From the moment I first glimpsed BB-8 roll onto the screen in the first teaser for The Force Awakens, I knew Disney would figure out a way to make that little lovable droid into a purchasable, remote controllable version (that is, unless they hate money… which we all know they don’t). And that was even before I knew it was a practical effect! Well, say hello to this Christmas’ most out-of-this-world toy that will be rolling off the shelves…
TIME online announced that Boulder-based (hehe… boulder) toy innovators Sphero, known for their smartphone-controlled spheres, have confirmed that a BB-8 you can go on your own space adventures with is in fact is in the works, ensuring it won’t be this year’s Dancing Groot debacle.
You may recall Sphero getting a shout-out from Kathleen Kennedy during the Episode VII panel at Star Wars Celebration last week. When BB-8 made its live debut on stage alongside droid royalty R2-D2 last Friday, Kennedy said it was Disney Chief Executive Bob Iger who actually discovered the small 60-person toy company. According to a New York Times interview with Iger, the BB-8 seen in the film was not as untethered as the one we saw on stage (the on set droid was controlled by a puppeteer who was digitally removed for the film – even MORE old school practical FX than we thought!), yet Sphero has since helped them develop the technology for a fully operational BB-8, including the one seen at Celebration, so she can roll around in Disney theme parks (hopefully not with drink trays retrofitted to her head!). The one available to consumers however will be much smaller, closer to apple-sized rather than beach ball-sized. Hey, beach ball… is that what BB stands for?!
It’s also a labor of love, for fans by fans. Sphero Chief Creative Officer Rob Maigret told TIME, “We’re fans. For the folks here at Sphero, we’re freaking out. Like, we get to make BB-8? Think about that, man. We get to make it!”
“The experience is going to be king with this thing,” he added. “Our real goal here is that this should feel as close to what you just saw on the screen as possible,” … “And the relationships that you’ve seen BB-8 have in the film in the world of Star Wars, you can now fill that role. BB-8 is now yours.”
Well, not quite yet ours! Not known is who, what, where, when or how much (on the Sphero store, their Ollie model runs for $99.99 and Sphero 2.0 for $129.99) but, again, an educated guess would be by Christmas at the latest, just in time for The Force Awakens and the holiday shopping season.
If you want to stay up to date on release information, you can sign up here on Sphero’s website, where there currently is just a silhouette of the droid and the words “This is the droid you’re looking for.” Indeed it is.
My, how far we’ve come from no-point-of-articulation Kenner action figures that only came with an empty box, an IOU, and some stickers because the “high demand” was not anticipated. Now if we can just teach these droids to clean themselves up before dinner, we’ll have WAY more time to go to Tosche Station to pick up some power converters!