Are there any other notable ways to generate thopters other than Hangarback Walker and the above-mentioned Tezz? I don't think this is a good card, but it is a neat card.
There's always the Thopter Foundry + Sword of the Meek combo. There's also a mediocre 3-card combo with Retofitter Foundry + Sword of the Meek + Sac outlet.
As "the Animation Module guy", I feel like I need to comment. This card doesn't really do the same sorts of things. Animation Module was primarily used in situations where you could trigger it multiple times in a turn, sometimes six or more times. a Module+an Arcbound Ravager or Steel Overseer means you're getting one activation per mana, whereas this card activates once for every 5 mana. It works on its own but what it does is entirely different.
That's not to say this is a worse version of Module, more that you're going to want it in entirely different situations I think. (Though if pushed, neither Module nor this feel particularly exciting right now to me)
If Misstep ever gets restricted there may be a compelling reason to run this in a fast Skullclamp power shop deck. It's also minor but if some better Thopters get printed the value of this goes up as they all convert to vanilla 4/4's.
There are a few ETB fringe playables the Cantrip one and the Colored Shop enabler.
@brass-man I think this card has "Auriok Salvagers Infi combo with upside when you draw it outside the combo" written all over it.
Walking Ballista fills that role pretty well. Easily hard cast outside of the combo. Provides board control while waiting for the combo. Looking over my past few tournaments, I honestly can't think of a single situation where I'd rather have had this than ballista. Ballista doesn't need to pass the turn or have time walk in hand. It is proof against hurkyl's recall and artifact destruction.
Still it looks like a fun card. One I'd love to play with. Just not in competitive vintage.
So I've been screwing around with this thing casually, and it's really fun. Not sure it's vintage-level power, naturally. But, it can be tutored out and then it gives you a useful mana sink turn after turn. If you get Sai, Master Thopterist going with it or happen to be running other Thopters, it gets really powerful.
The deck I stuck it in has Ornithopters, Roterothopter, and Pilgrim's Eye. They're all pretty terrible, but Goblin Welder at least makes Eye sort of workable.