The Story of BB-8 and How You Can Get Your Very Own This Holiday Season


By now you’ve seen him (at least we’re assuming he’s a he), that cute as a button rolling-ball of a droid, BB-8. When the first trailer for Star Wars: The Force Awakens debuted, fans were perplexed as to what the heck a soccer ball was doing on set. And, in the second trailer for The Force Awakens, BB-8 can be seen peering around a corner, almost as if he’s frightened of the big-bad chromed out Stormtrooper. That scene made me want to pick him up and hug him and love him and call him my very own.

But I digress. The New York Times has a story about how chief executive of the Walt Disney Company, Robert A. Iger, is responsible for bringing this little ball of droid goodness into our Star Wars lives…and how he is responsible for a real working BB-8 coming this holiday season.

According to NYT, Iger was doing his due-diligence on a Colorado start-up called Sphero. Sphero’s gig is making $129 smartphone-controlled robotic balls. These balls can run for more than an hour on a charge and bounce safely down stairs…whatever that means.

"“I was impressed with the quality of it, and I was really impressed with the user interface”"

During this time, Iger had been looking over the designs for the droids being created for The Force Awakens, and one droid in particular stood out, and that was BB-8. The problem with BB-8 was that he was overly complicated. During filming, BB-8 was a prop, built on rollers and controlled by a puppeteer.

"“You would see this guy pushing BB-8 around, actually controlling BB-8, but he gets the equivalent of airbrushed out.”"

Iger turned to the start-up that he had been looking into, and asked them if they could solve the problem. Sphero quickly turned out a prototype, which Iger was extremely pleased with. Of course, the nature of secrecy over The Force Awakens has Sphero tight-lipped, so I guess we will have to wait for the Blu-ray to get the “making of” extras to find out what that original prototype looked like and did.

Now to the toys that will be available this holiday season. The BB-8 toys are going to be iPhone controlled, and about the size of a large apple. They will be sold in Disney Stores and other specialty retailers. I guess I know what I what for Christmas, this year.

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