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Many Transformers toys include simulated missiles. Some are nonfunctional dummies, partly or wholly visible as a removable, affixed, or molded-on detail. Functioning Transformer missiles operate in several ways:
- Loading the missile compresses a spring. At full compression, a lock of some sort engages the missile. When released, the spring recoils, propelling the projectile into the air, towards unsuspecting Decepticons, siblings, or cats.
- Also called "marble-shooter" missiles, these were first seen on the Generation 2 Cyberjets. A rounded, annular protrusion on the missile rests in a claw-like holder. The missile is held in place due to tension in the launcher, because the launcher's sides have to be bent slightly outward in order to insert the missile. The tail of the missile protrudes from the launcher. To fire, finger pressure is applied to the missile's tail. When the missile's bulb begins to push out of the launcher's grip, the tension becomes even stronger, and once the bulb has passed the halfway point, the launcher squeezes the missile out at high speed. This speed may be increased further by force from the operator's finger, which accelerates after the missile's release, but briefly remains in contact with its tail.
- Robots In Disguise Megatron and the Galvatron redeco use a variation of the pressure launcher in which a finger-pressed jaw squeezes the "marble" directly, instead of built-in tension.
- This entire mechanism can be scaled up to create a "Disk Launcher", firing disks of two to three inches in diameter. These usually incorporate a lever mechanism to push the disks, rather than direct contact from a finger. They also commonly incorporate a gravity-feed magazine to deliver multiple projectiles in succession.
- Toys such as Depth Charge, Laser Optimus Prime and all his various repaints, and more recently the Fast Action Battlers and Robot Replica versions of Frenzy
- These use air pressure to drive the projectile from its launcher. On the Laser Optimus Prime, Combat Hero Prime, and Hero Megatron figures, the missiles are hollow and fit over the open mouth of a tube with one closed end, which communicates via a flexible hose with a plastic bellows. Depressing the bellows compresses air, displacing it into the tube, and launching the missile.
For safety reasons, missiles in Transformers have to satisfy a number of length, hardness, and pointiness requirements. Before these requirements, and to this day in countries where they are not in effect, some missiles were quite small. For instance, Generation One Inferno's fists can be launched as missiles from his original toy, but the springs of his 1985 domestic release were quite weak.