Toy Review: Robosen Elite Optimus Prime

Believe the hype. It’s an individual budgetary decision as to whether any toy is worth $700, and one we can’t make for you. [Robosen sent the review sample complimentary.] But we can attest that the Transformers Robosen Elite Optimus Prime does everything it’s supposed to — and does so right out of the box. There’s no significant assembly required, though later on you may want to charge him up more fully and download the app. (The chrome smokestacks come in an easily missable, separate envelope, and attach easily.) But you can immediately pull him out of the box, hit the on switch, and say, “Hey, Optimus Prime!”

“Greetings,” responds Peter Cullen’s familiar voice. “Transform!” you say, and the truck untwists itself into a 16-inch tall robot. More commands are available, but if you do nothing, he still slowly raises and lowers his shoulders as if breathing. Ignore him, and he might strike another pose, like a dab. Or give him another command, always preceded by, “Hey, Optimus Prime!”

In order to be as poseable as he is, Optimus does not “lock” into truck mode the way most Transformers toys do. Picking him up in vehicle form is like picking up a limp, unconscious child. The truck collapses in the middle, and the legs may splay apart and hang loose if not held properly from underneath. Command the active toy to shut down, and he gets into a more crouching, Megazord-on-the-march type pose. Hit the power switch to deactivate him at any time, though; it’s on the cab behind his head flap.

It’s pretty nuts to have an Optimus Prime that you can simply tell to transform, and then to roll out, and he will become a truck and zoom forward, honking his horn and burning headlights. He can also walk — the app has a joystick that can send him any direction, or you can just order him to walk forward — though it’s a bit of a shuffle. This will scrape the bottom of his feet some, so any Robosen Optimus Prime significantly played with won’t be pristine in that way. But you’d be crazy not to play with it. Any company can make a 16-inch cool statue of the Autobot leader. Only one makes one that can do push-ups, a command in the downloadable app.

Make sure to download the right app — you can drive yourself nuts downloading the app for the original, larger figure and not have it work at all. Fans may remember the original going for $750 — what seems to have happened is mandatory price hikes across the board raised that to $999. So Robosen made a smaller one that allowed the $700 price point still, but it’s plenty big nonetheless. The only major disadvantage is that it doesn’t have a separately available compatible trailer like the big one.

Keep a close eye on delivery, too, because the outer mailing box has an Optimus design all over, leaving little doubt as to the contents. Open that, and there’s a nice black outer box with a picture of the figure inside on it. Open that, and inside is a gray foam “suitcase,” with handle and snap fastenings. Inside that is everything you need, including a partly charged Prime. A plug-in charger fits into an outlet underneath his grill, though he’s also USB chargeable. There are stickers included, but they are mostly OF Optimus, not FOR Optimus.

Vehicle mode doesn’t allow openings for drivers, but he’s more-or-less compatible with 3 or 4-inch figures for display purposes. Those G.I. Joe crossover vehicles should look good next to him. He can work as a troop carrier, kind of. And you get a real sense of just how large an in-scale Optimus would be.

(McFarlane’s Quaritch is about the size of a typical Vintage Collection Star Wars figure.]

Weapons include a gun that has its own tiny battery inside to light up the barrel, and his energy ax. They fit in his hands, but just be careful not to have him transform or do a task like a push-up while holding them, if they would get in the way naturally. Use voice commands like “Decepticons!” or “Megatron!” to have him wield them appropriately. (Put the axe in his hand too loosely, and he’ll throw it!) On a milder note, he can also wish you a happy birthday, or proclaim the virtue of freedom. Sometimes with a snippet of theme music included. Moves like uppercuts depend on his large feet to keep him balanced.

It’s important to note that the app and voice commands cannot be used simultaneously. Activate the app, and he’ll ignore what you say. (Just like your kid, if you have one!) The advantages of the app are the joystick feature, and some unique commands like pushups. It’s possible using voice to program a sequence (“Transform” + “roll out” is sure to be popular), and some get uploaded to the app, with possibly more to come.

Many toys have tried over the years to integrate technology of the future, so to speak. Mattel’s first Avatar figures with their augmented reality, for example, or Mattel WWE Titantrons that fit a tablet inside to serves as the screen. But you get what you pay for. Robosen Optimus is pricier by far than a mass retail toy, but has major “They can do that now?” show-stopping factor. Will that be enough to drop the cash and hope a kid stays interested? That’s up to your kid.

For the nostalgia-minded adult collector, we suspect there can never be enough of a walking, talking, transforming Optimus with the real voice. There’s nothing quite like it from any other company out there, and it may be a while before anyone tries. A Megatron seems unlikely simply because of all the laws about toy guns. Sure, they could cheat like recent toys have and make him a tank, but that wouldn’t evoke the same nostalgia feels.

For the sort of collector that regularly plunks down $1000 for high-end statues, a $700 Optimus like this is absolutely worth it. If, however, $700 seems insane for any collectible, we’re not here to tell you to blow the rent on a robot. Just that the robot delivers everything promised, and is a pretty damned impressive and show-stopping toy.

Check out the full gallery below. Then let us know what you think in comments.

Recommended Reading: Transformers: IDW Collection Phase Two Volume 9

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