Yesterday I gave a review on my first impression of the new Beast Saga line from Takara. I had intended to review one of the individual figures but rambled on so long in the set-up that I decided to keep it as a general review. Today I shall be doing my first Beast Saga figure review. I have opted to start with the Lion. I kind of wish I hadn’t started with the Lion because another blog already posted a very comprehensive review of this figure however this is the toy that I took a bunch of pictures of yesterday so I’m gonna stick with him. I will try to review another BS figure tomorrow for those of you curious about the line and wanting to see more than just the lion.
The reason I chose to review the Lion is because he appears to be the main face of the brand right now. I’ve seen a Japanese commercial and some promotional artwork and this guy is heavily featured. As I mentioned in my collection review yesterday, the beasts are divided into 3 teams: land, sea and air. The lion appears to be the leader of the land beasts and the shark seems to be the leader of the sea beasts; makes sense. I’m not sure who will take top billing on the air team yet.
All of the promotional material that’s been released on these figures so far has been in Japanese so I’m guessing at a lot of this stuff. I’ve seen this guy referred to as RAIOGA on other sites but I don’t believe that the name has been confirmed. Even if that is his official moniker chances are it would be translated into something else if these figures end up being released in North America. Since I don’t really know what to call him, for now I shall adopt my old Battle Beast naming method and I shall call him Saga Lion. Until I know their official names all BS figures from here on out will be referred to as Saga Shark, Saga Giraffe etc.
I kind of like the clean slate aspect of these toys. It’s like the Battle Beasts of old where I picked the beast’s teams, names and personalities. I was tempted to try and give these characters cool names like “Thundermane” or “King Mustafa” but decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Besides, I named all of my old BB figures “Battle (type of animal here)” and if it was good enough for them so “Saga Lion” should be good enough for this guy. When I first saw these figures online it appeared as though they would blend in seamlessly with my old Battle Beasts figures. Now that I have them in hand I see that it is not the case. The Saga figures are almost a head taller than the old figures and about 1.5 times as wide. This kind of sucks because they can’t really be displayed together without looking a little wonky. At the same time the bigger scale allowed for some new features to be added to the figures and keeps them feeling “new”. Besides, the size difference isn’t so alarming that you couldn’t merge the two lines if you really wanted to; It’s about the same as standing an 80s Joe figure next to a modern one.
Even though I don’t play with my toys anymore I like to have a story line in mind for them. I was thinking that perhaps the Saga figures could be the next generation of Battle Beasts. Many of them could actually be the sons of the 80s characters carrying on their fathers’ legacy. The size difference kind of screws that up but I suppose there could have been some genetic tampering or even some sped up evolution due to radiation from a crashed meteor or something. If I do go with the second generation idea that would make Saga Lion the son of Battle Lion, who is technically named Pirate Lion.
When I played as a kid Battle Rhino was always the leader of my good team. Pirate Lion was featured on the packaging and he looked as though he had leadership potential but alas I didn’t own his figure during my BB universe formative years. When I did eventually get him I made him a returning war hero who was presumed dead. He had lead an army to war and never returned. Upon Battle Lion’s return Rhino offered him the role of leader but Lion refused it seeing as Rhino had become such a great leader in his absence. From then on Battle Lion was one of Rhino’s most loyal and honorable generals. Seeing as I don’t have a Beast Saga Rhinoceros yet it would make sense for Pirate Lion’s son to be the one to step up and lead the next generation of beasts into battle. This is the story line playing out in my mind.
Of the 14 Beast Saga figures I got the other day Saga Lion is somewhere in the middle of the pack for me. The elephant is probably my least favorite and to my own surprise I find myself liking the bird the best. He’s probably the one that I shall review tomorrow so stay tuned. For now let’s get back to the Lion. The basic construction of all of the Saga figures is pretty much the same. They all have articulated arms and legs however the legs don’t move all that much and the added articulation doesn’t do much to enhance the figures. I would’ve been fine with them having unarticulated legs like their Battle Beast ancestors but the extra movement doesn’t hurt the figure in any way and I appreciate the effort by Takara.
They all have the dice/plunger torso which probably wouldn’t have looked very good if the figures were as small as Battle Beasts. The larger size allows the dice concept to add a new angle of playability without ruining the overall aesthetic of the figure. Each beast has a unique torso piece as well as original arms and legs. It would have been easy for the designers to cheap out and re-use parts and I’m glad to see they didn’t. Apparently the limbs on these figures are swappable but I haven’t attempted to pull any of mine apart. I quite like Lion’s armor. He’s currently the only Saga figure I have with red armor so he stands out from the crowd of blues, greens, and purples. The armor features dual bladed shoulders and a very bizarre looking crotch piece that resembles the face of a snake. All the figures came with a bladed weapon (except one who’s packing heat) and a shield. Lion’s sword and shield are pretty cool looking but nothing overly special. I find the accessories to be molded in way too soft of a plastic and a few of mine seem to be permanently curved. You can see how warped Lion’s sword is in some of my pictures. Saga Lion and a couple of the other figures have open mouths which is something we never saw in the Battle Beasts line. It almost looks like his jaw is articulated and could be closed but unfortunately that is not the case. Another facial feature of Lion’s that separates him from the BBs of the past is that he has white eyes with black pupils. All of the BB figures had solid colored eyes. I don’t mind the change so long as they paint future figures with a steadier hand. Lion appears to have a wandering eye which is kind of distracting. Lazy eye aside, I do really like the head sculpt; its far more detailed than Pirate Lions. I’m not sure what the deal is with the green mane but I like to think its because he’s a punk rocker at heart.
When I read the review of this figure on that other Battle Beast blog that I mentioned earlier I was very surprised by that reviewer’s overall impression. He liked the figure alright but said it felt more like a child’s toy as opposed to a collectable and that it lacked the freshness of the upcoming Battle Beasts figures from Diamond Select Toys. I haven’t had a chance to physically check out the DST figures yet but I find it hard to believe that they will come anywhere close to as cool as these Beast Saga figures are. I feel they’re just the right mix of old and new. I’m team beast saga all the way. Read Adam’s review here if you like: http://www.16bit.com/fotd/120926-beast-saga-raioga-lion.asp He takes better pictures than me anyway. 8 out of 10.