Sunday, April 11, 2021



In 1980, Japanese toymaker Takara took elements from their earlier Microman toy line and added them to a new series called Diaclone, which featured robots that can transform into vehicles. Sounds familiar? That is because American toymaker Hasbro licensed the Diaclone toys and gave them a rebrand for the west: Transformers. Launched in 1984 along with an iconic animated series featuring heroes like Optimus Prime and villains like Megatron, this franchise eclipsed its Japanese origins (retired by Takara in 1985 and revived only in 2015). While billed as transforming toys, for the most part players needed to manually tweak the toys to change from car/truck/etc. to robot, and vice versa.

But what if a Transformers toy can actually make like a transforming robot, meaning it can convert from vehicle disguise to robot form by itself? The Verge tells us that Hasbro, in collaboration with advanced robotics toy developer Robosen Robotics, has done just that. Close to complete development by Robosen is a rather big and heavy Optimus Prime truck that can transform, by itself, to the tall leader of the Autobots and even speak in the voice of his longtime VA Peter Cullen. All it needs is a command via mobile app, or your voice.

Robosen has been putting out some pretty nifty (and pricey) robot toys over the past couple of years, and their take on Optimus Prime has got adults on the internet who have been kids when the original “Transformers” cartoons were on TV rhapsodizing over its features and capabilities. Standing at 19 inches in robot form, the Robosen Optimus has about 5,000 parts, fully mechanical with 27 servo motors operated by 60 microchips, and powered by rechargeable battery. Telling it to transform makes it transform; saying “roll out” when in truck mode makes it go forward. The voice command library is extensive, and there is more.

Like many tech-using toys of this generation, the Robosen Optimus Prime comes with a downloadable phone app that serves as remote control and programming console. Add voice acting from Peter Cullen and the whole package is not just cutting-edge but authentic to the “Transformers” experience. Licensed by Hasbro, this limited edition Optimus self-transforming, voice-activated and programmable toy will set back interested collectors by some $699-700. But for many decades-long franchise followers, who cares? It is worth it. The toy is still in final development but orders with Robosen are up, in anticipation for its official release this coming August 2.

Image courtesy of Engadget


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