The must-have Christmas gift this year is the Sphero droid BB-8. And it’s going to be sold out, so chances are you’re going to naturally want to grab the second most popular Star Wars related merchandise to hit the store shelves this past “Force Friday.”
These are not the drones you’re looking for.
If the Millennium Falcon was a $59.95 purchase and not $139.95, I wouldn’t be so bummed. At $60, it’s a laugh-riot. The Xbox-like controller includes a left trigger button for firing the cannon. An internal speaker in the controller (with a thoughtfully included off switch) blasts away sound effects. The right trigger button, labeled “Hyperspace” is clearly a joke: it does nothing when you press it (as if Spinmaster hired gear heads from the cloud city of Bespin to work on the Hyperdrive).
But at $140, Lando’s not the only one thinking this deal is getting worse all the time.
Still expensive at half the price, the Falcon lacks the brains you’d expect from spending so many Galactic Credits on a quadracopter. Either Han Solo’s “special modifications” included simple stabilizing technology that allowed it to hover in place, or the Cornelian Engineering Corporation’s stock YT-1300 was nearly impossible to fly. The drone’s gyroscope unit appears to exist solely to trigger the crash sound effects on the controller. The left altitude stick controller doesn’t even snap to center.
The replica sports the front headlights for illuminating the dark recesses of asteroids, or most likely the back of the couch. The rear blue engine exhaust LED strip is pretty awesome. Unfortunately the styrofoam is so thin, the whole back half of the thing glows blue in the dark. (continues)
The drone is charged through a secret compartment located in the right palm rest using 6 AAA batteries installed in the underside of the controller. The LEDs blink when the battery is getting low. At that point the drone becomes unstable, as if the four propellers aren’t getting an equal amount of the waning juice. The battery lasts about 10 minutes — which was about the length of my attention span for fishing the thing out from behind something anyway.
The biggest problem lies in the fact that the fastest hunk of junk in the galaxy simply doesn’t move the way a drone moves. There’s no magic. Industrial, Light, or otherwise. Banking is something easily replicated by finely adjusting the front and aft rotors in ways only inexpensive sensor chips do.
Christmas morning is going to be a whip-lash of joy to frustration for any child who finds this under the tree. Big kids with thick wallets who have the patience of a Jedi, however, are a different story. And if you don’t mind shelling-out $140 for what should be a $60 toy, chances are you’ve got the indoor space necessary to learn how to make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.