BB-8 Droid Will Be a Popular Toy This Christmas, but at $150 It Sounds Overpriced

"A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far way...", Star Wars is going to make a metric buttload of money this Christmas. We aren't just talking about ticket sales, as merchandise is a cash cow that never runs out of milk.
BB-8 Droid Will Be a Popular Toy This Christmas, but $150 Sounds Overpriced 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
Back when Disney released the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens, one of the characters that caught most people's eye was BB-8. Unlike most robots in the movie, which are CGI-based, this one was made with real life nuts and bolts.

Director JJ Abrams even brought one on stage a few months ago, which is when we started to suspect they were going to make a toy out of it. And get this, BB-8 is supposed to be a she-robot, not that this is relevant to our story.

Now, Disney is bringing a BB-8 to everyone's doorstep through Sphero, a company that has been making ball robots for several years. Although the robot comes on a much smaller scale and costs a small fortune, people are going crazy for it.

Just like the latest generations of drones, the BB-8 can be controlled and connects to iOS and Android devices (Sphero tweeted that it's still working on Windows Phone support). A few days after the product was released, a Bloomberg journalist got hands-on with the toy and learned that 2,000 BB-8s are being sold every hour, which is almost 1.5 million per month.

Frankly speaking, we don't think it's worth the money or the hype, which is not to say we'd mind getting one as a gift. But in an era where you can purchase an RC helicopter for $10, why would you pay $150 for a balancing head on a ball? (here's the list of retailers)

We think this is a case of Hollywood doing what it does best, convincing that we want something just because everybody else does. If Star Wars really is about lasers and light swords, why are we so impressed with a robot soccer ball?

This is the droid you are looking for

The technology to make BB-8 is pretty simple. Multiple magnets hold the head in place over an inner plate. In turn, this features a gimbal with actuators to create tilt and spinning movements. All the batteries and mechanical bits are at the bottom to balance the ball while several drive wheels and omnidirectional ball bearings help with the movement.

It does tricks too, such as being able to patrol a set path or projecting images on a wall. The battery supposedly lasts an hour and is rechargeable via an induction system.

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About the author: Mihnea Radu
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Mihnea's favorite cars have already been built, the so-called modern classics from the '80s and '90s. He also loves local car culture from all over the world, so don't be surprised to see him getting excited about weird Japanese imports, low-rider VWs out of Germany, replicas from Russia or LS swaps down in Florida.
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