Wednesday, 26 April 2017


- mantis nine nines

Remolds and repaints have been with us from the beginning. Inferno/Grapple. Ironhide/Ratchet. Just change a few parts, quick color swap, and a new character is available for purchase. This technique is used in all generations of Transformers, and in other toylines like Masters of the Universe or GI Joe it is present in almost every single figure.
Often we grumble about it, but the reality is many of the toys we love would not exist without this technique. Sometimes the idea isn't a new character, but a fresh look for an old one. Every new Prime mold gets a black repaint eventually, and they all look AMAZING. As much as I love the good old heroic red and blue Optimus, his design drips pure sexy evil as soon as that red and black is applied. Magic! Unsurprising perhaps, but still magical.
What is surprising is when a remold or repaint that should be an afterthought instead leaps forward and demands attention. These toys don't care if they wreck your "one mold, one character" plans, they shoulder their way into your heart and display with zero regard for your budget what is supposed to be the mold's intended primary character.
For me the perfect example is Generations Sandstorm.

Our hero stands tall next to his lesser version.

The Springer mold was a revelation when it came out. The detail, complexity, and graceful but aggressive lines captured the spirit of IDW Springer while still evoking enough G1 to fit perfectly on your Classics shelf. In the context of the time it was released it had even more impact as a sort of "third party killer", proof that investing in patience rather than Fansproject Defender was the better bet.

Dorian will kill me if I diss FansProject, so I'll just leave this here without comment...

Whether that impression is accurate or not, the social impact combined with just flat-out being an excellent figure made Springer that rarest of unicorns: the universally liked toy.
But here's the thing, he's not for me. Not that he did anything wrong, nor do I feel there is a better Springer to replace him. He became an afterthought because of his remold Sandstorm. I know I'm SUPPOSED to prefer Springer due to his long history and his importance and popularity in the IDW universe, but once I held his anonymous cousin I couldn't care less about Springer.
Sandstorm is a superstar. He shares all the good points from Springer and adds a superior headsculpt and tighter tolerances. Sandstorm feels so good! Solid, heavy, and the remolded airplane mode is way better than the original helicopter.

Its not the worst helicopter, but looks pretty feeble next to Sandy's fan-jet beef.

I do love the lemon-lime Batmobile, but I'd rather face the apocalypse in a ridiculous Halloween death chariot.
Forgive me if I gushed a little there, but this is one of those figures that reminds me why I collect. Surprises are hard to come by in this day and age, so it is often the molds and characters with the least fanfare and precedent that still have the power to recapture that child-like magic.
However you feel about Sandstorm vs Springer for your own collection I think he has an important place in history. His release ushered in a new level of retooling than we had seen in a modern figure. Not just a head swap with new colors, Sandstorm shares a skeleton of structural parts, but little else. Even parts that seem like they could have easily just left alone have new sculpting and even engineering to differentiate the two characters. We may see this level of remolding regularly today in such figures as Scourge/Highbrow and Alpha Trion/Broadside, but when Sandstorm came out it was unexpected and wonderful.
We didn't know it at the time, but this was just the tip of the iceberg. The retooling built into the Springer mold was a harbinger of Hasbro/Takara moving into the business of PRE-tooling. These pre-molds, pre-paints, whatever you want to call them, have changed the game and proved to be a lure we cannot resist.
But that's a story for another time. For now I will leave you with some pictures of Sky Shadow taken by Ben. Pictures that convinced me I could not hold out for the Overlord version this mold was built for. Despite zero interest in the Black Shadow character, the combination of his sexy colors, unique engineering touches and (let's just be honest here) the fact that he came out first make him irresistible to me. Damn it Pre-Molding! You've won again.

Ben Watson takes great photos. See for yourself here:

Follow Dan on Twitter @mantisninenines

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