"Generations" War for Cybertron: Earthrise Grapple Toy Review

01/08/22

General Information:
Release Date: February 2020
Price Point: $29.99 (depending on retailer)
Retailer: Amazon, BigBadToyStore, Entertainment Earth, Target, Walmart etc.
Accessories: Blaster, Claw, Nozzle

Official product photos and text in italics below are from Amazon.com:

  • DISCOVER EARTHRISE: The siege is over, but the War for Cybertron has just begun. The Autobots and Decepticons have left Cybertron, but their battle rages on as they speed through space in pursuit of the Allspark
  • BUILD THE BATTLEFIELD BEYOND: Earthrise figures allow fans to build out epic space battle scenes, featuring figures that can convert into Modular Battle Station modes and connect together to expand the battlefield (each sold separately, subject to availability)
  • COMPATIBLE WITH MODULAR BATTLE STATIONS: Autobot Grapple toy features an A.I.R. Lock connection point that can attach to Modular Battle Stations with truck crane
  • G1 EARTH MODES AND WEAPONS: Autobot Grapple figure converts into classic crane truck mode in 16 steps and comes with 3 weapon accessories
  • EXCITING REVEAL: Every pack includes a piece of the Transformers Universe map and a red decoder to unlock the map's hidden paths Collect other Earthrise figures to piece together the full map (Each sold separately. Subject to availability)

Introduced in 1985, Grapple was one of the "Autobot reinforcements" that appeared in both the G1 comic books and cartoon. In the comic books it was explained that he was "reborn" on Earth through the use of memory crystals while in the cartoon he just appeared with no explanation. He had the unique function of an architect, and one that considered his work art, making him a very different character than your typical warrior. I always liked this aspect of the character in both the comic and cartoon. In the comic he was partly responsible for the birth of Omega Supreme on Earth. In the cartoon he and Hoist were a pair of Autobots who would rather build than destroy and even as a kid I appreciated that. Now in Earthrise Grapple is back!

Packaging:
Grapple is packaged in a standard Earthrise Voyager Class box. The box is rectangular in shape but the left side is set at an angle. The figure is visible via a large plastic window. To the right of the figure is the Generations logo and under the figure is the Earthrise logo. The angled panel has Grapple's artwork featuring him with both his claw hand and nozzle attached. The back of the box features Grapple in both modes calling out a sixteen step transformation. Continuing the use of symbols from Siege there is a large symbol next to Grapple (though I could not find its exact meaning on the Hasbro Pulse article on the subject. The packaging also calls out the way the claw can connect to bases such as Ironworks.

Accessories:
Grapple includes three accessories:

  • Blaster: This handheld weapon is based on the one included with the original G1 Grapple figure. It has a medium sized barrel with two vertical, rectangular sections and an extra bar on top. The back has an angled section on top and there are open gaps in the middle. The weapon is made of black plastic with no deco. The end of the blaster has a tip that connects to Blast Effects. The back has a 5mm peg that acts as a handle and two 5mm pegs sticking out the sides.
  • Claw: The claw accessory has four "fingers" and can attach to either his wrists or the end of the crane hook (just swing it in to reveal the connection point). This piece is black plastic with no deco. It has an attachment point inside to connect to bases such as Ironworks.
  • Nozzle: One of Grapple's most distinct features in the animated series was having a nozzle in place of his left hand (though it was not in every scene). Grapple includes this nozzle which has a 5mm peg on the back allowing it to connect to his left wrist. This piece is black plastic with silver paint on top. The end also allows you to attach a Blast Effect.

Robot Mode:
The design used for the foundation of Grapple and Inferno in G1 were among the most distinctive in the 1985 Autobot line up in G1. The front of the vehicle mode becomes the torso, giving him a window on the chest the vehicle grille under that. He has blocky arms and legs and the head has a chunk of the vehicle mode behind it like a very weird collar. It may not be the most sleek design, but there's no mistaking the look of Grapple. This figure does a great job of representing the character's animated form. Now, the G1 toy is very close to the model used in the 80's cartoon, but for the cartoon design a lot of design elements were trimmed down or shrunk including the section the head is connected to. This figure actually "slimmed down" Grapple a bit more than the animation model, especially around the torso and leg area but I don't mind. He looks great.

Grapple is mostly made up of orange and black plastic. He also has translucent blue plastic on parts like the chest and headlights. Silver is the main paint color used on parts like the face, shoulders, torso and bits on the legs. His eyes are a beautiful metallic blue and he has a red Autobot symbol on his chest. Black paint is used to create hazard lines which flank the robot head. Orange paint is used to paint the torso. Some may find the deco a bit too monotone because of how much orange dominates in this mode. The thing is, that's pretty G1 accurate. On the animation model, even the head "helmet" section is orange despite being black on the G1 toy.

There are twenty two points of articulation on this figure. That includes four on each arm and six on each leg. Each fist can swing into the forearms, revealing a 5mm port that allows you to attach the claw or nozzle. The fists each have 5mm pegs that allow him to hold weapons with 5mm pegs. There are ten 5mm ports on this figure. There is one on either side of the section behind the head. Each arm and leg has two and he has one on the bottom of each foot. This will allow you to attach extra weapons and armor from Weaponizers, Modulators and of course Battle Masters. Each leg has a small peg to attach Blast Effects, while the chest and the right arm each have one peg.

Transformation to Vehicle Mode:

  1. Detach the accessories and set them aside for now.
  2. Straighten out the arms and legs.
  3. Point the feet down and swing them forward.
  4. Swing each fist into the forearms.
  5. Turn the head around.
  6. Lift up the crane arm on the back and extend the end out.
  7. Pull the section with the head on it up and back, extending out several panels attached by hinges.
  8. Swing the legs back and attach the pegs on the head section to the ports on the bottom of the robot feet (see note below before doing so).*
  9. Swing each robot arm forward.
  10. Rotate the forearms so the 5mm ports on the forearms are facing up.
  11. Swing each arm back. Connect the forearms together using the tab on the left arm to the slot on the right arm. Then connect the forearms to the black pegs on the central part of the vehicle.
  12. Turn the crane arm around, then swing it down.
  13. The claw and blaster can connect to the 5mm ports on the sides and the nozzle attaches to the crane arm.

*The first run of Grapple figures had an issue with the pegs that attach to the robot feet in vehicle mode. The pegs were both too wide and too long. You could push the pegs into the ports with a bit of force, but then when you pulled the pegs out they had a tendency to break off and stay in the ports. Later runs of the figure were reportedly fixed (and later releases as Inferno and Artfire were fixed for sure). My copy of this figure however is the first run with the "bad" pegs so you will note in the photos I do not push the pegs all the way in because they felt way too tight and I did not want to risk breakage. This unfortunate issue is a definite strike against the figure.

Vehicle Mode:
With such a blocky robot mode, it's no shock that Grapple's vehicle mode looks like a collection of squares and rectangles combined together to form a truck. One fun thing about his transformation is that it is very similar to his G1 counterpart. Thanks to that, most of his robot mode parts wind up in the same places including the arms forming the middle and the feet forming the rear wheels. He looks great!

This mode is also primarily orange and black plastic. We get a better view of translucent blue plastic on the front of the vehicle via the windows and lights on top of the cabin section. Black paint is used for hazard lines on the sides of the crane and the base of the crane. Orange is used to paint the sides of the rear wheels. Again, the figure is very orange but there are spots where black and silver break up the color.

This mode's primary play value is with the crane arm. It can move around in a circle and swing up and down. There are two 5mm ports on either side to attach additional accessories and you can attach the claw to the end of the crane arm. While it makes almost no sense, you can connect a ramp from a Modulator to the claw though what that achieves is uncertain since Grapple doesn't have a base mode of any sort.

Final Thoughts: When I first saw preview images of Grapple I felt I was going to very likely give it a "highly recommended" rating. However, after getting it in hand the peg issue is bad enough that I cannot do so. This is something that should have been caught during the quality control phase. Reports of these pegs breaking were very widespread when this figure first came out, so I know it was not an isolated incident either. That said, it's not quite enough for me to say "Stay away!" either. The rest of the design is great. The design looks great in both modes and there is a lot of potential play value here. So I do recommend the figure, but I would definitely be very careful with those pegs until you're sure you have the "fixed" version.

Pros:

  • Excellent sculpt in both robot and vehicle modes.
  • Fun play value including the crane arm and the ability to connect additional weapons and/or armor from Modulators and Weaponizers.
  • Good, "show accurate" deco.

Cons:

  • The peg issue is this figure's biggest failure.