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
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.
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.
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.
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.