JAXA and Toyota’s ‘Lunar Cruiser’ moon rover is now a Transformers toy

April 1, 2024

— It may now be revealed that Japan’s proposal for a future moon rover is “greater than meets the attention.”

As first introduced final June however simply now beginning to ship, a brand new scale mannequin of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Company’s (JAXA) Lunar Cruiser not solely faithfully reproduces the small print of the astronaut transport developed along with Toyota, but in addition transforms into Optimus Prime, the chief of the Autobots.

Sure, the brand new Takara Tomy toy is a crossover between the true company’s idea and Transformers, the “robots in disguise” franchise.

“Carry the final word Transformers expertise to your assortment with the Takara Tomy Transformers Lunar Cruiser Optimus Prime motion determine!” reads Habro’s Pulse web site, the toy firm’s direct-to-fan on-line retailer, which took $75 pre-orders for the Takara Tomy launch. “This determine was designed to copy the looks of the Lunar Cruiser pre-exhibited in 2019.”

For the previous 5 years, JAXA and Toyota have been advancing analysis on a automobile that will allow sustained exploration of the moon’s floor. Not like the historic Apollo lunar rover and the lunar terrain automobile(s), or LTVs, that NASA is about to announce for the Artemis program, the Lunar Cruiser (named after Toyota’s Land Cruiser) is pressurized, permitting it to function a camper van for multi-day excursions.

Toyota’s contributions to the six-wheeled JAXA rover embrace its gas cell, which along with a photo voltaic panel, will energy the automobile.

Takara Tomy’s mannequin relies on the primary model of the Lunar Cruiser, which featured extra home windows, bigger tires and a wider high-gain antenna than a revised idea proven off by JAXA and Toyota in October 2023.

After all, neither iteration of the proposed rover might unfold to turn out to be a crimson, blue and grey robotic. (If unfamiliar, Optimus Prime, or Convoy as he’s recognized in Japan, turns into a semi truck in his authentic configuration, although he has taken on different autos earlier than changing into the Lunar Cruiser.)

It takes about two dozen strikes to fold, twist, deploy and snap into place the fully-articulated robotic type of the mannequin (or in reverse, again into the rover). Optimus stands about 7 inches tall (18 centimeters) and is made nearly solely from ABS plastic.

The included photo voltaic panel accent folds in half to turn out to be a defend that Optimus Prime can maintain or mount to his physique. In Lunar Cruiser kind, the photo voltaic panel could be mounted on the automobile’s aspect (as JAXA and Toyota plan) or saved inside by lifting open the rover’s hatchback.

The Transformers Lunar Cruiser Optimus Prime will not be the one time Transformers has crossed over with area exploration, each on display and in actual life.

Within the authentic 1980’s cartoon, Astrotrain was an evil Decepticon who might flip into each a practice’s engine and an area shuttle. In a single episode, he transported Megatron, the chief of the Decepticons, to the moon, the place they in the end confronted off with Optimus and the Autobots.

Later, Hasbro and Takara Tomy launched Galaxy Shuttle, an Autobot that might remodel into the Orion winged orbiter, and Sky Lynx, which went from a bird-like creature (or “dino-bird”) to an area shuttle full with a NASA brand on the aspect of its payload bay.

In “Transformers: Darkish of the Moon,” the third film within the Michael Bay collection, launched in 2011, the plot revolves round a bit of know-how that crashed on the moon within the Sixties, re-writing the historical past of NASA’s Apollo 11 mission. The movie was partially shot at Kennedy House Heart and included scenes filmed contained in the Car Meeting Constructing and on Pad 39A with the area shuttle Discovery.

Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin had a cameo in “Darkish of the Moon,” the place he’s seen assembly Optimus Prime. Later, the actor who gave voice to the character, Peter Cullen, recorded a number of movies for NASA, together with an introduction to the company’s tv channel, a video celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the Apollo program and an summary of the James Webb House Telescope.

Most not too long ago, when Japan landed its first probe on the moon in January of this yr, the Sensible Lander for Investigating Moon, or SLIM, deployed a compact rover designed by Takara Tomy. The Sora-Q robotic modified its form from a sphere to reveal its cameras and ultilize its two hemispheres as wheels.

Previous to the historic lunar landing, Takara Tomy launched a toy model of Sora-Q, which like the true rover on the moon, was additionally able to remodeling.


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