I was born in 1989, therefore I always tell people that Beast Wars was my G1. I was spoiled in that my first experience with Transformers featured articulation, the advent of ball joints, and a generally stocked retail experience. There was also a fantastic TV series that did not suffer from the terrific plot holes and mistakes of the G1 cartoon. The Beast Era was the 5 year plan of Hasbro from 1996 through 2001 which ended in Beast Machines, a short-lived series of which we do not speak.
In late 2014, after Age of Extinction released and the unfortunate toy line was in full swing, I saw a Walmart exclusive 3 pack with a blue repaint of original Beast Wars Terrorsaur. I was amazed to see Hasbro release a figure that I remember from when I was 7 years old. Though I never personally owned Terrorsaur, holding this figure with the original Takara/Hasbro 1996 stamp on the underside of the wing took me back to childhood and opened up the notion that Hasbro could have, and probably was still using a lot of the old molds that I had memorized every year since then.
I had not looked at the Transformers section in stores since the first live-action movie came out. I was one of the Transformers fans brought back in by the Michael Bay films, and like many of them, I ran screaming away after the reality of this reanimated corpse hit me. Along with Terrorsaur who was now called Strafe which was in turn just the new Swoop, I purchased a few Generations figures. I had a void to fill with Transformers. LEGO had completely vacated the hobby slot in my lifestyle and become strictly business. It was time to dive back into another childhood love, Transformers. When I was young, I had a lot of Beast Wars figures. A couple of years ago, I would have told you that when I was a child, I had most of them. I hope this guide shows you that the Beast Wars toy line expands further than you may think.
I also had assorted, probably incomplete G1 and G2 figures picked up at various flea markets. Particulars that I remember were Galvatron, Snapdragon, and Motormaster. While the gimmicks like headmasters, combiners, and Lights/Sounds were lost to me, imagination really made these toys special. That’s my opinion of most G1 figures. They were 90% imagination, and 10% engineering. I cannot doubt the nostalgic appeal of G1 toys for those born in the late 1970s, but the toys, comparatively, were junk. The television series holds water for me because it just has a vintage feel to it. It is hard to explain, but that feel is not present with the toys. Sometimes the name on the packaging was your only indication that you were holding in your hands a character which you knew from watching the show. I had rented some of the season 1 G1 episodes on VHS several times, but in the mid-1990s, fully immersing yourself in the G1 cartoon was not an easy task. I had no idea the names of the G1 toys I had from flea markets, what could have been missing from them, or even how to fully transform them sometimes. I suppose in some ways, the G1 toys were better if you didn’t know who they were supposed to be or what may be missing from them.
Now the Beast Wars toy line was definitely not without flaws. Gold Plastic Syndrome, sun damage, flaking electrostatic plating, and rub sign fatigue are all plagues that deteriorate all Transformers lines. Very few toys from the line were represented in the television series and while good attempts, they rarely captured the resemblance of the CG models. Some figures were spot on, others drifted more towards the Ratchet/Ironhide predicament. Scaling issues were forgivable, but there are scaling issues with every line. The repaints and retools are widespread and I seek to bring you the most complete Beast Wars collecting guide yet. I have learned a lot from Beast Wars Transformers The Unofficial Guide, Beast Wars Omnibus, and Cybertronian: Beast Wars Volume 1, but having all been published in the early 2000s, there is much more to share.
The majority of my knowledge of the Beast Wars expanded toy line is from continuous eBay searches. In my quest to collect them all, I have zealously searched eBay for “Beast Wars” hoping to score some of the few remaining figures out there. Through these searches, I have found many more items to add to my checklist. Through the endless barrage of basic class Fuzors and Transmetal 2 figures, I have found color variants, packaging variants, interesting knock-offs, and non-transforming figurines. My collection parameters are a bit strange, but then again so are all of our justifications for the great plastic crack.
I collect any and all uses of the molds which were released by Hasbro in North America during the first 4 years of the Beast Era. What does this include? A lot. What does it exclude? That is probably an easier answer. Beast Wars Neo and Beast Wars II molds which were never released from 1996-2000 in North America. Stampy, Dead End, Mach Kick, Killer Punch, Gigastorm, etc. If there is no chance I would have found the figure at the store as a child, then I will not seek it out. Tonbot, Randy, Mantis, Tripledacus, and Bump. These are all Takara counterparts to Hasbro molds, or more succinctly, Beast Wars repaints. As a matter of which came first, I will not worry about that. The repaints stretch much further than just the two Beast Wars series from Japan. Psycho-Orb, Windrazor, Rapticon, and yes, Strafe are all repaints from other Transformers lines in different years. Finally, there is one last category and that consists of figures that are directly related to Beast Wars. They do not share the same molds as Beast Wars figures from 1996-2000, but they are, for the most part, indisputably Beast Wars. Generations Rattrap from 2015, Haiku from Keith’s Fantasy Club (a 3rd Party Sky-Byte which was an RID repaint of Beast Wars Transmetal 2 Cybershark), Transformers Animated Waspinator, Robot Heroes Beast Convoy (a scaled down version of the ultra class Optimus Primal from Beast Wars), and Transformers Collectors Club Tarantulas from 2015. My collection would not be complete without fleshing out the uniquely Beast Wars characters with other incarnations of their likenesses.
Let this be your guide to exploring the possibility of a Beast Wars Transformers obsession. Or hobby. Let’s go with hobby.