Western Animation: Beast Machines
The Next Evolution of the Beast Wars
Cheetor: So what are we? Robots or animals?
Optimus: Both...and neither.
Blackarachnia: Well, that sure clears it up.
was the followup cartoon and toyline to Beast Wars
; like its predecessor, it was animated entirely in CGI
by Mainframe Entertainment
but featured a massive change to the production and writing staff. It begins a new story with the characters of Beast Wars
but in general is not considered a continuous storyline.
The story opens with Optimus Primal in his original Beast Wars
body, awakening on Cybertron to find the planet deserted and himself being pursued by Vehicons, a strange race of sparkless Transformers under the control of Megatron, who, as it's further revealed, has somehow managed to conquer Cybertron. Unable to transform, Optimus runs, and manages to find some of his fellow surviving Maximals. Deep beneath the surface of Cybertron, they manage to find the Oracle supercomputer, which reformats them into 'technorganic' beings, a perfect blend of biological and technological parts. From then on, they embark on a mission to restore organic life to Cybertron and bring down Megatron.
The tone and feel of the story were substantially different to Beast Wars
. Where Wars
followed small groups of Maximals and Predacons through a sometimes serious, sometimes tongue-in-cheek (and sometimes both) battle on prehistoric Earth, Machines
took a small group of severely outnumbered Maximals who were forced to rely on stealth and guerilla warfare. Noted Transformers
comic writer Simon Furman
has complained that Beast Machines
was 'too dark
' for a children's cartoon
. And when you see some of Simon Furman's work... too dark for him
Several items deserve particular noting. The CGI was top-notch, arguably even better than the already impressive stuff
from the end of Beast Wars
, and it still holds up today, although the heavily stylized take on the design was not for everyone. And while Beast Wars
provided the concept, this show is an even larger source of information about the origin and properties of sparks, the soul
of a Transformer.
When it aired, it had the strongest continuity
of any cartoon ever shown in America or Canada. It also brought the animated Generation 1 continuity to an end, though it would continue in comic book form.
So far, this show is the only Transformers
cartoon to take place entirely on Cybertron, and not to feature any humans or human ancestors, with the exception of one very brief flashback.Beast Machines
tried to tackle such concepts as loyalty, individuality, the merits of freedom vs. chaos, and the challenges of living in an increasingly technological society. This over-ambitious aim, coupled with the Continuity Lockout
and the radical departure in tone from its predecessor, as well as some massive
departure from the Beast Wars
's characterizations in some cases, turned this show into one of the most hated Transformers
incarnations of all time when it aired; the sheer backlash over it at the time led to Hasbro scrapping a planned Sequel Series
in favor of dubbing Transformers: Robots in Disguise
. However, with the subsequent release of the (generally lower-quality) Unicron Trilogy
as well as readier access to Japanese post-G1
series, coupled with the gap from the Beast Wars continuity and new fans watching it as a work of its own; Beast Machines
is now looked upon somewhat more favorably, though it's hardly universal.
The toys were a mixed bag. The Vehicons had a living machine theme, and the toys were generally pretty good, but looked nothing like the characters on screen
. The Maximals aimed for a technological animal feel, but were of mixed quality and exceedingly show-inaccurate. Better quality, show-accurate toys were later released as part of the "Battle for the Spark" Beast Machines subline, and a few were held over until the Robots in Disguise
It has a character sheet
This show provides examples of: