Sphero has always been known for their connected rolling balls — better known as the perfect base for a rad BB-8 toy. That was the start of what’s become a fruitful relationship between Sphero and Disney, which has also produced a Lightning McQueen toy. The partnership is now moving into the world of Marvel with a new Spider-Man toy, but it’s an unusual one — this Sphero doesn’t move!
Well, his body doesn’t move, anyway — his mouth is another story. The Sphero Spider-Man is a figurine that can have chats using voice recognition and a connected app, and he promises to be mouthy enough to live up to Spider-Man’s legacy.
He sounds like a pretty cool bedroom companion for kids. Like action figures of old (but better), Spider-Man has a bunch of jokes and one-liners he can crack. But, he can respond to natural language too, answering questions about high school stuff like dating and, you know, fighting crime. His eyes are LCD screens, so he can emote a little while chatting.
So far, none of this is really in Sphero’s wheelhouse. But, they have managed to use their expertise in using accelerometers in fun ways — Spider-Man can tell if he’s being thrown or if he falls on his face, and will respond with funny quips and/or yelps of pain, because even Spider-Man doesn’t like getting hurt in the face zone.
He can even guard a room! Well, kinda. Spider-Man will be a very different sort of room alarm, yelling about the presence of super villains and/or younger siblings when put into guard mode. His spidey sense comes from an infrared sensor set into his spider logo, which detects movement.
Maybe the best thing about this figurine for parents is that there doesn’t seem to be any personalization features. A lot of times when we see toys like these, the figures will listen to what kids say, then adjust their answers according to their likes or preferences. That tends to stoke fears about privacy, and just how much information the toy company is collecting. The Sphero Spider-Man toy doesn’t record any voice interactions with kids, and isn’t always on — he’ll only interact once you’ve given him a little squeeze.
Sphero Spider-Man is available now for $150. Instead of using personalization, Sphero plans to keep the toy fresh by sending updates with new stories, jokes, and quips using the app. Hopefully they’ll stick to that, because while we do like this little guy, $150 seems really expensive for what you’re getting.