How the heck did I miss these? Battle Beasts Ruminant and Spyrnus snuck out a few years after the last/first Battle Beasts Minimates, a short-lived line that I assume only got another release to keep the trademark in Diamond's hands and out of Hasbro's. I was genuinely shocked to see these at Toys R Us, so I bought them on sight - as luck would have it, they were also on clearance. Upon further investigation we've sold them at where I work for quite some time but I had no idea. I assume that's not a good sign when someone who desperately wants to buy anything with "Battle Beasts" on the box has no idea that they exist, and since they were never on the front of the pegs at Toys R Us until May of 2017 I had no idea they were a thing I could buy. They're good - a whole second series was shown At Comic-Con in 2013 but didn't make it out. That's part of what made this even more surprising, but good on Diamond Select Toys for having the thought of getting something out of its design investment and releasing them anyway. Even if it was ultimately to what was clearly a dud of a reception from fans and would-have-liked-to-have-supported-it fans.
The revived brand pretty much abandoned the original Hasbro/Takara aesthetic after its crocodilian promotional figures, much to my dismay. TakaraTomy did its own Beast Saga line alongside Onell Design's Glyos Armorvor figure, and a fun little secret was that Hasbro also had some 21st century designs on the brand which you have not and likely will not ever see.
Ruminant is this line's giraffe, a creature that seems to be almost required in any format of beastly toy. Hasbro had one in its original line, and Takara-Tomy had one in its reboot. The arms have the giraffe patterns painted on them, as do the legs. He's got gloves and boots, shoulder and neck armor, plus a swell spear. The head sculpt is sufficiently giraffe-ish, and seems to abandon the can-shaped heads that the line typically uses. The Giraffe noggin fits right on the ball peg on the neck, with shoulder armor sitting between it and the expertly-painted body. His black eyes may distract you from the painted antlers and ears, or the mane on the back. The back of his neck also has a clip on it for weapon or shield storage. Interestingly, I can't find any evidence of this one being shown at a convention or other event a few years ago - his companion was previewed, however.
With the stand, Ruminant has no problems standing upright or hanging on to his weapon. It's also much larger than his hands, so you're going to bend them open a bit if he carries his spear. The amount of deco and sculpting on this figure are really nice, plus the hooves are an added bonus. They didn't cut corners here.
His companion Spyrnus was previewed a few years ago at Comic-Con, easily being the coolest on display and sadly disappearing until the release a few years later. He has traditional Minimates arms, but the basic buck is almost completely covered by new bits. The body is covered in a big armor piece that's basically an entire hammerhead shark. The head can't turn, but you'll see a dorsal fin and tail hanging off the back. He has cold, black eyes plus tons of sharp teeth. Sculpted gills on his neck are subtle, with not-so-subtle gold armor that has an air of Aquaman to it.
My wrists don't seem to want to swivel, but it's a really nice figure overall. The taloned feet are a clever idea, and I love how generally sharky it looks. It has a good amount of personality, but most of that comes from the sculpt itself. The pose is slightly hindered by armor and other design elements. As an added bonus, the trident has a peg on it which fits tightly in the holes on the figure's back. Diamond thought of pretty much everything here.
I still hold out hope that the axis of Hasbro and TakaraTomy will revive the Battle Beasts/Beastformers format under the Transformers imprint, but wishing is for chumps and high-hoping is for fools. This may well be the last non-redeco figure set we ever get under the brand unless Diamond deems it worthy to make another new 2-pack in 3 years to hold on to the trademark. Despite the almost complete and immediate inability for any of the tiny animals in armor to make an impact at retail, you may be amused to hear that Diamond's like is the longest-running toy series in this genre. (I would argue Legends of Chima from LEGO would be the most successful.) The first promotional figure hit in February of 2010, and the final (so far) figure is this 2-pack which shipped in 2016. That's at least six years, and the original Hasbro line lasted about one in the USA. The fact that I discovered this item on clearance speaks volumes to the need of marketing beyond a comic book or the cover of Diamond Previews magazine, as the nostalgia for the barely-related 1980s toy brand can't help you if your customers don't know your product came out. These are gorgeous figures, so if you see them (especially on clearance) do yourself a favor and skip the super size combo at lunch for a regular, and get them. I got mine for under four bucks and they're worth at least twice that.
It's a shame so many of us missed out on this set. But at least if you can find it, it might be cheap. Best of luck to you.
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