As the header of this page already shows ¨Variant¨ is placed within quotation marks for the simple reason there (still) is no general consensus within the Battle Beasts (BB) Community about the Variants that are around within all of our collections. Some are more obvious, as they are in the collections of many collectors, and can be found relatively easy while others seem to be surrounded by mysteries.
On this page we´ll try to give you some insights into the term Variant in relation to the BB line, because is this term actually used correctly, and clarify whether it´s realistic or not to actually chase some of these ¨Variants¨… Time for a solid Explanation!
At the end of this page ALL of the figures shown in the header image will be discussed, or explained where needed, and find a (new) place or description within the BB realm.
Let´s start with the definition of Variant according to Dictionary.com;
tending to change or alter; exhibiting variety or diversity;
varying: variant shades of color.
And with even the definition being debatable on its own already we´re off to a tough start. Because does ¨tending to change or alter¨ mean it´s done on, or with, purpose (intentional) or can this also enhance accidental (unintentional) changes?
This is exactly the point where the division within the BB Community starts because how Plausible or Valuable is the word Variant once we are uncertain about the origin of the differences we are faced with?
If you collect enough Battle Beasts
have duplicates or multiples of several figures
an eye to spot each and every detail from paint to sculpt
you´ll become crazy…
of all the VARIATIONS you´ll find
In order to guide you through this whole variant debate, and which position the Beastformers Blog takes in regards to this, let´s tackle the various ¨Variant¨ options one by one. Starting with the easiest one;
An interesting example of this might be the story of the The Ultra Rare Blue Bloodthirsty Bison VARIANT Figure which dates back to 2012. In order to understand the debate it might be interesting to read this story about the Blue Bison first before continuing here.
YES, the Blue Bison is a Variant because it´s different, and therefore a variation, in comparison to the original figure BUT it´s caused by external influences and thus NOT alternated on purpose. Because of that, the way it´s been changed, this Blue Bison is a unique figure and you´ll never find a similar one simply because it´s impossible to repeat the process it´s been through in the exact same way resulting in the exact same outcome. And therefore the Beastformers Team suggests to rule out the word Variant from ALL figures that are been through a similar process and to simply name these; DISCOLORED.
This is probably a definition and division that´ll carry its approval from most of the BB Community because it´s clear these are not figures people will actively be hunting for simply because they are in a way damaged. Which doesn´t mean they can´t look cool or are nice to have, or keep, within the collection but it is clear they are NO Variants.
With the discolorations out of the way we are now no longer able to avoid the discussion about ALL of the other Variations that are around within the BB line so let´s face it.
Intentional or Unintentional…?
No this is not a way to avoid the discussion AGAIN but this is, from the perspective of the Beastformers Team, THE crucial detail that has to be clarified in order to be able to continue. Because does this CHANGE or ALTER from the definition mean it´s a man made change or even more important was it done with the approval of the design team of TAKARA that´s responsible for the design and color schemes of the Beasts?
Of course this is based upon speculation since we don´t know the real answer but with the knowledge we do have about this line there is a position the Beastformers Team dares to take in this Variant debate.
Because does a toy line with 76, and later 112 (including the Laser Beasts), different figures all of which are applied with a variation of 3 different symbols meaning there are 112×3= 336 figures to ¨collect¨ in total NEED any extra variations?!
This is THE question and than we´ve not even counted the Variations that around around within this line that were done on purpose like the so called Premium BB (Clear Versions for example) and the SD (Super Deformed) Versions. These are for sure Variations extracted from the original line but luckily these already have their own name and position within the world of BB.
Leaving the question;
Did the TAKARA Design Team thought extra Variation would be needed?
To take position here the Beastformers Team doesn´t believe in the fact that based on the figures out there and the design choices made extra Variations were needed. BUT this doesn´t mean that the Design Team didn´t give their approval to some (forced) changes which eventually led to the creation of some of the Variations out there today.
First and foremost and based on what we´ve seen, learned and know about the line throughout the years and based on the various worldwide releases the release quality and consistency of the BB in general is very high. Presumably, and most likely, caused by the fact that the production instructions for the color schemes of the figures, as approved by the Design Team of TAKARA, were very strict. Because of that it is no wonder that we´re left with in some cases very subtle variations simply because it´s not supposed to be different if the instructions were followed properly. BUT times change, material might run out or the mixture of paint be slightly off, etc. all influences that might result in this slightly different outcome; unintentionally!
Before discussing those, the even more complex ¨variations¨, let´s return to the those Variations that were, without a doubt, approved by the Design Team of TAKARA and thus can be considered as Intentional.
Those figures that fall under this order; Intentional Variants, can also be considered as the REAL Variants within the BB line because those were the ones that did receive their approval by the Design Team of TAKARA simply due to the fact they´re to distinct or consistent to even assume they´d have slipped through a certain quality or final check. So it´d have been impossible they´d have been around without the approval of the Design Team. Within the Intentional Variants we can make a division between three of them;
The (most) distinct and obvious variations, except one*, within the BB line are placed in this order of Variants namely the Blue Jaguar and the Black Mole. Both figures are distinct enough from the original** figure making it impossible to believe it´s a color scheme designed with the approval or interference of the Design Team from TAKARA. Without a doubt these two are solid Color Variations. No reason to doubt this order; COLOR VARIANT.
*The other obvious figure you´d expect here is the Orange Gorilla but he is placed in the order mentioned below for valid reasons
**In the case of the Blue Jaguar it is actually the Red Jaguar that´s supposed to be the Variation because based on the early promotion advertisement (HASBRO 1987 Catalog) pictures, as shown on the left, it is clear the the Jaguar was intended to be Blue from the beginning which makes that the Blue Jaguar should actually be considered as the early version of the Jaguar and later this was changed into Red. But since the Red one is generally considered the original figure, due to the numbers of them released, it is acceptable to see the Blue Jaguar as the Color Variant in this case even though the real story is slightly different.
As can be seen on these advertisements pages ALL of the Series 1 figures are shown here in their original released state while for most of the Series 2 and 3 figures goes that adjustments have been made towards the final release of these figures. The Jaguar and Mole are the most obvious ones in that sense but also have a look at the Yellow Vents Squirrel, Unpainted Tusks Walrus and Mouse, which will be discussed later on, which is visible here as well.
So WHY these changes?! Of course this is open to speculations and we won´t know the real answer but what could´ve been is that ANOTHER Blue (shaded) armored figure within the Series 2 might´ve been a bit to much in the case of the Blue Jaguar. Maybe it made the composition of the two packs a bit harder because having two Blue armored figures in one pack would make it less appealing… Plausible? Either way it´s turned from Blue into Red and it most have been done for a reason that´s probably aesthetic related.
For the Black mole the story is a bit more complicated (at this moment) because it´s clearly not coming from the Orange Armor it had on the early promotion picture as shown in the advertisement. And whether the armor color actually went from Purple to Black or the other way around is also unclear. But one thing that might be interesting to note here is the fact that in the promotion picture the Mole and Pew-Trid Skunk are the only figures with a Black base within the Series 2 line. Because as we know by now they´re always produced with a so called mold partner so with another figure from the Series having the same base color in order to make the production more efficient. It is plausible, and it will become even more plausible later on, that in this case the design team had to chose to simply invert the colors of the Skunk color scheme by giving it a Purple base color resulting in the fact that the Mole received this Purple base color as well.
But why was the design team forced to abandon the Black Base color!?
That is actually one of the unsolved mysteries within this line because the Black Base color clearly has been causing problems throughout the entire line for some reason. And this is were we make the step to the 2nd order of Intentional Variants the one that holds the Orange Gorilla.
If you carefully look at the Orange Gorilla you´ll notice that it´s not actually ¨just¨ a change of paint switching from the Red armor to the Orange one but it´s a complete change of Base Color!!! Instead of it having a Black Rubber Base it has a more Orange Plastic (Rubber) Base. Indeed similar to the known Orange Plastic Tortoise variation. Of course because they are mold partners resulting in the fact that their base color is the same. This means that the Black of the Orange Gorilla AND the Orange Plastic Tortoise is painted while for the Red Gorilla and the normal Tortoise their base is Black and the colors are painted. This important detail makes that they´re not actually a Color Variant as you might expect at first glance but it is actually the Material of their base that gives them their new order name as MATERIAL VARIANT.
The reason WHY the design team had to abandon the Black color, since the early Gorilla and Tortoise versions did have the black base, is unclear but it might have had something to do with Japanese regulations because in Japan the Red armored Gorilla is (not or) rarely found while for the US and EU the Red Gorilla is clearly the most common one with the Orange Gorilla only being distributed via the Bandolier. It can´t have been a lack of material because there was more than enough to produce Black base figures for the US and EU market so maybe the way how the black rubber was composed was conflicting with the regulations for the Japanese market at that time… Again speculations but it becomes more plausible knowing that the initial designs for the Mole and Skunk where Black and they were abandoned, due to the issues they´ve had with the Series 1 Black base figures(!?) and it doesn´t stop here. Because if we look at the early promotion pictures again we see a Black Tapir, the Panda and the Black Panther. Of course the Panda had to have Black in it´s design BUT it has the Rooster as mold partner so also for the Panda goes that the Black base color was abandoned and it has a White Base with the Black skin color that´s been painted. The Black Tapir color scheme changed and was abandoned as well as it teamed up with the Bovine resulting in the fact it got a White Base color as well. And than the only figure from this picture you´d expect to have a Black base together with it´s mold partner, the Crow, is the Black Panther but also this does NOT have a Black Base because also here goes that if you look carefully it´s the Turquoise armor color that´s been used as their Base color with again the Black being applied by paint! For the Laser Beasts they played it safe and left the Black as a possible base color out completely… Until today this Black Base remains a mystery but it is clear something happened there FORCING the design team to make design choices they´d have made differently otherwise based on their initial color scheme ideas. Resulting in the Material Variant order.
From here you would expect it´d be an easy step to make to the Pink Weasel and Pink Crab having an almost comparable issue with a different base color but it´s a bit more complicated here. And since the Beastformers Team doesn´t place the Pink Skin Beasts within the Material Variant order, for reasons explained later, let´s first have a look at the 3rd order of Initial Variants;
UNPAINTED TEETH VARIANT
Within the BB Community the Unpainted Teeth Beasts, Mouse and Walrus, are generally known and accepted so there is no reason to give these another new name since the description is solid. BUT it´s not done yet because just like the Blue Jaguar, and as the old advertisement shows, it are AGAIN not the Unpainted Teeth versions that should be considered the real Variants but the Painted Teeth ones are simply because they´re adjusted later. On the pages of the advertisement you can clearly see the Unpainted Tusk Walrus and although the teeth of the Mouse are tough to see it´s for 99% sure it´s the Unpainted Teeth Mouse we see there as well. You´d expect that this is it but the Beastformers Team would like to suggest adding another Beast to this order namely the Yellow Vents Squirrel. Because although the Yellow painted Vents might be more eye catching considering the fact the ¨normal¨ figure has Red ones in line with the other details it also doesn´t have Painted Teeth!!
This is where the initial naming went of a little because from that perspective we could´ve also named the Unpainted Tusk Walrus the ¨Green Eyed Walrus¨ or ¨Green Button Belt Walrus¨ or something knowing it has Green details instead of the White ones from the ¨normal¨ figure. Of course it are the Tusks of this figure which are the most important so the name deviated from there which is understandable but it also shows that there are more details here that we can´t leave aside. With the Unpainted Tusks Walrus being identical in color scheme to the one shown in the early promotion pictures of the advertisement it is clear there has been a change made towards the later version which we consider the ¨normal¨ Walrus these days.
To explain this change it is, again, unthinkable that the design team wouldn´t have had it´s influence on the changes simply because of the changes made and the consistency of it. So it is no longer questionable whether THESE Unpainted Teeth Variants might actually have something to do with an error because that is not the case.
Main reason for this change might have been the fact that there might´ve been a comment or insight in regards to the fact that the teeth of some of the figures were not highlighted. For the Mouse and Squirrel this would not have been major issues, although Sabresword Tiger and Eager Beaver did receive painted teeth from the beginning although it is not completely visible on the pictures, but for the Walrus the Tusks are such an eye catcher that coloring (highlighting) them makes a huge difference. A well made design choice which is completely in line with the way how the Design Team of Takara did highlight and emphasize the crucial characteristics of the various chosen Beasts. With that the ¨mystery¨ of the Unpainted Teeth is solved but it leaves the valid question why did some of the colors of the details change, like the Yellow Vents of the Squirrel and the Green details of the Walrus?
If you carefully look at each individual Beast you´ll see, some exceptions left aside, that most of them have a color scheme that´s designed out of three colors. Which means we have the base color which is the skin color of the Beast which is unpainted being the 1st on top of that the 2nd Color which is the Armor color and the 3rd color is the color that´s used to highlight the details of the armor and it´s also the color that´s often used for the eyes. This goes for the entire Series 1 line except the Lion, Tiger, Rabbit and Spider who have an extra color. Often this extra 4th color, like white for the Teeth, is used to highlight certain crucial details. For Pirate Lion it´s his hair that got another color for instance. These limitation of color is on one side a serious design limitation but on the other hand it´s also proven and shown to be very successful considering the fact that one of the main strengths of the Battle Beasts line is the simplicity of their design. And although these is a slight growth of Beasts having 4 colors instead of 3 in the later Series, also the Laser Beasts, it´s a fact that for each Beast a limited amount of colors was used.
Back to the use of color for the Walrus and Squirrel.
With the Walrus being granted White Teeth, another color that wasn´t part of the color scheme intentionally, the Green color was abandoned resulting in the fact that the normal BB Walrus as we know it has White Teeth, a White and Red Armor details and White Eyes. With White becoming the 4th color in the color scheme which makes much more sense than the Green little details which didn´t make such an impact. A similar thing goes for the Squirrel although it is debatable whether the Red Vents are indeed an improvement over the Yellow ones but it´s based on the same design strategy with White, for the teeth, replacing the Yellow resulting in the fact that the ¨normal¨ Squirrel has White Teeth, Red Armor details and Red Eyes.
Of course this choice for limited color was also, or more likely mainly, related to the cost efficiency of the line because the more painted details had to be added the more it´d cost.
Limited colors or not it was clear that someone wasn´t happy with the Unpainted Teeth Variants resulting in the fact the Teeth were painted. And although the Painted Teeth figures here are actually the Variants we leave the general consensus the way it is accepting the Unpainted Teeth figures as Variants simply because they are the ones that are the least common leaving the name unchanged but introducing these new order: UNPAINTED TEETH VARIANT
With this new order and the given explanation we can also leave the long shared and general assumption where the Unpainted Teeth versions were believed to be intended variations in order to save money or cutting production costs because that´s clearly NOT been the case here.
So far we´ve tackled, explained and placed 7 Variant Beasts in their ¨new¨ order, now it´s up to the tougher ones, the Unintentional Variants…
Whereas the figures in the order of the Intentional Variants have had clear, obvious and explainable changes whether that´s been caused by (forced) design changes or not the ones that´ll be discussed here are clearly less obvious and they become at least doubtful in regards to the fact they´d have been approved or verified by the Design Team of TAKARA. Among these Unintentional Variants there will also be a crucial split with a certain order of figures loosing their status as ¨Variant¨ simply because they shouldn´t be addressed this way, evoking false hopes for (new) collectors who might consider them to be a realistic goal to add to the collection, of by doing this with a wrong perspective. Big chance that if you´ve one of these Unintentional Variants you´ll be surprised. Let´s get going with the first order;
This is an order which, in time, might need an additional subdivision in order to specify them even further. For now it is important to mention, and to note again, that we as the Beastformers Team DOESN´T believe in the fact that Extra Variations were needed and thus designed by the Design Team of TAKARA on purpose. The reason why this statement is so important in regards to the order of Production Variants as part of the Unintentional Variants is simply because of the fact that this excludes the option of certain molds being changed intentionally just for the sake to make a Variant. ALL the Variants found in this order have a (relatively) subtle variation in regards to the common figures we know and they are not extreme enough and without the absence of a logic (design) explanation to consider them as Intentional Variants. Which doesn´t exclude the option of them being considered a different ¨line¨ within the world of Battle Beasts.
Production Variants are simply the Beasts that are the result of the fact that the Battle Beasts line has been so wide spread, with the Beasts being produced in various production facilities in various countries. With that in mind it´d be unthinkable to believe that each and every Beasts did pass the strict quality control check from TAKARA and that each production run in a different country was identical to the a run produced somewhere else under a completely different atmosphere and maybe even with other materials. All of this has without a doubt resulted in slight inconsistencies causing these Production Variants to exist. IMPORTANT here is that ALL Beasts produced in CHINA (with the territory of China in the 80´s in mind) can and should be considered as the normal Beasts. And this means that all of the variants discussed here originate from other production facilities.
The unavoidable and tough to place Pink Weasel and Pink Crab deserve their place in this order although it´s been a debate whether to place them with the Intentional Variants in the order of the Material Variants where we find the Orange Gorilla and Tortoise. Maybe that´d have been the most logic choice but the reason why that´s not done is because of the following.
Whereas the Orange Gorilla and Orange Tortoise were clearly forced changes resulting in a rather drastic design change in the color scheme of the Gorilla changing it from Red to Orange the change from the Orange Red skin color from the Weasel and Crab to the Pink is more subtle and less extreme and on top of that the paint colors used for the armor are (only) slightly of from the colors used on the normal figures as well. IF the base color change would have been intentional was there a reason to make such subtle changes to the armor color as well?
In line with the others we´ve seen that are placed under the Intentional Variants it´s not very likely because the original paint colors were still used although in some cases other decisions were might in regards to highlighting. The Squirrel for example has the exact same Blue Armor color for the Red as well as the Yellow Vents version and based on that it´d be more than likely to assume that in case the Pink Weasel was an intentional design change with the approval of the design team it´d have had the same Blue Armor color and highlighted color details as the normal Weasel. That´s clearly not the case and also for the Crab goes that the Brown Armor color is slightly of from the normal version.
The Crab also appears on the early promotion advertisement in its normal color way so that already excludes a theory we´ve seen before twice of them being the original figures and the more common ones being the actual variants. Meaning these Pink color variations have occurred at a later moment somewhere, in another factory from where the normal ones where produced, as a result of a different (independent) production run explaining these slight differences.
And this is perfectly in line with the fact that both, as well the Pink Weasel as the Crab, can be found packed it with some of the Battle Beasts vehicles. Like the Weasel who´s found packed in with the Battling Big Horn Chariot and the Crab has been found packed in with the Battling Deer Stalker Chariot. Being produced in TAIWAN… To make it even more complex the Beasts that were packed in with those Chariots weren´t produced in Taiwan but in HONG KONG, we´ll spare the details for now but it says enough about the complex distribution and packaging of figures and chariots and playsets at that time.
Therefore these Pink base colored Beasts are not considered an Intentional Variant placed in the order of Material or even Color Variants but they are THE perfect example of the (slight) differences that occur as the result of an attempt to produce an identical figure in another factory. Without a doubt they can be perfectly placed in the order of Unintentional; PRODUCTION VARIANT
To be continued…
This page is not finished yet and will be updated at a later moment.
Please check back later on to continue reading.
Sorry for the inconvenience.
The Beastformers Team
http://www.littlerubberguys.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=110667&p=407660 (Variant comment)