Posts tagged with "beast wars" - 4
Posted November 14, 2013 at 8:01 pm

I like Beast Wars a lot, in case you haven't noticed.  So when the six Transformers Collectors' Club Subscription Service guys were announced at last year's BotCon and one of them was a redeco of Big Convoy in Ultra Magnus colored named "Ultra Mammoth," I was abnormally excited.  You know, given the circumstances.  It's a redeco of Big Convoy, after all, who's kind of a pile of mammoth parts loosely attached to a robot.  But it was a new Beast Wars toy, with a new name!  Exciting!

It was the new name that gave me hope.  He was "Ultra Mammoth" and not just plain ol' "Ultra Magnus."  Obviously, he was a new guy like Optimus Primal's a new guy and not Optimus Prime.  Obviously!  But, ha ha, no, eventually we'd discover that he was indeed just Ultra Magnus.  Silly David and your stupid hopes and dreams.  But what really took me for a trip was the eventual reveal that he wasn't even in the friggin' Beast Wars.  Instead, he's native to the Shattered Glass Universe, or is at least "our" Ultra Magnus after crashlanding in the Shattered Glass Earth's past with a bunch of other Generation One guys who fight in a completely different war.  For reals, it was just a bunch of G1 guys fighting, like always happens whenever somebody gets their hands on the Beast Wars franchise.  I mean, it's nice that it's not mucking around with the "real" Beast Wars and doing its own separate thing, but it's still not really something I want to see. 

(I do want to see it DRAWN like that, though.  Matt Frank draws the best beasts, expressive yet ferocious.)

Long story short, I wanted to rescue this toy's potential -- in my own mind, even if nobody else cared.  I just wanted a new Beast Wars guy.  And so I decided I'd draw a story about Ultra Mammoth being a new guy.  Nothing about how he has to rescue the universe or anything, and nothing with all of the weird claptraps that modern Beast Wars fiction has fallen into.  My Ultra Mammoth was going to be a newborn protoform, as was originally intended with stasis pods, before the stasis pods became the means for writers to inject more G1 dudes into the Axalon crew.  (When your random Maximal exploration ship somehow includes Grimlock, Soundwave, and one of two distinct-but-simultaneously-existing versions of G1 Prowl while the other G1 Prowl and G1s Silverbolt, Ironhide, Ravage, and Starscream are already involved, there might be a problem here.)  I also wanted a story where a stasis pod landed and its inhabitant actually does what a Maximal protoform is supposed to do -- scan an indigenous life form and do science. 

(Also I threw in Waspinator, because I like stories that involve/advertise toys currently on shelves, plus both had fates of ending up alone on a planet, so that felt like some theme cohesiveness was built into the pairing.)  

I hope everyone liked the story!  I'm sorry it took over Shortpacked! for two and a half weeks -- I knew that if it didn't publish in public where there was a very visible deadline each night, it would be something I'd never finish.  Ultimately, I just wanted something different hammered into my brain when I saw this Ultra Mammoth toy, something that reminded me more of Beast Wars.  You guys kind of got corralled into this like so much colateral damage.

The toy itself is, as mentioned briefly above, the Big Convoy mold, for better or worse.  It's a sizeable thing with many, many parts, and a Beast Wars Neo toy, so you know those many parts are going to annoy you at times.  The new color scheme is very attractive, even if it's just the original Ultra Magnus toy colors mapped onto this thing.  A blue mammoth rides that sweet groove between dorky and beautiful.  

The harpoon missiles which holster in his legs have sadly been remolded.  They're now thicker all around, which means they don't fit inside him any more while in beast mode.  They click into the launchers fine, but there's not enough room inside him in mammoth mode for them to fit.  Other than that, this mold doesn't show much age, even though it's fifteen years old.  My Ultra Mammoth's elbow joints are even strong enough to support his massive trunk gun, which is unheard of.  Usually you gotta rest it over his shoulder.  He still has that wacky third mode where his mammoth mode grotesquely opens up into a cannon, and his tusks still wiggle when you pull back on his ears.  The rubber in his trunk is a little stiffer than in earlier iterations of the mold, so pulling on the lever at the top of his head doesn't cause the trunk to curl as much as it used to.

If you want one, he's still available at the Club store if you're a TCC member or Big Bad Toy Store if you're not. 

Posted August 25, 2013 at 12:00 am

Man, I still have a huge-ass backlog of toys from BotCon and SDCC which I haven't talked about.  I remember when weekend updates were unlocked during the Dumbing of Age Kickstarter, and folks worried I wouldn't have time left to do comics.  Oh, I'll have time to do comics!  Just... other non-comic things fall through the cracks, is all.  Like toy reviews.  And so let's try to put a dent in this backlog.

One thing I really really need to talk about is this customized BWX Megatron.  Cheetimus painted one up to look like Transmetal Megatron, which is basically the one thing this universe is sorely missing.  And I know I talk a big game about Dinobot and Ratchet and Hot Shot, but I assure you that Beast Wars Megatron is, in fact, my favorite Transformers character of all time.  And that his Transmetal form is my favorite iteration of him, though I think I like his BWX toy the best.

So obviously, the BWX toy painted up in is Transmetal colors just might be the best thing possible.

My decision was made for me, and now he is mine.  

I bet if you wanted one, too, you could commission one from Cheets.

Posted May 8, 2013 at 12:15 am
I was surprised at the number of vendors selling Transformers at Calgary Expo.  It was a sizable representation!   Quite a few booths were Transformers-only.

For example, there was this booth at the back of the hall, and, huh, they had mint carded 1984 Frenzy/Laserbeak and Rumble/Ravage sets for like $20 and, weird, is that a boxed Sunstreaker for $40?  ...oh.  Right.  I see.  Counterfeit.  Just buttloads of counterfeit Transformers.  You'd only know because they weren't hundreds of dollars.  (Well, there are really slight ways to tell from examining the specifics of the packaging, like if something or another is a millimeter to the left, but that is not knowledge I possess.)  Thought that was kinda skeevy.  The guy who was selling them referred to them as "reprints."  I suppose that's a euphemism.

But actual Transformers that were real Transformers made by real Transformers factories weren't badly priced, either!  Like the Axalon here.  I think when he came out he was like $50 to import.  He's just a deluxe, but he's "limited run" or something, and TakaraTomy needed the dough I guess and so they cranked up the prices for this leg of United stuff.  But a booth at Calgary Expo had him for $30!  Canadian!  That's like $25 American.  So I scooped up the heck outta that.

And then Air Canada lost my luggage on the way home (nearly getting me stranded in Toronto since you can't go through customs if your luggage ain't security-cleared) and it took a few days for me to get him home.


He's, uh, the Axalon.  The Maximal ship from Beast Wars.  As a robot.  Look, okay, Takara released the Deluxe Class bug-machine-tank-thinger Unicron as "Ark Unicron," aka "The Autobot Ship Is Possessed By Unicron Or Something" and so the story is that Primus made the Axalon be alive too in order to fight him.  Crazy, right?  It's the kind of crazy I'd buy for $25 but not $50.

And, look, yes, I know, he has an Autobot symbol on him despite being a Maximal ship, and yes, I know that his toy was designed to be the Nemesis, an entirely different ship which was also around at the time so why is it the Axalon, but...


Posted March 11, 2012 at 11:26 pm
It's another year of Transformers and Halls and Fames!  And yet again, there's a Beast Wars guy in the fan-selected nominees!  I'm gung ho for 2010's Dinobot and I enjoy 2011's Waspinator, but I have to tell you, Beast Wars Megatron is genuinely my favorite Transformers character of all time.  And once Hasbro let us know that even though they auto-inducted "Megatron" for the first year of the Hall of Fame, it didn't mean we couldn't fan-nominate the young upstart who took his name, traveled into Earth's past, and blew off Optimus Prime's head!

So I'm voting BW Megs.  There won't be a storyline or anything pushing for him this year like I did for Dinobot, but I just thought I'd let you know the voting has begun.

(Though if Sky Byte wins instead, I won't be pissy or anything.)
Posted July 28, 2010 at 12:30 am
Sunrise, sunset.

In 1994, Transformers was dead.  Again!  It died once in the United States (while it lingered overseas), and they tried bringing it back in 1993 with the original toys and characters.  It didn't work.  It was antiquated and it didn't speak to the new generation.  Hasbro, who had recently acquired their former competitor Kenner, tossed them the rotting corpse of their once-golden property and told Kenner to have their way with it.

And for the first time in 10  years, Transformers was suddenly a top-selling toyline and a top-rated (Emmy award-winning) cartoon.  The Beast Wars toys were the third-most popular boys toyline of its time, behind Power Rangers and Star Wars.  The syndicated cartoon consistently ranked first in its local timeslot among the target demographic.  It resurrected the Transformers franchise and saved it from the abyss.  Why?

Because it was allowed to be different.

Still perhaps the most awesome Transformers toy ever, yesss.

Some things that made Beast Wars popular were ganked from the Transformers franchise's recent history.  Its incredible articulation, for one.  Its willingness to resurrect older characters if needed.  Its insistence on integrating weapons into the toys in both modes, so no accessories got left behind.  But what it did innovate allowed Transformers to become a living, breathing, organic property.  So to speak.  Yes, everyone transformed into "real" animals.  It was weird to the long-time fans, but it drew in children like crazy.   For the longest time, Transformers had to be designed within a certain visual perimeter.  Sort of Gundamy, sort of Robotechy... everyone had to have a normal face with a crest and maybe a visor, with blocky legs and arms.  Beast Wars opened that up to toothy grins, bug eyes, and frightening mandibles.  Sometimes arms ended in legs or claws.  Sometimes feet didn't end in giant blocky boots, but in talons.   Transformations were more complex and more creative.  Shapes were new.  Faces were new.

Transformers had become stale, and its near-death allowed the powers that be to unchain it, let it go, and let it find its own way, free of the conventional wisdom.

Oh, and then Beast Wars Megatron totally friggin' killed G1 Optimus Prime in the head and all of time unravelled. Have I mentioned that?

The cartoon benefited from a similar Renaissance.  Bob Forward and Larry DiTillio, the co-story editors of Beast Wars, didn't know Transformers from a hole in the ground.  But they knew how to write.  And it turned out that was way more important.  Financial and technological constrictions turned out to not be minuses, but pluses.   Since Beast Wars was computer rendered, and this was 1995, the cast was tiny by necessity, starting with just five characters on each side, marooned on barren Earthlike planet.  Instead of being agoraphobic, this allowed the writers to focus and explore the characters they had.  Generation 1 started with 20 characters in its first season.  By its second, there were more than 50.  Some were lucky enough to get a line of dialog.  A sparse few got spotlight episodes.  But in Beast Wars, every character had time to shine.  We knew these characters inside and out.  They became real to us in ways that Transformers characters had rarely accomplished previously.

"So who wants to die first?" "Oh, totally you. I'll do it later."

And it helped that Optimus Primal was not Optimus Prime. By the time we met Prime, he was already a fixture, a living legend.  Inspirational to a child looking for a faultless father figure, but not very conducive to storytelling.  When we met Primal, he was a nobody.  He was new to his crew, and they to him.  He made mistakes, but he was obviously learning on the job.  And the rest of the cast knew it.  Rattrap gave him so much grief.  This was something rarely seen before, a hint of dissent within the good guy robots!  The things Beast Wars introduced that we take for granted today...

Better yet, this was not the status quo.  Rattrap organically learned to begrudgingly respect Primal.  Dinobot learned over several seasons what his place in the universe was, and what he truly believed in, and what that meant for him.  (It meant he would die.) Blackarachnia evolved from a by-the-numbers femme fatale into a compelling three-dimensional character.  The show would always find a way to take away something from the characters that would show us who they are, allowing them to grow.  In Blackarachnia's case, it was her autonomy.  In Tigatron's case, it was his lover.  In Dinobot's case, it was his certainty.

These things were made possible by the incredible caliber of writers assembled by Forward and DiTillio.  Their ranks included Len Wein (creator of Wolverine, Storm, and Colossus), Christy Marx (Babylon 5), Jules Dennis (Real Ghostbusters and Batman: The Animated Series), D.C. Fontana (so much Star Trek), and, yes, Simon Furman (everything Transformers ever).  For the first time, a Transformers show was allowed to have an over-arching plot from season to season, still with room for individual adventures.  Transformers for the first time in animation was sophisticated, intelligent, and three-dimensional.

Goodbye! Hope they don't make any crappy spinoffs!

Some critics at the time of Beast Wars scoffed at its existence, claiming that once it was over it would return to obscurity, never to be seen or heard from again.  They've been proven wrong repeatedly.  The influence of Beast Wars persists to this very day.  Transformers Animated gave us an Optimus Prime that was very much like the untested Optimus Primal, and included characters such as Rattletrap, Blackarachnia, and Waspinator.  Beast Wars showed us that Transformers exists outside of the exclusive realm of the original cartoon, and incorporated elements taken from the Marvel Comics, like Primus, a concept that still informs Transformers fiction.  The very idea of the spark, the tangible "soul" of a Transformer,  has existed in every single incarnation of Transformers since, including the live-action movie, as has the concept of the Matrix/AllSpark as the Transformers afterlife.  The cartoon set the golden standard for what Transformers television fiction should be and aspire to, according to both the fans and the creators of current Transformers content.

Beast Wars is why Transformers still exists.  It pulled me back into Transformers after having left it, and is the biggest reason this very webcomic about toy collecting exists.  It's informed my own storytelling in the past and will continue to inform it in the future.  And there will always be a shelf in my house dedicated to its toys, as they portray a series of characters that will never, ever leave me.  Characters that have taught me valuable things.

Beast Wars is awesome.
Posted July 20, 2010 at 1:55 pm
Donate to Child's Play or Hasbro's Children's Hospital. On Tuesday, when I return from Comic-Con, I will tell you why Beast Wars is awesome.

Those two sentences are not related; this is not an "if, then" proposition.

At the end of the day, there won't be a tally.  This won't go on my resume.  I will not personally benefit in any way.  I will not use this as a stunt to belittle and shame other people.  Kids will receive help, in whatever amount.  And next week the stories that brighten our lives will get a short spotlight.  That is all.

I have to go get on a plane now.  See you then.
Posted July 12, 2010 at 12:50 am
Here's the Primal I promised you yesterday. Someone asked me for a first-season Primal art today, and I had one ready-made! So he's gone.

The girl who asked for Cheetor on Friday came back to buy him, so I replaced him with Blackarachnia.

Optimus Primal got bought, so he got replaced by Megatron.

I bought a $5 blindpacked Mini-Con. (Ironlunge!) He's a Predacon like Dinobot, so they got to hang out.

Maggie bought some blindpacked Full Metal Panic figures. Dinobot met them.

Her name is Teresa Testarosa. Her character is Italian. Everything insists on romanizing her name as "Teletha." It's retarded.
Posted July 3, 2010 at 10:44 pm

In the past week I've amassed four new Ravages.  It wasn't my intent!  It just happened!

First was Shattered Glass Ravage.  Why I own him is fairly obvious.

Later during BotCon I picked up a Beast Wars Shadow Panther.  A black and yellow Cheetor redeco, he was originally a Takara release, but Hasbro imported him and sold him on their website for a while.  They couldn't get the name "Shadow Panther," so they called him "Tripredacus Agent."  Later, they'd do another Tripredacus Agent out of Transmetals 2 Cheetor who was supposed to be Ravage, included with a bio that insinuated that Shadow Panther was also Ravage in one of his aliases/disguises.  And then years later Beast Wars Sourcebook said Shadow Panther was a different guy who just has the exact same personality as Ravage so I'm not sure why they bothered, but screw that.  He's Ravage.

After getting home, Graham found me a Legends movie-style Ravage.  He is tiny and adorable and due to the jointing in his paws, he is excellent at waving.  He is a waving fiend.  Legends Ravage, the tiniest of movie Ravages, is easily the best of all of the movie Ravages.  I suggest you get him.

And finally, the day after I picked up the newest redeco of the movie Deluxe mold.  He's all right.  Nothing special.  He just soothes my OCD, is all.
Posted May 28, 2010 at 2:01 am

If you've been wondering where this week's strips have come from, this should be an informative video!

Wednesday's strip was so hella long because cutting up the action into a week's worth of updates wouldn't have felt like it was in the spirit of the source material.  Dinobot tearing through everyone takes up maybe 30 seconds, tops, and it's a dense 30 seconds.  So I decided to pile it all into one strip so it kept the same feel.  Action sequences are kinda dumb when metered out six panels at a time, anyhow.  You lose all the excitement.

At any rate, hope you enjoyed my tribute to Dinobot.  There's a short epilogue on Monday, and then we'll be back to the usual in the days thereafter.  I promise Ghostbusters, Batman, Mario, Optimus Prime and even Superstar Funana!

Today is the last day of the Hall of Fame voting.  Throw one more Dinobot vote onto the pile, would you?
Posted May 25, 2010 at 2:01 am
Now with 100% less shrinkwrap filter

It's not Dinobot, but it's Beast Wars!  (Vote for Dinobot!)

This is Shokaract from the BotCon 2000 comic book. This is what he looked like in the original book.  Andrew Wildman, the colorist, looooves his Photoshop filters so I thought I'd see what it'd look like if I dropped all that and recolored it, um, vanilla.  Now you can see the Geoff Senior artwork more clearly.

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