The reasons why changes were made to the T-800 Endoskeleton in “TERMINATOR GENISYS”.

When “Terminator Genisys” was released in theaters across the world in the summer of 2015, many Terminator fans with a keen eye for detail noticed slight changes to the T-800 Endoskeleton’s design in comparison to the previous James Cameron Terminator films.  The key question that was raised time and time again is why were those changes made?  What was the reason behind it?  Well conceptual 3D artist, Vitaly Bulgarov has that answer.

The advancements in science, manufacturing, and technology have been vast since 1984, the year the original T-800 design was revealed to the world in the climax of “The Terminator”.  So it was important to update the T-800’s mechanical design to make it more in-line with today’s manufacturing technologies.  The T-800 needed to be an Endoskeleton that would have been birthed from today’s world, versus preconceptions made in 1984 of where future technology might take us.  And conceptual 3D artist, Vitaly Bulgarov was given that challenge.

Vitaly found it somewhat foreboding when he was hired by Skydance to slightly update the original T-800 Endoskeleton design for “Terminator Genisys”.  The first two Terminator films were very influential to his development, which had a huge impact on him as a child.  So how does one approach such a difficult task as Vitaly puts it; “to update or improve what is already perfect“?

Here is Vitaly Bulgarov in his own words:

“The biggest challenge was to respectfully preserve the key areas of the iconic Stan Winston’s design look while updating the mechanical design to make it more in-line with today’s manufacturing technologies as well as more according to the industrial design continuity of the endoskeleton as a whole.

The original skull became sort of an anchor point and reference for the visual language and I didn’t allow myself to retouch its design.

One of the aspects I tried to refine was to how internal skeleton’s parts would affect the outer fleshy shapes seen at the skin layer. That thinking suggested a slightly more round bone-like reshaping of the forms that were previously a bit too pointy or too harshly mechanical at the areas that were in direct contact with muscles or close to outer skin layer. That pass was done in a more subtle way in order to preserve the powerful scary feeling that a raw mechanical skeleton originally suggested, something essential to Terminator design’s story telling aspect.

Another thing to address were the tech panels that suggested a hollow structure of certain skeleton parts. I decided to design some of those with a more cnc-milled looking aesthetics that would visually suggest a stronger, heavier structure that can resist a heavy impact.

My overall philosophy was to try if make any changes to the original design to do it not for sake of making it look different or to modernize it for no reason, but rather continue the original idea and tighten up the peripheral details where the flow permitted it and also enhance the sense of structural strength and terrifying rigidity.

I also tried to keep the original kinematics intact and rather focus on cutting down the weight where it was appropriate and refine the details as well as transition areas to help balancing the design consistency.

Another task I was given was to make the proportions of the skeleton slightly more exaggerated than of an average human making it easier to see Arnold’s Mr. Olympia body around it.”

It’s great to learn how respectful Vitaly Bulgarov was to the original James Cameron/Stan Winston T-800 Endoskeleton, as he modernized its design!

You can view more of his T-800 Endoskeleton concept designs and the other excellent work of artist Vitaly Bulgarov by visiting his website

We’ll be back!


8 thoughts on “The reasons why changes were made to the T-800 Endoskeleton in “TERMINATOR GENISYS”.”

  1. The old T800 look better, in fact it was perfect. More raw and realistic somehow.
    The new one are way too bulky and have a chest piece that look much too different from the rest of the design and dont fit in. The old chest piece look very interesting but the new one is boring and pointy.
    And I dont like the grey colored parts on the new design either.
    A big no no from me. Why change something perfect? Cant get any better than perfect. Big mistake.


    1. Agree with everything you say here except the chrome. Why would skynet need a chrome finish on an army of robots. Paint them black so they are harder for the resistance to see at night.


    2. Genisys actually goes back closer to the original design, which has been altered terribly for Salvation. Its only actually slimmer, in the skull too, more streamlined, as oppose to the bulku distorted design of Salvation. Check out the Downfall of Terminator blog to see what I mean. Genisys fixed/improved a lot of faults of its predecessor


    1. I know nothing about manufacturing but I think he is saying if Cameron knew then what he knows now Cameron would have changed his own design.


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