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By Thomas Wheeler

Recently I reviewed the Transformers Generation One Commemorative Series GRAPPLE, whom I acquired at Toys "R" Us for a ridiculously low clearance price. I mentioned at that time that if the price dropped enough on Grapple's structural counterpart, Inferno, I'd probably try to snag him, as well.

The price dropped to $9.09 in early July. While not the $4.98 of Grapple, I figure if you even it out between the two of them, that comes out to about $7.00 per Transformer. I can sure live with that.

Whereas Grapple is a construction crane, Inferno is a fire engine. A ladder truck, to be specific. The two Autobots share a common body mold, with the one major difference being that Grapple's extendable crane hook has been replaced by an extendable ladder on Inferno. And, obviously, the color schemes are different. Grapple is a yellow-orange, a fairly traditional color for construction equipment. Inferno is, as one would expect, red.

The toy is certainly cool, but I have to say that it doesn't surprise me that the line has, for the most part, had to be clearanced. I think Hasbro and Toys "R" Us were counting on collectors with deep pockets who were willing to shell out significant bucks for these commemoratives, and for the most part, it didn't happen or maybe they just over shot the production quantity. If these toys had been offered at a price point, more in keeping with standard Transformers, I think the line would have fared much better than it did. However, it may be the run was pretty short and that is what drove up the prices so high. But this is all speculation on my part. It's a shame, too. The original Transformers are certainly worthy of better treatment.

It should be noted, though, that any newcomers to the line, who might've picked up some of these commemoratives on clearance, if expecting a toy with the same level and complexity of modern Transformers, are going to be disappointed. Takara didn't really see the original Transformers as an ACTION FIGURE line per se -- they saw it as a line of vehicles that transformed into (generally humanoid) robots. That in robot form they might not be able to move their legs or whatever wasn't considered an issue.

Inferno is a better known character than Grapple. As a fire engine, it was likely easier to place him in the heat (!) of battle in the animated series than it would've been to work a construction crane into the tale. His character profile reads as follows:

INFERNO Function - Search and Rescue "Where there's smoke, there's me."

The hotter it gets, the better Inferno likes it! Though he would rather fight Decepticons than fires, his ceramic-plated armor, which is able to withstand temperatures as high as 14,000 degreed F, makes him ideally suited to his job. Equipped with an energy dampening beam, missile-packed forearms, and an extinguisher rifle capable of shooting any liquid substance, from water to corrosive acid, Inferno possesses superior strength, but it somewhat lacking in discipline and agility.

Oh, well, nobody's perfect. The packaging is well done, with a nice illustration that I suspect was carried out by the fine folks at DreamWave at the time.

It's a cool toy, and ultimately, I'm very pleased to have him, now on display next to his "brother", Grapple. And if he's still available in your area, at your local Toys "R" Us, then I definitely recommend him. And don't necessarily go by the prcie tags. He (and many of the others) might be a lot lower. Give some of them a wave under a price scanner. You might be pleasantly surprised, and take some cool Transformers home with you!