A few weeks ago, I reviewed Diamond Select’s Battle Beasts revival. That one actually got some attention, including a response from Zach, one of DST’s reps. It got some feedback from MiniMate fans, too, both positive and negative. And I more-or-less promised to take a look at the Toys R Us exclusive Battle Beast MiniMates, and possibly revise my opinion if they show enough improvement. And again, I have to stress that I do not hate MiniMates or the MiniMate concept. I only own a few (aside from these), but I like most of the ones I do have.
So, some background: The Battle Beasts I reviewed before are comic shop-exclusive, just like most/a decent amount of MIniMates. There is another set exclusive to Toys R Us, made up mostly of repaints of series 1, but with two new figures – instead of those humans, we’ve got two other Beasts! Yes, this is a gigantic improvement. In my opinion. Remember my comment? I’m not totally against human figures in the line (especially since they are significant characters in the comic), but I would have preferred they not be in its inaugural wave. Anyway, I picked up two of the TRU 2-packs – if they turned out terrible, I wouldn’t feel so much buyer’s remorse. And if they happened to be very good, I can always go back and snag some more. I bought the Merk and Spidron pack – interesting how Merk’s repaint is still Merk, but Fenruk’s is a new character – and the one with the two new guys, Antalor and Nychirix. So, let’s have a look at these folks!
Merk and Spidron have the same sculpts as they did in the other series. I still take issue with Merk’s wing placement, and I still love Spidron/Fenruk’s sculpt. Nothing different there.
But the stars of the TRU set is in this other pack, with MOOSE AND SQUIRREL. Erm, I mean… MOOSE AND BAT. Antalor is a moose! He’s a hero, whereas Nychirix, the bat, is a bad guy. Because snakes and spiders and bats are always bad and are never pleasant pets even though they are. I would really like to see som e”scary” animals made as good guys some time – this isn’t a complaint against the battle Beasts, though, since everybody does it.
Antalor is a pretty big dude, roughly on par with Gruntos the Walrus in size – he’s not quite as big, but his size is apportioned slightly differently. His body cover puts his neck peg on a different spot than most MiniMates, and his legs are unguligrade, which also helps differentiate him from your standard MiniMate body. The look is much more cohesive than, say, Gruntos, though it’s still a little blocky. But they did a good job with this guy.
Nychirix is much blockier than Antalor, and it shows mostly in his midriff – his torso piece does not cover his whole body, which kind of makes him look a little awkward compared to his buddies. It’s not a big issue, but it’s there. His wings are placed much better than Merk’s, starting a little further down from his hands. This means that he can hold his weapons, unlike the bird – good job, there. Of course, the side effect is that his arms are really long and somewhat awkward, but that works. He’s a bat, his wing-arms will be weird. He’s got a great head, too.
Generally speaking, the TRU MiniMates are better-painted than their comic shop brethren. They use slightly more vivid colors, and include metal apps for things like weapons. The paint is also less thick and gloopy, and I noticed that you can see details on characters like Vorin or Strictus, who were blobbed-over in the regular series.
For example, Merk’s got deeper blues and actual gold bands on his costume. It genuinely makes him look a little better, though his paint wasn’t really a problem I had with the original figure.
Spidron is very different from Fenruk – he’s got deep, earthy orange and gold over a darker shade of brown. It’s less like a real spider than Fenruk, but it’s a good color combination, so no complaints here. Hilariously, some of the silver on his axe rubbed off on his abdomen when I tried to plug it in. Weird, that.
Antalor is painted a lot like the figures in the Comic series. That’s not bad, either – and since his paint isn’t all thick and terrible, it doesn’t obscure the details of his sculpt.
Nychirix is brighter than what most people would assume for a bat, but that matches a lot of real-world bats. Again, I really have no complaints about the guy. Good color combination and detailing, and it doesn’t harm the sculpt too much.
You know, the big issue will be how Merk and SPidron stand up against the other versions… in quality control! They’ve got the same articulation as before, otherwise.
Antalor has standard articulation, and decent freedom of movement. His arms feel a little restricted, and you have to watch his legs, but that’s not too bad. It’s just not terribly fantastic, either. It’s a little better than most Battle Beast MiniMates, though, so I’ll give it that.
Due to his wings, Nychirix’s arms are a little awkward. It’svery easy to pull them apart at the elbow by accident, so you need to watch that. Also, I am not sure if his jaw moves or not – if it does, then it’s painted shut in mine. if not, then I’m glad I didn’t stress it too much.
Both Merk and Spidron come with the same stuff. Merk can only hold weapons if they don’t exctend past his hand, so his combining staff is pretty useless. His little throwing knives are even a little awkward! The new metallic paint is good for them, though, and they look fine stowed on his person. Spidron’s axes are too awkward to properly hold, but they’re also good attached to his body.
Antalor is the big winner of the Battle Beasts, accessory-wise. He’s got a huge axe, a smaller knife in a shield, and a horn he can blow on! The Horn of Gondor? An Israeli Shofar? A Viking horn? Whatever it is, it’s a great little accessory… just with one flaw. He can only hold it by using its side peg, not the horn itself. The axe has the same problem – it’s too big for Antalor’s hands, so he has to use the peg that attaches it to his back. But other than that, it’s good. Kind of odd how they didn’t open his hands a little more, though.
Nychirix comes with an ornate bat-wing knife and a three-bladed throwing star. Nice! Both weapons are unique, cool, and he can hold them well. But again, there’s just ooooooone little flaw. All the other Battle Beast weapons have little pegs and connect via holes on the figure’s bodies. Nychirix’s weapons have holes and connect to his belt via pegs. This means that he can’t swap weapons with anybody else – his toys are his own, and he’s greedy. It’s a little too bad, because I’d have loved to see that throwing star with Fenruk/Spidron. I wonder why they made that design choice.
QUALITY CONTROL: **
Merk is exactly the same. Moving on…
Spidron is the first big test. See, Fenruk was my favorite Battle Beast design, but he was so plagued by loose joints, joints that wouldn’t stay together, and stuck joints that it was ruined. See, the toy can’t stand under his own power – he droops and then collapses or faceplants. This is terrible. A child won’t enjoy the toy because he can’t play with it. An adult won’t because he can’t display it. It’s FRUSTRATING! So, I was looking forward to see how Spidron held up…
…And he’s almost as bad. Two of Spidron’s legs are so loose that they swing freely when I pick him up. One of them falls off if I tilt him. Strangely enough, I can get him to stand for short-to-moderate periods of time in a few decent poses, and I can get him to stay standing if I bunch his legs together and put all hisd weight on the sturdy two legs. But it’s a real pity - note the above picture. See how Fenruk has faceplanted and SPidron has collapsed? one of Spidron’s legs actually fell off just from the basic stress of standing up. It’s really a shame that an awesome toy has such problems, at least twice in a row. Readers, sound off – do I just have super bad luck? Or are these toys that you have to fix before they are decent? And yes, I am aware that you can “fix” the joints by rubbing superglue in there and waiting for it to dry to thicken the plastic a bit. I’d rather they just use better PVC, though. Lots of stuff in this scale can have decent articulation, so it doesn’t have to be this way!
So, what about MOOSE AND SQUIRREL? Nychirix is fine – nothing stuck, nothing overly loose, and the times I accidentally pulled his arms apart haven’t hurt him in the slightest. Good for him, and kudos to DST for actually making a decent Battle Beast MiniMate.
For the most part, Antalor is fine. No joints are stuck, at least, and his legs aren’t too loose. But then we get to his wrists – both wrists are totally loose, to the point that I can’t move him without them falling off. See these photos I took for him? at least half of the posing time was spent tracking down his hands from the floor. It’s kind of sad that such a great figure is marred by this.
Same as the last set. My TRU charged $10 because they are meaniepants, but MOST of them charge $7.50. Not bad, all things considered.
It’s just so frustrating! These guys are beter-painted, and the two newbies are awesome figures. But again, quality control is where the Battle Beasts really fail. I have lots of compliments for the new guys, but Antalor’s hands are hilariously loose. And the big issue is Spidron – Fenruk was a huge disappointment before because of his quality control, and SPidron is just as bad. I like the spiders, but I can’t really do anythign with them except keep them in a spare parts box. That’s the thing – they’re so close to being great toys, but then the quality control ruins them. It’s like the incredible Crash Dummies figures (remember htose/). They had a great action feature, but they broke themselves when you used it. Things like that ruin a toy.
I know this isn’t Zach’s fault. In fact, any problems are mostly the factory’s fault. There should be better testing and quality control of these pieces, and I really hope that DST improves in the Battle Beasts for series 2.
WHERE TO BUY:
Toys R Us. And these are a little better than the other series, but do beware the quality control. please.