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Transformers Toy Review Archive (older series, 1984 to date)
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Warcry's review of: Grapple

Name: Grapple
Allegiance: Autobot
Function: Architect
Sub-Group: NA
"Beauty is in everything except war."

On Cybertron, his buildings are considered works of art. On Earth, his ideas are limited by war. Takes pride in his work, prone to severe depression if they're destroyed in battle. As crane, can lift up a 35-ton object and position it with precision and grace. As robot, has high-temperature arc-welder rifle... can launch rockets 4.5 miles from wrist sockets. Prone to breakdown in vehicle mode.

As a remould of the quite-good Inferno, Grapple had high expectations to meet. He doesn't quite live up to them, though. While he's still a nice figure, the mould changes and colour scheme make him seem like a stripped-down, basic version of a design; Inferno, on the other hand, was the deluxe model.

I was quite happy with Inferno and had no plans to add Grapple to my collection. However, seeing TRU's remaining reissues knocked down from $39.99 (Canadian) to $19.99, then put on sale for $13.99, changed my mind. That's less than the Autobot car repaints retailed for in G2 (and only $1.50 more than I paid for Energon Sharkticon), and I would've bought pretty much any of the reissues at that price had they had anyone else in stock. But the only other reissues they had were guys that I already have (Inferno, Hoist) or don't want under any circumstances (Bluestreak), so Grapple was the lone buy that day.

Vehicle Mode:
Though he shares most of his body moulding with Inferno, Grapple is a crane instead of a fire truck. That might sound odd, considering how different the two vehicles are in real life. However, the main body of the vehicle is generic enough that it's superficially believable.

Grapple is mostly construction-vehicle orange in this mode, with a few parts detailed in chrome and black. A small Autobot symbol graces his cab below the windshield (stamped on like the TFU faction symbols, oddly enough) and various stickers are visible on his underside and crane.

Compared to other crane Transformers (like, say, G1 Hook) Grapple's vehicle mode isn't very good. The armature of the crane can extend to double its normal length, and it moves a bit more than 180 degrees up and down. However, it doesn't rotate side-to-side at all. While this was acceptable in a fire truck (especially one with as fragile a ladder as Inferno's) it's a major deficiency in a crane.

While on the subject of the crane armature, I think it's noteworthy that Grapple's hook and fake hydraulic support are grey on the reissue; on the original, they were chromed. I can't really see why such a superficial change was made, though I suppose it's possible it was just an oversight.

Robot Mode:
Most of the differences between Grapple and Inferno disappear in robot mode. Aside from the lack of 'wings' and a hose on his leg, and a slightly different structure of the equipment surrounding his head, Grapple is no more or less than an Inferno with the red bits painted orange. That's not necessarily a bad thing, mind you; Inferno was a good figure.

The problem is that the slight changes that do exist are changes for the worse. Grapple is (almost) an exact palate swap from Inferno in this mode. He's mostly orange with black hands, groin, knees, and a few bits of detail on his arms. Chromed details on his feet, wrists, chest and shoulders break up the otherwise bland colour scheme. The parts of Inferno that were white have mostly been excised from Grapple; the ladder, wings and hose are gone, while the shoulder caps are painted the same orange as most of his body. The result is a far more bland robot mode, colour-wise.

Grapple is articulated at the shoulders, elbows and wrists. The joints are well designed, giving him a wonderful range of movement in his arms. His legs are solid chunks of plastic, which is somewhat disappointing; considering the design, there's no reason why Takara couldn't have put hip and knee joints in, even back in the early 80's when he was designed. Still, he's way ahead of most G1 Transformers in the articulation department.

I find it odd that he was originally sold at the same pricepoint as the likes of Jazz and Prowl, since he absolutely dwarfs them in both modes (Grapple is nearly twice Prowl's height). The different structure around the head makes him a hair taller even than Inferno, making him the tallest of the so-called 'Autobot Cars'. In fact, he's slightly taller than G1 Optimus Prime, though obviously a bit less wide.

On the original Grapple, the wrist sockets were functional missile launchers. Safety regulations conspired to force Hasbro to disable the launchers in the reissue, though you can still load his fists and rockets the same way. I was very happy to find that Grapple's wrist sockets were a lot tighter than my reissue Inferno; whereas Inferno's hands would spin effortlessly, Grapple's are held in place almost as tightly as if the sockets were normal swivel joints.

Another note: like Inferno, Grapple's optics are painted blue. It would certainly appeal to cartoon fans, though I think it clashes a bit with Grapple's colour scheme. Not enough that it detracts from the figure, but his original yellow optics looked better. Honestly, I'm baffled that they do this for guys like Inferno and Grapple, who's eyes were already coloured, but leave Jazz, Prowl, et al with totally uncoloured optics.

Transformation: 6.5 - More or less the same as Inferno, but it creates a less-realistic alt mode in the end.
Durability: 9 - The main body is durable and his crane arm is a lot less flimsy than Inferno's ladder.
Fun: 8 - The poseable arms put him way ahead of the curve for a G1 robot mode, but the vehicle mode doesn't quite deliver.
Price: 10 - I paid $13.99 Canadian for this guy on sale, a figure that was retailing at $39.99 a few months ago. How could you say no to that sort of deal?
Summary: 7.5 - Grapple loses something compared to Inferno, but he's still a very good G1 toy. He's recommended with some reservation if reissue prices in your neck of the woods are still astronomical, but highly recommended if your reissue prices have been slashed. But buy Inferno first, if you can.

 
 
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