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Beast Wars is a Transformers franchise that began in 1996, following the end of the Generation 2 toyline. It was a massive reinvention of the Transformers brand, featuring robots that changed into realistic, organically-styled animals instead of the traditional vehicles or mechanical beasts. It also did the seemingly unthinkable and replaced the original two factions, the Autobots and Decepticons, with the Maximals and the Predacons. Though originally decried by fans, the Beast Wars dramatically reinvigorated the brand, whose sales had been flagging under the Generation 2 franchise.
"Beast Wars" is also frequently used as a catchall term for the Beast Era in which Beast Wars and other series occur.
The Beast Wars franchise features the following primary components:
- A toyline — (1996-2000)
- A cartoon series — (1996-1999) called Beasties in many overseas markets.
- A manga series to go with seasons 2/3 - Japan only, 'natch.
- A video game for PC and PS based on Beast Wars.
- A video game for PS and N64 based on Beast Wars.
There are several 'expanded' Beast Wars storylines featuring events taking place 'just offscreen' of the cartoon series. Though the events of cartoon series are understood to occur just as had been portrayed, the context may be different, taking place in different time periods, etc. These contradictory stories all co-exist within the vast Transformers Multiverse.
Most of these exist mainly through Beast Wars comics.
- From 1997–2004, 3H featured a series of comics, toy-exclusives and text stories set in the same continuity as the Beast Wars and Beast Machines cartoon series, continuing into the Transformers: Universe series.
- IDW Publishing has produced 2 series and a profile sourcebook This continuity is notable for including toys and events from several Japanese Beast Wars series. (See Beast Wars timeline (IDW))
- Fun Publications Timelines imprint (2005 — ) has published several Beast Wars comics and text stories.
The Beast Wars' time period (like its exact location,) was never established during the cartoon's original run. In the years after the cartoon ended several official dates have been given:
- 3,000,000 years ago — Reissue Sixtrain Booklet — (August, 2003)
- 180,000 BC — Primeval Dawn Part 2 — (July, 2004)
- 70,000 BC — Beast Wars: Gathering #2 — (March, 2006)
Each of these dates applies to a different continuity or "alternate dimension" within the Transformers Multiverse, so they do not conflict with one another. The Maximals and Predacons in those dimensions simply crashed at different times, but had otherwise identical adventures. (Generally with different events taking place 'offscreen' unique ot each each expanded continuity.)
Though Earth's geology and biology seen in the cartoon does not fit any single era, the loose "window" of 70,000-180,000 B.C. seems to represent two extremes that are "about right."
"Other" Beast Wars
- The initial toys and the mini-comic packed with the basic Optimus Primal VS Megatron two-pack toy strongly implied that Beast Wars was a continuation of the previous Autobot/Decepticon conflict on present day Earth, with Primal and Megatron simply new forms of the Optimus Prime and original Megatron. This setting was abandoned when the 1996 cartoon established its futuristic setting. This remains an intriguing micro-continuity.
- A version of the Beast Wars occurred in the past of the Unicron Trilogy continuity family. One text story ("Fire in the Dark") in the 2004 Transformers Legends anthology is set in this version of Beast Wars.
- For further information, see: Beast Wars (Armada)
A Dramatic Change
The major change in direction for Transformers followed organizational changes within Hasbro. Hasbro had acquired rival toy manufacturer Kenner as part of their 1991 Tonka acquisition , and in 1995 they transferred their boys' toy lines from the Hasbro headquarters in Rhode Island to Kenner's Cincinnati, Ohio offices. Kenner was asked to revitalize the brand with new ideas, and that is exactly what they did.
Beast Wars was the first complete reinvention of the Transformers brand, discarding the previous setting/characters/factions to create a new story, set several hundred years in the future. Transformers in the Beast Era are much smaller (often human-sized) and transform into 'fleshy' non-robotic animals. Initially met with outrage by many fans (for a variety of reasons) Beast Wars would eventually become highly regarded, largely due to the exceptional quality of the cartoon series. It is now not unusual for even longtime Generation One fans to consider Beast Wars to be their favorite Transformers franchise.
- At the time many markets in the European Union banned shows with excessively violent titles. (Has this changed? The Wikipedia article for TMNT indicates "ninja" is no longer banned, but nunchucks still are? The depiction of Nunchucks is allowed, the wielding of them, notsomuch)
- Visual evidence suggests Northern Africa, but that would of course be impossible given some of the distances shown being covered on foot. (The main reason their location was left vague, thus, was a narrative one.)
- The Japanese dating of the events of Beast Wars as 3 Million Years Ago appears to stem from mis-reading Optimus Primal's statement in the episode "Optimal Situation" that they would have four million years to "scrape Megatron off the walls" as a literal rather than figurative timeframe. Regardless, 3 million years is unquestionably 'correct' for Micromaster Collection continuity — it was the age of wreckage discovered from that era.
- Sector Seven had the shattered golden disk (and possibly the Covenant of Primus) in its archives 1898, some 80 years before the disk's creation.
- The Sector Seven Alternate Reality Game indicates Sector Seven is at least partially aware of the events of the Beast Wars as early as 1983, as they are mentioned in the Takara Agreement.