Transformers Daily News Source for Transformers 5, Titans Return, Robots in Disguise, Combiner Wars, Generations, Third Party, G1, Beast Wars, Reviews, Comics, Games & More Than Meets the Eye!
TFormers Transformers News and Reviews
facebook twitter Pinterest Tumblr Google+ youtube podcast rss
Beast Wars
Beast Wars - Bringing Toys To Life (Almost)
ExVee - Tuesday, March 07, 2017

Beast Wars the TV show and Beast Wars the toys frequently didn't quite line up when it came to the look of the characters. Now that Beast Wars has earned a place in the Masterpiece line, that reality is starting to become a challenge as the show designs have to be reverse engineered as functional toys. But Beast Wars didn't always look the way we know it, with stylized, emotive characters that cheat their way between forms. At one stage of development, things were very different. Keep reading to find out more.

The first thing we need to lay out is an important one: The toys came first. For people who've entered the fandom even within the last ten to fifteen years, this might seem like a strange process, since we now get toys specifically fashioned after iconic comic book designs, and strong symmetry between toys and cartoon in Robots in Disguise. But when the computer animation studio Mainframe was engaged to produce the Beast Wars cartoon, it was doing so with toy designs that had already been decided on. This was the way things worked for a fair bit of time before the relationship between toy design and media expression would start to evolve and come more closely together. But the interesting situation of Beast Wars led to some distinctly different development passes. The Beast Wars DVD releases over the years have presented samples of this for us, giving a look at what things might have been like if Beast Wars was far more toy accurate.

It's not really clear if the early CG models were ever intended for animation use, or if they were a starting framework on which to refine and develop the models that would go on to appear on TV. As can be seen with Megatron, there might have been a bit of both at work, as one of the revisions introduced the presence of normal hands which the toy lacked. In this iteration, both the T-Rex tail and head would shrink down and find robotic hands emerge. Meanwhile, Scorponok didn't have a great deal of physical alteration happen, coming down to simple styling changes rather than great swathes of functional changes. Also he was golden-brown at one point, a reflection of an early intention for the toy to be translucent orange.


Rhinox has one of the greatest divergences from the toy's ideas with the final CG model. Rhinox's signature chaingun weapons were developed from a spinning flail weapon on the toy - something that was at one point modeled in an accurate depiction. It's interesting to note with this how Mainframe was already tweaking around troublesome aspects of the toys while otherwise retaining a lot more accuracy; the rhino body panels the toy keeps at the hips have been moved to float about the back and be out of the way of the arms and legs so they'd be easier to animate.

We can see Rattrap started out very toy accurate, but with the rat backpack scaled down a great deal. However, like Scorponok it's mostly a case of refining the look of the details before you get to the final appearance.

Tarantulas went through a little more iteration, including one concept where the toy accurate spider legs on the arms were shuffled on to the back, and then were severely downsized at another point when they were back on the arms. You'd also note the proportions being quite wacky here, and a completely different head shape. That's the toy's actual robot head, whose design would go on to be the basis for Blackarachnia, while Tarantulas was finally modeled with something based on his toy's mutant head.

So, I have to admit, Dinobot was the underlying inspiration for this article. The announcement of Dinobot as the next Beast Wars Masterpiece called to question just how the transformation could possibly be engineered, because the show model's robot and beast modes have very little relation to each other. And the transformation is one of the most ...magic.

The surprising thing as I was looking in to these early stage models was finding the transformation animation for early, toy-based Dinobot. And seeing it had roughly the same amount of unreality about it. But that looks like it's partly due to the beast mode model being largely the same as the final one, and so having no real relation to the toy it sought to depict. However, we can know how Dinobot would transform in 1996, because that toy already existed. The matter of how Masterpiece Dinobot will accomplish its change between forms remains one of the great mysteries of the modern world.

Ultimately, the moral of the story here is that Mainframe was hired for a reason. While they would later design some very toy accurate character models for the Transmetal and Fuzor characters that would come about in the show's second season, the artistic liberty taken for season one really helped to lock these designs in as characters first and toys second, rather than simply being animate action figures. That is perhaps a lesson that should have been taken to heart with some of the Japanese productions that came later and tended toward super accurate modelling of the product and not caring about the awkwardness, stiffness, and different measure of unreality that it led to. Beast Wars was visually dated within just a few years of being produced, but one of the things that keeps it from being unwatchable now is how ahead of its time it was for the level of emotion and expression, in a TV series level production. But there were sure some interesting stops on the way to that result!

TFormers Member Comments

NO COMMENTS YET - Start the Coversation by Posting Yours Now!

     (Membership Required)

More Beast Wars News
Happy Halloween! Today we've dug up the Halloween Horrorcons, the one and only attempt Hasbro ever made to make Halloween-themed Transformers toys. Who were they, what were they, where were they supposed to be available... and why don't you have any? We'll take a look at that after the jump.
Thanks to lord ginrai we have a first look at a page from this month's issue of Figure King Magazine, but as it happens, what's important right now is not what's in this issue, but what will be seen in next month's issue: Masterpiece Dinobot! A small teaser showing the beast mode of a grey prototype is used to promote next month's feature. While we have seen some early looks at the design of the next Beast Wars Masterpiece (see links below), this image does seem a bit more refined. We've got the new images for you in the full post, so come in and have a look!
Though I cannot speak for all of us here at TFormers, I am myself not a statue person. But this certainly makes me think twice. Prime 1 Studios has posted to Facebook showing their stunningly beautiful statue depicting Megatron as he appeared (more or less) in the first season of Beast Wars. The dino parts are a fair bit more detailed and "realistic" but otherwise this is a love letter to the original cartoon model. About the only fault I might find is the dismembered Dinobot on the base. The price for this is $1149, or $1199 for the exclusive version with the extra face option. Click through for mirrored photos!
Reports are coming in that comics legend Len Wein - creator of Wolverine and Swamp Thing, writer of the "All New, All-Different" X-Men team, and editor of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen - has passed away at the age of 69. While he is perhaps rightly best known for those accomplishments, Wein was also a screenwriter who worked on no less than four different Transformers series: G1, Beast Wars, Beast Machines, and most recently the current series, Robots In Disguise. Our condolences go out to Mr. Wein's friends and family.
We're always looking for the next BIG toy to put on the shelf, but what about the little 'formers? Those tiny bits of plastic depicting our favorite Transformers characters can be a lot of fun to collect. What's quite remarkable is the quantity and quality of toys you will find, especially from Japan. Where, gashapon (capsule toys) and other types of tiny collectibles are extremely popular. For this week's Far Out Friday, I am going ape with a look at some of the Beast Wars Optimus Primal small toys from Kabaya, Takara and Hasbro. See them all in the image gallery below.

Ochre Haze, all in my brain
Optimus Prime #13
Generations IDW Comic Book
Generations Power of The Primes Legends Class Figure
Generations Power of The Primes Legends Class Figure
Generations Power of The Primes Legends Class Figure
First Strike Transformers Special #1
Generations IDW Comic Book

Power of the Primes - Bringing It Together With Combination Diagram Images & Dreadwing Instructions

IDW December Transformers Sneak Peeks - Till All Are One & Transformers vs Visionaries

Design Transformers For Money - Boulder Media Hiring Character Designers


Facebook @TFormers

Twitter @TFormers

Entertainment News International (ENI) is the popular culture network for fans all around the world. Get the scoop on all the popular comics, games, movies, toys, and more every day!
Action Figures
Star Wars
© 2017 Entertainment News International - All images, trademarks, logos, video, brands and images used on this website are registered trademarks of their respective companies and or owners. All Rights Reserved. Data has been shared for news reporting purposes only. All content sourced by fans, online websites, and or other fan community sources. Entertainment News International is not responsible for reporting errors, inaccuracies, omissions, and or other liablities related to news shared here. We do our best to keep tabs on infringements. If some of your content was shared by accident. To have it removed right away, please [ Contact Us ].