GEEKERY: Sphero’s BB-8 Home Edition


This cute little droid is loaded with some great tech… don’t tell me you don’t want one!

When the first Episode 7 teaser was released last November we got our first look at the newest member of the droid family: the BB-8. It had to be CG, right? Nope. For the sake of the production JJ Abrams went with a practical effect – something I think we’ve been happy to see a lot of in the production. In April we got a look at the full size model on the SWC main stage…

It was created by Neil Scanlan Studio with help from Boulder, Colorado based robotics company Sphero. Bob Iger (Disney’s CEO that made the Star Wars purchase in in 2012) mentored Sphero as part of Disney’s Accelerator program last year.

Beyond making movie history, Sphero makes fun consumer robots – like Ollie, which upgradable and programable:

They also have some larger side projects that enjoy wrecking children’s birthday parties:

And now they’re offering a mini BB-8 based on their robotic ball platform, so you can own your own…

So far the reviews on this little guy are positive – just be ready to clean off the rollers on the bottom of his head to keep him running smoothly, and keep him away from table edges. He’s even puppy approved!

You want it!? You can buy it online from Sphero or at these retailers!

Which Star Wars toys are you excited about – Lego kits, action figures, RC flyers?

  • zeno666
  • pokemastercube .

    i got the lego X-wing and transporter sets for Ep7

    • The kit for Poe’s X-Wing looks sweet!

      • pokemastercube .

        it deffenatly does, the x-wing looks a lot better in black, also put bat-man in the pilot seat cos why not 😛
        tho b-wings remain my fave ship

  • I still don’t see the benefit of a tipsy, unsteady ball over omnidirectional wheels or tracks.

    • James Squyres

      There isn’t one. Yet another horrible design choice by the idiots at Disney.

      • DocNacho

        Idiots laughing all the way to the bank.

      • Only J.J. Abrams: capital spaceships in Earth atmosphere, spacedrills using a chain, magic black holes that act like time machines or matter crusher, weird spaceship INMARSAT, no detection protocols, spaceship engine needs brew-water, spaceship submarine…

    • Warrior_of_Sound

      It definelty feels out of place in compared to all the other droids weve seen before, but at the same time Ill give them props for designing something different. also as pointed out below, great great great marketing move. Star wars has made 4 times the amount of money in merchandise than in ticket sales and home videos throughout its entire franchise history. there had to be a good 5 and under toy somewhere in there!

      • As a real world thing this design won’t work, but it doesn’t have to be totally logical for a movie. BB-8 is cute, filled with character, and can catch an audience’s imagination…. just like R2-D2 did in the original trilogy. The goal here is fun and fantasy, and I think they’ve done well with this droid 🙂

        • zeno666

          Why wouldn’t it work?

          • Morgrim

            That sort of bot only works on smooth, flat surfaces. So specialised indoors applications only (seriously, the grit from a road is enough to wreck their bearings). It’s not a practical design for anything, really, because the few areas it works well there are other techs that work just as well, without the same downsides.

          • ^This.
            Also, even indoors, to use an arm with tools or a claw to pick something up you’d want a stable platform. Which a ball isn’t, obviously.

            Good control programming can iron that out but why bother?

          • Please keep this in mind: I really think it’s an awesome design for the movie, and it makes a great character. I would not change it at all. Not complaining about that choice; I’m just looking both sides of the discussion that’s being had here.

            The addition of the head makes it a bad design for all terrain. It’s not that it wouldn’t work at all; they’ve made a full size working bot already… it’s that the maintenance to keep the head rolling smoothy over the body would be prohibitive in real world applications.

            Think of it this way: in order for the head to move like it does it has to have a roller system in it (whether or not motion is created in the body or the head)…. like an old model track ball mouse. Remember how gunky those things got over time; and that you had to take the ball out and clean it? Imagine an all terrain robot with that as a head. As Morgrim mentions below: the bearings in that system would be an issue.

            That issue is actually one of the very reasons the Sphero toy I featured in the article gets bad reviews – you have to take the head off and clean it to keep it running properly.

            So… not exactly the best choice for the real world, but perfect for a fun character in a sci-fi movie 🙂

          • zeno666

            Ah, I thought you where saying that it wouldn’t work at all.

            But sure, its not an all terrain vehicle.

        • euansmith

          The “Peacekeeper” looks pretty much fully operational to me 😀 A 150lb remotely controlled ball.


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  • deuce1984

    Dethroning r2d2 is a ballsy move by Disney

    • Spacefrisian

      Who is saying it is doing that?

      • euansmith

        Apparently R2 had one drunken night in a ballbearing factory and this little chap was the result.

  • ShasOFish

    Yeah, seriously. It’s a series where several main characters use magic. Don’t think too hard about the physics.

  • Shawn

    That’s really cool. The first step toward real droids. It would be amazing, and probably quite expensive, to have a large R2-sized version.

  • zeno666

    Indeed. and there is also sound in space 🙂

    • euansmith

      Not just sound… AWESOME SOUND… The best sound effects this side of an Aliens’ Pulse Rifle.

  • euansmith

    When are they going to address the real merchandising shortfall and bring out those feckin’ Moisture ‘vaporators? My Moisture Farm is dying here!