The Force is with these gadgets
Whether it's the trusty blaster Han Solo keeps at his side or the power converters Luke wanted to pick up at Tosche Station, tech gadgets are a major part of the Star Wars universe. Heck, R2-D2 and C3P0, who appear in all seven Star Wars episodes, are droids — you can't get more gadget than that.
So you can see why Force Friday, a shopping holiday that marks the debut of a bunch of new Star Wars toys, captures the imagination of devoted fans. With Force Friday II taking place this Friday, Sept. 1, expect to see a lot of new Star Wars gear suddenly materializing like Obi-Wan Kenobi. From new Sphero droids to an augmented reality playset that lets you have real-life lightsaber battles, here are some of the best Star Wars gadgets you can grab for Force Friday.
Photo Credit: Philip Michaels/Tom's Guide
Star Wars Jedi Challenges
This $199 augmented reality-powered playset won't ship until closer to the holidays, but after we had a chance to participate in virtual lightsaber battles with Kylo Ren, we can assure you that it's worth the wait. Star Wars Challenges includes a Mirage AR headset built by Lenovo, a lightsaber-style controller, a tracking beacon so that you can move around freely and a trio of different gaming modes in which the Star Wars universe unfolds before you.
While Jedi Challenges features both AR lightsaber battles and a recreation of the Holochess game from Episode IV, we were particularly impressed with Battle Mode, which lays out notable Star Wars battles across your floor, letting you make tactical decisions on deploying troops and weapons.
Droid by Sphero
Sphero's rolling BB-8 droid is a beloved addition to the company's family of connected toys. And now the droid who rolled off with Episode 7 is getting some company. Sphero is adding a $179 R2-D2 connected toy along with BB-9E, a $149 black rolling droid making its debut in The Last Jedi later this year. R2-D2 and BB-9E joins Sphero's growing droid fleet in November.
It's that R2 unit that steals the show, though. Sphero built its R2 toy with a 2-3-2 setup, meaning that R2 can waddle and rock using his two outside legs, but when it's time to roll, that third wheel drops down to propel him forward, just like in the movie. A connected app lets you add R2's trademark chirps and whistles, and you can even recreate R2's pained scream from when he's stunned by the Jawas in Episode IV, which R2 will punctuate by collapsing to the ground.
LittleBits Droid Inventor Kit
It's one thing to buy an R2 unit. It's quite another to build one yourself. (And this way, you don't spend your time haggling with Jawas over the merchandise.) LittleBits has teamed up with Disney to offer a Droid Inventor Kit, which lets you assemble your own working R2-D2, using a series of color-coded electronic blocks. Once your R2 is up and running, you can control it with an app, teaching it tricks via a mobile app that also includes 16 or so missions. The fun doesn't stop there: LittleBits also encourages its inventors to experiment with and customize their droids, adding household items and other features to make their R2 unit really stand out.
Propel Star Wars Drones
We've been impressed before with Propel's Stars Wars Drones, which turn TIE fighters, speeder bikes and X-Wing fighters into realistic-looking miniature quadcopters. Propel is taking things further with a new app that gives you a virtual training ground so you can master your drone's controls before you take flight. The app also keeps score of your battles against other drone pilots — Combat mode lets you take on up to 12 other pilots simultaneously — allowing you to rise up the ranks of the Rebel or Imperial fleet.
Even with the new app, these are the same detailed drones as before, with a sophisticated sound track of Star Wars sound effects to complement your flight. (The box containing the drone even blares Star Wars music as you open it.) Normally $199, Propel is offering a $20 rebate for Force Friday orders.
Hasbro Force Link
Even those 3.75-inch Star Wars figures you've been collecting since the 1970s are getting into the gadget game. Hasbro has announced a new Force Link wearable sized for a child's wrist that connects with a chip embedded inside the Star Wars figures to make them speak a line or two of dialogue. All you have to do is pick up the figure while wearing the Force Link wristband to make the characters speak, while tapping the wearable calls up additional lines and sound effects.
More than just the characters themselves are getting into the act. Hasbro is also embedding Force Link technology into creatures, vehicles and playsets like the new $199.99 First Order headquarters playset that includes a Leader Snoke figure and folds up into a BB-8-sized carrying case. Grab a Force Link-equipped fighter, for example, and the accelerometer inside the wristband will trigger swooping noises and laser blasts as you move the ship through the air.