McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com?

Transformers News: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com?

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2007 8:43PM CDT

Categories: Site News, Toy News, Site Articles, Transtopia
Posted by: Seibertron   Views: 140,283

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I imagine after you look at the McDonald's Beast Wars galleries, many of you will be asking: "Why in the world are there almost 400 photos of the McDonald's Beast Wars figures?" Let me take a moment to explain why these figures are such a key piece to my history with the Transformers brand, why they mean so much to me and how these little guys ultimately tie into part of the origin behind Seibertron.com.

Manta RayPantherBeetleRhinoUnder-3
Manta RayPantherBeetleRhinoUnder-3


The McDonald's Beast Wars figures represent a very distinct moment in the history of the Transformers brand. I had discovered my last Generation 2 figure about 10 months earlier in May 1995. On the back of an upper shelf at a KB Toy store at the Genesee Valley mall near Flint, MI, I had discovered Laser Rod Optimus Prime stashed behind several other toys. I had never seen this figure before and was truly elated at this very incredible incarnation of the most iconic Transformer ever. For many months, I thought Laser Rod Optimus Prime was THE last Transformer. I scoured the local Kmarts in the Flint suburbs where I grew up as well as a several Targets for many months but never found any new Transformers. Not only was this before the Internet would drastically change our lives, it was also before I had ever discovered a little store chain called "Wal-Mart."

Big Kmart in Fenton, MI
Big Kmart in Fenton, MI
Photo by Kevin Yzquierdo


Fast forward 8 months later to January 1996. There was a brand spanking new "Big K" (a Kmart store variant that was comparable to many of Wal-Mart's stores) that had recently opened near the McDonald's that I worked at as a teenager on Owen Rd. in Fenton, MI. Shortly after that stores grand opening (which was a HUGE deal to this town back then after the old school Kmart store had closed on the other side of town), I discovered a new series of "Beast Wars Transformers" figures. I didn't discover these in the fall of 1995 like many other Transformers fans have claimed to have found these figures.

Cover ArtworkBeetle
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This new line of transforming animals was apparently a product of one of Hasbro's competitors, Kenner. I had thought that Hasbro must've sold the Transformers brand to the highest bidder due to the obvious decline in sales toward the end of the Generation 2 line. Little did I know at that time that Hasbro had actually purchased Kenner recently (which was most famous for its Star Wars line) and had decided to move all of their action figure lines to that "brand".

The first set of figures that I purchased was the Optimus "Primal" and Megatron 2 pack that came with a mini-comic book that reminded me of the mini-comics that used to accompany Mattel's Masters of the Universe line during the 1980s. It was a no-brainer since those were the only names that I had recognized amongst toys such as Cheetor, Waspinator, Rattrap and Razorbeast.

CheetorDinobot
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I thought it was very odd that Kenner would make two of the most powerful Transformers not much bigger than the Generation 2 Cyberjets. It also struck me as odd that they were not using the Autobot and Decepticon factions. What the heck were these "Maximals" and "Predacons"? Did Hasbro not sell Kenner the rights to some of their copyrights? And why did "Optimus Primal" turn into a bat and Megatron turn into an alligator? What happened to the Transformers?

After I opened the package and read the mini-comic book, I realized that these new Transformers didn't appear to have any relation to the Transformers I had grown up with. The comic pretty much made sure that I knew that these weren't Hasbro's Transformers. "Bio-Genetic Engineering?" Animals? No Energon? Seriously -- c'mon Kenner! Regardless, this was a test of my loyalty to the "transforming" from one thing into a robot concept under the "Transformers" product banner. I knew I didn't like other transforming robot toy lines such as the failed Gobots line from Tonka so I bought a few of the other figures that I could afford at that time.

IguanusManta Ray
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Fast forward a month later to February 1996. As I mentioned above, I was working at McDonald's as a "swing manager" (basically a "shift manager") at that time while I was unsuccessfully attending the University of Michigan's community college in Flint. Imagine my surprise one day when we were received some paperwork about an upcoming Happy Meal promotion that we would be receiving: "Transformers Beast Wars" for the boys alongside "The Littlest Pet Shop" for the girls.

McDonald's on Owen Road in Fenton, MI
McDonald's on Owen Road in Fenton, MI
Photo by Kevin Yzquierdo


I'm sure a smile gleaned across my face as I noticed the classic Generation 2 "Transformers" logo next to the Generation 2 Autobot symbol above the words "Beast Wars". This wasn't "Beast Wars Transformers" ... this was "Transformers Beast Wars" with the word "Transformers" positioned dominantly over the words "Beast Wars" instead of the other way around. Imagine how thrilled I was to see the use of the G2 font and Autobot logo after a couple of months of wondering what the heck Kenner had done to the Transformers line I thought they had bought from Hasbro.

As the weeks went by, we received more promotional materials for the McDonald's Beast Wars Happy Meal toys. My hopes were quickly dashed that there would be a continuation of Generation 1 or 2 styled Transformers to accompany the Beast Wars figures I had purchased at Kmart. Instead, they were these lame little beast figures with extremely generic names: Manta Ray, Beetle, Panther and Rhino. I'll let you use your imagination to figure out what each figure transformed into. There was even an unnamed toy designed for children under three that was a head of a lion that turned into an Optimus Prime looking character.

MegatronOptimus Primal
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Once we received the Happy Meal display piece for our restaurant, I gladly volunteered to set it up. I thought it was pretty cool to have loved the Transformers for so long that I was able to set these up first hand. Looking back at this experience, it wasn't really that big of a deal but I sure thought it was at the time. And to think that my parents had wanted me to work at VG's, a local grocery store chain on the east side of Michigan!

The induction of the McDonald's Beast Wars figures led to a stream of creativity on my behalf. The new Happy Meal boxes, which featured a lot of new artwork for the Beast Wars figures as well as the McDonald's figures, really helped me accept these figures as official Transformers figures. I had even gone so far as to draw character sheets for all of the Beast Wars Transformers that I owned after I had come up with an idea to incorporate these new Transformers into the Generation One stories I had grown up with (thanks to McDonald's use of the Generation 2 Transformers font and Autobot logo). I even have the artwork still to show you guys my cartoon-styled take on these "Beast Wars" guys. Optimus and Megatron were who they always were, Terrorsaur was the new Starscream type character (most likely due to his alternate mode and wings in robot mode), Tarantulas was my new Soundwave type character (most likely due to the visor on his face) and Cheetor was my new Prowl type character (most likely due to me thinking that a cheetah would "prowl" and because I thought his face kind of looked like Prowl's at the time). This was months before the Beast Wars cartoon's pilot episodes aired on television and about 6 months prior to Cheetor's dream sequence which cameoed the Decepticon Starscream in "The Web".

PantherRattrap
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Within a couple of months, my excitement about the Beast Wars Transformers really started to heat up. I was very excited about my beliefs that these could be new incarnations of the characters that I had grown up with (even thought some of my character associations didn't really make at the time looking back on all of this). As I continued to purchase more and more of these Beast Wars figures, I had grown to accept them. Sure it was a new take on the Transformers, but I was enjoying these new incarnations just the same (much to my own surprise).

After buying a toy magazine sometime in the spring of 1996, I saw an advertisement for a Transformers convention called "Botcon" that would was going to be held in Chicago over the 4th of July weekend run by a local group of guys from Ypsilanti, MI who went by "The Men-In-Black". After so many years of thinking I was the only person around into Transformers, I was very excited about the prospect of meeting other Transformers fans at this "Botcon" convention, I had begun working on a fan newsletter I called "Trans-Forum". Fortunately I had ended my employment at McDonald's by this time at 19 to start working as a car salesman for the Al Serra dealership organization after dropping out of college 3 times. To start a reader base for Trans-Forum, I grabbed all of the names and addresses I could find from the letter pages in the Marvel's "Transformers" and "Transformers: Generation 2" comic books. The first issue of Trans-Forum went out to almost 100 people in May 1996. I even made a special "Botcon" edition which I gave away to people at Botcon 1996 in Chicago. The fanbase for Trans-Forum continued to grow year after year which led to the next phase of my involvement with the Transformers community.

RazorbeastRhino
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Some time during 1998, I began working on a new Generation One comic book that took place after Marvel's run of the original Transformers comic book. I was fascinated with the Japanese terminology which I had only begun to learn about back in 1995 after purchasing a bootleg Masterforce video. The Internet had exposed me to a new word that I really liked which the Japanese used for the name of the Transformers homeplanet Cybertron: "Seibertron". This word would be the title of the comic book idea that I had because I wanted to implement key elements from the American continuity as well as the Japanese continuity which I had recently discovered. The "Seibertron" comic book gained mention in one of the issues of the Trans-Forum fanzine during that year.

Trans-Forum eventually evolved into Seibertron.com during the summer of 2000 as I had become more and more fascinated with the prospect of making my own website on the Internet to showcase my interests in the Transformers. That's a whole other story in itself that I might go into another time.

TarantulasTerrorsaur
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I attribute my interests in contributing to the Transformers community to the McDonald's Beast Wars figures. Maybe the Beast Wars cartoon would have prompted me to get involved with the community. Maybe not. It was the McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers that got me to imagine that these new characters were somehow tied into the original Transformers. While the McDonald's Beast Wars figures might not be that exciting individually, I attribute the start of Trans-Forum to this Happy Meal promotion which eventually led to the creation of Seibertron.com.

If you were wondering at the start of this article why the McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers have almost 400 images amongst their galleries, I hope you now understand how special these figures are to me. I wanted to treat these figures just like I would any other Transformer toy since I consider these 5 toys to be a part of the official Transformers toy line. Each gallery is complete with comparison pictures of the other figures from this set, comparison pictures with the other Beast Wars characters who were pictured on the Happy Meal boxes, detailed photographs of the Happy Meal boxes, scans and photographs of my artwork of these figures and even a couple of special items that I had retained from my tenure as a McDonald employee such as the reference card as well as the instructions for putting together the store's display for this Happy Meal promotion.

Waspinator
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I hope all of you enjoyed this flashback in time and that maybe you learned something new about the origin of Seibertron.com. I wouldn't do all of this endless work if it wasn't for such an amazing audience of people that I get to entertain. I hope that all of you are enjoying the hard work that myself and the entire staff puts into this website every day. Isn't it interesting to think that you might just owe your enjoyment of this site to the McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers? Thank you for supporting Seibertron.com ... it's been a wild ride for me personally during the past 10 years. I can't wait to see what happens in the next 10 years.

Ryan Yzquierdo
Seibertron.com

McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers


McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers

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Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107745)
Posted by Seibertron on May 2nd, 2007 @ 8:49pm CDT
I have added the McDonald's Beast Wars figures to the gallery section. I've also updated the above article to include the Beast Wars drawings I drew in March 1996 for you guys to enjoy.
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107750)
Posted by jgilkinson on May 2nd, 2007 @ 8:55pm CDT
lol i remember having all those except the lion head one. Cool stuff ryan. Love the origin story too
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107754)
Posted by crazyfists on May 2nd, 2007 @ 8:58pm CDT
mcdonalds used to have really old transforming changeables (http://www.x-entertainment.com/articles/0724/)
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107764)
Posted by Duke of Luns on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:12pm CDT
Under 3 is officially one of, if not the worst official Transformers ever made(was that Arby's Rhinox official?), but I do understand why. Yet I gotta admit, there's something special about it. The design of the robot mode actually is actually pretty decent. If we were to put it in a fiction perspective, who is he? Where did he come from? Why does he look a little like Prime? Maybe he was the first Autobot to ever undergo the Maximal upgrade, and is in actuality one of Prime's decendent's. The world may never know.

At any rate, I swear I smelled french fries when I took a look at that happy-meal box.

Nice galleries 8) .
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107767)
Posted by Supreme Convoy on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:14pm CDT
Whoa, I never knew that story.

Thanks for sharing, man!
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107768)
Posted by TheMuffin on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:15pm CDT
lol I never even knew you were an artist. Nice work on the drawings. I'm loving the Terrorsaur.
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107777)
Posted by Spooner on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:20pm CDT
I had no idea you were from the Flint area - I've lived in and around Flint (Grand Blanc currently) since '95; we had probably crossed paths in the toy aisles more than once.
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107781)
Posted by Skowl on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:22pm CDT
Wow, that's a pretty hardcore story Ryan. And, yes, it is weird to think I owe my love of this site and your galleries to the McFormers.

I always liked the happy meal guys, especially the Transmetal ones from the later years. The Manta Ray is still my favourite of the bunch!

Great stuff Ryan, thanks for sharing, 'tis a great story!
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107784)
Posted by Silver Wind on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:27pm CDT
Thanks for sharing your story, Seibertron. I always love getting to read up on backstories, whether it be Real Life or some fiction work. :D
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107791)
Posted by Seibertron on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:34pm CDT
Spooner wrote:I had no idea you were from the Flint area - I've lived in and around Flint (Grand Blanc currently) since '95; we had probably crossed paths in the toy aisles more than once.


I grew up in Fenton and attended school in Linden (graduated in 1995). I moved to East Lansing in 1997, moved to Grand Rapids in 1998, then moved to Chicago in 2002 where I've lived ever since. I still make it back to that neck of the woods now and then. My Dad lives in the Milford area (he works as a car salesman at the Al Serra Auto Plaza) and the rest of my family lives in Holland, MI. My Grandma lives in Grand Blanc off Fenton Rd.
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107794)
Posted by Seibertron on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:38pm CDT
Silver Wind wrote:Thanks for sharing your story, Seibertron. I always love getting to read up on backstories, whether it be Real Life or some fiction work. :D


I'm glad you enjoyed the story. Thanks for reading it!
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107799)
Posted by skywarp-2 on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:45pm CDT
you know honestly, the names aside those MC Donald's beast wars figures would actually do well design wise if they were upgraded to a voyager class toy, especailly the manta Ray, Beetle, and megatron croc.. those drawings really bring out the best in those designs, and man I would love to see a well done beetle, those extra legs coming off the arms are fantastic..!!!! Nice story Ryan, your a fan like no other, and I'm definately glad we have your dedication to the hobby.. your cool in my book, plus you tinker in the sketch department like me, though my Computer art, and coloring skills suck, but I'm pretty handy with the pencil and pen.. :grin:

also if you follow my myspace link, it leads to my page and my real name, but you have to send me a message in order to get more info, i had a stalker ex girlfriend so i had to set it on private..
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107800)
Posted by Spooner on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:46pm CDT
Seibertron wrote:
Spooner wrote:I had no idea you were from the Flint area - I've lived in and around Flint (Grand Blanc currently) since '95; we had probably crossed paths in the toy aisles more than once.


I grew up in Fenton and attended school in Linden (graduated in 1995). I moved to East Lansing in 1997, moved to Grand Rapids in 1998, then moved to Chicago in 2002 where I've lived ever since. I still make it back to that neck of the woods now and then. My Dad lives in the Milford area (he works as a car salesman at the Al Serra Auto Plaza) and the rest of my family lives in Holland, MI. My Grandma lives in Grand Blanc off Fenton Rd.


Cool. I moved here mainly because my wife's family is here, and this is where she wanted to stay. I'm from a backwater town in the SW corner of the state, went to U of M Ann Arbor, met her while working a summer at Cedar Point, finished school, got married, and the rest is history.

Oh, and I dig Transformers, too.
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107814)
Posted by Sentinel Pax on May 2nd, 2007 @ 9:58pm CDT
I used to own a lot of the first wave Beast Wars figures. Sadly, I either lost them or we gave them away. Stupid parents. Oh well, I still have several of them...but I'll always miss my Bat Primal and Gator-tron. And Terrorsaur...and Cheetor.
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107819)
Posted by GetterDragun on May 2nd, 2007 @ 10:02pm CDT
That was a really cool read! Impressive artwork as well!
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107824)
Posted by Head Shot on May 2nd, 2007 @ 10:07pm CDT
Uhm, nice flash back, really nice, (reminds me of the transition between g2, and beast wars, and ironically enough your story of the bat primal and croc megs is indentical to mine, however I was like okay cool, a bat and alligator. ) But I was about 7 when beast wars came out, and I was psyched to see this after seeing g2 sadly end.

one problem though, the new story is mislabeled, panther and beetle are switched around above the picture of the toys.
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107826)
Posted by Seibertron on May 2nd, 2007 @ 10:09pm CDT
Woo hoo! My Dad just sent me the photos of McDonald's and the Big Kmart in Fenton to go along with this article. Man, talk about a blast from the past for me! Heh heh. What a great Dad I have.

He also sent me this picture of the Transformers at the Big K. Looks like they got the Movie figures in today as well.
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107828)
Posted by TheMuffin on May 2nd, 2007 @ 10:11pm CDT
I have no money...I'm putting those protoforms on my credit card. YES! MY FIRST STEP INTO DEBT!
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107831)
Posted by Seibertron on May 2nd, 2007 @ 10:16pm CDT
Head Shot wrote:Uhm, nice flash back, really nice, (reminds me of the transition between g2, and beast wars, and ironically enough your story of the bat primal and croc megs is indentical to mine, however I was like okay cool, a bat and alligator. ) But I was about 7 when beast wars came out, and I was psyched to see this after seeing g2 sadly end.

one problem though, the new story is mislabeled, panther and beetle are switched around above the picture of the toys.


I'm glad you liked the flashback, Head Shot. Thanks for pointing out that I had the text flipped for two of the galleries. I've updated the story to reflect this change.

http://www.seibertron.com/news/view.php?id=10200
Re: McDonald's Beast Wars Transformers galleries ... and the origin of Seibertron.com? (107838)
Posted by Seibertron on May 2nd, 2007 @ 10:19pm CDT
GetterDragun wrote:That was a really cool read! Impressive artwork as well!


Thanks GetterDragun! And to think that it was my artwork that made me start this website 7 years ago. Funny how I never got around to using it to showcase my artwork like I had originally planned. Ah well ... I think I'm enjoying this route a lot more. One day I'll get back to drawing again!

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