Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Beast Wars (Beasties in Canada) was a line of toys in the Transformers range, released by Hasbro in the late 1990s. The toys spawned a full CG animated series set in the Transformers universe, produced by the Transformers Production Company. The series was made in the 1990s, and some have seen it as a sequel to the original Transformers cartoons of the 1980s, though others point to story elements originating in other versions of the Transformers story. The Dreamwave Generation 1 ongoing series seems to show evidence that Beast Wars took place in that continuity.
Each 1/2 hour episode of the series follows the adventures of the "Maximals" and the "Predacons", both of which are beings who transform between "robot" and "beast" forms. The Maximals take on the protagonist role of the Autobots from the original series, while the Predacons take on the antagonist role of the Decepticons.
The head writers for the Beast Wars TV series were Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio .
The two-part pilot episode, entitled "Beast Wars", chronicles the arrival of both the Maximals and Predacons on a mysterious, uncharted planet. The Predacons have stolen a golden disc which was the most valued relic of the planet Cybertron (the home of the Transformers) and supposedly held the location of a rich Energon source, which could make the Predacons invincible. The Predacons flee into outer space with it in their spacecraft, seeking Earth. (The reason they are seeking Earth is not yet explained). They are pursued by a Maximal exploration ship, which was the only ship able to lock on to the Predacon ship. The opening scene shows the Maximal ship emerging from apparently a wormhole in space, closely pursued by the Predacon ship. (Apparently they became the pursued rather than the pursuers somewhere in the course of events). In a brief battle over the unknown planet, both ships are critically damaged and plummet to the surface.
Both the Maximals and Predacons are stranded on the planet, which they soon learn is rich in Energon. Although Energon is vital to the survival of the Transformers, an environment as Energon-rich as that which they now find themselves in is harmful to them — causing their robot-forms to short out within a few minutes. Thus both the Maximals and Predacons scan the surrounding terrain for powerful lifeforms, which they then use as a basis for their new beast forms.
The four Maximals take on the form of a gorilla (Optimus Primal, their leader), a cheetah (Cheetor), a rhinoceros (Rhinox), and a giant rat (Rattrap). Meanwhile, the leader of the Predacons (Megatron) takes on the form of a purple tyrannosaurus rex, while his minions take on the form of a velociraptor (Dinobot), a giant wasp (Waspinator), a giant tarantula (Tarantulas), a pterosaur (Terrorsaur), and a giant scorpion (Scorponok). Dinobot quickly defects to the side of the Maximals, due to his dissatisfaction with Megatron's failure to bring them to the correct planet (specifically, he calls Megatron an "idiot" and is blasted away from their company as a result).
Thus began the Beast Wars, as the Maximals and Predacons battle on the mysterious planet for control of the Energon source.
Before the Maximal ship crashed on the planet's surface, it ejected dozens of stasis pods, containing dormant Transformers into a safe orbit. When the stasis pods come down to the planet's surface, a new Transformer emerges, and the Maximals and Predacons race to rescue or reprogram him or her. Thus, as the first season progresses, the cast of characters is built up in this way.
The subsequent seasons of the Beast Wars saga see dramatic changes to the characters, including the introduction of the Transmetals (characters based on the Hasbro Transformer toys which feature three modes of transformation, not just two) and the Fuzors (in which the Beast Mode of the Transformer consists of a combination of two different animals (for example, a wolf with wings)).
Beast Wars introduced the concept of spark , a secular/mechanical term for "soul". Each Transformer carries his own spark within it and when critically injured, the Transformer dies and its spark leaves its body. Both Maximal and Predacon sparks return to "the Matrix". Sparks and mortality would play a major role in Beast Wars.
It would soon be revealed that the Maximals are the descendants of the Autobots and the Predacons descendants of the Decepticons.
Further developments come with the revelation that the Transformers have been stranded on prehistoric Earth with the Autobot Ark, containing the stasis-locked leader of the Autobots Optimus Prime, his officers, and the Decepticons who boarded the Ark before it crashed. Also, one of the 'Golden Discs' was in fact the Voyager Golden Record, and the location of Energon was Earth itself. The original Megatron had inscribed additional information onto the disc.
It is also revealed that Megatron's mission was a futuristic rebellion. He plans to destroy Optimus Prime as he lies in stasis, and free the Decepticons and thus the Predacons from their defeat by the Autobots.
Notes on animation techniques
The entire Beast Wars series is rendered in 3D computer graphics, which at times is a joy to watch, while at other times leaves a little to be desired. For example, one of the most superb effects is the highly expressive rendering of Megatron and Optimus Primal in their respective tyrannosaurus rex and gorilla beast-forms, and, in general, the rendering of all the characters is well done. The visual effects most significantly fail in the unconvincing attempts to place the beast-form characters against the natural landscape of the planet. This is perhaps most clearly seen in the scene in Part I of the pilot, in which Cheetor is racing over a plain, looking very computer-generated and unnatural.
Original Characters: Maximals
- Optimus Primal: Supreme Commander of the Maximals whose beast-form is a gorilla. Optimus is a caring leader who cares for his friends. As a Transmetal, he is able to fly using a hoverboard and as Optimal Optimus he was the strongest Transformer in the series.
- Rattrap: a smart-aleck whose beast form is a rat. Rattrap fills the comic relief portion of the show; he also seems to be the Maximals' covert ops/spy and once defected to the Predacons to find out secret information. As a Transmetal his vehicle mode is a high-powered car.
- Dinobot: Combat specialist. He was a former Predacon whose beast form is (incorrectly called) a Velociraptor. The size of the form hearkens more to the large species of raptor discovered in Utah just prior to production of the movie Jurassic Park, named 'Utahraptor' by the discoverer on the suggestion of paleontologist and novelist Robert T. Bakker who wrote the book Raptor Red based solely on the finding of the extraordinary fossils. Like a samurai, Dinobot has a high sense of honor and duty. He sacrificed his life to stop Megatron from killing the primitive humans in the episode "Code of Hero" (considered by many fans the best episode of any of the Transformers series).
- Tigatron : Maximal protoform, he was fused with Airazor in "Other Victories" to become Tigerhawk by the mysterious alien race known as the Vok. Beast form was a white tiger.
- Airazor : Maximal protoform, she had a romantic relationship with Tigatron before being abducted by the Vok and fused into Tigerhawk. Beast form was a large falcon. Airazor was male in the Japanese version of the series.
- Silverbolt : Maximal flyer & Fuzor; his Beast mode is a fusion of an eagle and a gray wolf. Among them he was the most righteous and stood up for both the Transmutate and Blackarachnia. He was sort of a contrast to Dinobot (who embodied Predacon honor, similar to the Samurai code of bushido), while Silverbolt embodied the Maximal version of honor which was like the chivalry of the medieval knights.
- Depth Charge: Marine Commander & former Maximal Security Officer; beast form was a metallic manta ray. He had a vendetta against Rampage who was contained at the planet he served at and when Rampage broke loose he killed Depth Charge's squad. In the end, he died when he impaled Rampage's spark with a piece of raw Energon thus causing an immense explosion.
Original Characters: Predacons
- Tarantulus: Scientist and ninja in the service of the Tripredacus Council. Always trying to save himself; beast form was a giant tarantula. Shortly before his demise, he made a remark implying that he, as well as the Tripredacus Council, were not descended the Autobots or Decepticons. He later died when he was shot with his own ray gun.
- Waspinator: Stupid, yet loyal flyer; beast form was a giant wasp. Among the original crew, he was the only one that survived to the end of the Beast Machines finale, when he was last seen being worshipped by the planet's inhabitants.
- Terrorsaur : Technical advisor and Aerial Combatant; beast form was a pterodactyl. He also died in the season 2 premiere after colliding with Scorponok and falling into lava.
- Scorponok: Loyal second-in-command to Megatron; beast form was a giant scorpion. He died along with Terrorsaur in the Season 2 premiere.
- Blackarachnia: Saboteur. Maximal protoform that was converted into a Predacon by Tarantulas; beast form is a giant black widow spider. In season 1 and 2, she largely assisted Tarantulas in his machinations and was briefly possessed by him. Later she joined up with the Maximals after falling in love with Silverbolt and was able to gain a new Transmetal 2 form.
- Inferno : Maximal protoform converted by Tarantulas; beast form is a giant fire ant. A glitch in this process resulted in Inferno believing he really was an ant, although his loyalty made his boss (who he referred to often as his Queen) forgive his quirks. Inferno was unintentionally killed by his "Queen" in the Beast Wars finale.
- Quickstrike : Originally a Maximal Fuzor, he switched to the Predacons due to his more violent nature. His Fuzor form is a giant scorpion with a cobra acting as his tail. Quickstrike was unintentionally killed by Megatron in the Beast Wars finale.
- Rampage: Warlord. A Maximal experiment gone wrong, Rampage (whose beast form is a giant metal crab) loves nothing more than death and destruction. He was killed by Depth Charge at the end of the series.
Old Generation 1 (G-1) favorites
- Starscream: From the original Transformers series, guest starred in one episode. His spark is immortal (the result of a random aberration that so far cannot be duplicated), and one day it was able to possess Waspinator, resulting in an all-too brief return of the Air Commander of the Decepticon battle fleet.
- Ravage : Intelligence/Saboteur. Another returning Decepticon from the original series that appeared in the 3 part episode, "The Agenda". After the Great War, several of the Decepticons that had been captured or that surrendered were granted amnesty. In time, one was reprogrammed and rebuilt as a Predacon, Ravage. In his upgraded form, Ravage was more humanoid and possessed active camouflage, although he could still transform into a tape cassette. When the Maximals on prehistoric Earth were finally able to send a "signal" back to Cybertron, it was intercepted by the Predacon council, who ordered Ravage on a clandestine mission to the planet aboard an advanced stealth warship, with orders to kill Megatron and all witnesses including the Maximals. Initially, Ravage aided the Maximals in capturing Megatron. However, the imprisoned Megatron then informed Ravage of his true agenda in coming to Earth; the original Megatron had encoded a message on the Voyager Golden Record. The message would only have been found if Megatron was defeated in the Great War (which he was), and it ordered any remaining loyal followers to go to Earth (whose coordinates the record provided) in the past and attempt to attack the Autobot Ark ship while Optimus Prime was still frozen in stasis-lock. On hearing these orders from his former commander, Ravage switches sides and joined the Predacons in a massive but ultimately thwarted attack on the Maximals. Destroyed in the explosion of his ship, his last words were "Decepticons forever!".
Second series: Beast Machines
By the time that "Beast Wars" was ending, there was a large demand by fans of the show who wanted to know what was going to happen to the stranded Transformers, who were now able to leave Earth and return back to their home of Cybertron. As such, a sequel was created known as Beast Machines. This new series featured the Maximal team returned back in their home environment, but the planet is without power. No other signs of life are present, with the exception of a new race of Transformers known as the Vehicons, who are out to take over Cybertron and will stop at nothing to destroy the Maximals. One minor setback was that the Maximals find themselves stuck in their animal forms, and with no ability to transform into their more powerful robot forms, have they finally met their match...?
After Beast Machines ended, Hasbro planned a follow-up series called Transtech. The series was supposedly to bring back some of the characters who died in Beast Wars along with some returning faces from Beast Machines. Generation 1 characters were also supposed to make a comeback. The series was never produced, but some designs are available to be seen on the Internet, and fanfiction and fan designs have been made as well. A few of the designs even made it into the Transformers Armada toyline and RiD toyline (with a few alterations). Character designs include: Depth Charge, Optimus Prime, Cheetor, Megatron, Silverbolt, Shockwave, and Starscream.
Dreamwave Productions had plans to release a Beast Wars comic in early 2005. The series would have been written by Simon Furman and drawn by Don Allen Figueroa. Brad Mick and Adam Patyk were originally planned to write the series until they left Dreamwave after not being paid for several projects. The Beast Wars comic would supposedly take place immediately after the cartoon series finale, which Furman wrote. The series was expected to introduce new characters like Magmatron, Razorbeast, and Wolfang. The main cast would still be the survivors of the original cartoon. Generation 1 characters were expected to join the cast too.
Unfortunately, Dreamwave Productions filed for bankruptcy in January 2005, so it is unlikely the comic will ever be produced.
The Japanese series Beast Wars The Second and Beast Wars Neo were created to fill the gap while the second and third seasons of Beast Wars were being translated into Japanese (called Beast Wars: Metals). The characters originate from the future that the Beast Wars teams left, but the events of the series take place in the far future. The series are noted primarily for the return of Unicron, but more negatively, for their childish, comedic nature. Beast Wars The Second spawned a theatrical movie, albeit a short one. See Transformers Series for more details.
- The second 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 Dinobot II, where Rattrap finds that the soul of the original Dinobot is still trapped inside this cold, murderous zombie.
- 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 shown in its place.
- Actor Scott McNeil voiced five characters in the series; Rattrap, Silverbolt, Waspinator, and the two incarnations of Dinobot.
- The Beast Wars and Beast Machines series both incorporated bits and pieces of continuity from both the original television series (e.g., Starscream's death at the hands of Galvatron) and the Marvel comics (e.g., Primus, among others), while introducing new elements into the Transformer mythos, such as sparks and protoforms. This would be carried on into the Dreamwave comics, which seemed to integrate elements from both lines while working towards maintaining continuity with Beast Wars (seemingly nullifying Beast Machines).
- Despite being living all the way to the series finale, waspinator is either shot, fraged, or somehow blown-up in every episode. (Similiar to Kenny from South Park).
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