Gadgets

The Sphero BB-8 Is The Coolest Star Wars Toy You’ve Ever Seen

Take a piece of paper. Right now. 

Write, in your best script, "Christmas wish list". Underline it, just to be clear. Then, in the boldest hand you can muster, write "SPHERO BB-8 STAR WARS DROID".

Because no matter what your age, nor your view on 'gadgets', anyone with even so much as a passing interest in Star Wars is going to want one of these little guys.

Sphero hasn't just made a "toy-of-the-film". They've created an actual, personal droid companion. And that's massive.

Sphero have an impressive range of app-controlled toy offerings, most notably their titular Sphero ball, which nips about your ankles with a cheerful whir. This new partnership marries a superb toy to one of the biggest narratives in pop culture history - and it's the perfect match. 

Packed into an escape pod/box, the BB-8 comprises of two units: a droid-like head, which swivels and pivots to point the BB-8 'forwards'; and the tennis ball-sized body, one of Sphero's heavily modified robotic balls. These snap together with magnetic attraction (or using "the Force", as Robert Maigret, Sphero's chief creative officer, likes to put it). Charge it up on the contactless power dock, a quick calibration on the accompanying app (it takes all of about 10 seconds) and you have your very own droid.

Besides piloting your BB-8 around your bedroom/living room/desk from your smartphone, the app contains some neat features that build brilliantly on the Star Wars partnership.

Pre-programmed movements can be selected, allowing you to act out "scenes" from the forthcoming Force Awakens. Augmented reality allows you to view holograms: hold your smartphone up to BB-8's position and you can play clips from the film (more will launch once it hits cinemas in December) or record your own messages. There's voice command, a patrol mode - he even gets scrambled should you collide with a chair leg hard enough to knock his head off. 

We weren't sure if BB-8 was going to have even an ounce of R2-D2's charm and personality - but if this little droid is anything to go by, JJ Abrams' screen version will equal, if not eclipse everyone's original droid hero.

At £129, it would be harsh to label this as an overpriced 'toy'. It's more than that: a gadget, a demonstration of robotics, a digital pet. It might sound childish, but Sphero and Star Wars have managed to box joy and give it an app. 

The Sphero BB-8 is released at midnight tonight

Stockists include Apple, Disney, Firebox, Harrods, Amazons, PC World