Rumored for what felt like years and officially revealed this weekend during the virtual Hascon event, the third stage of the Transformers’ War for Cybertron line is Kingdom, revisiting the glory of late ‘90s spin-off Beast Wars, in which robots transform into wild animals.
The 1996 CG-animated series Transformers: Beast Wars and its accompanying toy line polarized fans of the original transforming robots. Some fans were fine with Hasbro taking the series in a new direction, focusing on robots seeking refuge on primitive Earth, forced to don bestial forms to protect themselves from the planet’s powerful raw Energon. Many, however, wanted their transforming robots to be planes, trains, automobiles, and the like, rejecting the notion of the new series with chants of “trukk not munky.” Thanks to clever toy designs and some incredibly masterful TV writing, Beast Wars ultimately won the fan base over, becoming one of the most beloved Transformers series of all time.
This leads us to Transformers: War for Cybertron Kingdom, the new toy line launching in January of 2021. The battle between Autobots and Decepticons reaches Earth, where some familiar faces join the fight. Like this guy, Optimus Primal.
The OG monkey. Named after the greatest leader in Autobot history, apparently, Optimus Primal is the Maximal leader of a scientific research vessel that winds up stranded on prehistoric Earth, along with another ship full of Predacons, AKA animal Decepticons.
Primal’s nemesis is Megatron, the Predacon leader named after... Megatron. Why did Primal get a pun name and Megatron is just Megatron? Megatron needs none of that nonsense. In the animated series, Megatron the t-rex was voiced by David Kaye (also the voice of Clank of Ratchet and Clank fame), who oozed menace and often talked to the dinosaur head that formed his right hand. I love him, and his new toy as well.
My personal favorite character in the Beast Wars line, Cheetor, makes a return with the most jubilant cheetah face I’ve never seen.
Then we have the garbage dweller with the New York accent, Rattrap. This new figure is part of a new “Core” class of figures—smaller, cheaper toys that still manage to pack in a ton of detail.
Finally, we have Blackarachnia. I should hate this character, due to my crippling fear of spiders, but she’s so delightfully evil, even later in the Beast Wars series when she switches to the Maximal side.
Along with old favorites, Hasbro’s got some new characters joining the fray in the form of Fossilizers. They are skeletal dinosaurs that can either transform into robots or act as weapons and armor for other Transformers.
Hasbro’s also sprinkling the line with regular robot/vehicle Transformers. There’s Warpath up there, and they’ve got a lovely version of Galvatron lackey Cyclonus in the works.
But for me, War for Cybertron Kingdom is all about those beasts. I want beast combiners. I want Transmetal beasts with vacuum metal parts. I want all the robot animals forever. This is a good start.
Correction 9/29: Had 2006 as the series start date instead of 1996. Also listed David Kaye as Ratchet instead of Clank. All fixed.