Category Archives: Battle Beasts
Yesterday was a bitter sweet day. I had a small package arrive from Japan which contained a small armored kangaroo. The kangaroo, that I have named Saga Kangaroo (Saga Roo to his friends), is officially named Kannigal. At least I think he is. Roo is part of Takara’s Beast Saga toyline which was only released in Japan. Because it was only released in Japan all of the text on the package and all of the text on the official BS website is written in Japanese. As a resident of Nova Scotia, Canada I’ve never had much reason to learn how to read Japanese. Therefore, all the information I collect on BS figures, including the character’s names, comes from third party sources which may be less than reliable.
I was super excited about Beast Saga when Takara first unveiled it. One of my favorite 80s toylines was Takara’s Battle Beasts. While the Beast Saga figures aren’t a direct continuation of the 80s line they serve as an excellent homage/update. The two lines share many qualities but the BS figures are slightly bigger and bulkier and they feature more detailed sculpts. Beast Saga is to Battle Beasts what modern Masters of the Universe figures are to their retro counterparts or what modern G.I. Joes are to their Real American Hero predecessors.
Takara released 4 waves of Beast Saga figures in quick succession beginning in the fall of 2012. As each wave was announced I promptly pre-ordered the figures from BigBadToyStore, one of the few North American retailers importing the line. Over the course of about 6 months 38 of the 39 unique figures I ordered, along with a handful of the blind boxed clear variants, arrived in the mail. But for some reason one pre-order wasn’t filled. The kangaroo sat in my pre-order shopping cart for months before I finally got an email from BBTS stating that they wouldn’t be stocking the item and so my pre-order was cancelled.
I assumed the figure was cancelled altogether. By that time it seemed clear that the line was doomed. There hadn’t been news of any new product for months. I was disappointed to see the line end so quickly but it was especially frustrating to be robbed of the final figure. I decided to check ebay to see if any of the kangaroos had made it to market, perhaps in Japan at least, before the plug was pulled on the toyline. I found a lot of listings for unpainted prototypes and sellers were asking upwards of $30 for it. I was tempted to pick one up but opted to bide my time in hopes that I would eventually find a fully painted one at a reasonable price.
Which I finally did a few weeks ago. A Japanese seller was selling this figure for about ten bucks, and the shipping was free. I placed my order and now here he is, the final Beast Saga figure: Saga Kangaroo.
I really like this toy. I’d say it probably ranks somewhere in my top 10 favorite BS figures. The Battle Beast kangaroo (Battle Kangaroo) did not rank so highly amongst my vintage BB figures. He was kind of a middle of the pack guy. I don’t recall giving him much of a personality when I played with him when I was a kid. He was just one of the rank and file troops on Battle Rhino’s team of good guys.
Like the 80s version Saga Roo has blue armor, though Roo’s is a darker shade. But unlike the original his fur is brown instead of gray. I’m honestly not sure what color real kangaroos are, I think the ones I’ve seen in real life were more gray than brown, but I’m betting they come in a variety of colors (They do, I checked. They also come in red). I think I prefer the brown fur over the gray; it’s of greater contrast to the blue armor.
The sculpt on this figure is top-notch. His face is quite realistic and I like that he has a slight hunch; the posture seems apt for a kangaroo. Where the sculpt really shines is in the details and placement of the armor. He’s got two big steel clenched gloved fists which resemble boxing gloves. Most BB and BS figures either have armored legs and bare feet or a full armored boot. This guy has bare ankles and armored shoes. They remind me of those weird toe sneakers that runners wear. It makes me imagine this guy as athletic and agile. Lastly, he has a pouch in the front of his armor as every good kangaroo should. Now I realize the presence of a pouch would mean he’s actually a “she” but since the pouch is on the armor and we can’t see the actually underbelly I feel we can’t definitively identify his/her gender one way or the other. Perhaps in my Beast Saga Universe I’ll just imagine Roo as an Androgynous type, like Lancer from Robotech.
It’s sad knowing that, in all likelihood, this is to be my last Beast Saga purchase. But it’s a good figure to go out on and I’m glad to finally have him. It took me 20+ years to finish my childhood Battle Beast collection (Pugnacious Penguin was the last one I needed to acquire) and I feared this figure might elude me for many years as well. Luckily that wasn’t the case. 9 out of 10.
Saga Dolphin is one of the few wave-one figures that I had yet to review. I suppose I waited so long to write about him because I find the figure a little boring. There’s not a ton of detail in the sculpt and the paint apps are minimal too. Plus he’s one of those Beast Saga figures that looks like a real animal’s head has been plopped onto a toy body. I think some sort of head piece or a pair of goggles might have done him some good. The head sculpt is simple and doesn’t blend well with the rest of the figure but it is still quite nice and easily identifiable. The armor’s only real bits of flair are the fins on the arms and the thingamajigs on the shoulders. The armor is colored a nice aquatic blue but there’s too much of it. The only highlights to break up the overwhelming blue are two thin yellow stripes on the shoulders and a strange yellow design on his codpiece. For accessories he comes with a scimitar sword, a shield, a few die that can be launched from the plunger device on his chest, and a playing card; pretty standard stuff for a Beast Saga figure.
The main reason I decided to review Saga Dolphin today was because of a Deadpool comic I read last week. I used to love Deadpool but I lost interest right around the time he blew up in popularity and became way too over exposed. So while I haven’t collected his monthly books in years I will still pick up the occasional Deadpool book if something catches my eye. Earlier this year I bought a Deadpool annual because it featured one of my favorite obscure Marvel villains, Mad Cap. Both characters are pretty silly so I expected fluff but the story was actually quite good and it finally explained why Deadpool was hearing that extra voice in his head for a number of years.
Well last week another Deadpool annual came out. Now, annuals are only supposed to come out once a year so I’m not sure what the thought process was behind this but they’re always doing wonky stuff with comic numbering these days. At least Marvel acknowledged the fact that it was the second Deadpool annual to come out this year by calling it a “bi-annual”. The reason I picked this second annual up is because it had a guest star(s) even more obscure than Mad Cap; the protectors of the environment: BRUTE FORCE!
Brute Force was a 4-issue mini series released by Marvel in 1990. It featured a team of cybernetically enhanced animals (a bear, an eagle, a kangaroo, a lion, and a dolphin) who decide to use their newfound powers and abilities to save the planet from pollution. I was 12 years old when the series came out, arguably too old to be buying it, but I bought it anyway. It’s not like it was specifically geared towards kids anyway. In my mind it had more in common with WE3 than it did the Get-Along Gang. I didn’t necessarily love the series but I remember it being alright. I still have it but it’s been over 20 years since I read it.
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved animal super heroes. One of my very first creations was the Animal Team Force; a group consisting of any animal I could think of with a red cape around its neck. That’s party why I love the Battle Beast and Beast Saga toy lines so much, and partly why I bought the Brute Force series. I’m a sucker for animals fighting eveil-doers. Though to be honest, my favorite character from Brute Force was actually the evil Octopus who was a member of BF’s rival team, Heavy Metal.
Anyway, I guess the mini series didn’t do well and so the characters were never seen again. But maybe they shouldn’t be counted out just yet. After all, Rocket Raccoon got his start in a 4-issue mini series in the 80s before falling off the map for 20 years and now he’s in the highest grossing movie of the year. Perhaps the writers of this Deadpool bi-annual will start the ball rolling on a similar revival for Brute Force.
I know I’m way off track here but while I was reading this issue I realized just how much the dolphin, Surf Streak, bears a striking resemblance to Saga Dolphin. So much so that you could easily think that this was a figure of Surf Streak. I would actually love to see Hasbro put out a set of Brute Force figures as part of their Universe or Legends lines, perhaps as a convention set.
This Saga Dolphin figure is good but its not great. I like that it reminds me of a long-forgotten Marvel character and I appreciate that it’s the first dolphin figure from Takara (there wasn’t one in the vintage Battle Beasts line) but thats still not enough to elevate it to great. I give it a 7 out of 10.
One more thing. My Dad bought me a drawing tablet for my computer a couple of years ago and I used it for a little bit, got frustrated and put it aside. My buddy Miguel has actually been borrowing it for the past year or two. I just got it back from him and I have vowed to practice using it. Unfortunately I had no idea what to draw. Then it dawned on me that maybe I’ll attempt to draw the action figures I’m reviewing every once and a while. Hopefully that will force me to both draw and write. So forgive the crappy doodles you may see on here from time to time. I swear I’m a better artist than this but the tablet is new to me and I’m basically just goofing around as i try to get the hang of it.
This here is Frenzied Flamingo. He was released as part of the third series of Battle Beasts(the final series before they transitioned into Laser Beasts). As a kid I managed to collect nearly all of series 1 and 2 in their entirety but the third series was more elusive. I’m not sure if it was because fewer stores were stocking them as the line’s popularity cooled or if it was the fact that they were only available in 8 packs, instead of the usual 2-packs, thus making them more expensive for my folks to buy for me. Whatever the reason, I only got a few figures from the third wave. It was frustrating because I was definitely still interested in the line at the time. I scooped up all of the Laser Beast 2-packs when they came out a year or so later.
Throughout my teens and 20s I slowly filled in the series 3 holes in my collection by way of trades, flea markets and ebay. Frenzied Flamingo was one of those late additions to my BB collection. I finally completed my Battle Beast collection a couple years ago with the purchase of Pugnacious Penguin. I developed a bond with almost every toy I played with as a kid, like Andy and Woody from the Toy Story movies, but toys I acquired as an adult, no matter how cool they are, lack that personal connection.
Since I didn’t get Flamingo here until long after I had outgrown playing with my toys I don’t have any connection to him. I’m glad I got him, as I needed him to complete my collection, but that’s where our relationship ends. I can’t look at Sly Fox or Rocky Rhino without wishing I was 8 years old again playing with them in my backyard. I look at Frenzied Flamingo and feel no such thing.
But even if I owned this figure when I was a kid I don’t think he’d hold any nostalgic power over me today. I’m just not a big fan of this toy. Takara managed to make some really cool anthropomorphic warriors out of some unlikely candidates like a seahorse and a duck but I feel they missed the mark with Frenzied. Flamingos are pretty dorky birds in real life and this figure is dorky too. Firstly, there’s the color. Now, I know there’s nothing he can do about being pink, he’s a flamingo, but being pink is not his biggest color crime. I think the blue and red armor on this figure is just ugly. With many Battle Beasts the armor was a painted a complimentary color to the skin tone to create a visually appealing figure. I’m not sure what color would’ve worked better in this case I just know I don’t like this combination.
The sculpt on this guy isn’t great either. It’s alright, he’s identifiable as a flamingo at least, but I think they could’ve done a lot better. Flamingos have very recognizably shaped beaks and this figure doesn’t have it. Instead of a angular downturned beak this guy has a big roundish one that looks like a big pink nose. I think some black and white paint on the beak would have done wonders for this figure but unfortunately paint apps were minimal with this line. He’s got long flamingo legs which is good but they’re way too thick, especially near the top. It almost looks like they sculpted skinny legs but then just left a bunch of excess pink plastic around them to support the weight. Plus he’s wearing a dorky Lobot headpiece. There’s some nice sculpting in the wings and feet but it’s not enough to save this figure.
This figure is definitely one of the weaker links in what is a mostly strong toy line. 5 out of 10.
Let’s take a look at another Beast Saga figure. This very short lived toy line was produced by Takara in 2012. A few waves of figures, a manga comic, and an anime all came out in Japan but nothing made it across the sea to North America. Luckily, in this modern age of the internet I was able to get my hands on all of the Japanese figures relatively easily.
Each figure was available in a standard version as well as a clear variant version which came in blind boxes. I have all of the standard versions plus a handful of the clear variants. The figure I’m reviewing today is the clear version of Long Tsurafu or Saga Giraffe as I like to call him.
This clear version retains all of the sculpted detail but loses all those nice paint apps. The flesh pieces (head and arms) are molded in translucent yellow plastic while the armor pieces are molded in a dark translucent blue. The 2 colors look quite nice together but the overall 2-toned look is somewhat bland.
Some of the Beast Saga figures were homages to figures from Takara’s Battle Beast toy line of the 80s. In the case of Saga Giraffe, the standard version bore a slight resemblance to the old Battle Beast, Rubberneck Giraffe, but I actually think this clear version more closely resembles the original. I suppose it’s because of the deep primary blues and yellows used; and also because Rubberneck Giraffe lacked painted spots as well.
This is a neat little toy and I’m glad Takara came up with a way for fans like me to collect additional Beast Saga figures beyond the 39 standard beasts but this piece is by no means essential to your collection. I would recommend you purchase the standard giraffe figure over this one any day unless you’re a diehard fan like myself.
To my loyal readers I apologize for my extended absences these days. Its summer and I’ve been busy drinking on patios and whatnot. This past weekend I travelled to the neighboring province of Prince Edward Island for the first time ever despite having lived just a few hours away for the past 20+ years. My buddy Miguel and I went to the capital city of Charlottetown to see the Killers along with a handful of other bands at BigRedFest. The Killers put on a fantastic show and I’ve officially transitioned from casual fan to big fan. Go see them if you get the chance.
The day before our road trip I made sure to google Charlottetown’s local comic shops. They had two; Lightning Bolt Comics and the Comic Hunter. Both shops had a healthy stock of back issues but little in the way of toys. I had hoped to return with a big score to brag about but sadly I left PEI empty handed without so much as an Anne of Green Gables action figure to share with you.
Today’s figure is the oddly named Battle Beast, Brain Mouse. I’m guessing he’s supposed to be an intelligent character but since there were no Battle Beast cartoons, or other media to back that up I only have the name to go by. Since I didn’t know his name when I was a kid (none of the Battle Beast figures had names on the packages) I called him Battle Mouse.
The only problem with that was I already had a Battle Mouse. Takara released a mouse with red and blue armor in wave 2. This guy in the yellow armor didn’t come out until wave 4. I ran into a similar problem when Takara released a second rhinoceros in wave 4, having previously released one in wave 1. Usually I was able to come up with some type of naming remedy. In the case of the rhinos, my first rhinoceros remained Battle Rhino while the second one became Battle Rhinoceros. Similarly I had Battle Dog and Battle Bulldog, and Battle Anteater and Battle Aardvark. But when I got my second mouse I couldn’t think of anything to name him. I suppose I could’ve went with a specific species like Battle Deer Mouse or Battle House Mouse but instead I retroactively renamed the wave 2 figure Battle Rat and let this guy take over the name Battle Mouse. I could’ve named this one Battle Rat but he’s clearly a mouse while the wave 2 figure could really go either way. I discovered years later that the wave 2 mouse was actually named Powerhouse Mouse.
Now that I know both of their official names it seems odd that Takara would give us 2 different mice figures. Why not a rat? Or a ferret or a guinea pig or some other animal we didn’t already have? Maybe a hamster like they eventually produced in their Beast Saga line. While I would have preferred them be different species I don’t mind having the 2 mice. Both of them are pretty cool and unique.
Where Powerhouse Mouse wears red and blue armor and has a blade/hook for a hand, Brain Mouse wears bright yellow armor and has a mechanical claw for a hand. Their faces are quite different with Brain having a much rounder, friendlier visage. His ears are large and round like Mickey Mouse’s as opposed to Powerhouse’s pointier ears and face.
Battle Beasts are pretty small anyway but Brain Mouse is slightly shorter than most which I like since he’s supposed to be a pretty teeny animal. There’s not a ton of detail sculpted into the yellow armor but the few that are there are nicely highlighted with green and purple paint apps.
The 4th and final wave of Battle Beasts, known as Laser Beasts, were constructed slightly different than the previous 3 waves. Instead of having a heat activated rub emblem on their chest, a la Transformers, they had a clear orb in the center of their chest which you had to peer into to discover their classification (wood, fire, or water). The orb looks fine on most of the Laser Beasts but because Brain Mouse is a little smaller than the other figures the orb is a little too big and makes him appear slightly overweight.
The other key difference between Laser Beasts and regular Battle Beasts is that instead of carrying the classic bladed weapons, Laser Beasts carry, you guessed it, lasers. Each Laser Beast has a laser that is unique to him and reflects his species. Some were more subtle than others. Brain Mouse featured one of the more conspicuous laser designs.
I think this is a great figure. Nice sculpt, nice paint job, and nice accessory. Battle Beasts rarely disappoint. 8 out of 10.
It’s time for another bitter sweet Beast Saga figure review. Sweet because these were great toys with a ton of potential, and bitter because the line was cancelled in its very first year. A part of me still holds out hope for a surprise announcement from Japan about a new wave of figures but that seems unlikely at this point. At least I managed to amass a respectably sized Beast Saga collection during the few short months that the line lasted.
This figure, whom I believe is named Eledram but whom I have named Saga Elephant, was part of the initial wave of figures. This standard version was released as a single carded figure with a clear variant available in a blind box. I didn’t buy very many of the blind boxes because I didn’t want to end up with a bunch of doubles. Getting stuck with double figures from this toy line would be especially troublesome because I don’t know of anyone who would take them off my hands. I did not acquire the clear variant version of Saga Elephant so this standard version is the only one I have. I’m fine with that because this is one of my least favorite figures in the line.
The main issue I have with this figure is the proportions. Look at the size of his head and arms and then compare them to his legs. It’s ridiculous. He ends up looking like one of those big headed caricatures people draw for tourists. This stubby leg issue is prevalent throughout the Beast Saga line but I find it most noticeable on Saga Elephant.
Glaringly distracting proportion issues aside, this is a nice figure. There’s lots of nice sculpting and a variety of paint apps. The face has an angry scowl that makes me think this guy has a real attitude problem. Above his eyes appear to be a set of infrared goggles that suggest to me that maybe he’s a night operative.
(Though it does seem a little silly to have an Elephant as your stealth trooper.) The trunk is the most impressive part about the head. I like the way it faces outward with an upward curve. It makes him look aggressive, like he’s ready to use his nose as a weapon if need be. The tusks, ears, and the armor that runs along the trunk all look good as well. However, all of these different elements of the head add to the figure’s top-heaviness.
His torso is very heavily armored. This guy looks like a walking tank. His shoulders even appear to have cannons and tank treads worked into their design. It’s almost as if this guy could transform into a tank and roll off (It just occurred to me that an elephant that transforms into a tank is an excellent idea. The trunk could be the turret. Get on that Hasbro).
Saga Elephant has a gray hide with aqua blue armor. There are green, red, orange, black and white paint applications on the figure as well. I don’t have any problem with the color choices and I appreciate the multiple apps but I must say that I have a fondness for the bizarre color palette of his predecessor, Battle Elephant from the 1980s Battle Beasts line. The purple skin and black armor was very striking. I also miss the weaponized hands of the Battle Beasts. Battle Elephant had a blunt sledge hammer for a hand which he used to bludgeon many enemies back in the day on my bedroom floor. A part of me really wanted the Beast Saga line to serve as an update to the vintage Battle Beasts, the way the modern G.I. Joes are an update of the ones I collected as a kid. So in that regard I kind of wish Eledram had purple skin and a hammer for a hand as well.
While none of the Beast Saga figures were direct translations of Battle Beasts, several of them had nods to the figures of old. I see very little resemblance or connection between the 2 elephant figures but they do have very similar weapons. A lot of these figures have very elaborate axes and multi-bladed weapon but both the elephants have a very simple spire-like sword.
If I were to dump all of my Battle and Saga Beasts out on the bedroom floor today for a play session, my two elephants would find themselves on opposite sides of the battlefield. I’ve designated Saga Elephant a good guy, serving under Saga Lion, whereas Battle Elephant was a bad guy back in the day; a member of Battle Ram’s army. Luckily, since I’m 36 years old, I don’t see elephant–on-elephant violence being an issue on my bedroom floor any time soon. 6 out of 10.
This is Icky Iguana from the second series of Battle Beasts. Icky is a pretty dumb name so I’m glad that I didn’t know that was his name when I was a kid. To me he was, and forever will be, Battle Iguana. This guy is probably one of my top 10 favorite Battle Beast figures and definitely in my top 3 from series 2. How could you not love this figure? He’s just so cool .
Battle Iguana has some very nice sculpting with scales all over his body, spikes down his back, and a little “beard” under his chin. It’s a fairly realistic looking sculpt. His armor is nice but nothing flashy. There are lots of little details like vents and rivets but they’re all pretty subtle. The only embellishment to the armor are some small spikes along the shoulders.
He’s bright yellow in color, like a highlighter marker. I’m not sure why Takara didn’t go with green. Perhaps to differentiate him from the green frog and snake from series 1. I actually like the yellow but it would have been pretty rad if Battle Beasts had been available in different colors schemes. I can only imagine how cool this figure would have looked sculpted in green and black or white and red. As it is, Takara went with the flashy yellow for the skin and orange for Icky’s armor. There are 3 little red highlights on the chest plate which match his eye color.
Icky originally came packaged with a jagged sword weapon and Armored Armadillo was his pack mate. I acquired a few of my Battle Beasts through trades with friends so I don’t have Icky’s original weapon. Instead I have him displayed with a 2-pronged axe blade. That weapon actually came packaged with the other lizard released in series 2, Delta Chameleon. For whatever reason Takara opted to give the chameleon the exact same neon yellow skin tone as the iguana. I’m not sure if the goal was to make them appear like a cohesive unit or maybe no thought went into it at all. I always considered the two of them best friends or partners-in-crime . I had an extra copy of Delta’s weapon laying around for some reason so that’s the one I assigned to Icky to link them together even further.
When I played with my Battle Beasts as a kid, both Icky and Delta were members of my bad guy team led by Battle Ram. They stuck together pretty tightly and were effective warriors. However I never really saw either of them as really “bad”. It’s not like they were going around slaughtering the good guys out of sheer joy; they were just soldiers doing their job.
I wish Takara’s Beast Saga line had lasted long enough to give us an updated version of an Iguana or a Chameleon, or any lizard for that matter. Reptiles were not very well represented in that line, the crocodile being the only one.
I have a complete set of North American released Battle Beasts figures. That’s three complete waves of heat-activated rub emblem beasts and one partial wave of orb-chested laser beasts. It’s one of my favorite 1980s toy lines. There’s just something about wild animals in armor swinging swords around that does it for me. I love most of the 91 different BB figures I have; however, there are definitely a few weak links in the chain. Miner Mole is one of them.
Battle Beasts didn’t have names on their packages and they didn’t have a cartoon so I had no idea what any of the character’s names were growing up. That is why I adopted the simple naming pattern of calling them all “Battle-whatever animal they happened to be”. That worked out fine most of the time: Battle Rhino, Battle Fox, etc. But there were a couple of odd figures where I wasn’t sure what the heck kind of animal it was supposed to be. For example, I always thought my polar bear was an aardvark. This purple figure’s species wasn’t immediately obvious to me. I think I’ll place the blame on my old friend, Jay Pelley, for leading me to think that this guy was a dolphin. Throughout my childhood this mole figure was known as Battle Dolphin. fail.
There’s no mistaking a lion or an elephant, even if they are standing on their hind legs and wearing pants. Most Battle Beasts were colored realistically which made the critters even more recognizable. But every now and again they’d give you a blue rabbit or horse. But a rabbit is clearly a rabbit, even if it’s blue. This guy wasn’t so easily identifiable (no distinguishing features) and the fact that he was purple didn’t help.
Maybe it’s obvious to you that he’s a mole. But that’s easy to say now that I’ve already told you. Besides, I had already falsely identified War Weasel as a mole so I thought that slot was taken. This guy’s little mole snout could have just as easily been a dolphin’s bottle nose. You’d think the subterranean looking goggles might’ve tipped me off as well but it made sense to me that a dolphin would need goggles too walk around on land; keep his eyes moist or whatever.
Lastly you may be thinking that the inclusion of arms and legs might’ve been a clue that he wasn’t a dolphin. But my shark, piranha, and snake figures all had arms and legs so that didn’t help to rule any species out of the running.
Miner Mole’s animal androgyny lead to him being one of my least favorite Battle Beast figures. He may have a unique look but it’s not exactly a cool or tough one. I always saw him as a techie guy, which made sense considering how smart dolphins are. Moles, I dunno, they’re probably dumb.
Side note: I once caught a mole along side the road when I was delivering newspapers when I was around 12. I scooped him up in my canvas bag and brought him home with me. I made a habitat in one of our large plastic garbage bins then I went inside and read up on Moles in our family set of encyclopedias (those are like Wikipedia on paper kids). I remember it said that moles often succumb in captivity. I didn’t know what that meant so I asked my dad. He told me it basically meant “give up”. That didn’t sound good so I went outside to free my mole from his new bio-dome home but within the hour or so that I had left him out there the poor little bugger “succumbed”. The guilt still weighs heavy on me. Regardless, I can’t score this figure any higher than a 5 out of 10.
I know I’ve mentioned it a few times before but I now I truly believe that the Beast Saga toy line is dead. Starting in the Fall of 2012, the figures were solicited in droves; one wave after the next. That initial explosion of product lasted into the spring. But for the past year there’s been basically no news on the future of the line at all. The final figure that I pre-ordered, the Kangaroo, kept having it’s release date pushed back until the pre-order was eventually cancelled by the e-tailer. So that’s that. I’m left with a decent collection of nearly 50 figures but I guess that’s where it ends. Therefore I’ll have to review them a little more sparingly so I don’t run out of them too soon.
Every figure in the line was available as a standard figure, like this, but also as a clear variant, like this. The clear figures were available only in blind packs so you never knew what figure you were gonna get. These toys aren’t overly expensive but considering that they’re only available online you need to factor in the shipping which makes each figure’s cost around 10 to 12 bucks; and that’s a lot for figures as small as this. For that reason I didn’t go nuts ordering a bunch of blind packs. I didn’t want to pay hefty online prices only to end up with a bunch of doubles. Doubles that nobody in my area would even want to take off my hands. So with each new wave I only ordered 2 blind packs and hoped to get 2 different figures. It worked out well and I didn’t end up saddled with any clear figures doubles.
However my craving for new Beast Saga figures went unanswered for months so I began ordering a couple additional blind packs every time I made an order with BigBadToyStore. I did eventually start getting duplicates. I now have clear doubles of the bird and the turtle, but at least those are two of my favorite figures from the line.
I was surprised a couple of months ago when I stumbled upon a Beast Saga listing on BBTS’s site that I hadn’t seen before. It was a 3-pack of clear figures that weren’t blind packed. The set featured 3 aquatic characters, the shark, the crocodile, and the killer whale. What was even more interesting was that these clear versions were different than the clear variants of those characters that had been available previously in the blind packs. While the clear variants don’t really do a whole lot for me discovering this pack felt like I had uncovered a lost trio of figures from this unappreciated and forgotten toy line. I was very happy to place my order, especially since I didn’t already own any of these characters’ blind packed variants.
My 3-pack arrived just before Christmas. The shark is probably the best one from the pack. He’s sculpted in a dark black translucent plastic which makes him look quite a bit different from the standard release shark figure who had white and gray skin. I can totally see the black shark as a unique character. The killer whale is sculpted in a weird light purple plastic. I don’t love it but, again, it makes him look quite a bit different than the standard killer whale. This clear croc variant is probably my least favorite from the pack because it looks fairly similar to the standard figure since his skin is still green. However the armor is now black now instead of blue and there are some gold highlights which keep the figure from being too plain looking.
The sculpt is nice with a great crocodile head and fairly simple armor. The chest plate is riveted and looks kind of like a tank and the shoulders have a toothy crocodile mouth design. It’s a pretty cool toy but there’s not too much to get excited about here if you already have the standard figure. Though the see-through effect is pretty neat when he’s placed in front of a light source. As a big fan of this line I imagine I will eventually track down all of the clear variants. 7 out of 10.
One of the main reasons why I started this blog 2 years ago was because I wanted to write more. To that end I would say that it’s been a success. I’ve written over 500 reviews now and even I’m surprised by how much I’m still able to ramble on about action figures. A side effect of writing about all these toys is that it’s made me into an even more passionate toy collector than I was previously. I’m always buying random odds and ends and expensive exclusives and I do it all with the justification that they’re “for the blog”.
As an adult toy collector I’ve only ever really collected new product. I still have a bunch of old toys from my youth but my adult collector phase, which started in the late 90s with the new Star Wars figures, has consisted primarily of me buying the latest and greatest figures. From Star Wars my collecting carried on into the 2000s with the rebirth of G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe, lines that I continue to collect today. There’s no shortage of new figures coming out each and every month to keep me collecting and writing for ages. However, writing this blog has also rekindled my interest in older toys. I find myself scooping up vintage Joes and He-Men with greater frequency lately.
One of the toy lines I loved as a kid was Takara’s Battle Beasts. It was the only toy line of my youth that I collected alone; everything else I split down the middle with my big brother Doug. Even after Doug and I stopped collecting together around 1990 I turned to my little brother Brian to help me bear the weight of Toy Biz’s vast Marvel output.
Battle Beasts were tiny figures with minimal articulation and a wood/fire/water (rock/paper/scissor) play pattern that didn’t interest me. The appeal of them came from the fact that they were anthropomorphic animals with swords and battle armour; how could you not love them? I think that if they had gotten a cartoon they would’ve been huge in the 80s and hipsters today would be strutting around in Battle Beast t-shirts. Sadly they did not receive any major media tie-ins and so they’re a mostly forgotten footnote in the world of 1980s action figures.
There were 3 waves of standard figures released in North America totaling 76 figures. After that a series of Laser Beasts was released overseas but only 12 of those figures ever made it to our shores. The Laser Beasts that never saw release in America now sell for big bucks online; I’m talking hundreds of dollars each. Of the 88 figures released in America I had acquired about 90% of them as a kid. I would’ve loved to have them all but back in those days if you couldn’t find what you were looking for at your local K-Mart then you were outta luck.
By the time the internet became a thing and online auctions made finding old toys much easier, completing my Battle Beast collection had fallen pretty low on my list of priorities. I could’ve bought the few remaining figures I needed years ago but it wasn’t until I started writing this blog that it suddenly seemed an essential thing to do. Within the first year of blogging I tracked down all of the remaining figures. I even found a few of them right here in Halifax by way of a classified ad.
My complete Battle Beast collection is now proudly displayed on my wall. And yet, even after my acquisition of Pugnacious Penguin, the last figure I needed, I felt as though something was missing. That’s when I got it in my head that to truly boast having a complete American Battle Beast collection I must hunt down the vehicles and playsets. There were 3 chariots and 3 headquarter playsets released back in the day and I had one of each. I have the Big Horn Chariot which was perfect since Battle Ram was the leader of my evil army. It seemed appropriate that he was the only beast with a ride. That left me needing the Deer and Tiger chariots.
Of the playsets I have the Shark which was intended as the base for the water powered beasts. That leaves me needing the fire-themed Phoenix and the wood-themed Wood Beetle. The playsets can be a little on the expensive side but I hope to track them down eventually.
I recently stumbled across this modestly priced Tiger chariot in an online toy store I frequent. I was pretty stoked to have it arrive in the mail the other day. Vehicles don’t usually do it for me but this is a vehicle with a lot of personality. The design is quite simple and blocky. The back slides out so you can place a figure in the cockpit and then it slides back in to hold him in place. There are two bars on either side which can be flipped out and used to house other figures who must hold on for dear life with the strength of their armpits. The chariot can be revved backwards and released to have it tear across your kitchen floor with its jaws chomping.
This toy is simple but it’s fun and it looks cool. This one is actually in great condition too. It makes me wonder about Battle Tiger’s role in my Battle Beast universe. I always viewed him as just another soldier but does the fact that he is now my only good guy with his own car mean he just moved up into a position of power? Will he challenge Battle Rhino for the right to lead? Does he stand a chance at winning? Would the others follow him? So many questions. If only I was 8 then I could dump the figures out on my bedroom floor and play it out but since I’m 36 I think I’ll go watch TV instead. 7 out of 10.