehicle modes an "unfinished" appearance. Not so on Springer! The sides of his wheels are painted green, giving them continuity with the rest of the vehicle but also adding more detail overall. The end result: he looks awesome!

Springer can use his missile launcher on the top of the vehicle, but you're not limited to spinning it around in a circle. The peg also allows the weapon to pivot up and down a bit for a greater range of fire. A second hole is above the windshield, allowing you to arm Springer with more weaponry! I love the idea that regardless of his mode, Springer is loaded with firepower for battle. It's cool and very fitting for the character.

Final Thoughts:
Springer is, quite simply, an absolute joy of an action figure. He's true to his G1 roots, he has awesome weaponry, he looks great in all three modes and he has posability to boot! Highly recommended!

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