The Imaginext Snake A Battle Beasts homage(?!)

— INCLUDING BLIND BAG CODES —
— & Side by Side comparison with the Original BB Snake —

A belated Review, knowing the Imaginext Series 11 is already out there for 3 months, but it was not easy to get a hold of these (more about this in this post) and with a 21st century BB look a like like the Snake included there´s no way this release couldn´t be mentioned on the Beastformers Blog.

Introduction

It should be clear that we have no experience or connections at all with the Imaginext line and the only reason it is discussed on the Beastformers Blog is the presence of the BB inspired Snake respecting the gesture/homage Imaginext made to this and the other few old toy lines. Now that this is clarified let´s take a better look at it in this Review of the Imaginext Series 11;

Release

The exact release date of the Imaginext Series 11 is unknown but the first mentions of these being around started to drop in somewhere in the middle of June 2018, please note that the Imaginext are a US, maybe CA(?), exclusive release. Soon followed by pictures, comments and reviews on various Toy Collector platforms out there. And for a reason because Imaginext, with this Series 11 release, managed to pull the nostalgia trigger by including (at least) 3 references to old toy lines from the 70´s and 80´s. Because not only there´s an homage to Battle Beasts but also to MUSCLE and Fisher-Price´s own Adventure People line which started in the 70´s.

Rights(?)

This last line directly points out an interesting fact because whereas 4 out of the 6 figures in this Series 11 release of Imaginext seem to be Fisher-Price´s own design that´s clearly not the case for Battle Beasts and MUSCLE which were respectively owned by HASBRO and MATTEL. It is already clear that most, if not all, rights from Hasbro in regards to the Battle Beasts line have expired which is the reason why Daimond Select Toys (DST) was able to register the Battle Beasts name for their Minimates line. As similar situation, with expired rights, might´ve been the case with Mattel´s MUSCLE line resulting in the fact Imaginext was able to make an homage like this without any risk in regards to rights. And if not there´s probably some kind of agreement between the various big toy companies for this release since it is clear that something like this doesn´t go unnoticed.

In shops now…

As mentioned before we are not familiar at all with the Imaginext line and this also goes for their Bling Bag releases which seem to be around successfully for quite a while considering this is Series 11 but there´s something remarkable about these. Because the moment it was clear some of these awesome 80´s look a like toys were part of this line various toy collectors got enthusiastic about them and hoped to be able to pick them up in their local Target, Wallmart or grocery shop… But this turned out to be a whole lot tougher than expected since there doesn´t seem to be any logic distribution plan behind them. During our quest for these we´ve had various connections in various US States looking out for them and only a hand full were lucky enough to find a few. Some shops only had older Series around and there have also been mentions of shops having them around with huge gaps like receiving a Series 5 release followed by Series 8, etc. From the outside and also based on the experiences from the people looking for them it seems to be pretty much of a chaos and finding them seems to be more like a lottery rather than knowing there´s a new release of them every month or so at your local shop. It´s clear that the life of an Imaginext Blind Bag collector is pretty tough knowing this seems to be the general tendency. The only question that remains here is WHY?! Why would a big toy company like Fisher-Price, who owns the Imaginext brand, not come up with a solid distribution plan for them because it would probably result in a much more steady followers base and increase their sales. Looks like they can´t complain about it anyway otherwise it´d be highly unlikely they´d make it this far until Series 11 but it remains a strange thing. So for those of you who´re still looking and scouting around all your local and less local shops in the hope to find Series 11, good luck!

¨Blind Bags¨

The strange distribution plan becomes even more remarkable once you realize that their Blind Bags seem to be made with the awareness of toy collectors being around meeting expectations by adding a visible code to the pack in order to be able to tell which figure is inside. This code is applied in such a way it´s probably not noticed by kids but for ¨adult¨ toy collectors it is the ideal way to grab the figure or figures you want without having to buy a dozen in the hope to pull the right ones. It does take away a bit of the charm and it doesn´t really make them Blind Bags anymore but it does come in handy especially for us a Battle Beasts collectors who might only be after the Snake. Curious to know which number you´ve to look for!?

Here are the Blind Bag codes, please scroll further past the RED text if you want to keep the Bling Bag experience a mystery.


BLIND BAG CODES


What to look for?
On the top of the Blind Bag pack you will find two numbers stamped into the upper sealed strip. One, the longer number, is probably the production code, or run, number and the second one consists out of only two numbers. This one, here (image below) shown just above the Imaginext logo, does reveal the content of the pack because the number refers to the figure that can be found inside.


The Codes for Imaginext Series 11:

#53 Hazmat zombie dude
#54 X-Ray Man
#55 MUSCLE Men
#56 Fish Head Robot
#57 ¨Avatar¨ Centaur
#58 BB Snake


Checklist Series 11 figures
Here are all 6 of the figures that can be found in the Imaginext Series 11;


What is remarkable about the numbering as well is that, again without any knowledge about the Blind Bag releases so far, one conclusion can be made and that´s the fact that there´s no solid number of items within a release either. Because knowing this is Series 11 and we´ve the numbers 53-58 as part of this release it is impossible to say that each release does contain 6 items or characters…?

What´s included?

Each ¨Blind Bag¨ contains one ¨Mystery¨ figure & accessory as mentioned on the wrapping. But in reality this is a bit questionable as well knowing the Fish Head Robot doesn´t come with an accessory at all, the MUSCLE men come with TWO(!) in one pack and the Centaur is composed out of two loose parts. The Snake comes with a weapon (more about this later), the X-Ray men brought an X-Ray dog and the Hazmat Zombie dude brought comes with a barrel. Besides this item content there´s also a Pamphlet included which looks like this (one one side);

Now before we start looking into the BB Snake look a like and do a side by side comparison with our own beloved Triple Threat Snake a quick review of the other 5 designs that can be found within this Series 11;

A brief Review of the NON BB Figures


Hazmat Zombie Dude

Good looking figure of which the head details are remarkably well executed, showing the Skull and the cracked glass. It also includes a smart design trick giving the top of the helmet a transparent part in order to allow light entering the helmet to light up the fluorescent yellow skull inside addressing extra attention to the great details. The Skull sadly enough ain´t a Glow in the Dark piece because that´d have given it even more appeal but overall it´s a very nice figure.
ACCESSORY: Bio-hazard Barrel
ARTICULATION: In Arms, Shoulders and Legs
(If anyone is able to trace this figure back to another 80´s toy line please let it know)

X-Ray Man (Inspired by: Adventure People 80´s, 1975-1985, Fisher-Price)
Nice looking figure with the transparent blue body and the details on it giving it a really vintage feel like the original X-Ray Man which was released in 1982 as part of the Adventure People line. In the original line there was also an X-Ray Woman. This 21st Century version comes with a Dog. Overall and without any knowledge about the original line it looks like a nice homage to the Adventure Peoples line.
ACCESSORY: X-Ray Dog
ARTICULATION: In Head, Arms, Shoulders and Legs

MUSCLE Men (Inspired by: MUSCLE, 1985-1986, MATTEL)
Taking these out of the package gives you an instant throwback to the original MUSCLE line, other than the fact they´re probably twice or triple the size of the original figures, their Flesh color and their flexibility leaves no room for doubts, these are an homage to MUSCLE men!! Really well done and the best thing is you get TWO instead of one in one package. The characters can be clearly extracted as MUSCLEMAN – Kinnikuman and TERRI-BULL – Buffaloman. Looks like the MUSCLE community was also very happy/surprised with this release so it´s great to see them having a 21st Century version as well.
ACCESSORY: None (2 Figures)
ARTICULATION: None, flexible rubber

Fish Head Robot
A fun looking figure of which there´s not a whole lot to say, it´s a Fish attached to a Robot suit…
ACCESSORY: None
ARTICULATION: In Arms, Shoulders and Legs
(If anyone is able to trace this figure back to another 80´s toy line please let it know)

¨Avatar¨ Centaur
Probably the most, alongside the X-Ray man obviously, Fisher-Price looking figure. The back body with the hind-legs comes as a loose part and clips on to the figure via the belt which is an inventive way to do it. For the rest it´s not really spectacular.
ACCESSORY: None, back-body clicks on
ARTICULATION: In Head, Arms, Shoulders and Legs
(If anyone is able to trace this figure back to another 80´s toy line please let it know)

Battle Beasts Snake
(Inspired by: Battle Beasts, 1986-1988, TAKARA-HASBRO)

As a Battle Beast fan the link between this Imaginext Series 11 Snake and the original Triple Threat Snake from the 80´s toy line is obvious. To many kids from the 80´s who´ve been familiar with the original Snake this figure must have evoked some instant flashbacks which is a great thing.

The figure itself is looking very nice with bright colors and an armor design that is clearly referring to the original Battle Beasts armor. On the level of articulation the hopes were high based on the first pictures that showed up but in reality the articulation is pretty limited because even though this figure does have the same Arm and Shoulder articulation as the other figures in this Series the armor prevents the Shoulder joints to work properly because the armor blocks out the biggest amount of the angle that would´ve been possible. On the other hand it does have another interesting point of articulation in both writs which allows you to rotate the hands 360 degrees which is a positive thing. There was a slight hope that the black square found on the chest would reveal some sort of a symbol, like the originals, but maybe that´s to much asked and big chance that this gimmick is still under the rights of Takara/Hasbro.  Apart from all this an without a further deeper comparison to the original Battle Beasts line this Snake really stands out as one of the better ones among the other figures in Series 11, but this is obviously not considered to be a neutral opinion.
ACCESSORY: Weapon
ARTICULATION: In Arms, Shoulders (limited), Wrists and Legs

Now let´s have a deeper look at the actual figure again from our Battle Beasts perspective and make the unavoidable side by side comparison.

Comparison;
Imaginext Snake (2018) vs Battle Beasts Triple Threat Snake (1986, Original)

First thing to note instantly is the way in which the Imaginext designers have paid attention to the details (color) of the armor which they mimic exactly. The armor color is almost spot on and the red details in the armor are clear where they come from as well. Due to the more translucent looking skin of the Imaginext Snake it does look very fresh like a 21st Century version but detail wise there´s obviously no ground to compare both figures with each other because the design of the original Beast is way more sophisticated. This side by side picture clearly shows that the armor of the Imaginext Snake is really bulky and much more heavy looking compared to the highly detailed armor of the original Beast. Also the presence of the ¨square¨ on the Imaginext Snake ain´t very subtle and it´s of a strange proportion when you´re familiar with the Battle Beasts. On the head and hands design there´s a couple of things to say but this will be addressed individually later because there´s something to say about these. It is clear that the hands are directly or indirectly inspired by the original figure.

All in all figure wise the reference is clearly there and it does evoke the feeling of nostalgia calling onto memories of the original Battle Beasts line so from that point of view this Imaginext Snake can be considered a success.
But in detail there are a few remarks;

Weapon(?)
If you really want to come up with a well thought out throwback to the original line why not make a look a like weapon based on the original one as well? Since the weapon used here looks more as if it belongs to the Gator of the Canadian BB Knock-off line called War Monsters. Maybe the design team ran a quick search and bumped into that one instead of verifying the original? It shouldn´t have been to hard to figure out that the weapon design they used doesn´t really match with the original.

Whereas the weapon design is something that could be accepted the actual design of the Snake and thereby the actual homage to the original Battle Beasts is more doubtful…

A true homage or a simple reuse?!

 

As cool as this Imaginext Snake might be from a Battle Beasts fan perspective, because the designers did invest time to sculpt an armor and they picked the right colors, there´s the constant question why they didn´t pay more attention to the detail of the head? Well the answer for that might be as simple as it is shocking because the design for the Snake has been around, and used, since 2017(!). In 2017 Imaginext released the Serpent Strike Pyramid playset which contained a Snake that had the exact same head sculpt as the one found on the Series 11 Snake, it also had the two snake head hands. This means that the homage to the Battle Beasts line might not be as original as you´d expect, or maybe hoped, to have been.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is not it because one of the side sets that´s available with this playset was called Mummy Guards and this included…. indeed, a Snake. Same head sculpt same snake head hands just another color and body.

This means that there´s not 1 Imaginext Series 11 Snake out there, a unique homage to the 80´s original Battle Beasts line, but there´s 3 versions of the same Snake out there which is a smart way of reusing a design that´s already available…

Conclusion

Knowing the head sculpt was already around and after the supposedly, haven´t heard of doubts from collectors about the, original designs that they did make for the MUSCLE and X-Ray figure in this release it´s at least a bit disappointing to know that we as Battle Beasts fans seem to have been written off easily by adjusting an existing sculpt in the hope we´d take it as an honest homage to the 80´s original Battle Beasts line.

In the end it´s up for each and everyone to pull their own conclusion whether or not this Imaginext Snake is or isn´t a true homage based on what´s explained here. For us the reveal of the fact that the sculpt wasn´t very original took away quite a big chunk of the enthusiasm we had for this figure making the true homage doubtful or at least questionable but in the end it is clear that they did gave it a shot and therefore they deserve it to be mentioned on the Beastformers Blog.

They did manage to evoke the Battle Beasts feel and with that we as Battle Beasts fans were given another toy in the 21st Century that´s inspired by our beloved 80´s toy line which after 30+ years still shows to be a source of inspiration!

Imaginext BB Potential?

All in all the general consensus between BB Fans seems to be that this Imaginext BB Snake is well received and they´d be open to see and welcome more BB inspired figures like these in the future. Whether this will happen is the question because it seems like these Blind Bag series are themed and we´ve just been lucky to have one Series around that contained 3 references to 80´s toy lines. Maybe it´ll happen again or maybe this was it but at least we´ve a Battle Beasts inspired 21st Century Imaginext Snake around to add to our collections.


Special thanks to everyone in the US looking out for these because without your help this review wouldn´t have been possible.


Enjoy the Beasts!

The Beastformers Team

 

 

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