Shield Battlers

In the world of the Battle Beasts Shadow Warriors a.k.a. Laser Beasts there´s a select group of 12 figures (#89-100), from the 36 Laser Beasts in total, which can be considered Special Forces because unlike all Beasts, including the 76 Battle Beasts, which come with a weapon these 12 Beasts differentiate themselves by having an extra defensive accessory. A Shield! Because of this they are known as the so called Shield Battlers.

Starting of by clarifying two crucial definitions;

What is a Shield Battler?

With the introduction above this has already been answered but a Shield Battler is a Laser Beast (Figure + Lasergun) that comes with a Shield, in other words it´s a Full-Armed Laser Beast*. In total 12 different (original) Shield Battlers exist, all are part of the so called ¨Mid-end¨ LB (#89-100), and like their lasergun the shield has an unique coat of arms like visual design based on the Beast it belongs to.

So far things are pretty simple and understandable but the next question already makes is more complicated due to the limited amount of information that´s available in the various languages and the limited release of some of these Shield Battlers.

What is a Battle Charger?

When a Shield Battler is upgraded with a vehicle or wagon, which amongst collectors is also known as a Sled, to which the Shield can be connected it becomes a Battle Charger**. A Battle Charger is the ¨Battle Chariot/Wagon¨ (Chariot de Bataille) of the Laser Beasts which unlike the Battle Beasts and the other Laser Beasts Chariots is NOT connected to a Symbol (Fire, Wood or Water). These vehicles, from now on called Sleds, that together with the Shield Battlers make the Battle Chargers come in 3 different colors (Grey/Maroon (Red)/Purple), more about these Sleds and how they can be used will be explained later.

* Full-Armed Laser Beasts; the definition of a Shield Battler (Figure + Lasergun + Shield) by TAKARA as shown on the Shield Battler-6 box (1988).
** Battle Charger;
the definition of a Shield Battler (Figure + Lasergun + Shield) WITH it´s added vehicle (Sled) by HASBRO as shown on the Battle Chargers single pack (1987).

The clarification of the definition above is crucial to understand and it also shows the complexity of how two toy companies in different languages tried to launch a toy line with a certain consistency. Back in the days this obviously was not causing any problems because if you´re living in Japan they´re Shield Battlers and if you´re living in the country where the Battle Chargers were sold they´re Battle Chargers. But when you look at both languages/releases like we are doing it does change some perspectives.

Now that that the difference between a Shield Battler (Figure + Lasergun + Shield) and a Battle Charger (Figure + Lasergun + Shield + Sled) has been explained things become a little more confusing because in order to clarify and explain the Shield Battlers and therefore also the Battle Chargers they have to be divided in two groups.

The Division of the Shield Battlers

When it comes to the 12 Shield Battlers it is important to mention that their release area, and therefore their availability, is not consistent for all 12 of them and this makes that the SHIELDS can be divided in two groups. With that this obviously goes for the Shield Battlers as well but it´s good to clarify that this is specifically concerning the Shields because this does NOT go for the figures which, with their lasergun, were available in the various countries where they have been released. The division of the Shield Battlers therefore goes into the following two groups; the more common ones (wider release (larger numbers) which are known as the so called Shield Battler 6 and the so called EU Shield Battlers.

The Shield Battler-6 (シールドバトラー6) box set (1988) was exclusively sold by TAKARA in Japan and it contained 6 Shield Battlers (Full-Armed Laser Beasts) knowing;

  • #90 Crimson Cat (f.k.a. Grencats)***
  • #91 Fight Horn
  • #93 Battle Fennec
  • #94 Killer Hound
  • #96 Strong Hurricane
  • #99 Mantle Frenzy (f.k.a. Mantfrenzy)***

And within this box set two Sleds were included the Grey and Maroon Sled.

*** To learn more about the names used here check the; Renaming the Laser Beasts article here on the Beastformers Blog.

This box set contained 6 Shield Battlers but ONLY two Sled meaning that with this set you´re only able to complete 2 Battle Chargers. On the box art of the Shield Battler-6 box (and the image above) the Sleds were assigned to #96 Strong Hurricane and #94 Killer Hound and even though Strong Hurricane is the Captain of the Shield Battler 6, for more information check the; Laser Beasts Hierarchy post, the two Sleds could be assigned to any of the 6 Shield Battlers included.

While this Shield Battler-6 box set was exclusively sold in Japan the 6 Shield Battlers were also sold individually packed WITH their own Sled as Battle Chargers in the same countries/area where the 6 other Shield Battlers the so called EU Shield Battlers were available. This means that, even though the packaging type might have been different, the so called Shield Battler 6 were produced in larger numbers compared to the EU Shield Battlers and this is what makes them relatively more common.

The exclusive character of the EU Shield Battlers is related to the fact they were exclusively sold as individually packed complete Battle Chargers by HASBRO in a very limited amount of EU Countries, and possibly a limited area of either the US, for a relatively short period of time. The EU Shield Battlers are;

  • #89 Brown Lion
  • #92 Hustlebear
  • #95 Dragon Seahorn
  • #97 Sea Panic
  • #100 Scope Cougar

And where with the Shield Battler 6 these figures were also sold with their Shield outside of Japan in the exact same packaging style, and countries/areas, as the EU Shield Battlers the EU Shields were NEVER sold in Japan because these 6 Laser Beasts were sold individually in the normal Japanese single pack Laser Beast boxes without their Shield! This makes that the EU Shields, which were produced in much smaller numbers due to the limited area and time frame in which they were available, are considered rather elusive simply because they´re EU Exclusives.

The EU Exclusive Sled Color

Not only are 6 of the Shields EU Exclusives because this also goes for one of the Sleds. As mentioned the Grey and Maroon Sleds were included in the Shield Battler-6 box set but this was not the case for the Purple Sled. Like the EU Exclusive Shields this Sled color was ONLY found in the packaging of the individually packed complete Battle Chargers in which you´d find one Sled. This makes that also the Purple Sled is a harder to find piece in comparison to the Grey and Maroon Sled.

Release Area of the EU Shield Battlers

It´s, after many years, (still) not completely clear where exactly the EU Shield Battlers have been available during the 80s. But two EU countries can be confirmed knowing France and Sweden but also here goes that it might have been only a part or region of the country and/or for a very limited period of time. The speculation for the fact that there might have been a very limited availability of them around in the US is solely based on the presence of the English Battle Chargers packaging and the idea that there might have been a test sale in just a small area. BUT unlike the French packaging which was completely in French hence the reason we know that the Battle Chargers in France were named; Chariot de Bataille (Battle Chariot/Wagon) the Swedish packaging of Beasts has ALWAYS been completely in English meaning that the Battle Chargers packages found within the US might have originated from Sweden and they might have made their way to the US via collectors over time. Either way it is clear that the release area for the EU Shield Battlers compared to the amount of other Beasts sold in Japan, US and the EU is very limited.

Temporarily Availability of the Shield Battlers outside of Japan

What we also have to acknowledge on top of the limited release area where the Shield Battlers have been available outside of Japan is the fact that the period during which they have been available most likely was pretty short as well. WHY? Let´s not forget that the Shield Battlers were the last Laser Beasts, the mid-end LB, that were sold outside of Japan and the complete line was cancelled. Japan was lucky enough to get the last 12 Laser Beasts, the high-end LB, but no other countries had those and as we know the few countries that did have the Shield Battlers available couldn´t have been selling them for long before all sales were cancelled. The English Battle Chargers card might hold 1987 on the package but this clearly is not representative for the year in which they were available because similar to the Series 1 Beasts which hold 1986 on their bodies this is probably a trademark or licensing date and it does not refer to the year in which they were sold. Outside of Japan, and most likely within Japan as well, there were NO Laser Beasts sold in 1987 because at the beginning of 1987 the Battle Beasts made it to the various toy shows and the pre-Toyfair catalog from HASBRO a year later in 1988 (US) announced the Laser Beasts and the Shield Battlers (described as Battle Beasts Battle Charger Vehicle Asst.) for the first time. That was a pre-Toyfair catalog and sadly enough they didn´t actually make it into the final catalog for 1988 in the US. But they did make it into the French HASBRO ´88 catalog and that´s where it mentioned that the Laser Beasts (Guerriers de L´Ombre (Shadow Warriors)) were scheduled to be released in France for September 1988 (see image below from the HASBRO ´88 catalog).

Based on the abrupt ending of the line it is very questionable IF and if so for how long any Battle Beasts related products were sold, apart from possible clear out sales, during the beginning of 1989 but if so that probably wouldn´t have lasted very long. So with this in mind the likelihood of the Shield Battlers, including the EU Shield Battlers, being available for only a few months outside of Japan increases and once more it would confirm why the EU Shields are so elusive.

Now that this is clarified it´s time to look into the Battle Chargers a little bit more.

Composing a Battle Charger

The Battle Charger, a Shield Battler + Sled, is predominantly used as a Battle Chariot/Wagon in which case the Shield is attached to the Sled on the front side and the Laser Beast figure with it´s lasergun are placed on the standing platform safely behind the Shield. But the Sled can also be used as a backpack as the graphic on the packaging shows;

Each Sled has two PEGS (a cylindrical piece) that perfectly fits in the PEG Holes found on the Laser Beast. Holes, because alongside the known peg hole found at underside of the left foot which is used to attach the figure to the standing platform of the Sled without it falling off the hole found on the backside of the Laser Beast, the crucial hole that´s required to let light in for the Orb symbol to show, has another function as well since it´s also a PEG Hole. This is the one you´ll have to use when you want to turn the Sled into a Backpack. (Be careful because in some cases there is quite some friction and force needed to attach the Sled to the back and it could result in paint damage!!) Obviously the function of the Orb is absent in case the Backpack mode is used.

And in case you have multiple Sleds you also have the option to connect them together in which the individual Sled become more like a train wagon forming a sort of Battle train.

What´s a little weird/questionable here is the fact knowing this option exists you would also expect there to be a locomotive type of vehicle to pull these wagons. With the Laser Beasts Chariots and the Drills around which easily could´ve been provided with a connection piece on the backside for these Sled trains to attach to it´s a bit of a missed chance, leaving the Sled Battle train without locomotive.

The packaging mentioned the Battle Chargers are ¨kid-powered¨ so that is definitely not something that can be refuted.

In some pictures (advertisements), artwork and graphics it shows that the Lasergun can be ¨clipped¨ on to the top of the Shield showing the Laser Beast figure with both hands free. Also here goes that it´s possible because there is some space reserved for that in the design of the Lasergun because in front of the handle of the weapon (which the Beasts uses to hold the weapon) there is another piece found resulting in a distance that´s wide enough to slide over the Shield but in many cases it doesn´t go very smooth and you risk damaging the Shield and/or the Lasergun.

The multi functional use of the Sled is a nice little gimmick although some of the elements of it are a little doubtful.

About the Shields

The Shield does not have a handle?
Unlike the laserguns or Battle Beasts weapons in general the Shield for the Laser Beasts has no handle. It has two pieces of plastic sticking out on the back of Shield that leave just enough space to fit (slide) around the arm, there were there is no armor between the shoulder and the hand, of the Laser Beast. This feels a little weird but apparently this was the ¨ideal¨ solution for the Shield to be attached to the Laser Beast in a way it also looks aesthetically pleasing, which it does. Only issue here is that similar to some options with the Battle Charger you risk scratching the arm if you slide the Shield over the arm.

Figure number on the Shield
Similar to the weapons of the Battle Beasts and the Laserguns for the Laser Beasts the Shields are provided with the figure number which can be found on the backside of the Shield. This makes it easier to tell which Shield belongs to which Beast in case the coat of arms like artwork might not be obvious enough OR in case the sticker is missing…

It´s JUST a Sticker?
The coat of arm artwork on the front side of the Shield is a sticker. While the Shield itself is nicely decorated around the edges the center piece is indeed JUST a sticker. This does make it look/feel rather cheap while at the same time it makes the Shields (unnecessary) fragile. Even more when you know that there´s a rectangular cut-out area, at the height of where the two pieces of plastic stick out for the connection with the arm, in the plastic of the Shield which makes that the risk of damaging the sticker even higher. Over time a lot of Shields have been found with a damaged, penetrated, sticker. Apart from this issue it´s obvious that the use of a sticker also results in edges that wrap up when they loosen up or eventually a complete let go of the sticker from the Shield. It´s speculation but we would not be surprised if this is one of the reasons why the Shield Battlers didn´t make it to the US knowing the amount of complaints HASBRO has had about the let go of the Battle Beasts rubsigns. You would expect this to have been a lesson learned also knowing that the Orbs for the Laser Beasts could be considered as THE durable solution as replacement for the rubsigns but apparently they forgot about this for the Shields and the use of a sticker was the ¨best¨ solution.

Which Sled color goes with what Shield Battler?

As a perfectionist collector this is a very important question because you´d like to compose your Battle Chargers correctly within your display. Sadly enough there is no solid coherent answer for that for a few reasons. One is the fact that in Japan, as we know, they only had two colors of Sleds (Grey/Maroon) included with their Shield Battler-6 set meaning that all 6 of the Japanese Shield Battlers could be completed as Battle Charger with either a Grey or Maroon Sled. On the other hand there´s the knowledge we have about how the single pack Battle Chargers were composed and what´s remarkable here is that this has been done very consistent resulting in the following composition;

  • Grey Sled included with #89-#92
  • Purple Sled included with #93-#96
  • Maroon Sled included with #97-#100

This division based on the way how they´re composed inside the packaging does make the most sense, based on the information available and it´s also become the generally accepted composition of the Battle Chargers within the BB Community over the years.

What is a bit conflicting here is the fact that based on the artwork and pictures on the known packaging the Grey Sled goes with #90 Crimson Cat (Battle Charger individual package) which is correct while at the same time #94 Killer Hound (Grey Sled) and #96 Strong Hurricane (Maroon Sled) found on the Shield Battler-6 box are incorrect.

This composition also makes that 3 (#93, #94, #96) of the Shield Battler 6 Beasts end up with the EU Exclusive Purple Sled.

If you solely focus on the composition made by HASBRO the division is rather solid despite the fact that it´s not officially documented or reported that a certain color Sled goes with a specific Shield Battler but in that case you have to ignore the composition of the Japanese Shield Battler-6 box set.

But since this is the information we have based on the facts available this simply is the Battle Charger composition that´s most acceptable.

Full Overview Battle Chargers composition

Over time more pictures and information might be added to this article to clarify things even more but for now with the information available this is the most accurate information about the Battle Chargers and with that at the same time the 12 Shield Battlers are explained.