Name: Vice Grip
Series: Convention Exclusives
Alternate Mode: Earwig
Height: 3cm Length: 16cm Width: 9cm
A dark metallic blue earwig with grey legs, mouthparts and pincers, Vice Grip has dull purple eyes and some nice grey paint apps on his back. The blue brings out the sculpt better than the darker black of Powerpinch. The metallic plastic is a theme amongst Beast Wars BotCon toys and does a lot of the shadowing on this toy. While I like Powerpinch's colours, Vice Grip's colours are nicer, despite being more subtle.
As already mentioned, the sculpt is pretty good, and Vice Grip takes advantage of this. The eyes are latticed to resemble insect eyes. The mouthparts are detailed and his legs are moulded like beetle legs. The pincers are serrated on the insides, rounding out the impressive details.
For those who don't know, Earwigs are small bug-like insects that live in places like compost bins, and have claws as a tail, at the end of the abdomen. The claws open and close together thanks to internal gearing, with a smaller slider underneath the tail, although you can always open one pincer and the other will follow suit. His legs are moulded as single pieces on either side, and unlike my Powerpinch, these hinges can hold the toy's weight. Mind you, earwigs aren't exactly tall, and Vice Grip is designed to rest on it's "stomach".
The play value is decent although not really impressive. The head transforms into his robot arms, and has a tendency to split in half, as well as a habit of flopping down, detaching from the thorax. The loose head bothers me more than the opening claws impress me, unfortunately. Of course, I don't plan on playing with Vice Grip much - not after paying a premium for him on the secondary market.
Visually, this mode works quite well, and I really like the whole concept of a Transformer earwig (it beats yet another dinosaur variant). The engineering lets this beast mode down somewhat, but the colours are an improvement those of Powerpinch, so this is a worthwhile beast mode.
TRANSFORMATION TO ROBOT MODE
Detach the tail section, lift up the top of the thorax, fold the remainder of his abdomen into the thorax - which will deploy the robot legs - and fold down the panel on his back. Split his head to form the robot arms, swing the arms out to the sides, fold down his chest, position his feet and attach the claw-weapon to one of his hands.
Vice Grip's backplate has an annoying tendency to fall off during transformation. Powerpinch has no such trouble, so I suspect this is a plastic-change problem, or degradation of the mould around the pegs that keep the backplate attached. It goes back on quite easily, but this is still annoying.
Height: 12cm Width: 11cm
Again blue with grey aspects, Vice Grip's colour scheme again works. His upper arms, groin and thighs are grey along with some paint apps on his chest and his eyes. The eyes and some shin detailing is done in silver, which works _really_ well, better than the white paint of Powerpinch. The insect-like mouthparts are a nice touch, as are the rather insect-like boots. The mix of dark colours and silver highlights is just right, making for a great colour scheme.
The legs on his shoulders are kibbly without interfering. The forearms work better than those of Powerpinch, since the moulded fist holes actually look like fists now. The forearms are the hollow insides of insect head-halves, but shadowing just makes them dark and the blue fists tend to dominate. The opposite was true for Powerpinch, since the fists were dark and solid while light tended to shine through the forearms. The arms aren't great but this is still a nice robot mode. I love the way his abdomen, which is almost totally concealed, peaks out as his waist and resembles abdominal muscles.
This is a pretty poseable robot mode. The neck, shoulders, elbows, knees and hips are all ball joints and the ankles are hinged. The weapon's attachment post actually activates the opening claw, but it's rather counter-intuitive since you have to slide the main body of the weapon _up_ to open the claws and _down_ to close. The gears resist more than they should for this sort of mechanism, too, so you're more likely to detach the weapon than activate the gimmick. Still, this weapon has more play value than those of a lot of BW basics so it's not all bad news. Sure, a ranged weapon would have been nice, but this is a good concept that ties into his beast mode well, even if it misses the mark.
A good robot mode with a really nice colour layout, and it's Vice Grip's better mode, since it holds together better. The poseability is great, which for me makes up for a rather lame weapon. The forearms no longer bother me, making the price of this repaint a lot easier for me to swallow. I really like this robot mode.
None that I'm aware of although, he was limited to a run of 600 for BotCon 98 - any variations would be worth a fortune.
In most ways Vice Grip is an improvement on Powerpinch - the colours are nicer and do a great job of bringing out the details we want to see and masking the hollow forearms. The only regression is the loose backplate, but that doesn't bother me so much since I don't plan on playing with Vice Grip. The improved forearms make a big difference for me, so this is a great repaint. Of course, at the price you're likely to pay I'm not going to recommend him as such - you're either willing to pay or you're not. Ignoring price, this is a great repaint - 8.5/10