Transformers, G.I. Joe, MOTU and probably a dozen more famous 80´s toys will pass before you, from a toy collectors point of view, would consider Battle Beasts as a collectible toy. So… WHY!? BATTLE BEASTS
After looking over the stories area on the Beastformers Blog it was a big surprise that it´s been 4 years since the last Personal Stories have been shared. In the 1st one; Robot Animal Takara Hasbro ’86 there´s the explanation about how it all started with actually finding out about the Battle Beasts line while in the 2nd one; The Turquoise Rabbit a childhood hero together with the nostalgic memories that came with it were honored. Now it is time to take a better look at the reason why the Battle Beasts, from my personal perspective, are such a fun line and collecting them can turn into an addiction 😉
As a kid, and still, I have always been wondered by nature and the various creatures that are crawling, swimming, hoping, flying, etc. around on earth. From an early age on I´ve always been interested in these various species of animals and since than it´s never been to hard to come up with their names when visiting a zoo and the information signs were absent. Porcupine, Tapir, Duckbill, Sloth, etc. I probably knew just about all of them as a little kid while for others, both kids and elders, they were completely unknown. Not sure if this has been a major trigger, but it clearly helped considering the fact that all Battle Beasts figures are a direct reference to a specific animal. And they´re not just animals as we all know.
Transformer input +
To me personally the Transformers line was never really a success. Maybe it´s because they´re too abstract and too dissociated from nature, but I liked the thought of having animals armored and strong enough to Battle against anything and everyone in order to come up for their own rights. On the contrary it´s remarkable to see that most of the TF fans think about the Battle Beasts in a similar way so despite their appearance/integration with the Transformers line on the Japanese side and a subdivision of the first Beasts in AUTOBOTS VS DECEPTICONS factions by TAKARA this bond was never really used outside of the islands of Japan. If HASBRO wouldn´t have launched the Battle Beasts as an independent and isolated toy line there´s a big change they´d have profited from the success of the TF line and maybe we´d have seen more Beasts. Well that´s obviously not been the case resulting in the fact that the Battle Beasts are a relatively small and in some cases rather unknown toy line.
NICHE Toy line +/-
For small toy lines it´s hard to survive and it´s been a pretty unfair Battle if you consider all the successful toy lines during the 80´s. With this in mind it is pretty remarkable that the Battle Beasts did survive the test of time and evolved into a collectible toy line. Of course it´s a small community who´re collecting these, compared to the TF or G.I. Joe fan bases for instance, but there is a community that´s adopted these awesome little figures, the BB Community! And even though each and everyone of us probably has its own reasons why they collect the Battle Beasts outside the nostalgia they bring there are probably a couple of strong points that might be appealing to most of us.
Well I have probably said it a few times, if not more, on various platforms and I´ll be repeating this multiple times in the future without a doubt as well but that´s only because there´s no way around it; Battle Beasts are just awesomely designed! Have you ever placed a Beast under a magnifying glass? If the answer is NO you should try this and take a look at the phenomenal details in the armor that each figure holds. A highly detailed armor, for such small figures, that´s almost a too big contrast with the ¨simplicity¨ of the design of the animals. Almost, because the way they´re merged together is a genius blend creating a unique line of 2 inch action figures in an era where larger sized action figures were the standard. TAKARA´s designers did an awesome job and to strengthen this statement just have a look at the various attempts that were done inspired by, or with the intention to revive, the original line….. they all failed miserably. The perfection of the Beasts was achieved straight away.
¨Good design doesn´t date¨
A great quote and the Beasts are a perfect example of this because not only during the eighties they´re far ahead of their time, they still are…
Color Scheme ++
Good design is one thing, but even the best designs can be ruined the moment the finishing touches are screwed up or wrong choices are made. They could have gone in any direction with the color schemes of the Beasts but also here you could conclude that the choices they made just work when you see the bigger picture of multiple figures or an army of Beasts all together. If you´d only seen one solitary Beasts and didn´t know about the line I can imagine that you´d consider it as weird but the moment you look into the rest it just makes sense. Also here the colors just strengthen the design. Due to the color choices there´s a clear distinction between the armor and the animal emphasizing their differences while at the same time, as explained before, they strengthen each other as whole. The one or two subtle colors chosen for the details just make specific parts of the armor or animal pop in the correct way. It are the friendly and brightly chosen colors which give the Battle Beasts line their unique character that perfectly goes with the, later developed, promotion line; They Battle for Fun!
Pocket Size ++
Let´s return to the relatively small size of the Beasts from an action figure point of view. I think we all remember those moments back in the days when your parents or grandparents told you to only bring one toy with you during a little trip or to pick some smaller toys for the holiday. This was where the huge advantage of the smaller Battle Beasts size was fully exploited because you could easily sneak in one or two extra warriors in your pockets or in a secret compartment within your bag. Transformers were relatively vulnerable and big so they weren´t really the ideal toy to sneak out with you on your way to school and as a kid you´d probably only be able to fit one G.I. Joe in each pocket but the Beasts…. you could just take them anywhere you wanted!
Limited articulation… +/-
Ok, maybe not everything is perfection when it comes to the Battle Beasts line because their pose-ability is poor compared to the other lines discussed earlier. How awesome could pictures on Instagram have been when they´d have had more points of articulation other than the moving arms… But let´s face it because those are the only cons looking at the line from our contemporary state being a, big kid aka, toy collector. Back in the days, as a little kid, I can´t remember it ever was an issue. As a real fan of this line, and even though I´d have loved being able to take pictures of Beasts in different poses, I think the limited articulation should just be considered as another charm of this line representing the perfection of simplicity.
Loss of Weapons and Rubsigns –
The only two real disadvantages within this line; first is the fact that the weapons are so small and in some case very vulnerable that they´d easily break and second the risk of loosing or damaging the rubsign, the sticker heath sensitive sticker that shows the symbol. For some of us collectors the figures are remembered but the weapons and stickers have in some case been completely forgotten since they either didn´t withstand the test of time or they were lost straight away. I think this is quite a shame because in order to keep a line alive and remembered in the correct way it is important to realize that Battle Beasts were not only figures but that they all came with an individual and unique weapon and a sticker (rubsign) on their chest that´d show their Battle symbol. In most cases the glue which was used to apply the rubsign is holding pretty well and even after 30 years a lot of them are still attached to the figures but how long will this last? For me personally it´s quite a frustrating thought to know that there´s an almost perfect complete collection of Beasts put together over a period of years and that literally any moment a rubsign could come of… BUT luckily they seemed to have been aware of this in Japan at Takara as well back in the days because the Series 4 Battle Beasts line a.k.a. Laser Beasts (Shadow Warriors) did receive an important upgrade with integrated orbs instead of stickers and awesomely designed and more bulky Laser guns instead of the smaller and breakable Battle Beasts weapons.
Battle Arms +/-
Some Beasts were lucky because even though their weapons might´ve gotten lost over time they´re still equipped with a fierce fist, wing, hook or whatever to Battle with. A number of Battle Beasts have this so called ¨Battle Arm¨ which is ALWAYS the left arm of the Beast. The real thought or reason behind this from a design point of view isn´t completely clear because even though most of the present Battle arms can be explained there´s also a few that are a bit weird. If they had been more integrated with the line in the way of the name giving like Sledgehammer Elephant it might´ve made a bit more sense in some cases. Regardless this somewhat unexplainable and supposedly random. Why do only some figures have this extra detail? It is again an addition that´s interesting and gives a bit of extra character to the specific Beast.
Quality & Durability ++++
Eventually all of the above discussed subjects wouldn´t have mattered at all if the Battle Beasts wouldn´t have made it this far in a reasonable condition. Let´s face it because not a lot of (played with) toys manage to Battle the test of time successfully BUT luckily things were different in the 80´s and most of the toys were made to last unlike everything that´s produced these days. Of course an arm could break or figures could become discolored if not stored properly, but all in all these aren´t things to blame on the quality of the material and it´s durability but rather on our own mistakes and carelessness as children. If the arms would´ve been breaking in massive numbers or figures would´ve been fading or discoloring in an ugly way, we wouldn´t be talking about this line anymore, but we are and therefore this line really deserves its place amongst the various other collectible toy lines from the 80´s.
Within the Beastformers collection there are figures of which you´d hardly believe are 30 years old because they´re still as crisp and clear as if they´d come fresh out of the packaging. That´s quality!
I think it is clear there´s no way I can or should be considered as a neutral, uninfluenced or objective collector in this case because I dare to say I´ve been infected with the Battle Beasts virus, and after reading this Personal Story you now have a better insight into why that´s the case. So next time you´re confronted with the line; WHY!? BATTLE BEASTS
I hope you know what to answer because it´s rather simple in my honest opinion;
They´re a well designed, nostalgic, small sized action figure line from the eighties
that´s successfully Battled the test of time and they´ll continue doing so because….
They Battle for Fun!