Category Archives: Battle Beasts

RAINBOW SAM

BB-Rainbow sam fullBATTLE BEASTS

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.

BB-Rainbow sam artI’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.

BB-Rainbow sam carded

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.

BB-Rainbow sam backMy 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.BB-Rainbow Sam gun

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.

BILLSWORD (SAGA SWORDFISH)

BS-Sword fullBEAST SAGA

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.BS-Sword card

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.BS-Sword face

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.BS-Sword side

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.BS-Sword gang

BIGHORN SHEEP

BB-Ram fullBATTLE BEASTS

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.BB-Ram card

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.

BB-Ram side

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.BB-Ram art

 

 

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.

I found out years later that Battle Beast figures actually did have names and that this figure was named Bighorn Sheep.  However, back in the day I named him Battle Ram.BB-Ram greek

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.BB-Ram chariot

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.

BB-Ram back

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.BB-Ram rhino

 

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.BB-Ram team

DEER STALKER

BB-Deer fullBATTLE BEASTS

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.BB-Deer card

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.

BB-Deer back

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.BB-Deer face

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.

BB-Deer compare

SAGA KANGAROO (KANNIGAL)

BS-Kangaroo weaponsBEAST SAGA

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.

BS-Kangaroo carded

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.

BS-Kangaroo card

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.

BS-Kangaroo side

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.

BS-Kangaroo full

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.

BS-Kangaroo pair

SAGA DOLPHIN (DORFAN)

BS-Dolphin frontBEAST SAGA

It seems like it’s been a while since I reviewed one of Takara’s Beast Saga figures so today I’m going to tackle the figure I call Saga Dolphin, which I believe is officially called Dorfan.BS-Dolphin card

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

BS-Dolphin head

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.BS-Dolphin side

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! BS-Dolphin 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.BS-Dolphin deadpool

 

 

 

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.BS-Dolphin back

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.BS-Dolphin drawingBS-Dolphin gang

FRENZIED FLAMINGO

BB-Flamingo fullBATTLE BEASTS

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.BB-Flamingo box

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.

BB-Flamingo back

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.BB-Flamingo face

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.BB-Flamingo side

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.

SAGA GIRAFFE (LONG TSURAFU) clear variant (2012)

BS-Giraffe clear fullBEAST SAGA

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.

The standard Saga Giraffe was a very nicely sculpted figure with lots of detail. However one of the nicest aspects of that figure was its paintjob. The spotted coat on the face looked fantastic.BS-Giraffe clear side

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.BS-Giraffe clear glow

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.BS-Giraffe clear fight

For accessories, clear Tsurafu came with a sword, a shield, a trading card, and a few die for his chest launcher as all Beast Saga figures do. Nothing to write home about. 6 out of 10.BS-Giraffe clear compare

BRAIN MOUSE

BB-Brain fullBATTLE BEASTS

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.

No matter, I still have plenty of toys kicking around the apartment to tell you about. BB-Brain side

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.

BB-Brain compareNow 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. BB-Brain art

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.BB-Brain back

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.BB-Brain gun

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.

BB-Brain group

SAGA ELEPHANT (ELEDRAM)

BS-Elephant fullBEAST SAGA

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.BS-Elephant side

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.BS-Elephant back

(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).BS-Elephant arms

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. BS-Elephant compare

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.BS-Elephant fight

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.

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