The relationship between Hasbro and Takara produced another new exciting line, the Battle Beasts, in 1987. This line featured multiple one-and-a-half-inch tall figures with minimal articulation. Unlike the running trend for more intricate articulation, these beasts could only move their arms at the shoulder joints. Despite this limitation, they had a unique gimmick that would convince fans to collect as many as possible.
The story of the Battle Beasts actually began in Japan, where Takara created a line called BeastFormers. Unlike the American toy line, the BeastFormers was a subline of Takara’s Transformers toy line. Thus, the toys in Japan had either Autobot or Decepticon Symbols. They also had strong connections to the story that Hasbro began with Sunbow and Marvel. Thus, both fractions of the Beast Formers made an appearance in the Transformers Headmasters cartoon in the episode called “Rebellion on Planet Beast”.
In the Japanese continuity, the Beastformers were anthropomorphic animals that donned battle armor. They made their home on Planet Beast, where they lived in peace. However, once the Decepticons made contact with the planet, a fraction led by Alligator sided with them. Meanwhile, those that loved their original peaceful society sided with the Autobots. White Leo then became the leader of the Beastformers that aligned with the Autobots.
Unfortunately, both the connection to the Transformers and the backstory were lost when Hasbro brought the line over to America. Instead, they were only introduced as animal-like warriors that had unique elemental powers. Despite the lack of story, the Battle Beasts had a unique gimmick that encouraged people to collect them all.
Each figure had a rub sign that revealed the type of force they were. In turn, each of these figures had the chance to be one of three units: Fire, Wood, and Water. As Japan loves Janken Pon, which is the equivalent of Rock Paper Scissors, many games and toys use it as a basis. Likewise, the three elements of the Beast Warriors reflected the game. Fire topped wood warriors, who in turn defeated water. Meanwhile, water defeated fire. Each of these figures could potentially have any of the three powers, which increased the line-up from 76 to 228.
The first series of toys offered 28 different warriors that could join the battle. This series featured characters like Pirate Lion, Deer Stalker, Gruesome Gator, Sly Fox, and many more. While these beasts had no affiliation in Hasbro’s version, they had been originally divided between Decepticons and Autobots in Japan. Characters like the Autobot White Leo became the Pirate Lion. Meanwhile, the Decepticon Alligatron was transformed into the Gruesome Gator.
The line continued to release new characters for the following two series. Starting with series 2, a new type of warrior, the Sunburst Warrior, joined the pack. This power allowed them to defeat all of the other powers. This power was extremely rare in Japan. It was even rarer in Hasbro’s Battle Beasts, for it was only ever confirmed on Pirate Leo.
While many of these figures came with weapons, they often were not packaged with their proper weapon. Takara specifically made a point of attaching another figure’s weapon to encourage collectors to seek out more sets.
Then, the fourth series brought significant changes to the toys. In Japan, this series was called the Laser Beasts; however, Hasbro called the fourth series the Shadow Warriors. Beyond the change of name, this series changed the look of the figures as well. Instead of just relying on rub signs, the figures now had a small orb that revealed the power of the beats.
Despite the lack of story behind Hasbro’s Battle Beats, the toy line eventually appeared in a short-lived comic series. In 1988, Blackthorn Publishing introduced the first of four issues of the Battle Beasts comic book. This series had a sudden conclusion when Blackthorn went bankrupt and closed its doors.
The Beastformers returned once more in 2012 when Takara set out to revive the one with the Beast Saga toy line. Announced in 2011, this new series replaced the original elements with land, air, and sea. This revival even gained a Shonen Jump manga and 2013 anime series.
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How to use the Identification Tool to find your action figures and toy lines
Do you have an old-school G1 Transformers toy you are trying to identify? Don’t know the name? No problem! I’ll help you use this identification tool. For example, just type in “jet” in the figure name field and hit search. You’ll see all the Transformers G1 Toys that are jets. Maybe try “car” and select the color “blue” and a list of Transformers matching those results will appear. Maybe you don’t know what the finished vehicle will make, so try searching by “red” only. Did you forget to remove “car”? Now search just the color “red”. Perhaps you know the name, but can’t spell it try “Wheljck” instead of “Wheeljack” and all the Wheeljack characters are listed for you.
We have all the G1 Transformers list of characters in our database. You can search by Transformers name, as well as just line or subgroup. You can identify Transformers that are all red or all the figures that are orange. The Transformers toy list can even be sorted by package type. You can identify which came with a sticker sheet, or which came without instructions. Want to know all the 1984 Transformers toys and none of the others from 1985-1990? No problem, just select the release year from “1984” to “1984”. Perhaps you just want to know the list of G1 Transformers “Autobots”, or just the “Decepticons”, our ID tool can do that.
Mostly we made this so you could see if your action figures were missing some accessories or parts. So you can see that too.
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