As Generation 1 continued into 1985, Hasbro continued to issue the popular Autobot Cars as main characters. As they expanded their horizons beyond the selection of supercars and racing cars, the used designs such as that of Grapple, who transforms into a Mitsubishi Fuso F-Series FT crane truck.

Origins

Like all the other Autobot cars in 1984 and 1985, Grapple started his existence in Takara’s Diaclone as Car Robot No. 20 Truck Crane. This version of the toy came with a small plastic and die-cast driver that could sit in the cab of the truck by tilting it forward. Other than minor sticker differences, the Diaclone version also included the word “FUSO” molded on the front of the truck – this was removed from Grapple for trademark reasons. Like many of the work vehicles in Car Robot, Truck Crane was only issued in one color scheme.

Description

Grapple is the largest Autobot Car design, due to the size of his alternate vehicle. Despite the accuracy of the cab, his truck mode is largely fictional. His head section forms the crane turret, complete with a two-section telescoping crane and chrome hook. The middle section of the truck is dominated by Grapple’s robot mode arms, which simply like stretched out along the sides of the truck bed. The chassis is formed by his legs, which each feature a chromed outrigger pod. He features molded orange wheels shod in glossy, treaded rubber tires, which he shares with mold-mate Grapple as well as Hound. His robot mode towers over the other Cars , giving the appearance of a bulky and strong warrior. He is decorated by numerous chrome pieces, and stickers. He displays a traditional Diaclone design, using the windowed truck cab as the robot chest, and having wrists that can mount or fire his fists or chrome missiles. Unlike the other fist-shooting Cars, however, he can carry a small black handgun as well. Unlike his predecessor Inferno, Grapple does not feature any wings, and though he has the peg holes to mount the “hose nozzle” wings, he does not include any. An odd twist to his otherwise simple transformation is the ladder turret forming the head, by means of folding a long black arm that tucks into the truck chassis in alternate mode, and hangs down his back in robot mode. Grapple employs very little die-cast metal, except for the soles of his feet, which prevent him from becoming too top-heavy.

Collector Notes

Despite his considerable bulk, Grapple is somewhat prone to breakage due to his unusual design. The long hinged strut that holds the crane turret / head section can break if twisted or forced in the wrong direction. In addition, the short screw that holds the hinge together can work loose and fall out. His chrome hook is also vulnerable, either to being pulled out of the crane boom entirely, or having the hook broken from the lower sheave.

Variants

As with most former Diaclone toys, Grapple has a number of production variations, though not as many as some of the 1984 releases. The most notable variation is the presence or absence of four rectangular indentations between the grill and the bumper. This corresponds to a minor variation of the handle peg of Grapple’s rifle. Other minor and date-stamp variations also exist.

Availability

Grapple was available in 1985, exclusively sold with the rubsign on top of his cab, and again in 1986. He was reissued as part of Collector’s Edition in Japan in 2001 as an exclusive to Wonder Festival 2001, sold together with Inferno. He was reissued in the US as part of the 2003 Commemorative Edition as a Toys ‘R’ Us exclusive.

Redecos & Retools

The mold was first used in 1983 as Car Robot No. 10 Fire Truck Long Ladder Type. It was retooled the same year as Car Robot No. 20 Truck Crane. The fire truck version was sold as Grapple in 1985. The fire truck version was retooled and redecorated in 1987 as the Japanese exclusive Targetmaster Artfire. Inferno was slightly retooled and given a water squirter accessory as Generation 2 Inferno in 1993. The crane version of the mold was redecorated and sold in 2003 as RoadHauler, an e-HOBBY exclusive from Collector’s Edition.