The $150 BB-8 may be one of the most interesting toys of the year, but the $80 toy from Habsro is also likely to gain a significant amount of attention. We braved the midnight launch for the Star Wars toys last night to grab one of the Target-exclusive toys to see how it stands up to its more expensive sibling.
The $80 toy doesn't do nearly as much as the $150 model, but that's to be expected with a $70 price difference. It can't patrol on its own, nor can it respond to voice commands. There is no app; instead you control the toy with a very basic remote that requires two AAA batteries. The toy itself requires four AA batteries as well. Better stock up!
As you can tell from the first image in this story, the $80 toy is also much bigger than its competition, although the plastic and paint job don't look nearly as good on display. This looks and feels like a toy, not a piece of consumer electronics. That's not good or bad, especially if you have younger kids; it's just the reality of a product that's nearly half the price.
Also, you have to assemble it, which means you can see how it works. This is BB-8 without its sphere. If you're reading this with children, be warned that the following image is rather graphic.
Pretty cool, right? What's interesting is the whole mechanism moves when the head moves to look around, but when the head is moving the sphere doesn't, allowing it to look like BB-8 is looking around. It's hard to imagine, or describe, but it's pretty neat to watch while the sphere is removed.
There are no buttons for power, as you shake him to turn him on and hold him upside down to turn him off. You'll hear him chirp or sound tired once the commands kick in. Once it's on it can look around a bit and "talk" if you don't touch the remote control, but that's pretty much it. It will also shut down if left alone.
So how does it look in action?
I've been playing with the little droid off and on since I bought it, and I'm pretty happy with its action. You have to remember to point the remote at the droid, and every now and again its head will fall off, but it does a great job of emulating the effect from the film with a bit of wobble.
I'm pretty happy with the toy, and my kids have been having a great time with it, but the $80 price tag is a little steep for a remote-controlled plastic ball. This would be an absolute no-brainer at $40 or even $50, but it's a much harder sell at $80. The $150 BB-8 is amazing, but the $80 model from Hasbro is a fun, well-designed toy for younger kids and adult Star Wars fans that's just a bit overpriced.