The Sphero BB-8 Droid is STILL the droid you are looking for.
This is still one of the most sought after products, during and after Force Friday launch day, from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. There were long lines of people waiting to purchase one of these, even before some of the stores opened.
I had one friend buy his online from Bed Bath and Beyond the night before and pick it up on Force Friday morning. The funny thing is that there was a huge line of people in front of the store waiting to purchase one. He just walked right in, went to the Pick Up area and got the BB-8 Droid. But before he could leave, one of the employees had to direct him to another area to leave the store. The reason was because they had sold out their stock of the Sphero BB-8 Droid online and those people waiting outside would not be able to get one. Another friend got hers from Brookstone in the late afternoon on Force Friday, due to the store getting a second drop of the Sphero BB-8 Droid. She just happened to go into the store at the right time.
After playing with my friend’s Sphero BB-8 Droid, I knew I had to get one too. It had been reported that they were sold out nationwide, but there were a few smaller stores that had some in stock. I was able to get one a couple days after Force Friday at a store called Marbles.
The Sphero BB-8 Droid is a bit of a pricey toy to invest your money in (retail price $150). It is much different from the other remote controlled BB-8 Droid at Target, which comes with it’s own remote controller and cheaper (retail price $75.00).
The packaging for this is really nice. BB-8 is packed securely and neatly in the box to protect it from getting damaged. The BB-8 Droid comes with the charging base and micro USB cord.
Before you start playing with the BB-8 Droid, will need to charge it up for a few hours and download the Sphero BB-8 app to your mobile device to control it. Once that’s done, launch the app to sync BB-8 with your mobile device and you are ready to go.
The head of BB-8 is just plastic with rollers to move it around and magnets to keep it attached to the ball body. The body of BB-8, which houses the internal mechanics and gyroscope, seems to be incased into a solid piece of hard plastic. The BB-8 Droid is about the size of a baseball, which I thought it would have been a bit larger than that. There are lights in the ball body that will indicate different things: Red-bumps into things or looses head, Blue-positioning the direction BB-8 is facing, and White-syncing and playing hologram messages.
There are 3 modes in the app: Drive, Message and Patrol.
• Drive lets you take control of BB-8. The controls are pretty easy to use. You have a control pad to move BB-8 around and another control pad to reposition BB-8. There are some preset BB-8 functions, like rolling in a figure 8 or square and answering yes or no.
• Message gives you the ability to view and record hologram messages. I originally had one hologram of an X-Wing Fighter and since then have received 4 new ones in the app of C3PO, R2-D2, First Order Stormtroopers and Captain Phasma.
• Patrol send BB-8 out on his own to explore the environment. The app has some different monitor screens that registers gyro-balance, patrol distance, acceleration vector, tracking system, chronometer, internal temperature, and a few other things. BB-8 will bump into a few things and beep as he explores the area.
As you play with BB-8 more and more, you can control him with your voice by using voice commands. This feature did not work too well on my friend’s BB-8, but worked perfectly fine on mine. It could have been that there were so many of us playing with it, that it may have gotten confused with the voice patterns.
Get used to BB-8 losing his head quite a bit. The magnets that connect the head to the body are strong, but a really hard bump into an object can dislodge them from each other. BB-8 is not able to pickup his own head, so at this point you can manually put the head back on or continue to drive it around as a Sphero ball.
Body casing is durable and will get scratched up on harder or abrasive surfaces, like pavement or concrete. But I chalk that up to normal wear and tear from usage. I have not dropped it as of yet, so I cannot say how much damage the casing can withstand before cracking.
The Sphero BB-8 Droid does have a few problems:
• The rollers under the head will pickup a lot of gunk, like hair and dust clumps. It reminds me of the old style ball mouse my computer used to use.
• Head slides down onto one side at high speeds, so it doesn’t stay on the top, as in the movie.
• Hologram messages can only be viewed through your mobile device by positioning it over BB-8.
• Recorded hologram messages can only be viewed on the device it was recorded on and cannot be sent to friends.
The BB-8 Droid is really fun to play with, but it is very limited in features, unlike the Sphero, which has games and challenges. I have been reading some reports that the team responsible for BB-8 was very limited in creating content for the app due to the secrecy of the new film. Once the film has been released there should be more content and features. I hope the new content gets released soon, since my BB-8 is starting to sit on my shelf and my small dogs do not like me playing with it one bit.
Don’t pay those overpriced eBay prices for this BB-8. You can find the Sphero BB-8 at different retailers such as, Disney Store, Apple Store, Best Buy, Amazon, Verizon, Brookstone, Marbles, Barnes and Noble and others. For more information and store locations visit www.sphero.com/BB8.