What can we say about the Diaclone Revival that hasn’t been said already in the short two months since it was released?  What angles can we show it at that haven’t been covered by Maz’s incredible photo coverage?

The approach I’m taking in today’s blog is simply that Dia-Battles V2 is a complete overhaul of the Diaclone concept rather than a straight update, and that maybe Dia-Battles V2 owes as much to another, different Takara design from a separate toy-line than it does the original Dia-Battles.  But which one?

To find the answer to these questions, first we have to go right back to 1980, 4 years before Transformers were a thing, to the pre-Hasbro land of Takara Diaclone.  To the original DIA-BATTLES.

Dia-Battles V1 / Diatron

Calling it Dia-Battles V1 is a bit disingenuous, but like the Generation One moniker that appeared long after the original line was finished, I imagine this is what he’ll come to be known as moving forward.




Shown above is my vintage Diatron (the name used during the Italian Gig distriution), it’s exactly the same as the toy issued in Japan as Diabattles, right down to having DIA-BATTLES written on the wings.  Heck, that’s a detail that even the Kingdam Knock-Off noticed and corrected for their release (but if you look closely below, you’ll see they used a picture of the original toy and not their KO).


Diabattles / Diatron features three separate vehicles that come together to form one robot mode.  Sort of like the Duocons, but a Trio… and good guys against the evil Waruders.  So, TrioBots maybe?


The combined robot mode is very basic, but a lot of fun with a terrific aesthetic, and a classic Takara headsculpt.  One think which really makes it stand out is the amount of die-cast metal and chrome parts, which in good condition really make the figure look great, but which sadly means that the figure is easily damaged and all too often the offerings of this guy on the collectors market are often damaged and look quite shoddy.  Combine that with blue plastic in the legs which is incredibly fragile now, and a questionable leg connecting joint, and the chances of finding this guy in great condition are slim.  Because of the combining nature of the robot mode, it is fairly easy for the wise collector to buy a couple of damaged ones and attempt to make one good, complete one, which is what I did here ( a wiser collector puts the figure safely away before their cats break it too!).


Transformation, if you can call it that, is easy and intuitive as it usually is with the vintage pieces.  The sliding wing panels on the winged vehicle; (02), lock the torso and head vehicle (01) into place, with the final vehicle (03) making up the legs.  Catchy naming scheme, huh?  The Gig version credits the vehicles as Cosmic 01, 02 and 03 respectively.

Lets take a look at those vehicle modes below, side-by-side with their contemporary updates.




Not much in common with these guys, I actually think the vintage does a better job of hiding the head with a simple panel slide, but I guess with the nature of the Diaclone story the transformation isn’t so much about disguise as function, and no-one can deny the coolness of the mechanised function that slowly reveals the head of Diabattles V2 with a very satisfying and Zoids-esque whirr.





Big yellow and red wings?  Check.  Blue cockpit for a Diaclone driver?  Check.  Anymore similarities?  No, not really.  I guess this section helps the final silhouette of the combined robot mode look a bit like the update.


Well I guess it seats two Diaclone drivers same as the original.


One thing the original does much better than the new figure, is that it uses all the parts in it’s final robot configuration.  It’s not a big problem, as the left-over parts combine to become the Boretto Fighter and have high levels of functionality separately, and totally work within the structure of the Diaclone universe.  It’s not even parts-forming as we know it, because where is it written that modular equipment can’t have bits left over?

Okay, we’ve gotten a bit ahead of ourselves.  Now you’re familiar with V1, lets check out V2 properly.

Dia-Battles V2


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As I said at the opening, you can’t really consider Dia-Battles V2 as merely an update of the original, it is in fact a complete re-imagining of the Dia concept.  And in my opinion, a much needed one.

We’ve seen the vehicle modes in direct comparison with the originals, so lets look at the “robot” mode.  It’s a million miles away from the original, but there is definitely enough homages to the original (the colour-scheme, headsculpt, basic proportions and silhouette) for it to work.  Make no mistake though, Takara have not just phoned this in.

Not content with an awesome robot mode, complete with swords and other accessories, not content with three vastly updated and re-imagined vehicle pods, Takara have made the WHOLE THING modular.  Sure, the original broke into three parts, but there was very little you could do with those three parts.  Not so with V2.


Firstly, the obvious one.  Lets make all three vehicles joint together to make one amazing uber-ship known as Battle Triser.  Great idea, and it also makes use of some of the leftover components from robot mode.  Everything is used here to great effect.


How about an obligatory Japanese mech look?  Fan-mode Ger-walks (originating in the Macross line and replicated by Jetfire fans everywhere) are a thing with fans these days, but Takara have made that easier by included it as an official mode.  Nice one Takara.  This ED-209 looking mother is known as Manual Mode.


The above pictured Scramble Mode is the third official combine mode from Takara to make use of all three components.  But they are not done yet.


You can combine two out of the three parts together to make four other official modes, including Hopper (above), Crawler (below), Glide and Fortress (not pictured).  And that’s without getting to fan modes!


Want more options?  No problem, because Takara also issued this in a Moonbase variant, and you can mix and match those parts to make as many interesting configurations as your heart desires.  All of which are fully interactive with the Diaclone Drivers included with the sets.  This adds on layers and layers of playability, to the point that I’m not surprised that a lot of people are troop-building these guys.


The little motorbike, Road Viper, is included with the V2 set.



As you can see from the above, Dia-Battles V2 seems very much like it’s own thing.

But hang on… multiple components, highly modular interactivity giving you the ability to make a multitude of different vehicles all of whom are piloted by a Takara pilot?  Where have we seen that before???




Released in 1982 by Takara as part of the Microman Armoured Machine range, the above pictured Cosmic Fighter (later released in the West as Converters Deltarian Fighter) was a highly modular vehicle made up off multiple components giving you the ability to make a multitude of different vehicles all of whom are piloted by a Takara pilot.

I explain the history of this release in slightly greater detail here for those interested.



Stack Tank

There really is no set formula with this guy, and while the packaging and instructions mention 16 different and distinct vehicle modes, there are so many more weird and wacky configurations you can achieve.






I have no idea what this mode is.



Helicopter thing


Radar tank? I mean Crawler mode.



Sure, Takara have attempted to reboot the Microman line multiple times (occasionally using old Transformers molds such as Action Masters Optimus Prime of MicroMaster Countdown) with little success, and I’m certainly not saying they are attempting to sneak a Microman reboot into the new Diaclone Revival, nor am I saying Dia-Battles rips off this dated looking Microman mold.
I am however floating the concept that Takara designers perhaps borrowed a few ideas from the Cosmic Fighter when they came to the Dia-Battles V2 design table, maybe borrowing as much from it’s modular design as they borrowed from Diatron’s colours and aesthetic.

Maybe it’s all a coincidence?  Or toy design osmosis seeping into the designer’s heads?  What do you think?

As always, massive thanks to Kapow for allowing me a home for these articles, make sure they are your first port of call when considering the Diaclone Revival figures, the PE upgrades, or the Fans Project Dia-Battles / Dai Atlas updates; Trianix Alpha and Dai X.

Thanks for reading.

-Sid / Ceno / CZH


I’m always quick to point out to people that G1 Bumblebee and Cliffjumper do not transform into VW Beatles and Porsches, but actually transform into Penny Racer Super Deforms of them.

To that end, I’ve always been a fan of the Chibli deform style of toy.



Enter Takara with their Cute Transformers line (Q-Ts… geddit!?!).

I wasn’t completely sold on this line when they first appeared, mostly because 4 of the first 8 figures released were Bay-movie inspired, and as such they didn’t do much for me.  I’m glad I took the punt on the others while I was in Hong Kong, as these are absolutely up my street.




Hound and Skids – Suzuki Hustler

Measuring just shy of two inches long in vehicle mode, and standing roughly that high, deep and wide in robot mode, these figures have incredibly basic transformations, but thanks to the wonder of ball joints, have a surprising amount of poseability, however this poseability is restricted by the short “deform” legs and arms.




Arcee and Shockwave – Toyota Crown Athlete S21

One of the wonderful things about this line is the licensing, as unlike Generations toys which take liberties with vehicle modes, these are all officially licensed alt. modes.  Well done to Takara for making the most of the licensing agreements; if you’re paying for the Lancia license to make MP Wheeljack, why not make a QT at the same time?



Prime and Soundwave – Nissan GT-R R35

These were released in Asian territories at the tail-end of 2014, and are only available in the UK / US thanks to the awesome importers we have, who work hard to bring a full selection of TF stock to the West.





Hello Kitty Halloween Edition and Ultra Magnus – no licensed real world equivalents

Because Takara are always looking to do the next fun thing, they’ve also released limited versions of these toys as crossovers.  Similar to their licensing deal with Disney which saw Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Buzz Lightyear catching the transformation bug a few years back, now Hello Kitty, Snoopy and Neon Genesis are in on the act, all of them having received the QT treatment in the Q-collaboration range (not a Star Trek Next Gen episode).


Thus far there have been 10 waves of the standard range, releasing a total of 33 figures.








Shockers, Megs and Soundwave. Megs rocking the Lamborghini Veneno look

The range was replaced with the QTF line at the beginning of 2016, featuring mostly reissues (including very cool three packs of the main character as pictured above) and retools, but an all new mold in the shape of QTF Ironhide and Ratchet.


Ratchet and Ironhide – Toyota HiAce

It’s a very fun and light-hearted toyline, backed up by a mobile phone game and a basic flash animated series called “Mystery of Convoy Returns” and followed by the Mel Brook’s-esque titled “The Road to Additional Popularity”.


Bumble and Cliff – Daihatsu Copen

And then suddenly, that’s been it since March!  I sincerely hope this line isn’t done, as there are loads more characters they could include in the line, and I would like to see more characters from non-G1 sources get the treatment like Lockdown and Drift have received, characters such as Barricade, or Bulkhead.


Wheeljack – Lancia Stratos Turbo Gr.5, Drift – Mazda RX-7 FD3S, Meister (Jazz) – Toyota Sprinter Trueno AE86


I would also like to see niche characters such as Bumper get the treatment, and I propose the Jazz mold pictured above as a donor mold!














Jetfire and the Seekers – my favourite 80s band!

All of the transformations are very similar across the line, with the exception of the Seekers (how tempting to head swap the Starscream and Jetfire to make SG Starscream?), and the recent Ironhide mold having a slightly more involved transformation.










Hot Rodimus is hanging out with the other Matrix bearers as a Toyota 96


They have done a different Convoy not pictured above, with the more traditional cab and trailer mold, but honestly, I like the idea of him as a car with the rest of his team-mates, sort of like in Binaltech and Alternity.  They’ve also done the obligatory black repaint as well, this time using the Bay-movie Western Star 4900SB tractor version.






Prowl and Smokescreen – Nissan Fairlady Z 280Z-T as they should be. Bluestreak is a Subaru WRX Sti

You may notice above what looks to be two Smokescreens, however the one homaging Binaltech Smokescreen is actually considered Bluestreak for this range.  Its a nice way of keeping G1 fans happy, but also paying tribute to the Subara guys, who really helped the Binaltech line launch with a bang.


Sideswipe and Red Alert are G1’ing it up as Lamborghini Countach LP500S, while Sunstreaker shares a mold with Drift

As with every line these days, there are lots and lots of retools and reworking of the molds to make as many characters as possible.  I’m okay with that, as Takara do a good job of mixing and matching vehicles to character types as best as they can.  There are some odd choices, such as making Sunstreaker a Mazda RX-7, but I guess it’s nicer than ANOTHER Countach.















Here’s the gang. I should point out that Tracks is a Chevrolet Corvette C7, as he didn’t get his own picture.

And that’s about all there is to say about these guys, other than I implore you to check them out sometime, as they really are a lot of fun.

Some of these are currently in stock right here, keep an eye on the Kapow page and social media for updates to the line!  Thanks for reading as always!

Most people know I have a fairly extensive G1 collection, but there are a few bits conspicuous by their absence, Pretenders for one.


I’m quick to say I have a near complete Euro / US collection, but way back when my goal was simply to collect 84-86.  I completed that set a while ago, but along the way there was one set that got away.  That set was the mail-away Powerdasher set.



Released as part of the Transformers line in 1984, they were only available via mail-order for $3 and two robot points, with the catch being you didn’t know which one of the three you were getting.  As well as transforming, the big gimmick with these was a pull back and go motor.

So after putting off buying this set for decades, I recently purchased a very nice Italian Diaclone set, as distributed by Gig.  But why did I put off buying these for so long?  Was it because of price, condition, or rarity?  Read on and find out.


F1 Dasher / Dragster / Aragon / Powerdasher Car*

(*format:  Japanese Diaclone name / Gig Diaclone name / Joustra and Trasformer name (adopted by TFwiki) / lame US name)




These are fairly simple figures, as you can see.  The robot mode for F1 Dasher is Optimus Prime coloured, but that is where the similarities end.  His massive “spoiler” becomes the legs and feet for the robot, and the front of the car folds down to make the arms / hands.


The vehicle mode is slightly more interesting in that there is room for a Diaclone driver (included!), and the toy features a pull back and go motor that has survived all these years.  You might note in the example pictured above, the robot head is clearly visible in alt. mode, it is supposed to rotate and hide away, but thirty years in packaging has left the head a tad stiff, and I didn’t want to risk breaking it for this shot.



I’ve not seen a Spoiler this big since Jon Snow died


Edit:  The head doesn’t rotate, which would explain why it wouldn’t move.  Don’t try that at home kids!

It might be of note to some that the Transformers release has black legs instead of blue, and you might have seen yellow headed “variants” too, but that’s just chrome wear.

Note that the original Diaclone names are included on stickers on all three toys.


Drill Dasher / Perforer / Zetar / Powerdasher Drilltank


Another pretty basic figure.  A lot of this guy looks backwards, especially the feet (see trio photo below), and I still think it’s an odd choice in this range to keep the cockpits prominent in robot mode and alt. mode, when they could have detailed the underside.  I’m not sure if they did this because the underside had to remain flat for alt. mode, but a few stickers could have pepped it up.



Look at that face!


Transformation is insanely simple, to the point that the Gig release don’t include instruction sheets, just two pictures on the side explaining it.  Actually, the entire packaging is simple, the front of the box is just a shell that covers the polystyrene inner, no rear packaging so to speak.  They come with a sticker sheet, a tiny and very folded Diaclone catalogue, and a very small character card.





The alt. mode for this guy is cute, who doesn’t love a Drillformer?  It;s a shame the legs cover the awesome Drill Dasher side stickers.

The colour scheme is very nice.  Overall, this is my favourite of the trio, especially with the colour-matched Diaclone driver sat on top.


Sky Dasher / Dragster / Cromar / Powerdasher Jet




An inversion of the colours on the F1 type, these bright primary colours aren’t enough to help this very basic robot mode.  Note the stickers for a face that all three of these guys had, something that wasn’t seen on another Transformer  other than the much derided G1 Ratchet / Ironhide (we’ll come back to that in a minute).




The transformation is very similar to the F1 type, with the arms swinging over the head and the legs swinging around, this time to the side not over the figure, the wings are cleverly hidden inside the legs and act as the thigh joint for the legs in the process.  Ironically the most dangerous to pilot vehicle has the least convincing cockpit for the driver.


It’s a fun enough vehicle, as a kid I can imagine punching things as I fly the vehicle into them.  Which might explain the chrome wear a lot of these figures suffer.  As with the F1 type, the Transformers release has a black chest section rather than blue.



So why didn’t I buy them before?  Well, because of the complete lack of personality or media support growing up, I had no affinity with these characters, it’s also quite hard to find them in the UK for a decent price.  Even if you CAN find them in the UK, the chrome is usually damaged.  I mean, badly damaged.  Like the Drill type has a yellow drill for a head, not a chrome one damaged.




But that isn’t why I didn’t buy them.  I continually skipped these for years, because I think they are BAD TRANSFORMERS, and I stand by that.  Even a “completest” has limits (I’m not a completest, and I think it’s unhealthy to try).

But that’s not to say these are bad toys.

It’s a similar thing to G1 Ratchet and Ironhide, I think they are amazing toys for their time, but they are lousy Transformers and crap renditions of Ironhide and Ratchet if you know them from the cartoon or comic.  Like these Diaclone Dashers, they are also at their best when they are interacting with little Diaclone drivers as part of inhabited world in a completely separate toyline divorced from Transformers.  At least the Cherry Vannettes had the advantage of blending into the world thanks to the real-world alt. modes, which made them fit right alongside Sunstreaker and Trailbreaker, but these guys are an odd fit, as they don’t really look like anything, Earthmode or Cybertronian, and as such seem slightly out of place in both Diakron and Transformers.

I don’t want or need these for my Transformers shelf, as I don’t believe that sticking an Autobot logo on something is enough to bring a toy into that world.  Indeed, it took the combined efforts of Hasbro, Marvel and Sunbow to make the Takara toyline an intellectual property and brand to be reckoned with, but along the way the first humble mail-away offer, the Power-Dashers, never really found a place into the heart and soul of the line, which is why thirty years on we’ve had no homages of these characters – official or otherwise – not even as Mini-cons.




Which is why I’ve finally found a place for these in my burgeoning Diaclone collection after decades of Transformers collecting.

But it just shows that everything has a place, and even the oddest of toys can find a spot in a collection, when put into the proper context.  For me – in this case – it meant looking at toys I’d ignored for years in a different light, and I’m very glad I did.


Thanks for reading, be sure to check out the Kapow site for all the latest toys and pre-orders.



The toy we know and love as Shockwave is one of a handful of G1 toys that didn’t start as a Takara product.


Astro Magnum / Galactic Man


Originally manufactured by Toy-co and released in 1983 under the name Astro Magnum in grey plastic, this figure was knocked off almost more than the Jumpstarters mold, and the KOs often changed the metal in the legs to plastic, and often changed the clear plastic to a pinky-purple (which is the version we’re using in this article).  Affectionately known by some collectors who bought a later, fully licensed version known as Galactic Man from Radioshack (later Tandy, ask your parents) as Shackwave.



Curiously touted as a 4-changer, this mold is famous for not just for it’s eventual release in Transformers, but also for its cameo appearance in the Aliens movie, where it displayed one of the lesser known but none-the-less officially sanctioned alt. modes.

When it was ported over into the Transformers line in 1985, not only did the character change into a more Decepticon purple, but the powers that be at Hasbro / Marvel seemed to recognise that his alt. mode didn’t quite fit in with the other Diaclone / Microchange figures, and made the choice to release the first Cybertronian mode Transformer.  This meant that in the cartoon, Shockwave was little more than a guardian of (the seemingly near deserted) Cybertron, appearing in the very first episode but not getting a toy until the following year.



GerGun mode? Not official, but a built in display solution!

There are however, definitely two Shockwaves known to the world, and I don’t mean purple and grey.  Fans of the comic series know Shockwave as a very cold, logical and efficient Decepticon, almost an equal to Megatron and certainly more ruthless.  Indeed, in these comics, Shockwave is responsible for the creation of the Constructicons and Jetfire after defeating EVERYONE, and his origins also tie the Dinobots firmly into the Marvel 616 lore thanks to his landing in the Savage Land.




In the cartoon, he is essentially a hotel elevator operator for the Space Bridge.  But at least he survived the movie.



Which floor, sir?


G1 Shockwave


Other than the colour changes, the Hasbro release changed one minor thing; the unfortunate shape and positioning of Astro Magnum’s trigger.  Perhaps predicting the sort of humour to be found in the boys toys aisle, they shortened and flattened the trigger.


Shockwave has trigger envy :/

The toy looks great in robot mode, large and menacing, he is closer in height to Ultra Magnus than Prime or Megatron, and I’m sure in some parallel universe (probably one with MB distribution) Shockwave is the leader of the Decepticons against the Autobot leader Jetfire.  You can compact the legs down and have a shorter Shockwave, closer in height to the main ’84 cast, but his large upper body is perhaps too broad for this.

The transformation is very fun and instinctive, but does include one example of partsforming.  This isn’t totally uncommon for G1 (Optimus Prime’s fists, Megatron’s stock and barrel), but the part in question has little use in other modes and cannot be stored anywhere.



There are trouble spots on this mold; most notably the rubber hose which perishes over time with very little external pressure, and it’s not uncommon for the gun-barrel on his left-hand to be broken.  Also, I have come across several of these with dodgy legs, where the joint doesn’t stay locked out and the figure tends to collapse to one side (we call this Sandstorm syndrome!).



Overall, I think he’s a great toy, and I wish I’d gotten him when I was young enough to run around making pew-pew noises.

FT Quakewave


Over the years we’ve had several Shockwave updates, from the divisive Action Master, the weird and wonderful Binaltech Laserwave Mazda version (also known as Alternator Blastwave), a fun Energon re-imagining as Shockblast which completely changed his character, and in recent years some more disappointing offerings in the form of CHUG, Cloud, and Legends renditions.  However, the first unofficial Masterpiece styled offering soon gave us fans what we want from a Shockwave, in the form of the 2013 Fans Toys Quakewave, later released in grey as an Astro Magnum homage.



Quakewave is a solid, heavy toy, with plenty of die-cast in his legs to give him some extra weight.  Both his eye and his hand light up, which is a great addition that harkens back to the original (but no electronic noises, for shame).  In robot mode, he looks like a legitimate threat, and you can believe this guy went toe-to-toe with the Dinobots and survived!


The transformation is surprisingly simple.  I sometimes feel that 3P MP’s go overboard in complexity (Badcube Sunsurge, most Reflectors), but not so here, Quakewave transforms pretty similar to the original, but with some really solid Eureka moments.  His head hides away brilliantly, his arms do exactly what you expect them to, and his backpack has a genius inside-out fold to become an effective way of hiding his gun barrel.



Backpack becomes the barrel becomes the backpack

He comes under some criticism for his over-arm arm-hose, rather than the traditional under-arm.  However, FT later released an upgrade which fixed this.  For me, it wasn’t a big enough difference to change it.  One of the biggest changes is the fold up backpack at the end of the gun, instead that is half of his legs, the rest of which form the satisfying and heavy die-cast handle.  To me, this is one of his greatest strengths, as it really helped bulk out his entire form to be more in line with the comic appearances.



With classy custom base made by Heirofthedog


The alt. mode of a Space Laser Cannon Thingy does exactly what you would want or expect it to, even if the mid-section swivel could do with having a locking mechanism for this mode.  It doesn’t NEED it, but it wouldn’t have hurt to make it feel more secure.

This guy narrowly beat out MMC Hexatron as 3P toy of the year 2013 in the TFW2005 poll, but fast forward a few years, and is he still that popular?  Let’s take a look at the competition, and see if Quakewave is still relevant in a post MP-29 world.

FT Cover Art

MP-29 Laserwave

So here we have Takara’s Masterpiece offering.  With the release of this figure, is Quakewave still relevant?  And if not, what does that mean for the future of the 3P “Masterpiece” range?

Let’s start with the positives, opening up the package, I absolutely adore the colouration.  I wish Takara or eHobby would re-release the original in this colour scheme.  IT. IS. PERFECT.



Masterpiece; not just a scale, but a state of mind?

I love the accessories, a choice of solid or translucent colour hands really work for me, and the option to include a proper pre-Empurata Shockwave left hand is awesome too, so he can brandish himself as a weapon in a homage to those oh-so-common animation errors.

I like the fact that the barrel no longer partforms but compacts onto his back, very smooth.

And I like the fact he has a backpack in robot mode, if you like the G1 backpack look (which I do very much).  And it’s multi-purpose too…

As it also doubles as a stand for him. Granted, I think the Heirofthedog custom stand for Quakewave is a much more elegant display solution, but I’ll take this.

If you love this figure and don’t like hearing different opinions, stop reading now and we can remain friends.

I don’t like anything about the way this figure transforms, it’s weight, it’s height, or some of it’s proportions.  I don’t know why, as I was firmly expecting to prefer him to Quakewave, but that centimeter or so of height takes a lot away from this figure.




The legs, including that double-hinge in the thigh (and the permanently visible line that creates) really turn me off.  The inside of the legs, including flappy tabs to fill out the inner leg really feel very amateur to me.

Even the presentation of the packaging feels like a let down, I really miss the booklets that used to come with them that used to show the entire history of the character’s releases in Japan, you just don’t get that any more.

It’s a shame, as I really love so much about this figure (head, chest, arms, hosepipe, COLOUR), but overall, he just doesn’t feel like a Masterpiece.  To me.  I’m sure the weight has a lot to do with that as well, but it’s more the feel of the toy as I transform it and pose it, it just didn’t feel or look quite like what I want it to.  I suspect a lot of that is to do with the fact that despite this new toy, I still really love – and prefer – Quakewave.



I’ve written elsewhere how I don’t quite feel the current MP range lives up to it’s Masterpiece title, and while everyone can agree there has been a shift in sensibilities between MP01 and MP10, I feel there has been another shift since then.  When MP10 came out, I believe the line was a fine balance of three things; realistic alt. mode, an attempt of staying true to the original toy concept, whilst also paying attention to the animation model.  I believe Takara have abandoned this concept in favour of outright animation model tribute, and we can see this very clearly with the legs on Ironhide and the forthcoming Inferno.


In a way though, this can be a very positive thing.

For a while, I feel a lot of MP collectors felt that their 3rd party Masterpiece offerings were merely a stand-in for the “real thing”, and while I’m sure many people still feel that way (check out the market value of Quakewave now compared to 18 months ago), I’m sure there are many people out there like myself, whose perfect version of the characters is closer to the original toys or comic-book representation of the characters.

Whereas a lot of people thought 3P were merely stand-ins, we now have genuine options.  No-one can deny that MMC offer a different style with their Ocular Max larger scale Jaguar than the tiny MP offering.  No-one can argue that Carry is attempting a COMPLETELY different aesthetic to MP09, even though every fan is more than welcome to argue forever over which one they feel is subjectively “better”.  I feel the same thing is in effect here with the Waves; if you grew up loving the cartoon first and foremost, above everything else, then yeah, absolutely certainly MP29 Laserwave is THE Shockwave representation for you.  For me, growing up with the comics (including the UK stuff and his fight to the death with Death’s Head), then Quakewave is absolutely THE Shockwave representation I always wanted.  Chunky legs and all.


And long may it continue.  After the fandom seemed to collectively move away from CHUG in favour of MP, I feared there would be a homogenization effect in all our once diverse and eclectic collections towards a one MP range world order, but as the years have moved on, we’ve moved once again towards a myriad and varied collection of different styles fitting into a similar scale.

Now, I’m sure this bugs many people, who would argue that MP isn’t just a scale, but a sensibility; a drive towards the perfect on-screen interpretation of their favourite characters.  And that might be true for them.  But for many others; it’s all about options.

Regardless of which group you belong to; what a golden age we live in!

Thanks for reading!

Many 3rd Party and Official Masterpieces are currently available to pre-order or are in stock at Kapow Toys, as well as a wide selection of Shockwave figures.

26 years ago, the very first episode of Brave Exkaiser aired, the first of the ongoing Yuusha / Brave universe series (sometimes spelled Exkizer or Exkaizer).  Produced by Sunrise, and funded by and with designs from Takara, it wasn’t long until toys followed.


We’ve looked at a few Brave bits recently, so lets go right back to its roots and look at some of the earliest toys, with the titular character Exkaiser and his various combinations, across his two releases; first in 1990, and then later as part of the short-lived Masterpiece Brave line.

Exkaiser / King Loader


Original packaging


Reissue packaging circa 2001

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Exkaiser is a Space Police car, who powers-up to reveal the motif of a lion on his chest.  Because Brave.  No more explanation needed.




Shown above are the original on the right, and a 2001 era re-release (unstickered) on the left.  The only difference between the two is that the upper arms on the original are molded in blue, and on the reissue they are molded in red.  As you can see, I’ve opted to show Exkaiser in powered up robot mode.  Considering this is the smallest part of Exkaiser, it’s worth pointing out that he’s about the size of a small Voyager TF figure.



Here we compare the original to the 2006 era Masterpiece release (MPB01 King Exkaiser).  You’ll notice quite a size disparity.  Despite being a much smaller product, the Masterpiece Exkaiser is a much more involved transformation, and features loads more articulation, as well as a display stand so you can ace some action poses with him.





Here we see Exkaiser attached to his trailer; King Loader.  If you’re getting a distinct Star Convoy vibe from the trailer, you’re in the right place mentally, as these toys tend to share a lot of similarities with the latter day Takara only Transformers releases as seen in Victory and Revenge of Convoy.  It’s a big chunk of attractive plastic, which sacrifices all poseability in favour of sheer size and chunkiness.  If you prefer you toys with a bit more poseability, I suggest you look at the Masterpiece below.


I’m sure it comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone to find out that I prefer the chunky vintage (warts and all) over the Masterpiece.


King Exkaiser

As is the way of things in Brave, Exkaiser and King Loader can – of course – combine to become a bigger robot.



Very similar in execution to vintage Star Sabre, King Loader can transform by himself, but without Exkaiser inside, he has no face.  It’s these little details that link Brave and Transformers, with their parallel designs informing and influencing each other, which won me over to collecting a new toyline when I always said my mecha collecting was going to be Transformers only.


Everything opens up, ready to insert Exkaiser, and when you lower the chest and head compartment of King Loader, only then do you get KING EXKAISER.



There’s lots to like about this mold, even with his shampoo bottle articulation (something he shares with Sky Garry and Star Convoy!).  First off, lets look at that impossibly Takara styled but-totally-not-Optimus-honest-Guv faceplate.  What about the crest on his head?  Every bit the king.  Giant lion motif on the chest despite the complete lack of animal alt. mode?  Check!  Weapons storage?





He’s a big old toy, towering over the majority of G1 combiners, even just in this mode.  But what about his Masterpiece version?



Well this guy does the job too.  Massively more poseable, and with a lot more anime-esque styling.  There is a lot to like about this guy, and I can see why a huge number of people prefer him to the original.  personally, it’s not what I got into collecting Brave for, as I like the original chunky Takara aesthetic, but hey, isn’t it great we have options?  If they had done more than two of the Masterpieces, maybe I would be more into the line, but as it is, it just feels like a fragment, rather than a collection.


Side by side shows the biggest differences between the two.  They are very disparate aesthetic choices; neither is right nor wrong, it is just a matter of preference, and no-one can deny that the MP makes a great stand-alone piece.



Dragon Kaiser

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The companion piece to Exkaiser, Dragon Kaiser is an intimidating lump of plastic in his own right.  I’ve found this guy one of the hardest Brave pieces to track down in good condition – much harder to find than Exkaiser –  maybe as he is prone to yellowing, and sadly the weapon attachments are key to his alt. mode too, which somewhat diminishes the example I currently own.

Dragon Kaiser is a big toy, with such an Optimus Prime inspired face it’s untrue.  Present as always in Brave are the impressive chromed headcrest and a larger than life chest motif.   As with King Exkaiser, he only becomes this form when Exkaiser is present inside his torso area, otherwise he is simply known as Dragon.



His alt. mode is a big, huge ass jet technically known as the Dragon Jet.  His weapons should plug into his shoulders to form an extra set of wings.  He transforms similar to the way Grandus / Dagbase transforms lies down.





MPB-02: Dragon Kaiser was the second and final Masterpiece Brave release.  I no longer own this toy, simply because when I bought one and opened the box, I wasn’t expecting a bunch of parts to assemble, I was expecting a toy that wasn’t there and doesn’t really exist.  I genuinely got nothing from the MP Dragon Kaiser, and never even combined the two before selling it on.  Genuinely, I disliked it, in the same way I dislike the CMS Gokin Gaogaigar releases; they don’t feel like toys – rather a bunch of fragile and easy to break pieces.  Maybe this is unfair, as the MPB releases definitely display better than the CMS releases, but I was disappointed with the toy and the MPB line as a whole.

However, in the interest of completeness, check out TJ Duckett of Kuma Style and his amazing article on MP Dragon Kizer.  This is certainly a huge improvement on the original in terms of articulation, I guess I just love bricks.






Great Exkaiser

What, you thought we were done?  This is Brave, remember?

The final form of these guys is when they combine together.



As cool as the head and chest are, it does look sort of stupid combined to be honest, but hot damn is it a mega-imposing toy.  This is taller than the Energon releases of Unicron and Primus, this is taller than Planet X’s Genesis figure…  In Brave terms, this is almost as tall as Brave King J-Der, and makes Super Fire Dagwon look small.



Sure, there are obvious compromises to the figure, but this was Takara’s first ever attempt at a Brave-style hat-on-a-hat combiner.  The forearms are clearly too big to be in any sort of proportion, and you can see way too much of King Exkaiser through the arms.  He barely even has articulation, just two points of movement in his arms.  Dragon Kaiser’s back plate does nearly all the work of holding this guy together as well (doubling as the crest surround, to make the chest even more over the top), and is easily damaged.  But damn, if that doesn’t make for one big ass toy!  Although, this is one Brave combiner I choose to display in individual combined modes as Dragon Kaiser and King Exkaiser, as the space saved displaying them combined isn’t worth the less pleasing aesthetic of the combined mode compared to the individuals.  Unfortunately – and rarely for Brave – he is less than the sum of his parts.




Looking at the vintage figure, I can easily see why Takara wanted to tackle this again and try to improve on their representation of this character.  One of the best things about doing these blogs is having the chance to revisit toys and form new opinions, and perhaps I judged the MPB02 release too soon, as there is no denying that both Dragon kaiser and Great Exkaiser are huge improvements on their original releases.  With my obsession for collecting sprawling lines, and in my bid to cut down on extraneous pieces in my collection, I might have sold this truncated line short.
If you want a more in depth examination of the Masterpiece version of Great Exkaiser, I recommend you check out TJ Duckett’s amazing and in-depth review right here.  You won’t regret it!


As with most of these Brave characters, there are a myriad of non-transforming vinyl and PVC pieces you can collect most of which are more anime accurate, but for me, none of them come close to having the character of the original Takara releases.

Thanks for reading as always, and we value your feedback.

I’ve been promising this one for a while, he’s made cameos in two of my blogs to date, my Thunder Dagwon and Gunkid articles.  I love everything about this toy, so be warned, there will be gushing.

Fire Dagwon

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Fire Dagwon is composed of Fire Stratos; a Lancia Stratos Emergency Services vehicle that is piloted by the human En to become Dagfire.  Alongside the drone vehicles (no individual robot modes) Fire Ladder and Fire Rescue, they can combine with Fire Jumbo to form the mighty Fire Dagwon.


On their own, these are not great toys.  Fire Rescue and Fire Ladder are an extra bit of fun and they can store in Fire Jumbo’s immense cargo hold waiting to be used as forearms, and Dagfire can be stored inside Fire Dagwon’s chest in combined mode or in jet mode, and the chest can be lowered like a ramp, so there is a very MicroMasters play pattern at work here, and Dagfire isn’t awful on his own, if only a very basic transforming robot.



Dagfire. A distant cousin of Wheeljack maybe?


Fire Jumbo is immense.




He only just fits inside my lightbox, and his alt. mode is a similar length to Masterpiece Ultra Magnus.




Some people find the cargo hold detracts from his alt. mode, but I just find it immense in a fun way, and everything is very functional for the play pattern. The split down the cockpit / nosecone I find more detracting, but it’s transforming toy and form follows function.  Similar to the geeky 1701 tail-number on Thunder Dagwon, Fire Dagwon provides his own nerdy tribute.




His transformation is incredibly fun.  Brave toys never really feel like a hassle, although they can sometimes feels a bit partformery.  Not so here, as the main component of the set, Fire Dagwon is a solid transforming-fan’s transformer, with only the forearms adding to the partforming party, but in an incredible Brave and Duke Fire sort of way.





In robot mode is where Fire Dagwon really starts to shine, he’s a big toy, at G1 Scorponok height.  There is an even bigger KO version available with chromed engines, which is closer to Pandinus levels of height, however, I’ve never seen a KO version of Power Dagwon, so you’re only really getting half of the toy.



The prices of Brave toys have really been creeping up over the last 5 years since I started collecting, MISB examples used to be common for most of these guys, nowadays I recommend grabbing them even if they’re loose, as it might be hard to track down a MISB example.  I really would like a brand-new MISB Fire Dagwon as I feel he looks slightly tarnished next to my crisp MISB Power Dagwon, but that’s the reality of white toys and honestly, this guy looks like he was owned and played with at some point, and that’s pretty cool.  Shame they lost the beak on the robot mode chest though, as this lets down his individual robot mode.


Power Dagwon




Power Dagwon is another super fun toy, and just the sheer size of this square block of plastic fun must have amazed many a child in it’s day.  Size and weight wise, this feels closer to an original X-box than a transformer.




It’s chunkytastic, and if their is one thing kids love it’s massive construction vehicles.  I wish I’d had something like this as a kid.  It’s easily taller than G1 Devastator in this mode, with a LOT more mass.



Play features?  Actual rubber treads.  He can rotate on his base like a digger.  His digger arm extends out about a foot.  He has three different accessories including a chromed drill point, a claw hand, and a grabbing digger scoop thing.  I don’t know the technical term, and I don’t think the Brave designers really cared too much either.

Despite my love for this guy, he does have the robot chest lying down on his back, and whether you fold it up or down it’s pretty visible.  Is a giant blinged out dragon / cat head a distraction on your construction equipment?  Not in the world of Brave!




Besides, it makes a wonderful chest piece.  The transformation isn’t great, because this guy is ALL the partsforming.  You basically pull this guy apart and re-stick him together to make this mode, but that is all part of the functionality of the final form for these guys.  This is Brave remember?  It’s all about hats on top of hats.



All that red and chrome make it feel like Christmas every day.


He certainly has an odd aesthetic, and the robot mode is probably not what you expect from the alt. mode.  All that yellow seems to give way to an awful lot of red, and even more chromed parts seem to show up.  Loosely sticking to that emergency services theme that Fire Dagwon has, his head looks a little like a Fireman’s helmet, albeit a very decorated one!

The biggest drawback to this mode?  Well, it’s easy to say the giant claw-arm attached to the right arm detracts from the figure, and in many ways it does, however it’s incredible well balanced and weighted, so even fully extended it doesn’t topple this figure.  I’d say the drawback to this mode is more that the giant claw-arm cannot detach from the robot mode at all (well, without removing the entire right arm in the process).







This is Brave remember?  What better way to enhance this figure, than by adding a WHOLE OTHER FIGURE TO IT.  Yup, last weeks feature Brave toy GunKid attaches to this guy in his giant gun mode.  There is a stabilising arm built into Power Dagwon just for this feature, and once again the balance is flawless.  Even is the aesthetic looks more insane than threatening.

But hey, we’re STILL not done…





In order to make this guy you have to pull Power Dagwon to bits as mentioned above, but it’s worth it, and he manages to have his own totally unique features and aesthetic, mostly due to it’s insane chest piece.  I mean; look at it!!!



Flag, Rock, Eagle, right Charlie?


It’s worth noting that blinged out chest piece from Power Dagwon becomes a head crest for Super Fire Dagwon.  It’s just enough to change the look of Fire Dagwon’s head, whilst adding that extra level of over-the-topness.  I love it.




The entire arm assembly from power Dagwon becomes this guys forearms, Power Dagwon’s feet become this guys boots, and that huge arm-crane assembly… suddenly not so huge.



It’s not easy to tell what’s going on in this picture above, so I’ll talk you through it.  Pre-combination you store Fire Rescue and Fire Ladder on the boots, which disappear inside the legs of Fire Dagwon.  It’s totally pointless, essentially a storage option, but there is no denying that the first time you do this during the combination process, it feels insanely cool, and you know you’re building something immense.  Also, we see Dagfire in Stratos mode hiding inside the chest piece.  As an extra note of coolness, the plane landing gear inside Fire Dagwon’s chest piece actually has extra in-built functionality, as it holds the combined chest plate in place.




It’s not all good, this insanely sized combiner does have a few compromises.  The redundant torso from power Dagwon has to go somewhere, and it clips onto the back of Super Fire Dagwon, held in place by that huge tail-fin kibble.  Again, the animal-totem chest piece just hangs there, all sad and redundant.  It’s not all bad, and they use the leg pegs from Power Dagwon as storage slots for the spare crane-arm attachments.  It’s a lot of back kibble, which I’m sure must be a deal breaker for some, but I never mind it, if it gets us to a figure that is this ambitious and ostentatious.



But we’re still not done!  You think GunKid didn’t want to get into the act one last time?  He doesn’t look quite as big and out-of-place anymore, but it is probably a step too far.

You can also add on Lian, a separate figure that becomes a golden sword.  I’ve never bought Lian, mostly because he looks awful, and I’m trying not to be that completest guy.  Having said that, now I feel like I’ve failed you all.



Brave has it’s own identity separate to the Transformers line despite it’s half-parentage, and this guys constant evolution towards it’s final form is a farcry from Transformers, but very typical of the giant mecha format.  Still, there is more than enough Takara in the toys to keep fans like me interested, even if they differ somewhat from the very Sunrise animation models.

I love the transformation, I love the combination, I love that GunKid can be brandished as a weapon, I love how silly the whole thing is.  To me, it’s the ultimate evolution of those late Japan only G1 toys, and it’s nice to see the G1 Transformers book-ended with Diaclone and Brave, three distinctly different lines which influence and inform each other in equal measures.

There is a standard version of this toy (marked STD instead of DX), but it’s less than half the size, and when I received it by accident early in my naive collecting days, I instantly sold it on.  I’m sure it’s nice enough, but it’s not this.  There are other releases of this character, in non-transforming PVC form, closer to the animation model.  nice enough again, but for me – a hardened Takara fanboy – I’m out.


For me, this is as good as collecting gets, and the easiest article I think I’ll ever have the pleasure to write.  These guys are highly recommended.