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Beast Machines (toyline)

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Toyline
Cartoon

After three years of the successful Beast Wars franchise, Hasbro felt it was time to revamp the line, leading to the bold and adventurous Beast Machines. The Maximal faction and a number of its main characters carried over as they faced off against Megatron's army of Vehicons. Both factions had radical new design elements: unorthodox designs, translucent plastic, and chrome finishes.

Maximals

The design looks and feel of the Maximals differed completely from previous beast-mode Transformers. The original Season 1 Maximals were a clearly segregated mix of robotic and organic components, differing from the reversed feel of the Transmetals, or the almost painful fusion of Transmetal 2s. By the 2000s, the Maximals of Beast Machines were a smooth blend of the organic and robotic. Often the organic parts had hints of the technological (e.g. Cheetor's purple, angular spots) or vice versa (the smooth, rounded "gauntlets" on Optimus Primal's forearm).

Like the Transmetal 2s, Beast Machine-era Maximals included a detachable, marble-sized spark crystal, embedded in a part of the body. Sometimes they had no real importance, though sometimes they played a large part in the aesthetics of the toy, such as Geckobot's eye piece. Engineering the transformations of the Maximals proved to be a challenge to toy designers as well, as they transformed via a fluid shapeshifting process instead of the standard rearrangement of mechanical parts. Sometimes the process was no more complex than "stand up the beast and switch heads" transformation.


Vehicons

As the whole storyline of Beast Machines played out on Cybertron, beast and vehicle modes were not used as "disguise", which often led to some alien-looking vehicle modes. The Vehicons had very Cybertronian vehicle forms (often with articulated "sensors") and unorthodox robot modes, often with inhuman faces, odd-shaped limbs, and unusual forms of locomotion such as Thrust's optional uni-wheel or Jetstorm's legless hover mode. The three original Generals' molds were remolded to create the Vehicon Drones, and several other Vehicons never made it into the show. Like Maximals, Vehicons also had a spark crystal.

Other

Several experimental sub-lines appeared during Beast Machines: the Beast Riders, vehicles to scale with the smaller figures that lacked a robot mode and instead converted into an attack mode; and Deployers, beasts that changed to weapons usable by the larger figures. A less experimental sub-line was the Dinobots, redecoed molds from both the Hasbro Beast Wars line and the Takara Beast Wars Neo series, sold in the same packaging assortments with the normal figures in the line.

Show-Accuracy and Scale

Show-accuracy, in fact, was widely variable across the entire toy line. Show production house Mainframe Entertainment apparently began animating the characters from early concept sketches, designs that of necessity changed a great deal during the translation into toy form. Thus many characters' toy and cartoon depictions bear relatively little resemblance to each other. Some toys were supposed to represent an "evolution" of a previously existing character and thus looked completely different (such as Night Slash Cheetor). The late-arriving Motorcycle Drone and Tank Drone toys, both highly show-accurate, may have been an explicit attempt to mitigate this.

As for scale, Hasbro threw it out the window altogether. While the relative scale of characters has never translated perfectly from toy to show in any Transformers line, Beast Machines is especially notorious for it in a few instances. Of the Maximals who appeared on the show, Nightscream is the second-smallest, yet his toy is a hulking Ultra, making him to scale with only the largest toys (Supreme Cheetor and, perhaps, Air Attack Optimus Primal—the latter of which was not even released 'til well after Beast Machines ended, and in a different franchise, to boot). Silverbolt is the tallest show Maximal, but has a Basic-sized toy. Tankor, the largest character of all, was only a modestly sized Mega. Toy-Rattrap is larger than Blackarachnia; Primal came in Deluxe and Mega sizes, with the more widely available Deluxe size being notably different from his show design. While the Mega size did better represent his show appearance, his colors were those of Optimal Optimus.


The line's overall success was seemingly limited. Combined with Hasbro's financial troubles over excessive product glut in their Star Wars Episode 1 lines, it was decided to drop the sequel series, Transtech, and re-vamp the franchise from the ground up. The Japanese Car Robots series was quickly ported over as "filler" under the name Robots in Disguise, giving Hasbro and Takara the time needed to coordinate on the next series.

It should be noted that while Takara stamps are present on every Beast Machines toy, Japan did not receive anything relating to the line until 2005, as Beast Wars Returns, and in a very limited manner.

2000

Maximal

Deployers

  • Dillo (armadillo)
  • Dillo (armadillo) redeco
  • Mol (mole)
  • Mol (mole) redeco
  • Rav (raven)
  • Rav (raven) redeco, (also called "Chro")

Beast Riders

  • Che (cheetah chariot)
  • Che (cheetah chariot) redeco

Basic

Deluxe

Mega

Ultra

Super

Supreme

McDonald's Happy Meal Toys

Vehicon

Basic

Beast Riders

Deluxe

Mega

Ultra

McDonald's Happy Meal Toys

Dinobots

Deluxe

Ultra

2001

The second half of the Beast Machines toyline featured the subtitle "Battle for the Spark", reflecting the storyline of the cartoon.

Maximal

Basic

Deluxe

Mega

Vehicon

Basic

Deluxe

Dinobots

Deluxe

2002

These toys were released under Robots in Disguise, but were designed for Beast Machines

Maximal

Supreme

Predacon

Deluxe

2005 (Beast Wars Returns)

Cybertrons

Destrons

  • Megahead Megatron - Redeco of Robots in Disguise Megatron Megabolt
  • Megatron - Beast Machines dragon Megatron
  • Vehicon Jetstorm - Redeco of Beast Machines Ultra Jetstorm
  • Vehicon Obsidian - Redeco of Beast Machines Obsidian
  • Vehicon Stryka - Redeco ofBeast Machines Strika
  • Vehicon Tankor - Redeco of Beast Machines Tank Drone
  • Vehicon Thrust - Redeco of Beast Machines Motorcycle Drone


Notes

  • The Deployers and Beast Riders were developed by Hasbro Direct, Hasbro's department normally devoted to store exclusives and other retailer-oriented projects, hence their rather dubious compatibility with the rest of the Beast Machines line.
  • On Takara's end of the design process, some design and engineering work was subcontracted out to the designer Junichi Akutsu, alias BEE-CRAFT.

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