SOLAR STORM GRAPPEL
Series: Reveal the Shield Before the war, the skyline of nearly every city on Cybertron was distinguished by the remarkable silhouettes of at least one building designed and constructed by Grappel. His work embodied the spirit and culture of his world, combining perfect functionality with unmatched elegance. It broke his spark to see his works destroyed, one by one, as the war ravaged the world. Now he builds without art, constructing buildings meant to last only long enough to shelter the Autobots while they plan their next mission.
This figure is, of course, a homage to G1 Grapple
, despite the different spelling of the name (the last two letters are switched). Now I understand that Hasbro put the ‘Solar Storm’ prefix in front, because you can’t trademark an everyday noun like ‘Grapple’. But why change the spelling then, too? I have no idea. Just for the record: there is no ‘Grappel’ in the English language, so I guess it’s meant to be a name. Do not ask for a reason here. By the way, the Japanese version retains the original name ‘Grapple’, but had to use the prefix ‘Autobot’, too.
Grappel is a remold of Universe Inferno
, so we’ll focus mainly on the differences between the two figures here. Different paint job is a given, but there are structural changes, too. In comparison to Inferno, Grappel was given a new head that closely resembles that of his G1 incarnation. This is also the main difference between the US and the Japanese versions of the figure, as the US head resembles that of the G1 toy (black), while the Japanese head resembles that of the character from the G1 cartoon (orange). Additionally the figure was given new hands, which are open instead of the fists-with-holes. Very nice. His feet were also re-sculpted slightly, though the difference isn’t that great.
The main difference, of course, is that Grappel now has a crane attached to his right arm instead of Inferno’s water cannon. This is also, to me, the figure’s only real weak point. It’s nice that he has the crane on his arm to attack with, but there is no way to fold it away properly. You can turn it around so it more or less lies parallel to his arm and shoulder, but because of the way it attaches to the forearm it sticks out sideways. I would have preferred it if the crane had been on his back like it was for the G1 figure. Alternatively they could have made it an attachable module that could stick to both arm and back. Neither is the case, though, so the crane constantly gets in the way.
Apart from that Grappel is every bit the big, nicely detailed and posable robot that Inferno is. No further complaints, a good robot mode except for the attachment of the crane.
Grappel transforms into an orange truck with a crane on top. The vehicle is, of course, identical to the vehicle mode of Inferno except for the color and the crane, but to me it does look better. The big crane on top just looks more natural than the comparatively small cannon of Inferno. A few more color highlights would have been nice here, but otherwise there is nothing to complain about. A very solid, good-looking vehicle mode.
There is some discussion about when Grapple / Grappel first appeared. The character was first referred to by that name in the second season of the G1 cartoon, but an orange crane truck looking very much like him did appear in the original three-part pilot for the cartoon, though it was called Hauler there. Officially that was Road Hauler, retroactively stabled as a separate figure and character by Takara, but many fans still like to count Grapple among the original Ark crew.
Which is pretty much the reason I bought this toy, to be honest. I want to assemble the entire Ark crew in CHUG style and have this orange crane truck looming in the background. Yeah, not the best reason for buying a toy, but what can you do. Anyway, Grappel isn’t a bad figure and for those who missed out on Inferno, he’s a good catch. The crane thing drags down the robot mode, though, so in direct competition I’d still give Inferno the advantage. Bottom line: recommended to completists, people who don’t own Inferno, and crazy guys like me.