- Motto: "Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly; the ill deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly. The rest ... is silence."
- Weapon: Twin Shock-Concussion Missiles
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
Last edited by Guest
on Wed May 02, 2007 9:10 pm, edited 19 times in total.
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