Japan equivalent: Movie (Japan)
In spring 2007, everything changed. Transformers, a multimillion dollar live-action movie, immortalized the eponymous robots in popular culture, graduating the series from its niche appeal to a worldwide audience. Needless to say, “the Movie” was preceded and supported by the largest toy and merchandising blitz the brand had ever seen.
The toyline, typically referred to as “Movie” or “Movie 2007” (to differentiate from its sequels, or the 1986 animated feature), changed much about the brand as well. It was comprised largely of licensed replicas of General Motors vehicles and of accurate military hardware, featuring intricate transformations, superior articulation, and a certain distinct look for the robots. The new visual feel was very gritty, giving the impression of exposed mechanicals and extreme complexity. The robot’s faces were far less innately humanlike, giving way to jagged edges and interweaving plates. Many longtime fans decried the look as “insectlike” or just unsightly, but the more realistic vision of living robots has persisted to some extent through many subsequent designs.
The main toys primarily followed the size class conventions of the preceding Cybertron, including the Legends class as miniature versions of main characters. However, Movie added several new classes to a different end: simplified versions of the main stars to target younger audiences. Fast Action Battlers featured simple transformations without much loss of articulation, and each toy had a spring loaded attack feature of some variety. Accessories were kept to a bare minimum, usually a lone missile for a spring-loaded launcher. An arrow was even molded into the toy to indicate the first step of the vehicle-to-robot transformation. Cyber Slammers engaged an even younger audience. A cute, deformed car could motor forward under its own power while the robot rose up from the middle of the chassis, and the robot only need be pushed down to repeat the process. Non-transforming action figures (á la Action Masters) were released in the forms of Robot Replicas, and Cyber Stompin’ Battlers for the younger audience.
The main line featured new innovations as well. Figures of all classes were equipped with “Automorph Technology”: moving one part of the toy by hand would cause another part to automatically rotate into place. In many cases this served to make the toy’s complex transformation one step easier, but in a few the gearing proved to be a weak point of the toy. Another theme was a growing number of toys having built-in weaponry rather than snap-on accessories. This mirrored the on-screen characters having cannons morph out of hands or arms rather than carrying a laser gun.
Movie also brought back the likes of Perceptor and Reflector with the Real Gear Robot class, rendering life-size replicas of various electronic devices as transforming robots. This was the first serious attempt at roleplay oriented transformers since early Generation 1. The toyline was plumped up and rounded out in its later stages with store exclusive redecos of previous molds, mostly from Cybertron. Almost every major retailer had store exclusive figures and merchandise, such as Wal-Mart, Target, Toys ‘R’ Us, and even Kmart.
The line came to its conclusion in 2008 (after a packaging refresh called “Allspark Power”), leaving in its wake the largest number of new toys in its two-year span since the height of the brand over 20 years earlier.