Droid

Sphero BB-8 + ForceBand Special Edition (Battle Worn)

Sphero Star Wars BB-8 drone with the ForceBand Special Edition. Hand-gesture commands are more fun than using the smartphone app.
Sphero Star Wars BB-8 drone with the ForceBand Special Edition. Hand-gesture commands are more fun than using the smartphone app.PHOTO: SPHERO

The Star Wars BB-8 app-enabled droid ($249) was a massive hit last year, coinciding with the movie Star Wars: The Force Awakens (TFA), in which BB-8 plays a big role.

Made by Sphero, it sold out quickly following its launch. I managed to nab one during a working trip in the United States before it arrived here. However, like many toys I've owned, after playing with it for a few weeks, it was back into the box and has stayed there since.

Sphero has now come up with a "battle worn" special edition of the BB-8 droid and an accompanying Force Band.

The Force Band is a wrist strap that allows you to control the BB-8 droid using hand gestures. You can also buy it separately at $119 and it works with both the new and original BB-8.

The Force Band looks like something the Resistance star pilot Poe Dameron in TFA would wear. It has the Rebellion logo with the same colours and stripe matching the black X-Wing that Poe piloted in the movie.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $299, available in CumulusNimbus and other retail stores

    CONNECTIVITY: Bluetooth

    WEIGHT: 201g (BB-8), 40g (Force Band)

  • RATING

  • DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 4/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

I was hoping that the Force Band would at least tell the time. But you have only a button that blinks in different colours to tell the world that you are a Star Wars nut. It has a speaker that makes many different sounds as well.

The BB-8 droid might be the same as before, but it now bears battle scars all over its body. However, the prints and details on it are so intricate that it is almost a shame to have it roll around on the floor.

To start, you need to download the Sphero BB-8 app (available for Android and iOS) on your smartphone. Launch the app and bring the smartphone near the BB-8 for pairing. Do the same with the Force Band by downloading the Sphero Force Band app.

Then you need to bring the Force Band near the BB-8 to connect them together. That done, you are ready to use the Force.

With the Force Band around your wrist, you raise and thrust your arm forward to move the BB-8 away from you. Retract your arm for it to move towards you.

When you move your arm up, BB-8 increases its speed. Lowering your arm will slow it down before going to a complete stop. Move your arm right or left to change direction accordingly. It will take a while before you can really control BB-8's movements. Expect many crashes at first as you, the Padawan, slowly master the Force Band to become a real Jedi.

That said, the hand gesture commands are definitely way more fun than using the BB-8 smartphone app to control the droid's movement.

Not to mention, it is a great party trick to show off to your friends and kids.

By itself, the Force Band is a tad pricey. And it also only makes sense if you already have the BB-8. The $299 special edition represents better value for money.

Trevor Tan

• Verdict: The Sphero BB-8 Droid + Force Band Special Edition (Battle Worn) will be the perfect Christmas gift for any Star Wars fan.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 30, 2016, with the headline 'Sphero BB-8 + ForceBand Special Edition (Battle Worn)'. Print Edition | Subscribe