Heroic Beasts

Striped Tail Battle Cat in the wild

I’ve written about the striped tailed Battle Cat fairly extensively in my posts about Battle Cat and the early MOTU production run. I thought I’d post a quick update. An eagle-eyed friend (the person who runs the Lords of Power Facebook page) spotted this picture on Instagram, posted by Patrick Strange:

Image courtesy of Patrick Strange. Although you can’t see Battle Cat’s tail, you can see that he is painted orange around the mouth, a feature of the striped tail Battle Cat variant.

This appears to be from Christmas 1982. In this photo we see the first known example of a striped tail Battle Cat in the hands of a consumer (outside of adult collectors, of course). Because the variant had never been spotted in packaging, the prevailing assumption was that it was only produced for use in catalog photography, where we see several examples. Indeed, some examples were sold directly to collectors by former Mattel employees.

Now it’s apparent that at least some of these were sold in stores. It seems to be rarer than even the rare blue beard Stratos variant given how infrequently it seems to pop up, but not as rare as the green-eyed Teela variant.

This version matches the color scheme of the original hand-painted prototype. Distinguishing characteristics include:

  • Striped tail
  • Orange around the mouth
  • Teeth painted white front and back
  • Stripes crisscross over part line on back
  • Longer, rough-looking stripes on the left shoulder
  • Extra stripe on right front leg
  • Marked “© Mattel, Inc. 1976 Taiwan” on inner right rear leg
  • White dots in eyes
  • Marked “1” underneath saddle and helmet
  • Textured “fur”

The orange lines on this cat match the black lines on the original Big Jim Tiger the figure is based on. It also has finely textured fur (difficult to see unless it’s in hand), again like the Big Jim Tiger.

Enlarged to show texture!
Big Jim Tiger

And here are some examples of the striped tail variant in vintage catalogs: