Even as a kid in the 80s I had a soft spot for Transformers who weren’t just warriors: the most notable examples being Jetfire and Grapple. Grapple’s file card gave his tragic backstory as an architect who designed beautiful buildings, but then came the Great War and he regrettably had to turn his talents to war, something that never set right with him.
This backstory was used in a spotlight episode of the TV series during the second season. Grapple has an idea for a “solar tower” that would collect sunlight. Optimus Prime rejects the idea, believing the Decepticons would be drawn to it. The Constructicons approach Grapple later to propose helping him build the tower. Not for stealing energon (ha ha) but for the love of building something. Of course this is a lie and after the tower is built, the Constructicons double-cross Grapple. In the ensuing battle the tower is destroyed and Grapple is bummed.
There was also a picture book featuring Grapple back in the 80s. I forget what it was about exactly but it involved him and the nasty Insecticons. At a convention in 1996 I bought a Grapple in the box and kept it for about 20 years, until I sold it on EBay last year. Besides the original toy, an anniversary version was issued and there have been a couple other versions as well. He has fortunately managed to stay out of the awful live action movies; knowing Bay they’d have Grapple talk like some stereotypical New York construction worker hooting at women and such and I would have to swear revenge.
In my fanfic series The Skyfire Adventures, Grapple is one of the Autobots who was on a scientific expedition that went wrong. I didn’t write him a spotlight story but he was involved in the stories. As far as I know he hasn’t shown up in the IDW series, or maybe he was just a background character.
The 1986 movie introduced new leaders for both sides, though the new Decepticon leader wasn’t entirely “new.” Galvatron was really a rebuilt Megatron, the long-time Decepticon leader. After a battle royale with Optimus Prime, Megatron was flung into space by his “loyal” second-in-command Starscream and picked up by the planet-killer Unicron, who rebuilt Megatron into the more powerful Galvatron. The first thing Galvatron did was kill Starscream, thereby taking control of Decepticons. Later he killed interim Autobot commander Ultra Magnus and took the Autobot Matrix of Leadership, hoping to use it to blackmail Unicron. Except a Decepticon can’t open the Autobot Matrix, so the threat was futile and Galvatron was swallowed like Jonah, wherein he was eventually defeated by the new Autobot leader Rodimus Prime and flung into deep space.
The third season of the cartoon picked up the story with the Decepticons on the burnt-out planet of Charr and Galvatron soaking in molten lava until his loyal henchman Cyclonus rescues him. But it turns out being in the lava for months has made Galvatron extremely unstable, something Cyclonus tried to cure by taking his leader to a planet that was basically one big mental hospital, but that didn’t really work out so well. (A fun fact about that episode was it was written by comic book writer Len Wein and sci-fi novelist Diane Duane.)
Of course as a leader Galvatron’s track record wasn’t any better than Megatron’s. If anything it was worse since Megatron did at least kill Optimus Prime while Galvatron never even came close to killing Rodimus Prime.
Galvatron showed up briefly in the US comic book series. First there was a comic that was based on the third season episode “The Big Broadcast of 2006.” In issue #67 he appears on a future Earth that has been conquered by Galvatron and the Decepticons. Only a handful of Autobots remain while the corpse of Rodimus Prime is strung up between a couple of skyscrapers in New York to serve as Galvatron’s punching bag. But before Galvatron can finalize his victory, he’s abducted by servants of Unicron to be taken to the present to help in Unicron’s upcoming battle against Cybertron.
Galvatron has more appearances in the UK comic book, which I haven’t read, though I recently bought some. In the IDW comic, Galvatron is not the rebuilt form of Megatron. Instead he was an ancient Cybertronian warrior who was trapped in a “dead universe” for millions of years before escaping.
He appears in the 2014 live action movie. Like the original movie, Galvatron is constructed from Megatron, only this time thanks to humans. In the next movie though he’s back to being Megatron from what I’ve heard.
Like Megatron, Galvatron turned into a gun, though his was a large ray gun that didn’t need to be held by anyone, giving him better mobility. The toy is primarily gray while in the TV show he’s mostly purple, something corrected in later reissues of the toy.
Another fun fact is that the first voice of Galvatron was the late Leonard Nimoy in the movie. Later Nimoy would voice Sentinel Prime in the third live action movie back in 2011. For the TV series, Galvatron was voiced by Frank Welker, who also did the original Megatron’s voice.