FansProject Warbot Defender “Springer” Review
As mentioned in my previous post, I have received Warbot Defender by FansProject some weeks ago. Any TransFan who’s been around as long as I have can instantly tell you that he is really Springer, the green Autobot triple changer first made famous in the G1 Movie.
Up to this point, all products by FP has been accessories or add-ons. Springer is their first attempt at a stand-alone figure, so I wasn’t exactly sure as to how the figure would turn out. Making items designed to enhance Hasbro products is one thing, but producing a full-fledged figure that transforms all on its own (and a triple changing one no less), that’s something else. Well, I’ve had a few weeks to play with this figure now, and I will say first that all my doubts are permanently put to rest. FansProject have given us the best triple changing figure in the history of TFs! This is the Springer figure as he was meant to be. Hasbro should seriously be embarrassed. This figure deserves a full review and that’s what I’m doing today.
Let’s start by looking at the package.
Defender is packaged in robot mode. Size of the box is just a tad wider than your typical Kleenex box. As you can see from the pics above, the box is surrounded by an outer clear hard plastic. This is to protect the box itself. If you choose to not open Defender and want to keep both the figure and the box as mint as possible, FansProject has got you covered with this packaging. But even if do you decide to open Defender, the clear plastic should keep the box dust-free.
The back of the box is mostly Japanese with a few simple phrases of English here and there. In the pic above, the words on the box looks blurry because of the clear plastic. I can’t read Japanese, but I can read Chinese so I’m able to pick out the Kanji portions. To my knowledge, FP is not of Japan origin. I have some theories as to why they went with Japanese. It could be that, by using Japanese, FP is more able to distance themselves from Hasbro, or maybe FP is simply paying homage to early Diaclone packages. Whatever the reason, I’m glad most of the writing is in Japanese. I think it speaks to robot collectors who came out of the early to mid 80s, which really is the intended audience of this figure. The bottom of the box (not pictured) suggests that this piece is for persons 16 or older. This is depicted as a warning because of choking hazards and parts “of a sharp nature”. But seriously, only guys who lived through G1 as kids would even consider buying this given its $78.99 price tag.
As usual, I begin my reviews with the mode that the figure comes packed in.
The detail on this figure is just amazing! Click on the pic above and see for yourself. This is hard to describe in words, but the details on the figure simply looks sharp compared to your typical Hasbro offerings. The mold and lines of every piece is cut at a sharp angle and it really distinguishes itself from TFs of the toy variety. The paint job is also superb. Defender kinda has a matte finish all over and I really like this look. I don’t see any color goofs and unintended paint splatters are nowhere to be found.
Defender comes with 2 handguns and his G1-famous scimitar that is formed from his chopper blades. Hardcore G1 purists are probably quick to point out that Springer never wielded dual pistols, but in this FP update I really don’t mind. I think he looks cool with the twin pistol action. In the two pics above, the scimitar is stored on his back, on his right side. I didn’t take a pic of this and I probably should have, but just know that FP did design a place for the scimitar when it’s not in use.
Defender is one of the most articulated figures that I have ever seen. The number of places on the arms that you can rotate or swivel is simply insane. He’s got great articulation in the legs as well. The head is on a ball joint, and there is waist articulation as well. He is capable of some great poses, and Defender has no problem holding those poses because he is so well constructed. Most joints feel just right, not too tight and not too loose. Many key joints are of the ratchet variety that’s got the “clicky” feel. There’s diecast in the chest and in the legs. The rest of him appears to be high-quality plastic. There are no manufacturing issues with Defender whatsoever.
In this pic above, you can see one pistol holstered inside his right leg. This works on the left leg as well. Both pistols can be stored when not in use. Very cool.
Below I show some size comparison pics.
The first pic compares Defender to Hot Rod and Optimus Prime in the classics line. In the G1 movie, Springer is a tad bigger than Hot Rod, but not quite as big as Prime. FP most definitely had the classics in mind when they created Defender as his size is perfect in relation to figures in this line. The 2nd pic shows Defender next to 2007 Botcon Exclusive Springer (repaint of Cybertron Defense Hot Shot). This is the only other Springer figure I have in my collection, so I put them next to each other. Defender is taller than the Botcon Exclusive Springer if you look at where their heads are, but overall they are about the same size. These two are also about the same weight-wise. Defender does have die-cast, but Botcon Springer is a bulkier figure.
I do have one very minor gripe about the robot mode. If you stood Defender perfectly erect and looked at him from the side (and I should have took a pic of this), you’ll see that parts above the waist are not in the same vertical plane as parts below the waist. The upper body looks a little bit pushed back from the legs. Appearance-wise this is noticeable, though I don’t think it’s a distraction by any means. But functionally, this makes Defender a little back heavy, so he has a tendency to fall backwards if he is posed perfectly straight and the surface is given a slight shake. Still, this is a very minor gripe and a flaw I can easily live with. I just feel compelled to point it out because I want to be perfectly objective and not one of those TF fanboys that become giddy little schoolgirls whenever a good figure comes around.
To sum up, I’m very impressed with the robot mode.
Ground Vehicle Mode
In the instructions, the first mode to be transformed into is the ground vehicle (Cybertronian car according to some) so I’ll review this mode next.
I thoroughly like the look of this vehicle. All the details that were apparent in the robot mode is also reflected in this mode. In G1, Springer’s ground mode was more of a Cybertronian sports car. FP’s interpretation of this mode is more of an armored vehicle, and I think it works just as well. Defender’s two guns is clearly pegged on the sides. You know FP would account for all accessories in every mode, but if you’re wondering where the scimitar goes, there is room for it at the bottom center of the vehicle (another feature where I should have took a pic).
The transformation into the ground vehicle is not too difficult, but at the same time it’s not obvious either. If you want to do it without the instructions you can, but it will take some trial and error. The transformation process does feel unique, and as a triple changing figure there are lots of moving parts. I only got him into the ground vehicle once, but I felt the process was very cleverly done.
Defender is really durable in this mode. He rolls well on a flat surface. I can’t tell if the wheels are made of metal or hard plastic, but either way, they more than sufficiently support the figure in this mode. Of the three modes, this ground vehicle comes together the best. There are pegs and grooves on each interconnecting piece where appropriate, so the vehicle feels like one cohesive piece. There are no dangling pieces whatsoever, and no parts feel out of place.
This pic shows a size comparison of Defender and Botcon Springer in their vehicle modes. Defender clearly looks more sporty in this mode next to Botcon Springer. Size-wise, Defender is wider, but Botcon Springer is taller.
Overall, the ground vehicle mode is very nice. It might be my favorite of the three modes.
The last mode to be reviewed is the helicopter. I think in the G1 movie, Springer preferred this alt mode over the car.
Transformation into this mode is quite complex. The difficult part is in the arms. I mentioned that Defender’s arms in robot mode is highly articulated, and the reason for that becomes apparent in the transformations. The arms are configured one way in ground vehicle, and they are configured in a completely different way in helicopter. It can be hard to figure out without the instructions. But again, transformation process is clever and FP has done a terrific job coming up with the overall triple-changing mechanism.
I like the look of the helicopter. Unlike the G1 figure where the helicopter looks very similar to the car mode, this figure does not have this problem. The two alt modes look distinct enough from each other. In this mode, parts also come together well and the unit feels solid, though not as much as the ground vehicle mode. The two guns are clearly shown on the sides in the pic above, and as every G1 purist can tell you, the scimitar becomes the chopper blades, so all accessories are accounted for. The chopper blades rotate well in this mode.
Below are various shots of the helicopter from various angles.
There is one more accessory in the package that I need to mention. Supposedly, it works with this one particular display stand (not included) so you can have the helicopter displayed on it if you wish. I’m not sure exactly how this works, and I’m not all that familiar with display stands. But I just thought I mention it in case that’s your thing and it is something that FP has accounted for.
One more thing that I wanted to add is that Defender came with probably the best instructions ever. Hasbro should be ashamed of the usual black and white trash that they include with their figures. I’m thinking of scanning in the Defender instructions as a separate blog post.
So to sum up, I give this figure the highest possible recommendation. All 3 modes look great, and that’s no easy feat. In my opinion, Hasbro only managed this once, and that’s classics Astrotrain. All their other triple changing figures have at least 1 mode that looks awful, sometimes 2, sometimes (gasp!) all 3. This is only FP’s first attempt and they have already surpassed every triple changer that Hasbro has ever made. The awesome transformation, coupled with robust construction and amazing details, makes Defender a required purchase for every G1 TransFan. FansProject claims that they are “For Fans, By Fans”, and it really makes a difference when the people behind product cares about the product.
FP you have my utmost respect and I can’t wait to see what else you have in the works. Transform and Roll Out!