Category Archives: Battle Beasts
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.
The first wave of Battle Beast figures contained most of the “popular” animals. The kind of animals you would immediately think to place on a team of animal warriors such as lions, tigers, and bears. By the third and fourth waves Takara seemed to be running out of ideas because we started getting some really strange animals and a lot of repeats as well. The second wave was cool because it was still full of fresh ideas and easily identifiable animals, only they tended to be the types of animals you would be less likely to place on a team of animal warriors. The second wave had a seahorse, a flying squirrel, and a squid. One of the least-warrior looking of the bunch was this guy, Run Amuck Duck, whom I called Battle Duck.
I live quite close to a park and I see ducks on a regular basis. Growing up in the Canadian suburbs I never felt like my life was lacking ducks, they were around. And yet the ducks I encounter are never yellow. I don’t think I’ve ever actually seen a yellow duck, just ducklings. So why is it that every time you see a toy duck, be it a bath toy or a battle beast, the duck is yellow? Maybe Run Amuck is supposed to be a duckling but that seems kind of weird and it would change the way I view him entirely.
In my Battle Beast universe Battle Duck was a member of the good guy team lead by Battle Rhino. He was a skilled fighter and a respected member of the team. I don’t recall giving him any quirky personality traits; he was a pretty straight forward guy.
The sculpt on this figure is a nice one. Despite the yellow color the head is very realistic looking, much more so than most rubber ducks who tend to have big blue eyes and smiles. This is the face of a duck that means business. If his cold stare isn’t indication enough that this isn’t a duck to be trifled with then maybe his bladed hand will get the point across. Many Battle Beast figures had one weaponized hand. On some it looked like a prosthetic while on others like Ducky here is looks like an extension of his actual arm, like a mutation. I never put much thought into where they got these weaponized hands but I suppose you could assume they volunteered to get them. Maybe duck knew that he didn’t stand much of a chance at victory if he found himself fighting a grizzly bear on the battle field so he promptly signed up for biological enhancement. Makes sense.
There’s nothing else about the mold that really stands out but I do like his webbed feet and little duck tail. The blue armor and orange accents work well with the base yellow. I’m not sure what the deal is with his sword/axe weapon. It’s one of the weirder weapons in the line but I like it. 8 out of 10.
Way back in November I reviewed Saga Shark and not too long ago I reviewed Saga Fish. Well today I’m gonna take a look at the third and final figure that was included in the Kingdom of Sea 3-pack. I’m trusting other websites that this guy’s name is Pirazon but I’m gonna stick to calling him Saga Piranha for the time being.
When I was a kid I had a Battle Beast figure that was a white fish with pink armor whom I named Battle Piranha. He was one of Battle Ram’s most vicious enforcers with a real sadistic streak. I later acquired two more of that same figure. I believe they came in a mixed bag of loose Battle Beasts that I bought at my childhood comic shop, The Cardboard Jungle. I usually had no use for doubles of figure but in the case of Battle Beasts I integrated them into my ongoing storyline as best I could. The other two Piranha figures became Battle Piranha’s nameless goons that he lead separately from his association with Battle Ram, kinda like how Zartan lead his own team of Dreadnoks separate from his ties to Cobra. The Piranha gang was a group best avoided by by good buys beasts as they were a nasty bunch.
As it turns out Battle Piranha and his thugs weren’t even piranhas. When I discovered the Battle Beasts actual names in my teens with the help of a new invention called the internet I learned that the character’s official name was Killer Carp. I gotta say that I was a little disappointed by this revelation. I don’t know much about Carp but the mention of them hardly instills fear in me. He might as well have been a trout.
Well with this Beast Saga figure there’s little doubt as to his species. The name “pirazon” aside, he just looks like a piranha. The sculpting on this figure is awesome and downright creepy. The Battle Beast carp figure always looked pretty evil to me with his jagged toothy grin but he’s got nothing on this guy. This Beast Saga figure is much scarier looking than it’s predecessor. I know it might seem silly to refer to a 2 inch figure as scary but imagine stumbling across a full-sized version of this fish-man in some murky waters somewhere; yikes.
Saga Piranha is sculpted with an open mouth which I believe is a first in the Battle Beast/Beast Saga line. He’s got beady little red eyes on each side of his head and some nice scales on his skin. One of the most impressive aspects of this figure is the number of paint applications. There’s green, yellow, purple, gray, orange, red, and even a gradient effect painted onto the fins of his armor. The varied colored palette adds to the realistic look of the figure though I do wish they colored the inside of his mouth either black or pink.
I see this guy being an absolute psychopath; a soldier that Battle Shark can barely keep in line. Saga Piranha would rarely speak, mostly just in garbled growls. I imagine that he would take over the leadership role of the piranha gang. This guy would be so vicious and unstable that even Battle Piranha wouldn’t dare challenge him for the leadership role. Instead, Battle Piranha would humbly fall in line and become one of Saga Piranha’s interchangeable henchmen.
This here is Web-Slinging Spider or, as I knew him growing up, Battle Spider. This is one of my favorite Battle Beast figures; top five for sure. And that’s saying a lot because I love so many of the figures from this line. But the reason I love this figure so much isn’t just because he’s cool looking, it’s because of the personality I infused him with.
I don’t recall where or when I got this figure exactly but it was early on in my BB collecting days. He was a wave 1 figure; released in 1986/87. I got him second hand, I know that much because I don’t have his original weapon and I was usually pretty good about holding onto my accessories and remembering which weapon belonged to whom. Had I got this guy brand new he would have come with the large double pronged axe shown in the card art.
When I was a kid I loved getting new action figures, whether it was a Joe, a Transformer, or a Battle Beast, and then integrating them into my established team. I pretty much always knew right away whether a new addition would become a star or a supporting character in my toy universe. Somebody like Shockwave for example was a late addition to my Joe roster, not showing up until 1988, but he quickly became the hero of all my battles; always the last man standing. When it came to Battle Spider I did not spot his star quality right away. I liked him, but he was no more a stand out then say Battle Crab or Battle Snake.
It was actually a pretty simple thing that made me take special notice of this character. Because he was lacking his own weapon I turned to my pile of spares. I tended to arm my defenceless Battle Beast with whatever I had lying around that would pass as a weapon. I remember that Battle Giraffe always wielded Jabba the Hutt’s pipe on the battle field.
I happened to have a duplicate of Battle Snake’s spear but the bottom of it had snapped off. I made the most of my broken weapon by using it to arm two separate beasts. I gave the long part of the spear to Battle Rabbit and Battle Spider ended up with the stubby broken end. The small blade barely poked out of his hand. It looked like a concealed prison shiv. I started building a whole personality around that little broken blade. Spider became a master of close combat fighting. He was Battle Ram’s stealth assassin. He shot up the ranks of my bad guy team so quickly that he soon developed a rivalry with my main good guy, Sly Fox. Fox already had a rivalry with Battle Bat, but where Bat was purely evil, Spider was more of an honorable villain. Spider’s relationship with Fox was more akin to that of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. I imagined Battle Spider to be very intelligent, one-step ahead of everyone else, and he fought for Ram only to further his own agenda.
The figure itself is hella cool. The armour is colored a sort of matte purple and has little in the way of sculpted detail. He’s got one fist, with which he holds his blade, and one open hand. I always imagined him shooting webbing from his open hand like Spider-Man. The face sculpt is deadly and quite frightening. He’s got large mandibles, multiple eyes of varying sizes and then some crazy thing in his mouth. I never quite knew what to make of that mechanical thing on his face but I imagined it as sort of a spy computer that fed him information. It reminds me of the cycloptic red eye found on another one of my favorite purple toys from the 80s. I absolutely love the look of the segmented arms that protrude from his shoulders. All in all this is a great design, with great color choices. Totally kick ass. 10 out of 10.
It’s been nearly a year now since I acquired my first Beast Saga figures. The line started out with a handful of single carded figures and three 3-packs to establish the three rival factions of beasts. The LAND 3-pack contained the leader of that group, a lion , along with a hamster and a deer. The AIR 3-pack contained their leader, an eagle, along with a falcon and a pigeon. And the WATER 3-pack contained their leader, a shark , along with a piranha, and this guy. This guy had me stumped. I had no idea what type of fish he was supposed to be and that’s one of the reasons that I put off reviewing him for so long. I didn’t want to just name him Saga Fish because it seemed far too broad a name for this creepy fella which is clearly intended to be a distinct species. After searching around on the internet I found that he is supposed to be a Coelacanth, a creepy fish found in the deep waters of Indonesia.
Now that I knew what he was I wasn’t about to name this figure Saga Coelacanth because that’s a mouthful and I’m not even sure how to pronounce it so Saga Fish it is. I’ve seen him called Sealence on some sites so that works too. While I was researching these fish online I didn’t find anything that indicated that they were a threat to man. If I had been asked to assemble a trio of the scariest fish, shark and piranha would have been my top 2 picks for sure. Beyond that…I don’t know. Maybe a barracuda, or a moray eel. Would it be cheating to include a different breed of shark? Like a Mako or a Tiger? I definitely wouldn’t have opted for a Coelacanth, in part because I had never heard of them before, and yet I think he makes a fine addition to this set of scary fish.
I was always of the mind that there were very few fish out there that could actually kill me. However I watched an episode of River Monsters on A&E the other night and apparently there are all kinds of fish out there that can take you out in a variety of ways. The finned fiend that the host happened to be tracking on this particular episode was a large (200lbs) but rather mundane looking fish called a Tarpon. This fish didn’t even have teeth yet it managed to kill somebody simply by leaping out of the water and head-butting him with his massive concrete like head. Crazy stuff.
I don’t know much about Coelacanths but if they look anything like this action figure does then I don’t want to mess with them. He’s not as terrifying as the shark or the piranha but he’s still pretty evil looking. I’d be curious to see how this character is portrayed on the Beast Saga anime . I still haven’t watched more than the first episode at this point. In my Beast Saga world I imagine him being the right hand man of Saga Shark; a lieutenant who isn’t quite as loyal as he seems. Like Starscream, I imagine he’s just biding his time, waiting for his chance to take on the leadership role .
This is a very nice figure with lots of subtle sculpted details such as the scaly skin and it makes good use of sparse paint aps with his gold eyes and red mouth. The armor is purple with a few green highlights and appears to be modeled after a submarine or a torpedo. Like every Beast Saga figure he includes a couple of launching dice, a playing card, a shield, and a bladed weapon. In this case it’s a spear with a pointy end that looks like a fish itself. I dig him. 7 out of 10.
You might be thinking, “Didn’t I just read a frog action figure review on this blog the other day?” and yes, you did. I recently reviewed Horny Toad from the 80s toy line Battle Beasts. When I took ol’ Horny out of my Battle Beast display case in order to snap some pictures for the review I also grabbed the 2013 Beast Saga frog figure that you see here so that I could take some comparison shots. I took some solo shots of the Beast Saga frog while he was out since I knew I’d be needing them eventually for his own review. I had initially planned on waiting a while before reviewing him because I didn’t want to bore people with multiple frog reviews.
However in the past week or so I’ve received multiple comments on my Beast Saga reviews from a new reader to the blog, “Mechagodz”. I’ve been quite happy to respond to his queries and strike up small Beast Saga related conversations as I sometimes feel that I’m alone in my love for this property. He’s been educating me on a few things since he has actually watched some of the anime episodes. I got curious and tracked down what I believe was the first episode and I watched it last night.
Now had I reviewed this frog figure a day earlier, before I had any outside influences I would have told you about the original back story that I had conceived for him. Saga Frog is a prince in the Lake Kingdom, heir to the royal throne. He’s lived a sheltered life because his parents have kept him housed in their underwater castle for his own safety. Saga Frog wanted more. He wanted to go on daring adventures, like the ones he read about in Horny Toad’s memoirs. However it was peace time and daring adventures were few and far between. When the Beast Wars started up again with Saga Shark‘s rise, the Froggy prince went against his parent’s wishes and took up arms, following Saga Lion into battle on the side of good. He keeps his royal heritage a secret from his teammates as he doesn’t want to be perceived as “soft”. He fights extra valiantly every day to prove his worth as a soldier to his brothers-in-arms and to himself.
That’s what I would have said. But after seeing the cartoon last night it’s a little tougher to associate my fabricated backstory to this figure. In the premiere episode Raioga (Saga Lion) is shrouded in a cloak, hiding amongst the common beast peasants in the village. He is actually the King or at least someone of importance. He pigs out in the market, helps an old warthog pull his wagon up a hill, and then gets his boot shined by a young clown fish. During the shoe shining a gang of these frogs show up and start harassing the disguised King. The frogs are all identical looking but different voice actors provide a variety of characterizations. Raioga kicks their asses and demands to see their leader. They take him to a pub where Saga Croc and his squad of frog henchmen are making themselves at home and tormenting the pub owner. Raioga reveals his true identity and kicks some more ass. It was odd seeing the guy I’ve come to know as Saga Frog portrayed as one of many evil henchmen. It’s actually quite similar to the characterization of Horny Toad from the Transformers episode he appeared in. The cartoon was fun to watch but I’m reluctant to watch more because I kind of enjoy creating personalities for these figures myself.
Whether you see him as a good guy or a bad guy this is a fantastic figure. The sculpt is one of the best in the line. It’s well detailed with fun little nods to the species such as the frog feet shoulder pads, but it’s not cheesy or over the top. I love the paint aps on this figure as well. The almost neon green looks great against the dull gray and the orange highlights add just the right amount of color. The gold used on the eyes and helmet elevate the figure even further. I think the gold emblem on his head reminded me of a crown which is why I gave him ties to royalty in “my universe”. I have gotten a few duds from the Beast Saga collection but this figure reminds me why I was so excited about this line in the first place. 10 out of 10.
This here is Horny Toad. He was released as part of the first series of Battle Beasts in 1987. He came packaged with Sledgehammer Elephant. I remember my first Battle Beast figures very clearly. I got the Rhino, Ram, Fox, and Bat in my Easter Basket one year. My little brother Brian got the Bear and Buffalo. He wasn’t as taken with the figures as I was so he gave his to me a short time later. Those first six figures hold a special place in my heart. After that, the acquisition of the other 80some Beasts is kind of a blur. They came by way of grading presents, birthdays and trades with friends. Oddly enough I don’t recall ever getting Battle Beasts for Christmas. So while I don’t remember specific details of how or when I acquired Horny, I do know that he was one of the first figures I got after that initial Easter haul.
I sound like a broken record when I say this in every Battle Beast review, but back in the day these toys did not come with names on their packaging. I didn’t know what any of the character’s official names were until years later. In this case maybe it’s for the best. At the time I named each figure “Battle whatever”; this was Battle Frog. My experience has always been that frogs are green and toads are brown. It’s actually pretty disappointing that Takara never produced a brown toad Battle Beast as he would have been an obvious foe for this guy.
Since each Battle Beast came as a clean slate with no pre-conceived back story I was not only free to name them whatever I wanted but also to choose their allegiances and personalities. With each 2-pack of figures I delegated one figure a good guy and one a bad guy. Battle Frog was a good guy probably because his package mate was purple with black armor (obvious bad guy colors). Frog was one of the best warriors on my good team. He was stern, serious, and tough. He was also very agile and had super leaping abilities.
I think this figure is straight up awesome; one of the best Battle Beasts ever. First off the sculpt is very detailed with lots of cool and unique features. The big web feet are great, and the face has a bunch of sculpted little warts. The weapon hand isn’t as elaborate as others in the line but the fact that it’s just a plain pointy lance seems almost more brutal. I can imagine him leaping into a crowd on the battlefield and impaling his enemies. Death from Above. The ear attachments and shoulder spikes add even more flavor to an already cool figure.
The second thing this figure has going for it is the color. The bright green, dark red, and mustard yellow work great together. It’s amazing how the designers were able to give so many of these tiny figures a unique look when considering the limited color palette and paint aps they had available. The colors choices used here really show off the detail in the sculpt. Battle Frog looks like no other beast in the collection. His oddly shaped, fancy-pants, bladed weapon is pretty cool too.
Not too long ago I watched a Japanese Transformers cartoon that featured the Battle Beasts (they’re a spin-off if you didn’t know). I was surprised to see Battle Frog portrayed not only as a bad guy but as an army of bad guys. A bunch of identical frogs with yellow spike hands were leaping into battle against the Autobots. It’s funny because it makes me think of how differently I may have viewed these toys had they starred in their own cartoon series when I was a kid. With Joes I always imagined my viper and crimson guard figures to be representative of a squad of those trooper types, so no matter how many crimson guards got thrown into the volcano I could keep on re-using that figure, where as if Zartan fell into the volcano then he was just dead. When it came to my Battle Beasts I pictured each and every one of them as individuals. It seems bizarre to imagine any of them as mere troop builders. Discovering that the beasts all had real names was revelation enough for me that I don’t think I would want to know much more of their backstory even if it exists out there somewhere. I quite like the Battle Beast Universe that I created on my own. 8 out of 10.
Every time I’m asked “What’s your favorite cephalopod?” I struggle with the answer. I’m fascinated by Squids; the thought of giant ones sinking ships makes me giddy. I’ve been a fan of sea creatures ever since I first saw the Kraken emerge from the depths in Clash of the Titans (1981) or Godzilla do the same in any number of movies (though I don’t consider him a sea creature). So squids seem like an obvious pick, but god damn if Octopi aren’t a close runner-up. As a kid I had a translucent rubber Octopus that came packaged with a deep sea diver from Fisher Price’s “Adventure People” line. I found the diver kind of dorky and old fashioned but I loved that octopus. I worked it into as many play scenarios as I possibly could. Any time the G.I. Joes or He-Man or Luke Skywalker had an underwater mission you better believe that the Adventure People Octopus was there to give them problems. I had an Adventure People shark as well so you can imagine those treks into the bathtub weren’t easy for any action figure brave enough to take the plunge.
I’ve already reviewed the Battle Beast Squid (cuttlefish technically) so today I can focus my attention on my second favorite tentacled warrior. This here is Battle Octopus, or Octillion Octopus as he is officially known. He was released in the second wave of Battle Beasts in the late 80s. I think that overall the first wave remains my favorite but the second wave added some less obvious animal choices into the mix which I appreciated. Both Battle Octopus and the aforementioned squid were included in wave two. Some kids may have went with the option of making these guys friends but my immediate thought was to make them arch enemies. I imagined that the two of them had an underwater dispute long before the Battle Beast war started and when the time came to pick sides in the fight it was a no-brainer that they would align themselves with opposing armies. I think most people would have made the squid the bad guy out of the two of them. Squid is wearing black armor, he has a harpoon arm, and he has those big frightening yellow eyes. But for some reason I chose to make Squid the good guy and placed the friendlier looking bright red octopus on the bad guy team.
Now when I say friendlier looking I don’t mean friendly looking. Battle Octopus is pretty creepy in his own right. There’s just something about those big round black eyes that make him look soulless. Whether or not any octopus has a soul I suppose is up for debate but you know what I mean. The sculpt on this figure is pretty nice. They did a very good job at making this 8-armed creature appear to be bi-pedal. The opposite of what was done on the recently reviewed Beast Saga manta ray figure. Like the Squid figure, Octopus has double-arms which works out well and looks pretty cool His legs act as 2 more arms and the last 2 small appendages hang from his face. All of the tentacles, including his legs have suction cups sculpted along the undersides which is a nice attention to detail. Another design similarity that octo shares with squid is the tubular mouth which gives them a very alien like appearance. The spiky shoulder pads are another neat addition to the sculpt.
The blue armor looks great against the red skin. That type of contrast wasn’t seen a lot in the toy line. For some reason they usually seemed to give blue characters, like the shark, blue armor or yellow characters, like the camel, yellow armor. The color choices used on Octopus really make the figure pop out in my display. The little bit of yellow goes a long way in breaking up the big chunks of solid color and actually enhances the figure quite a bit. Unfortunately I do not have the gold spear that he came with but I bet this guy could do some damage on the battlefield without it. 7 out of 10.
Hey guys, I’ve got another Beast Saga review for you today. I got this guy in my last shipment of BS figures a short while ago. In that post I complained about the lack of news regarding new figures. Just to keep you up to date, BigBadToyStore has finally put new Beast Saga figures up for pre-order on their site. There are no pictures of the new figures however so I’m going to hold off on ordering them until I know exactly what I’m buying. I know some collectors were miffed the last time they ordered the blind packed BS figures sight unseen because they were expecting unique characters but all they ended up with were clear versions of previously released figures. I picked up 6 of the blind packs but I’m very glad I didn’t pre-order dozens of them. Hopefully these new pre-orders are for a fresh wave of brand new figures.
The figure I’m looking at today I’ve named Saga Ray because as I’ve explained before, I’m not sure what their actual names are (I can’t read Japanese). As you can probably tell Saga Ray is a manta ray. I was pretty stoked to add him to my collection as there was no manta rays, sting rays or any other rays in the 80s Battle Beast line. It’s fun to get brand new characters that aren’t forced to live-up to what came before which is the case with many of the more familiar looking beasts. Technically there was a ray figure named Grin Reeper released in the fourth and final wave of Battle Beasts which were known as Laser Beasts. Those figures featured glass orbs in their chests as opposed to the rub emblems seen on the previous 3 waves. Only 12 of the Laser Beasts were ever released in north America though. The other 24 Laser Beasts, Grin Reeper being one of them, were only released in Japan and are extremely rare. They show up on ebay every now and again for hundreds of dollars and I will likely never own any of them. So, to me anyway, an armored manta ray is a new concept and a first for my collection.
The figure is quite nice. The dark blue armor is broken up just enough by the three areas with red highlights. The armor itself isn’t to exciting and lacks any of the fun gags that some of the other BS figures have but it’s not bad and honestly I prefer the armor when it isn’t overly kitschy. His weapons, a sword and shield are pretty dull but adequate as well.
The interesting part about this figure is the head. I failed to capture it in my pictures but on the underside, which is painted a yellowish color, he has sculpted nostrils, gills and a mouth which seems to be smiling. The smile immediately makes me think of the school teacher manta ray from Finding Nemo. I’m impressed that they put that much detail into what is basically his chin. The top of the head has lots of nice detail as well with sculpted spots, fins, a tail, and what I guess are blow holes. I really like how his “wings” are sculpted upwards as though he’s in mid-stroke. The head also has a bunch of cool armored details around his eyes and down his spine. The eyes themselves feature dual paint apps which is appreciated.
The odd thing about this figure is that he basically looks like a manta ray plopped on top of an armored body. With other non-legged animals like previously released snakes and fish the sculptors always tried to make it seem as though the creature had sprouted limbs and evolved into a bipedal creature. I don’t get that impression with this figure. If that’s what the sculptors were going for, his wings should have been on his arms and his tail should have been on his bum, but instead his head is a fully formed manta ray. I don’t think it looks bad, it’s just odd. Overall a pretty great figure. 8 out of 10.
Last week I reviewed the Beast Saga Armadillo and so I hauled out my Battle Beast armadillo to do some comparison pics. Since he was out I figured I may as well take his solo pics as well and get a review posted. This will likely be a short review as I already talked about this figure in that review and I really don’t have much to say in the way of armadillo small-talk to pad this review with. Armored Armadillo, or Battle Armadillo as I called him, was released in the second series of Beasts in the late 80s. He came packaged with Battle Iguana.
I was always excited to get new Battle Beasts back then, and an armadillo was especially cool because they’re one of my favorite animals. You’d think this guy would’ve had the potential to dethrone wave 1’s Battle Fox as my favorite Beast but that was not the case. There’s nothing wrong with this figure but it lacking the “it” factor. He’s basically the same color skin as Battle Fox though this guy has a much more textured look with a full armor plated back. The checkerboard style skin looks great. I don’t love the color of this guy’s metal armor though. It’s okay but it’s a bit too flashy. I think a darker purple would have served him better. Battle Fox, meanwhile, had some sweet white armor which really stood out amongst the other figures who all wore blues, reds, and purples.
The main advantage Fox had over Armadillo was in the head sculpt. Fox had a great face with a sly little smirk that gave him lots of personality. Battle Armadillo doesn’t even have a mouth, and instead of soft blue eyes he’s got creepy yellow eyes. The lack of personality in this figure’s face keeps him from being overly cool or overly cute, he’s just kind of in the middle. But even a middle-of–the-pack Battle Beast like this still ranks pretty highly for me in the grand scheme of things as I just really liked this toy line. There were only a couple of Beasts that I really didn’t like, such as the Platypus, but even he isn’t so bad. Battle Armadillo came with a pretty cool double bladed weapon which I sadly seem to have misplaced. Truth be told I probably never had it, I’m pretty good at holding onto even the smallest of accessories and I acquired many of my Battle Beasts through trades with friends and they came weaponless. If you’ve got a friend with one of these I suggest you go make a trade for him yourself. 7 out of 10.