Sphero's Force Band: Is the Force Finally With Us?
The BB-8 rolling droid toy gets an inspired update.
Sphero's BB-8 Droid, which came out in 2015 with Star Wars: The Force Awakens, might be the cutest Star Wars toy ever. Now it's got a sweet new upgrade: the Star Wars Force Band, a wrist-mounted device that lets you control BB-8 with gestures, bringing a semblance of the Force into the real world.
The Force Band has a great design reminiscent of the tech seen on the Rebel side of the galactic conflict. Its style reminded me of the X-wing fighter helmets from the first film. The Force Band itself is made of plastic, with an all-Velcro strap (to ensure a comfortable fit regardless of wrist size) and a magnetic latch. The band includes a control button for cycling through modes, a speaker, and motion vibration—which comes in handy when you're searching for holocrons. It can run for an hour on a single charge.
The original BB-8 was app-enabled. But with the band, it's Force-enabled. Gestures include Force Push, 'Force Pull, and speed and directional control. You can see how the gestures work in this training video.
Kids will gravitate toward the combat training feature. Your first weapon will be a blaster. Point your finger and shoot, and the Force Band will make blasting noises. As you progress, you'll unlock other weapons, including a light saber and even an X-wing fighter.
The Jedi and Sith use holocrons to store information. These crystalline polyhedrons are activated by the Force and display their information in holographic form. The Force Band can find these holocrons in Pokemon Go–like fashion. Your Force Band vibrates to tell you when you're getting closer to one. Once you've found a holocron, you can unlock it on your smartphone by using the Force Band. You'll be rewarded with movie stills and other pictures of Star Wars characters, weapons, and spaceships—and you can add the latter two to your combat training.
The Star Wars Force Band retails for $80. If you don't already have a BB-8, getting one will cost you an additional $150. My recommendation is to opt for Sphero's Special Edition Battle-Worn BB-8 with Force Band for $200. That price may seem steep, but keep in mind that Star Wars toys are an investment (well, at least if you don't open them). Don't believe me? Check out this list of the 30 Most Valuable Star Wars toys.
On the other hand, maybe it's better not to look, especially if your mom threw out your childhood Star Wars collection.