BB-8 will roll onto store shelves+ READ ARTICLE
BB-8, the newest droid in the Star Wars universe, is not only real, it’s also coming to your living room.
Sphero, a Boulder, Colorado-based company that makes smartphone-controlled spheres, confirmed Monday it made the bi-spherical rolling robot for December’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It’s also making a toy version of the character destined to become a fan favorite to rival R2-D2 and C-3PO.
Sphero did not reveal a release date or price point for the company’s BB-8 toy, but it is letting interested consumers sign up for updates through a cryptic landing page.
“The experience is going to be king with this thing,” Sphero Chief Creative Officer Rob Maigret told TIME in a Monday interview. Maigret wouldn’t give away the secret sauce behind what makes BB-8 tick (magnets, perhaps?). But he did suggest the BB-8 toy could revive a fondly remembered part of the original Star Wars experience: Kids begging their parents to buy Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker toys letting them recreate scenes from the movies.
“Our real goal here is that this should feel as close to what you just saw on the screen as possible,” he says. “And the relationships that you’ve seen BB-8 have in the film in the world of Star Wars, you can now fill that role. BB-8 is now yours.”
Sphero has plenty of incentive to make sure its BB-8 toy flies — or, more accurately, rolls — off the shelves. Toy sales are by far the most lucrative part of the Star Wars financial empire. Forbes estimated back in 2007 that action figures and plastic spaceships accounted for $9 billion of the franchise’s sales, more than $3 billion more than the movies themselves. Sales of Star Wars toys are also known to get big boosts when new films (or even remastered old ones) hit the silver screen, so being in the business ahead of the Dec. 18 Force Awakens release is a good place to sit.
Maigret wouldn’t divulge how much of the BB-8 toy revenue Sphero will get to keep, but it’s safe to say it isn’t nothing. Still, while he admits “it would be really nice to sell a gazillion BB-8s,” Maigret thinks it would be “even better” if “a lot of fans [were] extremely happy with what we provided them.”
“We’re fans,” he adds. “For the folks here at Sphero, we’re freaking out. Like, we get to make BB-8? Think about that, man. We get to make it!”