Transtech was originally planned as the follow-up to the Beast Machines toy-line and cartoon. It would have begun in summer 2001, but was instead replaced by Robots in Disguise while Hasbro geared up for Armada.
Story-wise, not much is known about the original concept. It likely would have picked up on technorganic Cybertron following the events of Beast Machines. A Mainframe CGI animated series to support the line was likely in the discussion stage at some point.
Six years later, Transtech designs were used to populate a new continuity, TransTech.
The characters transformed into Cybertronic vehicles that in many cases had animal-like features/deco. Cheetor was a Cybertronic race-car with a cheetah-like paint job, for instance, and Optimus Prime (confusingly invoking Optimus Primal) was a truck whose front end looked like an ape's face. Designs were done by Draxhall Jump and had somewhat less traditional robot modes (Cheetor had large hoop "wheels" for shoulders and feet, for instance) and didn't always resemble older versions of the character very closely. The overall aesthetic was somewhere in-between Beast Machines' odder moments and the new 2007 movie designs. Many of these designs were first shown at BotCon 2002 (apparently without Hasbro's permission, as they were pulled from the booth halfway through the show) and subsequently made available online.
The line would have included Maximals carried over from Beast Machines:
returning Beast Wars character:
returning Generation One characters:
and at least one new character
The toyline got to the early hard-copy prototype stage, and some prototypes, including Cheetor, Starscream, and Prime, have surfaced. None of them apparently reached a stage of production where real, usable molds were created, and so future release is extremely unlikely.
When Draxhall Jump made their design sketches for Transtech available, they also included a number of designs from other lines (such as GI Joe), but put them all under the "Transtech" header for their web page, causing a bit of confusion. This artwork included a work-up sketch of Soundwave as a souped-up blue boombox, which is often mistaken to be a member of the Transtech line.
The reasons for Transtech's cancellation remain unknown, but though over the years, a number of possible reasons have been speculated, among them: mixed fan reaction to Beast Machines, conflict with Mainframe, economic difficulties due to poor performance by other Hasbro toylines at the time, differences with Takara, or simply a desire to go in a new direction. The most likely explanation is not a singular culprit, but a number of corresponding culprits, perhaps culminating in the closing of Hasbro's Cincinnati offices and departures of staff, followed by the subsequent relocation to Hasbro's central offices in Rhode Island.
The cancellation of Transtech led to the Japanese Car Robots cartoon and toyline being imported as a stopgap measure while Hasbro and Takara began to work together to jointly create and launch the Armada line. And look how that turned out.
- According to the creative staff of Transformers Animated at BotCon 2008, Transformers Animated Blurr's design is partially inspired by TransTech Cheetor, most notably the hubless wheels making up part of his feet.
- Had TransTech been made, the characters would possibly be the first realistic Transformers ever.