Beast Wars! 1995 McDonald’s Toy Document Gives Us a Previously Unseen Look at Early Franchise Development and Several Unused Toy Concepts!

Warm up your transwarp drive and grab some drive-through, because we’re heading to the bygone era of 1995 to catch a glimpse at Transformers history! To a time before it was even called…BEAST WARS!

Thanks to Nathan at RoboticPlanetToys on Instagram who acquired a McDonald’s Happy Meal toy presentation binder at auction and has given us scans of the Transformers content within. I say “Transformers” because not only do these concept pages use the Generation 2 logo, the name “Beast Wars” was seemingly not decided upon yet, as it appears nowhere in the document. While we know Hasbro/Kenner initially intended Optimus Primal and Megatron to be the original G1 characters before the show opted to make them new individuals, this document reinforces that, as this predates the change from “Prime” to “Primal” in the toyline proper. Also noteworthy is this was apparently before the faction name “Maximal” was decided upon, as the document states Megatron leads the Predacons while Optimus Prime leads the “Cyberbeasts”.
In the earliest part of the document, several sketches of what would become mainline toys are featured, some with preliminary names, such as Snapper being referred to as “Buzzsaw”, and Scorponok being labeled as “Shockwave”. However, the most interesting thing in this section is the design that would become Cheetor being referred to as “Prowl” while utilizing the color scheme reminiscent of the McDonald’s toy that would ultimately see release as “Panther”. It’s often been suspected that the decision to deco the deluxe toy that became Cheetor as a cheetah may have been a decision that occurred after the sculpting phase was complete; it seems it may have originally been intended to be a panther version of G1 Prowl, which would explain Cheetor’s very Prowl-like head sculpt.
Also mentioned in the document is the pitch for “Auto-Rollers” as the potential auto-transformation gimmick (another carry-over from G2), including four vehicle mode ones, which unfortunately were not included in the document; though Nathan managed to grab an image of the moon buggy Prowl from another auction listing.
Check out the images mirrored below, which include concept sketches of toys that saw release, some that didn’t like sea turtle and dragonfly versions of Megatron, and some that were originally conceived as different characters—like the Predacon Manta Ray who was originally intended to be Optimus Prime! Oh, and a concept sketch for a lion Optimus Prime that pre-dates Lio Convoy, as well as the evolution of the Under-3 toy from a G1-themed Optimus to the lion head that ultimately saw release!

Thanks again to RoboticPlanetToys on Instagram, check it out for Nathan’s own commentary on the scans!
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