Unlike many other stories within the Beastformers Stories series which are based upon rumors or myths this one started of in a remarkable way. It was during the early summer of 2015 that the Beastformers Team was confronted with an at first sight simple question about a specific Beast figure. But despite forming a quick an easy answer based on experiences before for some reason there was something that triggered to look into it a bit more. And that´s where the entanglement started, entanglement… in the Snake pit!
This story has already been discussed and shared by Beastformers on LittleRubberGuys.com back in 2015, where you can still find the original post;
Entanglement in the Snake-pit; The Triple Threat Snake arms…
So it all started with a simple question from a fellow collector;
¨I´ve a Triple Threat Snake figure of which the arms don´t match up with the figure shown in the Guide/Checklist¨
The Guide/Checklist he referred to was the Battle Beasts Priceguide from LRG (here) which shows the image of Triple Threat Snake (image left).
An easy response could have been that someone probably swapped the arms around but while debating about answering with a line like that a quick look over the shoulder checking the various Snakes within the Beastformers Collection showed something odd. Because the Snakes there also held their arms in a position that´s not in line with the one from the checklist. No worries your figure is correct and the one shown in the checklist is probably wrong…
Probably… Because as mentioned for some reason something didn´t feel completely right and the only way to figure this out in a proper and thorough way, as you´re used to when it comes to Beastformers research, was to jump into the Snake Pit by inspecting multiple Snakes and asking fellow collectors about their experiences.
Why, and what was the cause to look into the Snake a bit more than usual?
One of the odd things in regards to the Snake, the way most of us know it, is the fact that it is the ONLY Beast from all the 76 Battle Beasts and even from all 112 figures ever produced (including the 36 Laser Beasts) which has its right hand facing outwards. In the design of the line the decision of having the weapon hand (right hand) facing inwards towards the body seems to have been clearly made but the Snake has always been the strange exception. Coincidence, or not…?
Time to pull out some more Snakes for closer inspection and one of the things that directly became clear were the round mold marks which can be found on the figures when you look at them in detail but these were on the FRONT while it´s a known fact that those marks are always found on the backside of the figure.
Reason enough to take it a step further and to start looking into the original files to see where something might´ve gone wrong. This is were the Beastformers Archaeology (BA) Project was successfully consulted because even though not all of the files that are found in the archive have been shared with the BB Community so far they did show relevant information is this particular case.
Going back as far as possible there are the original Wax BB Figure Castings of which Takara had shared some pictures with Hasbro and which, via a former Hasbro employee, have ended up within the BB Community. For some this picture might be a completely new and unique reveal but there is much more to tell and show in regards to the early (prototype) stage Beasts sculpted out of wax which will be shared in the Beastformers Archaeology section at a later moment.
What´s most important for now is that the opening of the right hand is directed clearly towards the body. A first clue that this has been the intention from the very first beginning. Note that the left hand is also in a different position than the actual released figure. That´s due to the fact that during the design process some things have changed, this obvious also goes for the color scheme. Maybe a step closer to the clarification of this issue but…
But why did all Snakes within the Beastformers Collection and a large majority of the Snakes found have the opening of the right hand facing outwards!?
To clarify this it´s time for the next step opening another section of the Beastformers Archaeology archive; The Line Art kit (1986) (this part is already visible on the Beastformers Blog) the Snake shown within the Line Art kit does, as well, show the Snake with the opening of the right hand facing inwards (towards the body)
After this stage looking into early design phase pictures and documents it is time to look at the original promotion photo´s which have been released via various advertisements within Toy Catalogs from all over the world during the 80´s.
ALL of these show, although in some cases it´s not very clear, the Snake with the right hand facing OUTWARDS… which is in conflict with the way it was initially designed during the prototype face as shown earlier. This might mean that the Snake made it into all of those photo-shoots, which have been taken with various figures and in various countries, with the arms placed in the wrong position. Plausible…?
But to make it a little more complex if you look at the original BB Commercial made for the US/UK it shows the arms of the Snake in the correct position again;
Although it only appears briefly a quick screenshot shows enough. Because the left hand is clearly facing outwards and the right hand facing inwards.
Than we also have the artwork on the Snake cards and like this one is showing the design of it is in line with the original intention of having the opening of the hand facing inwards, all cards clearly make this distinction in which the majority of all Beasts hold their weapon in the right hand.
With so much conflicting information it´s hard to come to a final conclusion since if you´d look at the advertisement material your Snake is probably correct but when you look into the Concept sculpt, the commercial and the artwork it really shows us that the Snake arms are most likely to be placed in that position. Is it just a coincidence than that the majority of Snakes found and consulted had their arms positioned the ¨wrong¨ way they did?!
Based on the finds and experiences so far an estimate was made that 80-85% of all of the released Snakes had been released with the right hand facing outwards. Something that could be clarified and strengthened with the help of an impressive Snake Army;
Koppenschevelle´s Snake Army
An impressive Army of over 100+ Snakes from Eric Koppen, more can be found on LRG;
Battle Beasts Snake Army
Interestingly enough Eric was just as surprised as some of you might be based on the research so far resulting in a fun reply;
What a fantastic write up! I learned so much that I didn’t know about a figure that I own hundreds of copies of. Over the years of collecting this one figure, I have noticed that i will get figures one way or the other. While I prefer the right hands facing in so that those flat circle mold marks are on the back of the figure, I have noticed in the past receiving more figures showing the right hands facing outwards. After reading your conclusions, I had to go through my collection and count up which ones had their right hands facing outwards vs inwards (I will avoid referring to either orientation as right or wrong).
As you can see the large majority of his Snakes also have the arms in the ¨wrong¨ position, after checking it turned out that 85% of his Snakes had their right hand facing outwards (in line with the earlier estimate), because we can now slowly start to conclude that the arms of the Snake were initially meant to be placed like the Snake shown in the Guide/Checklist but that an error has occurred along the way. Probably a wrong picture or instruction that made it into the factory, resulting in the fact that during the actual assembly of the figure a huge amount of Snakes got their arms attached in the wrong order with the Left hand on the Right side and the Right hand on the Left side. But you can imagine placing those tricky arms on the Snake body in the right order all day long might not have been the most easy task and it´s been causing some confusion for the people working in the factory as well, especially if they´d been given the wrong instructions.
All of this has led to some entanglement and confusion in the Snake Pit…
On the Left the Snake how it´s been released in most of the cases on the Right the Snake how it was meant to be released.
FYI for this picture the arms were changed in the ¨correct¨ position (Right side figure). On the one on the Left you can clearly see the round mold markings on the arms which are supposed to be on the backside of the figure thus explaining, together with all the info above that, right and left had to be flipped.
To all of you who feel the urge, just like the White Rabbit, to start switching the arms of your Snake back into the correct position BE CAREFUL because the BB Arm Swap can be; A possible risky (costly) operation… Luckily this subject has been discussed on the Beastformers Blog so check out that post in order to swap the arms of your Snake without problems.
Hands up (showing the round mold marks on the BACK where they belong)
This episode of the Beastformers Stories series showed that even the simplest looking question about Battle Beasts, or in this case about a specific Beast, shows that the line continues to surprise us and that new finds, information and insights can still result into a change of perspective. Reason enough to keep asking and wondering because not always the reveal of a Myth is needed in order to surprise…