original toy, used in the 1986 Movie, the cartoon and the UK comics was a triple changer. But all his subsequent versions have tended to concentrate on one mode. His Energon (Bulkhead is meant to be Springer, it's obvious!), Universe, Movie and Generations GDO are all helicopters while his Botcon 2007 is a ground vehicle. Until the 30th Anniversary Generations line a triple changer hadn't been attempted....
Springer comes in robot mode: we'll start by transforming him to helicopter mode:
Fold the head down. Fold the chest plate up to form the nose of the helicopter, pushing the head through it and down into the chest cavity. Lower the front landing gear. Bring the legs together. pegging the upper parts of the lower legs into each other. Push the ankle joint back, raise the feet and push the heel spurs into the feet. Lower the rear landing gear. Pull the shoulders down locking them into the sides of the lower chest. Lift the clear plastic panel side of the lower arm, fold the fist into it, and close the panel over it.
Unfold the lower arm, the wing panel should fold out. Fold the clear plastic & fist section out round the underside of the elbow. Fold the wing panel in so it locks onto the outside of the upper arm - the joint connecting the two upper arm panels should be bent where it meets the clear plastic/fist panel, not where it meets the wing panel. Bend the legs forward slightly at the knee and peg the upper legs into the panel hanging down behind them. Split the sword in two and fold the halves out to the side. Peg the handle into the silver surrounded 5mm hole on the top of the helicopter. Fold the fins on the rear of the helicopter out to the sides.
So he's green, yellow and grey which works to start with. The rotor blade spins freely which is good and it looks like a helicopter. The back and the sides of the sides of the fuselage don't look right, the portions made from the folded out arm panels. I can see what they're trying to do with them but it doesn't really work. One of the problems with being a triple changer I guess, as are the wheels visible through the panels at the front.
Springer comes with a double barreled missile launcher. In helicopter mode this clips on under his nose: fold the landing gear back and up into the nose cavity and slot it into the space vacated by the landing gear. The hold is so so when you've got it slotted in but the slotting in is a bit tricky. Why they didn't just put a 5mm peg under the nose for the gun's handle I don't know. It also has the effect of loosing the wheel for the front landing gear which isn't great. There's a spare 5mm port on the roof of the toy but you can't really mount the gun there without affetng the rotor's ability to spin because the clearance is too low.
Broadly aspeaking I think we'll call his helicopter mode a success but some of the details are frustrating.
Transform to vehicle mode: remove the missile launcher/fold the landing gear up. Fold the cockpit and roof section back revealing a longer nose. Fold out the lower arms sections of the sides, with the wing pointing in, and raise the clear window sections. Swing the side sections forward and lock onto the sides of the nose, folding back the panels covering the front wheels. Fold the rear of the tail forward to form the rear sides of the vehicle and the rear wheels and then fold the tail fins out to the sides. Mount the cannon on thevehicle using the 5mm peg. Fold the swords together then slide into the underside of the car, between the outer halves of the shoulder blades, locking the landing gear into place on top of it.
While I can't quite get the panels on the front of the car mode to lock together as I'd like, this is a surprisingly solid car which I'm really quite impressed with. I've seen far worse car modes on toys that doidn't have a third mode and you couldn't tell there's a helicopter in there.
To transform back to robot fold the rear sides back to form the lower legs, tucking the folded up tail fins behind them. Fold the feet forward and heel spurs back. Pull the sides of the car away from the body and pull the car side panels out swinging forwards to cover the front wheel. Fold the wing panel outand onto the side of the car. Fold the fist out and then fold the side window panel down to cover it (one of mine doesn't qute fold into place properly). Pull the shoulders out to the sides. Pull the helicopter landing gear out. Fold the head up. Fold the front of the vehicle modes down over the head, forming the robot chest, folding the landing gear in under the head. Peg the sides of the chest in place and unpeg the arms from them. Fold the top of the vehicle up onto his back. Slide the back of Springer's shoulders up and out to the side form wings. Place weapons in hand.
Springer is heavily based on Nick Roche's design (he was rather pleased when he found out) for Last Stand of The Wreckers (read it if you haven't already). This design gets the crucial details right: yellow chest, green head anmd lots of green & gry on the limbs. He's shoved full of articulation featuring some ankle movement thanks to transformation, bending knees, thigh swivels, universal joint at each hip, a waist swivel, ball jointed head, shoulders that raise and are ball jointed, bicep swivels, bending elbowa and wrist swivels. The head is lightpiped in clear blue. Each hand is a 5mm peg hole but he also has storage space for both weapons on his back thanks to two 5mm peg holes there.
This toy is a really good Springer. Yes you have to make some allowances for the toy being a triple changer in the vehicle modes but that's to be expected. It's captured the character well, including all his essential features. But the real genius of this toy mould design is yet to come....
Springer was released in the USA in the first Generations 30th anniversary Voyager wave alongside Blitzwing. He has appeared in at least one revision of most of the Voyager waves since. You can see pictures of the US version in TFW 2005's Springer gallery
Springer was released in Japan as Generations toy TG-21 Autobot Springer, which had some paint differences to the US version. You can see pictures of the Japanese version at Alfe's Toy Blog entries 2039 and 2040
The original Sandstorm, released alongside Springer was also a ground vehicle/helicopter/robot triple changer and also like Springer his subsequent versions have all ommited one mode: His Machine Wars & Botcon 2013 versions were helicopters while his Hunt For The Decepticons DOTM & Generations GDO were ground vehicles. However both vehicle types were quite different to Springer's so when a Generations Sandstrom was announced as a retool of Springer fans were interested.
Once again he's supplied in robot mode so we'll start by converting him to helicopter mode:
Transformation: Follow the same first paragraph as above. Peg the top of the helicopter into the rear of the side panels. Fold the orange tail & yellow fan section back against the legs (I can't quite get it to peg into place on mine so it has to just sit there) and fold out the tail fins. Rotate the fans so the yellow painted section faces up.
Broadly speaking the superstructure of the helicopter modes is very similar but the look ids totally different! The difference is that Sandstorm has a panel along the tail, which changes the look, and instead of rotor formed from a sword has twin VTOL fans out to the sides. The fans spin and pivot forwards and backwards. The design is a departure from we're used from Sandstorm but doing it like this does distinguish him from Springer. There's two 5mm ports on the roof, one roughly where Springer's rotor is, one on the new tail panel. You can use either to mount the single missile launcher or, like Springer, slot it in under the nose. This time, however, there's a non moving wheel moulded on the underside of the handle to act as a landing gear.
The transformation to vehicle mode is the same as Springer's with everything ending up in the same place. The rear wheels are formed by the fans with the fan wings reinforcing the structure. The tail panel folds forwards over the cab with the tail fins covering the side windows.
From the front some clever extra headlamp & bar moulding disguises that this is the same shaped vehicle as Springer while the rear is toatlly transformed by the larger wheels. These raise the rear of the vehicle and thus alter the angle you're looking at it, transforming it into something can belive is a dune buggy, like his original ground vehicle mode, albeit one of a different design. Very good work here Hasbro.
Sandstorm's transformation to robot mode is the same as Springer's: just fold the rear wheels up first and then at the end fold the roof & tail up to form a backpack with the fans out to the sides.
Sandstorm's robot mode is a mix of yellow, orange and black but it's isn't a straight colour swap for Springer's colours even on the parts that haven't been retooled. Sandstorm's original robot form never really appealed to me but this version is much better. It is extensively retooled so standing next to Springer they look similar in places. The biggest change is probably the fan backpack that Sandstorm has which makes him look much larger than his counterpart.
I wasn't really interested in getting Sandstorm until BBTS offered it up with the price reduced. I'm really glad I did: it's probably the better of the two versions of the toy anyway but having both helps me to apprecaiate just how clever the design is in producing two similar but different looking triple changers.
Sandstorm was part of the second Generations 30th anniversary Voyager wave with repacks of the first two toys. You can see more pictures of him in TFW 2005's Sandstorm gallery
Sandstorm was released in Japan as Generations toy TG-29 Sandstorm, which had some colour differences to the US version, notably a lot more orange. You can see pictures of the Japanese version at Alfe's Toy Blog entries 2156 and 2157
As a Japanese exclusive Rodimus is commanding a premium. Online retailer BBTS is asking $89.99 for the toy which is waaaaay beyond what I'm willing to pay!
Future RepaintsI've seen it suggested elsewhere that the first wave Generations Voyagers should be repainted as the Decepticon Duocons, Springer becoming Battletrap while Blitzwing becomes Flywheels (still think the names are the wrong way round on the Duocons) - see here on the IDW boards for a custom version.
Another reasonably obvious candidate for a Red Springer would be Quickstrike, the red repaint of his Energon form Bulkhead.
Sandstorm has less obvious repaints but the twin fans possibly suggest an updated version of Highbrow.