With Star Wars Episode VIII confirmed for a December 2017 release and Rogue One hitting cinemas this Christmas, there’s no shortage of Star Wars screen-time on the way. But now you can bring a little bit of Tatooine into your own home with this all-singing, all-dancing R2-D2 toy – and WIRED got an exclusive hands-on.
Hasbro has released an app-controlled R2-D2 that can be driven around, programmed to guard your most precious secrets and, in a cinch, repair the Millennium Falcon’s hyperdrive for a last-minute escape from Imperial forces. OK, so we haven’t tested that last one, but it definitely looks and sounds the part so who are we to question its spacecraft-fixing credentials?
The Sphero BB-8, a tiny version of the nippy ball-shaped droid from The Force Awakens was last year’s must-have Star Wars toy, so Hasbro will be looking to match that success with this year’s droid offering.Set the pint-sized astromech droid up on a desk and it’ll beep and babble away to itself or, if you play it music, dance a little droid jig. Sensors on the front of the droid respond to movement and noise so it’ll move about and talk in response to your voice or actions.
Twist the button on R2’s head to put him into guard mode and he’ll stay silent until sound or movement sparks him into life again. Powered by four 1.5V AA batteries, he’s certainly the cutest (and most fun) security alarm that WIRED has ever played with. The only thing that’s missing is a miniature C-3PO to keep him company.
Download the companion R2-D2 app from the iOS or Google Play store, however, and this toy becomes fun in a whole new way. It can be driven around manually using the app or you can programme a route for the droid to follow by itself. The easy to use drag-and-drop directional programming could be the perfect introduction to coding for inquisitive children as the ‘missions’ part of the app turns programming into a game.
The Star Wars Smart R2-D2 costs £99.99 and will go on sale in toy shops and online from September 30.