Category Archives: Battle Beasts
It’s been a while since I reviewed a Beast Saga figure so let’s take a look at one, shall we? Here’s a quick refresher: In the 80s, Japanese toy company Takara produced a line of small animal warrior action figures called Battle Beasts. They were nowhere near as popular as other 80s properties like G.I. Joe and Transformers but I loved them just the same. The short-lived line fizzled out after 3.5 waves of figures. It vanished for over 20 years until , in 2012, Takara revived the line as Beast Saga. The name may have changed and the BS figures were bigger and more detailed but there was no mistaking Beast Saga’s origins. Both lines consisted of warrior animals wearing armor and brandishing weapons, and both were marketed more so as a game than a line of action figures. Many of the BS figure designs were clearly inspired by their old BB counterparts but there were a few wholly original characters in the mix as well; such as Bundot the pigeon.
The Battle Beasts line had a number of birds but it didn’t have a pigeon. Bundot here, or Saga Pigeon as I prefer to call him, was included in a 3-pack along with two other birds, an eagle and a falcon. You see, Battle Beasts were divided into teams by their chest emblems (wood, fire, or water) but Beast Saga critters were grouped by their preferred habitat: land, sea, or air. When I was a kid I didn’t pay any mind to the supposed emblem loyalties. I had two teams of Battle Beasts, good guys and bad guys, and I played with them just as I would any other toy line. If Beast Saga figures had come out when I was a kid I wonder whether I would’ve done the same or stuck to the land, sea, and air theme. Having multiple warring factions can be fun.
I like every single one of the Beast Saga figures so it’s a real shame that the line got cancelled so quickly. I never really expected it to catch on in North America but I hoped that Japanese interest would keep it afloat for a few more waves. I wouldn’t say that Bundot is one of my favorites but I still like him a lot. The fact that he’s a species of warrior animal I didn’t have as a kid makes him feel fresh and new but it also prevents any nostalgic connection; I can’t pretend he’s the son of any of my beloved Battle Beast figures as I do with characters like Saga Lion and Saga Deer.
If I’d had Beast Saga figures when I was a kid I think I would have relegated this character to a comic relief role. It’s good to have some light hearted characters and I just cannot imagine Saga Pigeon as a name-taking ass-kicker. I see pigeons every day and nothing about them says tough. I feed them on my lunch breaks and even when I throw food directly at them they almost always lose out to the smarter, faster birds and they just end up waddling around in circles cooing like clueless assholes. I wouldn’t make Bundot an idiot but I can see him being a little clumsy and oblivious.
The sculpting on this figure is top-notch. The armour, the feet, and the wings are all loaded with detail. The face sculpt really captures the blank stare of a pigeon. The paint job is also quite nice. The aqua blue armor with gold accents looks good against his gray feathers. It’s a shame that more of the sculpted details didn’t get painted.
One interesting thing about Bundot is that he’s the only Beast Saga figure to come with a gun. All of the other figures came with bladed weapons. I’m curious as to the reasoning for that. Besides the gun he also came with a shield, a gaming card, and a couple of dice for his chest launcher.
This is a silly but great little toy. 7 out of 10.
Time sure does fly. I can’t believe it was 2012 when Takara launched their Beast Saga toyline. It was an unofficial continuation of their 80s toyline, Battle Beasts, which was one of my favourite lines when I was a kid. All of my other 80s favourites like G.I. Joe, Transformers, and He-Man were revived in the early 2000s and I was really hoping Battle Beasts would eventually come back as well. It required another decade of waiting but the Beasts finally returned and I couldn’t have been happier. Long time readers may recall how excited I was about receiving my first shipment of Beast Saga figures back in September 2012. Additional waves of figures quickly followed and it seemed as though Beast Saga was off to a great start and would be around for years to come. Sadly it ended just as quickly as it began. The line only lasted about a year before it vanished.
There was never any official announcement of the line’s demise (that I know of, I can’t read Japanese) so I have held out hope that more figures might eventually come. At this point though that seems very unlikely. I guess I’ll just have to enjoy the 39 figures I do have.
Saga Gorilla (or Garrison G as I think he’s officially called) was part of series 2. Like all BS figures he came with a sword, a shield, a couple of dice, and a game card. I never bothered to figure out how the gaming aspect of these figures work so the dice and card are useless to me. Both his sword and shield are pretty basic solid grey accessories.
The figure itself is pretty awesome. He has a realistic looking Gorilla head (with some mechanical enhancements) atop a bulky body with large arms and squat legs. The proportions actually work quite well here which wasn’t always the case with these figures. Gorilla has sculpted fur on all of his exposed areas and his face has a life-like neutral expression. The armour lacks much in the way of detail but it looks good regardless. It’s very blocky which adds to his husky appearance. I really like the colour of his armour. It’s a drab brown with olive green shoulder pads. It looks very militaristic and not at all flashy. This is a no-nonsense monkey.
In my early Beast Saga reviews I assigned the characters allegiance to either Saga Lion (the good guys) or Saga Shark (the bad guys) and I gave them a back story. Now that some time has passed and my excitement has cooled I totally forget which side of the battle I placed Saga Gorilla on.
My first thought would be to make him a villain based on his dark colours but he looks way too calm to be evil. I can see him as a general for Saga Lion fighting the good fight and keeping a level head even in the most chaotic of situations.
I love these Beast Saga figures and I highly recommend anyone pick them up. They’re getting harder to find so you should do it soon. 9 out of 10.
My Joe Con “Tiger Force vs Iron Grenadiers” box set finally arrived in the mail the other day which was pretty exciting. I pre-ordered that thing about 5 months ago so I’m eager to review the 15 figures within. However, I just finished a run of G.I. Joe reviews because I’ve spent the past week examining all the figures and vehicles from this summer’s San Diego Comic Con box set. So rather than jump right into another batch of Convention exclusive G.I. Joe reviews I’ve decided to break things up with a couple of random toys first. In keeping with the Tiger Force theme I’ve selected the Battle Beast, Ferocious Tiger, for today’s review.
Ferocious Tiger, or Battle Tiger as I called him before I realized he had a real name, was included in the first wave of Battle Beasts figures released by Hasbro in 1987. However he was not one of my first Battle Beast figures. There were a handful of figures from each wave that eluded for some time and Ferocious Tiger was one that took me a while to track down. I can’t recall when or where I finally got him but it was sometime after the toy line had ended. I don’t have any clear recollections of playing with him as a child so he may have been one of the few I bought as an adult.
It’s a shame that I got him so late because he never had a chance to develop a unique personality in my Battle Beast universe. Since there was no cartoon or mainstream comic to provide back stories for these characters all Battle Beasts were a blank canvas when you got them. But to me, certain beasts like Rocky Rhino and Sly Fox are as iconic as Optimus Prime and He-Man because their personalities were so well developed over the many years I played with them. So while Ferocious Tiger is a cool looking figure he doesn’t stir up any specific nostalgic memories the way those others do.
If I had gotten Ferocious Tiger back in ’87 I imagine he would have been an integral member of Rocky Rhino’s good guy team. Since there was no established continuity to work from I could’ve made him a bad guy just as easily but there’s something about this toy that seems heroic to me so making him a good guy seems obvious.
The sculpt on the figure is pretty darn good for such a small toy. Battle Beasts never fail to impress me in that department. I especially like his shoulder mounted cannon or lights or whatever it is because it gives him a unique asymmetrical silhouette. It reminds me of War Machine’s shoulder mounted gatling gun which I’ve always loved. Tiger’s only articulation points are at his shoulders. His arms are able to swing backwards and forwards. It’s the same articulation found on all BB figures and while it allows for minimal movement it’s all I ever needed to have a blast with these toys. Takara could have easily made them completely static like MUSCLES to save on costs but thankfully they didn’t because the moving arms went a long way to increase the playability.
For a weapon Ferocious Tiger carries a rather boring spiked club. It looks to me like one of those baseball bats with nails hammered into it. Except this club is double-headed so I imagine he could spin it around like a bow staff and do some real damage. While it’s less interesting to look at than many other beasts’ weapons I like it for it’s sheer blunt brutality.
The area where this figure is really lacking is in the paint apps. None of the Battle Beasts had a ton of paint applications which is fine in most cases but I think Takara/Hasbro should have splurged for a few more apps on figures like Ferocious Tiger, Zealot Zebra, and Jaded Jaguar.
The prints on their fur is what best defines those animals so to omit a tiger’s stripes or a jaguar’s spots is almost unforgivable. To be fair, the tiger stripes are sculpted onto this figures so they can seen if you look closely but a little bit of black paint would have elevated this figure significantly. Also odd is the fact that Ferocious Tiger is yellow instead of orange. Other beasts are oddly colored (like the blue horse and purple elephant) so it’s less of an offense but yellow is so close to orange they probably should’ve just made him orange. The brown is a good color for the armour and I like the pink highlights but a few additional paint apps could have spruced that up too.
This is a very cool figure but in a line full of cool figures he ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack for me. 7 out of 10.
For their fourth and final wave of Battle Beast figures Takara did away with the Transformer-esque heat-activated rub emblem found on the first 3 waves and replaced it with a round magnifying lens. The idea was that you would hold the figure up to a light source in order to see the character’s secret team affiliation: Wood, Water, or Fire. My Rainbow Sam happens to be a Fire soldier but he was available with all 3 symbols. Perhaps one day I’ll become such an obsessive collector that I’ll need to track down one of each for all of the Battle Beast figures. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.
I’ve mentioned many times before how much I loved Battle Beasts when I was a kid. I think its the most under appreciated toy line of the 80s. The characters were a clean slate and you could use them however you wanted without being a slave to a predetermined TV show or comic book play structure. The 2 inch figures generally came in 2-packs and I always assigned one as a good guy and one as a bad guy. Rainbow Sam was the good guy in the case of his 2-pack which meant his pack mate Tiger Burn had to be a bad guy. The choice seemed obvious to me. How could you make this lovable little red bird a bad guy? Then again Disney did it in Aladdin so I suppose it wouldn’t have been too far a stretch.
Because I didn’t know the characters names when I was a kid I named this figure Battle Parrot. In my Battle Beast universe he was a no-nonsense tough guy who often double talked and squawked between sentences. His speech pattern was modelled after Polly, Shipwreck’s parrot from the G.I. Joe cartoon.
Both the sculpt and paint job are really nice on this figure. His armour is relatively simple with a subtle wing motif on the shoulders and really cool boots with spikes on the back. I wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of a kick from this guy. There are absolutely no paint apps on the armour. It’s a solid shade of beige. Normally this would be disappointing but the figure is so colorful otherwise that apps on the armour might have made it to busy.
The feathers are a bright shade or red, his beak is orange, his eyes are yellow, and he has white circles around his eyes. Apparently there are variants out there without the white circles. Something else I’ll need to track down if I ever go fully Battle Beast insane. The wings have a nice rounded design and they’re proportioned well. They go from red to yellow to blue which really makes this figure stand out on a shelf when displayed with other figures.
My only gripe would be that the wings hinder his arm articulation a bit which isn’t good since his arms are the only part of him that move. Luckily the plastic is soft enough that you can push the wings back out of the way if you want him to outstretch his arms.
Where the first 3 waves of Battle Beasts all had bladed weapons the Laser Beasts (or Shadow Warriors) of wave 4 all had guns. The guns were all very creatively designed to resemble their carrier. Sam’s gun looks like a parrot’s head and yet still looks likes a pretty cool gun too.
A cool little figure. 9 out of 10.
Beast Saga was a short-lived toyline produced by the Japanese toy company Takara that launched in the fall of 2012 and sputtered out in the first quarter of 2013. During that brief period Takara managed to release 4 waves of standard 2” figures, clear variants of those figures, a few larger deluxe figures, and a number of smaller micro figures. There was even a manga and an anime released in Japan to support the toys. It was a good amount of product for such a short period of time but I was still very sad to see the brand come to such an abrupt end.
I have previously reviewed all of the wave 1 figures except for this one; the swordfish who I believe is named Billsword. I didn’t put off reviewing this figure because it was bad but I didn’t necessarily save the best for last either. My personal wave 1 favorite is the finch but this swordfish ranks pretty highly as well.
This figure has a lot of character; at least in the face. The sail on his head looks like a mohawk and he’s wearing some funky red goggles, the combination of which make me see him as some sort of cyber-punk. I immediately associated him with Be-Bop from ninja turtles. The sword nose provides him with a close combat weapon akin to a chain or a baseball bat, items you might expect a hooligan punk to wield. I imagine this character to be a scrappy, dirty street fighter. I see him blaring punk music from speakers integrated into his armor while he’s out causing trouble. Perhaps he was a member of a roving swordfish street gang before being recruited into Saga Shark’s army. If I still played with my toys I think I would assign Billsail a Johnny Rotten like personality.
Where this figure loses some points is in the body. The sculpt is decent but relatively plain. I don’t like it when the sculptors overdo it with kitsch, as they sometimes do in this line, but I think they could have added a bit more aquatic flair to Bill’s outfit. There’s actually more detail in the sculpt than there appears to be at first glance because a number of the details aren’t painted which is a shame. He has knee pads, pouches on the tops of his legs, and arm bands that are all devoid of paint. I’m glad that Takara at least splurged for some green and gold highlights on the armor as it adds some needed color diversity to this mostly white and blue figure.
For accessories Billsword comes with a sword, a shield, a game card and some dice which can be launched from his chest with the pullback plunger on his back. The card features some nice artwork but I never bothered to figure out the game aspect of these toys that makes use of the cards and dice so its pretty useless to me. This is a neat little figure so if you were a fan of Beast Saga, or even Battle Beasts in the 80s, you should check this guy out. The Battle Beast line had a sword fish of its own but it was radically different than this one so Billsword is a fairly unique looking character even when the two toylines are displayed together as mine are. 9 out of 10.
I loved cartoons and comics based on my favorite toys when I was a kid. However, one of the coolest things about Takara’s Battle Beasts toyline was that there was no cartoon or mainstream comic book to flesh out the characters’ personalities. Each new toy was a completely clean slate; they didn’t even have names (that I was aware of). This gave me the freedom to name them whatever I wanted, decide if they were good or bad, and assign them whatever personality I chose. I’d like to think I gave each character their own distinct personality but truth be told there are only so many character archetypes available. Many of the figures I acquired became infantry soldiers without much depth or backstory. It was the first few figures I got that were truly fleshed out into complete characters.
In my Easter basket in the spring of (I believe) 1987 I got my first 4 Battle Beast figures. My little brother Brian got 2 as well. I got the rhinoceros, the fox, the bat, and the sheep. Brian got the buffalo and the bear. He wasn’t nearly as enamored with Battle Beasts as I was so he later gave me his 2 figures.
Each set of 2 figures came on a blister card with the same image on the top. The image featured a herd of marching beasts. Most of them were colored solid gray but leading the pack, in full color, was the rhino and the sheep. I’m not sure if those two characters were intended to be leaders or if they were chosen at random to be the focal point of the packaging but either way that image solidified in my mind that those two were in charge.
I made the rhino the leader of my good guy team. The fox was his good natured but very capable warrior. The bear was his stern second-in-command general. On the opposite side of things I made the sheep the leader of my bad guys, the bat was his spy, and the buffalo was his gruff second-in-command general.
Battle Ram was a fierce and powerful leader. If I had to make a comparison I guess you could say I modelled him after Megatron. He was mean and ruthless and very intelligent. His campaign was not for his own glory but for a purpose. Ram felt justified in his actions and he truly believed that the best thing for the beasts of his planet was for him to rule over them. Battle Ram was never the type to sit back in a throne while his henchmen did his dirty work like Cobra Commander or Skeletor might have done. Battle Ram was always leading the charge onto the battlefield and so his soldiers respected him. The fact that the only chariot I owned as a kid was the “Big Horn Chariot” only enhanced Ram’s larger than life persona. I’ll bet Alexander the Great and Napoleon wish they could have rode into battle on a chariot bearing their likeness the way Battle Ram did.
There was a moment in every battle where Battle Ram and Battle Rhino would find themselves face to face. They’d charge at one another which resulted in a sonic boom type effect that would blow down everyone in the vicinity except them. Neither could take down the other. They were completely equal in strength, which would lead me to believe that Battle Ram is actually more powerful proportionately when you take into account that he’s only a sheep and he’s going toe-to-toe with a rhinoceros.
There were a couple of interesting design choices made on this figure which separates it from your average warrior sheep toy. Firstly, he’s blue. I don’t think there’s any actual blue sheep out there in the world so it detracts from his realism ever so slightly. However, I always imaged the Battle Beasts lived on a planet similar to Earth inhabited by anthropomorphic animals; not Earth itself. So maybe on Beast World blue sheep and purple elephants are the norm. For that reason the color choice never bothered me. I actually think the light blue skin/fur looks pretty cool against the dark gray armor.
The other notable design element is the metallic muzzle. A couple other beasts have similar masks such as the mole and the skunk but it made more sense for those animals. The mole may need assistance to breath underground and the skunk may need a mask to protect him from his own toxic funk, but what does a ram need a mask for? If you look closely at the muzzle you’ll see it features a scowl lined with pointy teeth. I suppose it could be a scary decorative piece but I always imaged that Battle Ram had an actual metallic jaw like Trap Jaw from He-Man. Perhaps his actual jaw was ripped off in a battle early on in the war. Interestingly, the card above features a maskless Ram.
I absolutely love this figure.
I love the big thick feet, the simple design of the armor, the horns on the shoulder pads, the brutal looking weapon, and the menacing stare. This is 2 inches of blue plastic perfection. 10 out of 10.
This here is the Battle Beast, Deer Stalker. As with all Battle Beasts, I didn’t know Deer Stalker had an actual name when I was a kid so I named him Battle Deer.
Deer Stalker was included in the first wave of BB figures. He came packaged with Pirate Lion. It makes sense that he would appear early in the line as deer seem, at least to me, like one of the “main” animals. What do I mean by that? I’m not sure exactly. I just think that if I asked someone to rhyme off as many animal species as they can in 2 minutes they would get to “deer” fairly quickly. Of course lions, tigers, and bears immediately spring to mind. Dogs and cats are frontrunners as well. But deer are pretty abundant and common so I think they would make most people’s short list. Perhaps that’s just because of where I live. Halifax is a city but it’s surrounded by lots of trees and it’s not uncommon to see deer along the highways. Vanessa and I spotted a group of 7 or 8 of them last summer and I actually saw one while on my way to work just last month. It was casually strolling through the residential neighborhood I live in which is just outside of the downtown core.
Outside of trips to the zoo I’ve never gotten very close to one. They strike me as rather majestic beasts. They stand so alert and can sprint off so quickly. I find their movements to be so precise and elegant. Mind you, I don’t necessarily know what I’m talking about. I recall Louis CK talking about moving to a rural home in one of his stand-up specials and commenting about how so much exposure to deer changed his attitude towards them. He used to think they were majestic too but after they tore up his lawn, crapped everywhere, and made gross grunting sounds towards him he saw them as nothing more than forest pests fit for slaughter. Anyway, I’ve gotten a little off topic here, back to the toy review.
I suppose my perception of deer shaped the way I played with this figure when I was a kid. Deer Stalker was a rather rigid and quiet member of Battle Rhino’s team. He did what he had to do and didn’t concern himself with being liked by others. I imagined Stalker as a bit of a science/techie guy. I think it was the combination of his goggles and his drill hand that made him seem like he knew a thing or two about technology.
The sculpt on this figure is really nice. His legs are different that those of most other BB figures because they’re almost entirely exposed; most have boots. I imagine the lack of boots freed him up to spring around the battle field very nimbly. His armor is pretty standard but he does have an interesting cylinder on his right shoulder that reminds me of War Machine’s gatling gun, though Deer Stalker’s looks more like a laser, a light, or maybe a camera. Some Battle Beast’s had weaponized hands and as I mentioned earlier Deer Stalker has a pretty serious drill for a right hand. I imagine it could have been used pretty gruesomely on an enemy but I don’t see Stalker using it as a weapon so much as a tool when he’s working in his lab. The goggles completely cover his eyes which gives him an almost robotic look. The blank expression probably contributed to the stoic personally I assigned him; he’d be kind of like Robo-Cop. Lastly his antlers are pretty unique and neat-looking.
The color choices are great. The brown and green give him a very appropriate forest color palette. The orange highlights add a nice bit of flair. His weapon is one of my favorites from the original line. It’s basically just a giant serrated blade. As with the drill I imagine this weapon could have lead to some pretty gory battles which is why I usually let my Shark figure use it; it felt more appropriate for a more violent character.
This is a great figure amongst a whole line of great figures. If you’re not collecting Battle Beasts yet you should be. 9 out of 10.
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.