Since its debut in the first trailer for Episode VII, cute little BB-8 – which looks an upturned bowl balancing on a football – has become the unofficial droid mascot of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Unlike the much-loved robotic pal from the original trilogy, R2-D2, BB-8 is a droid with intelligence that you can actually buy – albeit in a tennis ball sized-version. The cute little robot seen in trailers is a rolling ball with a floating head, which played right into the hands of Sphero, who already had a rolling robot in the shape of the eponymous Sphero. All they had to do was figure out how to attach the head.

This is BB-8, who is a robot who has a spherical body and a half circle magnetic had.
This is BB-8, who is a robot.

Standing about 10cm tall with a head stuck on with magnets, BB-8 has everything you would expect from a collectors figure. A detail-rich paint job and enough sounds and quirks are able to convince you, with a touch of the suspension of disbelief, that he is more than just an expensive chunk of plastic. Just like Sphero, BB-8 charges via induction in a Star Wars-branded cradle, is controlled via Bluetooth from an iPhone or Android smartphone and has a modicum of intelligence to sense its environment through bump mapping, similar to robot vacuums from iRobot and others.


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