Series one of the new Battle Beasts Minimates line has finally been unleashed upon an unsuspecting world, and thanks to the crew at Diamond Select Toys I was able to get my paws on the complete set. For those not in the know, this latest take on the Battle Beasts name represents a joint effort between Diamond and IDW Publishing. The brilliant Bobby Curnow-penned comic mini-series may have come to a conclusion, but now you can continue the ferocious saga on your own.
This first series is represented by four separate two-packs, each featuring exquisitely detailed characters with specialized weapons and accessories. The packaging itself is also quick to point out the mix-and-match element of Minimate design, which makes it easy to customize your own super-Beast from your favorite components.
Vorin the ram, heroic leader of the human-allied Battle Beast minority, is paired with vile Vachonus the scorpion, and both represent designs that easily set them apart from your run-of-the-mill Minimates. While the Vorin mold seems mostly unchanged from earlier iterations like the SDCC exclusive, the half-cape covering his left shoulder has been noticeably scaled back and the new black, red and orange color scheme really stands out. Vachonus looks just as good with his menacing pincers and multiply segmented lower legs. The removable stinger is attached via a ball socket, which adds some cool maneuverability and the only off element is the bundled accessories. In addition to Vorin’s sword, sheath and shield, mine also came with some rather wicked looking axes that don’t exactly fit into scorpion claws and
what appears to be an extra set of arms that fit neither figure an extra set of arms that require a little elbow grease to install on the ram.
The Merk the falcon and Fenruk the tarantula set follows suits with Merk’s matte finish and two-piece wing design making for a truly handsome toy. Fenruk is understandably packaged disassembled, but once you get him put together he’s a towering nightmare of an arachnid. Sadly, Merk’s weapons neither fit comfortably in his hands nor snap correctly into his combat vest. Further, his helmet – which is really more of a cowl – simply will not stay in place.
This same modular design flaw exists in the Gruntos/Tate Reynolds two-pack. While human protagonist Tate looks just as slick as similar Minimates and comes with more than his fair share of accessories (including one half of the powerful gauntlets known to comic book readers as the Dread Weapons), the walrus fig looks great until you actually touch it. The issue is with his over-sized boots; the character’s upper legs simply rest inside the recessed opening rather than snapping securely together like most toys.
Rounding out series one is another human/Battle Beast twofer featuring Tate’s sister Bliss, the linguist whose unique talents actually summon the Beasts to Earth, and Strictus the rattlesnake. Bliss comes with the second gauntlet as well as a stand and additional swappable arm segments, but the rattler is the true conversation piece. Though he boasts significantly fewer components and points of articulation, his coiled lower body and scalemail chest plate take Minimate designs to new heights.
There’s a lot to love about this initial offering from the new Battle Beasts lines. The characters are all very well detailed, and even the blocky human members of the cast somehow manage fit in well with the overall series aesthetic. The problem, as is often the case with Minimates, is that they look much better than they play. These will make a great addition to your toy shelf or work desk diorama, but don’t expect to bust ’em out with your kids around unless you’re prepared to lose some pieces.
As an addendum to any classic toy nerds currently railing against the idea that any action figure without a rub sign can possibly be considered a true Battle Beast, I’ll direct your attention to Takara’s new Beast Saga line. While these little monsters feature removable game dice instead of the classic wood/fire/water decals, they are likely much more tonic to the original Beastformers revealed in that fateful episode of the Headmasters series way back in 1987. For those of us less frightened by innovative reinvention, however, this new domestic flavor of Battle Beasts from Diamond Select puts a great spin on the classic name.
Review materials provided by: Diamond Select Toys