Toychest Time Machine: Fire, Wood, Water… Battle Beasts!

Battle Beasts - AdBattle Beasts (originally called Beastformers) were first released by Takara in Japan and were released in the US by Hasbro in 1987. They featured animal warriors, equipped with heavy armor and unique weapons. The line was relatively short-lived but has a rabid following
today. There’s even been somewhat of a Battle Beast toy and comic reboot this past Summer!

Following the rock, paper, scissors play pattern, kids were encouraged to battle each other by revealing the beast power hidden beneath a heat-sensitive rubsign. Many of us remember the original commercials where one kid would yell “FIRE!” another would yell “WATER!” and then first kid would declare victory by yelling “WATER BEATS FIRE!”

The first three series produced 76 figures in all and featured animals from the extremely cute like Run Amuck Duck to the violently bizarre Cutthroat Cuttlefish. Major changes to the line came with the launch of Series 4, the biggest being that the rubsign was replaced. Now, a mysterious orb took it’s place and when you looked through orb only then would see the clan symbol. The name also changed; Battle Beasts were now called Shadow Beasts (or Laser Beasts in Japan). The weapons got the upgrade as well, instead of hand to hand weapons, the Shadow Beasts brought out the big guns… literally. Every beast had its own firepower and the weapon itself feature characteristics of the animal that held it.

Sadly, Series 4 was the end of the line for these beloved beasts. Only 12 figures ever made it to production in the US while the Japanese market got all 36. However, the nostalgia for this line is at an all-time high and the simple fact is, there just isn’t enough supply to meet the demand. While loose, complete beasts from the first 3 series are in the $10 – $15 range, complete Laser Beasts can go for as much as $175 each. Not bad for a toy nobody wanted a few years back.


Battle Beasts, or Beastformers as they were known in Japan, we’re actually a spin-off of Takara’s Transformers series. In fact, an entire episode of Transformers: Headmasters was focused around the cool creatures. Unfortunately, that episode Rebellion on Planet Beast was never aired here in the states.

Each beast is stamped with a collection number and their corresponding weapon is stamped with that number as well! The rarest of all beasts is undoubtedly the Laser Beast – Skull Grotess. Skull is badass dragon character which was only available as a Japanese Mail Away. Current market value on this figure is in the $400 range!

Battle Beasts - Skull Grotess
The Rare Skull Grotess figure*

*Photo Credit: Toy Archive

Written by Rob Meyer

Hailing from Cincinnati, Ohio (the birthplace of Kenner Toys), illustrator, graphic designer & lifelong collector Rob Meyer has plastic running through his veins.

He still likes showing off his toys and will talk for hours on end about action figure lines most "normal" people have never even heard of. He hopes to one day pass his collection and enthusiasm for the hobby onto his daughter Lydia. And if you're wondering, yes… she was named after the girl from Beetlejuice.

2 posts
  • I only had a couple of these when I was a kid. I was more of a M.U.S.C.L.E. toy collector growning up.

  • I had a few of both. And some of the hologram Super Naturals. Come to think of it, I think I got most of these gimmicky toys. Still want to…

  • I thought of Battle Beasts the first time I saw the Skylanders figures and video game.

  • Personally, I’d love to see a M.U.S.C.L.E. x Battle Beast x Monster in the Pocket crossover. 😀

    • I used to say that a lot back when. I really enjoyed the small scale figurines. I had a good many of these guys as well as the others you listed. Monsters in my pocket were more than likely my favorite line up.

      However I had a few smaller guys that were wrestler based like the M.U.S.C.L.E , slightly larger with a mash of Toxic Avenger / Madballs styled heads. No Idea what toy line they are.

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