It’s Force Friday II, that day of the year when manufacturers surprise us with the latest news, technology, and toys from Star Wars, and once again, Sphero leads the group. Not only do we have a Sphero R2-D2, but we also have a first glimpse of the evil doppelgänger of BB-8, BB-9E, which appears this December in The Last Jedi.
- You know what I’m going to say, so I better get this over with:
- These are the droids you’re looking for.
- Now that you are out of the way, let me also say:
- No, seriously, these are the droids you’re looking for!
Sphero BB8 Robot Review
Look, I loved the Sphero BB-8 when it came out for the first time, and the new BB-9E with its shiny black exterior and its illuminated head is even more impressive. However, this R2-D2 is somewhat different. Something special. Normally I am the last to receive all the information about new technology in an online review, but I have been waiting for this toy for 40 years. This is now the standard with which all other R2-D2 toys will be compared.
First, let’s talk about design. Even if he did nothing but sit on a shelf, the Sphero R2-D2 is a beauty. Although it is a bit cleaner than I would like it to be an R2-D2, the details are accurate. The scale is also perfect, which is no small thing for a functional toy controlled remotely. The engineering involved in maintaining its correct but still mobile appearance is impressive.
The real magic, however, happens once you start the application. After a brief loading screen that plays the quintessential Star Wars music to put you in a good mood, the application searches for nearby droids and asks you to connect. What came next was such an unexpected delight, I am still smiling thinking about it.
If you are still reading this and have not gone to ask for one for you, let’s talk about features.
There are three different modes to control your Droid enabled for Star Wars Sphero applications: remote control, drawing, and patrol mode.
In R / C mode, drive the droid using standard Sphero controls. Turn it until it is facing away from you in the case of R2-D2, or turn on the blue light until it points at it with BB-8 and BB-9E, and drag the touchscreen to move it forward, backward, left and right. When you drag back, the droid will not go in reverse but will rotate to go back in the direction in which it originated. To make it go in reverse, press and hold the back button while driving with the same joystick control. There is also a speed increase button to give the droid a little more cam and that’s it.
As for how easy they are to drive, while you can forget about being able to replicate the results seen in the promotional video below, there is a great swing with BB-8 and BB-9E after they stop moving: they are surprisingly easy to control Here is a video of me and my children controlling three different droids, representing a scene titled, “Go out and play!” While you maintain enough control to keep them relatively framed. I suggest going to the configuration and reducing the maximum speed until you get used to how you handle it.