|Set about 300 years after the original Transformers, Beast Wars found new factions fighting on the ‘bot planet Cybertron. The Maximals, led by Optimus Primal (named after Autobot hero Optimus Prime) chased the criminal Predacons, led by Megatron (new bad guy, same name).
The two groups slipped into a time/space warp and ended up crash-landing on Earth around the dawn of man. At the time, the planet was filled with pure energon crystals, a source of energy for the ‘bots. When the undiluted energon proved to be too much to handle, both Maximals and Predacons spliced their “cybergenetic code” with DNA from native animal species. The end result was a continuation of the transforming robot idea of the original Transformers. Optimus Primal transformed from robot to metallic blue gorilla, and Megatron transformed into a purple and red T-rex.
The syndicated series also continued its predecessor’s complex storylines, often in multiple parts. Plots were ongoing, characters switched loyalties and occasionally even died. Among the Maximals were Silverbolt, Cheetor, Rhinox, Rattrap, Tigatron, Air Razor, and the ex-Predacon Dinobot. The Predacons included Scorponok, Terrorsaur, Tarantulas, Waspinator, Black Arachnia, Inferno, and Quickstrike.
The fully-rendered computer-animated series chewed up the competition in the kids’ TV syndicated market. Together with a successful new toy line, Beast Wars revived the aging Transformers franchise, redefining it for a new generation. Later seasons found the titles changed to Beast Machines Transformers, but the cool CGI and all-out robot warfare remained unchanged.