A "missing link" of sorts in the Transformers universe, the Machine Wars toys were released exclusively to Kay-Bee Toys stores in the U.S. in 1996 and 1997. They were an experiment of sorts, to see if new "machine" Transformers still had any appeal, while Beast Wars was occupying most of the Transformers toy line. The experiment failed, mainly because Beast Wars was doing so well that a real effort wasn't needed on Kenner's part. The toys today barely even qualify as collectors items on eBay.
There were only twelve Machine Wars Transformers in total, six Autobots and six Decepticons. Of these, four were recolored versions of earlier Europe-only Transformers. Of the remaining eight, four were recolored versions of the others. Almost all of them reused names from the original "Generation 1" toys.
- Hoist, a small tow truck which transformed automatically at the flip of a lever, an idea possibly borrowed from the Jumpstarters of earlier years
- Hubcap, a repaint of Hoist
- Mirage, a small Indy 500 racecar with a similar lever-triggered transformation trick
- Prowl, a repaint of Mirage
- Sandstorm, a medium military helicopter recolored from the European Rotorstorm
- Optimus Prime, a large "hi-tech" styled eighteen wheeler with only a vague resemblance to the original Prime, recolored from the European "Turbomaster" Thunderclash
- Megatron, a small F-22 jet which transformed at the flip of a lever102
- Megaplex, a repaint of Megatron apparently intended to serve as a cloned "decoy" for Megatron
- Skywarp, a small Dassault Rafale jet with the same lever-triggered transformation
- Thundercracker, a repaint of Skywarp
- Soundwave, a medium missile truck very similar to the Headmaster Hardhead, recolored from the European "Predator" Stalker
- Starscream, a large futuristic jet with a vague resemblance to an SR-71 Blackbird, recolored from the European Skyquake
While these toys never did fare well, a few of them gained new life in the 2000 Car Robots/Robots In Disguise lineup. Hoist/Hubcap was repainted as Wrecker Hook in Japan, Tow-Line in the US; and Mirage/Prowl became Indy Heat in Japan, Skid-Z in the US. Hasbro also added Megatron/Megaplex as Skyfire (packaged with Tow-Line) and Skywarp/Thundercraker as Wind Sheer (packaged with Skid-Z) to the US lineup.