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A Dream Robot That Bites: Transformers Grimlock T-Rex Auto-Transforms With Voice Commands

He, Grimlock. Me, impressed.

Bridget Carey Principal Video Producer
Bridget Carey is an award-winning reporter who helps you level-up your life -- while having a good time geeking out. Her exclusive CNET videos get you behind the scenes as she covers new trends, experiences and quirky gadgets. Her weekly video show, "One More Thing," explores what's new in the world of Apple and what's to come. She started as a reporter at The Miami Herald with syndicated newspaper columns for product reviews and social media advice. Now she's a mom who also stays on top of toy industry trends and robots. (Kids love robots.)
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Bridget Carey
4 min read

Collectors may actually cry when they see Robosen Robotics's latest auto-converting Transformers robot. It can be emotional to see advancements in engineering reach a point where your childhood fantasies come to life -- but there may also be tears over how much it costs to own.

Grimlock, the leader of the Dinobots in the Transformers cartoon since its creation in the 1980s, is now the most technologically advanced robot sold by Robosen. With a simple voice command, the character transforms by itself from a walking and chomping T-Rex, into a bipedal walking and sword-swinging robot. It's packed with 34 intelligent servo motors, 85 microchips and multiple balance-monitoring sensors. 

The robot costs $1,500 for those who preorder between now and Sept. 30. When it ships later this fall, the retail price goes up to $1,700. (International pricing wasn't immediately available, but $1,500 converts to roughly £1,160 or AU$2,220.)

dinocrop

Robosen's Grimlock gets ready to fire at enemies from his mouth. The company brought the 1980s Transformers character to life with an animated auto-transforming robot.

Bridget Carey/CNET

As a metallic T-Rex, he stands 16 inches tall, growling and moving ever so slightly to give the illusion that he's alive and breathing -- that is, when he's not snapping his jaws and threatening to melt enemies with fire (or, in this case, melt enemies with the menacing red light in his mouth). In his robot mode, he can wield an Energon sword in one fist and blast a Galaxial rocket launcher in the other. He swings his arms and legs to give motivational speeches about stopping the evil Megatron, but he can also perform cute birthday dance shimmies as music plays in the background.

The Chinese robotics manufacturer Robosen turned heads in 2021 when it worked with Hasbro to release an Optimus Prime that transformed on its own from vehicle to robot, complete with numerous animations, sound effects, voice and all. As the leader of the Autobots and star of numerous Transformers shows and a blockbuster movie franchise, it was hard to imagine how Roboson could top Optimus Prime for its next transforming creation.

blaster

Grimlock comes with three signature accessories, including his Dinobot Crown of Leadership.

Bridget Carey/CNET

But you only need to see the hulking Grimlock in action for a moment to know this Dinobot deserves to be crowned the true king of Robosen's showcase -- even when he doesn't wear his pointy, gold crown accessory.

Robosen sent me one of the first models to play with, and you can see my raw reactions to his animations in the video embedded at the top of this article.

This bot is packed with details and smarts, including dozens of animations in both of his walking forms. That could be why Grimlock costs twice as much as the Optimus Prime debut preorder launch price ($700).

You can interact with the toy using a Bluetooth-connected app or with voice commands, starting with the wake phrase, "Hey Grimlock." There are 42 different voice commands to engage certain preprogramed animations and phrases. It has more than 150 speaking lines recorded by Gregg Berger, the original voice of Grimlock. 

Grimlock speaks in third person, asserting his presence in case you don't already know who he is:

"Me, Grimlock attack! Grimlock save universe! Me, Grimlock, greatest warrior!"

The app takes the sound effects further, if you want to program him. The app will let you remotely control all the auto conversion or select additional preprogrammed animations and music. You can mash up any number of movements and sounds using the app's programming modes, which include a block-based visual programming option. Grimlock doesn't just save Cybertron, he also teaches programming. 

The robot, created in partnership with Hasbro, makes its debut today. You can see it on display at the San Diego Comic-Con. It's available to order at Robosen and Hasbro Pulse, the company's online storefront for collectible toys. 

A note for parents: This robotic hero is not a toy designed for young children, as you may already gather from the price tag. Moving parts can pinch fingers while it is transforming, and I've found in my brief time that the gears can be sensitive and it needs to be handled carefully. 

When Grimlock was in his robot form, prompting him to do his "attack" animation sometimes caused him to lose balance and I'd have to catch him. And sometimes my model's right leg would swivel more than it should as it adjusted to find its balance. Robosen told me this problem may have been caused by mishandling in transport. I'll be returning this model, and the company is sending me a second Grimlock to test further. Grimlock may look tough, but all those moving parts make him a sensitive creature for collectors.

Updated July 19 at 11:33 a.m ET: Added more details from the hands-on experience.