With the explosive sales of Armada in 2003, the demand for new Transformers toys was higher than what could be met by Hasbro's new inclusions in Armada. To ride the wave of increased popularity, they quickly developed Transformers: Universe, a series of redecoed toys from previous franchises. Despite the increased number of redecoes in other lines, Universe was the first to issue no new-mold toys (although several of its molds were borrowed from Japanese toylines, and new to US customers). Loosely tied in with fiction about a battle extending across multiple universes and many eras, Universe filled the gap in toy sales without the major investments associated with new toylines..
Universe, much like the later portion of Robots in Disguise before it, drew upon every previous generation of Transformers before it. The toys were fit (and occasionally shoehorned via creatively multi-packing) into the standard size classes. Like most contemporary Transformers series, Universe featured a liberal amount of retailer exclusives, covering most of Hasbro's major retailers at the time.
North American customers were treated to Japan's Operation: Combination Micromaster combiners for the first time, through a long string of KB Toys exclusive single-packs. As Armada gave way to Energon, Universe quickly incorporated redecos of the new molds as well. By 2006, though, Universe was largely done with unique toys, and instead used to brand overproduction of Energon toys for “dollar store” release: identical toys in different packaging at half the price. The line continued in this capacity through Cybertron, until 2007.
The final dying gasp of the original Universe toyline was Chevrolet Aveo Swerve, who was designed as a tie-in promo for Chevy's Movie (2007) starring role. Swerve's release was obscured in mystery, but he was publicly released as part of Universe via a website exclusive sale, making him the only new-mold Transformer in the series. Universe would be succeeded in 2008 by a line that collectors affectionately differentiate as Universe 2.