After a red-letter year in 1984, The Transformers had even bigger plans for 1985. They would rapidly spread worldwide, and double production of new characters. During 1985, fifty-three new characters were available in the 'States, and together with a second release of the 1984 toys, there were over 80 different toys available throughout the year!
Hasbro quickly realized that the competition had stepped up their game in response to the transforming robot rage. Hasbro's counterattack was to fit each “official” Transformers toy with a "heat energizable identification label" (U.S. Patent USD297337 S), a.k.a. "Rubsigns" that would display the character's faction symbol when it was warmed or rubbed. Hasbro marketing could now assert that your toy wasn't a “REAL” Transformer unless it had the rubsign. Ironically, all of the toys sold as Transformers in 1985 were sourced from previous series as well, as Hasbro scrambled to secure licenses from Toy Box, Takatoku, Bandai, and others to round out the recycled Takara selection available.
Meanwhile, Takara had shifted their production for the Japanese market entirely to Transformers, ending their predecessor robot lines Microman and Diaclone. They largely mimicked Hasbro's marketing, logos, and selection as closely as possible, but there were some differences. Many figures were not available for license in Japan, especially Takatoku and Bandai designs, which were more directly relevant competitors to Takara at the time. Japanese packaging varied as well, with small figures coming in boxes instead of blister cards. Takara still provided a broad selection, by releasing the bulk of 1984 characters for the first time, alongside Hasbro's 1985 selection.
In Europe, Milton Bradley expanded the UK's selection of toys, albeit with some exclusions from the Hasbro lineup, for varying reasons. Joustra and Gig continued to be licensee distributors in mainland Europe, and occasionally issued their own unique variants of figures, many of which are considered rare and highly sought after by modern collectors.
In all, 1985 was another massively successful year for the franchise, and built toward the crescendo of sales and marketing for a toyline… 1986.