There are few lines I was anticipating as much as the Battle Beasts revival, particularly after the long wait. My readers know I love Battle Beasts and was on board with the Minimates concept since day 1. Gruntos the Walrus & Tate Reynolds were a long time coming, and I nagged the ever-living daylights out of the very nice and patient people at Diamond Select Toys pretty much since that Gator came out 3 years ago last month. This set is almost a thing of beauty, but a good factory can make something great, and sometimes the end result is what you asked for, sort of, but just a tiny bit off enough to cause play problems. I wrote this about a month ago so I could sit on it and edit it because I really do like the designs, as they're attractive little toys and the packaging looks good. When you open them, you're going to have to do some fidgeting... a few of the pieces don't quite fit together out of the box without extra help (and/or brute force.) You'll get a ton of parts and gear, so there's a few items you'll want to keep out to play with and a few others which will go into your accessories bin.
After having bought/tracked down/begged for the 4 Gators, 6 Vorins (including one at great expense), and a Zik, you can bet I was thrilled to see an updated Walrus. Who doesn't love a nice Walrus toy? Gruntos has a big beefy sculpt with tons of new parts, with arm, leg, foot, hand, and body pieces covering up the fact there's a Minimates body under there. Were it not for the visible elbow joints, you might not even realize it was under there. The head resembles the comic with a cracked tusk, old-school yellow eyes, a little scarring, and some generally cute walrus wrinkle detailing. There's even a painted walrus torso under the armor with tattoos! The flesh color of the figure is painted-over flesh plastic, which gives the figure a different texture and a more expensive feel. (And I'm sure it cost Diamond a little more.)
The armor is both futuristic and a throwback to barbarians, with gloves and boots plus what must be the intergalactic equivalent of a loincloth. The designers even put holes in the figure's back so he can stow his weapons, and the fists are big enough so that they have no problems gripping the exquisitely detailed big axe and hammer. A customizer, with a little paint, could make them truly sing. So as far as the figure looks, untouched, he's really nice.
Quality control is a big deal here, and the more things you try to do, the more opportunities you have for things to not work There are many paint applications, but my sample has a few big "dents" on the left hand which make it look slightly older. If you turn the head (a cleverly-designed "hat" for a Minimates head) it will come off pretty easily. The body keeps splitting apart at the waist joint, and the lower clothing and upper clothing don't mesh together too well. If you twist him at the waist joint, he starts coming apart, exposing just how many pieces were used to create this figure. It's painfully obvious Diamond took their time and had a lot of people thinking this one out, but the figure isn't as stable as previous Minimates I've bought. The arms, hips, elbows, and knees move fairly freely on mine and the wrists swivel, although they do have a habit of popping off. (This is true of many other beasts in this first wave so far.) As such, I like it but I don't know that I'll be giving him a lot of time outside the toy shelves.
Paired with the IDW comic character Tate Reynolds, the human has a ton of accessories. Tate's hat can be swapped with hair, his jacket is removable revealing a long-sleeved shirt underneath. And Diamond included the alternate arms - they didn't cheap out at all here! The figure also sports a skateboard, backpack, clear display stand, and a Dread Weapon hand with energy blast. The blocky figure detailing is excellent, with white soles on the sneakers plus detailing on the sides.
He falls short with his accessory interaction. For example, the feet are painted and the paint makes the foot holes too tight to fit on the LEGO-sized stud on the skateboard or the display stand without a bit of force. Even then, it doesn't really feel like a good fit. The skateboard itself can be held in his hand (awesome) and has rolling wheels (impressive) but the wheels fall out if you so much as touch them (erg). The backpack can fit over one shoulder, plus there's a peg to fit into the jacket that's a tight fit, but if you can get it in there it's pretty stable. There's a lot going on here, and the designers did a great job, but the execution at the factory falls a little short as toy-ness goes.
The swappable arms on Tate (and Bliss) were manufactured with holes that snap on to pegs on the torso. The problem is that the factory made the holes so that they closed too small-- it's next to impossible to stretch them over the shoulder pegs. There is a cheap, quick, and easy fix! Just dip the hole in boiling water for about 5-7 seconds. (Don't burn your hands!) This will soften the plastic up just a bit so it will stretch over the pegs, fitting easily and then cooling in the new, desired shape so you can easily change them out later. Most Minimates figures I've had don't have swappable bonus arms, so I haven't had this problem before, but be aware that boiling water really does help solve quite a few piece interaction problems.
His Dread Weapon is a golden glove with yellow highlights, plus a big plastic yellow energy blast. It's so heavy that it makes it difficult for the figure to stand up, so that's why you've got the clear disc display stand (of which I think Diamond should bag and sell by the dozen, it's good for other figures and bless their hearts for including it here.) It's somewhat difficult getting the energy blast to peg into the hand, and it doesn't take much to get it to fall out. Like the foot holes, a thin layer of gold paint in the glove seems to be the problem. Were it molded in color, it seems like it would be perfectly fine... but a painted weapon hand looks a lot cooler.
Both figures may, oddly enough, have benefitted from less in the way of deco so that the pieces cold hold together slightly better - Diamond put a lot of money into these, and you can see it, too. They look gorgeous and as display pieces, they're going to rule over my Battle Beasts closet. It's obvious the designers were aiming to crank out something really special, as pretty much any feature I could have asked for can be found here. If you're a hardcore fan of this brand in any capacity, there's no need to read reviews. You have to buy it to see it up-close. If you're on the fence, buy one or two sets and go from there. Oh, and definitely get those promo alligators. Those things are still pretty awesome.
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