Culture

Transformers come to life: This $700 Optimus Prime does everything, including transform, by itself

It's what you always wished for in a Transformers toy.

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.
Optimus Prime comes to life as a collectable robot from Robosen and Hasbro.
Bridget Carey/CNET

In what may (arguably) be the greatest engineering achievement of our lifetime, consumers can now own a version of Optimus Prime, the leader of the Autobot faction of Transformers, that does everything -- including transform on its own from vehicle to bipedal robot -- with sound effects and all. It is now available to preorder on the Hasbro Pulse site for $699. 

Now playing: Watch this: Watch this Transformers robot actually transform on its...
7:29

Robosen Robotics partnered with toy maker Hasbro to bring the Autobots leader to life in a high-grade collectible that is more of an experience than a mere toy. Say "Hey Optimus," followed by one of many keywords, and watch as 27 servo motors spring into action, making the character animate as it responds with the iconic booming voice of Optimus from the cartoon series and movie franchise. (Yes, they got Peter Cullen to voice the toy.) 

There's an app to use it as a remote control to have it walk or drive around in truck form. Owners can even use the app to program their own maneuvers to control Optimus in his battles against the evil Megaton.

After briefly playing with an early model at home, I don't know how any other toy could ever compare. The technology has brought a cartoon character to life with interactivity in a way we just haven't seen before. Say "Roll out" and watch Optimus go from robot to truck and drive off. Say "Look out!" and he'll start attacking with blaster sound effects. Dare to utter "Megatron," and his fists shake with fury as he vows to stop his foe at any cost. 

op-main.png

The robot transforms by itself from a driving truck to walking robot, and comes with weapon accessories for battle.

Robosen

He also will tell you that he's your friend and wish you a happy birthday in the most epic way.

The animation reminds me of a theme park animatronic figure, but of course, smaller. Optimus stands 19 inches tall, and its chest and arms move up and down slightly as it stands, awaiting your command. Like it's breathing. (Do, uh, space robots breathe?) 

There are 80 sound effects in total, including those "converting" sounds. Two microphones catch your voice commands easily -- and there are 25 different phrases he'll respond to, as 5,000 components and 60 microchips make him seamlessly punch, blast, drive and convert. 

You can see for yourself in my video of the experience, embedded above and in this GIF.

Say "Transform" and Optimus really does transform.

CNET

This isn't Robosen's first "transforming" robot, but it's the first designed as an official Transformer. In early 2020 we saw the model T9 go from car to robot to show off mad dance moves and pushups. In early 2021, I got to play with Robosen's K1, which also responded to fun voice commands and had similar programmable features. But seeing this technology in an Optimus Prime -- which is more intricate than its predecessors -- is what really makes the heart happy.

And like Robosen's other transforming, dancing and tumbling robots, the app to control Optimus offers programming options, designed as "missions" to complete, and it lets you design your own pattern of movement. So that means you can totally justify this $700 collectible as an educational tool.

The full name of this masterpiece is Transformers Optimus Prime Auto-Converting Programmable Advanced Robot -- Collector's Edition. You could also refer to it as the coolest toy ever.