25 Nights of Nineties Nostalgia: The Beast Wars Sequels

Transformers began airing in 1984 and concluded its original show in 1986. It was followed by “Generation 2,” which was, in truth, just the original cartoon repackaged in a random order with a few extra CG scenes edited in. No one liked it. Japan received a few sequel series, but the US went awhile before it had a true followup. Beast Wars was the first true US sequel to the original cartoon, and while it was initially met with mixed reviews, it’s received wild retroactive popularity among fans. However, Beast Wars itself had three different sequels, one in the US, and two exclusively Japanese.

The phrase "tone it down" doesn't exist on their planet.
The phrase “tone it down” doesn’t exist on their planet.

The first was Japan’s Beast Wars II, a traditionally animated series that began airing in 1998. It was intended for a younger audience and so was given a much lighter and more humourous tone, and while it’s technically a sequel to Beast Wars, it actually doesn’t follow Beast Wars at all. It’s a completely different story loosely based around the same concept. The leader of the rag-tag group of characters is Lio Convoy, an Optimus Prime lookalike who is not Optimus Prime (who is known as Convoy in Japan). He is also a lion. Beast Wars II is notable for its lackluster production values and flimsy plot, but, also, for its multitude of repainted toys.

The second was technically not a sequel to Beast Wars, but to Beast Wars II, making it a sequel OF a sequel. Beast Wars Neo, began airing in 1999 in Japan. It features ANOTHER Optimus Prime lookalike, “Big Convoy” who is neither Optimus Prime, nor Lio Convoy. To further complicate things, in this universe all the following exist as separate characters, which I’ll separate with via their Japanese-Name/American-Name: the original Convoy/Optimus Prime, Convoy/Optimus Primal, Leo Prime/Lio Convoy, AND Big Convoy/he doesn’t have an american name. That’s real stuff in the Beast Wars canonical universe, folks. Fight me.

The third, last, and most infamous is Beast Machines, universally despised and resented. The first CGI sequel, it aired in 1999 and was intended to be a massive story taking place over the course of a series instead of episodic adventures. It was essentially envisioned as an early animated Game of Thrones, but, it flopped and it flopped hard. People hated the story, the characters, the animation. In fact, the fan response was so vitriolic that when Bob Skir, who was essentially in charge of Beast Machines, was asked to create a third season by Hasbro, he refused.

While Beast Wars has been followed up many times, it’s still a favourite for many Transformers fans, two decades later, and for good reason!

Nate Schoonover
About Nate Schoonover 12 Articles
Everyone's favourite art loving, toy collecting nonbinary idiot.

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