Galaxy Shuttle is one of the most well known and popular of the latter day “Victory”-era Japanese Transformers, even gaining popularity and traction in the West where he has had zero fiction appearances. As such, he tends to be a very expensive and hard to acquire item, with even average condition loose versions of the toy selling out within minutes of the doors opening at even the biggest Transformers conventions like Botcon.
Why is this?
Maybe it’s because he is really, really good! A very solid latter-day Transformer which relies on very few gimmicks, other than his ability to transform from a really cool robot into a really nice Space Shuttle mode. No Pretender shell, no Micro-Master companion or launcher, no third, fourth, fifth, sixth or seventh mode, no head / breast / target / power mastery, no Action Mastering,; just a solid toy. Such a solid toy that he was also snapped up by Gig for the Trasformers line a year later, and then retooled and re-released as a Brave toy six years later in 1996 as part of the Brave Command Dagwon line.
Shuttle Robo as is sometimes known (as he was called in his first appearance), was released in Japan in 1989 under the designation C-326.
The robot mode, as mentioned before, is big, bulky and stunning. It’s no wonder he was later used for Brave as he in many ways looks more like a Brave figure rather than a Transformer, except for that awesome face that screams Heroic Autobot. He is a big toy compared to others of the time, whilst obviously not being as big as a city-bot, but that’s because his character is a big robot in the show as well. Unlike Blast Off or Astrotrain, this guy is a space shuttle capable of carrying huge robots inside him which doesn’t shrink down to insane sizes in robot mode.
His transformation is a joy, everything moves instinctively, but annoyingly his wings do get in the way sometimes. You can pop them off to make the transformation easier, but repeated popping on and off of the wings tends to cause stress marks to the softer plastic material holding the wings in place, and it has been known to perish and crack on a few unfortunate cases.
Once in vehicle mode, he really shines. You can interact with the Micro-Masters play pattern in a couple of different ways, and you can even open up his cockpit to pop a Micro-Master pilot in there, which does make me wonder why they didn’t include one with him to increase the value of the package and bulk out an already close to bloated line.
There have also been rumours that Galaxy Shuttle was originally supposed to come with a launcher of some type, but I’ve never been able to confirm that, as it’s very hard to search for that without getting assaulted by Richard Branson propaganda.
You can also pop open his cargo bay doors (his arms basically) to add a further bit of play value, and his weapon stores nicely, becoming his tail-fin in shuttle mode.
He also interacts nicely with the Countdown base playset, as seen above and below, with his rear blasters molded to fit in place of Countdown’s booster rocket.
I’ve always loved this dual packaging design that you can find on some Brave, with a solid package art piece on one side, and a window showing you the toy on the other. This is something Joustra Diaclone toys did very well and I’d like to see it more often in today’s toys.
Technically, Thunder Dagwon is actually the combined form of DagThunder and Thunder Shuttle, but most people refer to this guy on his own as Thunder Dagwon.
And all new mold DagThunder is included in the package, comprised of Thunder Rai and his Thunder Bike, but they are in a completely different scale to Thunder Shuttle. While they’re a cool addition to the package, they just store on the back of the figure and don’t really affect the look of the figure like other combining Braves, so I rarely combine them and keep them separate. I should also mention that T’Dawg here comes with another spear weapon, not pictured, as I removed it from the figure when i took it to a nerd meet-up for safe-keeping, and I’ve promptly lost it.
The figure has some extensive retooling, in robot mode this is most noticeable with his new head sculpt. Not everyone likes his head-crest, and it’s very removed from the Transformers aesthetic, I’ve even heard it described as a curled up gold poop sat on his fore-head, which I think is a tad unfair. However, it’s no argument that Thunder Dagwon does look a lot more angry and threatening than his Autobot counterpart.
His new chest required that Takara change the entire cockpit canopy, introducing a swivel joint so the flashy chest is contained within the cockpit in alt. mode, but this obviously gives him a very different look in alt. mode as well. Other than that simple twist of the cockpit, and the folding of his ears away, he transforms exactly the same as Galaxy Shuttle. Only easier.
Well, they have completely changed his wing attachments, almost making them a fixed double joint which allows for slightly better rotation and clearance, meaning they’re never in the way during the transformation. Which is great as they can’t be removed. I also prefer the wings on Thunder Dagwon, as they are more space-shuttley, with Galaxy Shuttle having molded gun detailing on his wing-tips, seemingly just to make it harder to find good condition examples in the future.
Some say the additional front wings do detract from the space shuttle mode a bit though, meaning you’d need to do a hybrid of the G1 and Brave toys to get a perfect Space Shuttle look for the real nerds out there. You know, the sort of nerds who’d appreciate this designation on the tail-fin.
Overall, I actually prefer Thunder Dagwon, I love the head, the over-the-top chest, the more stable wing transformation and wing accuracy, and I think the flash of colour and ostentatious chest makes him really stand out. Hard to do against a wall of other over-the-top Brave toys.
That’s not to take anything away from Galaxy Shuttle, as both are great toys. I’ve actually wanted Galaxy Shuttle for years before I eventually got him this year at Botcon, whereas Thunder Dagwon just… sort of happened, I guess. The scarcity and value of Galaxy Shuttle (not to mention the difficulty in finding an un-yellowed one) means that acquiring one is an event, even for the most jaded of burnt out toy collectors, and this too-many-a-grail piece would be a stand-out choice in any collection. I can definitely see why it is so popular.
But I’m not done yet… that’s not all the secrets that Thunder Dagwon contains. The sharp eyed amoung you might have noticed a difference in Thunder Dagwon’s gun in the pictures above. The grey cover on his weapon does more than just make his gun look different, it enables another one of those lovely over-the-top Brave combinations I enjoy talking about.
Yes, while Galaxy Shuttle contains the ability to port onto Countdown for a shuttle launch aesthetic (don’t ask where the solid fuel boosters are), Thunder Dagwon contains the ability to re-create another slice of real-world awesomeness from the Space Shuttle era. Rather than the usual Brave robot combination, this is a vehicle combination, one that’s too big for me to photograph in my light box or more traditional brick-work setting.
Yep, Thunder Dagwon uses his weapon clip to “combine” with big bad Fire Dagwon, a huge cargo plane. This is very cool, and the connection is so strong that you can hold the plane upside-down and Thunder Dagwon isn’t going anywhere! Fire Dagwon is himself a massive beast of a robot, one who follows the traditional mecha formula of combining with another robot, Power Dagwon, to make an EVEN BIGGER robot; Super Fire Dagwon.
I’m in a Dagwon sort of mood. Maybe we’ll take a look at that next week…
Thanks for reading!