Breakout Droid: BB-8 Wins Fans Thanks to Disney Collaboration with Sphero

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Star Wars BB-8

When the original Star Wars: A New Hope hit movie theaters in 1977, two of its breakout stars were not even human: androids R2-D2 and C-3PO, who mostly played as comedic Laurel and Hardy foils while the entire galaxy erupted around them.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens—the seventh installment of the series—has shattered box-office records with a $238.8 million haul in the US over the weekend, and it stars its very own new android that fans can’t get enough of: BB-8. The little guy has suddenly become this year’s hottest holiday gift, but good luck getting your hands on any version.

BB-8’s ascendancy has meant a massive boost for Sphero, the company that has created rolling robots similar to BB-8 for some time and, not coincidentally, Disney happens to have a financial stake in, according to HackaDay.com. The pair hooked up in 2014 as part of a tech incubator program that Sphero almost didn’t join, Wired reports. The company is surely ecstatic about its decision now.

Many publications erroneously reported that Sphero had created BB-8, but it was really two men on the film’s team who spent a year experimenting. Sphero, though, is feeling the love of consumers and the press for its $150 BB-8 toy version, which sold out on Amazon within 15 minutes of being introduced, the Denver Post reports.

After director J.J. Abrams drew the droid on a napkin, the men who actually put BB-8 together were Matthew Denton, who supervised electronic design and development for the movie’s characters, and Joshua Lee, a senior animatronic designer, NPR reports. Abrams wanted to avoid CGI as much as possible so Denton and Lee created seven different BB-8s to use in the filming. They didn’t actually get to see a copy of the script until filming started so they had no idea how central their droid would be to the plot. Instead, Abrams gave them a list of things BB-8 had to be capable of doing.

For those looking for something related to BB-8 spend money on, there are now BB-8 ringtones on the market or the BB-8-styled Fiat made by Garage Italia Customs in Europe.

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