Battle Beasts are 2″ (5 cm) tall anthropomorphic animal action figures that come with a weapon and rub sign (heat sensitive sticker) on their chest and have arm articulation only.
These figures were released by the Japanese toy company Takara under the name ビーストフォーマー (beastformers) and were distributed by the American toy company Hasbro outside Japan under the name Battle Beasts.
The line was designed in 1986 and the figures were available from 1987 towards the late 1980’s and were spread out over 3 different series.
Figures of this line can be found worldwide since they have been released in several countries on three different continents; Asia (Japan), North-America (Canada, US) and Europe (Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Netherland, Spain, UK).
It is hard to tell where the late success of this line comes from as the idea for it is grounded on a few pillars. The relation with the Transformers, a paper-rock-scissors related game, their wide spread release and their unique look.
More info about this line and further details can be found bellow after the provided links that will directly guide you to the digital catalogue of the 3 different series.
In 1986 the Japanese toy company Takara created the ビーストフォーマー (Beastformers). 2″ Tall anthropomorphic animal figures (approx. 5 cm). These well sculpted and detailed action figures were based on known animals and were equipped with body armor and a weapon. This robotic touch for animal characters we are all familiar with created an interesting appearance. Takara originally intended to connect this line with the Transformers as they were launched as a spin-off from this successful line. It is here were the origin of the Japanese name of this line can be found making the merge between beasts and transformers resulting in Beastformers. Some of the figures even made their appearance in an episode of the successive Transformers: The Headmasters, cartoon series named “Rebellion on Planet Beast.” While this marketing strategy was applied by Takara for the Japanese market they agreed with Hasbro the American toy company to license them as the distributor of this line outside Japan. And it was this move which gave the line its international success resulting in the fact that these little figures can be found almost anywhere in the world. Hasbro immediately ignored the connection of these figures with the Transformers line and changed their name into Battle Beasts, the name which is most common for these figures outside Japan. Their first distribution outside Japan started in the beginning of 1987 in North America and Europe.
Takara is Japanese for Treasure!
Part of the success of this line was the game which is directly attached to the figures. Each figure came with a rub sign which could hold one out of three symbols, Wood, Water or Fire. Based on the paper-rock-scissors game it became a battle between these symbols were Wood beats Water, Water beats Fire and Fire beats Wood. Later a unique and unbeatable symbol, which became a true chase item, within this line was released as well, known as the Sunburst. With the Sunburst warrior amongst your Battle Beasts you could be sure you would never loose any battle! But you never knew which symbol your own beast or your opponents’ beasts had since these rub signs had to be activated through heat. So until this small black square was being rubbed, and became activated, it did not reveal its symbol and it was a mystery who would have the advantage in the battle.
DAMAGED RUB SIGNS
The disadvantage of this rub sign is the fact that due to it being a sticker it now has become one of the crucial missing elements on the figures that show up today. It let loose over time, got peeled off back in the days or it just does not work anymore after all those years. In some situations it just takes a while before the rub sign gets activated again while in other circumstances the black top layer of the rub square has fallen off and is been replaced by coloring the remaining piece in with a black marker. Although this does work and solve the problem it is one of the most feared and hated solutions amongst true collectors. Because even though the result is the same it is also the visual evidence of an incomplete original rub sign.
Beside this rub-sign the figures also came with their own weapon, which in all cases was unique to the figure as a visualization of a connection that directly or indirectly can be found within the features, behavior, appearance or origin of the animal. In order to keep the correct weapons with the correct figures both were marked with the same number.
In total 76 Battle Beasts sculpts of the Takara design team have seen the light of day and they were split into 3 series, a 4th serie which is holding another 36 figures but under the name Laser Beasts is closely related to the Battle Beasts. Serie 1, consisting out of 28 figures, became available in 1987 for Japan, North America and Europe. Serie 2, consisting out of 24 figures, was released later in the same year in Japan and North America and in a limited number of European countries. With the release of Serie 2 also the first search for the Sunburst warrior began. Serie 3, also consisting out of 24 figures, had its release at the end of 1987 and the beginning of 1988 but where only available in Japan and the US. The success and or a sufficient profit from the European market must somehow have been disappointing due to the fact that within many European countries only the Serie 1 figures have been known. Serie 2 was available within Europe as well but in such a limited amount that it is almost impossible to trace in which countries or country they have been released.
Although the name Battle Beasts disappeared after 76 figures, released over 3 different series in a period of close to 2,5 years and in several countries worldwide, they were still popular enough in a few countries to make a direct follow up with some little changes under the name Laser Beasts (1987/1988).
Years later Tomy Takara decided to pick up the original plot of the Battle Beasts again and although their rights for the original name had expired they came up with a completely new line in 2012. This resulted in the fact that 26 years after the release of the first Battle Beasts the collectors and kids of today could welcome; Beast Saga!