September 01, 2017
Meet the new Sphero Star Wars Droids
I was invited to a secret location recently, by Sphero to check out their new Star Wars offerings, R2-D2 an BB-9E (FIX THIS), both of which line up with the released BB-8 item that was released alongside The Force Awakens and this time, R2-D2 will release on September 1st, with BB-9E coming closer to the movie.
If you have seen any of the Sphero products, then you will know what to expect from these latest items, both are controllable by your mobile phone and come packed with loads of options, which make them more than just a remote-controlled droid. The man who walked me through both droids and their features was Adam Wilson, Sphero co-founder and as he was explaining, I picked his brain about all the things I could. Starting off with R2-D2, as a fan favourite the team at Sphero decided that a lot of the R2-D2 figures out there on the market were not quite doing the character justice. The first thing that was pointed out to me, was that this R2-D2 is to scale to BB-8, which, if you recall the scene in The Force Awakens, where BB-8 bumps into R2-D2, it means that BB-8 only comes up to about 2/3rds of the height of R2-D2.
As Sphero are primarily known for their interactive spheres, R2-D2 was a challenge for them, but one they seemed to have embraced fully, as not only does he have the full retractable middle leg, he will also tilt back, so he can driver proper and perhaps the coolest feature, when standing on two legs, he does that little waddle walk that R2-D2 is known for. One aspect to the design of R2-D2 that I found to be incredible, was the inclusion of a speaker within the main body, while not that may not be ground-breaking to some, with BB-8 only having the noises come from the phone, there was a disconnect present, something that is gone with R2-D2. Controlling R2-D2 is done via a smart phone app, with the one app now controlling all three droids, including BB-8 and the controls work the same on both, you can move R2-D2 around by using a digital thumb stick and on the right side of the screen, you can elect to have R2-D2 execute any number of emotes, with the coolest being his freak-out, from this scene, which even results in him falling over. The rest of the emotes will result in the standard R2-D2 sounds being played, but sadly he does not have the jetpack that he gained in episode 2.
R2-D2 can link together with BB-8 and E9 and patrol the area that they find themselves in, something which is quite cool, but if you want more of an exploration based activity, you can use Augmented Reality to explore ships with the droid, with each droid getting access to an exclusive ship, R2-D2 gets the Millennium Falcon. From the cockpit, to the hallways, to the lounge space, you can explore and discover titbits of information, including photos and more. BB-8 is going to get a new ship from the new movie, the Resistance Cruiser, which has not even made it into any promo shots yet, so I have no idea what it looks like and BB-9E is going to get the Mega Star Destroyer, which is another new ship. Finally, all the figures will support Watch With Me, the mode where you can have them sitting down and reacting to the movie, it launched with The Force Awakens and since then Rogue One has been added, but going forward, each of the movies will be added with A New Hope launching today, September 1st.
Adam then introduced me to the newest droid, to join the Star Wars Universe, the First Order droid BB-9E, but as this guy is completely unknown, I will stop saying anything more about him, if you want to remain spoiler free, just go down further if you want to continue.
Spoiler Territory below... your last warning.
BB-9E is a lot like BB-8, in that he has the same spherical design, he is to the same scale as BB-8 and does align with R2-D2, so having all three in a line, will have them match. While he is a lot like BB-8, he is different in that his head contains a sing led, letting you see his responses off the droid itself, the best news of this though, is that there is no battery contained within the head, it is powered off the battery. While BB-9E is charged on the same base type that BB-8 has, he does come with a new accessory, where you can place him down and then let him go at full speed, without him moving anywhere, letting you explore the Mega Star Destroyer. BB-9E controls the same as his rebel counterpart, so if you have BB-8 then you will understand how to control BB-9E without too much hassle.