I keep staring at BB-9E’s beautifully retro head. Flat, black, with an ominous glowing eye, it’s everything I loved about ’70s sci-fi in a brand-new toy.
BB-9E is a brand-new character in “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” and I have no idea what role it will play (other than, seemingly, it’s a bad robot). It’s also one of Sphero’s new “Last Jedi”-themed robot toys, along with a. Just like the , BB-9E rolls around and can be remote-controlled using an iOS or Android device, or Sphero’s wearable Force Band. It’s basically another version of BB-8, with a new coat of paint.
But its head also lights up, a trick that BB-8 can’t do. No batteries are involved: instead, the magnetic head uses an inductive connection to pull power from the body to light up its LEDs.
The $150 BB-9E (£149 UK, or $AU250) also comes with a new training base in addition to its charger (basically, a fancy stand) that lets BB-9E spin in place in case you don’t have lots of floor space. Added AR modes in the app promise some extra holographic effects. I didn’t even try those yet: I was too busy making BB-9E roll around.
All of Sphero’s Star Wars robots (BB-8, R2-D2 and BB-9E) can react while you watch Star Wars movies, for what it’s worth, using the connected iPhone/Android app to listen to the movie’s audio and play reactions synced to the action (all the movies will be unlocked to work with this feature over time, but for now it’s just “Rogue One,” “The Force Awakens” and “A New Hope”). Also, Sphero’s enabling BB-8, BB-9E and R2-D2 to recognize each other and play together using an update coming this fall.
(CNET’s Ian Knighton contributed to this story.)