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  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Japan (manufactured)

  • Date:

    1985-1986 (manufactured)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Takara (manufacturers)
    Hasbro Industries Ltd (distributors)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Injection moulded plastic, painted die-cast metal, printed paper

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Jermaine Dacas

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Transformers are alien robots hailing from the planet Cybertron. They are divided into two factions: heroic Autobots and evil Decepticons. Autobots and Decepticons have been locked in an apocalyptic civil war for millennia. The line was launched in the United States in 1984 with an accompanying animated television series, it followed in Europe later that same year. Many of the Hasbro-distributed toys were actually rebranded versions of the existing Japanese ‘Microman’ and ‘Diaclone’ toylines made by Takara. The combination of vehicle and robot, and the often complicated series of movements required to change between the two modes, meant Transformers were extremely popular children’s toys during the mid-1980s.

Grapple is an Autobot with an unusual vocation: he is an architect. According to the television series, the buildings he designed on Cybertron before the war were widely admired. However, Grapple’s creations were also prone to being destroyed by enemy action, much to the dismay of the artistically-inclined robot. The mould for this toy was derived from Takara’s ‘Diaclone’ range, which were originally supposed to represent piloted transforming vehicles, rather than sentient robots. It was retooled as a fire engine and also used for the Autobot character Inferno.

Physical description

Robot toy, transforming into a Mitsubishi Fuso mobile crane on 6 wheels. It is made from orange, black and silver plastic, with black rubber tyres and paper stickers. The toy's feet are of painted die-cast metal (to prevent it from being too top-heavy to stand). Marks are under the crane base.

Place of Origin

Japan (manufactured)


1985-1986 (manufactured)


Takara (manufacturers)
Hasbro Industries Ltd (distributors)

Materials and Techniques

Injection moulded plastic, painted die-cast metal, printed paper

Marks and inscriptions

Hasbro 1980-1982; Takara Co © 1980-1982

Object history note

Bought by the donor between 1985 and 1987. Mr Dacas was born 17/10/73 and saved his pocket money to buy the toys.

Historical context note

Transformers are alien robots hailing from the planet Cybertron, all of them are capable of assuming an alternate form, usually a vehicle, through a series of folding movements. They are typically divided into two factions: Autobots and Decepticons. The Autobots are heroic, peace-loving and curious about humanity, they are led by Optimus Prime, who typically transforms into an articulated truck. The Decepticons are evil, authoritarian and contemptuous of other life-forms, they are led by the maniacal Megatron, who originally transformed into a realistic-looking handgun.

Initially, the franchise was essentially an American rebrand of two toylines already produced by Japanese toy manufacturer Takara Tomy: ‘Diaclone’ and ‘Microman’. Hasbro had purchased the distribution rights to these lines in the early-1980s. Transformers was launched in the United States and Europe in 1984-85. The enormously popular toys inspired many spin-offs, including several animated television series’, a feature-length animated film (1986), multiple comic books series (including by Marvel, who had co-operated with Hasbro to produce GI Joe comics) and, inevitably, subsequent lines of toys. A series of big budget, live-action films have been produced by Warner Brothers since 2007.

Descriptive line

Transformer (Autobot), 'Grapple'; orange mobile crane; Takara/Hasbro, Japan; 1985-86

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Toy Trader; November 1985; April 1986; August 1986

Production Note



Plastic; Metal; Paper


Injection moulding; Die casting; Printing; Painting

Subjects depicted

Cranes; Robots


Toys & Games; Children & Childhood; Plastic; Toy vehicles; Character merchandise

Production Type

Mass produced


Museum of Childhood

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