Beast Wars: Transformers (Beasties on YTV, due to YTV discomfort over the name) is a Transformers toyline released by Hasbro between 1995 and 1999, and a full-CG animated television series spawned by it that debuted in 1996. The Emmy Award-winning series was set in the "original" Transformers universe as a sequel to the original series (which was later rebooted by various limited comic book stories from several companies including Dreamwave comics and IDW).
The Beast Wars TV series was produced by Mainframe Entertainment of Canada; its story editors were Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio. All three seasons are currently available on DVD in the USA and other Region 1 territories. In Australia, to coincide with the show's tenth anniversary in 2006, Madman Entertainment released all three seasons in Region 4 format. These boxsets are loaded with 'world exclusive' special features, including commentaries and interviews with the voice talent.
The Production Designer for the show, Clyde Klotz, won an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation in 1997 for his work on Beast Wars.
The leader of the Predacons team is Megatron. He and his forces are a splinter group on the hunt for powerful crystals known as Energon, to be used in a ploy for power and dominance. They do this with the aid of artifacts known as the Golden Disk and Megatron's stolen ship, the Darkside, which is equipped with a transwarp drive. A Maximal exploration ship, the Axalon, led by Optimus Primal, is sent to stop them. Together the ships plunge through a time/space phenomenon created by the transwarp device during their battle in space, and land on a mysterious planet.
The planet is soon found to be rich in deposits of raw Energon, to the point that it proves to be poisonous to both factions' robot forms, forcing the factions to take on alternate organic forms for protection until their robot forms are needed. Thus the robots take on the beast forms of recognizable animals including mammals, birds, dinosaurs, arachnids and insects.
Before crashing, the Axalon deployed its cargo of “stasis pods” containing Maximal protoforms- Transformer robots with vulnerable and undeveloped physical forms, which are left to orbit the planet as an alternative to possible destruction in the initial crash landing. Throughout the series, stasis pods lose altitude and crash-land on the planet, and the Maximals and Predacons race and fight to acquire them, as protoforms acquired by Megatron's forces can be reprogrammed to become Predacons, as is the case with Blackarachnia and Inferno. The stasis pods were used as a plot device to introduce new characters.
Eventually it is discovered that the Transformers have in fact travelled back in time and landed on ancient Earth. Megatron decides to wipe out human civilization (currently a small group of proto-humans living in a single ravine), take control of the previously-crashed Autobot spaceship the Ark and kill the dormant, original Optimus Prime, Optimus Primal's ancestor. This would win the Beast Wars for the Predacons, alter the timeline, prevent the Autobots from being awakened by humanity in 1984 and ultimately defeating the Decepticons, and leave Megatron the ruler of the universe.
The later plot was developed following the discovery of a message made by the original Megatron for any Decepticons who would uncover it within the Golden Disks. The Predacon Megatron would successfully infiltrate the Ark and destroy the original Optimus, but Optimus Primal took the spark of Prime into his own body in order to protect it (which transformed his body into the Optimal Optimus form) while Rhinox and the other Maximals performed vital repairs on Optimus Prime's body. When the repairs were complete, the timeline was restored to its original state.
Many of the plots involved interaction with artifacts from an alien race known as the Vok. These artifacts became a great source of power, especially for Megatron. Activating an alien beacon destroyed what was originally thought to be Earth's second moon but was revealed be a massive alien transmitter. This sent a signal to the aliens. The aliens then decided that the Transformers had contaminated their experiment; they then decided that they would destroy the Earth. Using the second moon they fired a giant laser at the earth intending to blow up the remaining Energon deposits. Through the combined efforts of the Predacons and Maximals, Optimus was able to fly a retrofitted stasis pod into the second moon. However, Megatron backstabs the Maximals by trapping Optimus in the pod causing him to be killed along with the destruction of the second moon. The alien moon had only destroyed half of the planet's raw energon, destroying a number of orbiting stasis pods and damaging several others resulting in the creation of the Fuzors, Transformers with two animals combined into one. The laser also crystallized the majority of the energon on the planet thereby making it safe for Transformer use. After the transwarp explosion of the second moon, a radiation wave lead to the re-configuration of some of the Transformers into Transmetals.
Beast Wars was the first Transformers series to include deaths in the television episodes (the original 80s series continuity had several characters die in the theatrical movie, but no characters died in the series itself). In the end, of the ten characters that appear in episode one, only six survived the entire series, and out of these, only three survived to the end of Beast Machines. Notably among them is the character Waspinator, who was blown to pieces or otherwise dismantled in almost every episode of the series, but never officially "died". Even in the sequel series Beast Machines, Waspinator survived, albeit in a new body and identity, as Thrust.
Originally, the series was going to be set in the present, with certain characters from the original cartoon series reborn in new bodies. This was very much evident in the Tech Specs of the first line of toys. The writers of the series, however, knew next to nothing about the original series at first, and since they were given free reign to do what they wanted with a series whose purpose was to promote what was (at the time) a dying franchise, they rewrote the premise so that it had apparently no connection to the original series outside of a few recycled names. When Bob Forward and Larry Ditillio discovered an online Transformers chat forum and learned more about the original series however, they began to work in elements from it, placing the series in the same universe.
Early concepts for the series show that the original faction leaders (Primal and Megatron) were in fact going to be re-imaginations of the original series' faction leaders, Optimus Prime and Megatron (later Galvatron), but the series itself shows that they are indeed separate characters. (Both Primal and Megatron come face-to-face with the currently-deactivated forms of their ancestors inside the Ark at different points.) The idea of both faction leaders being the original characters was probably abandoned when the idea of the series taking place in modern times was dropped.
The show was originally going to feature a much larger cast of characters, but limitations on CGI at the time meant that the animators had to shorten the cast to five members on both sides, adding new characters sparingly. Bob Forward has credited this as being part of the reason why the show was so successful, because a smaller cast meant he could focus on character development and personality for every character, as opposed to the ungainly task of writing for an entire army's worth of characters.
Also, instead of Tigatron, the toy-only character Wolfang was supposed to be in the show, but was replaced at the last moment to conserve money, as Tigatron was a repaint of Cheetor in the toy line, and thus would be easy to tweak the existing Cheetor CGI figure to look like the white tiger Maximal. This reuse of character CGI figures to introduce new characters is a fairly common money-saving tactic for most CGI-based television shows, and was used in Beast Wars to make Blackarachnia (a slight remodel and remap of Tarantulas) and Ravage whose head was a repainted version of Tigatron's beast mode head, mounted on a robot body which was a remodel of Transmetal Cheetor's robot mode body.
Initially, Waspinator, not Terrorsaur, was to die at the beginning of Season Two. Because people enjoyed Waspinator as comic relief for the series, the creators decided to kill off Terrorsaur instead. Waspinator went on to be the only Predacon to survive both Beast Wars and Beast Machines (not counting Blackarachnia, who defected in season three of Beast Wars).
The third season of the TV show was originally supposed to include an episode called "Dark Glass", written by Christy Marx. The script of the episode depicted an encounter between Rattrap and the Dinobot Clone, where Rattrap finds that the datatracks of the original Dinobot in the ship's computer, and goes on a suicide mission to install it into the transmetal II clone in a desperate bid to bring his old friend/foe back. However, the script was seen as "too dark" for little children to watch, and so the episode was never produced. A considerably lighter and more jocular episode called "Go with the Flow" was created in its place. Transcripts of the episode survived, however, and it is now considered part of the Beast Wars continuity, mainly for its explanation on how the Dinobot Clone regained the original's personality after Rampage was destroyed at the end of Season Three. This was also made in a fancomic.
Beast Wars - Transformers: Season 2
Beast Wars - Transformers: Season 3
'Beast Wars - Transformers: Season 1'
'Beast Wars - Transformers: Season 2'
'Beast Wars - Transformers: Season 3'
In the Point Omega storyline, several events lead up to a tremendous battle against Shokaract, a Predacon fueled by the Dark Essence of Unicron himself. This also serves as an introduction for Apelinq, and the only appearances of Windrazor, Sandstorm, Antagony, and Cataclysm.
In the Primeval Dawn story, Tarantulas comes back from the dead alongside Ravage, Spittor, Iguanus and Razorclaw to complete the mission he set out to do, while the Vok create Primal Prime to stand in his way; Primal Prime teams up with Airazor, Tigatron and Ramulus, who have come back from the dead as well.
Dreamwave Productions had plans to release a Beast Wars comic in early 2005, which would have been done by the War Within creative team of Simon Furman and Don Figueroa. Brad Mick and Adam Patyk were originally planned to write the series until they left Dreamwave after not being paid for several projects. However, although some cover art did appear on the internet, Dreamwave entered bankruptcy before one issue could be published.
After Dreamwave filed for bankruptcy in January 2005, the license for all Transformers comics, including Beast Wars were picked up by IDW Publishing, and was released in early 2006 as a four-issue miniseries. The series was written by Simon Furman and drawn by Don Figueroa. The Beast Wars comic takes place parallel to the third season of Beast Wars and introduced characters who were not shown in the original series such as Magmatron, Razorbeast and Injector. Other characters who made an appearance are Grimlock in his Beast Wars body (a recolored Dinobot toy) and Ravage in his Transmetal II "Tripredacus Agent" incarnation.
Taking place around the events of the season three episode Deep Metal (the Predacons are just installing Sentinel), the comic focused on Magmatron, sent by the Tripredacus Council to capture Megatron after Ravage's failure. However, Magmatron had his own agenda - to create his own army from the stasis pods the Axalon had ejected in the pilot episode. His scheme was partially thwarted by the Maximal double-agent Razorbeast, who ensured the shell program used reconfigured many of the protoforms as Maximals rather than Predacons. The two sides would clash in an attempt to stop Magmatron from returning to Cybertron with a captured Megatron, with some unexpected aid from Grimlock ensuring Magmatron was sent back to Cybertron empty handed. However, Razorbeast's Maximals and many Predacons (led by Ravage, resurrected in a transmetal II body) were left on Earth, opening the way for future series.
The series is important in that it wraps up many of the loose ends that the show did not address – most importantly, what happened to the various protoforms that the Maximals jettisoned. Also the presence of both Lio Convoy and Big Convoy in flashback sequences implies that the Japanese Beast Wars II and Beast Wars Neo take place in the same continuity.
IDW editor-in-chief Chris Ryall recently confirmed the second Beast Wars series, titled The Ascending, as well as a series of character profile books, will be due in August.
|Gary Chalk||Optimus Primal|
|Richard Newman||Rhinox, Vok|
|Ian James Corlett||Cheetor, Sentinel, Maximal Computer|
|Scott McNeil||Rattrap, Dinobot, Dinobot II, Silverbolt, Waspinator|
|Blu Mankuma||Tigatron, Tigerhawk, Vok|
|David Sobolov||Depth Charge|
|Doug Parker||Terrorsaur, Starscream|
|Elizabeth Carol Savenkoff||Predacon Ship Computer|
|Susan Blu||Transmutate, Una|
|Takehito Koyasu||Optimus Primal (Beast Convoy)|
|Wataru Takagi||Cheetor (Cheetas)|
|Kappei Yamaguchi||Rattrap (Rattle)|
|Koichi Tochika||Tigatron, Tigerhawk (TigerFalcon)|
|Kiyoyuki Yanada||Depth Charge|
|Masashi Endo||Scorponok (Scorpos)|
|Nobuo Tobita||Terrorsaur, Quickstrike, Sentinel|
|Yūichi Nagashima||Tarantulas (Tarans)|
|Kenso Kato||Waspinator (Waspittor)|
|Ryoka Yuzuki||Blackarachnia (Black Widow), Predacon Computer (Naviko)|
|Hidetoshi Nakamura||Vok, Unicron|
|Toshiyuki Morikawa||Ravage (Jaguar)|