Friday, 24 February 2017

TransFormers Collectors' Club BotCon 2007 (Timelines) Springer

Back while Hasbro were still insisting that they wouldn't be doing Triple Changers in the foreseeable future (I'm actually a little hazy on whether that was before or after the lukewarm Octane (aka Tankor) and Astrotrain), there were several attempts to repurpose more standard two-form TransFormers into one of the much-beloved characters from the 1986 animated movie, Springer. Hasbro themselves released a version of him repainted from Galaxy Force Live Convoy in a two-pack with Ratbat repainted from GF Noisemaze, then followed that up with Springer as a Legends class Osprey helicopter as part of the extended toyline for Revenge of the Fallen. That took care of Springer-as-Helicopter... but what about Springer-as-Armoured-Car..?

Enter the BotCon 2007 additions to the Games of Deception boxed set, where a ground-based version of the character was repurposed out of a surprisingly appropriate source...

Vehicle Mode:
The Galaxy Force Exigeyser (aka 'Cybertron Defense' Hot Shot) mold was probably the only reasonable option for updating Springer as a single-changer with an armoured car vehicle mode and, in some ways, it's a fair counterpoint to Hasbro's use of the aforementioned Galaxy Force helicopter as their own Springer... but absolutely nothing about this vehicle, in this paint job, indicates Springer. The shell of the vehicle is entirely grey, and his signature green and yellow (or gold, in the case of this BotCon extra) are present only in small highlights. There's also a surprising amount of black paint, which is pretty inappropriate on a Springer however you look at it.

Part of the problem is that the mold just doesn't lend itself to anything approaching Springer's traditional colour layout: it's a boxy armoured car without the clearly separate, multi-purpose chunks of vehicle that he always has as a triple-changer. Thus, the grey shell is broken up with black armour panels, and the roof mounted cannons are green blocks attached to a black turret... and that's pretty much all the colour variation there is. The concealed weapons in the front bumber and the petrol tank-like details on either side are the only other touches of green visible in vehicle mode. The hubcaps are unpainted charcoal-coloured plastic, and the strange, dark plastic protrusions from the rear aren't afforded any kind of decoration to disguise the obvious fact that they are the robot's feet. I quite like that the molded details of tools mounted on his sides are actually painted, but they're also not very relevant to Springer. Probably the weirdest part of the paint job is the two dots of cyan paint on the vehicle's larger headlights.

Naturally, the key-activated spring-loaded gimmick remains, turning the turret-mounted machine guns into some kind of missile-pod launcher thing. Ho hum.

Robot Mode:
No matter the colourscheme, I can't help but see this as Exigeyser... and the fact is, nothing about the robot mode paintwork suggests Springer any more emphatically than that of the vehicle mode. It might have worked better if the entire helmet had been painted green, rather than just the former-visor and antennae, as the overall look of the head isn't too far off, but the almost-black plastic that remains visible ruins the effect. Since the largest parts of the limbs are still grey, most of the colour in robot mode is paintwork applied to the torso, which doesn't really fit Springer as it's largely only two shades of green - the lighter shade matching the green plastic if his forearms and thighs, the darker one being the same green paint used on the vehicle mode's petrol tank things. The incongruous cyan appears on his ginormous robo-nipples and on the lower part of his groin, with red, gold and silver sparingly applied to other details... It's actually quite a good paint job, all told, and emphasises the 'body armour' look of the mold... it's just not Springer.

Something I find particularly weird about this figure, even as a BotCon exclusive, is that there's only one Autobot insignia on the entire figure and, while it's perfectly well-placed in vehicle mode, it ends up on the back of his left shoulder, upside-down, in robot mode, almost like an embarrassing tattoo picked up on a drunken night out. This being the case, I wonder if the red-painted ridged section in the centre of his chest is meant to imply an Autobot insignia in the absence of the real thing.

Like Exigeyser, the only weapon packaged with Timelines Springer is a short sword which can either be held in his fists or attached to the sockets in front of his fists for a more stabby look. At a stretch, this weapon is another link between this mold and Springer, in that G1 Springer's rotor blades turned into something that was supposed to be a sword (or 'light saber', according to his tech specs)... but that's all pretty tenuous. He also has all the same concealed missile pods in his shoulders and shins.

Exigeyser was a pretty disappointing figure, being a supposedly upgraded form for the character which was smaller and less easily poseable than the original, which wasn't great to begin with. I understand the idea of repainting it as Springer, but just slapping two shades of green onto a largely grey and black figure doesn't do the job.

Like many Timelines figures, his bio card is a bit of a mess. It completely - yet sparsely -  re-writes his character, with no reference to the nature of his weaponry, let alone the key-activated gimmick he inherited from the original usage of the mold. While the G1 toy's tech specs made reference to the 'incredible "springing" power in his legs', it seems this version of the character has been stripped of that power, along with his triple-changing ability, but no mention is made of either. All the bio really does is explain how he ends up featuring (briefly) in the Games of Deception comic that came with the boxed set.

I have to admit that, at this stage - quite some years after purchasing this BotCon attendee souvenir figure on the secondary market - I don't remember why I bought him. At the show - and often on eBay - he was sold as a bagged set with a version of Huffer made using the excellent Cybertron Armorhide mold, and I remember that I really wanted that figure... Clearly, at some point, I decided that I might as well buy the half of the set who turned up more frequently on eBay... I can only guess that the plan was to pick up Huffer separately at a later date, perhaps when his asking price on the secondary market became more reasonable. Of course, the secondary market being what it is, it's not too difficult to find the bagged set of two at a decent price so, in retrospect, buying Springer alone seems like a huge miscalculation on my part...

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