After 1984, 1996 is likely the next watershed year for the Transformers brand. Desperate to leverage the brand power of the aging line of robots in disguise, Hasbro turned over control of the line from Hasbro Toy to its recently acquired subsidiary, Kenner. Kenner's long experience with action figures like Star Wars and M.A.S.K. made in attractive option to breathe life back into the Transformers.
With such latitude, Kenner chose to throw out everything that was known about the Transformers to that point. They created the Beast Wars – organic animals disguising Cybertronian warriors trapped on another world. The new toys looked nothing like anything that had come before, with molded fur, extensive tampographed details, hidden weapons, and an unprecedented degree of articulation, thanks to the ball joints lightly introduced at the end of G2.
The series was set in a new storyline, which initially barely hearkened back to the old lore, save for the names Megatron and Optimus (now Primal, in place of Prime). Even the Autobots and Decepticons were gone, giving way to the Maximals and Predacons in their stead. The toys broke free of the highly variable packaging of the G2 toys, and standardized into size classes, each with its own price point and common package shape. This allowed a continuous rotation of new stock throughout the series without having to reset retailer peg arrangements.
Tied to an all-CGI cartoon, the series was a tour de force in boys' toys, and exceeded expectations for success in revitalizing Transformers.