One of the biggest stars in Star Wars: The Force Awakens was BB-8, the little round droid that reminded audiences just how much personality a robotic sidekick can have. After decades of being obsessed with R2-D2 and other droids, the Star Wars fanbase now had a new obsession. Obviously it didn't take long for BB-8 toys to hit the market, and Sphero's app-controlled BB-8 was the best of the bunch.
Now, a new version of BB-8 is coming out in the form of Sphero's Battle-Worn BB-8. Not only that, but he'll have a new accessory that lets you control the Droid with the Force instead of a phone (or at least let you pretend that you are while the Droid responds to hand gestures and other movements).
Battle-Worn BB-8 is essentially the same BB-8 model that fans have enjoyed thus far, but with a different skin to make it appear more like its movie counterpart. Looking at pictures of the new model it doesn't look as scuffed up as most "battle worn" versions of toys typically do, but it does look more like the film version of the character. It's possible that there are scuffs or other markings on the toy that aren't immediately visible in Sphero's debut picture, but even if there aren't it is still one of the most realistic BB-8 toys on the market so far.
Alongside the new BB-8 model, Sphero is also releasing the Force Band accessory. As the name implies, the Force Band is a wristband that allows you to control BB-8 with hand motions while pretending to use the Force. The watch-sized band connects with BB-8 (either the classic toy or the new Battle-Worn version) via Bluetooth and allows you to perform a number of motions to push, pull and turn the droid as you play. The band contains many of the same precision sensors that are in the BB-8 toys themselves, making its motion tracking very accurate.
As technology advances, toymakers are coming up with more and more innovations that let kids (and adults) immerse themselves in the sort of play that even 10 years ago might have seemed a bit too sci-fi to be real. Sphero's BB-8 really brings part of The Force Awakens to life, albeit in a much smaller form than what we saw on the screen. And even though a Bluetooth controller isn't exactly something new, the level of precision that the Force Band gives for a motion-tracking device really makes that sense of immersion all the more real. The only thing that would make it better is if Battle-Worn BB-8 could give you a thumbs up if you give one while wearing the Band.
Those who are at San Diego Comic-Con can check out Battle-Worn BB-8 and the Force Band at the Lucasfilm booth (#2913). Everyone else will have to wait until the Force Band and the new BB-8 model launch in the fall.
Sphero's Battle-Worn BB-8 and Force Band accessory will be available in Fall 2016. No prices have been announced for the new BB-8 model or the Force Band accessory at this time.