Robosen Elite Optimus Prime review: a Transformer that really transforms
A transformer that well and truly transforms: this is the future of toys.
I have been transfixed with Transformers ever since childhood. As a child I had no idea that the concept was created just to make toys but, years later and now with that knowledge, I still don’t see the cynicism in this.
Kids love cartoons and kids love toys. Why, then, wouldn’t you create a cool cartoon series with the end product being cool toys to play with?
And that’s what Transformers are. Even with Michael Bay’s attempt to eviscerate whatever nostalgia I had about the bots from Cybertron, they are cool toys.
Take off the rose-tinted glasses, though, and the fun I had playing with my Transformers in the ‘80s was 90% my own imagination and 10% the plastic that kind of shape shifted.
The dream was always to have a truly transforming Transformer and now we have it, thanks to the Robosen Elite Optimus Prime.
This more compact version of the Robosen Flagship Optimus Prime is an intelligent toy made with care consideration and crammed with cool robot tech.
It is a toy that promises to transform on your command, but can it really be the Transformer toy that I, and millions of others, dreamed of as child (and still do)?
Here are 5 things to know about Robosen Elite Optimus Prime…
1. The dedication to detail is extraordinary
The Robosen Elite Optimus Prime comes in some of the best packaging we have seen for a product. The outside cardboard box has a print of Prime’s truck face on it, open this up and there’s another cardboard box, then a great grey foam suitcase. This has a handle on the top for transporting the thing, with a couple of latches on the side.
Opening this up I was braced for a little bit of assembly but Optimus Prime is pretty much ready to play straight out of the box.
Taking it out of the box, the first thing you are hit with is the complexity of the robot. It’s not heavy as such, it’s 30% lighter than Flagship Optimus Prime, but when you hold it its joints move much like a human’s would. This is because there are over 5000 components and 27 servo motors powering the thing. This meant we were careful when we put the machine down.
Looks wise, it is a perfect replica of Prime in his Prime: this is a 16-inch replica of the 80s Optimus, so fans of the Bay version - if there are any - need to look elsewhere.
2. You’ll never tire of commanding Optimus Prime to ‘roll out’
I was surprised just how quickly I was able to play with the Robosen Elite Optimus Prime. There was some battery life in the robot, so I quickly pressed the ‘on’ button which is situated on the top of the device and was greeted with, ‘I am the leader of the Autobots’ - dialog spoken by the man himself, voice actor Peter Cullen who has been lending his Canadian tones to Optimus since the original TV show.
It was a joyous moment hearing that voice, followed by the lights of the truck turning on and the robot moving itself back into place - it resets itself - ready to transform.
This is a tease before the actual transformation, which can be done by asking it. I use the phrase, ‘Hey Optimus Prime: Transform’, as mentioned in the accompanying booklet.
This is followed by Optimus saying: “Greetings’ and a transformation by the bot which is jaw-dropping. During the transformation, the robot uses that all-familiar transform sound and changes from truck to robot in seconds.
It’s brilliant to watch and I still can’t quite believe how well it apes the cartoon and fulfils a dream to have a Transformer that well and truly transforms.
There is a small caveat to this. To transform from truck to robot, if the truck is facing you then you won’t get the full splendour of the transformation as Optimus Prime will actually appear backwards - as it rotates its torso away from you. This makes sense, given how the complex components work, but it does mean you have to make sure the truck is facing away from you to get the full effect.
When it transforms from robot to truck, the same thing applies. If you want it to rollout away from you, then that’s fine, as it will transform into a truck (complete with revving noise) and drive away.
3. Be careful with the accessories
There are two accessories you get with the Robosen Elite Optimus Prime. The first is a see-through orange ‘battle axe’ which goes over the fist of one of Prime’s hands. The second is a gun which lights up when you press the top of it.
These are fun accessories and you can’t have Optimus without his cannon but I have a word of warning: transforming does not work with the weapons in hand. This is in the literature that comes with the device but I am not one to read those things (lesson learned, here). Instead, I had to quickly take the gun out of his hands before it transformed as I could see what what was going to happen.
Given how brainy this bot is, some sort of warning that this was going to happen - it’s a chatty gadget, so maybe add it into its vocabulary - would have been appreciated. Once you make the mistake, though, you don’t forget!
Having the accessories is fun, though, as some of the many movements of Optimus Prime require the accessories. Say ‘Hey. Optimus Prime Battle Axe’ and it will make a chopping movement, which looks great with axe in hand, not so much without.
The same with shooting: ‘Hey Optimus Prime, Open Fire’ with gun in hand looks fantastic, without and it just looks like it is fist pumping.
4. You have to remember it’s a robot first, toy second
I have a confession: this review was partly done by my six-year-old son. And it was a perfect test for the machine, given that little ‘uns aren’t quite as considerate as adults when it comes to caring for complex robots.
He treated it like a toy in his testing/playing and it made me realise that despite this being a toy, it needs to be cared for a lot more as it is a sophisticated robot.
From picking it up to trying to make it transform without asking it, it felt like this was a device that’s more for the adult-child, who understands the expensive components that make the robot work than a kid who likes to play rough with whatever is in their toy box.
Saying that, watching a child ask Optimus Prime to do things and it responding is an absolute wonder - it was amazing to watch the joy he was having with the most intelligent toy he’s ever played with. He is having the childhood dream I so wanted when I was his age.
5. Battery life is short but sweet
Given the complexities of the Robosen Elite Optimus Prime, battery life was never going to be fantastic. Robosen has reduced the battery life, compared to the full-fat version of the bot. It lasts around an hour then you will have to charge it up.
If I am honest, you don’t need much more than this. You can go through all the voice commands in this time and play the games that are in the rather limited app that accompanies the device. An hour is long enough to watch Optimus rollout - with more speed than the bigger version - and having it do battle with imaginary Decepticons.
Optimus will warn you when the battery is about to run out, by saying: 'Energon low'. You need to heed this advise as when the battery is out, it will just fall over as is and not transform back before needing juice.
Robosen Elite Optimus Prime final verdict
If you can stomach the premium price-tag - which is thankfully cheaper than the version released last year - then the Robosen Elite Optimus Prime is a stunning toy that will having you relive your childhood. It is the sort of gadget that you have to show everyone when they come to your house. I certainly did and the reaction of it transforming never lost its ‘wow’ factor.
The Robosen Elite Optimus Prime is the future of toys, bringing to life a character that I have long loved - and doing it with jaw-dropping results.
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