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Universe (2003 toyline)

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The original Universe toyline, launched in 2003, was originally conceived as a line entirely made up of redecos (and occasionally retools) of toys from older lines.

Even though the line was effectively cancelled in its original form after a little more than a year, it still continued in other forms (such as rebranded toys from older lines) for nearly three more years, coupled with the odd delayed release from its original run.

The current Universe line launched in 2008 shares its name with the old line, but has a different underlying concept.

History and overview


The Universe line was, in a way, a continuation of the extended Robots in Disguise line, which also consisted of redecos of toys from older lines, most of which were available as store exclusives.

The Wal-Mart exclusive Dinobots mini-line that was available concurrently with the Armada line was also a precursor of the Universe line in some ways.

Lastly, the name of the line originated with the BotCon 2002 exclusive toys, which were branded with the title Expanded Universe.

Initial conception and original run

The Universe line was originally intended to run concurrently with the main Energon line and the Alternators and Commemorative Series lines and consisted of the mass retail price points "Deluxe" ($10USD) and "Ultra" ($20USD). In addition, an unusually huge number of store exclusives single toys and multi-packs (often with additional Mini-Cons or Mini-Con teams) was released as well. Some of those multi-packs were even available at lower prices than the original releases of those molds combined. The OTFCC 2003 and 2004 exclusives were also branded "Universe".

The molds used for the Universe line spanned from as far back as late-Generation One to the most recent lines. Molds from Beast Machines and Armada were particularly common in the line. Some molds that had previously only been available in Japan (such as Big Convoy or the Micromaster Sixcombiner teams) were also made available to Hasbro's target audience for the first time that way.

The first wave of toys came with a pack-in CD-ROM featuring related stories and games.

The line was officially only available on the American market, although some toys (the aforementioned Micromasters, in particular) were released in some European countries in Energon and Cybertron packaging, coupled with a few American imports (such as the Battle in a Box sets) that were sold by online retailers and specialty stores.

Discontinuation and continuation

The Universe line effectively died as a mass retail line when Wal-Mart decided to discontinue the Ultra Class assortment in late 2004 due to low sales. Earlier that year, Wal-Mart had already stocked half a dozen of exclusive Universe toys, which had also ended up as shelfwarmers. The Deluxe assortment was cancelled by Hasbro shortly afterwards.

Two more KB Toys exclusive Deluxe toys (in Cybertron-esque packaging) followed in 2005, as well as two more KB Toys exclusive Micromaster waves in 2005 and 2006, respectively. Furthermore, three Ultra two-packs that had already been produced before the Ultra assortment was cancelled eventually ended up as Target exclusives, also in 2006.

Aside from those delayed releases of already planned toys (except for the KB Deluxes), the Universe line was still continued for nearly four more years (!) following the cancellation of the mass retail assortments, but now only in the form of rebranded toys from more recent lines such as Energon, Cybertron and Classics, with no redecos whatsoever. Those toys were mostly available from liquidator stores such as Dollar General, Family Dollar or Tuesday Morning. Even a new mold, which was available as a Chevrolet online store exclusive in 2008, used the old Universe logo in its instruction sheet.

Legacy and successors

After the Universe line had ended as a mass retail line, the short-lived 2006 Classics line briefly served as an all-encompassing line that contained a few redecos of toys from older lines (most notably Legends of Cybertron figures) in addition to new molds.

The 2007 live-action Movie toyline also contained a considerable number of redecos of toys from older lines, starting with the Target exclusive Scout Class assortment, later followed by other store exclusive redecos of toys from the Armada, Energon and Cybertron lines.

Hasbro ultimately launched a "new" Universe line in 2008 which combined the predominant "new molds" aspect of the Classics line with the "redeco" aspect of the old Universe line. The widely accepted way to distinguish between toys from the two Universe lines (it's unclear whether Hasbro officially thinks of them as one and the same, or as two lines using the same name) is the different logo. The old Universe logo was last used for Swerve, the aforementioned Chevrolet exclusive.

Universe toys

The redeco line (2003 - 2006)

Tiny Tins (mass retail)

Wave 1 (March 2004)

Note: An odd exception to the "redeco" rule of the early Universe line, these three Mini-Cons, released individually with additional Tiny Tins, were unchanged from their original releases as part of the Armada Race Mini-Con Team.

Deluxes (mass retail)

Wave 1 (June 2003)

Wave 2 (August 2003)

Wave 3 (October 2003)

Wave 4 (January 2004)

Wave 5 (March 2004)

Wave 6 (August 2004)

Wave 7 (October 2004)

Wave 8 (February 2005)

Wave 9 (April 2005)

Ultras (mass retail)

Wave 1 (July 2003)

Wave 1.5 (October 2003)

Wave 2 (November 2003)

Wave 2.5 (March 2004)

Wave 3 (August 2004)

Wave 3.5 (October 2004)

Note: A fully-fledged fourth mass retail wave was planned; but ultimately the new toys that would have been included with it ended up as Target exclusives.

KB Toys exclusive Micromasters

Series I (Protectobots - May 2004)

Note: The six Protectobots could be merged to form Defensor. The toys were also available as non-exclusive releases on Energon cards in Europe.

Series II (Constructicons - October 2004)

Note: The six Constructicons could be merged to form Constructicon Devastator. The toys were also available as non-exclusive releases on Energon cards in Europe.

Series III (Railbots - September 2005)

Note: The six Railbots could be merged to form Rail Racer. The toys were also available as non-exclusive releases on Cybertron cards in Europe, even before the US versions came out, with the first sighting hailing from the Netherlands in August 2005. The Universe versions were also available from Australian online retailer Casefresh since July 2005, and at Australian KMart stores since August 2005.

Series IV (Aerialbots - September 2006)

Note: The six Aerialbots could be merged to form Superion. The toys were also available as non-exclusive releases on Cybertron cards in Europe, even before the US versions came out, first being stocked by UK-based online retailer The Entertainer in March (!) of 2006. In the USA, the Universe versions were later also found at CVS Pharmacy stores.

Other store exclusives

KB Toys exclusives (September 2005)

Note: The packaging for these two toys was odd insofar as it featured Cybertron-specific logos and other design elements. In addition, the assortment number (27271) was identical to that of the KB Toys exclusive Energon redecos of Armada Demolishor and Cyclonus, which were released a year earlier, a rare instance where an assortment number was carried over from one toyline to another one.

KMart exclusives (July 2004)

"Market Six" exclusives (October 2004)

Note: These two-packs were available from stores such as Kohl's, Meijer, Menards and ShopKo. A third two-pack was also planned, but ultimately never released.

Sam's Club exclusives (September 2003)

Target exclusives

Note: The three two-packs above were originally planned to be released as wave 4 of the Universe Ultra assortment. However, when Wal*Mart decided to cancel the Universe Ultra assortment, the toys, which had already been produced by that point, were put on hold, and were ultimately released as Target exclusives more than a year later than originally intended.

Toys"R"Us exclusives (March 2004)

Wal-Mart exclusives (February 2004)

OTFCC exclusives

OTFCC 2003 (July 2003)

OTFCC 2004 (July 2004)

Note: Only Megazarak was actually available at the convention itself. Sentinel Maximus was delayed and was later shipped out by Hasbro themselves in November 2004, following the bankruptcy of 3H Enterprises.

Rebranding and other odds and ends (2005 - 2008)

Spy Changers

Wave 1 (February 2005)

Note: These Spy Changers, found at Dollar General and Family Dollar stores, were unchanged from the "G1" Spy Changers exclusively available from KB toys a year earlier. The only change was the packaging.

Wave 2 (August 2006)

Note: The second wave, found at Family Dollar, Roses and Dollar General stores, mixed Optimus Prime, Prowl and Autobot Jazz from the first wave with the new additions Autobot Camshaft, Hoist and Mirage...which were unchanged from the second version of the KB Toys exclusive clear redecos of the Robots in Disguise Spy Changers W.A.R.S., Ironhide and Mirage, respectively, other than the names and the packaging.


Wave 1 (August 2005)

Note: These "Basics", which were found at Family Dollar, Dollar General and Ocean State Job Lot stores, were all unchanged from the Energon Energon Class toys of the same names other than the packaging, with the exception of "Strong Arm", who was renamed (sorta) from the "Energon Strongarm" redeco from the Energon line, but otherwise unchanged as well. Windrazor's packaging omitted all references to his combiner abilities.

Wave 2 (October 2006)

Note: These "Basics", which were found at Dollar General stores, were all unchanged from the Energon Energon Class toys of the same names other than the packaging. Terradive, Treadshot and Wideload's packaging all omitted any references to their combiner abilities.

Wave 3 (October 2007)

Note: These "Basics", which were found at Dollar General stores, were all unchanged from the Cybertron Scout Class toys of the same names other than the packaging.


Wave 1 (October 2005)

Note: These Deluxes, which were found at Big Lots, Tuesday Morning and KB Toys stores, were all unchanged from the Energon Combat Class toys of the same names other than the packaging. Storm Jet, Barricade and Steamhammer's packaging all omitted any references to their combiner abilities.


Wal*Mart exclusives (November 2007)

Note: The toys in these two-packs were unchanged from the Cybertron Deluxe Class toys of the same names. Both packs were originally available as non-exclusive mass retail releases in the Philippines in September 2007, and were later available as Wal-Mart exclusive Black Friday releases in the United States in November of the same year.

Other (September 2007/July 2008)

Note: The toys in this two-pack, originally found at Dollar General stores in September 2007 and later also at KB Toys stores in July 2008, were unchanged from the two-pack of the same name originally released as part of the Classics line other than the packaging.

New molds

Chevrolet Store exclusive (March 2008)

Note: Samples of this toy originally popped up in China in August 2007, coupled with rumors about it being some kind of Chevrolet promotional item. To this very day, there is no evidence that Swerve has ever been officially available in China. Hasbro also told a story at BotCon 2008 about the toy having been intended for a Chevy promotion in Europe; but again, there's no evidence that this promotion has ever actually happened. The only confirmed official release of Swerve was via the Chevrolet online store in March 2008.

Unreleased toys

In early 2004, a large number of stolen samples of toys intended for the Universe line appeared on eBay. Even though none of those toys were ultimately released, all of them were later officially revealed by Hasbro one way or another. Also, many of them later did see a release through other outlets than originally intended:


  • The Grimlock & Swoop/Mega-Dinobot combiner was originally intended for the Universe line, which would have made it the first newly created mold(s) be initially released as part of the line. However, Hasbro ultimately decided to release it as a two-pack in the Energon line instead. As a consequence, Chevrolet Swerve was the first (and only) new mold to be released under the original Universe 2008, shortly before the second Universe line was launched.
  • On their official Transformers website, Hasbro listed several combo-packs of Armada Mini-Con teams (Adventure Team/Sea Team, Road Wrecker Team/Night Attack Team, Race Team/Space Team) under "Universe". The actual toys, however, whch were available from Toys"R"Us and Wal-Mart stores and were unchanged from their Armada releases other than the packaging, came on Energon rather than Universe cards.

See also

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