Original run (US, Canada and Australia)
The "Commemorative Series" line of reissues was originally released between 2002 and 2005 as Toys"R"Us exclusives in the United States, Canada and Australia until it was folded when TRU was no longer willing to carry it. Two toys from the final two series were released through unusual venues:
Series VIII Side Swipe (actually spelled that way back then) saw a regular release at TRU in Canada and Australia, but in the United States he only saw very limited distribution to the point where those few sparse sightings we got were considered fake news for a long time until someone managed to produce an actual receipt a few years ago. The remaining unsold stock of Side Swipes was later released as a KB Toys exclusive in 2006 at instant discount prices.
Series IX Astrotrain was never released at TRU. In the United States, he was released in 2005 through Hasbro Toy Shop, the first HTS exlusive ever, serving as a test vehicle to see if exclusives were a viable option for HTS. In Australia, Astrotrain was officially a Kmart exclusive (but somehow was also available at smaller, privately owned shops?), while he never saw an official release in Canada.
UK releases (concurrently with the original run)
In the United Kingdom, the early Commemorative Series figures were originally available in multilingual (six languages, to be precise) European packaging around the same time they were released in the US, Canada and Australia before Hasbro put the line on hold in the UK (not that they would officially say so; it's just that no figures came out in the UK anymore). Jazz was presumably the only Series III figure to see a UK release.
Later UK releases (after the original run)
In 2006, after even the last remaining stragglers (i.e. Side Swipe and Astrotrain) had seen a full release in the US, Hasbro UK released several more, previously unreleased-in-the-UK figures (namely, all Series IV figures plus Inferno and Tracks from Series V, but apparently not Hoist?), this time in English-only packaging that still differed from the packaging used for the US, Canada and Australia due to the lack of trademark claims after names and logos, among other things.
In 2007, Hasbro released a Soundwave reissue as a Toys"R"Us exclusive "Commemorative Edition" in the same general packaging design as the contemporary "Classics" line.
2012 Asian releases
In 2012, Hasbro's Asian division re-released several figures in packaging resembling that of the original TRU exclusive "Commemorative Series" packaging but with numerous changes, including some name changes, updated trademark claims and dropping the name "Commemorative Series" from some, but not all of these new releases. Soundwave was also re-released in packaging resembling that of his 2007 release.
The 2002 Toys"R"Us US/Canada/Australia release comes in English-only packaging, has a red/orange "Commemorative Series I" label, an "Ages 8+" recommendation, a "choking hazard" warning label with a regular border and an older version of the Hasbro logo.
Photo credits: Go Figure, My Generation Toys
The 2002 Toys"R"Us UK release comes in "European" packaging featuring six languages (English, French, Dutch, German, Italian and Spanish) for pretty much every piece of text other than "Transformers" and has an "8+" recommendation in a white logo depicting "boy" and "girl" pictograms.
Photo credits: Go Figure, eBay
The 2012 Hasbro Asia release lacks the "Commemorative Series I" label, has a thicker white border around the choking hazard" warning label, a newer version of the Hasbro logo, the age recommendation has been changed from "Ages 8+" to "Ages 5+", the age recommendation and the "choking hazard" warning label have swapped places compared to the 2002 release, and the Hasbro product code number has been moved below the age recommendation.
On top of that, the toy itself is different to: Basically, it's (for the most part) a re-release of the 2008 Universe "25th Anniversary" version with Autobot insignias tampographed onto Optimus's shoulders, a lighter gray trailer and Roller, but Optimus himself (i.e. the cab) has the retooled hitch of Takara's 2011 Chronicle version that allows attaching the ion blaster to the hitch in vehicle mode.
Photo credits: Cybertron.ca, Amazon Canada
Edited by Nevermore, 29 November 2017 - 05:33 AM.