This is a question I hear asked a lot in Europe and there’s always surprise when I say “Yes, I sell them!”
The brand is much less recognisable here than it once was to the point at which some people have not even heard of it – for those people, let me get you up to speed and then we’ll explain what’s happened since you last heard about it and why you haven’t been hearing about it since!
What is Beyblade?
To put it as simply as possible, a Beyblade is a spinning top.
The difference between Beyblades and traditional spinning tops is that Beyblade is also a competitive battling game in which two tops are launched simultaneously into an arena and then fight it out until only one is still spinning.
They look cool too.
Beyblade is based on a traditional Japanese toy, the Beigoma and similar toys have existed throughout the world – multiple cultures independently developed some kind of spinning top and they are among the oldest recognisable toys found in archaeological sites.
Similar games have existed before Beyblade too. Gasing pangkah is a Malaysian sport which involves throwing large tops strapped to the user via ropes into a ring and then attempting to knock the opponent’s top out of the ring – I’ve been watching it on YouTube and I’m afraid I don’t really understand what’s going on but it looks cool (check this video out if you’re curious – looks like a lot of fun!)
There was also a similar game simply called Battling Tops that came on the market in the late 60s that was a primitive form of the same concept as Beyblade, not to mention numerous shameless copies of both it and Beyblade that have appeared over the years.
Beyblade first appeared on the market in Japan in the late 90s alongside a manga series and later an animated TV series. Hasbro obtained the rights to distribute the toy outside of Asia in 2002 alongside localised versions of the TV series – this would be my first exposure to it!
For a brief period, they were the must-have toy in the early-mid 2000s and inevitably were banned in schools and playgrounds for being more interesting than school is supposed to be. I amassed a small collection of my favourites and would have regular meetups with friends to battle, trade and discuss the hobby.
Modern Beyblades are similar to their original iteration. They feature various metal weight discs and rubber pieces to absorb shock as well as the game now being somewhat more focused on “bursting” opposing Beyblades (often referred to as Beys) with a points based scoring system that rewards more points should this be achieved.
Beyblades are held together by a series of teeth that click together as the unit is assembled by twisting the bottom and top pieces together. The teeth can separate one at a time as they physically connect with other Beys – should they connect hard enough or often enough, the teeth might be completely separated and a spring inside the Bey will force it apart. This is where the current series, Beyblade Burst, gets its name.
Beyblades are constructed of several different parts depending on which one you have and which system it uses. The current series, Beyblade Burst, features Beys that are constructed of interchangeable parts, meaning that if you own several, you can disassemble and rebuild them with pieces from other Beys to create new combinations that function differently.
The bottom piece, the driver, is the piece that connects with the arena and contains the spring that holds the Bey together. The driver determines how a Bey moves – certain ones will simply spin in place, others will circle the outside of the arena and attack types will dart from the edge to the middle of the arena and back whilst circling. Different drivers have different springs and spring strength too and this can determine how likely a Bey is to burst when attacked.
The next piece is the disc – a piece of metal that weighs the Bey down. The weight of a Bey is considered one of the most important factors in its competitive viability as heavier Beys hit harder and move less when hit. The weight of the disc is not the only factor to take into account as some discs are weighted unevenly and others are shaped for attack or defence – different discs can change the way your Bey behaves beyond simply making it heavier.
The final piece of a standard Burst Bey is the Layer, the brightly coloured and wildly shaped pieces on the top that form half of the locking mechanism and tends to be the piece that will make contact with other Beys – it is also the piece that determines whether a Bey should spin left or right. Attack types tend to have lots of spiky bits protruding outwards to try and knock an opponent off-balance or snag and loosen the locking mechanism. Defense types tend to be smoother and are designed to absorb hits rather than dish them out – some defense types feature an outer layer that rotates freely to mitigate hits and others feature rubber shock absorption parts.
The best part of the hobby is getting several Beyblades and finding a combination that you think is the most powerful. It’s common to play with a “deck” of three Beys and change between rounds so owning several and coming up with the best mix of combinations for different situations can be a great way to enjoy the hobby on your own between games. There are several different “systems” of Burst Beyblades that are varying in their levels of compatibility – most parts are compatible with all other parts but certain layers with special gimmicks are slightly more restrictive in the parts that work with them.
What’s the difference between Hasbro and Takara-Tomy?
Takara-Tomy is the Japanese manufacturer and distributor of Beyblade products in Japan and much of Asia. Youngtoys (previously Sonokong) are the distributors in South Korea and have Beyblades identical to their Japanese counterparts. These are considered the original versions of any Beyblade – they have a solid construction quality and are made of solid, weighty parts. They often have moveable parts and gimmicks as well as a solid locking mechanism.
Hasbro is the manufacturer and distributor for much of the rest of the world but produces Beyblades to their own specification – they sometimes copy the aesthetics of Asian Beyblades but that’s about as far as the similarities go. They tend to be smaller, lighter and cheaper feeling and looking than their Asian equivalents and lack many of the mechanical parts that Asian Beyblades feature. They also don’t lock together with teeth like the Asian versions and fit quite loosely so are more prone to bursting. Where Asian Beyblades feature gimmicks, Hasbro tends to make gimmicks in the Beystadiums (the name for officially licensed Beyblade arenas) they produce instead of the Beyblades.
Hasbro has recently started to produce a “pro series” which are slightly closer to their Asian cousins but are still not as good as the originals and are made of cheaper, lower quality materials.
Are Hasbro and Takara-Tomy Beyblades compatible?
The parts are partially compatible but not completely as the locking mechanism is not the same, however, Hasbro parts are generally quite significantly lower in quality so I would not recommend it. Hasbro and Takara-Tomy Beys can battle against each other but the Takara-Tomy Beys will have an advantage due to being larger and weightier.
Can you still get Beyblades in Europe?
I’m not sure exactly when it happened but it seems that Hasbro no longer actively supplies Beyblade products to Europe and Takara-Tomy is not able to due to the license to distribute here being owned by Hasbro.
However, we have a selection of some of the latest superior Takara-Tomy Beyblades imported from Japan! We even have starter sets that include launchers and a Beystadium that are a great starting point for anyone looking to get into the hobby! Check them out here!
Are Beyblades safe?
Beyblades are spinning pieces of hard plastic and metal. They should always be used sensibly and children should be supervised when using them. Provided you follow the instructions given, Beyblade can be enjoyed safely – just use your common sense and don’t be stupid!
Thanks for reading – if you have any questions about Beyblades, don’t hesitate to ask!