During the beginning of 1986, or mid to late 1985(?), TAKARA came with the idea of a new toy line as a spin off of Transformers called Beastformers. A little earlier in 1984 HASBRO bought the distribution rights for the Transformers line from TAKARA and became responsible for the distribution and sales of this line outside of Japan. Somewhere around 1985-1986 TAKARA and HASBRO must have had a meeting about this new line called Beastformers. To convince HASBRO to pick this line up for distribution in the US as well information and pictures about this new idea were shared at a relatively early stage. And thanks to some great preservation work of a former Hasbro Employee and finally our own Beastformers Archaeology member Dabbuu (LRG username) there are some awesome pictures of early prototype Battle Beasts to share now. Because the Beastformers line mentioned is the toy line we now all know as Battle Beasts since that´s the name HASBRO rebranded them under distributing and selling them in North-America and Europe during the mid to late 80´s.
In the beginning…
The very first Beastformers were completely hand sculpted by toy designers (artists) working for TAKARA in Japan back in the 80´s. Real craftsmanship that resulted in the first real physical figure sculpts made out of wax. A crucial step, not only for the production process of the line because these first models could be used for mold making but as known now in this case it were also these early figures which had to convince HASBRO. At first we believed the pictures were from the actual very early stage wax sculpts but after closer inspection of some of the experts with knowledge about the production of figures on LRG, who noticed some imperfections, this thought was abandoned. Because there are some small air bubbles shown on some of the figures which is something that can only be the result of a casting process (locked up air in the mold) and this is not something you´d have found on original wax sculpts. Which means that the pictures shown here are early stage casts of the very first Battle Beasts!
Based on our previous research it is clear that TAKARA initially designed only the first 18 Battle Beasts hence the reason a lot of the early promotion material does not show any other Beasts. And most likely it were those 18 Beast designs created by the TAKARA Design Department that were shared with HASBRO. It is interesting to see that the pictures shown on this page, that were received by HASBRO from TAKARA, are very early stages of the Battle Beasts we know meaning HABRO joined TAKARA in supporting the line relatively soon based on only some early Prototypes.
TAKARA was very strict about any type of prototype or unreleased version leaving their domain meaning that most, if not all, of these original items were destroyed. So there is a very big chance that, apart from the fact that these pictures who might´ve been the main reason we´ve been able to enjoy the Battle Beasts outside of Japan as well, these actual prototype figures pictured are long gone.
But luckily the pictures have been saved as an interesting and crucial part in Battle Beasts History.
Time to take a look at the pictures of the Prototype Battle Beasts!
Please understand that only the pictures and parts of the information shared have been verified ALL of the further information on this page is based upon assumption and speculation based on the pictures in combination with the knowledge we have of this line. Caused by the lack of crucial facts.
Prototype Battle Beast Pictures by TAKARA
It might be good to mention that as you´ll see some of these figures like the Lion, Deer and Snake already were a step further into the design phase since they already received a paint job based on an early stage color scheme that´s thought out for them. Apart from this and other obvious differences that´ll jump straight into the eye it might be interesting to take a closer look at each Beast in detail because a lot of these look like the actual produced versions but you might get fooled.
Some of the main remarks and details will be mentioned directly below the pictures of each Beast while other more common and returning details/issues will be discussed after all the pictures have been shared.
Obviously starting of with THE number one Beast the Lion, aka White Leo (Japan) or Pirate Lion. But since these are early Prototypes and it is unclear whether at that moment the actual names of the figures were already known, not very likely, all of the Prototypes here are addressed simply with the name of the Beasts and the number which it is known under;
PROTOTYPE LION #1
Remarks: The first thing that can be noticed is obviously the paint scheme of Pirate Lion which seems to have been the original idea for him. And this might have been the case for a longer period because this paint scheme of the Lion can also be found on the original Pre-Production Transparency. Due to this that paint scheme of the Pirate Lion made it not only onto the Lunchbox but also on the back of the original packaging (carded 2 packs) showing the three different symbols.
Apart from the paint scheme there are not a lot of major adjustments done apart from some small details like the two spikes on the armor over its hand which have merged into one. It´s unknown why it is holding the weapon of the Bird but at that moment it was probably not clear yet which weapon was supposed to belong to which beasts.
PROTOTYPE DEER #2
Remarks: Unlike the Lion of which we probably unconscious already had seen the paint scheme before the Deer one is a bit different although the colors are close to the actual colors on the figure we know. Only interesting detail to mention here is that the paint on his hoofs make it look as if he´s wearing sandals. No big differences in actual sculpt detail here. It looks as if the weapon from the Deer as it was shown here has evolved out of a broken Killer Carp weapon.
PROTOTYPE TIGER #3
Remarks: The Killer spikes on the weapon of this Ferocious Tiger are the biggest loss when it comes to the redesign of this figure but its probably done for obvious reasons as will be explained later.
PROTOTYPE BIRD #4
Remarks: Not a lot of changes in sculpt here either although the extended armor on the side of its head has been cancelled. And the beak seems to have been redesigned a little as well. The initial idea for the Snake weapon looked much more elegant.
PROTOTYPE SNAKE #6
Remarks: For the paint scheme of the Snake its a bit of the same story as for the Deer since this looks a little odd to most of us as this is a way we´ve never seen the snake before. Other details worth mentioning here are the size of the barrels on the front and the fact that the head of one of the snake arms was rotated a little more.
PROTOTYPE TOAD #7
Remarks: No major differences here when it comes to this early stage sculpt in comparison with the final released version. Looks like this figure had a good match with its weapon directly.
PROTOTYPE ELEPHANT #8
Remarks: This original sculpt of the Elephant is showing some interesting ideas which sadly enough have been modified for the actual released figure. One of the most odd changes is the rotation of the hammer on its left hand because it makes more sense in use the way it was initially intended. No idea why they decided to rotate it at a 90 degree angle later on but it might´ve been a mistake(?). Another interesting thing is its trunk which seemed to have been redesigned in the end as well. With the Elephant holding the Buffalo weapon there´s a first clue to that fact that there might´ve been an early stage Buffalo as well…
PROTOTYPE RHINO #9
Remarks: The Rhino is the only figure of which some detailed pictures have been provided by Takara. Although the Rhino is a mean looking beast on its own already this sculpt looked even more impressive with a huge horn which has been modified towards one that´s a little less impressive but its interesting to see that somehow that fin on its ball arm seemed to have made it passed this design phase into the actual produced figure.
PROTOTYPE BEAR #11
Remarks: Only 3 pictures here of the Bear but its not the most impressive beast out there and it looks like not a lot of modifications have been made after this sculpt.
PROTOTYPE BAT #12
Remarks: Just like the Rhino its sad to see the modifications made for this Bat sculpt as he looked much better with those big wings but it was probably redesigned out of size regulations of the figure to fit into packaging. Knowing this sculpt it feels a little as if a big part of the wings were amputated looking at the original figure now….. Not sure where the idea of this spine club came from and where it went but considering its a flying beasts its not that strange to see its been provided with a less heavy looking weapon in the end.
Thanks to ShadowBat (LRG username) for providing the picture on the right perfectly showing the size difference of the wings.
So far the pictures that were available/preserved. As you have seen a few, Carp #5 and Buffalo #10, were missing. Maybe this was the initial order and only those 10 Beasts as shown above were created initially and the others were added later. Let´s not forget that for us the Elephant is holding the Buffalo weapon but at that time it could´ve been the one intended for the Elephant as more of them were holding other weapons. With this in mind let´s look at a few general remarks which go for all (most) of them.
Most of you might´ve also spotted it while it´s also possible you´ve overlooked it but NONE of the figures above have a stamp on them. This stamp, the makers mark (Takara ´86 / Hasbro ´86), is found on released versions of the Beasts only. The stamp is actually the final step before a figure goes into production because when this stamp is applied it means it´s passed all the checks and selection criteria and it is ready to be used for mass production. It´s a small detail but crucial from a commercial point of view protecting the line and the rights. Interesting to see those blank prototype versions knowing how and where they decided to place these markings in the end.
Square for the Rubsign
It is no secret that TAKARA designed this line with the main intention of it being a Transformers related spin off line. With that in mind the squares most of these figures are showing (the Prototype Bat didn´t have one) were meant to hold either a Autobot or Decepticon Decal initially. The Paper-Rock-Scissor inspired game of Fire-Wood-Water with the rubsigns was something that´s suggested by HASBRO and it looks like they found the size of the squares on the prototypes to small because they´ve clearly been adjusted. And in the case of the Bat it´s placed on the wing.
Another obvious thing is that the weapons shown with the prototypes seemed to be at a more early stage in the design phase than the figures because they´re pretty basic. But it is cool to see where they´ve come from with them and that they initially might´ve had other ideas in regards to figure – weapon combinations. Some have evolved in the wrong direction, like the weapon of the Tiger, but that might´ve been due to regulations
Adjustments due to regulations
With the Beasts going abroad it´s likely that some (safety) adjustments had to be made knowing HASBRO might´ve had to deal with more strict regulations in regards to child toys at that time. This might´ve been the main reason why the spikes of the Tiger weapon have become more smooth. But if you take a look at the weapons of your Beasts you´ll also find details on them that might be the result of these regulations as well. Because on top of the common weapons for the Lion, Carp, Rhino and Elephant you´ll find a little ball. This might have been done to prevent the ends of those weapons from becoming to sharp preventing any risks or being in conflict with regulations maybe?
NO Mold markings
Like the missing makers mark stamps these Prototypes are also missing the mold markings which are the little round circles you can find on the figures mostly on the backside. The simply explanation for this is that these were early versions coming from a test mold which were not intended for mass production. And based on how the figures look, with the air bubbles showing here and there, they seem to have been cast upside down with the fluid material filled into the mold via the feet. It´s not sure if those white things underneath some of the feet might´ve had anything to do with that or whether those are just some kind of sticky tape in order to hold the figure in the correct position for the photo.
A Unique part of Battle Beasts History
It´s already mentioned earlier but these pictures of the Battle Beasts Prototypes are a unique part of the history of this line and it is thanks to a former HASBRO employee who has been preserving these and was willing to pass them on that we´re able to enjoy these. And although these pictures which were obtained by a fellow collector and BA Team member back in 2007 have been around within the BB Community for years it is good to take a look at them every now and than. Reason enough to continue preserving them and that´s hereby done adding them to the Beastformers Archaeology part of the Beastformers Blog.
For this topic I´d like to thank BA Team member Dabbuu in particular for sharing the files shown here and clarifying the story around this important piece of Battle Beasts History since these pictures, used to convince HASBRO, might´ve been the reason that Battle Beasts exist out of Japan!
Images/Scans on this page courtesy of: Dabbuu unless mentioned different.