I figured that it would be fun to do some mini-reviews on some of the items I picked up at Botcon this year.

Grapple was an interesting item that I picked up mid way through Saturday. My intent was to purchase the Transformers Reveal the Shield (RtS) Solar Storm Grapple. I have a policy of sticking with the American versions for the most part. I am not much of a stickler about variations in color schemes so the cheaper choice has been my traditional choice. The biggest variance between the two version is the United (Japanese) version has an orange head while the RtS (American) release had a black head. The orange head is ‘anime-accurate’, as the kids say these days. It also differentiates him a bit more standing next to Universe Inferno. The RtS version’s black head is actually faithful to the original toy, so that version does have a basis in “reality”.

Had I seen RtS Solar Storm Grapple on the dealer room floor, I would have purchased him. I did see him initially on Friday, but did not rush to buy him as I was looking for more rare items first. I completely misjudged demand for him though, and within an hour or so after the dealer room opened on Friday, he was nowhere to be seen. All that was left were $60 United Grapples. A far stretch from the $35 that RtS Grapple was fetching. It would not be for another day until I found one for $55, broke down and purchased him. And, boy, am I glad I did.

The original G1 Grapple was a repaint of G1 Inferno, so its only appropriate that the two figures share the same mold. In addition to newly tooled head, Grapple also features new forearms, hands, feet and crane arm (as opposed to Inferno’s water cannon). The new gauntlets on Grapple do not rotate 180 degrees like those on Inferno. Also the closed fists have been changed to open hands. The open hands go a surprisingly long way to give a little more character when posing. Indeed, it also helps perpetuate that Grapple liked to work with his hands and build things, while Inferno was more eager for action.

New Fists and Gauntlets. Note the panels on Grapple's gauntlets do not rotate.

The vehicle mode for Grapple is what you would expect. Essentially a fire truck with a crane on top. I have encountered some people that don’t think the fire truck with a crane makes sense and it takes away from the figure. I would tend to disagree. I think the paint apps and color of the molded plastic do their job quite nicely and make you forget that you are looking at a fire truck and instead make you think you are looking at a construction vehicle with a crane arm.

Grapple’s crane can move up and down, extend outward and also rotate 360 degrees. The hook at the end of the crane also has its own point of articulation allowing it to move to a position that makes sense if gravity was working its magic on the heavy hook. I do wish that the base of the crane locked into position instead of just floating on top and between the two arms.

The wheels of this mold are nice and large and really allow the vehicle to roll on them smoothly. I have always found that to be a vastly underrated detail. Especially in toys for children.

I don’t think the differences between the United version and the Reveal the Shield version are large enough for one to have an advantage over the other. It really just comes down to a matter of personal preference. As for the differences between the Inferno version of the mold and the Grapple version of the mold, I would probably now lean in Grapple’s favor. Inferno’s water cannon has a missile that is destined to be lost over time, while Grapple’s crane adds a new dimension of play value to the toy that Inferno never had. If Inferno had gotten a ladder instead of a water cannon, I think it would have been a draw.

Headshot of G1 Grapple toy from flickr account ‘mdverde‘.