ultra-raker-4Today we’re looking at one of the very first Brave releases from way back in 1990, a land so far back it’s actually before G2 and Beast Wars.  Time can be weird sometime, with Beast Wars feeling simultaneously not that long ago and 20 years old somehow, and to many people who’ve only discovered the Yuusha series in recent years, it can seem weird that Brave is already 26 years old!



Blue Raker and Green Raker




Arriving in the very first Brave toyline, Blue Raker and Green Raker pre-date Rail Racer and the RID toyline by a whole decade,and are the first Bullet trains from Takara since Shouki and Yukikaze were released as part of Raiden in 1987 (coincidentally reissued in 1990 for the Zone toyline), but those molds designed by Kohjin Ohno date all the way back to 1982/1983 for the Diaclone line, making it the first time Takara had worked on Bullet Trains for some time.




The rumour has it that the Raker Bros. were first designed for the Transformers toyline (presumably the Japanese toyline who were favouring big and bulky while the Western mainline was totally Micro Master and Action Master focused), and were very far along in the design process when the decision was made to port them over to the Brave toyline, due to declining sales and the waning popularity of the Transformers TV show.  While they may have been the first Bullet Trains in the Brave toyline, they certainly wouldn’t be the last.




They make pretty cool trains, very long ones at that, and the fact that they can join together to make one long train is a very cool feature indeed.  If one had to criticise them, the front two thirds look way more inspired design wise than the back end of the train, but functionality and form are important, and these guys had to do a fair amount for their day.




Their robot modes are fairly basic with limited leg and arm movement, but the transformations are a little more involved then they might look at a glance, as the bodies have to fold around on themselves in order to get to robot mode from train mode.  The legs can be a problem as while splitting the train apart, it’s very easy for the pegs on the white section of the legs to stick together and crack off inside the peg holes, meaning the black sections of the train which fold up against the inner leg to make the outside leg of each robot mode cannot peg into place.  My Raker Bros. are a recent acquisition and are by no means mint, and this is how mine arrived, after a few hours of unsuccessfully digging around trying to extract the broken pegs from their peg holes, I realised I was never going to be able to do this and instead opted to hot-knife the black pegs off so the legs could fold together and form the robot modes.  Annoying, but with one peg gone, the toy still holds together amazingly well in all modes.  If both white pegs (or black pegs) were removed, this would probably not be the case, so; handle with care!

The robot modes are basically identical, with a superficial change on their train roof / outer chest and hip molding.  The green and the blue just about does enough to make them distinctive, but that’s not a problem, as these two are clearly a team, and the first team in Takara history to do the vertical line of symmetry combination (is this the first ever vertical line combination?  Comment below if you know otherwise!)

For those keeping count, Blue Raker is the older brother, and the two combine thusly:




Ultra Raker


Yup, like the majority of great Brave designs, these two combine, and pre-date the Gaogaigar King of Braves ___Ryu brothers by a number of years.  The combination is incredible simple, with the trains basically connecting roof to roof and the train fronts folding down to make the shoulders and revealing the arms in the process.




The combined mode looks pretty cool, but there are limitations with zero leg movement and not even a basic head rotation, the head pegged into a rare bit of die-cast.  The arms have a little more movement than some toys of this time period, but they’re still fairly limited in what poses can be achieved when the rest of the figure is shampoo-bottle levels of poseability.  You can combine plug the head and chest in on the other side of the bodies for a blue / green gestalt, the only difference being the shape of the feet, the hands (though basic) are even molded for this back-to-front combination.

It’s also worth pointing out that the two guns combine to make a super-gun, basic but effective, and a theme we’d see built on over and over again for the next few decades of transforming robots.  When combined, Ultra Raker can perform the Ultra Double Chain Crusher, Ultra Shoulder Crush, Ultra Cannon Beam, and Ultra Kick, because why wouldn’t they?




Sadly missing from my set are two hand-shields which clip onto the combined mode shins, I usually like to collect Brave toys MIB if not MISB, but the rising prices and the increasingly hard to find nature of the Brave line mean I grabbed this guy while I could, on the road to completing my Brave DX collection.  Along with the weapons, the shin-guards store away nicely in alt. mode (so how did the previous owner lose them, huh?  HUH?!), unfortunately the chest and the head do not store away in any mode – despite the forehead having a hole front and center that looks like something could plug into it – and are only used for combined mode.  Brave can often be guilty of partsforming, but having leftover kibble is always a shame, but I guess for 1990 we shouldn’t expect more.


The winning part of this design is the head sculpt, which is just so Takara it hurts, and it fits right into the Brave shelf, and while in some ways it looks more Transformersy, the basic shape is perhaps a bit too Optimus Primey to fit into that toy range without confusion.  While the build quality is very good, perhaps it’s triple changing trainbot vertical-combination is too ambitious a design for 1990, but while it doesn’t quite land I still see it as a valuable step on the way towards some really quite cool stuff.

And whatever your opinion, it still turned out better than this KO.



As always, thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment and to share this post.  Be sure to visit the main Kapow page as well for some excellent toys, as they make these blogs happen!  Thanks for reading!

Hailed by many people to be the definitive Brave toy, today we take a look at Brave Fighter of Legend Da-Garn’s Pegasus Saber, released by Takara in 1992.

There is nothing conventional or by the numbers about Brave, but here we see one of the more common patterns their combiners followed, which is 3 plus 1.  3 figures make one combiner, and then another figure joins the fracas and alters the final form – sometimes majorly, sometimes merely cosmetically.

No messing, straight in we go.

Jumbo Saber, Jet Saber and Shuttle Saber


Inspiring names, huh? If you haven’t figured them out yet, they’re written right on the figures too!!

As you can see, the theme with this set is flight.  Jet Saber might seem like the stand-out figure from this set because, lets face it, it has a bit of a Jetfire vibe, albeit more CHUG Jetfire than vintage, but those swing-wings and contrasting colours really make the figure stand-out.  Shuttle Saber does a lot of things right too, but by this point (1992) we’ve already had a few different space shuttle Transforming robots, each with various pluses and minuses.

Instead, the stand-out figure here is Jumbo Saber, mostly for doing something that most Hasbro, Takara and even 3rd party designs haven’t managed to make: a transforming robot plane that doesn’t have a robot stuck underneath it!!!

If you look at Jumbo-Saber (now on the right), you can see how well the robot mode was hidden inside the plane, with none of the robot showing.  He makes excellent use of the under-wing engines as arms, two years before G2 Ransack attempts the same thing, and many years before Cybertron Wing-Saber (no relation) and Jetfire pull this off as convincingly.  His face also looks like the love-child of Soundwave and Brawl!

Shuttle-Saber does an amazing job of going from a white shuttle to a red robot, and Jet-Saber wins extra points for having a familiar-yet-different transformation that makes the whole thing feel intuitive.

Extra kudos to these guys for having pictures of their vehicle modes on their chests too!  This sort of detail is often lost on me, as I don’t have the heart to apply stickers to a lot of the formerly MISB examples I’ve bought, but I’m fast realising I should do this for all my Braves after I partially applied the sticker sheets to this guy, as he was far too bare without them.

Sky Saber


Jet-Saber does a great job as a three-in-one combiner, he feels very satisfying in hand, and in many ways complete.  You wouldn’t necessarily know he has an extra trick up his sleeve, and well, that’s just how Brave likes it.

There’s an interesting mix of colours at play here with the subdued whites and blues mixing very well with a more militaristic navy colour, and then having to content with the Brazilian flag intruding upon his chest!

Shuttle Saber makes up most of the legs, but very much in two halves, with the thighs from Jumbo Saber giving this guy a bit of a shaky looking base, but the whole thing is incredibly stable throughout and the upper body is solid like a rock.  The head mode is satisfyingly “wait, is that Prime?” in that time-honoured Brave tradition, and like most Brave combiners everything is used with no kibble or partsforming.


Notice the chest sticker; an image of an unicorn.  We’ll come back to that later.

Hawk Saber


Hawk Saber is the fourth member of the team, and while he is the weakest toy of the set, he does open the door for the Sabers to find their final form in a very impressive way.





Transforming from a robot with limited articulation and a rather MOTU Sorceress head-crest which often obscures the face, into the only member of this flight team with an animal mode, already made apparent by his alt.-mode spoilerific naming.




Like a lot of Fourth team members, the functionality of the final form comes at the price of the limitations of the fourth figure itself, as the toy is a far stretch from the awesomeness of the character designs for the show.  The alt. mode is a fairly basic looking hawk (in the vein of Decepticon Wingspan), and the figure doesn’t really transform for the final combination as much as pull apart.  But few argue at the result.



Hawk Saber has a Phoenix on his chest – just to further confuse the already confused mythical animal status of this team –  let despite this it was actually the Sky-Saber team that returned from the dead thanks to Hawk Saber, after they died at the hands of the evil Seven Changer (yeah, you heard right Sixshot; SEVEN!  Suck it!).

Pegasus Saber

And it all leads to this!


The four-man combined form of the Sabers; Pegasus Saber.

Considered by many to be the best Brave combiner of them all.


Hawk Saber offers new front legs, relegating the Shuttle Saber parts to rear legs, as well as sprucing up the torso of Pegasus Saber.  His hawk head works better as a chest mount than it does as a character head, and the new combined form head gives Pegasus a decidedly Roman-esque look.  Although his sword is not too convincing, he is one of the first transforming robot toys I can think of to come equipped with a bow and arrow.

You may have noticed that Pegasus Saber actually transforms into a winged Centaur, but hey, whatever, it’s all mythical right?  Science cannot disprove Pegasus Saber (I wish that was a quote from the show).

I’ve never actually watched the show, but I’ll happily sit down and watch all of the combination videos in a row.  Amazing stuff.


Centaur Saber is an amazing toy, and 3/4 of the individual figures are awesome in their own right.  The set gives you two amazing combined modes to choose from.  There is an awful lot to love!

But best Brave figure ever?  Best combining robot of all time?

The Jury is out on that one I’m afraid, lest we offer subjective opinion as objective fact.  For me, there are a few other Brave combiners I prefer to Pegasus Saber, but they all offer something unique and interesting, and for me that is the entire point of the Brave toyline.  As much as I like the Scramble City toys and play pattern, I feel that somewhat defines how the Transformers brand approaches combination, which is a real shame given the accomplishments of pre-TF Raiden and Devastator (which are now 35 years old!), or the excellent Liokaiser.

It’s not that Takara slavishly cater to the Scramble City style of combination either, they have gone off track plenty of times with characters like Buildking and the excellent Rail Racer, and the attempt at line-wide duo-formers that was the Energon / Superlink line; it’s more that the fans want and expect the Scramble City play pattern, and that’s fine… but for everything?  Really?  Even Combiner Wars Liokaiser?

I for one hope that the Scramble City play-pattern of Combiner Wars has sated the fans appetite for now, and I hope over the next decade or so we can get some amazing and innovative combiner concepts from Takara and Hasbro.  Sadly though, I think the success of Combiner Wars coupled with inevitable combiner fatigue might mean it’ll be some time before we get anything close to approaching the weird and wonderful world of Brave.

But who knows, the RID toyline seems to be getting more adventurous!  Fingers crossed.

Today we look at one of the bigger molds from the end of the Transformers line, an item that was exclusive to Asia as part of the Zone line in 1990, and then a few years later as part of Brave Express Might Gaine in 1993









C-888 Dai Atlas KO



Dai Atlas was the new Autobot Commander in the (very) short-lived Zone mono-series, and was the flagship of the 1990 line, including a box-set release as Big Powered, along with Sonic Bomber and Roadfire.





Dai Atlas is a quadformer, with four alt. modes (which feel more like 3 and a half), and because of his Micromaster compatibility one of those is the obligatory base mode.  His son Speeder accompanies him as a Micromaster partner, and we’ll show him in more focus in a few minutes.


He’s a very basic robot in terms of poseability, with only the arms moving, a term I tend to call Shampoo-Bottle Syndrome, as that is the same level of poseability as found in most character model Shampoo Bottles.  He is a great looking robot, with a lot of character.



Unfortunately, the version of the mold we’re looking at today is the “high-end” Vintage KO released a number of years back, designated C-888, as 8 is considered a lucky and prosperous number in China.  As such, there are problems with the mold:  Number One – absolute top of the list – is the head, on this version it has been glued on wonky, and badly painted.  The second blemish are the wings, that do not hold in place as well as you would expect or want them to, and come far short of what I’ve experience with genuine versions of the mold.  The rest of the figure is very good quality, to the point that the joints are probably slightly better than the Brave version.  Overall, I would say the KO makes a good temporary stand-in especially as a cheaper alternative, but it’s not to be mistaken for the real thing.



Dai Atlas is motorized, and arguably it’s greatest use is using the motorized treads as moving walkways for the base mode.  The city can link up to other Micromaster bases, including those of Roadfire and Sonic Bomber.  The functionality of those figures also comes in to play in the alt. modes, with Roadfire and Dai Atlas forming Land Powered, Sonic Bomber and Dai Atlas forming Sky Powered, and all three together forming Big Powered, hence the name of the box-set release.  We’ll be looking at Big Powered and there cross-over functionality in a future blog, today we concentrate on the Dai Atlas mold.

His Drill Tank mode above is also motorised, and can move forward or backwards.  It’s quite a fun mode, as Speeder can  man the gun turret as it goes.

His Jet mode is basically his Drill Tank mode, with the arms folded backwards, gun removed, trap-door closed and the clip-on wings attached.  It makes for a rather clunky and bottom heavy “Jet”, but it’s sort of fun in that later-day Takara way.

For me, the absolute high-light of this mold are the accessories, and their multiple uses.  The base-mode gun turret can stand on it’s own with the use of a little grey platform, the wings can become a Sword of sorts which (sort of, maybe) looks like a “Z”, and the blue ramps from base mode can join with part of the gun turret to form a shield for robot mode.  Even the little radar dishes from city mode have a use as shields of a sort for the gun.  Not everything can be used in every mode, which is a shame, and there isn’t even storage for some of the parts like we see in the thought out modern Masterpieces, but it’s still a lot of part functionality for the G1 era.



Unfortunately, the “high-end” C-888 KO of Dai Atlas only comes with a badly put together version of Speeder, so the picture above shows him with the version of Speeder that comes with Goryu.  Both are unpainted, which is a shame as a touch of paint on the face would go a long way to help both.  He transforms into a Corvette concept car.



Goryu joined the Might Gaine series in episode 26.  The animation model makes him look quite different to his recycled toy appearance, he’s much leaner and athletic in the show.  Removing the wings in robot mode goes a long way towards making his appearance look much sleeker.



Goryu is – in my opinion – a much more attractive colour-scheme, but that could just be because I haven’t seen it as often and I’m not as bored of it.



Interestingly Goryu comes with every accessory packaged with his TF predecessor, unlike Red Geist or Dagbase, meaning you can recreate all four of Dai Atlas’ modes in full.  Although there has been some debate on whether Goryu originally came with the shield handle accessory, but a recent MISB find proved that yes, it does.


He has all the same functionality as Dai Atlas as well.  Ignore the Autobot logo, some well meaning individual probably used him as a stand-in at some point, but you have to admit that logo does look right in that place!

The Jet Mode looks great, the chrome drill really pops, and the funky lightning bolt stickers make this 10% faster than Dai Atlas.

And Drill Tank mode looks much like you’d expect it to, although the joints on my version no longer click and move freely, they jam and you have to force the rotation and I’m afraid I’ll break it if I force it.  Ah, the joys of reviewing 20 year old toys!


Is it an essential purchase?

That depends on your mileage.



I do wish that ab plate would stay folded up!

It’s a fun figure, undeniably more G1 than Brave.  As a G1 figure it’s fairly varied with it’s duel-vehicle modes and base functionality, but for a G1 collection I’d suggest Dai Atlas is only necessary if you’ve completed American / European G1 and have moved solidly into Japanese completion.  The character still isn’t massively well known – although his IDW appearances have helped – and the figure has not had an update or re-release in it’s 25 year history.  The closest we’ve come is a few PVC releases, and a name re-use in the Alternity line (and possibly King Atlas as a homage).

As a Brave figure, it’s slightly lacking, as it doesn’t have that over-the-top hat-on-a-hat charm of the made for Brave toys.  It does a lot of things right, but at the same time, it feels like a G1 repaint, rather than a part of the Brave line in full.  Red Geist, Dagbase, Shadow Maru and Thunder Dagwon all nicely make the leap and become full characters and fun toys in their own right, this guy and Hiryu (Sonic Bomber recolour), along with Death Garry Gun (Skygarry repaint) don’t really fully transition.  The absence of a Brave version of Roadfire means Land Powered and Big Powered are instantly missing from the equation as well.  That’s not to say they’re bad toys, they are great G1 toys.  But as toys in the Brave versions, I would place nearly every new mold Brave toy above these in terms or fun, character, and importance to the line.  If you’re really a fan of the Goryu character, some of the PVC releases capture his character a bit better than this toy manages, but what can I say?  I’m a Takara guy.

To end on a positive, I feel this figure is at it’s best with the full functionality of the Big Powered boxset, which can then be used as part of a huge sprawling G1 Micromaster City, at which point its inclusion becomes essential!  It can be fun to use the Brave version as well to help boost the size of that city, depending on how much floor space you have.

bryicyPhoto courtesy of Brr-icy


Despite the lack of official updates, the forthcoming FP Dai Z toy (a recolour of their Diabattles update) is intended to homage Dai Atlas, and is currently available to pre-order from Kapow right now.


While the names Dai Atlas, Roadfire and Sonic Bomber were all new, Big Powered was actually a recycled Diaclone name, and was the first Diaclone release to contain the Powered Suit.  We’ll take a look at Diaclone Big Powered in the future, ahead of his Diaclone Revival and Powered Suit releases which will also be stocked by Kapow!  Exciting times.

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.

Appearing in the Brave Command Dagwon series in 1997, Gunkid makes for an interesting toy.


One part Brave, one part Battlestar, no wonder he ends up looking like something from Brave Starr.  I’m surprised he didn’t come with little handheld pistols like Shadow Maru and Gun Max.
In robot mode, he stands about the same height as G1 Galvatron.

The cowboy theme is worn right on it’s sleeve with this guy, or maybe on his head.  I mean, Cowboy hat aside, he has little spurs on his heels, and he also has a “battle mask” face which is very reminiscent of the old handkerchief mask of the Wild West for bank robberies and the like.



Notice the very brave crest on the cowboy hat, the face plate covers, and the shoulder cannons.


It’s easy to spur him into action. Ho-ho!

His transformations are simplistic, but effective.  He transforms into four “distinct” modes.


In gun mode, or INFINITE CANNON as it’s known, he can be held as a gun by humans and used to fire foam darts at your friends eyes.  It’s a really fun mode, with a good size and weight to it, and it’s all too easy to lose the foam pellets which adds to it’s toy charm.




His second mode is the obligatory and somewhat phoned in cannon mode, or KID TANK mode.  Let’s be fair, G1 Galvatron got away with it just about, and the “transformation” between modes was less involved than with this guy, and the little molded tank treads do help.


His final mode is as a jet, or KID FIGHTER mode; complete with landing gear, wings and tailfins.  It’s obvious where all the parts go, but they never intrude upon the other modes, and the way the view-finder folds down to become a cock-pit is very satisfying.  The landing gear hidden inside the gun handle is another nice touch, and it makes this mold super fun and interesting.


As we look at his alt. modes, something interesting becomes apparent.  Cannon… gun… flight mode?

The rumour is that the design for Gun Kid originally started life as Battlestar Megatron, if this is true, then he would have been the only Decepticon to make it into the Fight! Super Robot Lifeform Transformers: Return of Convoy toyline, alongside Star Convoy, Grandus, Sky-Garry and a handful of combining Micro-masters.  It’s a well known fact that bad-guy toys do not sell as well in Japan, which explains why the Autobots constantly out-number the Decepticons, especially in Japanese only lines such as Victory, Zone and Return of Convoy.



This was the penultimate Japanese line of G1 Transformers released in 1991, coming just before Operation Combination in 1992 which was mostly repaints, Euro releases and Micro-masters, as such Return of Convoy featured the last of the big leader type toys, and Takara was busy at work designing new toys for the Brave toyline.





At this point, there was no TV show to support the line, and the story of Transformers continued exclusively in the pages of the Battlestar Manga, published in the Japanese TV Magazine.


Dark Nova


Dark Nova Robot – size of a small moon

In the storyline, Dark Nova (to relation to any Nova Prime) resurrects Galvatron as Super Megatron.



Super Megatron – scourge of the ice-caps.


Below is the character model which is believed to have been the predecessor to Gunkid, and there are certainly comparisons between Super Megatron’s jet mode and Gunkid’s.  Although maybe not as much as the robot mode looks like Animated Megatron, but given Derrick J Wyatt’s love of the animated series that does not surprise me.

gunstars megatron
All this could explain why Gunkid feels like a G1 toy through and through.  There is zero partsforming and you can transform between modes very quickly, and the toy doesn’t disassemble into fifteen pieces to combine with five other things like some Brave toys do.  To the point that I’m almost tempted to customise one into Megatron; if the Gunkid head wasn’t so darn adorable!


Of course, to keep things Brave, Gunkid does have the ability to interact with other characters, and he can interact with both Fire Dagwon (who you might remember had a cameo in our Thunder Dagwon comparison article) and Power Dagwon in his GIANT WEAPON MODE.  I don’t want to spoil this interaction until the Super Fire Dagwon blog goes live, but once it does I will post the pictures here to complete this blog (although SPOILER if you go back up and look at the very first image of the box).


Thanks for reading!