Series: "European" Generation 1
Function: Assault Force Leader
Alternate Mode: Racing Buggy
Thanks to Goktimus Prime for lending me Gripper for this review.
Height: 6cm Length: 16.5cm Width: 11cm
A black dune-buggy like racer with a central orange block, which sits underneath the transparent blue wraparound window. This orange plastic is at once bright yet pale - not really a shade I'm keen on. There's a lot of chrome silver on this buggy, however, which I appreciate. The engine block at the back is silver along with a headlight bar on the front. His wheels are white with black rubber tyres - something pretty much unheard of in G1 after 1986! There are a couple of simple red stickers, including one on his bonnet with an Autobot logo. The black, white, silver and of course the rubber tyres all work well, but that chunk of orange really drags Gripper down.
As much as I like the chrome and the rubber, I don't really like this car mode, visually. Gripper is big and chunky, in an oversized knock-off way - although the more expensive elements ensure that he doesn't actually look like a knock-off as such. Many of the details are quite simple - although the engine block is fairly detailed and the fenders on the side of the orange block _look_ like arms (which they are).
The play value is okay here. The rubber tyres roll quite well and thanks to the spikes on them, he wont slide along. You can plug his white sword into a hole on the roof, although this is more for storage than as a weapon. The wraparound window lifts up, revealing a cabin in which you can seat his mini Energon figure as a driver. None of this is especially impressive, although it does spice things up a little. Gripper is a repaint of Blacker from the Victory line in Japan, and that toy also came with a shield - which is absent here.
An underwhelming car mode, really. There are some nice aspects but there are better Transformers cars with chrome and rubber. The orange plastic really hurts and Gripper needs more detail - this detailing would have been suitable on a toy half the size. Granted, Hasbro in Wales were simply repainting the car designed by Takara, but they started off with a rather base base, and added that awful orange.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Remove the driver and sword, set aside. Extend the rear and split to form legs, stand him up. Fold back the front of the car onto his back, swing down the chestplate, insert the mini figure, close the chestplate which will cause the face to slide up into the head. Give him the sword.
Height: 16cm Width: 11cm
Again black and orange, this time without chrome. Gripper's torso, upper thighs and head are orange while the boots and arms are black, the lower thighs are grey. His face is silver with blue eyes. This time the stickers are predominantly blue, and again we have a sticker with an Autobot logo, central on his chest. The orange actually looks better here - which is a good thing since there's more of it. I'm still not a fan of it, but it's used better. The face looks really nice, and is the highlight of an otherwise uneventful robot mode.
So Gripper has a very simple car mode and a laughable transformation. It should come as no surprise then that his robot mode is uncomplicated. The sculpt is generally a little better, but then everything visible is the underside of the buggy, so the designer had a blank slate. Even then they didn't do a great job - the feet are ill defined and the thighs very bland.
The play value is again pretty minimal. The Energon figure - which was conceived as a Brainmaster back in Victory - offers a nice gimmick, and the toy really relies on this gimmick, failing to capture the imagination as an actual Transformer. The arms swing and this is all Gripper gets in the way of meaningful articulation. The head (well, helmet) is part of the torso. The sword has posts on the side, so he can kind of hold it like a gun, except it looks like he's trying to fire a sword, which is not impressive.
The Energon figure itself, which is unnamed as far as I can tell, is essentially a scaled down copy of Gripper - the limbs are black and the body and head orange. The face is silver, with silver eyes this time, and is well sculpted. The arms swing and the legs move as one, allowing it to sit. It has more poseability than Gripper himself.
The robot mode is his better mode, if only for the fact that it ends up being a little more focused. It's still poor - the articulation is a joke while the sculpt and colours are at best passable. The Energon figure is the highlight here, which is not a good thing.
None that I'm aware of. As mentioned, Gripper is a repaint of Blacker. This toy was not released in North America.
More than anything else, Gripper suffers from being far too simple for his size. The sculpt, articulation and transformation are all a joke. Matters are not helped by the choice of an awful orange plastic. The Motovators - and obviously the Brainmasters before them - are far too simple to offer any impressive engineering. The brain gimmick is okay, but isn't enough to make the Transformer work. While he's likely to be a _lot_ cheaper than Blacker, he has lost the ability to combine, which was the best thing Blacker had going for him - 3/10