We got to see a lot of cool toys in the 90s, but one of my favorites was and will always be War Planets. They’re planets at war with each other, so the name is very apt.
I don’t remember if there was too much of a story attributed to the toys, but I know that there are several different planets fighting for survival against the Beast Planet, a somewhat sentient planet that went through the cosmos consuming other planets.
They even worked that gimmick into the toys so that the Beast Planet could snatch up the other ones. Like many toys, they made the “bad guys” so much cooler than the rebels, but all the War Planets were neat in their own way.
That’s why I’m taking some time to check out some of these awesome toys to remind you of what we had or what you missed out on! We’re also going to take a look at the TV show that followed!
The War Planets Original Toys
When the War Planets toy line was first launched in 1997, the planets were sold individually. You had to collect them by visiting your local toy store and hoping they had it in stock. I was immediately drawn to the Planet Ice because it had a cool look, but I really wanted the expensive Beast Planet.
All of the original planets (listed below) came with a trading card that rated the features of the individual planet so you knew its strengths and weaknesses. The card would reveal the planet’s special features, tell you a little about its fight against Beast Planet, and then outline how strong it was in specific parts like drones, heroes, tanks, and more.
Here’s a solid example of a card:
Every planet had a unique design that set it apart from the others. You would take a piece off the planet or entirely open it up to reveal the planet’s warriors and special weapons inside. That made the toys a bit cooler and easy to store.
Take a quick look at some of these original planets.
By the way, these toys were about the size of an orange. Or a baseball. Whatever works for you.
Beast Planet is what the Death Star has nightmares about. That’s the big daddy right there. Beast Planet was a Machiavellian villain floating through space and consuming other planets. No tragic backstory. It’s just bad for the sake of being bad, and I like that kind of simplicity in my villains.
This was the biggest War Planets toy, and that nifty claw there could extend out, snatch any of the other toy planets, and then hold it inside. The inside of the planet would light up, too. The Beast Planet had the intimidation factor working for it as well. The starting fleet of subordinates was the largest and deadliest-looking, and the two missiles helped, too.
The toy was the most fun to play with when you had other planets, but it made you want to root for the bad guy.
Next up is Planet Rock, and this one was a fan favorite for a few reasons. First off, it looked cool with the Death Star-esque laser weapon on the front (even if it didn’t fire). Also, this planet might have had the very best support characters of all the toys.
Warriors, tanks, and a cool portable laser cannon were included in the set. The coolest part of this planet was that Planet Rock was one of the War Planets that got Battle Moons (called Generator Moons in the original commercial).
These were smaller add-ons that could make the planet bigger and more dangerous. If I remember correctly, though, those Battle Moons came out closer to the time the TV show came out. The moons could be mounted on top of the planet, and it made rock the biggest, baddest hero planet. These two moons were called Rock Moon Alpha and Rock Moon Omega.
Planet Fire had so much potential to be cool, but I think Trendsetters went in the wrong direction with this one. The whole concept behind this planet is that it can shed its surface and go into battle mode.
To me, seeing that idea in action was interesting precisely one time. Then it got more annoying than anything as you have to make sure you don’t lose one of the pieces comprising the outer shell.
Still, Planet Fire did have some charm with the figurines contained inside. There were fire monsters that would battle your enemies along with humans wielding some arm-mounted rifles. The vehicles were kinda sparse, though. This was probably my least favorite planet, but man it looked cool until you opened it.
Planet Bone’s gimmick didn’t line up with the name for me, but taking a second look at this planet makes me think it’s a lot better than I originally thought.
Planet Bone was an acid green toy that had bendable tentacles mounted on the side that could be used to attack the other planets. It came loaded with different purple monsters, and there was even one that looked like a sandworm.
The tentacle attacking concept is actually a lot more interesting to me now, but it makes me wonder what all of this has to do with the “Planet Bone” title. Either way, the planet would probably be a little more appealing to me if it didn’t look like this.
Planet Bone had accessory moons released later in the year, Bone Moon Alpha and Bone Moon Omega.
As you might imagine, Planet Tek was all about using technology. The planet looks sleek with its silver and blue colors and a texture that suggests it’s a large computer.
The sliding shuttle bay doors on the front of the planet made this an appealing planet. The doors would open to reveal a platform holding a bomber jet (or a surprise toy from another set if you want to mess with your friends).
All the warriors inside the planet are robotic, continuing the technology-heavy theme. Some of them look like an AT-ST from Star Wars, but if you can look past that, then the rest of the toys are cool. They included mobile missile launchers and three large support vehicles.
The way that Planet Tek opens up for battle makes it look bigger, too. That is a major advantage if you wanted to prepare your forces while using the planet as a shield. Tek was another planet I wanted but never got.
Planet Ice was made from translucent blue plastic, and that was basically a siren’s call to me as a child. Translucent plastic toys were peak-1990s for me.
The main weapon for Planet Ice was a missile launcher (freeze ray) that you would mount on top of the planet and fire at enemy soldiers. It may have been overkill, but it was neat.
I am fairly certain that this planet came with the most creatures and warriors of any of the first generation toys. You would have a whole army of little, blue, spidery creatures to invade other planets with.
This planet looked the best in my young eyes, but it didn’t have a cool ability like some of the other planets, and that was a little disappointing. I guess they blew the budget on this planet making it look cool.
Planet Ice had two moons, like Planet Rock. They were also named Alpha and Omega, and they contained more creatures and weapons.
Apparently, not all planets are good. Planet Remora was aligned with Beast Planet and the trading card had it labeled as an Evil Planet as opposed to the Heroic Planets.
Planet Remora kept things surprisingly simple. Part of the planet would open up and reveal a weapons platform with several missile launchers, devilish-looking humanoids, and vehicles.
Planet Remora resembled a baby form of the Beast Planet in some ways. It was a solid black dome without too much in the way of style on it. The characters inside were red and blue, and that was a little surprising because the colors didn’t really suit the planet’s color.
Still, this was a very cool planet if you wanted to play as the bad guys.
War Planets’ Second Wave
War Planets’ popularity resulted in a cartoon show getting the green light, and that necessitated new toys. Not only did we get new Battle Fortresses, new planets, but we got Battle Moons, tanks, and an assortment of other toys.
The only difference is that some of the toys were specifically made for Shadow Raiders, the cartoon, and others were made to go with the first generation of War Planets toys. I’m not particular; if it looked cool, then I was playing with it.
One thing is for certain, though. The Battle Moons were amazing because they could hook up to the existing planets and make them monstrous-looking and cool. Check out the shot of Planet Rock with Battle Moons.
Let’s check out some of the other planets and toys that came out in the second wave.
Second Wave Planets
Super Beast Planet (planned, never implemented)
Beast Planet was supposed to get a fresh coat of silver paint and some more accessories to make it even more powerful. I’m sure the alliance of planets would be thrilled.
This planet had a pretty cool theme to it. As the name suggests, it was a watery planet that opened up to reveal the warriors within. Yet, the cool part is that the planet breaks apart into pieces that you can build into other weapons and cover for your other toys. It was a pretty cool idea.
You probably don’t need to be a genius to figure this one out— it’s a reptile planet. The planet is red and gray, and the style is scaly. It resembles a dragon egg, I guess. It has the fewest pieces of the new set, but they are bulky missile-launching monsters.
Planet Sand has a very interesting design. It uses Ancient Egyptian styles that look amazing. All the monsters inside follow this motif, too. It’s a reddish sand planet that looks like a renovated Planet Rock.
About the Other Planets
My personal knowledge of the planets ends right here in the second generation. I know there were plans to make more, but I don’t know if they ever went into production. Planet Jungle and others were rumored and mentioned in Shadow Raiders, but that’s about all I have for you folks.
Feel free to educate me in the comments, though.
Second Wave Moons
Other moons came out to support the original releases. These added some more firepower for the smaller planets, giving them a better chance against the Beast Planet. Not really, though. Beast Planet is the death bringer; that universe doesn’t stand a chance.
Since it’s very time-consuming to describe what came with each one of these sets, I’ll just show you what they brought to the table. It’s important to note that these came out near the start of Shadow Raiders, so they don’t build onto the other moons.
A few new missile launchers and monsters went to Planet Fire
Bone Planet got a supermoon that was a pyramid missile launcher and a bunch of new minions.
More minions and a bigger tank make Remora even more dangerous.
Planet Tek got a monster turret guy that was dangerously close to being a Transformer.
Beast Tank, Scorpizoid
Like they didn’t need to make Beast Planet stronger or more intimidating. The Beast Tank, Scorpizoid was incredible. It brought new firepower, soldiers, and missile launchers into the fray! I never bought it because it cost more than the planets, but it looked like a lot of fun.
Bone Tank, Bioshredder
This tank looks like an insect when it’s all folded up. Yet, when you open it for battle, this purple and green, scarab-like monster brought a cool, unique tank to the fight along with a bunch of other figures.
Ice Tank, Kryospider
Kryospider wins the award for the worst-looking, coolest-sounding item on this list. This tank was a large, icy spider that folded out with a ton of other figures on it that would pop off. The only downside is that all these figures looked like they had missile launchers, but they weren’t operating ones. That killed the vibe with that tank.
Other tanks and large toys came out with Shadow Raiders. Some of them had a very limited release and others never saw the light of day. Somewhere, in a toy box or attic, these tanks and forgotten planets are gathering dust.
Shadow Raiders: The War Planets Cartoon
The War Planets toys got a cartoon show, too. Well, kinda. It was called Shadow Raiders because the name War Planets was deemed too provocative in Canada where the show was made. So, if you watched Shadow Raiders, then you know a bit about War Planets.
The most impressive part of this cartoon was the graphics. It had CGI graphics, a good cast of voice actors, and a story that is just about as good as you can make it about planets going to war with each other.
In this story, Planet Tek gets massacred right off the bat by the Beast Planet. It is up to the denizens of the four remaining planets in The Cluster to work together to stop it. Each planet has different representatives that you get to know throughout the story.
The show ended on a bit of a cliffhanger in Season 2, with Beast Planet striking a new system of planets (RIP Reptizar) and never answering many of the questions we had about what the heck was going on and why.
I think that’s for the better, though. I like a villain with no backstory or real weaknesses. It’s more menacing. The show was good, but other toys and TV shows flooded the market with talking, catchable monsters. That probably made it hard to capture an audience and get them to buy toys.
War Planets—What Could Have Been
As I was reminiscing over the toys, I couldn’t help but think the makers could have done more with them. Sure, they released a ton of awesome moons and tanks to go with the actual fighting planets, but they could have given the toys a little bit of purpose.
What I mean by that is War Planets come with a bunch of little soldiers and machines to defend the planet. It would not have been too hard to come up with a card game or board game to go along with the toys. That would have provided some way to structure the battles and made buying all the other toys a real treat.
Maybe they could have made it into a turn-based game, given bonuses to each planet, and thrown in some other rules to create a more complete version of War Planets.
I like the idea of having a D&D setup with the planets fighting a long campaign against the Beast Planet. Then again, it sounds like a lot of work for a company that just wants to make some cool toys. A
guy nerd can hope, right?
War Planets was an awesome line of toys that captured my imagination as a kid. While the toys didn’t have rules, I always tried to impose some when I played. Otherwise, Beast Planet was just unstoppable.
The toys had a good run, all things considered. I do kinda wish they would do more with them in the future, but that ship had probably sailed.
Let me know if you remember these toys or have something to add to the story that I forgot. I’m always willing to read the comments and reminisce. Thanks for reading!