The new "Star Wars" movie, Episode VII or "The Force Awakens," isn't going to be in theaters until December 18, but the hype is already building fast. To help things along, a whole bunch of toys based on the movie are arriving tomorrow for what is being dubbed "Force Friday."
The most expensive toy, and possibly the coolest, is based off a new droid in the movie that's going to give R2-D2 a run for his money. The droid is called BB-8 and ever since it appeared in the first teaser trailer, it's had fans buzzing thanks to unusual spherical design that looks like a soccer ball with a head.
BB-8 got even more attention when it was revealed that it isn't just a computer-generated effect; it's real.
In fact, the technology to make it work was based on a toy called the Sphero, which let you remotely control a sphere by shifting its center of gravity. The company behind that product, Sphero, has made a working replica of BB-8 that you can buy (assuming you get to it before the hordes of other Star Wars fans).
The BB-8 toy is smaller than the real robot at only three inches in diameter, but it moves around with no problem and the head stays upright. To charge the internal battery, it comes with a clever base station, which also keeps it from rolling away.
BB-8 isn't just a pretty face; it has some smarts. You control it using a mobile app on your Android or Apple smartphone or tablet (yes, you must have one to use BB-8), and it has several modes.
Patrol mode sends it exploring on its own. It figures out where obstacles are by crashing into them, but then can avoid them in the future. In the app, you can see its path and what obstacles it's recorded. Unfortunately, it can't detect stairs or other drops, so you'll want to be careful where you set it free.
Drive mode lets you take full control of BB-8 with some sophisticated controls. There's a control for direction, another for tuning his internal mechanism and moving the head, and pre-programmed actions, such as making noises for "yes" and "no" or more complicated actions. It can also respond to limited voice command.
Finally, there's Message mode that makes cool use of augmented reality. Use your gadget's camera to record a message. Then point your gadget at BB-8 and watch the screen to see him play back your message in true "Star Wars" holographic style.
Overall, BB-8 is shaping up to be the must-have toy of the year. Of course, at $150 it isn't cheap. Watch the video below and let us know if you think it's worth the price.