To go with what some of you are saying, I find it interesting to see how the brand was approached over the subsequent months to 1996 and the formal launch of Beast Wars.
Under Hasbro, perhaps because they never invested in new media to sell the toys, they tended to rely heavily on established characters (or at least character NAMES) to help sell product in ways I’m not sure they even did AS heavily in GI Joe. Optimus Prime and Megatron were the central key characters to marketing (with guys like Starscream, Soundwave, Jazz, Prowl and Bumblebee being strong supporters). In 1995, there were planned to be FOUR different Optimus Prime toys across almost all major price points. Megatron wasn’t far behind with 3. Then again, maybe all those variations in different price categories were viewed as cannibalizing each others’ potential sales?
Kenner, perhaps because they DID have a core media, no longer felt the need to have those core characters as heavily available. Or more likely, focused all the attention on the larger and more profitable iterations than flooding the market with different variations of Primal and Megatron. This could also be the beginnings of the idea of Transformers the toy category (which they tried to capitalize on with Animorphs), rather than Transformers the character franchise.