Every successful toy line from the 80´s, and even some less successful ones because let´s face it outside Japan the Battle Beasts never completely flourished as planned, had an army of bootleg and knock off figures following in their shadow. The makers of those unlicensed toys were trying to ride on the success of the original line and the more this original line was spread over the world, being sold in various countries, and the more money was invested in advertising them world wide the more bootleg and knock off lines appeared.
In case of the Battle Beasts line with releases on 3 different continents (Asia, North-America and Europe) in numerous countries and with a decent advertising campaign its needless to say quite a couple of non licensed items made it onto the toy market during the late 80´s and early 90´s.
Before we start looking into some of the various lines produced without the license of TAKARA – HASBRO back in the days it is good to look deeper into the definition of Bootlegs and Knock Offs;
BOOTLEG Battle Beast:
A Battle Beast produced and/or sold without an original license during the late 80´s or early 90´s that is often an exact, or close to exact, copy of the original figure (in some cases even produced in the original molds) but that´s distinct from the originals due to some little changes in packaging, naming, color of the figures or the material used. In general most of the Bootleg lines tend to be in pretty fair to good quality compared to the originals even though other/cheaper materials have been used for it.
KNOCK OFF Battle Beast:
A Battle Beast produced and sold without an original license during the late 80´s or early 90´s of which the design is clearly inspired by the original Battle Beasts line. Even though there are slight to large differences there is no doubt they have been created with the intention to mimic the Battle Beasts in their own way. Unlike the Bootleg Battle Beasts the Knock Off figures are often produced in their own unique molds. The Knock Offs are distinct to the original line in their appearance as they´re not direct copies and also in packaging, naming and often quality the was a difference created in comparison to the official line. Amongst the Knock Off Beasts you´ll often find figures with a lower quality due to the materials used or the design choices made.
So even though both are close in definition because in general they have the same intention which is to ride on the success of an original toy line produced by a much larger toy company there are some small differences which should be acknowledged. Both clearly did their best to make either the figures or the naming and packaging around it so distinct from the original line in the hope to avoid being sued by the companies holding the official copyrights. Because despite the fact the licensed design of the original toy company was stolen and used without the proper rights these figures also made it onto the market for only a fraction of the price of the official toys. They were often being sold by street vendors or dollar stores during the same, or a little to a couple of years later, period the official Battle Beasts were available in the larger licensed toy stores.
When it comes to the Battle Beasts line it is interesting to see that the majority of the Bootlegs and Knock Offs known so far were actually available, and also produced, in countries that never really had the official Battle Beasts line. The real reason for this is hard to define or explain but it probably had something to do with the fact that the makers of those bootleg and knock off lines got their ideas from looking at the countries around them and they simply picked the best or most advertised lines. And of course the licensing contracts TAKARA and HASBRO had were probably only addressed to those countries where they actually released the figures meaning the companies responsible for the bootlegs and knock off created in other countries had nothing to fear. That´d explain why Bootleg and Knock Off Beasts are found in for instance China, Korea, Indonesia, Russia, Mexico and Greece. All those countries never had an official release of Battle Beasts but they all did have their own release of Bootleg or Knock Off Beasts.
In the countries that did have the official Battle Beasts release as well as some Bootleg or Knock Off Beasts like Canada and Spain there´s not a lot known about the actual release of them and they seem to have been available for a very limited period of time. This could have had something to do with the licensing issue and the fact that HASBRO or one of its licensed partners responsible for the release in that specific country came to know about it and undertook juridical action against it resulting in the fact those illegal lines were banned.
Whether it has been a juridical process or a quality issue there is one thing that we can conclude when it comes to the Bootleg and Knock Off lines based upon the Battle Beasts and that´s the fact that for all goes that there´s not a large number of them left. In some cases that´s caused by the limited run of them, before getting banned, resulting in only a limited release of figures while in other cases the quality and condition of the figures themselves caused that most of them were thrown away or ended up broken over time. But as difficult as it is to find real info about them, due to language barriers in between or the fact that there´s simply no information to be found about the bootleg or knock off manufacturer of the Beasts back in the days there is still hope to find more figures or even other unknown lines since the biggest majority of these bootleg or knock off lines were found within the last 10 years while two of them where even found in the last 2 years by the Beastformers Team.
So there is still hope for other undiscovered Bootleg and Knock Off Beasts out there but to validate them as original Battle Beasts Bootlegs or Knock Offs it is important they come from a similar time period as the official line as there´s a lot of reproductions and custom Beasts made over the past years and these don´t fit into this category. Even though these illegal Beasts were produced without a license back in the days they do have an interesting history and with that they add another chapter to the original Battle Beasts line. Today the most ugliest wannabe Battle Beasts are cherished and highly sought after by various collectors of the original Battle Beasts line simply because they are different, interesting and they give another perspective to the history of the Beasts!
The Beastformers Team is constantly searching for more, other and undiscovered Bootleg and Knock Off lines world wide that are based upon or inspired by the original TAKARA HASBRO Battle Beasts line in order to gain more insight in their releases world wide and to trace down their own story since also these different Beasts deserve to have their story told because with their existence they have automatically become part of Battle Beasts History…
Enjoy the Beasts also these Bootlegs and Knock Offs!
Τερατομαχους (Tepato Maxoi)
During: Late 80´s – Early 90´s
By: El Greco
Bestias de Combate Bootlegs
By: Marbel SL (Alicante)
Animals Robot Master
During: Mid 90´s – Late 90´s
By: ACIP Plastick
KNOCK OFF BEASTS;
Countries: UK/JP (US and Australia?)
During: Early 90´s
By: W.H. Cornelius LTD (UK)