In 2015, a gold mine opened up in front of Sphero. Makers of little app-controlled robotic balls, the company hit the big time when BB-8 made his debut in one of the trailers for The Force Awakens. Sphero produced a BB-8 version of their robot ball that autumn, and they’ve been a holiday force to be reckoned with ever since. Since the debut of BB-8, Sphero has added R2-D2 and BB-8’s First Order counterpart, BB-9E, to their ranks. This fall, they’re going the evil twin route one more time by adding R2-Q5, the lesser known Imperial R2 unit from Return of the Jedi.
If you’re already a Sphero droid owner, you know exactly what to expect from R2-Q5. For everyone else, Sphero Star Wars droids have quite a few fun features these days besides just being able to roam around. The black and gold R2-Q5 stands 6.8″ tall and uses Sphero’s rolling ball tech under his legs to propel him forward. Using the companion app, you can either directly control the droid or put him in patrol mode, which will make him roam around autonomously to look for rebel scum (and deftly avoid obstacles).
The droid’s red indicator light can flash, his head can turn from side to side, and he’s equipped with a speaker, so sound effects come from R2-Q5 himself and not the companion app. As usual, that app can be used to control the droid, but Sphero has also added holographic simulations based on R2-Q5’s role in Return of the Jedi, when appropriately enough he was the bearer of Emperor Palpatine’s nefarious plans.
Sphero has managed to get a lot of mileage out of the beeps, boops, and flashes they’ve added to their droids. Like the other three, R2-Q5 will be able to participate in Watch With Me mode — watch a Star Wars movie like The Force Awakens or Rogue One, fire up the companion app, and the droid will use those light and sound effects to react to the movie. I imagine if you get all four droids together, things could get heated.
But, you’ll have to make a special voyage to get R2-Q5 — he’s exclusive to the galactic empire of consumer electronics, Best Buy. R2-Q5 can be preordered now for $200, and while the Best Buy page says the release date is December 31, we understand that the droid should ship out sometime in November. If you’re heading to New York Comic-Con, you can try your hand at getting one there, but you might need to use literal force — Sphero will only have 100 of them at their booth.