It’s been a long run, but I’m finally getting to where I’m almost caught up with my Earthrise reviews, and have just a handful of Siege figures left to look at! And speaking of long runs, can you believe it’s been nine long years since Hasbro last delivered naïve but well-meaning Autobot engineer Grapple to the toy aisles. That Reveal the Shield figure shared a mold with Inferno and was a really solid figure and a rather unique style. Well here we are, nearly a decade later, and we’ve got something that seems a lot closer to the original G1 toy!
What else is there to say about the packaging, other than it’s awesome. Grapple comes boxed in his robot mode and surrounded by some amazing artwork. And this time, Hasbro just slapped Autobot onto his name to get around copyright issues, rather than calling him SOLAR STORM Grap-PEL. What the heck was that all about? Why not just call him Fred? Anywho, let’s get him out of the box and we’ll start with his alt mode.
As always, Grapple is an orange construction crane, and not a bad looking one at that. Sure, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of convertorobots will be able to see most of what’s going on here. He wears his arms on the vehicle’s back and you can even see his head tucked in at the base of the crane, but turned around and pretending that you don’t notice it! Of course, none of these things bother me, as I’d much rather deal with some obviousness than unnecessary panels that complicate the transformation and wind up as unwanted kibble on the robot mode. I mean, come on, I bought this, I know what it is, it ain’t fooling me! There is some nice detail scattered here and there like sparing panel lines, and the non-functioning stabilizers on the sides painted silver.
As for the deco, the bulk of the crane gets by with a lot of orange plastic. You do get some black on the wheels and a little more scattered about the body, and a little silver paint. There are also some black and orange hazard stripes. The cab gets the most flourish with some blue tinted windows, roof lights, and headlamps, and some silver on the bumper and grill. Grapple also wears his Autobot symbol proudly on the front of the cab. All in all, I’d say this is a really nice looking truck. It does feel like it may not have as much in the way of detail or paint applications as some of the other Earthrise figures, but that’s just my impression and I don’t think it hurts the toy at all.
The crane is fully articulated in that it can rotate, raise and lower, and it can extend outward a bit. The hook on the end is also hinged. There’s a clip on the side for one of his robot hand attachments, and to be honest, it kind of just looks like a hydraulic or something, so I’m fine with leaving it on there. Of course, you can take it off if it bothers you.
There are plenty of ports on Grapple’s alt mode available if you want to weaponize him with his rifle. Some attachments look better than others, but I’m not a big fan of any of them. Your mileage may vary, depending on how badly you want your crane truck to be armed with a giant rifle.
You can also attach his claw to the front of the crane, which gives it a bit of an intimidating look. Hey, it’s always cool to have different play options! So, the vehicle mode is solid, let’s see how the robot mode turned out…
Transforming Grapple is refreshingly simple and very similar to his original G1 toy. There are absolutely no surprises here, but I can’t argue with how great the robot mode looks. He’s tall and lean compared to the squat chonk of Solar Storm Grappel. And while he lacks that certain hyper-realistic detail the previous figure had, I like the smooth and clean robot mode that’s presented here. I think it toes the line between updated toy and cartoon homage quite nicely. And I’ll always have a soft spot for Autobots that wear the front of their vehicle mode on their chest. IT just always feels so right! What’s more, Grappel’s crane collapses down and hugs close to his back to keep it from being too in the way. The wheel placement on the outside of ankles and above the hips is fantastic, and there are some very nice details sculpted on the lower legs. The coloring in robot mode is more or less the same as his vehicle mode, and this figure just proves that you don’t need a whole lot of paint operations to make it look good.
As expected, Grapple’s head is nestled inside the box that houses the crane’s main hinge. This has always reminded me of those ridges you sometimes see on the shoulders of armor to keep a rival from getting clean sword stroke at the neck. So, Decepticons, if you’re going to try to decapitate Grapple, you better think again! The “helmet” is exactly as I remember it from the cartoon, including the two bumps coming off the top at opposing angles. The head does turn independently of the box it’s mounted in, so Grapple may not have the best peripheral vision. The face sculpt is excellent and I love the silver paint, but Grapple looks a lot more dour than I remember him being. Although, I guess the expression does have a certain, “GOD, YOU”RE SUCH A DICK, OPTIMUS. WELL, FINE, I’LL GO BUILD MY TOWER BY MYSELF… OR MAYBE WITH SOME DECPTICONS… THEN WE’LL SEE HOW YOU LIKE IT!” kind of look to it.
Grapple comes with a couple of replacement attachments for his hands. You just fold in the hand and that exposes a port to plug these into. One is his big claw that we saw attached to the crane earlier. I’m thinking he can shoot this like some kind of grappling hook. Or maybe it just shoots a mega-death-ray. Whichever the case it looks pretty cool.
The other is this nozzle, which I don’t remember him having in the cartoon, but it’s been a while. I was thinking this looks more like a repurposed firehose nozzle from the inevitable Inferno repaint/remold. You can equip them both if you don’t want poor Grapple to have any hands at all.
And finally he comes with a pretty cool looking rifle. This is one of my favorite Autobot weapons in a while, and a pretty impressive piece of hardware for someone who would rather be off building things with the enemy instead of fighting.
I can’t say I was terribly excited to get my hands on Grapple, but now that I’ve been playing with him, I’m surprised at how much I dig him. I never disliked Grapple, but he was never up there on my list of favorites. But this toy is excellent. I’d say it has a very solid alt mode, a fantastic and fun robot mode, and a quick-and-easy transformation connecting the two. And while I don’t mind a little complexity in my change-a-bot engineering, these days I find simplicity to me more appealing, especially when it can deliver a toy this great.