After the massive success of the Transformers Movie line, Hasbro had to switch gears to a regular cartoon-based series in 2008, until the Hollywood sequels could be delivered. The resulting partnership with Cartoon Network created a different breed of series: toys designed after the cartoon, instead of the other way around: Transformers Animated.
Animated did more than function following form: the artistic form changed dramatically. The TV series featured a very contemporary cartoon style: heavy, swooping lines and cel-shaded areas. This visual style attracted much ire from fans, who were used to a more traditional anime style, or perhaps CG animation. Animated traded blockiness and realism for some of the most highly-stylized designs seen in Transformers. TakaraTomy's engineering department followed close suit, and developed sleek, smooth toy designs that were very coherent in both modes.
Animated broke ranks from many previous series, and did not have any over-arching gimmicks or play features. Each character was equipped with accessories and action features as appropriate to that figure, such as interchangeable tools, triple-changing, or combining. The toys fit into the usual size classes, but like Movie, included some special classes targeted at younger audiences. Bumper Battlers featured vehicles that flipped up a robot from inside when the bumper was pressed, along with electronic voice recordings. Activators were about the size of basic figures and each featured push-button spring loaded transformations. Interestingly, some Activators toys were sold in multipacks with larger regular toys.