What is it?
It's a build-your-own customisable R2 unit - just like the one out of
. Yes, seriously. Littlebits, a New York tech company's first toy, has knocked it out of the park with its Droid Inventor Kit, which is perfect for big kids and little kids. Look at it sitting on the table after your kids have gone to bed and try not to fire it up. Just try. It's impossible.
What does it do? Unlike Sphero's Star Wars toys, which range from BB-8, BB-9E and R2-D2 and come ready-made, Littlebits gives you all the parts you need to build your very own droid. Once you've done that, you can drive it around, give it tasks like drawing pictures or dragging objects, and tinker until your techy heart is content. Or you can do what my son did and set it on patrol mode outside your bedroom. Try and venture inside, and you'll get a telling off in blips and bleeps.
What do they say? "We've created a gender-inclusive product that celebrates kids' own self-expression and ingenuity while showcasing the same characteristics of imagination, grit and invention that are embodied in the Star Wars franchise," says Littlebits founder and CEO Ayah Bdeir.
What's in the box? Casings, wires, boxes, stickers, droid heads, buttons and wires. It all looks messy until you download the app - don't worry, it's easy peasy - and start putting your droid together. There are plenty of different options to spark up your imagination and individualise it. Remember to take your time: building your R2 unit is half the fun - or more.
What's the best thing about it? Putting all the pieces together. If you're a Lego fan or love taking things apart to see how they work, the Droid Inventor Kit is a dream come true. Being able to connect all those parts and see your droid spark into life makes you feel like a mad scientist on a creationism bender. My son also worked out a neat trick, driving our R2 unit around our lounge simply by waving his hand in different directions behind it.
And the worst? It's quite big and the wheels are a little cumbersome so it can struggle to get some pace up on carpet. Hardwood floors would be advised for maximum pace. And my son and I had a few problems with a leg falling off. Other than that, this is one droid that's provided hours of fun.
How much does it cost? Littlebits' Droid Inventor Kit retails around the $249 mark, in the same ballpark as Sphero's tech offerings. Because you can build and rebuild this as many times as you like, it offers a little more longevity. Just watch out for its patrol mode - you don't want to get told off too many times.