"Reveal the Shield" Solar Storm Grappel Toy Review

General Information:
Release Date: First Quarter 2011
Price Point: $19.99 (Depending on retailer)
Retailer: Limited Release (Online retailers, Ross, T.J. Maxx etc.)
Accessories: None

*Images with asterisks and text in italics from Amazon.com:
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. Roll out for some serious robot action. Press the button to reveal this figure's robot allegiance and then prepare him for a fight. Your Solar Storm Grappel warrior figure has the force and fury to take on any opponent. When it's time for combat, convert him into construction vehicle mode and use his extending crane to reach enemies - even when they try to run away.

Many years ago before the "Generations" segment of the "Transformers" toy line existed, the "Universe 2.0" line filled that place, releasing G1 characters in new forms. Among these figures was Inferno, an update of the G1 character as a Voyager Class figure. Later, this figure would be retooled and given a new deco as "Solar Storm Grappel". The name may seem odd, but it is based on the G1 character Grapple. The "Solar Storm" is a call back to his construction of the "Solar Power Tower" in the G1 series. Most likely this name was changed due to trademark issues (note: the deliberate mispelling of "Grapple" as "Grappel"). I never got around to reviewing this figure back in the day, so this is a "catch up" review. This was quite appropriate since G1 Inferno and Grapple were the same basic sculpts with some tweaks and deco changes.

It should be noted that since this figure was released, the same basic sculpt was released as "Generations" Protectobot Hot Spot, United Artfire and "Timelines" Spark. An even more recent release in late 2014 is as a different Protectobot Hot spot (review on that to come at a later date). I recommend checking out both my Inferno and Hot Spot reviews to get a better sense of the figure's design. This review will focus on the changes made to the toy for this release.

Robot Mode:
In the Generation One series, Inferno and Grapple shared the same basic form. The front of the vehicle mode became the torso, the rear of the vehicle formed the legs and the middle formed the arms. All those basic design elements are intact on this figure. The front end of the vehicle does form the torso, the middle section of the vehicle forms the arms (including the large crane arm) and the legs are formed from the rear half of the vehicle. What is missing however are the large base pieces that the heads were attached to in the G1 versions of the characters (which often made me wonder how their peripheral vision was affected, but you could say that about a lot of Transformers). Instead, the head sits on top of the chest section without anything obstructing its field of vision on the sides.

In addition to the basic layout of the body, severl parts on this figure have been modified from its original release as Inferno:

  • the head sculpt is new, featuring a more rounded helmet section with a crest in the center and two "horns" sticking out at angles. This is based on G1 Grapple's head design.
  • The bars on the shoulder armor have been changed to accomodate "C Clip" weapons.
  • The forearms are different from Inferno's, featuring a rounded shape rather than a squared off one.
  • The hands are new sculpts, set in an open position (which unfortunately means they cannot hold any weapons).
  • Instead of a ladder, the right arm now has a crane arm attached to it.
  • The feet are new parts, featuring "toe" sections that are raised up a bit rather than the tubes found on Inferno's feet.

Overall this is a very significant retool and I'm happy to see so much effort was put into it. I do think the thumbs should have been positioned a bit differently so the figure could be "open palmed" but still hold weapons if you so chose. I do however like the ability to attach C Clip weapons onto the shoulders.

Grappel is cast in orange, silver and black plastic with some translucent parts. Most of the figure is orange, with black and silver used for smaller parts like his hands and thighs respectively. Translucento range is used for the lightbars on top of his chest and clear plastic is used for the windshield that forms his chest. The paint colors used on this figure are pretty basic, focusing on black and silver. Silver is used for parts like the ring around his wrists, the middle of the feet, parts of the torso and face. Black is found on the shoulders and the eyes. Overall, it's a very "Grapple" looking deco. Not many Transformers from G1 had this particular color scheme, so he definitely stands out on the shelf.

For the most part, Grappel's joints are just as tight as those on my copy of Inferno, however his hip joints seem a bit more loose than I would prefer. I'm not sure if this is by design (I noticed my 2014 Hot Spot also has this issue) or a tooling issue. It doesn't hamper the ability to pose or play with the toy, but it "feels" a bit off. As I mentioned earlier you can attach C Clip weapons to the shoulder armor, but the hands cannot accomodate 5mm peg weapons. His primary offensive "weapon" (for lack of a better term) is his crane arm, which can swivel around and extend forward to presumably knock out or grab enemies.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Rotate each of the panels on his forearms around.
  2. on the inside of each shoulder armor panel, fold out the pieces that form the side windows.
  3. Rotate the shoulder armor so it covers the front of each shoulder.
  4. Straighten each arm out.
  5. Straighten out the panel that forms the back section.
  6. Swing the head back and lock it in place.
  7. Swing each arm back and connect the two shoulder armor pieces together.
  8. Press the panels that form the side windows against the sides of the vehice in the front.
  9. Swing the arms up and rotate the crane arm around.
  10. Swing out the panels on the sides of each forearm.
  11. Push up each of the robot feet.
  12. Rotate each robot leg around and connect them together.
  13. Swing the legs up.
  14. Connect the panels from the sides of the arms to the legs.
  15. Swing the panel on the shoulder armor section back to finish forming the middle of the vehicle.
  16. Swing the front wheels out from under the chest section.
  17. Swing up the front bumper.

Vehicle Mode:
This vehicle mode seems to be inspired in part by the Pierce Pumper line of trucks. Like the real life trucks, Grappel and Inferno feature flat front ends, a bumper that extends out in the front, an angled, raised section in the middle and flat panels on the sides. Of course, many details were changed to avoide licensing issues.

Like the robot mode, this form features different parts than Inferno. The feature piece is of course the crane arm. You get a better view of it in this form complete with a spool for its cable in the back and gaps along the base that show the inner mechanism. The crane arm extends by simply pulling it out and the hook at the end can swing back and forth. The crane arm can also be turned side to side and moved up and down. Another piece that has been changed is an orange piece on the side of the vehicle's rear half. On Inferno, this piece featured tubes (as if for water pumping). On Grappel, it features a "V" shape along with some piston details which presumably relate to the operation of the crane arm. It's a fairly subtle change but a significant one as it plays to the nature of the vehicle mode.

This mode features the same colors as the robot mode, but there are new patterns at work. Running along the side of the vehicle is a series of black, angled lines in a "hazard" pattern. The silver paint on the rims and the side view mirrors is more obvious and we get to see silver paitned onto the side windows in the front. Another detail that becomes more obvious is the heat sensitive "rub symbol" on the left side. You could see it in robot mode but it is more prominent here. This was a feature of the "Reveal the Shield" line and instead of having a square border, the sticker is cut to the shape of the Autobot symbol. Like the robot mode, the vehicle is instantly identifiable as G1 Grapple.

Final Thoughts:
I was a bit torn on how to rate this figure since I gave Inferno very high marks. However, the choice to change the hands so they can't hold weapons left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, and during transformation I managed to pop off the right arm - twice. These could be Q/A issues and not represent every copy of this toy, but I wanted to note it here. I appreciate the deco and retooling, but this figure could've been better. I still recommend it to have an "updated" Grapple in your collection, but be warned it's costly due to the limited nature of its release and it has some weaknesses.

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