In 2021, Robosen and Hasbro left ‘80s toys fans with their jaws on the floor after revealing a $700 robotic Optimus Prime that could autonomously transform from the Autobot leader to a Freightliner truck. Two years later, Optimus is finally getting some backup with a new robotic Grimlock that transforms nearly exactly the same way the original ‘80s toy did.
Since Optimus’ debut, Robosen has released a handful of other robotic toys, including a transforming trailer accessory for when Prime is in truck mode, as well as Buzz Lightyear and Bumblebee robots—but neither of those had the ability to transform into alternate modes.
It turns out Robosen wasn’t quite done when it comes to blowing the minds—and budgets—of those of us who grew up in the ‘80s playing with the original G1 Transformers toys. After three years in development, today the company revealed its latest collaboration with Hasbro and it somehow makes the two-year-old transforming Optimus Prime robot already look prehistoric. Here are some of my favorite features and details of the new Transformers Grimlock Auto-Converting Robot Flagship Collector’s Edition.
Robosen says its new Grimlock robot is powered by “34 high-precision intelligent servos” and “an array of 85 microchips” that allow the Dinobot to autonomously transform from its robot mode to its alternative Cybertronian T.rex mode, in less than 10 seconds. The transformation process is absolutely mesmerizing, and a week in I’m still spotting new movements I hadn’t seen before. The way Grimlock’s legs and feet transform into the T.rex’s tail seems like an engineering marvel all on its own, and unlike Robosen’s Optimus Prime, both Grimlock’s robot and dino modes end up facing the same direction after transforming.
In robot mode, Robosen’s Optimus Prime could walk around using its legs and feet, but in truck mode, it rolled around on a set of six wheels. Grimlock is capable of walking (and turning) using its legs in both its robot and T.rex modes by taking advantage of a six-axis inertial measurement unit (IMU) sensor that helps the robot keep its balance. The robot can actually walk much faster in dinosaur mode as it’s assisted by its tail dragging on the ground which provides extra balance.
Although a set of jaws filled with sharp metal teeth seems like all Grimlock really needs to battle the Decepticons, in robot mode he can wield both a “Galaxial Rocket Launcher” and an “Energon Sword,” which both have LED-powered light-up features, while the robot provides all of the sound effects.
Grimlock’s eyes, in both robot and T.rex mode, are illuminated with LEDs and glow blue when the Dinobot is being friendly, or switch to a menacing red tint when the Autobot is angry or ready for battle. In T.rex mode, there’s also an additional LED inside Grimlock’s mouth which illuminates to simulate him breathing fire.
Watching Robosen’s Grimlock transform leaves little doubt there’s a lot of clever engineering squeezed inside the robot, but the collectible also features an incredible amount of design and detailing on the outside. Just look at something as mundane as Grimlock’s neck. Inside a transparent outer shell, you’ll see layers and layers of complex greebling, and that level of detail exists all over the robot.
Both the Robosen Optimus Prime and Grimlock auto-converting robots are much larger than the original G1 Transformers toys they’re based on, and even Tomy’s Masterpiece editions that were released years later in Japan. But while Grimlock in T.rex mode towers over Optimus Prime in truck mode, in their robot modes, Optimus Prime is actually ever so slightly taller than Grimlock, just like the Autobot leader should be.
Grimlock, and the rest of the Transformers Dinobots, weren’t known for their intelligence, or their humility. In a nod to the long-running Transformers comic books, in addition to his rocket launcher and sword, Robosen’s Grimlock also includes a golden crown that can be worn by the Dinobot when in robot mode.
As with Robosen’s Optimus Prime, its Grimlock auto-converting robot can be controlled using simple voice commands, and it doesn’t need to connect to a smart assistant like Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. Right out of the box, you can simply say, “Hey Grimlock,” and the robot will respond with an enthusiastic, “Yes, we go!,” in a voice that will sound familiar to fans of the original ‘80s Transformers animated series because Robosen used Gregg Berger, the original voice of Grimlock, to record over 150 new dialogue lines for the robot.
Once Grimlock is paying attention, you can speak one of 42 different voice commands (despite the manual listing less than that) that trigger everything from longer pre-programmed animated sequences to Grimlock walking around, to even the transformation process, which most definitely includes those iconic Transformers sound effects, and lots more.
If you’re not comfortable barking commands at a robot (you should probably get used to that real soon) Robosen’s Grimlock can also be connected to a dedicated iOS or Android app on a mobile device over Bluetooth. The app replicates all of the voice commands as buttons you can simply tap, and is actually an easier way to make the robot walk around as it provides an on-screen joystick controller. The app also allows for more complex interactions with the robot, including the ability to program custom animations or daisy-chain several pre-animated sequences together using a simple building block interface.
Robosen’s auto-converting Optimus Prime is charged with a proprietary power adapter featuring a barrel connector on the end. But proprietary power adapters are bad as they inevitably get lost, or broken, and aren’t always easy to replace. With Grimlock, Robosen has switched to a more standard USB-C port for charging, hidden beneath an access panel on the robot’s chest. And yes, a charger is included in the box.
One of the few components of Robosen’s auto-converting Grimlock robot that isn’t animated by a servo motor are its arms in T.rex mode. And yet, the scrawny little limbs might be one of my favorite features, with extensive articulation, including the fingers, and even ball joints at the shoulders for ultimate possibility.
One of my complaints with Robosen’s Optimus Prime was that when the robot was powered down, all of its servos would go limp and the robot would collapse like a marionette with its strings cut. It was nearly impossible to pose and display Prime on a shelf when the robot was turned off (the best you could get was a noticeably saggy truck) but in T.rex mode, Robosen’s Grimlock will straighten its legs and feet before completely powering off, allowing the robot to use its tail for balance and remain upright, without the assistance of the servos.
Pre-orders for the Transformers Grimlock Auto-Converting Robot Flagship Collector’s Edition are available through both the Robosen and Hasbro Pulse websites starting today, but only until September 30th. If you pre-order between now and then, Grimlock will set you back $1,499. But if you wait until the robot actually starts shipping sometime in the “late fall,” its full retail price will actually be $1,699. That’s even more expensive than Robosen’s Optimus Prime robot its three-foot-long transforming trailer accessory when it debuted last year, although that pair will now set you back just shy of $1,800—thanks, inflation!