A new design of a magnetorheological piston prototype intended for passive or active force control in robotic applications for human robot interaction is introduced. It is based in a novel toroidal array of valves, contained within the piston head, which are used to control the output force of the actuator in order to achieve a high degree of reliability, size efficiency, and safety, by exploiting the material properties of magnetorheological fluids and permalloy metals. This paper describes the main points in the development of the magnetorheological piston prototype, the mathematical modelling of the magnetic circuit, and the results of the experiments conducted using a universal testing machine to evaluate the passive performance of the prototype. Results show the feasibility and performance of the new toroidal magnetic circuit of the magnetorheological hydraulic piston prototype. Improvements in order to be able to test the active performance of the design together with a pump setup are proposed.