Looking Back on Beast Machines

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Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby JazZeke » Fri Sep 14, 2018 3:55 pm

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The other day I got this... weird, sudden flash of nostalgia for Beast Machines, of all things. Which is weird, because as a 13-year-old, I kind of hated that show.

Beast Wars was what I grew up with. I'd had just enough exposure to G1 thanks to swap meets and VHS tapes to appreciate Beast Wars not just on its own merits, but as a part of something bigger than itself. Halfway through Beast Wars' first season, my family moved way the hell out into the boondocks to try our hand at homesteading. We had no TV reception, but we had a TV and a generator, and my grandfather, may he rest in peace, taped Beast Wars for me and my siblings. Out there, I was a pretty lonely kid, and the Maximals became my "best friends." Beast Wars had such a profound effect on me that it inspired me to become a writer as an adult.

So when Beast Machines came around, I hated seeing Rattrap reduced to a whiner without any of his past snark. Optimus Primal turned into a short-sighted zealot. Silverbolt made heartless and dour. And most egregiously, Rhinox made evil. The sheer stupidity of primordial ooze as a do-all plot device and the liberties the series took with G1 canon were aggravating too, but it was the characters I cared enough. Most of the time, I'm content to pretend Beast Machines never happened.

But all of a sudden, I saw the Beast Machines logo somewhere and my mood just... flipped. Not the series or the toys themselves, oh god no, but like, that very strange period in the franchise's history. Looking back on it, it's kind of hard to believe how weird Transformers got at that point. Biomechanical figures, unorthodox designs, a complete lack of show accuracy... these toys had nothing to do with the original G1 Transformers in concept or aesthetic, but at the same time you could see the clear evolution from one into the other. Looking back on it now, after 18 years of relative brand stability, it feels kind of surreal how the brand got so "off-focus" like that.

And you know? As much as I'm looking forward to the Siege toys, at the same time I feel like it's kind of a shame Hasbro isn't as experimental as it used to be. I love building up my "neo-G1" collection (and it's about damn time I got a good Ironhide figure for it), but I feel like the brand has been scared to try anything fresh since Animated, and that's a crying shame.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby shajaki » Sat Sep 15, 2018 1:15 pm

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My initial reaction of BM was shock, then I fell in love with it. It was daring for the time, and sadly true that they don't take chances like that anymore.

It is by far the most dark and adult oriented series we've ever gotten. I find even the animation has aged well (whereas BW is a bit of a chore). It has it's issues, it's not perfect, but it's sophisticated. I was ok with pretty much all the character changes. Rattrap however took some getting used to, but once I understood the "why" (which is what a lot of this show was about), that made him all the more interesting.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Wingz » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:09 pm

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Beast Machines...I actually rewatched both Beast Wars and Beast Machines very recently, and I agree with you on quite a few points, Jaz, especially regarding Rattrap. Regarding him in Beast Machines, I still just see an inside-out boy scout on training wheels when I look at that model, and he comes off as helpless for the first half of the series. Given the events in the series, personality changes are understandable, but I never got used to the models.

There was something I caught this time that I did not catch the first time, though, since you mentioned the liberties the writers took with G1 canon. When Optimus was explaining about the Oracle's prophesy, he states: "The first robots who came to Cybertron had to learn to transform." Not only does this completely dismiss Cybertron as a "home planet" or "Primus", no reason was ever given as to why they would feel the need to learn to transform. Because it was organic and animals existed there? It doesn't really make a lot of sense, and it's never clarified.

Taking the series for what it was and what it offered, it was decent, but by no means great in my opinion. It would be nice if they reached outside the comfort zone more often, such as with the concept of Beast Wars, but I'm not sure the risk is worth the effort at this point in time.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby shajaki » Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:37 pm

Motto: "A man who wants nothing is invincible."
Wingz wrote:When Optimus was explaining about the Oracle's prophesy, he states: "The first robots who came to Cybertron had to learn to transform." Not only does this completely dismiss Cybertron as a "home planet" or "Primus", no reason was ever given as to why they would feel the need to learn to transform.
Didn't "Five Faces of Darkness" reference them learning to transform?
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Wingz » Sat Sep 15, 2018 7:07 pm

Motto: "Let the trails lead where they may. I will follow."
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shajaki wrote:
Wingz wrote:When Optimus was explaining about the Oracle's prophesy, he states: "The first robots who came to Cybertron had to learn to transform." Not only does this completely dismiss Cybertron as a "home planet" or "Primus", no reason was ever given as to why they would feel the need to learn to transform.
Didn't "Five Faces of Darkness" reference them learning to transform?


It's been a while since I've seen "Five Faces of Darkness" :lol: May have to revisit it at some point soon, then. Thank you for the heads up! ;)^
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Vector Primal » Tue Sep 18, 2018 11:55 am

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I did not care for it. They may as well have made a new cast of characters. Rattrap wouldn't go to Megatron...way to smart and to much pride.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby ScottyP » Wed Sep 19, 2018 7:05 am

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The Beast Machines show was very good indeed. I wouldn't mind seeing a Blu-Ray release of it.

Though "I am transformed" in lieu of "maximize" had some moments where it was more cringey than anything.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby AllNewSuperRobot » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:20 am

I saw Beast Machines about 10 years ago. It was a cheap boxset on Amazon so I thought why not? BM was never televised here in the UK that I could recall (Season 3 of Beast Wars shared a similar fate) and as such, being the early days of forums, I only heard talk of how "terrible" it was. I was curious.

I'm a fan of villains, not heroes. I adored the Vehicons. Their concept, execution (and the toys) was superb. The ideas of drones and Mold Clones was very G1. Really enjoyed Megatron's arc, toying with the idea of corruption. How, merely holding the spark of G1 Megs had fundamentally damaged Megatron long term. His once brilliant and cunning mind slipping into madness and general decay.

Rhinox was the only Maximal I liked. I did not care for the Tankor revelation.

The rest of the Maximals? Characterisation, designs, motivations, to me it was all 'off'. If this had been a standalone series, I don't think this feeling would have been there. As it stands, basically Beast Wars Season 4, mistakes were clearly made and I didn't really see any positives from the alterations. The Maximal toys were 95% terrible too.

So in summary, half the show I liked, half I didn't. I do still regard it higher than the Unicron Trilogy though.
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Re: Looking Back on Beast Machines

Postby Cyberstrike » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:48 am

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Wingz wrote:
shajaki wrote:
Wingz wrote:When Optimus was explaining about the Oracle's prophesy, he states: "The first robots who came to Cybertron had to learn to transform." Not only does this completely dismiss Cybertron as a "home planet" or "Primus", no reason was ever given as to why they would feel the need to learn to transform.
Didn't "Five Faces of Darkness" reference them learning to transform?


It's been a while since I've seen "Five Faces of Darkness" :lol: May have to revisit it at some point soon, then. Thank you for the heads up! ;)^


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