TEARIN’ TIGER CHARIOT
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.