Though store exclusives in ''Transformers'' date back as far as 1989's K-Mart-only releases of the "[[Legends (G1)|Legends]]" [[Bumblebee (G1)|Bumblebee]], [[Grimlock (G1)|Grimlock]], [[Jazz (G1)|Jazz]] and [[Starscream (G1)|Starscream]], the practice saw little use in the US until Kay-Bee stores got its own exclusive mini-line ''[[Machine Wars]]'' in 1997. Store exclusives tied in directly to the main retail line, however, remained minimal in the following years, with ''[[Beast Wars]]'' and ''[[Beast Machines]]'' getting one or two.
The success of the ''[[Robots in Disguise]]'' series caused a boom for the franchise, resulting in the "big four" chains (Wal*Mart, Toys 'R' Us, Target, and Kay-Bee) each getting their own Transformers available only at their stores. Since then, store-exclusives have persisted and increased in number, though with the creation of the ''[[Universe]]'' series, most have fallen under that line, even well after the ''Universe'' line disappeared from standard retail, and even with toys whose backstories place them quite explicitly in other continuities. To this day, multiple store exclusives are released each year in the US.
In Japan, short-run exclusives are fairly common (or, used to be). There are (or, were) multiple outlets for exclusives; for most larger toys, [[Takara]]'s [[e-Hobby]] online store put up exclusive redecoes and "[[USA Edition]]s", though other online services got some as well. Many brick-and-mortar stores received very short-run smaller exclusives that were ''technically'' given away free, but only to people who bought certain toys (or a certain amount of toys) at the stores on a certain date. Magazine mail-aways remain a popular outlet for exclusive redecos in Japan, though that practice has fallen out of favor in the US.