THE BOOTLEG BATTLE BEASTS FROM SPAIN
Today there are not that many Battle Beasts Bootlegs out in the world of which the origin story seems to hold more dust than the figures themselves but in this case……
Halfway 2014 was the first time that a larger set (5 different ones) of these figures showed up and got noticed by collectors outside Spain. After some quick research it turned out that 6 years before, in 2008, a similar figure a loose Pink Bull was found in a lot that came from Spain purchased by a fellow collector on LRG. A figure that was clearly identified as a Bootleg Battle Beasts but of which further details were unknown.
Intrigued by the complete absence of any information about these strange Bootlegs from Spain the search for their background story started and with the help of fellow collectors and connections in Spain it didn´t take to long before the dust that had covered these figures for years finally started to disappear.
The moment things seemed to had fallen into place a first topic about these Spanish Bootleg Bestias de Combate was shared on LRG, where else, which you can find HERE.
Origin of the BDC Bootlegs
It turned out that those figures were produced in Alicante (East of Spain) by an unknown company with the name of Marbel SL during the late 80´s (1989) and for a very short period. Since any research into the origin of this company failed it were our connections in the East of Spain who were able to confirm that this factory did indeed exist, probably for a very short period, because it was known for illegally producing bootleg figures from various lines. Marbel SL had produced tons of unlicensed knock-offs during the 80´s and it was releasing bootlegs of various lines ranging from MLP, MotU, Inspector Gadget, Snorkel, The Tiny ones, Visitors, the Diminutes, Smurfs, Lucky Luke and other lines mainly known from TV series back then. So its pretty obvious this company wasn´t really focusing on just one line when it came to producing bootlegs but it contained many lines from that era. With this in mind it is weird to see that no real traces can be found of this company but this was not the only bootleg company in the East of Spain that completely disappeared because back in the days the Alicante region of Spain turns out to have been the Mecca of the (illegal) toy industry and it was the birthplace of a lot of Spanish bootleg lines.
There were rumors that the owner of Marbel SL was prosecuted in 1989 for producing those unlicensed figures but based on the fact all traces seemed to have disappeared it is very likely that a sudden incident caused a complete stand still when it came to the distribution of these figures. During that period more of those companies producing unlicensed toys have been prosecuted so it is a plausible reason for the the fact those figures have only been available for a very short period of time and only within a certain part of Spain because they don´t seem to be very well known outside the South-Eastern regions. They´re most likely available in the direct region of Alicante and they´ve also been found in Malaga which is located more in the South of Spain.
So with all this there is sort of an insight in the origin of these BDC Bootlegs but they remain pretty much surrounded by mysteries which might be in line with the way those figures showed up in Spain because let´s not forget Spain did have its own original and licensed Battle Beasts line, the Bestias de Combate of which these Bootlegs directly derive.
Sometimes the Beauty of Bootlegs is found in their Ugliness
Quality and looks
Let´s take a look at the actual figures now because they are a little weird looking, adjusted and different in color than the originals but this is often the case with Bootleg lines in order to avoid the risk of prosecution, although in this case it might not have been very helpful. Some would say they are ugly but they´re almost so ugly and strange that they become cool at the same time. The colors ranging from baby blue, pink, red and pale yellow also makes them stand out.
The overall quality of the figures is not very good if you compare them to the original line because most of the figures hardly stand on their own as their feet are not flattened properly, so in some cases the weapon is needed to balance or support to figure to stand on its own. Looking at the arm articulation the PEG-hole we know from the original Battle Beasts is there but its just a hole and the peg of the arm that´s supposed to fit in there smoothly is rather roughly done meaning the arms barely rotate and they come out very easily. They can hold their weapons mainly because of the fact that in between the hands there´s still some casting residue left like a little membrane through which the weapon can be inserted. Another interesting detail is the fact that all of the figures are just a fraction smaller than the actual original figures and this might´ve been a result of the production method used.
Apart from the odd looking colors the figures also have some extra details that the original figures don´t have and those make them look much more violent than the original sculpts because this mainly enhances spikes and horns as shown in the pics below. The Bootleg feeling also comes back in the ¨ears¨ of the Gator which shows how these remaining parts of the production string have been missed and were considered as part of the figure itself.
The paint that was applied on these Bootleg Beasts had some issues as well because the ones that didn´t get the silver colored armor, like the blue deer and the yellow gorilla for instance, seem to be pretty ok while the others which did have the silver look a little more ¨damaged¨ due to the fact this paint seems to be from a different quality and it doesn´t seem to connect to the rubber material from the body in the correct way. So almost all of the figures with the silver applied to the body have serious paint wear because of this. In general all the paint applications done are not very detailed although some do look pretty good but most are rather sloppy and quickly done.
Looking into the material the rubber used for them is very flexible in comparison to the original Battle Beasts and that also resulted in the nickname of Spanish Gumball Beasts referring to the Japanese White Gumball Beasts that could be obtained via the Gacha machines. There´s no direct relation to Spanish gumball machines when it comes to the figures as far as we know so this name mainly came from their flexibility.
This is a tough question to answer because so far the first BDC Bootleg that aired, the Pink Buffalo, was considered to be the only one until the Red Lion, Red Gator, Pink Gorilla, Red and Blue Deer showed up. After those also the Yellow Gorilla was found resulting in the ¨total¨ of 7 ¨different” figures we know today. But with two being duplicates from the same sculpt (Deer and Gorilla) but only a color variation you could say there´s 5 different figs known so far with some color variations amongst them. The colors used might give away a bit of a clue about the total amount though because just recently, in the beginning of 2016, a Pink Lion, showed up. This means there are 3 Red colored and 3 Pink colored figures known. Based on this it would make sense if there´re other color variations of the figures in Blue and Yellow as well but this is unconfirmed.
Although the Pink Lion found was pretty damaged, it´s feet were cut in such a way it stands on its own now, it also showed that the CORRECT arms were available for the Lion so its a little weird to see most of the figures with the incorrect (mostly Gator) arms.
This topic is nothing new within the Bootleg Battle Beasts world because we´ve seen incorrect arms amongst the Greek Battle Beasts (The Τερατομαχους (Tepato Maxoi)) as well. But whereas the Greek arm imperfection seems to have been a misinterpretation of the original composition of the Beasts its most likely a different story here. Because for the molds they should´ve had the 5 (or more?) original figures meaning they´d also have known the arm composition, and the Pink Lion and some others show this, but when it comes to the Red figures it seems like the Red Gator arms have been overproduced resulting in the fact the Red Lion does not have its own Red arms but the ones from the Gator. Another frustration that´s been noticed so far is the fact that the amount of Right and Left arms is unbalanced meaning some figures come with two Left arms in most of the cases. So apart from not having the correct arms with the figure it also has two Left ones……
With the 5 different sculpts known so far it´s not so strange to see there´s also 5 different weapons around. Those are not the weapons that belong to the figures though because they are based upon the original Bestias de Combate figures which also came with the incorrect weapons in the original packaging. Talking about that packaging this is also what gives away a bit of insight in the figures known amongst these Bootlegs because the Lion and Deer came together on a card and the same goes for the Buffalo and Gator so that would open up the possibility of a Boar being out there as well since that one was packed together with the BDC Gorilla. Looking at the 5 weapons (Spider, Bison, Ram, Bear and Fox) they´re made from a black hard type of plastic which seems to be of a relatively good quality because in the details you can easily recognize the number of the weapon which is also shown on the originals.
Although the Pink Lion shown above does show a yellow rub sign it is not confirmed that these figures actually came with one. Most likely the rub sign on the Pink Lion is a fan made solution for the absence of rubs on these figs because on all of the other Bootlegs known so far no rub signs or traces of it have been found.
There´s nothing known or found so far about the packaging these figures came.
All in all these Bestias de Combate Bootlegs from Spain are pretty neat, odd and with them showing up very rarely there´s a big chance we might´ve to wait a while again until more of these show up and another chapter to this page can be added.
DISFRUTAR DE LAS BESTIAS!
(Enjoy the Beasts!)
The Beastformers Team