Battle Beasts (Hasbro)
For those true children of the 80's, Battle Beasts should ring a bell. They were small one inch tall figures released by Hasbro in 1986. Each Beast had a heat sensitive sticker on their chest. When rubbed, it would reveal if the Battle Beast was Fire, Wood or Water. It was advertised that fire Beasts could beat wood Beasts, wood Beasts could beat water Beasts, and water Beasts could beat fire beasts.
Between 1986 and 1987 Hasbro released a total of 76 different Battle Beasts over three separate series. This started with Pirate Lion (#1) in series one, and ending with Ossified Orangutan (#76) in series three. The series also spawned a handful of sub series, but most were never released in the United States.
The series originate in Japan, and was initially a tie in to Transformers. Some of the characters from Battle Beasts even made appearances in the Japanese Transformers Head Masters TV show. However, the two were never associated in the United States.
For the first and second series, the figures came packed in random two packs on bubble cards. This made collecting a full set incredibly difficult to do, while at the same time avoiding duplicates.
The first Series of Battle Beasts contained 28 figures. Each figure was individually numbered on its back, and carried a unique weapon which ranged in color from silver, to bronze to grey. However, the names of the characters were anything but unique, and were often times as uncreative and cliché to the character they were attached to.
Series one include; Pirate Lion, Deer Stalker, Ferocious Tiger, Colonel Bird, Killer, Carp, Triple Threat Snake, Horny Toad, Sledge Hammer Elephant, Rocky Rhino, Roamin’ Buffalo, Grizzy Bear, Blitzkrieg Bat, Gargantuan Gorilla, Swiny Boar, Gruesome Gator, Sly Fox, Hardtop Tortise, Rubberneck Giraffe, Prickly Porcupine, Sawtooth Shark, Danger Dog, Hare Razing Rabbit, Sir Sire Horse, War Weasel, Bloodthirsty Bison, Bighorn Sheep, Webslinger Spider, and Crusty Crab.
The second Series of Battle Beasts contained 24 figures. These came out towards the beginning of 1987. Like the first series, each figure was individually numbered (picking up where series one ended) and carried a unique weapon which ranged from gold to bronze colored. Towards the end of the series, the newer figures were updated with new artwork on their chestplate symbols.
Series two included; Icky Iquana, Armored Armadillo, Jaded Jag, Humungous Hippo, Major Moose, Delta Chameleon, Kickback Kangaroo, Octillion Octopus, Wolfgang Walrus, Powerhouse Mouse, Dragoon Raccoon, Antic Anteater, Run Amuk Duck, Minder Mole, Cutthroat Cuttlefish, Eager Beaver, Slasher Sea Horse, Knight Owl, Hunchback Camel, Pillaging Polar Bear, Squire Squirrel, Sabre Sword Tiger, Bludgeoning Bulldog, and Pew-Trid Skunk. As you can see, the names didn't get any better either.
Series two also began the promotion of the Sunburst Warriors. Essentially what it came down to was randomly packed figures that had a new symbol on their chest that was incorporated in the element system. This new warrior was capable of defeating any of the three elements of the other beasts. Rather than produce new figures, Hasbro simply slapped this symbol on prior released figures. The tactic was completely random, and it's difficult, if not impossible, to say just how many different figures received this new symbol.
When series three was produced, Hasbro ceased releasing the figures in two packs, and went for the more direct approach to parent's wallets. Now available as only eight packs (still randomly packed), the figures were highly overpriced (at the time), and the toys saw little movement in sales.
This final "official" Battle Beast series came out during the middle of 1987 and ran through the fall season. A total of 24 figures were released in the third series, each with the same attributes as their predecessors.
The series included; Panzer Panda, Leapin’ Lizard, Killer Koala, Tarsier Tyrant, Black Panther, Torrential Tapir, King Cobra, Manic Mandrill, Pixilated Pointer, Pillager Pig, Rowdy Rooster, Musky Ox, Tangin’ Pangolin, Slowpoke Sloth, Ardent Aardvark, Bodacious Bovine, Zealot Zebra, Harrier Hawk, Diving Duckbill, Crooked Crow, Frenzied Flamingo, Fleet-Footed Antelope, Pugnacious Penguin, and Ossified Orangutan.
Shortly after series three the name "Battle Beasts" was dropped (in Japan) and replaced with Laser Beasts (known as Battle Beasts: Shadow Warriors in America). The figures were also revamped removing the heat sensitive stickers and replacing them with orbs which depicted each individual figures power. Only ten figures from the Laser Beast series ever hit store shelves in the United States, and shortly afterwards, the series fizzled away into the deep, dark pit known as 80's retro.
While numerous vehicles and playsets were produced throughout the entire line, very few saw release on US shores. Out of almost a dozen Battling Chariots produced, only three saw a release in the USA; Battling Big Horn, Battling Deer Stalker, and Battling Tearin' Tiger.
Much like the figures, these were released on bubble cards, but contained a new background for the logo. The words, "Battle Chariot" were also present underneath the logo.
These chariots are incredibly difficult to find these days in mint in package condition. In fact, we dare say it's next to impossible.
While they're considered playsets, these next three toys actually closer resemble the Battle Chariots.
The Shocking Shark Transport Station, Blazing Eagle Transport Station, and Wood Beetle Transport Station each came packaged in a cardboard box, and contained a unique figure.
Like the Chariots, one was released (in the USA) to represent each element.
The final item to hit US shores was the Bandolier, which was more of a make shift carry case for the figures. It was a relatively unpopular item at the time, and today is a pretty common item on secondary markets.
Opened ones can fetch anywhere from ten to twenty dollars, and mint in box ones don't go for all that much more.
Battle Beasts were somewhat hot for their time. The line certainly had a unique marketing approach by means of not necessarily selling the figures based on who they were, but rather on the secret identity of their powers which could only be identified by purchasing and opening the package. I suppose the lure was more from curiosity as opposed to desire.
While it may not be remembered by many today, it's certain that there are still collector's out there looking to complete their sets from their childhood, or simply rebuild them from scratch. A two pack can fetch as much as one hundred to two hundred dollars depending on the figures inside. That's a considerable mark up from the original retail price which ranged from eighty-nine cents to a dollar fifty depending on the store you went to.
For all you Battle Beast collector's out there, you have an expensive journey ahead of you, and a tough on too. We salute you for your efforts!
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