“Fire BURN Water! No. Wait.”
That was my friend Gene and me screwing up the ad for Battle Beasts.
These little guys had the gimmick that each one had a heat-sensitive sticker on it that, when warmed, revealed which faction it belonged to: Fire, Water, or Wood. Fire beat Wood, Wood beat Water, Water beat Fire, in an eternal cycle of combat. This is a pretty neat idea on the surface, but what kid wants these battles to be concluded without prolonged violence?
I was too old for Battle Beasts when they came out in the late 80s, but I loved the designs. Look at these guys! The paint jobs are great, they all have character, and their tech had that Japanese look that was so intriguing at the time. Also they were cheap. They were probably my first foray into collecting (buying) toys without the intention of playing with them.
This is not to say that I didn’t have favorites. Although there was apparently some kind of extended backstory behind these guys, I didn’t know or care about it, I just picked who were good guys and who were bad guys. I believe the good guys were led by the fox in the white armor (middle row, second from left) and the bad guys by the shark (far right, front row). There wasn’t much to this classification; they pretty much just stood on a shelf.
They came in packs of two, which might explain why I have two of the dog on the far right of the back row. I guess he was pack with two different guys, one of whom I really wanted. I say I “collected” them, but unless I had more than these few that have wandered I didn’t stick with it for long.
I’m kind of surprised there hasn’t been a gritty remake of these guys, or foot-tall versions of them for nostalgic fanboys with a lot of extra cash.
When did I get it? Wikipedia says they came out in ’86 in Japan, and somewhere else says they also came out in America at the same time. This sounds reasonable, though I probably got them closer to ’87.
Do I still have it? Yep, they were among the few things that got rescued from the Big Nerd Box. I even have some of the crazy plastic weapons they came with, though I don’t know which one goes with whom.