Before the Transformers were remembered as giant robots blasting their way out in a Michael Bay movie, there were the animated shows that actually brought them to the forefront of pop culture. It is time to pay our respects to the ones that started it all.
Best: Beast Wars
Beast Wars is probably the best Transformers Animated Series after Transformers: G1. If you take a look at it now, the animation would probably make you cringe but it was way ahead for its time back when it was released. Beast Wars was so good that it ended up bringing down its successor. Beast Machines had very huge shoes to fill. It was a good show but it was not nearly as good as Beast Wars. Beast wars will be remembered for introducing cool new Transformers concepts as well as respecting the older legacy ones within the core universe. It also has great voice acting.
The Unicron Trilogy is infamous for almost desecrating the Transformers franchise and bringing the mechanical mammoths to their knees. Their reputation was reduced to nothing. Hasbro managed to make it worse with Transformers: Cybertron, a saga literally nobody had asked for. The Japanese Studio that was supposed to make the Cybertron series did not follow Hasbro’s guidelines and made the series completely unconnected to the Unicron Trilogy. When the series reached America, Hasbro tried to do damage control by pushing in elements of Energon and Armada into the show. This only made matters worse.
Best: Titans Return
Titans Return was released in the year 2017. It is an internet based web-series based on Hasbro’s Transformers universe. Released under the banner of go90, it was the final installment to the Prime Wears trilogy. The series marked the return of Peter Cullen and Judd Nelson, who lent their voices for Optimus Prime and Hot Rod respectively. The last time they did so was nearly 30 years ago. Despite clear budgetary constraints, Titan Return ended up becoming a cult classic among the fans. The series was aimed at supporting the Titans Return toy line launched a few months ago back then.
Worst: Beast Wars Neo
Hasbro has a terrible fascination, or should we say obsession, with Japanese remakes. Beast Wars Neo was made entirely for a Japanese audience. It was a sequel to Beast wars. The only good thing that came out of the series was the background core. Yoshiaki Ochi’s “In Order to Protect You”, an OST for Beast Wars Neo, became a cult-classic music score. The series had multiple flaws. The animation was bad. There were very little action scenes and the show was seen as an attempt to act more as a marketing vehicle for their upcoming toy-line rather than doing what it was supposed to do.
Best: Generation 1
The saga of the Transformers began with the 1984 series – Transformers: G1. Sure the animation is not up to par with today’s standards. But hard core fans cherish this series for its three strongest pillars – amazing voice acting, incredible music, and of course the air-tight plot. This is the series that began it all. The movies and the shows that came afterwards still heavily borrow elements from the G1 Series. That is its biggest accomplishments. If you can look past the dated animation, we are sure you would find Transformers G1 a treat to watch.
Worst: Beast Machines
Okay we will be honest here. The show had some potential. If only it did not have to live under its massively successful predecessor’s shadow, it might have been one of the best in the entire franchise. The reason Beast Machine sucked is not just due to the fact that it had bigger shoes to fill. It also had a story line that had a very flawed continuity. The series has very well—animated action scenes. But where it faltered was changing the core history of the Transformers. Cybertron was turned into a lush green planet instead of a mechanical planet the way it was known to be. Rhinox was turned into a villain. This did not sit well with the fans.
After Michael Bay created the Transformers Universe with his live action movies based on the franchise, Hasbro tried doing something different with their animated ventures. Using the same techniques of high production value and similar complex designs, they made Transformers: Prime, one of the few times Hasbro experimented and actually succeeded. Prime will always be remembered for its amazing story lines and the return of the original voice actors for Optimus Prime and Megatron – Peter Cullen and Frank Welker. The series also marked the return of several classic transformers from the legacy shows who were thought to have been lost to time.
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Energon was just the beginning. Habsro screwed up even more with Transformers: Armada. Considering just how epic of a failure Energon was, that is saying something. Hasbro had a hard time learning back in the 1980’s and 1990’s. If something does not work, the last thing you need is to copy paste elements from that into a new series. Energon’s core elements were used in Arrmada and later formed the crux of the infamous Unicron trilogy. The series had bad animation and the voice dubbing sucked big time. It was also seen as an attempt by Hasbro to push oddly designed Transformers into the series that did not fit the plot at all just so they could push similar merchandise into the market.
Best: War For Cybertron: Chapter 1
Netflix entered an agreement with Hasbro for creating a War For Cybertron trilogy. Their very first installment to that trilogy – Transformers: War For Cybertron: Chapter 1, has earned rave reviews and is being massively lauded by the fans for its brutal and naked composition and representation of the Transformers. Netflix managed to capture the heart and soul of the series by taking fans back to the point in history where it all began. There was gorgeous animation and visuals were so extremely lifelike that we forgot we were watching an animated reproduction at times. It will go down in history as one of the greatest Transformers animated series.
Worst: Robots in Disguise
Robots in Disguise was the first attempt by Hasbro to recreate the Transformers series after the debacle that was Beast Machines. The idea was to reinvent the entire franchise to appeal to a western audience and is not hampered by the series’ past continuity. Robots in Disguise was a genuine attempt by the animators to find a middle ground between a Japanese and an American Audience. It has several flaws but it is a beloved series for many millennials. The story line was weird and rough at the edges. But it had its moments and it is the sheer element of nostalgia that makes it such a memorable Transformers Cartoon. It still was terribly received and many fans hate it for multiple reasons