When the super cute droid, BB-8, made its debut in the trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, it was an instant hit. Disney partnered with robot-makers Sphero to develop a toy version and we saw it on the show floor at IFA in Berlin.
It was a struggle to get into the booth as BB-8 was really drawing the crowds, but we managed to get some play time with the diminutive droid. Sphero offers a whole range of different robots, but the chance to partner with Disney and bring BB-8 to life was irresistible.
Sphero’s version of BB-8 is a few inches high and it connects with your Android or iOS device via Bluetooth. There’s a gyroscope and accelerometer inside, along with a bunch with motors, and BB-8’s head floats magnetically on top of the revolving body.
The app is perfectly Star Wars branded and it allows you to remote control BB-8, or to trigger pre-programmed movements or wee animations where he lights up and babbles or nods to you. The authentic Star Wars sounds and music come from the app rather than the droid itself.
You can also record holographic messages in the app and BB-8 has an autonomous patrol mode where he’ll explore his environment and map it. You can actually track what it’s doing in the app in real-time, so there’s an educational aspect there. It can also listen and respond to your voice, and it’s supposed to develop its own personality over time, depending on what you do together.
BB-8 comes with a charging cradle and it takes around three hours to fully charge, from which you can expect one hour of play.
It’s definitely on the pricey side at $150, but Sphero sold out on the first day of the show, and it’s sure to be a popular toy in the run up to the holiday season. You can buy Sphero’s BB-8 droid on Amazon right now.