That’s a hell of a title, wouldn’t you agree? But sometimes when multiple brands get involved with a cheap piece of plastic, there are layers upon layers. These are McDonald’s toys, which are Happy Meal toys. These are Beast Wars toys, which are Transformers toys. These are Transmetals, which are Beast Wars toys. It’s like an onion before it gets chopped and dehydrated into McDonald’s flavor crystals.
Surprisingly, my Beast Machines Happy Meal Toy review is one of the most enduring and popular posts on this entire website. That means y’all like transforming fast food toys. So I’m happy to give you more. Today, we’ll be taking a look at McDonald’s second try at the Transformers Beast Era.
So, say it with me– it’s time for 1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys.
1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys Background and Personal History
Table of Contents:
In 1996, Hasbro (disguised as Kenner) tried to reinvent and reinvigorate its Transformers toy line with Beast Wars. Although Transformers Generation 2 produced some amazing toys, especially towards the end, it didn’t survive past 1995. Clearly, things were not working as planned.
The Transformers were reimagined as smaller robots who converted into organic animals, fighting to the death on a primitive, prehistoric world. There were innovative, highly-articulated toys supported by a brilliant CGI cartoon. Though the old, curmudgeonly fanbase (which somehow both existed and had internet access in 1996) was not pleased with the brand’s new direction, it was a massive success. It saved Transformers.
And Ronald McDonald wanted some of that Maximal Ca$h.
McDonald’s released four transforming Beast Wars toys as a Happy Meal promotion in 1996– Panther, Rhino, Manta Ray, and Beetle. They also released an “Under-3” toy, which was a lion’s head compact with a crude robot inside.
“Under-3” image courtesy of TFWiki
These were very good for McDonald’s toys, and they introduced new characters into the Beast Wars line– characters kids could pair up with their main line Beast Wars toys, if they felt so inclined.
In 1998, Beast Wars did its own self reinvention. The cartoon and toy line introduced Fuzors, robots that transformed into hybrid beasts (like a scorpion combined with a cobra) and Transmetals, who were robots with organic parts that transformed into Full Metal Beasties with bonus vehicle modes.
McDonald’s wanted in on the Transmetals.
For their 1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal toy line, McDonald’s actually did something pretty smart. They took three characters from the franchise who never had Transmetal forms, either in the cartoon or the toy line, and reimagined them as Transmetals.
These are cheap fast food toys, but they’re also kind of a cool piece of history.
Ronald and his army of sweatshop Grimaces produced Happy Meal Transmetal versions of Dinobot, Scorponok, and Blackarachnia. Dinobot and Blackarachnia would go on to receive Transmetal II bodies in the main line series, but this was the character Scorponok’s only upgrade.
I remember these toys when they came out. A friend of mine had Dinobot, who we found hilarious. I also eventually got a Scorponok, who I liked, but also found hilarious. I was 15 by the time I got that toy, though, so I’d lost most of my childhood sense of wonder.
Last year, I acquired the entire set because I was curious about them. Now, with an open mind, let’s dig into some Beast Wars Transmetal Happy Meal Toys from 1998.
1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal Blackarachnia Review
Before we get to the toy, let’s take a look at how these were packaged. As with most Happy Meal toys from the 90s to early 2000s, these toys came in a little bag with the brand logo, the character’s name, and a whole jumble of legal and copyright info. It is not attractive packaging.
Once you open the bag, you’re greeted by the character in beast mode, sitting pretty inside of a molded plastic tray. This actually does look pretty nice, and it feels like a premium presentation for a Happy Meal toy. But these are actually pretty premium as far as Happy Meal toys go, as you’ll soon see.
Since Blackarachnia was packaged in beast mode, let’s start there.
Happy Meal Transmetal Blackarachnia is a metallic blue robot spider with orange legs. The many eyes are picked out with nice green paint applications. The mandibles look absolutely fearsome, even if they don’t seem particularly spider-like. It’s a good toy design.
This Beastie is full of nice detail, especially for a McDonald’s toy. There are pipes, panels, rivets, joints, and other sculpted elements that make for a convincing mechanical spider. Even if it didn’t transform, I imagine a lot of kids would absolutely love this toy. It’s creepy and cool, and the colors really make the details pop.
I have to mention the colors again, because the metallic blue The Clown Prince of 5am Doordash Orders used is incredible. It’s a nice dark shade, bordering on cobalt, and it has a very nice sheen if you’re looking at it in person. It’s not quite the vac metal that main line Transmetals used, but it’s as close as a fast food toy could possibly get.
Transformation is pretty easy. You bring the arms out slightly, flip the toy over and pull out the robot legs, and flip the spider head down. It’s similar to both Beetle from the first MCD’s BW line and the original Blackarachnia toy. These are the results:
What a cool robot! Granted, it does not look like Blackarachnia in either her original or Transmetal II form, but it’s a great looking Beast Warrior in its own right.
McDonald’s got the memo on what a Transmetal is actually supposed to be, so the robot mode introduces a lot of organic details, particularly on the legs, arms, and head. The legs, head, and lower torso are purple, which is a nice color to introduce to the toy. It keeps all the details from blending together.
Happy Meal Blackarachnia’s head looks absolutely horrifying, like some Eldritch Dungeons and Dragons Spider Monster was transposed onto a hamburger toy for 5 year old children. I absolutely love it. The eyes are picked out with nice metallic red paint applications, too.
The spider legs hanging off the figure’s arms are true to Blackarachnia, as well, and it’s easy to imagine them being used as either machine guns or claw weapons. These features, combined with the figure’s articulation, make for a toy you can actually play with.
Speaking of articulation, Transmetal Happy Meal Blackarachnia has some you can actually use. Her arms swing out to the side, her legs move forward at the hips, and she can bend her legs at the knee. It’s not a lot for a Beast Wars toy, but it is a lot for a Happy Meal toy.
As far as size goes, she’s about as tall and wide as a normal Beast Wars Basic figure from the time. That means she fits in pretty well with the main toy line.
I don’t see this figure as Blackarachnia really, but I do see her as a viable part of a bigger Beast Wars collection. She could easily make a credible Predacon spy, assassin, or other goon to go along with the rest of your baddies.
Just for fun, here she is with some of my other Blackarachnias. I only took a robot mode photo, though, because I hate transforming Kingdom BA and my Takara Legends BA broke while she was in storage. Be careful if you have that toy, because it will eventually break at the elbow because of the flimsy translucent plastic.
Oh! Blackarachnia was the only Beast Era character to get two Happy Meal toys. Good for her! You can see the other one in the Beast Machines review I linked above.
Verdict: 1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal Blackarachnia is very cool. She’s easily the best toy from this assortment. For a Happy Meal toy, she is complex, well detailed, well painted, and well articulated. She isn’t a convincing version of the character Blackarachnia, but that doesn’t bother me. Fast food premium or not, this is a toy that belongs in every Beast Wars collection. Recommended.
1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal Dinobot Review
Poor Dinobot. He lived like a warrior ans died to an hero. He also got the short end of the stick when it came to these Happy Meal toys.
But because I’m not here to spread negativity or talk trash, we’ll start with the toy’s beast mode.
Dinobot is a blue, metallic green, and gold robot velociraptor. As with Blackarachnia, the detailing is nice, including hydraulics, panels, ridges, vents, joints, and some nice red paint for the eyes. His teeth and claws look pretty menacing, too.
The tail is particularly interesting. The tail tip looks like it could be some kind of auger or drill bit, supported by the ridges on the rest of the tail. Dinobot had two spinning weapons in his original form, so I’m betting that was the designer’s intent with this bit of detail.
The raptor legs do move back and forth in this mode, allowing you to get a couple of stable poses. Because the legs tend to warp easily, though, you may have more luck with some poses than others.
This is a cool beast mode overall, and it’s where this toy really shines. The metallic green head is lovely, and there’s plenty of great sculpting to go around.
Here he is with a couple other Dinobots in beast mode:
Transformation is simple. You adjust the legs so that he’s in a “standing” position, flip the dino head back and open the gold chest, to reveal:
Yeah, I’m not sure how much they even tried here. The robot mode is obviously secondary. That makes a certain amount of sense, as kids probably like dinosaurs more than they like McDonald’s robots, but someone really dropped the ball here.
The figure’s arms are molded in a “flexing the celibacy away” pose inside of the chest halves, which looks bad. The figure also has awkward posture, thanks to the tail touching the ground no matter what you’re doing with the legs. The head itself has kind of a neat design, but molding it all in blue makes it blend in too much with the body. If there had been another plastic color, like Blackarachnia has, to break up the sea of blue, I think it would look better. But they only sprang for some red paint for the eyes.
Dinobot basically looks like he’s trying to scare some birds away from his crops or intimidate another bro in the Circle K parking lot. It is not a good look.
He’s a bit shorter than Blackarachnia, which means he fits in well enough with main line Basic Beasties. He’s articulated at the hips and his head turns, but you can move the chest halves in and out if you want.
Here he is with some other Dinobots in robot mode:
Note that the gold plastic seems prone to fading, as you can see here:
If you keep this toy in beast mode, he’s not terrible. Megatron did use some cybernetic raptors late in the Beast Wars cartoon, so it’s not a stretch for your Predacon forces to have a couple of fully robotic velociraptors around to pick at the Maximals. That’s how I see him– a generic troop type that might do a little bit of damage before he’s sent to the Inferno.
Verdict: 1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal Dinobot is easily the worst of these three toys. The beast mode is good and has some neat details, and the metallic green plastic is nice, but that’s about it. His robot mode is a complete writeoff and he is objectively a poor Transformer. Even for a Happy Meal toy. If you like the beast mode, need every version of Dinobot, or are a Beast Wars completist, then you’ll want him. Otherwise, he gets a Neutral rating.
1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal Scorponok Review
Ahh, Scorponok. You started as the Predacons’ inventor and weird weapon guy, evolved into a simpering dumbass, and got killed off unceremoniously. Your original toy was pretty cool, though.
Like many fans, I always had a soft spot for Scorponok. He made himself his own best friends in the form of robotic bees that launched out of his claws and was loyal to the end. He also had a cool look about him. I missed him when he was gone.
Thanks for answering my prayers and reuniting us in 1998, McDonald’s.
In beast mode, Happy Meal Transmetal Scorponok is a robotic scorpion. Big surprise! McScorponok is rendered in maroon, grey, and bronze-brown plastic in beast mode. He doesn’t have the metallic sheen of either of the other toys in this assortment, but the look and details are nice. This is kind of a wild and unruly color scheme, even if it’s on the subdued side. I respect it.
Again, there are some great details here, especially on the claws. The tail itself is great, with an absolutely wicked jagged and barbed stinger. That thing looks like it hurts. The eyes are also picked out in a nice pinkish-red paint that contrasts nicely with the maroon body.
The “head” section of the scorpion looks particularly cool and creepy, too.
Here he is with the original Beast Wars Skorpy in beast mode:
Transformation is, again, simple. You pull the arms a bit out to the side and swing down the robot legs, then you’re done.
In robot mode, Scorponok looks constantly excited. That’s because his arms can only wave back and forth, and usually point straight toward the sky. Like Dinobot, Happy Meal Scorponok’s robot arms are molded on the inside of his beast claws, but it looks a bit better and less forced here.
There’s some good organic detailing on Scorponok’s torso, even if the maroon plastic eats a lot of it. His arms look extremely powerful, and his permaflex is actually impressive. Combined with a neat head sculpt (that actually kind of looks like the character Scorponok) and yellow eyes, it’s a pretty decent look.
McDonald’s Transmetal Happy Meal Scorponok only moves at the arms and hips. His legs can swing forward, and his arms can wave wildly from side to side. That’s the best you’re getting from him. He is big enough to look decent with basic Beast Wars toys, though, especially fellow arthropod goons like Insecticon, Drill Bit, and Powerpinch.
Here he is with his older, more complex brother in robot mode:
Though it’s only a Happy Meal toy, I think McDonald’s Scorponok works well enough as a generic goon to fill your regular Predacon ranks. He looks very nice in scorpion mode, and I think his robot mode looks okay when he’s surrounded by more dynamic figures. I don’t see this as a Transmetal version of the Scorponok character, but I absolutely can see him taking a slap from one of Claw Jaw’s tentacle arms.
Verdict: 1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal Scorponok is firmly in the middle when it comes to this toy assortment. He’s not nearly as good as Blackarachnia, but he’s much better than Dinobot. His colors aren’t the best and he has almost no good articulation to speak of, but he has a cool beast mode and a reasonably decent robot mode. If you’re willing to let Happy Meal toys into your heart, he’s Mildly Recommended.
Closing Thoughts on 1998 Transformers Beast Wars Transmetals McDonald’s Happy Meal Toys
Thanks for bearing with me, everyone. I just wasn’t feeling up to writing a regular post on Tuesday. For all five of my readers who enjoy Beast Wars and/or Happy Meal toys, I hope this was a fun post.
What did you think of the McDonald’s Transmetal toy assortment? Are they the awkward middle child between the 96 releases and the Beast Machines releases, or do they hold their own? Could they beat a McNugget Buddy in a fight? Let me know in the comments!