Hober Mallow wrote:
The dumbest of all, backstory-wise, has to be the Action Masters. They were Transformers that didn't transform into anything. While they were pretty cool looking figures, and more poseable than most regular figures, the backstory made even less sense than the Pretenders' backstory. On the commercial, Optimus Prime has assembled his troops and announced that to win the war against the Decepticons, "We must give up the art of transforming." Say whah? Why don't we just give up our weapons while we're at it, Optimus? Hasbro wasn't putting a tremendous amount of thought into that last line of G1 products.
Actually, in the toy line the backstory for Action Masters is that Energon has become almost completely exhausted and the Transformers had to find a new power source. The new power source was called Nucleon. It never ran out, but it forced all the transformation systems in a Cybertronian's body to become reactors to keep the Nucleon going. The side effect however was the loss of transformation ability. The commercial just put that dramatic spin on it with Prime asking "Who will join me?!" etc.
In the comic book, Nucleon was an experimental energy source said to have miraculous abilities. Only a select few Transformers used it including Grimlock, who used it to bring the Dinobots back to life.