By far the coolest toy to come out of the The Force Awakens marketing blitz from a few years ago was, by far, Sphero's remote control miniature BB-8. The company might have branched out a bit with very different products, but now, with The Last Jedi on the way, it's revealed some new droids you should be looking for.
We have a slightly newer version of BB-8, R2-D2, and the brand new First Order droid BB-9E. You can see all three up top.
BB-8 is almost exactly the same as he was two years ago, with most of the same features as before. That includes app control, the ability to watch and react to Episode 7 and Rogue One with you, voice commands, the ability craft holographic messages, and so on.
The difference here is that it comes with an augmented reality 'Droid Trainer', which is basically a stand that lets you explore iconic Star Wars ships and locations from the Star Wars universe. Also there's a new app to control it with.
The Trainer will be available as a separate purchase for those who already have a BB-8, which will be exclusive to Sphero.com
BB-8 and the Droid Trainer will cost £150.
BB-9E is, as you might have gathered, a BB-unit that works for The First Order - and brand new for The Last Jedi. Here's how he's described in the press release:
Don’t let this diminutive bot fool you, what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in vigilance and intimidation. This rolling menace will stop at nothing to help the First Order end the Resistance.
This is NOT the droid you’re looking for, it’s the droid that’s looking for you. Welcome to the dark side.
BB-9E seems to be the same as BB-8 in terms of features, doing everything BB-8 can do. That includes the AR Droid trainer, which is included in the box. The only real difference is that he's a different colour and has a less-round head. I'd also like to think his reactions to the films are different as well. I can't see a FO droid squealing with terror when Kylo Ren appears on screen, can you?
Like BB-8, BB-9E will cost £150.
Now to the one you've all been waiting for. The lovable droid that's been with Star Wars since the very beginning: R2-D2. Obviously he's a little different to the BB droids, in that he isn't a ball, but Sphero looks to have faithfully recreated him in a similar manner.
The main difference is in how R2 moves around, obviously. He has the same app-based remote controls, but you can use those to switch between tripod and biped mode, with tripod mode obviously how he moves around. He also has built-in speakers and LEDs, so he has all the lights and sounds you've come to expect after seven film outings. Unlike the BB droids, those speakers mean that the sound comes from him, and not from the app. He's also charged up with a USB cable, rather than the inductive pad that the other two use.
But everything else is much the same. He can patrol by himself, explore Star Wars locations with AR, as well as react to the films with you.
R2-D2 will cost £180.
All three droids are capable of interacting with each other (should you actually bother to buy more than one), and will available from tomorrow. All three can be purchased from Firebox, John Lewis, and Sphero.
All three droids will also be compatible with the gesture-controlling Force Band, but not until November 20th. BB-8, however, will still continue to work as normal since it's the same droid.
Word of note: those Firebox links won't actually be live until midnight tonight, so don't be surprised if they 404 at the moment. The site has also revealed it will be selling a Star Wars variant of its mystery box line, which promises £90 worth of Star Wars goodies for just £50. The downside being that you don't know what's inside until it arrives. Oh and there are only 300 available, so make up your mind quickly.