thoughts on the Beast-era

"What? Transformers made from animals instead of vehicles and stuff? Doesn't sound so great, throw it to Kenner division, maybe they can make a quick buck or something."
Beast Wars, Machine Wars, Beast Machines... seeing a pattern? Coming soon: "Wars Wars"

thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Dominic » Tue Feb 16, 2010 1:05 pm

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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby andersonh1 » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:00 pm

It's probably more a case of cost-cutting than laziness. The bean-counters in the accounting office get the designs and start trimming. Because if anything, when we get a chance to hear the thoughts of the designers, they're enthusiastic and full of ideas, they just can't realize them all.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Onslaught Six » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:46 am

Indeed, as far back as during ArmEnerTron we were getting interviews where guys were all, "Yeah, man, Energon Cliffjumper was going to have transluscent windows and be totally badass, but we ran out of money."

That said, it does look as if management, if not design, is getting complacent with how far it can push the envelope. QC is shit? Who cares? So a few nerds will complain about it on the Internet, but as long as the sales are still rolling in, nobody up top gives a damn. And I don't mean this in any kind of damning way--Hasbro is a business and they're trying to make money, it's simple as that.

Also, BW was handled by Kenner, who Hasbro absorbed around 2000, right when BM was happening. I'm not sure how that affected BM's toy progression, to be honest, because the first major design shift we saw was with Armada, when Aaron Archer became lead designer and the whole direction of the line moved--I think because a lot of the BW/BM design team from Kenner was either let go or replaced.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Sparky Prime » Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:45 am

Dominic wrote:As badly as "Beast Wars" may have aged over the years, many of its best qualities have been lost to laziness more than time.

I'm not sure what your justification is for Beast Wars aging badly here... Really it appears your saying Beast Wars has held up quite well over the years and that it's the subsequent Transformers lines that have been declining in quality.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Dominic » Wed Feb 17, 2010 3:50 pm

The problem is that it is "stuck". with both fans and creators slavishly adhering to the one (objectively mediocre) cartoon. I am not against having a fixed story. But, if the story is fixed, it needs to be left alone. With "Beast Wars", people want it both ways. They want the story fixed, but they cannot leave it alone. This leads to the fan-fic level comics we have gotten.

Toy wise, many of the toys have aged nicely. Megatron has not aged well though. For example, articulation that seemed great in '97 seems lacking by today's standards. (There is not reason that they could not have articulated the turbines in '97.)

Cost cutting does not help. But, Hasbro's seeming unwillingness to produce good merge teams and stepping back from integrating parts is as much a question of laziness. They should have the institutional ability to produce cleanly integrating parts and good merge teams without spending much on designs and drafts.

I agree with O6 about Hasbro's probable motivation with QC. But, the more a company cuts its QC, the less marketable its products become.

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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby SynjoDeonecros » Wed Feb 17, 2010 6:40 pm

My thoughts on the Beast-Era: Beast Wars is still the best Transformers-based show/movie ever (yes, even above Transformers: Animated; keeping the Decepticons relevant by having the Autobots fight human supervillains, half the time, and using the stereotypical "Prime death and revival" gimmick during the premiere episodes? I don't think so...), and while I do agree it hasn't aged that well, and there's quite a few things that don't make sense, with it (I still maintain Ravage's presence, combined with the lack of consistency between the Maximals' and Predacons' access to historical records like Starscream's files ruins the whole "Arthurian lore" aspect they wanted for the continuity, Tigatron, Airrazor, Tigerhawk, Scorponok, and Terrorsaur were pretty mediocre and not that memorable, etc.), but it set a precedent for all future Transformers media in terms of story construction and character development, and it DID save the franchise from dying after Gen 2/Machine Wars. I'll have to rewatch the series and put up my retrospective of it.

Beats Machines was crap, plain and simple. The TV show was bad, and the Maximal toys were horribly constructed, when they weren't the Dinobots. They were so cheaply made, they felt like knock-offs, and their transformation and design were either insultingly easy or Rubik's Cube-difficult. I mean, seriously, a bobble head spring for Buzzsaw's stinger/arm? No cool wasp waist joints or anything, just an exposed wire spring? That's...not good design for a Transformers toy. The Vehicons were a little better, but I certainly didn't like the Ultra Jetstorm I had as a kid, with his prehensile cockpit jutting out like the true form of Satan from between his spindly robot legs. Looking back on it, most of the Vehicons looked more like Battletech rejects than Transformers proper. I never got into the "philosophical" instrumentality vs free will/nature vs. technology heavy handedness in the show; if I wanted to watch that, I'd go watch Sonic SatAM, and see a good take on it, or watch Captain Planet, and at least get some humor out of it.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby andersonh1 » Wed Feb 17, 2010 7:18 pm

Uh oh... a Beast Machines hater. Gotta defend the show!

While I think it's clear that Beast Machines is not as good as Beast Wars, it's still a good show with a lot of good ideas. Once you get past the implausibility of Megatron conquering the planet all by himself, we're left with a suitably dire situation for Optimus Primal, Cheetor, Rattrap and Blackarachnia to deal with. Yeah, I hated the designs when I first saw them, but they've grown on me since. The characters took very different directions than they had taken in Beast Wars, with the exception of Cheetor who continued to grow. The 'technological' versus "organic" themes were a bit obvious and heavy-handed, but also added some depth to the conflict, as well as moving the war beyond fighting over energy.

As for the original characters introduced during the show, Jetstorm and Thrust are both solid, entertaining villains. Tankor is the Hulk, and not all that interesting at first. Then he turns into evil Rhinox from "Dark Designs" and things get a lot more interesting. All the villains are incompetent though, to the extent that Optimus and co. should have been captured in very short order, given the vast numerical advantage the Vehicons had.

Nightscream is very annoying, and only improves in season two when he starts thinking of someone other than himself. That would be Noble, the purely organic Transformer, who doesn't have much character since he's pretty much the pet dog. Botanica is and remains annoying throughout the second season and the 'romance' with Rattrap is just dire and cliched. On the other hand, Obsidian and Strika are two of my favorite Transformers villains, and they elevate the second half of season two considerably. Silverbolt's moody, grimmer personality makes perfect sense after what he's been through.

The end of the series: still don't like technorganic Cybertron. But I also feel the idea had a lot of potential, which is why I spent a couple of years working on my "Obsidian's Lament" photocomic series.

I remember buying generally Vehicons only when the toyline was actually in stores. I didn't care for most of the Maximals at the time, though I did buy a couple. I've since gone back and collected most of them, and my opinion of the toyline has gone up somewhat.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Dominic » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:13 pm

things that don't make sense, with it (I still maintain Ravage's presence, combined with the lack of consistency between the Maximals' and Predacons' access to historical records like Starscream's files ruins the whole "Arthurian lore" aspect they wanted for the continuity, Tigatron, Airrazor, Tigerhawk, Scorponok, and Terrorsaur were pretty mediocre and not that memorable, etc.),


It is a question of what they, on either side, would choose to read up on though. Look at this week's reveal about King Tut. (He was a product of incest, with many physical defects resulting from that unholy union.) How many people do you think will cling to a romantic view of him?

The priniciple could apply here. Dinobot would simply be more studious than other TFs.


Beats Machines was crap, plain and simple.


I agree with your general assessment of the toys. But, the show was, for the most part, brilliant. The animation was stylish without being prentious. And, it was one of the few TF shows to deliver on its early promises, (both sides having substantively different points of view). And, history bears out the idea that balance is needed. (I just read "Guns Germs and Steel", so this is fresh in my mind.) Optimal fragmentation, (no pun intended), is the healthiest situation for a society. Authority should not be to strong, (as with the Vehicons/Megatron), as that strangles progress. But, if authority is too weak, (season 1 Maximals), then economies of scale are lost. (Even the Maximals had to "industrialize" their agriculture.)

evil Rhinox from "Dark Designs"




There was a bit more going on with Tankor in BMac than with Rhinox in "Dark Designs".


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-actually liked "Beast Machines" better.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby SynjoDeonecros » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:41 pm

Dominic wrote:
things that don't make sense, with it (I still maintain Ravage's presence, combined with the lack of consistency between the Maximals' and Predacons' access to historical records like Starscream's files ruins the whole "Arthurian lore" aspect they wanted for the continuity, Tigatron, Airrazor, Tigerhawk, Scorponok, and Terrorsaur were pretty mediocre and not that memorable, etc.),


It is a question of what they, on either side, would choose to read up on though. Look at this week's reveal about King Tut. (He was a product of incest, with many physical defects resulting from that unholy union.) How many people do you think will cling to a romantic view of him?

The priniciple could apply here. Dinobot would simply be more studious than other TFs.


The difference between the Transformers and King Tut, was that the Transformers have living witnesses to the events of their ancient past that they could consult for information; we don't exactly have King Tut's midwife living to tell us of his conception and birth.


Beats Machines was crap, plain and simple.


I agree with your general assessment of the toys. But, the show was, for the most part, brilliant. The animation was stylish without being prentious. And, it was one of the few TF shows to deliver on its early promises, (both sides having substantively different points of view). And, history bears out the idea that balance is needed. (I just read "Guns Germs and Steel", so this is fresh in my mind.) Optimal fragmentation, (no pun intended), is the healthiest situation for a society. Authority should not be to strong, (as with the Vehicons/Megatron), as that strangles progress. But, if authority is too weak, (season 1 Maximals), then economies of scale are lost. (Even the Maximals had to "industrialize" their agriculture.)

Dom
-actually liked "Beast Machines" better.


Way, way, WAY too preachy for me; I watch Transformers to see robots fighting, not for lectures on instrumentality, the death of the environment, and Tao spiritualism. To paraphrase Linkara, if I wanted to watch Captain Planet, I'd watch Captain Planet, I don't need this philosophical bludgeoning in my giant robot escapism.
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Re: thoughts on the Beast-era

Postby Dominic » Wed Feb 17, 2010 8:44 pm

I always got the impression that most of the character on BW were not alive during the Great War. (Maybe they were built to replace guys who were killed off?)


As for robot escapism, they can turn off their brain and ignore anything other than the robots.

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