Comparing The 80s Transformers to 'Transformers Prime'

Last fall, Hasbro not only launched its very own TV network in The Hub, but also created yet another brand new Transformers animated series called Transformers Prime. Now, there have been a LOT of Transformers incarnations over the past few movies, aside from the movies you've also got Beast Wars, Beast Machines, Armada, Animated and Energon to name just a few, but they will forever and always be compared to the original animated series called Generation One by those in the know. If you're unfamiliar with Prime, it's a CGI series starring a handful of Autobots including Optimus Prime, Bumblebee and Arcee who have been hanging out on Earth waiting for Megatron to return, which he does in the initial five episode movie. The series kicks back off on Friday with the first new episodes since December. With that in mind, it's time to once again compare the old with the new and figure out which one takes the transforming robot cake.

Optimus Prime

OLD

The stoic and heroic leader of the Autobots, Optimus Prime and his crew wound up on Earth thanks to a failed Energon expedition that had them literally crashing onto the planet in the mid 80s. No matter how many times he and the Autobots went up against his arch enemy Megatron and the Decepticons, he always came out on top, even coming back from near death on occasion. Having taken the vehicle form of a semi-truck, Prime became one of the larger and more imposing Transformers around and a favorite of fans and Autobots alike. Prime rocked a blaster when in battle and could also retract his hand to create a glowing axe.

NEW

As you might expect, the Prime version of Prime has a much sleeker look thanks to the evolution of animation and automobile design in the past three decades. He's still a leader that his troops look up to and has vowed to never give up his fight for justice. His look is very similar to the on seen in the two Transformers movies. The new version can also create bladed weapons in his hands much like his earlier counterpart.

Megatron

OLD

This first incarnation of the cunning and ruthless leader of the Decepticons seems to have set the standard for Optimus Prime's archenemy. However, the original vehicle mode for Megatron has been altered over the years. See, the original 'Tron changed into a gun, and not a big giant one, but a handgun that another Decepticon had to hold and fire. It's not a very dignified transformation to be made by such a regal and dangerous character. When in his robot mode he uses the canon on his arm along with one on his back, but like Optimus, he can replace one of his hands with an energy flail.

NEW

The new version of Megatron has been missing from Earth for three years and when he returns it's in search of Dark Energon which he realizes can control dead Cybertronians. SPOILER WARNING His return and control of the robot dead is short-lived as he seemingly died in an explosion at the end of the initial Prime story arc. It's hard to keep a good villain down though, so we wouldn't be surprised if he returns bigger and badder than ever. When he transforms, Megatron turns into a jet of Cybertronian design because he thinks Earth vehicles have little-to-no value.

Bumblebee

OLD

One of the least-loved Transformers, Bumblebee got a bum wrap as being annoying, lame and often leading the Autobots into trouble. His vehicle mode being the least imposing vehicle of all time—a Volkswagon Beetle—didn't help matters any. 'Bee was basically used to give the kids in the audience and the humans someone to relate to because of his “kid sidekick” personality.

NEW

It seems as though Michael Bay was dead set on making Bumblebee cool when he got ahold of him for the movies. Gone was the VW Bug vehicle mode in favor of a rad muscle car. However, making him talk only in radio station chatter? Not the least annoying move. The Prime version continues the look and communication style of the character though now he talks in sounds more than songs. Unlike his previous incarnation, this Bumblebee is a badass who worked as a spy and still does when he can. This is not a Bumblebee to mess with.

Starscream

OLD

The Decepticon fighter jet with a superiority complex, Starscream was constantly scheming (and screaming) ways to depose Megatron and take over as chief Autobot tormentor. Like his fellow Decepticons he could fly and shoot lasers.

NEW

This time around Starscream still has designs on Megatron's throne, he's just not as bat-poo crazy as his G1 counterpart. This version even respects Megatron, he just thinks he could do a better job leading the Decepticons and seemingly gets the opportunity to do so with Megatron's apparent demise.

Arcee

OLD

One of the few “female” Autobots, Arcee first appeared in Transformers: The Movie and became a larger part of the animated series after that. Her vehicles mode was that of a pink convertible suitable for Barbie.

NEW

Right out of the Prime gate, Arcee plays a major role in the series. She not only tries to fight off the Decepticons with the doomed Cliffjumper but also acts as the entry point for the three kids who get tangled up in the Autobots adventures. This time around, she transforms into a motorcycle, has an overall blue color scheme and can generate her own weapons with her hands.

Soundwave

OLD

Soundwave became a fan favorite Transformer thanks to his monotone robot voice, tape recorder vehicle mode and the cassettes he could launch that themselves turned into robots. It was a great visual and an even more fun toy. He used his recording abilities to spy on the good guys and report back to Megatron who he was completely devoted to.

NEW

Considering the fact that tapes have been dead for roughly two decades, it seemed necessary to alter Soundwave's vehicle mode for a new generation. Keeping his espionage roots, this new version—who only speaks through recordings of others—transforms from his robot mode into a spy plane. He even has smaller robots that pop out of him and do his bidding.

Humans

OLD

In the original series, the Transformers were befriended by various members of the Witwicky family. They served to explain Earth ways to the Autobots and become targets for the Decepticons. Spike and his dad Sparkplug did what they could to help, but that's not a lot when you consider they're fleshy humans in a battle between giant freaking robots.

NEW

This time around, the show involves three minors in the story: natural leader Jack, impulsive thrill seeker Miko and tech genius Raf. Probably fun for kids to watch, these kids seem to continue the Witwicky model of helping a little and getting into trouble a lot.

Overall, we give Prime a lot of credit for doing some interesting and somewhat bold things like killing off characters in the first few episodes and using zombie Transformers. The animation even looks pretty solid, something that can't always be said about the original cartoon, though it is one of the few 80s cartoons that holds up to modern standards. The inclusion of humans tends to get on our nerves because it's clearly a way for the writers to get the Autobots in trouble and show how they're not willing to sacrifice human life for their own safety. We get it, they're good guys. Hopefully, they'll do some real good in the coming episodes.

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